Happy...umm...April?

The Winter season kind of ended quietly, I thought. The Fall season was a different story; big shows like Hibike! Euphonium 2, Flip Flappers, along with that other show Crunchyroll wouldn’t shut up about, took over all of us, and so it was kind of a shock to us that anime shows as popular as them actually had finale episodes. Little Witch Academia hasn’t had the big impact I expected, but then again it’s a show that Crunchyroll/Funimation don’t have rights for. With several big shows getting sequels, I think this Spring season will be as big as the Fall. I will play no part in this though…no…instead my attention is turning towards the lesser known shows…

…shows like Sakura Quest. I think that this one will be dwarfed compared to P.A Works’ other show this season (season 2 of The Eccentric Family). The story’s an interesting one, just as the other stories in the studios “working” series (Hanasaku Iroha & Shirobako) were.

Yoshino Koharu is an unemployed nobody in Tokyo. When a model agency she did temp work for sets up a contract for a tourism spot in a town in the countryside, she reluctantly takes it…not knowing that the town itself took part in the ‘micro-nation’ project in Japan’s bubble economy. Now that’s over, some of the elderly residents decided to keep it going. After being mistaken for an old pop idol (blame calligraphy on that one), she’s lost on whether she should stay and help or not. Her contract said she had to be there for at least one year, so she’s kind of stuck being the ‘monarch’ of this micro-nation called “The Kingdom of Chupacabra”.

My first impressions are mixed on this one. I like how it focuses on adult protagonists, like Shirobako did, and it also highlights how crazy people in the countryside can be (similar to the kind of people portrayed in Hanasaku Iroha), but episode 1 of Sakura Quest hasn’t filled me with great hope. I think that’s it with P.A Works though. When they get it right, they get it really right, but when they get it bad, they’re just abysmal. People are going to love season 2 of The Eccentric Family anyway, so it’ll be win-win for these guys this season. I’ll still stick with this, as I’m convinced that it’ll get much better. I’m sure this show just suffered from ‘first-episode-blues’.

Little Witch Academia gave us a good opener for the second half, despite it being another ‘mini-story’. It’s the traditional Samhain festival (pronounced ‘So-wain’ – it’s the Pagan word to describe the Halloween holiday), and teams of students put on a spectacle to show off their magic to staff and alumni. With Lotte and Sucy still trying to understand what drives Akko to keep on going despite having so many hurdles, they decide to help her out when she volunteers. As they are the last act, they revive a spirit that turns out to be a former princess. By pulling out the ‘seed of sorrow’ stuck inside it, they free it, and with Akko’s crappy (yet highly amusing) magic, their show is a hit with the students and the judges…although they end up getting disqualified for trashing the stage.

With another word said for the Shiny Rod to be completely awoken, it still remains to be seen what real power it holds. Surely Chariot would know…or would she? Did she give up searching for the words? Perhaps that’s why she never kept the rod and that’s why Akko has it. Anime logic would call this some kind of fate; that Akko was meant to have it. This episode also highlighted Akko’s own vision of what magic was: fun. The headteachers, alumni and most of the students still give off this cold atmosphere, but their show warmed their hearts considerably; even Diana’s stone-cold heart raised a few degrees.

Looks like half of the shows I picked won’t begin until a little later, hence why this post is a little shorter than usual. I’ve only just got Amazon Video, so watching Saekano flat is something I’m looking forward to. eromanga sensei, on the other hand, is a show that is already getting giggles from the community, and it hasn’t even started yet (as of writing this post). Should I be worried? Will this show join the likes of Glasslip, Charlotte, Occultic;Nine and Fuuka (ie: the list of shows I regret picking)? Guess there’s only one way to find out.

Oh well; I always have my precious Haibane Renmei to fall back on though.

This is one of my favorite shows of all-time, and seeing it all again is both wonderful and nostalgic. It didn’t make that much of an impact as Serial Experiments Lain did, but it quickly developed a cult following.

It opens with a girl falling from the sky, unaware of how she got there. It’s not long before she wakes up in a world just as unfamiliar. Named ‘Rakka’ because of her dream (she cannot remember her own name), the people who find her, a group of individuals called the Haibane, tell her that this is her life now. These Haibane are people who are gifted with wings and halos; they’re not portrayed as angels, but they’re not portrayed as humans either. Rakka simply plays along because she can’t remember anything else.

Stripped down, Haibane Renmei is a very minimalist and haunting show. Is this world meant to be some kind of Heaven? Or maybe some other underworld that people go to when they die? Is Rakka meant to be dead even, or still alive? Why can’t she remember anything, and why her in particular? What made her special…or unlucky? As the show progresses, we are never given a straight and direct answer. Instead, we are shown a whole new world that is completely different from our own, cut off from everything else. A world where people like the Haibane can exist and not raise any eyebrows. I would never call this show a fantasy, despite it having several elements of one. Instead I see it as drama. It’s stood the test of time, being 15 years old now, and I look forward to watching it all over again.

My reviews for Saekano flat and eromanga sensei won’t be until much later; as I said, another laid-back season…