Is it 2017 yet?

We’re reaching that time of the year now, where your family enjoy counting the days on their Facebook accounts. My sister is very guilty of doing that. I don’t have as much fun as I used to anymore. My family celebrate both Christmas and Yule, so all we do on Winter Solstice is putting out candles and a Yule log (no more sacrifices…too much effort nowadays), while Christmas is reserved for getting fat and drunk. I mean it’s about now when movie channels decide to run Xmas movies 24 hours a day, and the biggest brands bring out their expensive TV commercials to make us more materialistic.

Brave Witches decides to kick-start it early, with an episode devoted to the Saturnus festival, which blends Christmas, Yule, and a few other midwinter festival traits; fir trees, candles, gifts and so on. Technically this is a mirror of the Saturnalia festival (which was held on the same days listed in the show); it’s an ancient Roman festival that celebrates the god Saturn, but is given a more generalised European twist. Soon we’ll see the masses of Xmas-related pictures in Megami, Nyantype, Animage and the rest, with the Witches in fan service. I could be picky about it all, but eh…it’s just a show.

Alas this was another filler, and of course I never have any complaints about Brave Witches fillers, but this one just seemed a little shallower than the others. I mean we all know that Nikka is the most kind-hearted and adorable out of all of them, and that Naoe has the shortest temper, and that Aleksandra is a bit of a softie despite being second-in-command, so what can possibly top all of that? Why original girls Sanya and Eila appearing out of nowhere in Santa outfits, of course. And here was me thinking that Strike Witches and Brave Witches would be completely separate.

Thankfully, Hibike! Euphonium 2 hasn’t been a filler this week; instead we see more progress in this new arc, which I’ll call the ‘giving up’ arc. Sorry, that just came out of nowhere. We see two stories that are very similar, in that no real explanation is given on why they suddenly stop out of the blue and this is the first arc in the entire show where it has started to really bother me. I think it’s because I have absolutely no idea whether things will end in tragedy or not. KyoAni being who they are, they normally go for the happy ending, although I’m not so sure now, what with Hibike! Euphonium injecting some hard-hitting school drama where not everything is happy and rosy. For all we know, Asuka could disappear altogether (highly unlikely), but I know that if she ever does return, she’ll be a changed person.

With the aftermath of last week, Asuka arrives back in band, only to suddenly disappear and not show up for club altogether (and for sensei to tell the band that if she doesn’t come back, then Natsuki takes her place for the Nationals). Her third-years are clueless about her behaviour, so are the rest of band, and even Aoi (who makes a surprise return) doesn’t know. Meanwhile, there’s the long-standing dilemma of Mamiko…ever since episode 1 of the first season, we never knew the true reasons why she suddenly stopped the trombone. She was using college as an excuse, but now that, for even stranger reasons, she wants to quit college altogether and go to beauty school, Kumiko and her family are left completely stumped. Thus in turn, we are left with only questions. Why won’t Asuka come back? And why has Mamiko decided to drop college and get even angrier with the rest of the world? Why aren’t the other third-years doing more for Asuka? And why the hell was Mamiko flirting with Shuichi at the end?! We might get all the answers next week, as the show needs time for competition episodes…but a part of me reckons that, even if Asuka returns and Mamiko decides to speak her mind, there’ll always this little something that will bother us, and it’s that little something that will keep us wanting more every week.

In case you didn’t hear, Yen Press announced they are releasing the Hibike! Euphonium novels; inevitable, and great news of course.

Long Riders! has, at a maximum, 5 more episodes left, making this a very short show. I think it’s a little bit of a shame, although I can understand, as this sadly did not go anywhere:

College girls meet up -> College girls learn about cycling and go riding -> College girls see pretty countrysides and eat nice food -> College girls go home -> Repeat

…that sequence has been the entire show but Long Riders! has effectively stripped down the formula of slice-of-life shows and has showed us that a good majority of them are, in fact, very dull and boring, and without a constant and cohesive plot, it just falls flat. Saying that though, the 5 girls have finally decided to form their own cycling team in this week’s episode: Team Fortuna, named after the goddess of good fortune. So I think the rest of the show will be forming the team, cycling as a team, and have some kind of ending.

I know that every time I attempt a slice-of-life show, a little part of me dies and I end up cursing and telling myself that I’ll never do one again. And what do I do? Yes, you guessed it. I know that there have been a couple of other quality shows out this season; Girlish Number has been great, Izetta: The Last Witch sounds interesting, and Keijo!!!!!!!! has been dumb (but in a good way), but Flip Flappers was just a little too silly for me, and I can’t seem to understand what the big deal is over Yuri!!! on Ice, and why Anitwitter has gone completely nuts over it.

No Sangatsu no Lion this week. It’s temporarily making way for their other Fall/Winter show that’s releases new episodes every month: Zaregoto, by Nisio Isin, it concerns a nameless narrator who has moved onto a wealthy woman’s island, and whilst acting as the caretaker for an exceptional computer programmer, he uncovers the numerous mysteries surrounding the owner. On the island, he gets to know other exceptional people (scholars, painters, fortune-tellers, etc.) and discovers why they were brought onto the island too. In the one episode that’s currently out, I see a lot of echoes of not just Monogatari, but of Revolutionary Girl Utena. I plan to do some form of review around halfway through.

Still SHAFT has released nothing new on their new Madoka Magica project. Maybe they’re waiting for 2016 to be over…you know, in case they curse it…

As for this new format for the column I spoke about last week? Well, starting the Winter season, I will be choosing one out-of-season show to cover, alongside the current in-season ones. My first one will be Chihayafuru. I know nothing about karuta, but so many tell me this is a great show, so I’m looking forward to it.