The halfway stage.

It’s not just at this point (mid-November) when I begin to think about the shows I want to watch next season (Winter 2018), but I begin to think about compiling a top ten of the whole year. 2017 has gone by unnaturally fast, compared to 2016. I suppose that’s down to the fact that an awful lot happened last year, politics wise. I already have a few shows on that list, and in addition to this, I have to pick out even more shows to watch for 2018. I’ll go into why at the end of this post.

In the meantime, let’s come back to this season, and we’ll start with The Aqours Show…

In stark contrast to last week’s episode (which was more of a filler to kick off the Yoshiko/Riko relationship), this week is a little more serious. Aqours are getting closer and closer to their deadline, and friendly rival Sarah (from Saint Snow) tells Chika that they need more to make themselves stand out; an unique identity of their own that no other school idol group has. Dia and Mari have a plan, but Kanan is against it. It involves a dance move that the original Aqours (the third-years) had planned, but caused Mari to seriously injure her ankle, thereby influencing Kanan to abandon their dreams for Mari’s safety. She doesn’t want her childhood friend Chika, who is more reckless than Mari, to suffer the same fate, and having the leader of the group crash out for trying a difficult dance move (which involves a running handstand) would destroy Aqours’ chances at Love Live.

But Chika is undeterred.

Over half of this episode is Chika pushing herself to perfect this move, with her two sweethearts Riko and You cheering her on as she practices into the early hours on the beach. Of course, our happy ending comes in her realising that she isn’t as ‘normal’ as she believes she is, as if it wasn’t for her, then Aqours wouldn’t have come back, and the school wouldn’t have had this chance to bring new students in. This is where I stop comparing her to Honkers (from μ’s), who had a clear plan for the group from the get-go.

Meanwhile, I won’t lie about watching Land of the Lustrous. Given the trend of cliffhangers at the end of nearly every episode, it almost feels nervous to watch it. That’s not me saying I’m not enjoying the show, however I can now understand why the viewers have flocked to this. Having not read the manga and knowing nothing about the story, I think that might be the reason why I feel a little nervous, since this is such a mysterious show with such a mysterious cast, and anything can (and has) happened.

With some new legs, Phos has a bigger drive to join fellow colleagues in battle, and so Master Kongo reluctantly pairs Phos with Amethyst, one of the youngest jewels, and a strong fighter…who can split into two.

This week also gave the show’s critics all the bigger reason to draw comparisons to Steven Universe, with Amethyst splitting into two. The Amethyst in Steven Universe doesn’t split, however; she only fuses with other gems (eg. with Pearl, to become Opal). I won’t say anymore about the Amethyst in Land of the Lustrous, as I would spoil this week’s episode, which left us at yet another cliffhanger. If the rest of the show will carry on with these cliffhangers, then this show may end up in my top 10. Next week hints at something the jewel people do every winter: hibernate.

Moving onto Kino’s Journey, I’m at a bit of a crossroads now, at this halfway stage of the show.

Sadly, despite the increased drama as each episode passes, I’m beginning to lose some patience with the show. Could this simply be down to the fact that Kino herself is becoming less and less of a presence in the show? This week told us a ‘flashback’ story on how a pacifist slave to travelling merchants accidentally poisons her masters, only to run into a motor-rad who tells her to run free and live life. This week was a rather uncomfortable watch.

As the show isn’t a direct remake of the original Kino’s Journey, would it easier to say that the focus of the show is, in fact, more on the inhabitants that Kino runs into, than on Kino herself? If so, then I won’t lie; I feel a little misled. Then again, being not familiar with the original (ie. read the light novels or watched the original show), who am I to complain really? Each week I tell myself that I hope something that’ll blow my mind will come out of this, as I was rather hyped to see this…and then it doesn’t come.

Another uncomfortable watch (this time in a more positive way) was the next episode of The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. Episode 6 sees Fujiko interested in a pendant held by a student from an all-girls school. Going undercover as a teacher, the owner decides to enter a relationship with her, only to reveal herself as Inspector Zenigata’s lieutenant, Oscar, who replaced the real girl with the intent to lure Lupin.

Oscar may be an immature boy hopelessly devoted to his inspector senpai, but this episode shows that he is also a pig, who seems now hell-bent on getting revenge for getting duped himself, when Fujiko tells him she stole the pendant long before he made the move on her. I was beginning to worry that this show wasn’t entertaining me in the way that I thought it would, and then an episode like this comes along and gets rid of the worry entirely.

This week sees the UK release of SHAFT’s new movie Fireworks, and I’ll be reviewing it for OASG. As of time of writing, there are no plans to release it in North America although I’m sure that’ll change in a couple of months, and the movie will see the light of day possibly in 2018.

Now, for the reason why I’ll be picking more shows to watch for 2018; well I’ll be joining the team over at UK-based group blog Japan Curiosity! I’ll be writing about simulcasts available in the United Kingdom, as well as possibly reviewing anime elsewhere, both on home video and that on the big screen, but don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere; I’ll still be here at OASG, praising my favourite studios and complaining about shows I want to drop.