Beginning to pack for US already.

I will be off on my Dragoncon pilgrimage soon. Anime will take a back seat, and I think I need the breather. But enough of my woes…

I think New Game!! has begun to pick up now, perfect timing as the halfway stage arrives. I know many are watching this and are finding next to no problem, just blame me and my picky and elitist tastes for my doubts over season 2.

Aside from giving a nod to Splatoon, which is good in my books, the drama in this show has begun to shine some more. The lead character designer, Aoba, suddenly finds herself under a lot of pressure when the game’s alpha is due to be released, and the company need key visuals for the newly-titled game (Peco). Unsure on whether a newbie can handle the pressure of key visuals (they can make or break the sales of a game after all), the head honchos decide to hand that responsibility to Kou, who gets angry at them for not having faith in Aoba’s abilities.

The end story is very touching, and brings Aoba and Kou much closer together. In past episodes of this season, I have gotten the impression that Aoba’s unexpected promotion for this new game has made Kou bitter that she was not chosen instead, but as episodes go on, Kou has begun to accept Aoba’s talents, and chooses to be the senpai she needs…and deserves.

Personally I think both Aoba and Kou’s visuals should be used. Sure, one can be used for main advertising, but the other can adorn the illustration books.

Sadly, this ongoing side-story of Nene making a game and trying to impress Aoba and Umiko is a kind of disappointment, and only serves to keep Nene and new character Hotaru in the show. The fact that she can build the game without relying on a pre-built game engine is pretty cool, but it’s like there’s no spark in this side-story.

Another touching story came in this week’s Sakura Quest, as Maki’s second mini-story wraps up. She doesn’t get the role in Tokyo and comes home angry with herself. When she discovers via the other girls that the abandoned school never had a closing ceremony, they decide to band together to put together a belated one, inviting the alumni…and taking on the role of writer, director and lead actor of the Christmas play, based around a school ghost story.

This episode is a case study showing that one can do anything if they truly put their mind to it. As Maki comes home after facing a heartbreaking defeat, she is given a second chance: to show her skills not just as an actor but as a theatre director. She even teases the idea of beginning an acting troupe in Manoyama after the closing ceremony.

This was a wonderful episode that had that great feel-good vibe that past episodes of Sakura Quest have sadly lacked. It didn’t even matter if you could classify this as “The Christmas Episode”. Something like this has given Maki a reason to live again, and to achieve what she wanted again, instead of going here and there doing odd jobs.

On to my favourite show of the season, Love & Lies, Yukari and Ririna didn’t go past third base…only to first.

I was a little scared that Yukari would do something he would seriously regret in that love hotel but thank God he didn’t. It frightened Ririna, but it wasn’t like she pushed away from kissing. After seeing this pain, the two decide to keep a firm distance over the Summer vacation; kind of handy that Yukari ends up being roped into the Cultural Festival play, where his class is doing a gender-bent Romeo & Juliet.

I don’t really see that there will be any comparisons between this and Romeo & Juliet, since the Nejima family and the Sanada family aren’t at war. This week we see that Misaki is, in fact, very annoyed that Ririna, Yukari’s assigned partner, will fall in love with him and take him away from her. Love & Lies hasn’t sugar-coated anything, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Misaki ends up doing some interfering later on. This episode ends on a good note though, and strengthens my theory that Yukari and Ririna will disappear off into the sunset because even though they don’t realise it, they are perfect for each other.

I did not actually expect Owarimonogatari Ge was going to be so…substantial. I only thought it would be 2 or 3 episodes of around 25 minutes; instead SHAFT have decided to stretch out the 3 stories (Mayoi Hell, Hitagi Rendezvous & Ougi Dark). So I hope you will all forgive me if I delay my review of the whole thing until next week.

One thing I did delay on (but not my fault, blame Crunchyroll) was Squid Girl, and now I’m up-to-date and I’m still not impressed by any of it. I was even struggling on finding a decent enough screenshot to use for this post, the mini-stories have been that dull…in both episodes 6 & 7.

Both episodes center a lot around new beach-house hire Nagisa, who develops a fear for Squid Girl that none of the others have. Sadly, she has next to no character about her. While Eiko is a bully, Squid Girl is an idiot, Takeru is even more of an idiot and new arrival Cindy is both delusional and annoying, I cannot find anything remotely exciting about her.

My colleagues at OASG think I’m just getting tired of the slice-of-life comedy genre, or I’m only judging this because the jokes are rather dated, or both. Well I’m sorry but this is just a feeling that I can’t shake off. I can’t get rid of this frustration that I have with this show. I’ll be the masochist and stick with it until the end…I don’t want to drop another show this season.

Speaking of seasons, I already have a draft list of what I’ll be reviewing for the Fall season, and now is the time for you guys to choose what classic/out-of-season show I’ll be reviewing for the Fall season. Not much time left.