Bah humbug.

I’ll begin by saying that this Christmas/Yule might not be so great for me this year. I’m always short on money come December-time. Mom doesn’t want to do Yule this year, which is a downer, so I’ll probably end up being totally sad and do something by myself. I had a fight with a close friend concerning her behaviour at a convention in the summer, and we might never get along anymore. Plus my nephew had the strop of all strops when my sister’s family came to visit earlier today; signs of early puberty, so that’s going to be a pain in the ass for most of us, especially my poor sister.

I won’t even start on what else happened this year, in regards to current affairs. We can’t just erase 2016 from the face of history, so we’ll only remember that this year brought us Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian, Overwatch and Your Name, as well as the Cubs winning the World Series.

What does irk me about anime is that every Christmas episode is portrayed as happy and jolly with drink overflowing, fried chicken and a big cake, so Sangatsu no Lion‘s portrayal of Christmas this week was very refreshing. Rei has never really had any fond memories of Christmas; his foster father always spoiled him compared to his real kids, and thus was tormented because of that. When he faces off against a bitter man who escapes losing through alcohol and gambling, Rei is forced to reevaluate the purpose of Christmas. After learning, through Kyouko, that he has a young daughter, he feels compelled to hand him the present he left behind at the shogi hall…only to then scream out why he should be the only one to be put through hell by people around him.

“Why do I have to be blamed for everything?” “It’s his own fault for losing.” “Why didn’t he practice harder?” “Why escape in booze when you have a daughter?”

Rei’s vent in an empty park did him good, and from now, I think he will become a stronger person. This was a very key episode in the show, as I think Rei is finally beginning to fight his own self-loathing and self-pity. The pressure he faces from playing pro, having losing streaks, feeling rotten when the Kawamoto sisters spoil him and treat him like a brother, feeling rotten when he hears Harunobu always collapsing in poor health after passionately cheering him on, and Kyouko putting poisonous words into his head…after hiding in a long and dark shadow, it’s become time to fight these demons of his.

(The shogi cat tutorials stopped too! Maybe SHAFT got the hint that nobody liked them)

A lot of shows got their Christmas episodes out of the way, like Brave Witches did with their multi-religious one. This week saw Takami finally arrive in the 502nd squadron, not happy that Hikari ended up there too. So now after what was rather a dull episode that was meant to show us that siblings are supposed to look out for each other, I’m rather clueless on what the final episodes will bring, now that Hikari will be transferred to the base in Suomus that she was originally meant to go to in the first place. Then again, after saying this was a dull episode, it does sort of show that war tears friends and family apart, and that the only person you can only confide and trust in is yourself. Hikari is still young, naive and still not a very powerful Witch.

Occultic;Nine ends next week, and I am so happy to say that! I’m glad that I know who Izumi really is, and that he is the one who is destroying all the astral spirits. Also Kusasabe ended getting transplants from Ria’s dead brother?? Eww. Even though a lot has been explained hurriedly in this episode, there’s still more to do. It’ll be a shame that the finale will be totally rushed, as the writers will want to solve every mystery and end everything. The MMG and The Odd Eye have to face off…and we still don’t know how Miyuu can predict the future…

…and just when the show was beginning to get kind of better, emphasis on kind of, the show ends on Christmas Eve, but since I probably missed so much in this show, I’m going to watch the entire thing again, and then make an honest opinion on whether Occultic;Nine was really worth adapting or not.

Meanwhile, over in Hibike! Euphonium 2, I was hoping for something epic to happen to Reina after her pout last week. Turns out she was just super annoyed that Kumiko didn’t tell her that hipster sensei was married, but after realising that he is in fact a widower, she miraculously gets better?

So by the end, I was thinking “Is that it? Really?” This was a totally pointless episode, and was a gap filler for whatever will happen in the remaining episodes, whether related to the Nationals, or more band drama, or even a Christmas episode. Yuri and Christmas mixing is something a lot of people would enjoy seeing.

I think this is the shortest amount of coverage I’ve ever done for Hibike! Euphonium 2 for this column. After the excellent episode 9 and last week’s questionable (but fruitful) episode, this week just brought the show down so much, and almost made me sympathise with the people who call this show soppy melodrama. Well at least it’s a well-animated soppy melodrama, but then, cutting straight into more action could have confused the audience; I mean from Asuka’s return straight into whatever will be next (likely to be Nationals-related)…I guess fillers do have a purpose, even if we don’t like them so much.

Long Riders! has been its typical self too; very dull and no surprises whatsoever. We see Ami struggle to ride her bike, Aoi get all soppy over her BFF, and the entire team stuff themselves with gourmet food. Considering we have to wait until February for this show to end, it would be curious to know how this show will end. Will Ami get the courage to ride the fleche when she hits 20? Will Aoi confess finally? Will Hinako feel less insecure about wearing that stupid cheongsam at work? Will Saki ever go on a diet? Strangely enough I had this trouble when it came to watching Yowamushi Pedal; in that, I wasn’t really sure on any kind of ending, considering each arc ran on for so many episodes. Long Riders! has had only 3 arcs, if you can call them that: Ami learning about cycling, Ami getting better and forming Team Fortuna, and now this arc where the entire team does an actual event. I’m literally on the edge of my seat on what Long Riders! will bring us in the finale. *sarcasm*

I still hope the final episodes will actually bring us some better animation. I mean this guy’s head is just so small, it’s abnormal.

Well…the next post will be the aftermath of Christmas/Yule, and I can tell you all how much fun I didn’t have, as well as do my very best in defining what made Occultic;Nine the anime of the year…and not Yuri!!! On Ice or Flip Flappers (like what everyone seems to be talking about in this season).

Happy Holidays.

Not related to the holidays, but still an epic end card.