Comparing to last week's offerings...

It’s usually around this point where people have dipped their toes in opening shows, deciding whether they like them or not, then discard them immediately. I keep telling myself to stop dropping shows, but it’s just something I can’t help anymore. I mean I was hoping to give the unspeakably stupid Keijo!!!!!!!! (that already has a petition to be turned into an EA Sports game!) another shot after episode 1, but I just couldn’t. Even me, who endured the likes of pupaGlasslip and Charlotte, couldn’t do it.

I really slated Occultic;Nine last week, and with good reason. The character design wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, the animation was very poor, one of the main heroines has unnaturally large bosoms (which is something entirely unnecessary for this kind of show), and no voice actors should speak that quickly…so quickly in fact, even the subtitlers have trouble. We have a plot point though, and a case for the Kiri Kiri Basara affiliate blog to work on. However, this still has trouble letting the audience keep up with what’s going on since half a dozen scenarios are taking place over a single 24-minute episode.

As I said last week, these 9 people have next to nothing in common, and judging by this week’s offering, there’s no real set main character…which only serves to confuse the audience even more. I do like the idea of an idol who can genuinely tell fortunes, a goth loli who can genuinely curse people (and is cursed herself), and the whole premise of an occult magazine/blog, but that’s as far as I can go. Occultic;Nine is going in all sorts of directions but at least the dialogue slowed down this week.

Meanwhile, Hibike! Euphonium 2 is starting to scratch the surface some more now, as we know the reason why Nozomi left. I thought that it was it was the first-years that caused the ruckus in the band initially, but it turned out to be a bunch of egotistic third-years who bullied their underclassmen. Despite how she’s being painted as a honest person by best friend Natsuki, Nozomi is still being made out like she’s some kind of antagonist. A nuisance, an annoyance, a coward. And in addition to this, it appears to me that Asuka doesn’t seem to care about making it to the top, or even winning this competition, despite the fact that the teachers have highlighted her as one of the best in the band. In her eyes, all she wants to do is play the euphonium.

This echoes in what oboe player (and newbie character) Mizore said to Kumiko at the end of this episode. She sees competition as a nuisance too, as she doesn’t enjoy the pain and suffering of receiving poor marks from judges (and having that weight on your shoulders whilst in band), but she also has that look in her eye that she wants to leave band, even if it means not having to suffer in competition. So there’s a part of me that is thinking that, while the band is preparing for the main competition, they are contemplating on whether it is all even worth it.

I do hope Asuka spills the beans next week, as little else happened other than the obligatory pool scene (that season 1 never had). This was almost a filler episode and that’s saying something when it comes to this amazing show.

Speaking of filler episodes, I know for a fact that the remaining episodes of Brave Witches will be them, until something stellar happens in the final two episodes or so. Most, if not all, of the main characters and squadron have been introduced now, we have the reason why Hikari is in the 502nd squadron now, we have her motive of getting stronger and fighting the Neuroi (her sister being out-of-action…for the time being), and Silver Link actually kept their promise of giving fanservice to the die-hard Strike Witches fans. One thing they have tripped up on though is 3D. It is just not good at all, ditching layers and details for more wishy-washy 3D models. This especially sucks as a good portion of the show will be the girls in the air fighting, so I really hope that this episode’s 3D animation was just a blip, and that the rest will work out okay. If not then we have to rely on the tried-and-tested trials and tribulations of 10 or so adolescent girls (all with different views on fighting).

I think last week I kind of played down my review of the opening episode of Sangatsu no Lion as, watching it a second and third time, it is much more detailed than I originally thought. Rei is a much more complicated character than it seems at first glance. His birth family dead, his foster family have all but abandoned him, his loneliness is eating him alive, and I’m very curious as to why he even chooses to socialise with these hyperactive girls he has no relation to. Plus I noticed that SHAFT had added a bunch of new scenes that didn’t crop up in the manga but have nonetheless made this adaptation truly fantastic. Like the constant theme of water, drowning and being submerged underwater. It is effectively a metaphor of his everyday life; shots of clear water in that he is a very plain person, and drowning in that he can’t escape the hell he created for himself.

While last week we had only more of a fleeting glimpse of Akari, Hinata & Momo, this week we see that they really want to better Rei’s life. Because of the amount of money he makes playing shogi, the people who surround him find no displeasure in sponging off him to try to get closer to him. It was this reason how Rei and Akari met, in fact. Just as I can identify with Asuka in Hibike! Euphonium, I can identify with Rei too; I can never seem to say no to people either. These new supporting characters are people who would be at any shogi or mahjong or go club, but they still seem too shallow; I think we need some more screen time to get to know them.

[By the way, I had no idea the mangaka, Chika Umino, did Honey & Clover, and was character designer for Eden of the East too.]

Well now that I’ve actually completed season 1 of Yowamushi Pedal, I’m thinking to myself: “Why the hell did I even compare it to Long Riders!?”

It’s just a moeblob show that just so happens to have bicycles as the main theme. Nothing more. That review sound harsh, but I don’t know what else to say. It’s not like I’m not enjoying it, though. This is just one of those shows that I can simply take at face value, and not have to think hard about, like a couple of other shows I’m doing for this column. I can actually picture every episode to be like this one, in fact…main character Ami learns some more about cycling from Aoi, Hinako and Yayoi, they go on a train somewhere, ride their bikes to a pretty location, end of episode. This show isn’t unpleasant. A little boring, but I don’t hate it at all.

I will need a lot more time to get my teeth into some of these shows; Occultic;Nine and Sangatsu no Lion especially as their stories seem to be more detailed and complex than they appear. Even though I rant and rage sometimes when it comes to formulaic and dull shows (like Long Riders!), I don’t often dislike them.