Slice-of-life shows are actually impressing me this season...for a change.

My sleep pattern is getting better. You see, it’s even more important for me than anime considering my preexisting medical condition, which actually sucks 😛 Being very strict about when you go to bed usually helps, as does healthy eating…

…and one person who would know a thing or two about nice and healthy food is Koizumi-san.

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles has become the simple no-nonsense slice-of-life show that I had wanted to watch for the longest of times, but never quite realised it. Has my long history of watching SOL shows desensitized me and made me super critical of the tiniest of things in them? Quite possible, since as an anime writer and critic, I am able to find faults in any kind of shows…that’s just our job. It’s understandable to some how seeing ramen noodles be the center of attention in every single scene in every episode gets rather boring, but it’s actually something that hasn’t really bothered me. Not only is the show rather educational but by making ramen the ‘main character’, it doesn’t make you feel bad for disliking some of the actual characters. I mean Misa has grown into quite a little madam, and Yuu is just too possessive and oblivious even for my own delicate tastes.

This season might be the one season where I won’t be throwing mud at SOL shows, as I have found not only one enjoyable slice-of-life show but two; Yuru Camp has impressed and surprised me as much as Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles has.

This week’s episode of Camping Girls™ shows us the vast difference between what the Outdoor Activities Club has in mind when it comes to camping, and what Sole Camper Rin has in mind. Winter isn’t a season that attracts too many campers, which is possibly why Rin is so drawn to it; camp site prices are off-peak, meaning she can not only afford them with the bookstore job she has, but can splash out on little things too. Meanwhile, the Outdoor Activities Club are just learning on what camping is all about as they plan their first outdoors activity with the precious few equipment they already have and can afford.

Aside from the minimalist tone (that I mentioned last week), another main reason why I am enjoying Yuru Camp so much is that it separates school from camping completely. By now, you’d normally expect a mini-story on…say…Nadeshiko getting bad grades, or the Student Council threatening to close the club, or something like that, but by separating school from camping, the focus is shifted, and therefore our interest is peaked. This is where Long Riders! failed; by having their college studies be a focus, it almost distracted us from the road cycling. Not here in Yuru Camp though. And it is this ‘separation’ that is another reason why this show is actually worth checking out, even for the SOL cynic.

I wish I could say the same about Darling in the Franxx though, since even though this week’s episode gave us a lot more plot to work with, it hasn’t really made the show any more exciting to watch. As the team go on their first sortie to deal with a small-scale Klaxosaur, when the team find themselves in a bind, Zero Two is forced to go with another pilot/stamen Mitsuru to rescue them, as Hiro is still not certified, and this action turns out to have big consequences.

Zero Two is the only standout character in Darling in the Franxx, and that both delights me and bothers me. We see her as the free spirit in comparison to her darling Hiro, who has been raised in isolation from the rest of the Plantation. Does this mirror Asuka and Shinji? Too early to tell, as Zero Two is still very much a mystery to us, and Hiro can still become a solid character that can stand up to his colleagues and not wallow in self-pity like Shinji did. The thing is, Zero Two is the only reason I still tune into this show, as I can’t find any kind of connection with any of the pilots, not even Hiro. It’s almost as if they are as forgettable and meaningless as the numbers they are given at birth. It’s obvious to us as the viewer that Ichigo has a serious soft spot for Hiro, and it’s not just because as the squad leader she is meant to look out for her teammates. I don’t actually care that Goro is trying to be the big brother to Hiro and look out for him. I don’t care that Zorome is a fight maniac with a tsundere partner (Miku). I don’t care that Mitsuru is power mad and seems to have his own beef with Hiro. And I don’t even remember the names of the others. Yes, that’s right…three episodes in and these pilots that we are meant to warm to for 2 cours are totally forgettable. It’s a real shame because this show has serious potential to be a good one. I think it might be that because it borrows a lot from existing sci-fi and mecha shows, its several attempts at carving its own identity seem to turn into one big unemotional mess. It’s a shame…it really is.

After somewhat of a predictable last episode, Citrus needed to do something good to keep me watching, and I’ll tell you now that I will still carry on. While I don’t see a complete turnaround in this, the show has done enough for me to still want to know how they will portray Yuzu and Mei on the screen, in comparison to the manga. After the dramatic kiss in the chairman’s office at the end of last week, Mei’s childhood friend Himeko is starting to ask questions on what is really going on, as despite being student council vice-president, she has been kept totally in the dark; she doesn’t even know that Yuzu and her Mei-mei are stepsisters now.

As narrator and main protagonist, we can see Yuzu go through every single emotion known to us in this show, and yet after 4 episodes, a third of the way through, Mei still comes across as a bit of a scumbag, and not the broken soul I saw in the manga. I feel a lot more for Himeko, who holds a torch for the girl she has grown up with for over 10 years, and who thinks has been stolen away from her. It’s as if Yuzu and Himeko are fighting for an emotionless girl who isn’t really worth it.

I actually wanted Mei to start feeling something after she saw the damage she has actually done to Yuzu in the space of 3 episodes, but alas nothing. And that’s what really bothers me about Citrus so far. I could actually call this a decent yuribait trash anime if Mei actually showed at least some kind of emotion.

This Winter season has turned into rather an odd one 4 weeks in. The two shows I have been looking forward to have turned out to be rather lacklustre, while the other two shows I picked on a whim have turned out to be rather good or excellent. I suppose this shows that no two anime seasons are ever the same.

Episode 4 of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun sees Mikorin in a spot of bother, as it is revealed that while he is extremely comfortable being the center of attention in a harem, he is very uncomfortable when approached by a single girl who wants to date him. While that scenario doesn’t happen in this episode, he chooses to mull it over with Nozaki as they pull an all-nighter with a VN game, leading to the two of them deciding that the male best friend should pair with the protagonist instead since they end up spending their 3 years of high school life supporting him. And later on, Mikorin is invited to a mixer, which he decides to chicken out of, leading to Kashima taking his place and stealing the girls away from the remaining males.

As mentioned last week, the comedy in this show still feel fresh and original despite them being the kind of jokes that seem to crop up in a lot of rom coms. I think what Dogakobo have succeeded in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is make every character very unique. We are given the initial impression that these are the dime-a-dozen characters in the dime-a-dozen rom coms, but once we’re drawn into the show, we see that that’s far from the truth.

Kakegurui has got a Netflix release date, finally! February. 1, which is Thursday, will be the date. Works for me as comes out on the same day as that other Netflix-exclusive anime I’m enjoying immensely that I don’t want to gloat about.

What do you think of this anime season so far? Have the slice-of-life shows this season impressed you? Will you be watching Kakegurui on Netflix? Has your opinion of Darling in the Franxx changed? Do you have any other recommendations to watch this season? Feel free to air your opinions in the comments below…