Shows are both getting better and getting worse.

I wrote this article before the Super Bowl, so I have no idea who won, although I would not be surprised if the Patriots did, because they win at everything. They’re like the Real Madrid (Spanish soccer super-team) of American Football.

I’ll start with Citrus this week, which is beginning to get better for me, and actually shows us a rather humane Mei…for a change.

Leading on last week, where Himeko tells Yuzu that she has ‘crossed the line’ with Mei, the two begin to become rivals of affection, only for both of them, unsurprisingly, to be shut down totally. This week was the graveyard episode; it was this part of the manga I quite enjoyed, and I’m glad they stayed pretty loyal to it in this adaptation. Here, Yuzu realises that Mei doesn’t need a lover or a girlfriend, but needs family. After hearing that Mei has not opened a single letter sent to her by her father, she decides to take her to visit her father’s grave, and the arrival of Mei’s own father comes as a shock for both Mei and Yuzu. He couldn’t have come at a worse time, really; Yuzu has just come back from visiting her own dad and Mei’s now about to feel rotten for not opening any of his letters.

This week has opened new doors for this adaptation, and I’m finally seeing the show in a better light, outside of the yuribait trash. Not sure if this is something that will last though, and come next week, it might go back to its old ways.

But speaking of yuri…

I toyed around with the idea that this next show should simply be called Camping Girls™, well after seeing what I saw this week, Yuru Camp should perhaps just be renamed to Yuri Camp instead. This continues from where we left off last week, with the Outdoor Activities Club taking a detour to a hot spring and Rin on her way to her campsite. With Rin discovering that the hot spring Nadeshiko teases her about is actually closed for the winter, she makes do with what she can do at the campsite off-season. Meanwhile, after oversleeping at the hot spring, the Outdoor Activities Club rush to their campsite, where they learn to make a Swedish Candle.

We would have normally thought that a quiet loner like Rin would find little to benefit in befriending Nadeshiko, but meeting her has brought her out of her shell, and you can see in their interactions that Rin really does appreciate having her as a text-buddy (I am assuming at this point that because they are in different classes at school, they can’t find the time to meet face-to-face often). Naturally the fan-art and fan-fiction has come out pairing these two straightaway, and unlike a lot of pairings in SOL shows, I actually like this one, as it feels a lot more natural and believable. The end scene with the two of them sharing pictures of nighttime scenery is very touching; despite the fact that they are both far away from each other, this text conversation and exchange of pictures is presented so that they are actually watching the cityscape together as close friends.

One person who, I think, could do with a friend, is Koizumi-san, although she has told us that ramen is the only family she needs.

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles has played the ‘eccentric’ titular character card that many other comedy shows (both anime and live-action) have played. We don’t need to know Koizumi’s real family, or her grades, or what other hobbies and interests she has. The only thing that matters is ramen. Sadly this week felt like it was missing something that some past episodes had, and that was that je ne sais quoi that keeps us interested. I don’t think it’s any kind of ennui about ramen, instead it’s more like how each mini-story was written and directed this week. Sure, tomato ramen sounds pretty cool, and learning how much lycopene is in tomatoes was actually quite educational, and I had never even heard of euglena before until now. It was just that the execution of their explanations, and implementing it into Koizumi enjoying ramen, was poorly done.

Okay so moving onto Darling in the Franxx, which thanks to this episode, has almost turned into two different things…or rather has two totally different sides to it. The one side has a messy plot with cold characters and a lore that doesn’t actually keep you wanting to know more, while the other side gives us high-octane mecha action that leaves us cheering for more. I think this is a result of Hiro and Zero Two actually piloting together again.

Is this show a total mess, or has it just gotten off to a bad start? Well, I think it’s still too early to tell, despite being a full 4 episodes in. Sure, first impressions are everything when new anime seasons start, and Darling in the Franxx has (and somehow continues to give us) a ragtag group of kids who we can’t really warm to. In addition to this, the plot seems to bounce around here and there making it difficult to us to follow this at a comfortable pace. This week, as Mitsuru recovers from his injuries, he warns Hiro about how Zero Two tried to kill him in the last episode while they went full-throttle taking down a Klaxosaur. Ichigo knows that the team needs the new Franxx, and despite being upset about it, decides to let Hiro do what he wants; it’s not like she’s able to stop him anyway. As the team head off to another sortie, Zero Two is made ready to be redeployed, only for Hiro to step in. I actually won’t spoil the end part, as it is really worth watching, and is actually the first part of this show that I totally enjoyed, and made me glad I chose the show.

I also learned recently via Twitter that this week’s episode was actually the victim of rushed storyboarding, hence the sloppy animation in some parts. I plan to write up a full-length post on Darling in the Franxx and how it’s done so far soon, so I’ll explain more about this in that. Looking on Anitwitter, I see that this week’s offering has become rather polarising, with half of them liking where this is going, and the other half saying this is further proof that this is a really bad show.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is progressing well, as expected. In episode 5, Chiyo meets Nozaki’s standoffish editor, and learns about ghosts of editors past, who have ended up taking Nozaki’s story ideas, claiming them as their own and taking the credit. It was actually from this episode when I had actually forgotten what had happened in the show, so seeing this all again (almost as if it was like watching it for the first time) was very nice to see.

Is it a little too soon to say that I’m already compiling my list for Spring shows to watch? I have to keep on watching Darling in the Franxx anyway since it’s a 2-cour show (providing I don’t drop it out of anger), but reviewing Persona 5 The Animation will be a no-brainer (providing it’s still on for April). I’m even thinking about my next classic/out-of-season show. That’s not in a bad way, because I love Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun to pieces; I suppose you could just say that I’m planning way in advance since as I’m planning to get to get a qualification to teach English abroad, I’m going to be even more busy, so I guess thinking about it whilst I’m trying to study will pile on unnecessary stress?

Elsewhere in the anime community…

Interesting news came out recently that Netflix are to partner with studios Production I.G. and Bones, possibly with the intention of letting Netflix have exclusivity for any future shows of theirs. Some people have suggested the idea that, because of their success story in simulcasting (Violet Evergarden), the West could get shows as they air, but I am more doubtful. Netflix’s modus operandi is to release anime shows in their entirety, along with dubs of various languages (English, French, Spanish, German, etc.), thereby making it more accessible to the mainstream…but we’ll see.

How has your winter anime season been? Should Yuru Camp be renamed to Yuri Camp? Was this week’s episode of Franxx a turnaround episode? Do you think the right team won the Super Bowl? Feel free to air your opinions in the comments below…