I had too many month where the top image was Tanya the Evil pulling a deranged face so we need some Momo to balance it out.
I missed last month as I had fallen behind on some stuff, but I’ve had to accept keeping up when you have a full time job is tough. Still only seen one episode of Inuyashiki and need to catch up. Same with Kino’s Journey, although given what people are saying about it, I’m maybe less inclined to catch up there. Also stuck at four episodes of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, but I’m definitely done there because there’s only so long I can put up with someone’s skull-daddy fetish anime before I give in – yes that’s right that anime is bad and slow and blergh. Anyway, here’s all the actual good stuff from this season.
Blood Blockade Battlefront and Beyond
The part that pains me about this season is Blood Blockade is it’s so goddamn great but the one thing it needs to push it over the edge to become a true classic is exactly the thing the last season tried and failed miserably at. The moment to moment action is fantastic and still maintains that energy of direction and animation the first season nailed so perfectly. I continue to love each character with extremely distinct personalities and how the show isn’t afraid to make our heroes look like complete dorks. Each episodic story is usually quite strong with something subtle but heartfelt at the centre of it. The whole thing is so fun and all it needs is some strong over-arching story or themes to pull it all together into a classic…which is what last season had and it was fucking terrible. This season is better for not having that, but boy now that we’re most of the way through, it’s clear why you would look at this story and feel it does need that overarching narrative.
Girl’s Last Tour
I’ve only watched one episode of the new Kino’s Journey, but judging from some of the reaction I’m reading online, it sounds like the new season has lost a lot of people to quite extreme degrees. So maybe it’s better I haven’t caught up and have been watching Girl’s Last Tour instead, which in many ways reminds me of Kino’s Journey. Travelling through this land, meeting interesting scenery and people, and in doing so learning more about the world, themselves and society. I’m probably one of the few people who like the heavy-handed approach it takes. It wears its metaphors on its chest proudly and I can usually say I’m fond of what it does with them. Wandering around in the dark sure helps bring home the fear of what life after death is like, things like that. Its theme running through the show that what you are doing may lead to nothing but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile gives it a proper through-line which helps elevate the piece as a whole. Also they dab in the OP, which is a big plus in my book.
Land of the Lustrous
This is such a completely unique anime that any criticism I may have for it melts away in face of its ambition and originality. From the directing style to the plot to story. It’s so different and stylised and increasingly fucking bleak that I can’t muster up any irritation for some of its drawbacks. Phos is a legitimately great character, from a pure surface level entertaining person to watch right down to her core of dreams and fears that drive her actions. The scene of her contemplating chopping off her own arms, willing to destroy her own memories and potentially completely change her personality due to her own self-loathing is a harrowing scene even in the context of androgynous crystal people with incredible butts. It’s also the first full-length anime that feels elevated for being a full CG production (the first actual good-for-being-CG-anime was Fireball and don’t you forget that). Kado came close but that was only the alien stuff, the actual people looked fucking stupid in that show. It only took the most original anime this decade to find something CG works with, which makes it an alarmingly difficult thing to recreate.
March Comes in Like a Lion 2
It took me a while to get into this season because for ages it didn’t feel like it was addressing anything that was central to the part of the story I cared about aka: Why is our main character such a sad sack. If we’re not directly focusing on his depression then all the rest is just pastel colours, shogi and Shaft-isms I struggle to get invested in. The part with the creepy husband fooling around with high school dropouts, the senior shogi players, didn’t care about any of it. The whole bullying story was not particularly interesting to me either UNTIL they connecting it directly to the main character and how in holding our her hand to the bullied girl, it felt to him like she had held out a hand to young him. That was what justified the whole arc to me and got me emotionally invested in what was happening. This wasn’t a conscious caring about events. Rather I didn’t know why I wasn’t getting into the new season and started to get worried maybe March wasn’t for me anymore. It wasn’t until the story made that connection did I get back into it again. Now it’s back, it’s as great as ever.
Welcome to the Ballroom
I’ve finally come around to the side that this is simply not a good adaptation of the manga. The source material shines through sometimes, and the story massively improved when they brought in that feisty redhead. But for something where the human body is so central to how it tells its story, the attempts to tell any part of the story visually are so dreadful it dramatically impacts its efforts to portray what is supposed to be happening. You would think this is what it should have over static manga pages, but the artwork is so awful a static shot works better. It’s not just those necks, although the random giraffe moment are certainly the lowlights. It’s not as if a lack of effort went in or some clear budgetary constraints existed either since there is a lot of movement happening. It’s seems like whoever is drawing the scenes never actually watched dancers in real life so don’t understand how the bodies are supposed to look. Yuri on Ice might have had ambition for its dance sequences higher than it was actually able to convey, meaning some of the moves looked kinda derpy, but they always managed to get across the emotion they were supposed to. Ballroom feels like a failure in directing and storyboarding.
I don’t think I have laughed at the second season since episode 3, and that was only because Crunchyroll accidentally loaded in the subtitles for a completely different anime. I struggled for a while to articulate why I wasn’t digging this season as much as last. Yeah it’s partly because the concept has gotten old now and being weird and unique doesn’t carry you anymore. But after asking around on Twitter I got some people helping me get to the core of why it wasn’t funny anymore: It’s just mean-spirited now. It stopped being a fun series and now the Osomatsus flailing around in their own incompetence is dull because they lack that human element that made them somewhat more rounded characters in the first season. I think I might be done with the series overall now. If it doesn’t have any new ideas and just rolls around in its own character’s shittiness then I don’t see what’s worth sticking around for anymore.