Wow halfway through the season already! (I guess this is just tradition now…) Also the final Mid-Season review of the year! After the FlipFlappiversary is over, the FlipFlapping Anniversary will be coming up shortly afterwards. But that’s for later. For now, how are the season’s shows coming along anyway?
Konohana Kitan (6 Episodes)
Konohana Kitan has just blown me away, even with my relatively high expectations, I am astounded every week at how excellent this show truly is. Episode 3 dived hard into Natsume and Ren as a couple, almost effortlessly conveying how deep their feelings for each other run, even if they haven’t quite managed to fully convey that to each other.
The addition of Okiku, cursed doll cum adorable miniature maid was surprisingly well done. She’s a lot of fun to watch, hopefully she can get a little more development. The most recent episode explored Yuzu in-depth for the first time, showing that she deserves her spot as the central character. From an adorable feral baby foxgirl, to a somewhat timid child to an adolescent who wants to explore the world.
If you have any interest in Japanese folklore, or just enjoy seeing well-developed romantic relationships between girls, please give Konohana Kitan a watch, it is easily the most underrated show of the season.
Houseki no Kuni (6 Episodes)
The Gems are very good, but also very sad. Houseki no Kuni has a melancholy pervading it that very few shows can match. Yellow Diamond perhaps articulated it best in the most recent episode. They have been alive (such as it is, for these immortal gems) for 3500 years. Over that time they have lost friends to the Lunarians. And yet, as they glue the head back onto their current partner, they no longer remember what they were even fighting for.
Houseki no Kuni has raised many questions, but perhaps the most salient one is what use is life to an immortal. This is not a new question, many works of fiction have explored it in a variety of ways. Houseki no Kuni has yet to come close to an answer, if there even is one. However the gems, for all their immortality, still do strive to live, and to love. Perhaps that is all that is necessary, to be considered human.
Love Live Sunshine 2 (6 Episodes)
Sunshine has been hitting it out of the park this season, which is easily the best season of Love Live thus far. Perhaps the biggest surprise is just how excellent the performances have been. “My Mai Tonight” is easily my favorite of any song and performance in the anime, and the most recent song “Miracle Wave” is very nearly as good. Such an incredible improvement from how the series started out.
The show has also tried to mix up the girls, to bring out new interactions. Even more than with u’s, Aqours was very segretated into 1st/2nd/3rd year groups in its first season. The episode where the 1st and 3rd years have to write a song together or when Yohane and Riko try to deal with a stray dog, really helps show that they can interact outside those groupings and still be fun and compelling. Hopefully we get a lot more of that in the second half!
Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (6 Episodes)
Chito and Yuuri continue their travels through the remains of a dead and dying world, yet somehow this isn’t the most melancholy show of the season. Not to say that it doesn’t have that aspect, it does, but the focus tends to be more on the joys of discovery and companionship.
In the most recent episode, Chito and Yuuri run into another person, for only the second time thus far. Both episodes end with that person losing their entire life’s work, but being able to continue on. Kanazawa to make more maps and Ishii, descending to the lowest levels on her parachute. Chito tells Ishii that she may be the last pilot in history. Later on, Chito records what they did with Ishii in her journal. Chito is, perhaps, writing the last history of the human race. That’s sad but…well, how it is.
URAHARA (6 Episodes)
In episode 3 URAHRA finally figured out how to be an actual anime with characters and coherent plotting and its been a pretty fun Magical Girl romp since then. The setting is still bizarre and doesn’t really hold up and the scooper enemies exploding into snacks sure does happen, but the characters are only getting better.
All three of the main girls, Rito, Mari and Kotoko have gotten more fleshed out, with their individual insecurities and worries being focal points of episodes. Misa, the mysterious little girl, has been both heartwarming and sinister, and its unclear which is her true face. And the new character Sayumin has become a reliable older sister for all the girls, giving them a non-threatening ear to spill their worries.
Now hopefully the show ends up actually going somewhere.
Kino no Tabi (6 Episodes)
Kino no Tabi has been unfortunately somewhat disjointed. The use of a poll of novel readers to choose what stories were covered was, perhaps, ill-advised. The first few episodes were surprisingly action packed for Kino, while episodes 5 and 6 have been a lot more sedate and introspective. It’s still probably not as good as the 2003 anime, though final judgement should be reserved till it is over.
Episode 6 was my favorite thus far, and the one with the least amount of Kino. Hopefully Photo will have a chance to appear again, but even if not, she was a great character, even in the very short amount of time we knew her.
Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou (5 Episodes)
So episode 5 of WUG2 was perhaps the least-animated alleged anime I’ve seen….in a long time. There are apparently issues with the show’s production, but the upshot is that the episode was almost entirely still shots, pans over background art, and creative ways of showing as little movement as possible.
It did not look good, and was incredibly detrimental to the show. That being said, the basic concepts of what the show is doing are fine, but the production has become a serious hindrance to telling its story. Hopefully later episodes are better, but things are not looking good.
Two Car (6 Episodes)
Two Car barely hangs on each week. I consider dropping it, but never quite do because whatever secondary characters they are focusing on are just barely compelling enough to keep me watching. The two leads however have become increasingly insufferable. Their bickering and fighting is actively unpleasant to watch, and makes them almost intolerable, even putting aside their crush on faceless coach man.
Honestly I’m mostly waiting for the show to give me a good excuse to drop it, but I will say this, it’s better than Netsuzou Trap. Barely.