Personal note: let me take a moment before my thoughts on the anime to apologize for my break in blogging. Life has been busy lately, as indicated in detail in the personal update box in the right-side column on my front page. I have been keeping up with a good number of anime this season, but have not had the time to sit down and really share my thoughts on them. For those of you who have stuck around, thank you for your continued support! Now on to my review!
Moyashimon Returns ended just recently and threw us hopes for another season in the making. Another sequel is exactly what this franchise needs given the somewhat odd direction that this second series takes. For those of you who have seen the live action version of Moyashimon (I have), or perhaps even read the manga (which I haven’t), this climax and focus on Haruka’s character probably wasn’t much of a shock. But for viewers solely familiar with the first season or perhaps jumping into Returns as a standalone show, the amount of time spent on her storyline may have felt overly long.
While there were definitely loose ends left from the first season, the original series wrapped up Haruka’s family issues just enough to have possibly forgone further elaboration in following shows. Instead, Returns devoted the majority of its airtime to someone who once felt more like a side character. Regardless of the odd choice of character development, the individual stories were still able to circle around a common theme of the pursuit of happiness.In the very last episode of the series, Professor Itsuki makes a very good point when he states, “Knowing everything won’t necessarily bring happiness, but if you give up trying to find out, it’s all over. If the thing that interests you most is here, you should stick to it diligently, and not try to rush.” This advice really pertains to every person of all age groups, but it rings especially true in the case of these college students. Having experienced that terror of the future myself repeatedly, it can still be difficult to remind myself that making mistakes in the course of my journey is not only acceptable, but sometimes even desirable. The lessons learned and unwavering interest should only serve to strengthen the resolve of the person involved.
Almost every one of Moyashimon Returns’ characters end up having to learn that lesson themselves during some point in the show, from Oikawa to Yuuki, for both Misato and Kawahama, and obviously for Haruka. Oddly enough, the only character to not really get much of an epiphany is our sometimes narrator, Tadayasu. Oikawa discovered through her participation in various school activities how much she really did enjoy agricultural work despite her former intolerance for microbes. Yuuki has always struggled with gender identity, but his arrival at the university and realized passion for sake brewing push him to let go of his inhibitions. Misato and Kawahama are still the pranksters that they were from the first season, but this sequel has them exploring the possibilities that their passion for alcohol has created. Haruka, in turn, must come to terms with her family and the betrothal that drove her to escape to college; has all the time she spent studying microbes really been nothing but a means for pushing off her marriage?
It is the unawareness of the future coupled with the urgency and quirkiness of this show’s young adults that makes both the characters and the setting so interesting to me. Of course the fermented food appeals to the foodie in me and of course I find the characterized microbes and their after show theater adorable, but it’s really the journey and experiences of the main cast that has me invested.
Another speciality that this show has are the numerous faces that make up the rest of the campus’ student and teacher population. The various clubs and disciplines that occupy the agricultural school lend an authentic air to the setting, and a show centered on any one of them would probably be just as fascinating as the current subject of microbes and fermentation. The school’s active student life has more of a bearing on the story in the first season, but there’s still plenty of action in this second series to bring back that nostalgic feeling. My favorite episodes are undoubtedly the ones featuring the Harvest Festival, where the entire university pitches together to share the fruits of their toil with the surrounding community. Nothing reminded me of the ridiculous and sometimes disgusting humor of the first season than the Harvest Festival arc. A nice, modernizing touch to it was the absence of Haruka and the sense of loss that her peers felt throughout the entire occasion.
As much as I enjoyed this follow up, I definitely cannot say that it surpasses the original. It doesn’t. However, much like how many other three or four or five part series do, this second season may serve as the slower paced session of character development setting everyone up for the next series. I hope that is the case!