Summer 2015 Season Wrap, Part 4

Better late than never, right? Finally, I am done talking about the summer shows! Did you see any of the four below?

  • Jitsu wa Watashi wa
  • Overlord
  • The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 2nd Season
  • Miss Monochrome: The Animation 2

Jitsu wa Watashi wa

There are harem anime. There are fantasy school anime. Then there’s Jitsu wa Watashi wa, a fantastical school harem that jumps beyond its genres and creates its own expectations. The opening episode is deceptive in its introduction of characters: we meet the weak male lead, see the unattainable love interest, avoid the annoying childhood friend, and wince at past failures. None of this catches the eye, but if you stick through, you are surprised along with Kuromine at the secret of his school and many of its students.

Lately I’ve been on a fantasy tv kick, with shows like Once Upon a Time, Grimm, and Lost Girl. They abound with magical creatures and fairy tale characters both familiar and strange. Jitsu wa follows a similar vein by bringing in vampires, aliens, demons, gods, and werewolves. What was once a perfectly normal high school suddenly becomes the setting for supernatural encounters. The show then proceeds with taking our knowledge of these beasts and spins them around. The vampire simply dislikes crosses; they don’t ward her away. The werewolf doesn’t suddenly become a furry beast at the moon’s beckoning–instead, he becomes a she, and vice versa. The alien is mere inches in height, and disguises herself in a life size human “suit” completely indistinguishable from real humans. Our demon has a sweet tooth and will destroy the earth if her cravings go unfulfilled. And dear Kuromine only wishes to tell the girl of his dreams about his real feelings, yet somehow keeps on his role of the forever friend. I was sad to see this show end after one short cours. I always appreciated its ability to take my expectations for characters and scenarios and dash them to pieces. I highly encourage this romantic comedy to any viewer looking to relax and laugh a lot🙂 Rating: 2 dango

Overlord

Almost entirely a one-man (skeleton?) show, Overlord centered on a single character with an increasing lack of humanity and connection to the real world. We started in what’s become a bit of a gimmick with video games–“Momonga” is the last player in the dying game of Yggdrasil. He stays logged on to the end out of respect of the game and the contributions of his elite guild, Ains Ool Gown. Not surprisingly, he isn’t kicked out when the time runs out. Instead, he finds that the virtual is now reality, and logging out isn’t an option. Former NPCs turn loyal subjects who maintain their programmed characteristics and abilities. We follow Momonga as he sets out to explore the limitations of his old, now new, realm. He quickly takes on his guild’s name, frequently shortened to Ains, and carves it into the minds of everyone he encounters.

I kept expecting Ains to run into another human player trapped in Yggdrasil, but we don’t see that until almost the end in an indirect series of events. The story mostly covers our protagonist feeling out the human-like emotions of former NPCs in a very non-human frame of mind, almost as if he truly is an undead wizard. Powers and collected items are tested, and it’s clear that Ains is the most powerful being left on Yggdrasil. The superiority is a it comical with repeated demonstrations, but the balance is kept at just the right level to maintain my interest in the show. When the unthinkable happens and Shalltear’s allegiance seemingly changes, the shock of the betrayals and possible competition is all the more satisfying. Rating: 1 dango

The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 2nd Season

I nearly dropped this show when I thought it would be just more of the same fluffy drama of the prequel. Yes, there was fluff, and yes there was drama, yet all of it combined with a threatening new direction kept my interests rooted in our girls’ futures. The opening episode starts off with a hopeful demonstration of the Cinderella Project—most of the girls’ schedules are booked, and our main trio have established a fan base. But apparently the progress made so far wasn’t enough. A new producer was brought in to oversee the production company and, of course, the Cinderella Project. With her firm grasp on the future, all those promises from the first season no longer looked to come true. Set groups were pulled apart into new ones, some girls left in the cold to find new directions, and others encouraged to quit. The fear and insecurity flowing through the once near-confident girls we came to (or were intended to) love from the previous season brought into fuzzy focus the cutthroat quality of their industry.

As is typical with these idol shows, this dark period did not last long. We didn’t get to concentrate on a few, or even one, girl on her journey back to normalcy, perhaps even self-destruction. We instead witnessed every one of the girls either embrace the changes, or pick up their chins and brace for the strange and terrifying. I guess that’s what draws most of the audience to these types of shows—they want to see the girls succeed, to struggle and overcome inner and outer trials. If that’s what you’re into, then you’ll likely really enjoy this sequel even more than the first. My favorite part was the ending arc where Uzuki struggled to find worth in herself not only as an idol, but also as a person. I’m sure her feelings of first normalcy, then later inferiority, ring painfully familiar for many people. It’s easy to see the good in others and wonder exactly what you bring to the table. I would have been pleasantly surprised if the show decided to unravel her fairy tale and send her back to a regular school girl’s life, but that wouldn’t have been true to the franchise, I guess. Rating: 1 dango

Miss Monochrome: The Animation 2

I thought another season of this short would be easy to fit in between other shows, but I was wrong. I had a difficult time feeling the desire to stay on top of this series—it ended up being the last one I finished, and I had to marathon a few episodes at the end so I could move on to the fall season. I think seeing those last few one after the other perhaps emphasized what it was that changed my feelings about Miss Monochrome. With the first season, I would watch a handful at a time. This time around, I mostly watched one episode every week, or couple of weeks. Some shorts are able to work with the interruptions; others do not. There’s nothing particular about this anime that stands out as a flaw other than my own familiarity with the character and comedy and subsequent disinterest in more of the same.

Much like the prequel, this follow-up shows Monochrome repeatedly committing show biz faux pas. She picks up odd assignments here and there not quite on the normal idol roster of events, and repeatedly makes costly jokes to her promoter. Where Monochrome shined was whenever she showed human feelings, like her emotional attachment to Battery-kun, jealousy of Akiko, and attempts at humor around Yayoi. Rating: 0 dango

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

4 thoughts on “Summer 2015 Season Wrap, Part 4

  1. I had even more of the same problem you did with Miss Monochrome: I realized after episode 1 that I just wasn’t into it at all, so I just dropped it there. As you say, it really didn’t feel like it brought anything new, just the same old Monochrome making the same old mistakes.

    For Idolmaster, I continue to like Cinderella Girls much more than the previous Idolm@ster series. For some reason I just connected with these characters more (perhaps because there was no Iori, Yayoi, Ami, or Mami). I kind of wish there had been more of a triumphant return of Uzuki with NewGen, but I felt like her struggles to hold on to her identity and confidence really resonated, especially as she watched the other girls make so much progress. If there was one regret I had about the show it was that I would have liked to see a lot more of Minami, who never really got much time in the spotlight, and who I thought could have been a very interesting character coming to being an idol from a perspective older than the other girls. This was similar to, tho not as egregious as, the way the first series wasted Azusa as a character, in my opinion. But overall, the cast from top to bottom was much more interesting to me, which really helped keep interest in the show high as it moved from group to group.

    I liked Overlord, but haven’t finished the last two episodes. For some reason, I’m just not very interested in Shalltear, and don’t know if I’ll ever bother to finish up the series. I liked that it went at its own pace, a pretty slow one, but was thorough and methodical. And I liked that Ains was pretty overpowered (which might be why I’m not that interested in the last fight). If you haven’t seen the short specials for the show, they’re fun in a silly way.

    And I’m so glad you liked Jitsu wa Watashi wa after I recommended it to you! I thought the show was just wonderful throughout, and did something rare: It truly let the characters run the show. It really was very authentic to them, and let their thoughts and feelings and reactions determine what happened and how things were resolved. And the way that they made the universe be its own thing, like you mention with Youko’s reactions to crosses and sunlight and the idea of sucking blood, or little Nagisa always wearing the same outfit as big Nagisa (even if it was a yukata or other special clothes). Unfortunately, the discs aren’t selling at all, which is too bad because I’d have loved to see more of this series, which was made with what felt like so much care.

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    • I’m so conflicted on whether or not I should pick up the third season of Monochrome since we finally have her about to do a big performance…but given how busy my schedule is both for anime and for personal life, I really should trim off as much as possible.

      It’s great you bring up Azusa of the first season to iDOLM@STER–she was hands down my favorite. Like you, I was disappointed in the lack of development for her character. Kirari from Cinderella Girls is probably the closest equivalent in age and maturity, and even she received more spotlight.

      The final battle between Ains and Shalltear, despite its predictable outcome, was still pretty interesting to me. Ains pulled out some tricks that he hadn’t really used in prior encounters and that blurred even further distinction between game and reality. I encourage you to go ahead and just sit through the final two episodes.

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      • My advice is always “If you don’t want to watch something, don’t watch it”. The time you already spent is a sunk cost, don’t commit a sunk cost fallacy and continue just because you already spent time.🙂 That’s my helpful advice for the day.

        I had thought Azusa was going to be my favorite character. Then they gave her one feature episode and it was, while funny, entirely a throwaway (and seemingly more focused on Makoto anyway). And then they abandoned her character for all intents and purposes. So that was really disappointing. Minami Nitta was a little better, as we got to see some of her struggle to continue to develop after President Mishiro plucked Anastasia out of Love Laika, but I’d still have liked to see more. I actually liked Kirari more as well, her speaking voice never bothered me, and the way she didn’t worry too much about her height was something I liked in her character.

        One of the things I liked about Overlord is that I didn’t think it was ever dealing with the world as ‘trapped in a game’, but maybe that’s what changes in the last couple episodes. To me it was always Ains saying “This is the world I live in now” with very little angst about it, even less than they had in Log Horizon (where it kind of boomeranged back to that).

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  2. Interesting, I felt the complete opposite for Miss Monochrome! It’s so cool how people see things differently!😀 Jitsu wa Watashi wa was so adorable, I also really liked that one!❤ I loved the animation style!🙂

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