Winter 2017 Season Wrap, Part 1

I’ve started to notice blossoms along the path I take when walking my dog, and I haven’t had to adjust the heater for a few weeks now, so I guess winter is finally coming to an end. As much as I detest being cold, I hate heat even more, so it is with mixed emotions that I say farewell to the winter season. There were a number of gems this time around that I am sad to see end, namely 3-gatsu no Lion, Demi-chan, and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. They each impacted me in unique ways and left me thoughtful of my own relationships and contributions.

This anime season seemed to fly by even more quickly than usual, perhaps due to me actually keeping on schedule for the first time in a long while. I have decided to split my season review into a couple of posts, largely because Tales of Zestiria the X announced a delayed final episode. If you don’t see one of your favorite shows listed immediately below, see if it is included in my list at the end of this review.

  • 3-gatsu no Lion
  • Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen
  • Demi-chan wa Kataritai
  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2
  • Masamune-kun no Revenge
  • Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu S2
  • Seiren
  • Urara Meirochou

*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.

3-gatsu no Lion

Kiriyama Rei’s journey isn’t over yet, but we are taking a break after 22 episodes and will resume later this year. I’m relieved over the decision to continue sooner rather than later, and only wish we could’ve continued without interruption. Whatever the reason for the breather, I’ll count myself lucky in the knowledge that we will see more of Rei, shogi, and the Kawamoto sisters.

Our protagonist still has quite a ways to go in his journey of self discovery. He’s already taken several steps in the right direction, in no small part thanks to those around him. Without people like Kawamoto Akari, Hina, Nikaido, Shimada, and Hayashida-sensei, Rei seems more inclined to close himself off to any possibility of discomfort. We see this repeatedly in his awkward conversations and in his spartan home furnishings. Yet as prone as he is to seek solitude, we also see his yearning for companionship. He may want to deny it, but relationships are a good part of what makes life fulfilling. Familial relationships, romantic relationships, friendly relationships–they define who we are and are not, creating a space for the self.

I’m hoping that in the next series, we will see further growth in his character and confidence. There’s already promise in Rei’s joining of both Shimada’s master class and formation of his high school’s Science Shogi Club. Now if he can just give in more often to his desire to visit the Kawamoto household, I would be 10x happier. The last episode of this season also set up an obvious confrontation between Rei and Souya, though I imagine that will make up the last climax of the sequel after much build up.

Rating: 2 dango

Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen

Kyoto Fujouou-hen on the whole gave too little too late for me to completely re-bond with the characters, but I did have a fun time romping around with them. I’m hoping now that we’ve received a sequel that a third season chasing all the loose ends won’t be too long in following. I have to admit I owe it to the Kyoto setting for snagging my interest long enough for me to start re-investing in Rin and his classmates. It was nostalgic seeing again many of the places I went to a couple of years ago–I did not, however, go to Kyoto Tower. Sorry, Rin!

But back to this series and all my gripes and pleasures. Though it took a while for me to warm up to the cast, I did quickly remember my irritations, namely the epidemic of misunderstanding. It came as no surprise that almost all of Rin’s classmates shunned him following the events of the first season–that’s just how they roll. So many of the people in this series jump to conclusions and prejudice without any kind of communication. Bon’s reaction to Rin’s secret makes sense, but the extent to which he gave in to his anger was petty given the circumstances. Shiemi and her embarrassment at her own seeming ineffectiveness again fits, but she disappointed me the longer she kept her distance. And most irritating of all was Yukio, whose ongoing self-loathing and over-protectiveness of Rin tasted like the same meal served over multiple days. It’s old, boring, and will likely blow into unforgivable acts should a third season ever happen. The sooner we get there, the sooner we’ll either get rid of his character or see a long-awaited improvement in his temperament.

Regardless of the formulaic personalities and plot, I still basked in the setting combining the occult with Japanese culture. The two fit together just right, and the character designs (excepting Shura) perfectly suit the practicing exorcists and students-in-training.

Rating: 0 dango

Demi-chan wa Kataritai

No! I need another season of Demi-chan interviews and Sakie crushing on Tetsuo. This anime brought with it an unexpected, yet welcome, discourse on topics relevant to today, including diversity, identity, and discrimination–both intended and unintended. Here I was expecting an easygoing high school fantasy focusing mainly on fan service, and instead I found myself applying many of the scenarios to everyday life and the current sociopolitical climate.

I realize the way I’m describing the show makes it sound preachy, but it’s far from that tone. Yes, the characters muse on their own feelings and the actions of others, but they don’t feel forced. If anything, they come across as more natural than other “daily life” shows where hardly anything of substance comes into discussion. It’s natural that minorities like these demi will notice how they impact their surroundings. The girls also represent a spectrum of the supernatural, from vampires like Hikari and snow women like Yuki who look the same as any other human, to Dullahan like Machi who can’t hide her nature no matter the situation. Watching the girls confront their identities as Demi-humans helps the viewer to better understand the Other, whether that be someone of another race, ethnicity, sex, or physical capability.

I so badly wanted to see the succubus teacher, Sakie, overcome her daily inconveniences and pursue Tetsuo. The show did acknowledge that desire with the swimsuit scene, which delighted and mortified me at the same time. This show and its characters will be sorely missed. I highly recommend it to any viewer, since it includes an enjoyable mixture of comedy and drama, as well as reminds us to walk in another’s shoes from time to time.

Rating: 2 dango

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2

At last, my time with Kazuma & Friends this season has come to an end! I am certain this will not be the last we see of this party, but I’m willing to wait for an unknown amount of time until that third season is announced. To be perfectly honest, I found the circumstances of almost every episode equally funny and painful. The cringe worthy stupidity had me seeking to catch up on other winter anime first. The only reason why I finished this 10-episode season somewhat on schedule is because KWoo loves the anime. It’s the same reason why he watched Prison School despite me noping right out of it. Heck, I couldn’t even enjoy Watamote because I found the situations too repulsive.

KonoSuba’s sequel follows in much of the same spirit as the first installment in humor and tragedy. Our group has the worst luck no matter how much the odds are stacked in their favor, and what good fortune they do find is usually spoiled by their own actions. Kazuma is still a lecherous bastard, Aqua an insufferable narcissist, Darkness a masochist masquerading as a knight, and Megumin a pyro junkie.

The comedy also continues its masterful construction with some seemingly unrelated scenes, like Aqua purifying Kazuma’s tea near the start and her purification of Arcanretia’s hot springs cropping up again at the end. Some of my favorite skits include Vanir’s possession of Darkness and the group’s encounter with Axis believers.

Rating: 1 dango


Masamune-kun no Revenge

I should have listened to my instincts and dropped this show at the start. While there are certainly plenty of shows out there far worse than Masamune-kun, there wasn’t anything else on my schedule this season more boring.

The beginning presentation wasn’t too bad, and the hope of seeing the main hook brought to light and fruition was probably what kept me hanging on until the end. Hottie Masamune Makabe, you see, was a fat kid with a low self-esteem and a bratty attitude. The one little girl to take pity on him and befriend him turned down his confession in an admittedly rude way (c’mon, kids usually have no tact), turning him into a determined vengeance-seeker. When we meet him as a high school student, Makabe is a fitness freak with a single mission on mind: win Adagaki Aki’s heart and break it. Luckily for him, she no longer has any clue of his true identity as the chubby little boy who warmed her heart.

The nature of the show’s set up and characters made it clear that we would likely see plenty of predictability, but I was hoping with the twisted premise that a tad bit of originality would win out in the end. Sadly, that was not to be the case. As expected, Makabe and Aki do start to soften up towards one another, but no real headway is made towards developing their characters. My favorite girl, Fujinomiya Neko, gets shafted by the boring people around her and the story into which she’s written.

Also note that there’s no ending. We’re set up for some kind of continuation with an upcoming trip to Paris, but who knows if that’ll be an entire new series, a special, or a movie. I don’t know, and I really don’t care.

Rating: 0 dango

Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu

KWoo and I feel spoiled lately with all the attention paid to cycling. This winter’s offering was Minami Kamakura High School Girl’s Cycling Club, which played exactly as it sounded. Our story centers on a group of high school girls who form a cycling club. Setting up a brand new club is a pretty standard conflict in high school anime, and it entails gathering members, an adviser, a meeting place, equipment, and events. It does take the entire run of the anime for the club to be officially recognized, but they accomplish many goals on their journey.

I do feel the need to compare MinaKama to the previous season’s cycling series, Long Riders!, which focuses on college girls and the team they create. Both shows feature all female characters, and both take an educational tone. I actually learned useful information about bicycles and different cycling styles by watching these series (I’m judging you, YowaPeda). MinaKama also included live action lessons at the end of each episode with two of the voice actresses. As similar as these anime are, I felt that MinaKama fell short in quality of characters and story. Each of the girls we meet could be exchanged for some other girl of the same archetype; I struggle to remember any of their names. The one noticeable trait about the protagonist is that the same actress voiced Bakuon!!’s Hane, who sounds and acts exactly the same as Hiromi. Both girls also share a ditsy excitement for their new hobbies.

As mentioned previously, the new club structure makes the events follow a set schedule. Like their school’s principal implies at the end, the simple element of enjoyment is missing from the girls’ actions. They’re so set on creating their club that they seem to forget to simply have fun–they take on tasks out of obligation rather than pleasure. Though their principal takes a roundabout path to this reminder, I appreciate that she bothered with the sentiment at all.

Rating: 0 dango

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu S2

We’ve come to the end of our run with the Eighth Generation Yakumo and rakugo, and the show’s closure was just as masterful as the rest of this story. We covered decades by Kikuhiko/Yakumo’s side, with this sequel spanning life during his “grandfather” years. Following on the first season’s announcement of Konatsu’s pregnancy, we watch Yotaro blossom as a storyteller, Shinnosuke charm everyone around him as a child, Konatsu find her direction in life first as a mother, then later as a shamisen player and rakugo artist, and Yakumo defy both death and the continuation of rakugo. The drama of all of the players center on rakugo and the old man, with each dictating the lives of all involved, arguably for the better.

While this second season feels wholly different from the first due to the time period and characters, I hesitate to say that one is better than the other. Both are masterpieces, and both are necessary for the viewer to best understand the sentiment of the cast members and the world they occupy. In terms of flow, I do think this sequel moved more smoothly. It also did a wonderful job of uniting the many ideas and threads raised earlier in the story. And while Yakumo’s physical journey ended in the penultimate episode, his influence carried on into the last and its sixteen-year time skip. It’s essential that the tale didn’t just end with Yakumo’s crossing into Death; the audience needed to see the evolution of rakugo.

As much as I love this story, I do have a few areas to nitpick on. These minor irritations don’t greatly impact my overall opinion, but I do wish they had been reconsidered. First, I found the physical intimacy between Shinnosuke and his little sister Koyuki oddly sexual. It didn’t help that we already had an example of mock incest with Yotaro still calling his wife “onee-san”, but I am willing to chalk that up to habit as well as the Japanese term for a young woman. Maybe Shinnosuke’s and Koyuki’s comfort with one another bothers me because I’m an only child, or because of the frequency of incest in anime.

Second, I did not care for the suggestion that Shinnosuke’s true father might be Yakumo. This gives me nasty memories of the true ending to Usagi Drop. Yakumo essentially raised Konatsu into adulthood, so the idea that they might have had a sexual encounter, one time or not, doesn’t sit right with me.

Third, while I understood the meaningful act of introducing Konatsu as the first female rakugo performer, history states otherwise. I’m on the fence on this decision. History buffs and rakugo fans understandably wouldn’t want a misrepresentation of information, but they also need to understand that this anime is historical fiction. None of these people existed in real life, though the stories they tell on stage are authentic works.

I consider Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu an anime classic that every fan of anime and storytelling–written or performed–should watch. In a way, I’m reminded of how lyrics and poetry are sometimes used in prose. Some people skip over the songs in Tolkien works, while others memorize or sing them aloud. Yet no matter the type of story or number of times performed, each of the rakugo performances in this anime held me captive. I listened and watched, enamored in the art.

Rating: 3 dango

Seiren

My first foray into the anthology romance is finally over and I think I’m a little better than expected; I even welcome a second season as implied by the anime’s opening credits. We experienced three scenarios with the same male protagonist. The setting, characters, and many of the events remain the same–what changes are small things that propel our main character to a different girl, like hobbies and fetishes. I held a higher standard for the anime after the Tsuneki arc since I enjoyed her personality and their repartee. And while her ending was not quite what I would have wished for, it still left the door open for my imagination. Unfortunately, interest in the girls and show declined from there.

Toru’s arc and the whole gaming experience was fun–don’t get me wrong–but I never clicked with her personality like I did with Tsuneki’s mischievous flirting. Even though this second arc was supposed to feature Toru and Kamita, I would perk up every time Tsuneki waltzed onto the screen–even when she played a bit of an antagonist. I loved the consistency of the deer details, which was started in the first arc and ramped up in Toru’s story with their favorite video game and its associated sexual innuendos.

Then there was the last arc featuring childhood friend Kyoko. As a rule, I tend to support the childhood friend character since the connection makes sense and they are typically a type of sweet personality I love. Yes, Kyoko is a nice girl, but she’s also boring and plays hard to get at the most unexpected of times. I wish hers had not been the story to finish out the season, but there’s no changing that now.

Despite my declining interest and outright dislike for one of the arcs, I still like Seiren for its style and format. I particularly love seeing the time skips at the end of each arc showing us the results of these romances several years into the future. Tsuneki may have been my favorite girl, but I laughed the hardest at the future shown with Toru.

Rating: 1 dango

Urara Meirochou

Urara Meirochou filled my cute girls show slot this season and succeeded in pleasing me much more than I had anticipated. It admittedly did not start off on the best foot, with the introduction of a gag that would repeat itself through the rest of the season. Regardless, I leave this series fondly and do hope to see more of these girls and the Meirochou soon.

The act that raised a possible flag in the very first episode was the moment that Chiya rolled up her clothes and bared her naked stomach to convey both an apology and a desire for reconciliation. I reacted much like the characters in the show did upon seeing this for the first time: I pulled away in shock and wanted her to cover up. I thought this was the show’s way of including fan service, and while that is true to a certain extent, the act is meant to be more innocent and endearing rather than sexual. Like additional visuals assert, we should see her more as a cute animal exposing its belly in submission instead of a young girl trying to turn us on with a flash of skin.

A similar sweet and silly atmosphere permeates each episode and keeps us cheerful on the prospects of our girls succeeding in their goals of becoming high-ranking urara and of Chiya meeting her mother. Along with Chiya, Kon, Koume, and Nono, we learn different methods of divination, including tea leaf reading and crystal ball gazing, as well as more occult-associated activities like fox spirit summoning and tarot cards.

I thought it interesting how the show brought together seemingly opposing spiritual beliefs, like gods and traditionally evil spirits. Perhaps this is more typical of eastern faiths, but I find it odd from a western perspective. I wouldn’t normally equate fortune tellers and witches to those who commune with gods. There’s also the grand mystery of Chiya’s parenthood–I assumed early on that her mother is the legendary urara who stands at the top of their hierarchy. Then who is the father? Part of me thinks she might be a demi-god of sorts, especially given her early connection with a being that could be a god or a spirit. None of this is answered by the end of the season, but I’m hoping that should a sequel be announced more answers will be provided.

Rating: 1 dango


Upcoming reviews:

  • ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
  • Gabriel DropOut
  • Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon (is this ending this season???)
  • Kuzu no Honkai
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
  • Onihei
  • Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season
  • Youjo Senki
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13 thoughts on “Winter 2017 Season Wrap, Part 1

  1. The next half of Sangatsu no Lion will likely be focusing more on Rei and the girls – in many ways my favorite parts of the manga up to now. It becomes intense in a different way, but really good … for me I still kinda wish another studio had been given the job of adaptation, but oh well – it is what it is. How they adapt the material in season two will be … well, I am definitely curious.

    Seiren though … I really wanted to like this series,but it felt clumsily handled when the cows came home. Kinda disappointing and … underwhelming for me.

    Urara, as you know, is one of my fave surprises of the season, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The world building and detial was extremely detailed and interesting, to a degree I did not expect it would show. As you mentioned elsewhere it got unexpectedly deep at times, which is good, but kinda makes it frustrating that it did not get a fuller treatment. Ah well. Even so, I thought the studio did a great job with it.

    Demi-chan was a fantastic adaptation in my opinion, perhaps my fave of the season, and enjoyable at every step. Ah yes – I also really liked the ED of it. One of my faves of the season. ^^

    Looking forward to more of your season wrap up later on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If Sangatsu’s sequel features more of the girls, I will be one happy lass. Now I’m looking forward to it even more! I was skeptical at the start with SHAFT at the helm, but I’ve liked their approach so far. They’re not going overboard like they tend to do, opting for more obvious (daresay tasteful) symbolism that beautifully captures the emotions of the characters on screen. But I haven’t seen the original work, so perhaps much of that is dictated in the manga. I can’t really think of a studio that better suits the show–might you have a preference?

      I’m definitely going to try out Amagami SS now that I’ve seen Seiren. I was scared of the format at first, but it was fun seeing the relationships actually succeed, and the time skips were pretty satisfying. Yes, it was clumsy, and I’m hoping that if a sequel does occur, more care is taken in the writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A different studio for Sangatsu? Production I.G. No contest. (Maybe Madhouse if I.G. were unavailable?) In any event it is what it is. And yes – the girls come up more. Prepare for some drama. And heart rending moments. Man. Also – leave nothing near your viewing screen that could break it if hurled in frustration when certain things arise. 😄

        As for Amagami SS … don’t forget that there is also Amagami SS+ , which is a one cour series and effectively “tacks” two more eps on the four in Amagami SS. Many of them are really good, but one of the arcs NEEDED all 6 eps, b/c of the choices made in Amagami SS for one of the heroines (I was so indignant to see what they did to her arc! Argh!)

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        • I tend to watch anime surrounded by pillows, so I’ll be in good form should I need to squeeze anything to death or throw something at the screen 😀 And I had a bit of a feeling you’d suggest Production I.G., and now I’m patting myself on the back for it. What is it specifically about SHAFT’s work that you don’t like?

          And thanks for the tip on SS+. I had only picked up SS, so before I watch that, I’ll get the other episodes!

          Liked by 1 person

      • What about Shaft’s adaptation did I not like, eh? Hmm….

        It may in part be mainly to my encountering the story in the manga medium – I am a manga first, anime second kinda person. In some ways I felt as if the Shaft adaptation were more … erm … “constricted”, or even “limited” or “minimalist” (though not in a way I like). The manga to me felt more … full. Perhaps even three dimensional and filled with seasons of the year that were plump with richness? I guess?

        Perhaps I could put it like this: the anime feels like the first course of a magnificent meal. Only. The manga plunked me down at the table with all the courses on the table.

        How Shaft presented things thus far is not “wrong” per se, but it feels decidedly from one angle or perspective, which, while interesting (because the subject matter IS interesting in general) still feels a bit incomplete.

        Of course this is just my opinion and take on things, other people may feel differently, of course. I guess in my mind’s organization I see the anime as a good means for drawing a certain selection of viewers to the source manga who may not have sought out such a work to begin with. It could be a helpful bridge in that sense, maybe? But hopefully once they came to their destination they would have their inner world enriched above and beyond the means by which they arrived?

        Not sure if this makes much sense, but hopefully at least it qualifies as an attempt to answer your question?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m always surprised when I come across a manga-first person, mostly because I struggle with manga sources. Do you buy hard copies, or read digitally? If online, do you recommend a good place? I typically only pick up hard copy of a manga if I’ve already read it or loved the anime–getting them blindly feels like a risky move since each volume is pretty pricey at around $10.00 on the cheaper end. Online, it’s tough to find a site that balances legality with quality and quantity. Perhaps I’m alone in thinking this?

          If the original work of Sangatsu no Lion is even more filling than the anime, then I feel obligated to read it! I have a hard time imagining even more satisfying visuals and storytelling.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like the sound of 3-gatsu no Lion — self discovery, the exploration of different relationships. Really my type of anime. I’d probably watch that as soon as I get the time (possibly next week!).

    I’m actually thinking of re-watching the entire S1 + movie of Ao no Exorcist before getting into this new season. I already have in mind, before it starts, that one of the issues I’ll encounter here is re-connecting with the characters. Sounds like that’s one of the things you had as well. I hope that S3 won’t take too long.

    Also, I’m excited to read your thoughts on Gundam since it’s the only show I’m watching this Winter. (I’ll probably get back to watching anime weekly this Spring because of Attack on Titan and Eccentric Family!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, please do try Sangatsu no Lion when you have the chance, and let me know what you think! Since we’re getting a continuation later this year, you’ll have plenty to look forward to 🙂

      I am very fond of the Ao no Exorcist franchise, having fallen in love with the world with the first season. It’s a shame that this sequel came so long after, and that so much remains unaddressed. A rewatch of everything sounds like a great idea, though it might make you want a third season even more!

      And I will definitely post my thoughts about IBO once it’s finished, though that might be later rather than sooner. I’m still not he fence about whether I should hold off on my second wrap until Zestiria is done, or just go ahead without it.

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  3. I watched all of these shows except Rakugo and AoExorcist, so here’s what I thought of them:

    Sangatsu no Lion really needs to get back to Rei and the 3 sisters. I get the feeling that they were trying to work on the independence angle, but that never felt like what Rei needed. With them out of the entirety of the second cour of this show, it just felt flat, like the show lost its heart. Having it get back to them in the next bit will be needed and welcome.

    KonoSuba was a bit disappointing. It felt like they were trying to get through with just too much of Aqua crying and the others playing to type to do something interesting. And it really feels like Wiz is a cheap “Get the writer out of a jam” card to play. It just didn’t bring as much chemistry as the first series did, so there was a lot of empty space where comedy would have been.

    Demi-chan was terrific. Meaningful, great messaging, great examples of how to be people. And the adaptation is better than the source, with better cohesion and flow (I would go back and read the parts that were presented in the show so I wasn’t spoiled). I also want to see Sakie and Tetsuo work on becoming a couple, but as I argued in my wrapup post for the show, that’s all on Sakie now. Tetsuo is respecting the boundaries she put up, and her attempts to appeal to him with sexiness are just crashing right into those exact boundaries. She needs to make the difference with words, not being a succubus.

    I actually really liked Masamune-kun. I thought that it was going to make both Makabe and Aki be terrible people, but instead it made them as authentic teenagers, a little too stuck on the things they’d already decided even as reality made those decisions moot (him for revenge on her, her for avoiding all boys). I also thought that Neko was a great character, someone who was looking out for herself, but not in a way that really harmed anyone else. It didn’t hit you over the head with harem stuff, and even got the others out of the way with Futaba’s and Neko’s rejections.

    I personally thought that MinaKama did a better job overall than Long Riders!, since it felt like it got more of the basics of riding out there and in use more quickly. I also didn’t miss Ami’s whining. It was a little slow to get going, taking maybe 3 too many episodes to get the club underway, but then they did fill the rest of the show with good things about cycling. That stuff probably came at the expense of the character development, which seems to have disappointed you a bit. I also felt like MinaKama did the CG well, without it being so obvious like it was in Long Riders. I especially liked in the OP the long shot of them all standing on the pedals, and how authentic it looked with them rocking back and forth.

    Seiren ended up disappointing for me. Nowhere near the quality of Amagami, it was actually more like Photo Kano. I prefer my romances like this to be more “working on being a couple” rather than “how they get together” and the ways they got together just didn’t end up being that interesting. The best part was the senpais from the Home Ec Club (who have appeared in not just Amagami, but also in KimiKiss). I hope that the writing steps up in the next arcs if we get them.

    Urara ended up better than I expected. It was a bit silly, and left some things that I just didn’t really think were making much sense. Fun enough to watch, but not one that I’d really recommend to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The show really does warm up every time the sisters are on the screen, though I think there is a different kind of warmth in the company of Nikaido and Shimada-sensei. The girls’ absence will probably make their return all the more rewarding 🙂
      Wiz’s part in the battle really did feel out of place, didn’t it? She’s been such a side character for both seasons, and for her to suddenly take center stage in the battle was startling. I felt guilty for some reason with how much I avoided watching the most recent episode, but your description justifies my feelings in a way, so thank you for that.
      I’m surprised whenever I stumble across a Masamune fan, and I’m even more shocked to hear you praise it. While I get the idea of turning the main characters’ motivations into teenage angst, I still wanted some development for the main conflict–it’s the whole reason that makes this otherwise-average story interesting. And I still can’t get over that waste of a final episode. Ack!
      I had no idea that the Home Ec Club in Seiren was a reoccurring item, so I look forward to seeing them again in Amagami when I watch it.
      I have to admit that Ami’s whining in Long Riders! was not missed in the slightest. I wish the criterium in MinaKama had been tightened to one episode so we could spend more time on other activities–it just added to the feeling of overall slowness. I also wish the exchange student had made an earlier entrance; I kept waiting for her to appear and when she finally did, it was already near the end of the season. The CG in Long Riders! never bothered me, but I agree that it was integrated better in MinaKama. Actually, the overall art was better in MinaKama.

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  4. The overall art in MinaKama was gorgeous. It didn’t really go back to the jaw-dropping beauty that it had in the first episode, although I wonder how much of that was familiarity, in that we got used to it. I thought the length of the criterium was actually really good, in that it ended up being, in total, about the length of a 10 km race (less than half an hour). When I thought about that, I didn’t have a problem with it being presented the way it was (unlike the egregious example of YowaPeda taking more than one whole episode for the last 500 meters of a frickin’ sprint, which would have been done in 2 minutes real-time). I would have liked to see Sandy show up a little earlier, but only if they had toned her down. When she did show up, she really took over the show, and I would have been really tired of that if it had been more of the show.

    There is a different kind of warmth with Shimada and Nikaido, and it’s interesting that it seemingly brings out more of a different family feeling in Rei, but I think that’s actually kind of what he needs to work through the most, in that he’s so bad at accepting the kindness and caring from the sisters.

    I actually thought there was quite a lot of development of at least Masamune, in that he was being moved significantly from his initial “revenge” plot into actually falling in love with Aki. I really liked the depiction of him as a stupid teen, and the way that when faced with the fact of his growing feelings for Aki, such as when Neko propositioned him, or he had to stick up for her at the summer trip, he fretted about it, and then retreated to his previously made decision, as if it was a comforting and protective blanket he could hide under. But each time, it was with less and less conviction, as if he wants to banish the uncertainty, but can’t. To me, that felt really authentic, and would end up eventually with him abandoning his revenge plot in a spectacular way.

    It’s not that the Home Ec club is a recurring thing, but that the pair of senpai is. They are moved around in some different roles, but always in that somewhat trolling way.

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