It’s never too late to try something new, and I thought this would be a good time to experiment with my end-of-season reviews. Usually, I bundle up all of the final thoughts into one or two gigantic posts. This means that the posts include shows that finished two or even three weeks apart in the season. Because of that, and the ridiculous length of some of the season wraps, I thought I’d try a weekly approach with, at most, three or four titles. Please let me know what you think of this format, along with your thoughts on the shows discussed in my posts!
- 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.
Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2
Love it or hate it, Attack on Titan is a relentless roller coaster of emotions. I flung myself head first into the hype of the first season, agonized with fans at the cliffhanger and long wait for a sequel, and lamented at the announcement four years later of a second season scheduled for only twelve episodes. The good news is this time we won’t have to wait an unknown number of years for a season three–the continuation has already been announced for 2018.
Let’s start with what I liked about season two: fights, titans, and predictions. Attack on Titan has always delivered on its title with plenty of attacks and new titans almost every episode. The same holds true for this sequel. I also enjoyed seeing my guesses from the first season ring true. These likes, however, connect to my strong dislikes about the anime. All of the deaths and titans numbed me with their frequency and predictability. It’s one thing for a key character to raise a flag, but another thing entirely for multiple characters to do so on a regular basis. It was no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.” I started going into each episode wondering who would say something sappy or stupid and die this time around, which completely ruins the tension of various scenarios.
Then there’s the show’s structure, which threw me off with its multiple directions and points of view. There’s an entire mini arc dedicated to Sasha, the purpose of which still escapes me. She’s an easy character to love, but not someone whose story felt necessary to this particular season, especially given its short length. Conny’s side story felt appropriately short for its purpose in the overall scheme of things, though there were so many blatant hints regarding his village that I felt neither surprise nor fear at the implications revealed at the end of the season.
With this season serving almost like an overlooked middle child, here’s hoping the third will receive the lavish attention and detail this story deserves for an appropriate ending.
Rating: 0 dango
Natsume Yuujinchou Roku
It seems impossibly long ago in season four I thought we had reached the end of the Natsume Yuujinchou story. Now that we’re up to six full seasons, I can’t imagine not moving onto a seventh. So much material has been covered, yet there’s still so much more to discover, particularly the mystery of Natsume’s grandfather and the tail end of Reiko’s life. This particular season focused primarily on Natsume’s human relationships, his school friends, his mentor, and his grandmother as he knows her through the Book of Friends. We’ve seen them all before, but the attitude this time around comes across as somewhat more weighted. It’s as if all the scenes up until now served to underline here what it is exactly that draws Natsume to this place he now calls home. I talk about this a little in my recent post, so if you’re interested, please check it out!
Along with the opening of a new thread regarding Natsume’s grandfather is the uncertainty following Natori’s learning of the Book of Friends. All this time, I’ve been on Nyanko-sensei’s side about keeping the book a secret, particularly from exorcists. There’s power in a name, and when that name is in the hands of an exorcist, much ill can be done without the owner’s consent. Natsume has always been very giving in his return of the names that Reiko took, but it seems like the book has no end, appearing just as thick now as it did in the beginning. Now that Natori is in on the secret, how will he act in accordance with his friendship with Natsume and his responsibilities as an exorcist? I’m scared that he’ll lean towards the latter, and try to take the book with the misguided intention of protecting it. The anime has provided enough scenes with that idea in mind, focusing in perhaps too much on Natori’s troubled face and calculating eyes.
Roku steps in as a valuable addition to the franchise, but it feels more transitory than usual in its coverage of familiar ground and movement towards a possible continuation. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means that my overall feeling is not one as impacted as other seasons in the past. The montage with its piano music in the final episode had me tearing up in nostalgia more than at any other time this season. I want to return to the start of season one and work my way up to now, hopefully with a seventh season waiting at the end.
Rating: 2 dango
Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine
The Royal Tutor was not a show I intended to watch. Its cast and premise seemed too scripted for the swooning viewer, the type to play one of those mobile dating games full of men of every type and flavor. After finishing The Royal Tutor, I reminded myself to stop making these kinds of assumptions. Yes, the show was predictable, fluffy, and ultimately forgettable, but it succeeded where so many other shows do not: it never failed to interest me.
Take, for instance, Heine Wiggenstein. His short and delicate stature deceive most into thinking him still a child, but this man rivals Black Butler’s Sebastian on almost all fronts. He perfectly meets each of the princes on their individual levels: oft misunderstood Kai, eager-to-succeed Bruno, proud Leonhard, and playboy Licht. The format of the show was clear once we experienced Leonhard’s opening arc. Heine would address each of the young men’s weaknesses and help turn it into a strength befitting an heir to the kingdom. Even though I knew our path and the likely outcome, I still had a ton of fun watching Heine interact with his gentle-hearted students. I think a large part of that had to do with not only his dialogue, but also the voice work. Again against all expectations, Heine’s voice is fairly monotone and measured. He does not yell, choosing instead to calmly give his opinions and explain the reasoning behind them. Young actor Keisuke Ueda does a great job capturing Heine’s personality.
While I doubt the details of this anime will stay with me over the years, I don’t regret including it in my weekly log. I look back on it fondly. Heine’s lessons throughout the show and the princes’ pleas in the final episode may sound cheesy spoken aloud, but that doesn’t make them any less true. They warmed my heart and made me smile. That’s good enough for me.
Rating: 0 dango