It’s hard to be concise when gushing about so many great shows, so please bear with me if you can 🙂
- 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.
Little Witch Academia (TV)
There were plenty of greats this season, but none stirred my heart to the levels that Little Witch Academia did. I reacted exactly like a Hallmark card–I laughed, I gasped, I cried. I wished the adventure would never end, but I loved the way that it did. I want to immediately go back to the beginning and watch it all again. Not many shows get that gut instinct out of me; I tend to reserve those honors for books (happy 20th anniversary, Harry Potter). I’m sure that I will re-watch Akko and her friends many times over, and that my love will only grow with the years.
It’s no great surprise to me that the work has impacted me so strongly. It’s feelings like these that made the anime possible in the first place. From a young animator’s project to a crowd-sourced online release and finally a two-cours television series, our witches traveled far and deserve every ounce of recognition that it gets. You can enjoy the stories at face value, or you can look deeper at how Akko’s struggles parallel Japan’s animation industry, as covered extensively by atelier Emily.
For the most part, I experienced Little Witch Academia as a spectator in their world, a normal human enamored by the idea of magic and its possibilities. While I did remark from time to time the time spent on the hand drawn animation, I mostly felt too sucked in to the story to try and analyze it the first time around. Seemingly simple messages like faith, hope, and love that sounded so cheesy on their own felt perfectly suitable here with Akko at my side. I can see how skeptics like Diana, Andrew and Constanze were persuaded by her–the force of her belief is hard to resist.
If you watched Little Witch Academia, let me know how you experienced it–were you like me, clinging tight on the bumpy ride, or did you make your own connections to animation, religion, or other topics?
If you didn’t watch it and have no real reason for missing out, I encourage you to give the series a try.
Rating: 3 dango
Kids these days! I guess the beginnings of puberty now brings with it raging lust for the penis of the boy closest to you, be he your step brother, rival, childhood friend, role model, or friend’s sibling. I remember being worried about very different things at that age, like making absolutely sure my crush had no clue I liked him by kicking his shin at the slightest provocation (does that make me a tsundere?). Never mind that we have another excellent show this season also set in middle school–shows like Eromanga-sensei have other matters on hand.
The ultimate goal here is for Sagiri to open up, emotionally and physically. Since her brother is the only family member around (dead or absent parents continue to abound), it’s up to Masamune to keep his little sister alive and encourage her to someday leave her room. The show does a good job achieving this goal; it also helps that brother and sister are fated to connect given their not-so-secret careers as a light novel author and illustrator. You can rest assured watching this show that you’ll see Sagiri progress as an artist and a person. She still has a long way to go, but the beginning steps are there by the end of the series.
Aside from Sagiri, there are a handful of attractive young girls (stress “young”) for the viewers to choose from. My personal favorite is the bookstore worker, Tomoe. You gotta love a girl who refuses to compromise on her sample book display–not even friends get preferential treatment! The two authors, Elf and Muramasa, bring their own lovely assets to the set, but I find their quick attachment to the protagonist a little creepy even before considering their ages.
Like predecessor OreImo, Eromanga-sensei looks great on screen with its character designs and framing. They know just how to make us blush with camera angles and body language. The ending credits are also among my favorite of the year so far; Sagiri’s laundry room dance is so cute and irresistible that I find myself at times dancing along with her.
The show works great as a comedy playing off of its sexual innuendos and the aforementioned body language. It took what worked well in OreImo and ran with it, like the exchanges between Sagiri and the rest of the girls. Ignoring her rude method of requesting meals, I prefer Sagiri to OreImo’s insufferable Kirino. The gap between Sagiri’s shyness and her hunger to learn creates a kind of scene that doesn’t get old (even if I wish their ages were older).
Rating: 1 dango
Uchouten Kazoku Season 2
Our run with Yasaburo and friends is over, for now, until the day that more source material is available for a third season. I honestly find the two series we have now already a masterpiece as a whole. It is important to watch both, since it became immediately clear after the first installment that there was much ground to cover I had forgotten about, like the empty seat of Trick Magister, and Benten’s roles both in the Friday Fellows and as Akadama-sensei’s student. Eccentric Family is the type of story that feels like it’s effortlessly told, so it’s only natural that there would be space for more exploration. This is the story of life in its full cycle, from fuzzy unions to the hot pot.
While there’s much to love about this world, one of the most important aspects for me is the cast, particularly its women. Benten has always stolen the stage and that doesn’t change here, but season two shared the spotlight with wonderful characters like tanuki Kaisei and Gyokuran. Strong individuals in their own rights, they also both reveal weaknesses in the Shimogamo brothers that are best supported with their presence. The opposite might seem true for Yasaburo since he can’t hold a transformation with Kaisei watching, but I argue that she keeps him honest and grounded to both reality and his future.
Uchouten Kazoku will also forever hold a special place in my heart since Kyoto is the first place I ever visited in Japan. Vistas of city, nature, shrine, and temple intermingle and create an almost otherworldly setting. Kyoto seems too magical to be true, and I can almost believe I’ll turn a corner and catch sight of a transforming tanuki. If you haven’t seen either of these shows, please do give them a try!
Rating: 2 dango
Alice to Zouroku
I am so glad I stuck it out with Alice to Zouroku after the horrific first episode car chase. Those of us who clung on in hope were rewarded with a marked decrease in CGI action sequences; instead, we followed along on mostly “normal” life episodes centered on the Kashimura family. Concerns about the Dreams of Alice do pop up here and there throughout the season, but the issue doesn’t really take hold until the last few episodes with the final arc.
“Normal” here really means Sana learning about the human world and her role in it. She is beyond lucky to have stumbled across Zouroku, a man with a heart gracious enough to take her in as his own despite what others might think or the responsibilities he must shoulder. Equally fortuitous is the presence of his daughter, Sanae, a young women who happily tackles the job of educating Sana. There’s a lot here that can be compared to current refugee crises around the globe, but I won’t go there in this short review. Suffice it to say that Zouroku and Sanae are the type of people I would love to have in my life.
So what about the Dreams of Alice and its users? Twelve episodes are nowhere near enough to fully explore the phenomenon, but what we do get seems plausible enough as long as you don’t ask too many questions about the origin of it all. We just need to understand that for some reason magical powers are spreading and turning random people into “Alice’s Dreams,” which gives them unique abilities to warp the world around them. Sana’s created world, dubbed Wonderland, is a place that reflects much of what she witnesses, twisting them into fanciful constructions. Sana and the almost sentient Wonderland need to figure out how to balance with the outside world without destroying it.
Even though Sana is dubbed “Red Queen” by the secret agency that discovered her, I view her and Wonderland as one unit called Alice. Like the namesake, they aim to explore their surroundings and find purpose somewhere in it. Just like humans, Sana can spend her entire life seeking meaning and never find it. Or, like some, she’ll find meaning in everything and strive to experience as much as she can. Sana’s time spent with the Kashimuras learning and growing are much of what charms me in this show.
Rating: 1 dango
15 thoughts on “Spring 2017 Season Wrap: Little Witch Academia, Eromanga-sensei, Eccentric Family S2, & Alice and Zouroku”
LWA TV was very enjoyable and one of my favs of the year. Long story short I loved the comedy that reminded me of 80’s-90’s cartoons and sitcoms. I loved the cast (though I felt indifferent towards Andrew) and of course the buildup for both DiAkko and CharCro (Dunno the pair’s actual nickname) were very well done. As many who enjoyed the show had said this is the closest thing we got to a Harry Potter anime for the time being and it was GLORIOUS, though not perfect but it need not be to be enjoyable.
Haven’t seen the Eccentric Family.
The praise for and sexiness of Elf and Muramasa convinced me to give Eromanga a go at some point. I look forward to seeing the two wow me with their personalities and bodies. Sagiri probably does her own thing and might amuse me and as for the guy…what about him.
Alice & Zoroku was the surprise of the season. It surprised me in a good way with its most interesting discussions, intense first half and enjoyable second half. Also Sana’s adorable despite being bratty.
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LWA really did feel reminiscent of older shows, didn’t it? And those pair-ups made my love for the cast even stronger. I had no idea we’d eventually sympathize with Croix, but in the end I really felt for her.
Given your penchant for female characters, especially the more mature type, I think you’d really like Eccentric Family. I hope you can give it a chance some time! They write all the cast, particularly the women and girls, really, really well.
I’ll be curious to read your thoughts on Eromanga-sensei when you do watch it. The comedy was irresistible to me despite my own misgivings, though I have to agree I really don’t care about Masamune, the guy. He’s the most forgettable of all the characters.
I don’t know if it’s a product of me getting older or maybe the producers just doing a good job writing kids, but I also liked Sana. I found her tantrums humanizing and endearing, though I’d still discipline her if she were in my care. Zouroku is my kind of grandpa!
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Yup. Both her and Chariot made mistakes but they learned from them thanks to our heroines showing them the error of their ways through the power of friendship and love.
I’ll keep that in mind with Eccentric Family.
Eromanga-Sensei isn’t a yuri show so maybe it’ll get an “honorable mention” in my fav shows of 2017 list or even a spot in it.
Based on the screen grabs I saw of him he didn’t look remotely interesting. Just there because “hurr hurr, het rom-com shenanigans.”
Yup. Sana was a likable brat who was aware of her brattiness but still did her best to become more mature and understanding of the people and world around her. Really good stuff. And Zoroku is indeed best grandpa!
Check out what I had to say about both LWA and AliZo when able.
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Will do–I’ve been terrible lately at taking the time to read other blogs. I’m glad you covered AliZou, since it was overlooked by so many others after that first episode.
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Such a pity. Definitely one of 2017’s hidden gems.
I was not going to watch LWA at the beginning of the run. I had been thoroughly turned off by the style of story it was in the two OVAs, where Akko and co. get told how they should not do things, and then proceed to convince themselves that that’s exactly the way they should do it, leading to everything going predictably wrong and somehow everything working out anyway, and everyone still loves Akko. That kind of willful disregard for any sort of care really bugged me, so I decided that if the show was like that, then I wasn’t going to bother watching it.
So when, about 6 episodes in, a few of the people who really liked the OVA’s seemed to cool on the show a little bit, because it wasn’t doing those same kind of wacky setups with idiot Akko, I figured I’d start watching it. It’s definitely a wonderful show, and I enjoyed it probably the most of all the people I know. And that’s because of the way they put the story together and made it all the way through the series with a nice coherent plot. I really felt it picked up around episode 10 when the real arc of searching for the seven words came to the fore, even if that wasn’t really Akko’s goal for a while. And I really liked the way that it didn’t just do one word per episode for the last 8 episodes, but made it a well-constructed framework to do the rest of the show in. I even lamented to a friend after watching episode 22 that I wish it had already aired so that I could watch all the rest of the episodes in a row. But I wasn’t about to wait until it finished to watch them all!
So I guess I’m on your side of watching the show for story it told on its face. I’m really not one for searching for super big parallels and metaphors to other things that aren’t in the show. That’s not how I ever want to watch, read, or listen to anything, and in fact, I find that all pretty tedious. I especially don’t care at all about the “sakuga vs CGI” and “Old school vs new school” discussions, because to me they’re ALL good. One thing doesn’t necessarily mean quality or superiority. It’s not a ‘versus’ thing.
The other thing that it helped me realize was that, contrary to other people who put me in a bin of “You don’t like Trigger”. I like Trigger fine. What I don’t like is the stuff that I think is credited to Hiroyuki Imaishi and Akira Amemiya, Garbage like Luluco, Inferno Cop, and Ninja Slayer. Nor do I like Kill la Kill. But I really enjoyed Kiznaiver, LWA, and even Inou-Battle. It’s not Trigger that I dislike, it’s just a subset of crap from them.
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Yes, I’m right there with you on Akko’s character! I empathized with Diana’s attitude towards Akko and magic and couldn’t understand how the writers seemed to keep rewarding Akko for her clumsiness. Her evolution as a character sneaked up on me. All of the side stories with other characters fleshed out the story so that it could all come together beautifully in the end for the final arc. Maybe we can both someday marathon this series without interruption to better appreciate the overall framework.
I was extremely disappointed to have missed out on the Trigger panel while I was at AX, despite having seen plenty at Sakura-Con, since I wanted to hear them talk more about LWA, but it seems like they focused on future works more. LWA is hands down my favorite work from them yet, and like you, I didn’t warm up to Kill la Kill or many of their other works.
Here’s another difference from your previous format: I feel more like separate comments are appropriate to discuss separate shows!
I like Eromanga-sensei, although I do chafe a bit at how calculated it feels at times. If I didn’t know it was from Tsukasa Fushimi, and that it was related to OreImo, then maybe that would subside a little bit. I have no problem with either the idea or the actuality of incest, and don’t even care if it’s non-blood relations or anything. What kinda gets me annoyed is the inevitability of both of the shows, that feeling that no matter what happens, the ending’s already written, and it doesn’t matter what actually goes on, how anyone feels, or anything else. The only thing that matters is that Masamune is going to end up with Sagiri, the same way that Kyousuke ended up with Kirino. To achieve that end, it just feels like the show is too engineered.
With that out of the way, I really liked what this show did (and honestly, I didn’t realize that last episode was actually stopping until right now). It made the characters a lot of fun, especially Elf. I think that probably a lot of Muramasa’s interesting-ness comes from her tension with Elf, in that Elf is able to bring out the best reactions in Muramasa, even if it’s not a direct reaction to Elf herself. And it’s a lot the same with the rest of the characters. Having Elf there, with all the energy she has, and with all the apparent experience (I don’t recall them ever saying how old Elf was, and I thought it was hinted that she was significantly older than the other characters), really felt like the center of the show and the driver of most of the stuff that happens.
I’d definitely like to see more of this show. I noted while watching it that it just understood how to be fun, how to be entertaining, without being tedious and whiny like a lot of harem-y shows.
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I’m glad you feel comfortable posting multiple comments in one thread! It helps me stay organized with responses, as well.
Eromanga-sensei is definitely calculating–I can almost hear them chortling about how successful scenes like their ending sequence of Sagiri doing laundry will be with viewers. Despite this, I’m sucked into the trap.
Elf really surprised me as a character since I didn’t expect to like her as much as I did. At first, I found her too overbearing as a rival author, but she really grew on me. She drives the motivations of the various groups where she appears. I could even do a spinoff with her as the main character, with Masamune and Sagiri appearing as cameo side characters in the manner of the OrenoImo cast.
Of the fourseries mentioned here …hmm …
Well, LWA got stalled for me half way through … I will probably go back and finish it some time but for whatever reason the second cour did not hold my interest as mch as the first.
Eromanga sensei was sort of a “just okay” series that did not click (even if the art style of the animation was quite nice).
Alice to Zouroku was …really enjoyable. It wound being a downright fascinating setting and the characters were quite well done. I would LOVE to be able to read the source manga some day and read beyond where the anime stopped!
But Uchouten Kazokou s2 … might be the biggest surprise of the season for me. Coming totally out of nowhere, and even with strikes against it with my trying s1 several times before and having it never click, it …blew me away.It was downright … masterful, I thought. Just really excellent!
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I find that interesting, as most of the people I know who enjoyed S1 of Eccentric Family (including myself) think that the second season wasn’t quite as good storywise. I thought the first one was much better at telling stories than this second series: stringing a yarn out, having it go all over the place, and then tying it all up at the end.
There were definitely good aspects to this series. It’s much more the story of the characters growing up than the first series was. Yasaburo mostly gets over his crush on Benten, Benten herself gets a large dose of humility, as does the Nidaime, Yaichiro and Gyokuran getting married, and Yasaburo and Kaisei getting closer to a companion relationship, after having broken it off before. Even Yajiro leaving his well and traveling, and Yashiro doing unnamed science. So a really good theme there. But in general it just seemed like the material didn’t lead to a “fantastic” story the way the first season did.
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To be honest you are not the only one who has pointed this out – I mean about how many people who enjoyed s1 reacted to s2. So I am not sure what to say in my “defense” other than … that’s just how it happened and that I am also surprised by the effect of s2 on me as well. XD
What was it about LWA that made you lose interest? The shift to a more overarching plot?
I’m with you on Alice to Zouroku–reading the manga would be wonderful. I just picked up a Bookwalker account, so it’s too bad that I don’t see it on there. The anime was one that could have easily gone into two seasons with the amount of material they left undeveloped.
I’m glad you kept with Eccentric Family season 2 despite not connecting with the first season well. I enjoyed both series immensely, and am personally glad that the continuation didn’t just do more of the same as the first, as good as it was. While I myself am not particularly drawn to Benten’s character, it’s interesting to see her open up more explicitly here.
I really liked AriZou, but was a little disappointed with the length of the last arc, feeling like it was too long for what it was doing. I enjoyed the bits of Sana learning about how to be a person, and even her introspective turn wondering what she was. I thought maybe there was a little too much overwrought action and suspense. It was good that the suspense in the last arc was shut down by Zouroku giving Wonderland “a talking to”. It was nice to have the most powerful character in a show about people with special supernatural powers be an even-tempered old man with a strong dislike of “funny business” but nothing supernatural. And it played that well, because done just a little bit wrong it could feel completely contrived. But the way that Zouroku invested in the whole thing (not *just* being a crotchety old man) made it work out.
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I reacted to the last arc completely opposite from you–I thought it was rushed, almost pinned on for a flashy conclusion. I wish the show had taken more time acquainting us with Hatori, as well as went into further detail about Wonderland and how Sana came to be.
Zouroku as an authority figure was great. They could have easily overdone his stubbornness in such a way that it’d be strange for Sana to warm to him like she did.