The weekend’s finally here again, and we’re back with fox girls, alien technology, and Neo Yoki-wait, Hellsalem’s Lot. The first two surprised me in different ways, one being better than expected, and the other having turned out not as good as I had hoped. Regardless, I enjoyed them all and will even go as far as to recommend you try a couple of them if you hadn’t already. Hit the jump to find out which ones!
- 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.
Konohanatei and the foxes who tend it were my the eye of the storm, so to speak, for the fall season. I knew every time I walked through its doors that I’d be treated with warmth. While everywhere else battles and loneliness were the norm, Konohana Kitan opted for gentle encounters between the inn and its guests.
It’s hard to pin a finger on exactly what it is about this show that won me over so easily. I could say the characters, all fox girls of various personalities and positive traits as inn attendants. Yuzu, in particular, charms as the protagonist with her naive approach to her new life. She gives us the perfect window into meeting each one of the other fox attendants and the many guests who visit.
I could also say it was the idea of the setting that captured my heart, a hot spring inn for the gods. Situated in a spirit border town between life and death, Konohanatei services gods, spirits, and even live humans who wander in from time to time. I was reminded of the hot spring inn in Spirited Away, and the lovable characters made me think back on Hanasaku Iroha. I couldn’t help but see Konohanatei as a home for my heart.
The episodes of Konohana Kitan meander from story to story, and take no real direction in their course. It’s not until the end that we learn the origin story of Konohanatei, one that perfectly caps the series and gently ushers us off into the next anime season. I wish we could stay, but I’ll always remember this place.
Rating: 2 dango
I was intrigued after the first episode of Inuyuashiki; two humans experiencing the same life-altering procedure and taking opposite approaches to their new way of life sounded like a solid direction to take. Yet as each week passed, I started to realize that something was wrong. I felt like I was looking at a wax museum of characters rather than at real people themselves. Inuyashiki was attempting to tackle the idea of humanity and struggling far more than it should.
First off, there’s the problem of tone, particularly towards the younger generation. I love the idea of a middle-aged protagonist. Inuyashiki as the “hero” of the story is a phenomenal idea. But when you pit him against a laughably heartless generation of youngsters, his heroism comes across as forced. Hiro, the “villain,” goes on a killing rampage with little information other than his apparent detachment from others outside of his immediate circle to go on. We’re informed of his deep connection to friends and family, even pets, as well as his lack of interest in anyone else. While this makes sense, with great love often comes great hate, I still thought his turn to killing far too quick.
Watching Inuyashiki from week to week was honestly a bit of a chore. It wasn’t that I disliked the story; I just knew that each new episode would bring with it more pain and death. The violence in this show is so one-sided, that it makes these scenes even more unbearable to watch. Once Hiro became aware of Inuyashiki’s existence, the playing field evened up a bit, but not by much.
If there’s an MVP to this story, then I’ll have to say it’s Hanako, the stray dog Inuyashiki takes home. Even when his body changes, she stays by his side. I kept telling myself that if anything were to happen to her, that I wouldn’t be able to take it anymore and would drop this show. Just as Konohana Kitan was my calm spot this season, Hanako looked to be Inuyashiki’s safe haven. She worried about him when his own family members wouldn’t even listen.
Rating: 0 dango
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond
There was a lot of concern going into this sequel from viewers, myself included, that without the original director the heart of Kekkai Sensen would be missing. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. This was certainly a different, more episodic approach to Hellsalem’s Lot and Libra, but the city and these characters are the perfect vehicles for that style. There’s so much going on in and around the city, that of course it feels natural to split up and explore each occurrence as its own story. It isn’t until the end that a more substantive plot line takes hold, pulling in Leo’s sister and the All-seeing Eyes of God.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the other Libra members one on one, particularly characters like Chain, K.K., and Gilbert. K.K.’s episode where she tries to handle a job while attending her son’s parent day at school is a comical take on love and duty. She easily became one of my favorites after her episode, and I wanted to see more of her and her family.
My one nitpick about this sequel is that I didn’t enjoy the music as much as I did in the original. Then again, it’s pretty tough to beat a visual performance as golden as “Sugar Song to Bitter Step,” and a song as well-suited as BUMP OF CHICKEN’s “Hello, world!” Season 2’s music grew on me, but never to the level of its predecessor.
Rating: 2 dango