At long last, we’re finally here with my last three shows of the fall season:
- 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.
The iDOLM@STER SideM
It’s not often we get an idol show as genuine as The iDOLM@STER SideM, where the characters feel like people as normal as you or I. Where the previous two series in the franchise focused on girls whose hopes and dreams typically centered on the idol industry from the beginning, SideM gives us young men from different areas of life. Many of them had full blown careers in fields like medicine and law. Others were athletes. Some of them are still in school, their move to professional music a natural extension of their hobbies. Almost all of them were scouted into the company as novices in the idol industry. This is why SideM appeals to me more than usual; their stories take viewers along with them from the bottom to the top. Also note that this is a show that can appeal to anyone, not just female viewers. Do not be put off by the all-male cast.
SideM started on the right foot with a pre-pilot episode featuring an already-established idol group, Jupiter. This tied together the original series and this new season, as well as laid a foundation of nostalgia for SideM to build upon. Once Episode 1 came out, I was surprised at the shift in attention to an entirely new setting with unknown characters. Instead of Jupiter, we followed a young lawyer from job dissatisfaction to a night of drinking. This was obviously not where I expected to go. When Teru gets scouted and forms a three-man group with a doctor and a teacher, I realized that I was in for an unexpected treat. But then we moved on to the next group, and then the next. I know I should have expected the large cast and multiple story lines, but I couldn’t help but find some groups more interesting than others. Dramatic Stars, Jupiter, and HighxJoker took front stage, while all others fell to the side.
Even if I did not fall in love with the characters of SideM like I did with 765Pro, these men still made me see them as more than just performers. They had hobbies and dreams outside of the idol world. They struggled to come together by overcoming differences in history, lifestyles, and aspirations. SideM is definitely a show anyone who enjoys idol anime should try, no matter your age or gender.
Rating: 1 dango
Code:Realize: Sousei no Himegimi
It’s been so long since I’ve seen an otome adaptation actually worth recommending, that I’m still uncertain about whether my impression stems less from quality and more from the lack of quantity in the genre. I’ll trust my instinct, though, and say that Code:Realize gives us not only a delightful array of love interests, it also includes a passable plot. Then there’s the heroine, who stands out among the usual otome protagonists. Cardia may suffer memory loss and possess the telltale soft voice, but it doesn’t take long for her to reveal a more substantial personality. Like with any good series of the genre, it’s fun seeing how she interacts with different guys. I quickly found a favorite in Impey the engineer with his playful flirting and energy.
Even more shocking in Code:Realize is the fact that there’s an actual couple by the end of the series. There’s no room for alternative paths, nor are we left with an open ending to the romance. Their relationship builds naturally with the progression of the story, which begins with Cardia’s strange affliction and ends with a battle for human survival. What better time for love than in a time of war?
There’s plenty more for me to like, such as the steampunk aesthetic, and the inclusion of notable figures of history and fiction. Obviously, Queen Victoria is a must for the era. Then there are fantastic characters like Arsene Lupin, Van Helsing, and even Captain Nemo and his Nautilus. Hopefully you’ll have just as much fun as I did seeing the show’s interpretations of these literary figures.
Rating: 1 dango
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou
Now that Hero Chapter is over, I can happily recommend the entire Yuki Yuna series to fans of the style. This past season—the seven-episode Washio Sumi Chapter and the six-episode Hero Chapter—did much to improve my opinion of the story as a whole. Instead of seeing the original season as a poor man’s Madoka, I now consider Yuki Yuna a worthwhile work on its own. Some of my favorite aspects include the consistently pretty visuals, the unique narrative style, and the hopeful, but definitive, ending.
I have to give props to the Hero Chapter for turning my opinion around after my mixed feelings on the prequel. As much as I enjoyed seeing Togo’s first experience with the Hero System, knowing the outcome spoiled much of the intended emotional impact. Our return to the present with Yuna and the others brings us back to a state of unknown. I feel the uncertainty at Togo’s absence, the fear of what has been forgotten in exchange for good physical health. This tension is what I missed in the prequel chapter, and what I needed to feel invested in the major fight to come.
Yuki Yuna’s take on magical girls and the sacrifices they make for their powers covers generations of heroes and their caretakers. Their gravestones, including Gin’s, set the background for Yuna’s “marriage” to Shinju. What follows is a wonderfully crafted battle for both the survival of mankind and the life of Yuki Yuna. I really loved the way the series ended by dropping the keys into human hands. The future they grasp looks a lot like our own, devoid of divine presence and its protections, but also full of the possibilities only humanity can create.
Rating: 1 dango