Winter 2018 Season Wrap: Takagi-san, A Place Further than the Universe, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, & Sanrio Boys

The winter show reviews just keep on coming, and again with a group of anime I’m sad to see go. My praise for A Place Further than the Universe should come as no surprise to those of you who know me or saw the anime for yourself, but know that I also happily recommend the rest in their individual categories.

*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.

Skilled Teaser Takagi-san

There’s something dreadfully delightful about teasing someone who responds so well to the slightest provocation. Those of you with the habit will find plenty more of it in Takagi-san. The show follows a simple but satisfying formula: grade school student Takagi teases her classmate Nishikata, he reacts, and the cycle continues. After it happens a few times, you know it will just be more of the same, but you can’t help but giggle along with her each time.

If you listen to Kaiseki Podcast (hint, hint, episode 002) you’ll know my main issue with the show is its episode duration. As fun as I found the humor, the predictability started to wear on me. It’s not often I wish a full-length episode be reduced to a short, but this is one of those exceptions. I felt that way right from the beginning and still feel that way now. Regardless, I’m still fond of the characters and would welcome an anime continuation focusing on the sequel manga series.

Spoiler: it includes a daughter who acts very much like her mother!

Rating: 0 dango

A Place Further than the Universe

I cannot praise this show enough for everything from its characters to its story to its visuals. Right from the get go, it was apparent that A Place Further than the Universe was something special. Kimari’s description of feeling stuck, and the subsequent scene of her waking up in the morning brought her to life in a manner that made me want to know more about her. As she struggled to make the best of her youth by skipping school and taking a train to anywhere, I cheered her on despite the innocence of her approach. And when she met Shirase and their dream for Antarctica became a goal with a name and date, I knew I was with these girls until the end.

That attention to characters continues on from individual to relationships. We don’t just learn about each one of the girls; we see how they bounce off one another and learn, be they painful or joyful lessons. Megumi’s fears, Yuzuki’s uncertainty, Hinata’s past, they all worked their ways seamlessly into the narrative and pushed us towards a more meaningful journey.

If you haven’t seen this show, then I beg you to give it a try. Even if you find the aim for Antarctica blown to greater proportions than you deem suitable, this story is so much more than physical movement from A to B. It’s about our dreams, fears, understanding and acceptance of ourselves, connections with others. It’s about moving onward and upward to a better place.

Rating: 3 dango

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

Thank goodness I stuck to my feelings on this one, because Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens gave me an entertaining ride from start to finish. There was a moment at the beginning where I was concerned the threads of different characters and plots were too tangled and overdone, but dismissing the show for this reason completely misses the point of it all. Hakata isn’t some Durarara!! shadow, nor is it overly serious. Comedy and crime mix until they’re hardly distinguishable from one another, and it works.

I think what I liked most about this show was the way everythifeng was connected. One “good” assassin was someone else’s sworn enemy. One intelligence leak was another’s salvation. Everyone knows everyone in some shape or form. Despite their often opposing objectives, they all love the city of Hakata. They just all happen to be killers—killers who love baseball, tonkotsu ramen, and spicy Mentaiko.

Rating: 1 dango

Sanrio Boys

I’m going to say this a couple of times this season, but wow have advertisements come a long way. You can’t help but look at Sanrio Boys and see it as a massive push to like and buy Sanrio goods like Hello Kitty and My Melody. Despite this, the anime pulls through with a genuine heart for friendship and kindness (even if it goes for drama in the end).

The key to success is the main cast made up entirely of high school boys. I can’t think of a single boy I knew growing up who knew of Sanrio, much less loved any of the characters. The anime also made it pretty clear that the brand skews female. Our boys have to push past their own misgivings before they can even begin to correct others’ expectations. Take, for example, Kouta: he loved his grandmother and the Pompompurin plushie she gave him as a little boy. But because of the bullying of other boys his age, he rejected both until it was too late. Watching him confront his true feelings and past actions gave this show a depth I did not at all expect. Similar cases followed for the other boys.

This is a topic that has interested me lately, of the need for boys to be treated just as equally as girls. Thankfully, you see a lot of commercials these days encouraging girls to go into engineering or craftsmanship, but you don’t often see ads showing boys picking up a “feminine” activity. Both approaches are important and should not be prioritized over the other.

Rating: 1 dango

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11 thoughts on “Winter 2018 Season Wrap: Takagi-san, A Place Further than the Universe, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, & Sanrio Boys

  1. We are currently building a second, larger and more sane, internet that is more capable of expressing how wonderful and fulfiling A Place Further Than the Universe is. Until then, we’re just going to have to let this internet suffice. It’s a simple show with a simple premise. Make these characters matter. Find out what gives someone purpose and hope and drive and express that to it’s fullest.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I watched about half of the season of Sanrio Boys, and stopped after they had the group together and were now going on to do things as that group, presumably leading to that play that they had at the very beginning of the series. I was finding that a lot less interesting than the message of “Like what you want to like if it’s not hurting anyone”. That’s a good message for everyone, even if it comes through a Sanrio commercial. But they didn’t have Chococat, so boooo.

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    • True, after they stabilized as a group, the show became a lot less interesting. Then they felt the need to toss in some extra drama in the end with the least likely character, so…yeah.

      Personally, I’m a Pompompurin fan, though I would’ve been even happier if they also included Bad Badtz Maru.

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    • In my original write-up, I was even MORE generous. After I transferred my writing here, I realized I was a bit too kind and knocked some of the shows down a rating. You’re probably right about Sanrio, especially since I gave Takagi a lower score.

      Use WordPress’ insert/edit link button on whichever word or phrase you want to use as your jumping point (POINT 1). In the URL field, enter the # symbol followed by the target’s unique ID.
      Then at the target jumping point (POINT 2), using the following HTML:

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought that Takagi-san actually got quite a bit more enjoyable as the run of the show went on. But that’s because I like the subtext romantic interest between the pair, even if Nishikata is loathe to admit that he likes Takagi. He still goes home with her every day, and thinks about gaining her interest and respect. I think the show and the manga hit the right balance on what the ‘teasing’ is, which is mostly Nishikata dunking on himself by overthinking things. The ‘teasing’ is just giving him enough rope to hang himself, so it comes off as not mean-spirited or cruel, and obviously from a place in Takagi where she really cares for Nishikata. And there’s no way you could call Nishikata’s attempts to tease Takagi as anything other than good-natured as far as intent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I agree that the show did become more interesting further into the season; I still thought the individual episodes themselves were a tad long for the content. I also think the teasing struck the perfect balance for a semi-romantic comedy.

      Like

  4. It’s almost impossible to put enough superlatives together for A Place Farther than the Universe. And it’s not because there’s anything you can point to and say “This here, this is the part that makes it great.” It’s all the stuff underneath the things you can see or hear. It’s the way that the show is put together, the way that the characters all interact, the way that everything means something without being laden with some obvious “meaning” like stories do far too often. It’s the way the show is so consistent from start to finish, so well acted, so impactful. I don’t know if there’s ever been a show that had me watching with a smile and tears at the same time for so long. Like whole episodes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The entire package had it all, didn’t it? Every little detail worked well on its own and as a whole to give us this wonderful show. I’m right there with you on the smiles and tears.

      Like

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