Part three of my winter wrap is here, complete with rampaging children, drunk advertisements, overly self-conscious high school students, and shogi that doesn’t focus enough on shogi.
- 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.
My children! Half of the time I wanted these kids to look up to me the way they do Whale Factory’s owner an Sat-chan’s Mom, and the other half of the time I just wanted to be their age and join in on their foolishness. Mitsuboshi Colors impressed me right from the beginning with its portrayal of children. Usually, kids are painted in an overly optimistic style. That, or they’re presented as evil incarnate.
The Colors gang, however, act exactly like many of the kids I know. They’re immensely impressionable, adapt quickly to circumstance, and regurgitate more than we often want them to. They can be dumb, clever, sweet, and mean. They’re free to roam and learn from their actions. Theirs is exactly the kind of childhood I’d want for myself, or for my own hypothetical children.
On top of the excellent writing, the show also looks top notch with its near photorealistic backdrops of Ueno Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. I had a lot of fun my past trip visiting some of these spots and recognizing scenes from the show. While I didn’t see the Colors fort, nor the police box they terrorize so frequently, I did watch people paddling swan boats in the pond, take a picture of the panda post box, and walk through Ueno Park during its sakura festival.
Rating: 2 dango
My one short of the season, and an advertisement to boot, Takunomi turned out to be a surprising delight this winter. I don’t know what it is about these sponsored shows lately, but they’ve stepped up their game or something. Takunomi presented a new alcoholic beverage within fififteen minutes every week, including classics like the shochu highball, Sapporo’s Otoko Ume Sour, and Super Dry Asahi. I was delighted to see they even included one of my recent favorites, Wednesday Cat.
The anime succeeded in charming me by providing a setting I immediately found inviting: a house of adult women all dedicated to work or school, yet friendly enough to hang out at night drinking and talking. I’ve never been much of a girl’s girl, at times from choice and at other times from shyness, so seeing their seemingly effortless friendship made me want to jump right in. The history and etiquette to the drinks that followed made me like the anime even more. Because of Takunomi, I started pouring Wednesday Cat into a glass instead of drinking straight from the can. Because of this anime, I sought out Otoko Ume Sour and made sure to muddy mine with umeboshi. Takunomi gave me exactly what I wanted, which is more than I can sometimes say about other shows.
Rating: 0 dango
I have such mixed feelings about Slow Start. At times, it was exactly as its title describes, slow to start and get going. At others, the sharp humor would click along at a breakneck speed, hopping from one topic to the next. The further along the season went, the more this show improved.
Then there were the scenes of sudden sexual tension, which always seemed to drop in out of nowhere. While I would sputter in surprise, I also couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the circumstances, particularly between characters like Eiko and her teacher. In no way, shape, or form do I condone that kind of relationship between a student and teacher, but I also can’t deny the clever dialogue and imagery between the two of them.
At the heart of the show, however, is the idea of belonging. Hana, the main character, suffers through the entire season from the fear of others finding out she missed an entire year of school. She didn’t miss it because of poor grades or laziness, but from an illness. Even though she couldn’t help it and isn’t to blame, she still shoulders this overwhelming fear of ridicule. As the show goes on, we find out that many of the other characters have their own version of a “slow start,” like her cousin the landlady, as well as another tenant in the apartments they share. They all question their placement and future to various degrees, but through interactions with one another realize there’s nothing to be ashamed about. These feel-good moments often get buried under the comedy, but I don’t mind in this case since I know the feelings are there, steadily growing stronger.
Rating: 1 dango
The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done!
I’ve always been a sucker for sports or games, so it was an obvious move for me to watch The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! The anime had good bones for a worthwhile story, but suffered from the meat of its characters and dialogue. From the standpoint of the game, the path from amateur to master, then later the stress of maintaining a title, is always an interesting one. Yaichi holds the master title of “Ryuo” right from the beginning, and is praised throughout the series for being the youngest to ever do so. The accolades are high, but so are the challenges. If this show had focused solely on him battling against others to hold his title and perhaps even go after other tournaments, I would have been even more interested.
Instead, they decided to bring in apprentices for Yaichi to nurture—young girls. While it’s not odd for trainees to be children, particularly with the aim to go pro, I certainly wasn’t interested in the humor that accompanied these girls. It didn’t take long after Ai’s first appearance in Yaichi’s home for the jokes about her age and their relationship to start rolling out. In the first episode alone there’s a fresh-out-of-bath mishap that results in him falling on top of her while she’s naked. I don’t care that he has no intentions of ever following through on these scenarios, or that his peers frequently condemn any inappropriate actions. I wish the anime had chopping out or rewritten these scenes altogether. Nothing valuable would have been lost by focusing on the games instead. But, that’s not what happened.
I’m still fond of the moments where the anime did decide to turn away from loli jokes towards more interesting subjects, like Keika’s dream of becoming a pro, and of Yaichi’s fight to hold on to the Ryuo title. There were even moments between Yaichi and his young students I appreciated, like when he took one of them, a girl with an overly confident attitude, to a community center to face off against some sly oldies. She gets her butt soundly kicked and realizes she still has a lot to learn, even in the unlikeliest of places.
Rating: 0 dango