Winter 2018 Season Wrap: Hakumei and Mikochi, Citrus, How to Keep a Mummy, & Garo: Vanishing Line

I hate to include Hakumei and Mikochi in this wrap, since I could keep on learning more about their lives for…well…forever. But here we are at the end, and all the better for it.

*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.

Hakumei and Mikochi

I still can’t believe how I almost missed out on this treasure at the start of the winter season. This just goes to prove how precious my readers are, knowing me well enough to say I needed to give Hakumei and Mikochi a chance. While I would have still thought the season extremely strong even without having watched this anime, my time wouldn’t have been as enriched as it was with the show. Hakumei and Mikochi always brought me to a safe and nurturing place when I needed it most.

I’ve gushed on about the anime in a separate blog post already, but something I did not really talk about was the art. Not the character designs, but the background art and paneling. The scenery comes alive with vibrant colors and minute details—this is a world of little people, after all, so every knot and branch on the tree counts. On top of the environment and animals, there’s also the stylistic choice to insert manga-like cutouts throughout the episodes. They appear frequently, and start to feel natural to the story and tone. If you liked the manga influences in Love & Lie’s anime, then you’ll have an idea of how it works in Hakumei and Mikochi. I just happen to think the style works even better here.

I always struggle with rating shows on my blog since I do try to be impartial. I don’t always rate my favorite anime the full three dango, since they can be full of flaws and not to a lot of people’s taste. This anime certainly won’t suit everyone with its healing atmosphere and chibi character designs. However, I do consider the life lessons in each of the arcs to be worthwhile and tasteful in presentation. Everyone stands to learn something meaningful from Hakumei and Mikochi, and I will keep on sharing my love for the work for as long as I’m able.

Rating: 3 dango

Citrus

If I had watched Citrus week to week like I do most other seasonal anime, I probably would have dropped it early on due to the characters and my overall disinterest in the story. Instead, I ended up saving the series for the end and watched it in its entirety with my husband. I quickly became tired of Mei’s terrible personality and the many rivals who popped up against Yuzu. Almost every episode also included its fair share of sexual assault, even if none of the characters would define them as such.

I spoke on Kaiseki Anime Podcast in length about what drew me to this anime in the first place, which was the anime community’s hype prior to the start of the season. I knew people were looking forward to some yuri romance, so thought I’d give it a try for myself. It didn’t take long for the first sexual offense to occur, and the confrontations just kept on coming. Part of me kept hoping that some trauma from Mei’s past would reveal itself as explanation for her character. Neither her stress with her grandfather, nor her history with her father were enough to warrant her behavior, which in itself was still inexcusable. With nothing endearing about her to gain my affections, I was unable to find any enjoyment in Mei’s consensual scenes with Yuzu. With nothing else worth remembering, what then is the point?

Rating: 0 dango

How to Keep a Mummy

I remember when How to Keep a Mummy first aired, many viewers took to Twitter to squeal about the cuteness of the mummy, a squishy figure the size of a teacup. But that was it. After the initial slew of screenshots, I didn’t see much else. It was as if their cuteness quota was filled with that opening episode, or they didn’t expect much else worth mentioning later on in the season. And that’s a shame.

How to Keep a Mummy was about more than just Mii-kun and Sora. The show introduced more supernatural creatures, like dragons, oni, baku, inugami, and many more. Sora gained friends who shared in his experiences and taught him to rely on others. While the usual tone of the anime is lighthearted, there are darker moments like when Sora confronts his fear of loneliness, or when he and his friends encounter a human poacher of youkai. If you enjoy endearing series like Natsume Yuujinchou, then How to Keep a Mummy should definitely be on your watch list. You’ll probably also find your heart squeezing at the cuteness of the creatures in almost every episode.

Rating: 1 dango

Garo: Vanishing Line

After 24 action-packed episodes, Garo: Vanishing Line is finally over and I’m happy I stuck with the series until the end. A show that started out strong in the fall, Garo stumbled in its attempt to balance an overarching conflict with monster-of-the-week side stories.

I don’t actually recall much discussion on this show among peers, other than the opening weeks when people were still going through their three-episode trials. There was some misgiving about Sword’s beefy character, but not much else negative that I can recall. I found Sword to be a lovable buffoon much of the time, honest in his likes and his calling as the Golden Knight. Then there was Gina, a woman with an undeniable allure rivaled only by her skills as an alchemist. I always cheered when she returned to the screen, and am glad they chose to bring her in for the final arc in El Dorado. Luke’s character was less likable but still important to the narrative. Confused in his purpose thanks to his former Makai knight of a father who fell to darkness, Luke struggles for much of the anime to work with others and care for anyone but himself.

They would be interesting as their own unit, but this particular story centers on Sophie, a human girl I liked right from the start. The previous two Garo series in these recent years focused primarily on the knights and alchemists, so it was refreshing to see these same roles circling a human lead instead.

Rating: 1 dango

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4 thoughts on “Winter 2018 Season Wrap: Hakumei and Mikochi, Citrus, How to Keep a Mummy, & Garo: Vanishing Line

  1. I dropped How to Keep a Mummy, because it just wasn’t moving anywhere for me. I didn’t even think Mii-kun was that cute. I think I only watched a couple episodes of it. It probably got better with more characters, but at best it was looking like just a way to kill some time.

    Citrus is basically a usual shoujo story with the intended couple being two girls instead of a guy and a girl. And honestly, it’s not a particularly good one. I never read the manga, even though I read a ton of yuri manga, and I’m not that inclined to do so now, anyway. It’s not a particularly good romance story, Yuzu is terrible about not understanding things, or even trying to think about them, Mei is just a black box that almost can’t be understood, just gives you a reaction to an input. And then they just kept throwing new characters at it, like having different inputs into Mei would allow someone to figure out what results you’d get. It was a show I even fell behind on, because it just wasn’t that good. And the only good character was Harumin, who had no chance if she even wanted one with Yuzu, but probably realized that she was better off that way after seeing the crazy going on. It’s pretty disappointing that that’s what explicitly represents yuri in anime, when there are so many better yuri stories in manga that could be adapted: anything by Milk Morinaga, like Hana and Hina After School or Secret Recipe; or even Ajiichi’s Dear My Teacher.

    Or Hakumei and Mikochi. Such a beautiful setting of companionship and togetherness. When you get to see a show like it, you wonder “How did this get made? It’s so far out of the anime (and even TV) mainstream”, and you’re just so happy that it did, and hope that it inspires more like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How to Kill a Mummy was one of my backup series this season. I never turned to it first. But, I still enjoyed it a lot and do think it improved as more people and creatures entered the show.

      I don’t usually like yuri anime, and can’t even think of a title right now that springs to mind. I’ll have to look into the works you mention to see if they give me the depth I tend to crave. Hakumei and Mikochi might be considered pro-LGBTQ, but it’s never explicitly stated or shown. Other than that, my hope for anime continues on thanks to works like it being brought to the screen.

      Like

  2. I didn’t dislike Citrus, but can certainly see why you would give it a zero. The scenes were characters force themselves on others will put off people and Mei’s coldness makes me wonder why she is so popular with everyone.

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