These series brought me so much sadness and joy this season, most from excellent writing and one from an ending no creator ever wants to see.
- 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.
After the Rain
I can finally say that I very much like After the Rain now that I’ve seen it through to the end along with Akira and Kondo. My biggest fear, the fruition of a romantic relationship, never came to pass. Instead, they helped one another make it to the next step towards their own respective futures.
Before I get too into the meat of the story and characters, I do want to underline just how pretty this show is from start to finish. I was initially bothered by Akira’s large eyes, but quickly came around. The cliche phrase, “eyes are the window to the soul,” applies in this situation. Her eyes betrayed her emotions as well as reflected our own. Then there was the rain motif that draped over everything in the anime from the series title, to the episode titles, and on to every emotional high and low. I know Japan has a unique appreciation of rain I don’t usually see here in the West, but I felt like I could understand just a little of why they feature it so often in their works of art thanks to this anime.
As for the characters themselves, they turned out much more nuanced than I originally expected, particularly Kondo. Akira’s past with running came up quickly in the story, so it was inevitable that she would confront her former passion once again before the end of the season. Kondo‘s love for literature also popped up shortly after his introduction, which added to the melancholy tone. When we learned about his attempt to succeed as a novelist, his current career seemed all the sadder. The way he used past tense to discuss writing, his memories of his younger self when looking at Akira, the public knowledge of his divorce—they all pointed to a man whose dreams had shattered. I related to him more than I wanted to admit. I could understand his desire for Akira to socialize with people her age, to try once more to run. I also understood the temptation to give in to her affections. The end result was better than I could have asked for.
Rating: 2 dango
March Comes in Like a Lion
Yet again we have an anime in this season review I’m loathe to see finish. March Comes in Like a Lion was reliable these past seasons; I knew I could always depend on the show to bring a certain quality of writing and character to the table. That is not to say that it was perfect, or without need for improvement, but it still set the bar extremely high over and over again.
There was always more than one story in March Comes in Like a Lion, a show that treasured all of its characters no matter how seemingly minor to the main narrative. It’s not often I can count on a series to succeed in both side stories and the overarching one. Every one of the cast members were important to me, their words worth hearing. Notable favorites from this past winter included Hina’s trials at school, Nikaidou’s love for shogi against all odds, and Yanagihara’s impressive run as a professional player. On their own, they already enthralled me with their feelings. Connected to Rei as they were, their “endings” only made me love them and their relationships with one another even more.
On the screen, this anime looked as beautiful as its writing. I’m so, so glad SHAFT handled the show, and did so with a deft touch I often crave in some of their other more bombastic works. If a continuation is ever brought back to the screen, I hope they will again take up the helm, and that all of our characters are happier than we left them.
Rating: 2 dango
I’ll lead my review of Märchen Mädchen with the warning that this series has not yet finished, and maybe never will. It was originally scheduled for a single cours, but due to production and likely other unknown issues, the series stopped after ten episodes. There was no graceful close, just an abrupt end to a still ongoing conflict. Tragedy wasn’t new to the work, whose original creator for the light novels died before it was completed. A manga adaptation by others followed the next year. Now this anime will live with the regretful end note of cancellation.
At the start of the winter, I was hopeful that Märchen Mädchen would be a sleeper hit. The first episode alone was enough to excite me about the direction we might take. Another world where girls bond with our stories and take on powers to protect us from darkness? I was game. I can think of plenty of my own favorite books whose protagonists I would love to embody as magical abilities. The visuals and writing weren’t too bad, either. I laughed often, particularly in the battle with the Russian School.
Speaking about battles, the original intent for the books and their Users was to combat a greater evil. Once the show went down the route of an international tournament between schools with the pretense of saving the world, my interest began to wane. The tension dissipated. Then came episode nine, “Companions on a Journey, and Whimsical Traps.” The stilted script and poor art and animation felt like the result of a completely different series. I was almost relieved that the original writer wasn’t alive to see what his work had become.
If the remaining two episodes ever do air, I will watch them through to the end. I would like to see the result of the competition. That, or I’ll just read the light novels, which sounds like a better plan.
Rating: 0 dango
I’ve watched both seasons of Overlord now, and still cannot put my finger on what it is about this world that pulls be back each time. While the first season had a more unified front, this sequel jumped around from setting to setting, introducing us to new characters and motivations. Sometimes, I started to wonder if we would ever seen Ainz Oowl Gown again, or if we’d stick with the lizards forever. Of course, everything was connected, most of it tangled in a thread spun by Momonga and his followers. I delighted in the depth of their deception, and at other times begrudged them their meddling in characters whose lives I’d rather see free.
If you watched season one and were confused by the first half of season two and the lizard tribes, rest assured that the original cast did return. I’m not fully on board with the way the arc was handled, since it took me a bit to get used to not seeing any of the main characters. By the time I felt genuine affection for the lizards, Ainz Oowl Gown returned, and not as kindly as I had hoped. Of course they’re not the good guys, and of course they have a reputation to uphold. I just wish they could have gained the loyalties of the lizards in a way that prevented any bloodshed.
Then there was Sebas and his guise as a human. I enjoyed watching him interact with other humans and reveal his strong sense of honor and duty. How much of it was programming and how much was genuine after the birth of this world is impossible to say. I just hope that he’s grown a real sense of caring for life that Momonga and the rest of the guild still lack.
The anime may have ended, but the story is far from over. I’m hoping we will again receive another season so we can see where the many open paths from this winter go.
Rating: 1 dango