Spring 2018 Season Wrap: Yotsuiro Biyori, SAO Alternative: GGO Online, & Tada Never Falls in Love

The spring reviews continue on a slow, but steady, roll, and this time with three surprising finds of the season that one of my overall favorites. If there’s one take away I must impart, it’s to please, please try Yotsuiro Biyori if you have not already. If you do try the other two, well, that’s just extra yummy icing!

*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.

Yotsuiro Biyori

I don’t think there was a single show this season I was sadder to see end than Yotsuiro Biyori, with its recurring characters and setting, and episodic stories. This is the type of storytelling I could see going on forever. At a glance, the anime pigeonholes into the iyashikei (healing) style. The all male, very good looking main cast may even deceive you into thinking this a show a reverse harem. Then there’s the food aspect reminiscent of shows like Food Wars! and Koufuku Graffiti. While there are a elements of all to a certain extent, these assumptions completely miss the target that is the heart of Rokuhoudou.

The cafe’s desire to provide a home away from home successfully permeates every aspect of the anime, from the setting to the interactions between main characters and with customers. Rokuhoudou has a little bit of something for everyone who visits: a pottery class looking to a place to meet, the burly food writer too shy to eat alone in cute cafes, the business man exhausted after too many hours at work, the old, and the young. Somehow this show writes these characters in such a way that you quickly come to care about them, and are excited when they show up in later episodes. The anime feels like a community all on its own, and we, the viewers, are a part of it.

Rating: 2 dango

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

Say what you will about the original Sword Art Online series (I enjoyed it in a way), this alternative version set in Gun Gale Online with an entirely different cast of characters written by a different author was just the sort of fun I needed from this franchise. If you are sensitive to violence, even in video games, then you will likely want to steer clear of the anime since it does glorify in combat, both with modern technology and hand-to-hand. The cute exterior presented to us from the start and with the promotional material of a pink-clad little girl does represent the cast, but like with anything interesting, there’s a lot more to unpack beneath the surface.

While much of the enjoyment for this show centers on the gameplay we tasted before with Kirito and Sinon (who do make an appearance in legend only), there’s a whole different level of fun in the interactions between online and offline cast members. Offline, Karen is a taller-than-average young woman with a complex about her height and appearance. Online, she purposefully plays a character as cute and small as possible. One of my favorite moments in the show is when she finds out an opposing team of powerful women are in reality the group of high school girls she frequently passes in her daily commute. Their unlikely friendship pushes her along in strengthening her self confidence. Then there’s Miyu, her best friend growing up and later a fellow player in GGO who goes by the name of “Fukaziroh”. Her online and offline personalities are hardly different, but she does display an impressive amount of grit and spunk in her gameplay where she primarily uses grenade launchers.

Best girl, hands down

What started as Llenn’s story morphs into a quest to save another one of her online friends, Pitohui. It’s at this point near the end of the show where we see the biggest connection between GGO and its predecessor, SAO. Pito’s obsession with death and regret at not having been a part of the tragedy that was SAO’s hell push Llenn and those around her to defeat Pito and force her to face Karen in real life. I thought the entire arc an interesting angle on depression and mental illness, which they briefly touch on with Pito’s character, but never fully dive into other than to assume that Llenn succeeds in redirecting Pito’s desires elsewhere.

I probably should have dedicated an entire post to this show, but there you have it! I enjoyed GGO much more than I expected to, and had no problem keeping up with it from week to week. If you’re interested in this show and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask away!

Rating: 1 dango

Tada Never Falls in Love

Tada Never Falls in Love was one of my few romances of the season, even if that aspect didn’t really filter in until the latter half of the show. Most of the episodes feel much like a typical high school comedy, especially with the Photography Club as the basis of all activities. Despite the lateness of the romance, I liked this anime because of the characters and their friendships with one another.

Tada feels more like a light comedy about Teresa and Alec as high school exchange students in Japan than a push towards first loves. I would have even felt fine with their club hijinks lasting through to the end and Tada truly never falling in love with any thing or one other than his photography.

When Cupid’s arrow does strike, it’s fast and ruthless, and we end up with a rushed ending reminiscent of a car chase. And even though I found the emotions unlikely in their suddenness, the anime still sucked me in to the drama. I teared up at the appropriate times, and wanted to shake a certain character for betraying my trust.

Rating: 1 dango

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8 thoughts on “Spring 2018 Season Wrap: Yotsuiro Biyori, SAO Alternative: GGO Online, & Tada Never Falls in Love

  1. The ‘1-Dango’ level seems like damning with faint praise… 🙂

    I think Tada is the most disappointing show this season. It had good bones, and could have gone in any number of directions and done well… But it kept haring off all over the map and never *quite* following up or building on previous episodes.

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  2. I went into the last couple episode of Tada-kun with trepidation, given the way the story was looking like it would just be Mitsuyoshi selfishly blowing up Teresa and Charles’ lives just so he could blurt out that he had a crush on Teresa. The only thing that really saved that whole situation was Charles being Mr. Awesome and stepping away from Teresa, the thing that Mitsuyoshi didn’t want to do. It wasn’t like Mitsuyoshi was “saving” Teresa from Charles. I never got the feeling that Teresa was unhappy with Charles. It was just Mitsuyoshi making special effort to tell Teresa the thing that she didn’t want him to tell her. And while I guess it makes an OK fairy tale, the only thing that kept it from being a complete disaster is that Charles was written that way. That’s really what it felt like to me, that it was very ‘written’ (as in not a natural thing, something that had to be contrived for the story).

    And it’s also kind of annoying that the underlying message is “Hey, when this other GUY shows up, then I’ll step aside, but we won’t let Teresa initiate a decision.” This could have been a perfect chance for a show to have a female romantic lead show some agency and tell Charles herself. But that wouldn’t have fit their 50’s-style Euro-road-movie romance thing, I guess.

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    • Mitsuyoshi’s declaration of love definitely had a feeling of doing it more for himself than for Teresa, no matter how either one of them would describe it. I also felt terrible for Charles, who was wonderful throughout the entire show and looked to genuinely care for Teresa. The entire scenario did feel more scripted than anything else. In the end, it’s not the romance I’ll remember fondly about this show, but all the comedy leading up to it.

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  3. GGO seems like it’s what happens when you take Reki Kawahara’s stories, but then take Reki Kawahara out of it. You end up with a crazy-but-not-so-crazy villain, and you end up with a bit more believable main character who doesn’t just pull out deus ex machina solutions. It wasn’t great, but it was good, and avoided the SAO and Accel World cringes in characterization, particularly with the bad guys. I don’t think anyone was surprised by the big reveal at the end, due to knowing how SAO works: If there could be a coincidence, there’s GOING to be a coincidence.

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    • I have to admit, when M’s history was revealed, I very much didn’t want to believe it since I just could not imagine the guy who perfectly strategized fights with Llenn as some stalker masochist. That’s the one area of this author’s take on GGO I wish had been a bit different.

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