The last Midseason Musings for 2017 is here! If you’re looking for my thoughts on the seasonal shows I’m currently watching, then you, esteemed reader, has come to the right place!
Well, I think I should address something first. To keep it short, I am sorry for not posting as much recently when it comes to seasonal shows. One would think it would be easier to post editorials here and there compared to writing episode reviews, but both routes are challenging in different ways. I will try to aim for at least one post about one seasonal show, one post about general anime trends, and one post about yuri every week. We’ll see if I can keep that up until the year ends. It’s like a reverse New Year’s resolution!
Anyways, here we go! First up are the shows that could be considered yuri or just feature close bonds between girls! I need to be more careful when it comes to labeling shows, after all…
Love Live! Sunshine!! 2nd Season
(as of episode 6)
Although the girls seem to be playing up their zany quirks a bit too much compared to the previous season, the series remains charming, cute, and captivating. This season also explores character dynamics that were largely ignored in the 2016 cour (to the delight of shippers) while providing characterization to characters who were largely relegated to the sidelines.
What has me most worried is whether or not the series will remains a genuine underdog story, which I had elaborated on in this post. At this point in time, I’m not sure if Aqours actually winning the national Love Live! competition is for the best since they seem to be easily clearing every obstacle presented thus far. It would cheapen the award if they were to win right now. But if they were to continue developing as they have been and if they were to learn what it means to truly shine as school idols and individuals (which is a recurring theme for the show), then I can definitely see how they might end up being able to save their school while winning the competition.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru – Washio Sumi no Shou
(as of episode 6)
I’ll talk more about this in the series review, but this 6 episode part really depends on the viewer becoming emotionally invested in the characters. In my opinion, YuYuYu aims to achieve this by showcasing the three main characters in daily hijinks. As a result, the viewers get to see how they are as magical girls and how they are as normal elementary school students.
In other words, the series is an emotional heavyweight because viewers can get attached to the girls and I ended up crying several times watching these 6 episodes.
Speaking of these episodes, I was sort of tempted to just write up a series review on the Washio Sumi no Shou part since the next 6 episodes will serve as a sequel of sorts to the original series (unlike Washio Sumi no Shou, which was a prequel). In the end, however, I decided against doing so. I’m excited to see how the next 6 episodes will go!
I just have one complaint – please stop sexualizing 12 year old girls, Studio Gokumi. We really don’t need the camera to linger and focus on their budding assets as they transform. They’re just little kids!
Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryoku
(as of episode 6)
On paper, two girls traveling through a post-apocalyptic world in a tank should be boring.
But this series remains engaging and endearing as these two fuzzballs bounce off each other while (re)discovering aspects of human culture. Somehow the series is more cheery than dreary, although the latter does flare up from time to time! I personally point my finger at how the two (and the others they happen to run into) have realistic short yet humorous exchanges as being the main reason behind the show’s strong performance and staying power among the viewers. No long sweeping and grandiose speeches to be found here!
Oh, and can I just say how the OST is amazing and how I actually get excited for the frequent montages? Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryoku is a stellar show, simply put. Hopefully detractors can look past the artstyle and just enjoy the series.
Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou
(as of episode 5)
While I can’t say that the animation can compare to its contemporaries (which are other idol shows), it has definitely improved at the cost of slightly different character designs. Die-hard fans will surely be split in that regard. Still, they still feel like they got the short end of the stick. Can’t people show more love for WUG-chan? It should be rather obvious, but I couldn’t stop praising them in the article I wrote for MANGA.TOKYO. That being said,the part where I said the girls were now gourmet potatoes were cut, haha… Going for references are a no-go for such articles, it seems!
What I find interesting in the setting of Wake Up, Girls! is the fact that there are so many idol groups. As a result, the viewer gets to see the title provide commentary on what it means to be an idol. Is it to be unique and individualistic? Are they better off being replaceable? Are idols supposed to bring people happiness? How do they approach doing so? Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou also brings up interesting angles such as 2-d idols and what people expect from idols doing solo-work while showing the girls develop as individuals and as a group. Old hatchets are seemingly buried, new challengers are rising, and a plucky fangirl becomes determined to enter this difficult world of showbiz – all while the idol industry continues to decline as a whole, oh my! A lot of stuff is going on and I’m worried that the show may struggle to balance all of that, but Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou so far has been handling it well enough.
The franchise may be a bit difficult to get into considering the strange order of its continuity, but idol fans should really look into Wake Up, Girls!
(as of episode 6)
It’s been said many times already, but Konohana Kitan is like the lovechild of Hanasaku Iroha (which was also done by P.A.Works and also revolves around employees at an inn) and Urara Meirochou (due to the similar ambiance). The effectiveness of the attempts to get the audience emotionally invested may vary – I personally think it’s been going incredibly well since I’ve shed a few tears here or there, but I’m also a huge softie. The folklore has been very well done thus far, too.
Konohana Kitan is a contender for this season’s gayest show and I can’t say I’m surprised at all.
Himouto! Umaru-chan R
(as of episode 6)
More of the same compared to the first season – a perfect student is actually a spoiled and lazy little sister otaku at home.
…is what I would like to say, but this second season features some very gradual character development, new individual nuances emerging, and the continuation of plot threads that actually last longer than for a gag in a single episode. There’s a subtle sense of development in this series, dammit, and you shouldn’t feel bad for enjoying a show about a hamster who runs around while causing trouble for her onii-chan.
Your mileage may vary, of course, but Himouto! Umaru-chan R is a hilarious show.
(as of episode 6)
The series is based upon a cool (and dangerous concept). Sidecar racing is that kind of sport, after all.
My main gripe that the large cast of racers is mishandled. They pop in and out, yes, but I can’t remember any of their names for the life of me. The title has also fallen into this predictable 2-episode set-up (much like Sakura Quest), which is, well, predictable. Many of the racers embody these clichés, as well, and do rather little to challenge these standards.
For a studio that likes to bring shows that could be considered yuri or have yuri themes, Two Car features a bit too much male influence (the main characters and the twins seem to have issues primarily due to men). Finally, the way the two main characters bicker at each other is so childishly that I can’t help but roll my eyes. Grow up, please.
I’ve survived worse girls’ club shows with oversized casts, though. And that’s primarily done by choosing a few favorite character(s) and hoping they get screentime. For what it’s worth, I’m a big fan of the quiet announcer who gets super hammy when she’s behind the mic. The interactions between the two cliché ojou-sama characters are also rather hilarious. Be that as it may, this series definitely isn’t for everyone.
(as of episode 6)
You either love or hate the artstyle.
URAHARA was off to a rough start, but it’s finally starting to get me emotionally invested – around the midway point. A bit late, admittedly! Maybe it’s because I’m overthinking the inherent messages and themes. The unfolding drama certainly helps, but it was clear from episode 1 that 2 specific characters were hiding some things (can’t say the same for Rito, though. Wow). Be that as it may, URAHARA won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (I think the majority will hate it, actually), but it’s certainly not the worst of the season. Quite the prestigious honor, I know.
THE OP IS FIRE, THOUGH
I LOVE IT SO MUCH
This is getting a bit long, so I’ll try to keep my thoughts on the non-yuri series brief.
UQ Holder!: Mahou Sensei Negima! – fun, stupid, and nostalgic. Really counts on viewers having watched/read (preferably read) Mahou Sensei Negima! which is rather like gatekeeping. As a result, anime-only viewers won’t really know who Fate, the character that made a brief appearance in episode 6, is. He’ll be explained in due time, maybe. The animated series has really been shifting things around and I can’t say I’m all that pleased with how things are being left out for the sake of faster progression (then again, anime has to attraction attention quick to retain a viewership, so I get it. I don’t love it, though). Battles between immortals can be intense, but so far none has died. As a result, actually becoming invested in these bouts are a lot harder since it’s difficult for the characters to actually die.
Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – I might have written an editorial praising the Moon Banquet Festival arc, but I have to admit that I’m not really enjoying the anime series right now. Then again, I sort of skipped the first two seasons since I do read the original material. At any rate, I think Shokugeki no Souma is simply better as a manga. The scenes that are supposed to make an impact simply aren’t doing so as an anime. Perhaps it’s due to how the animation is a bit, uh, toned down? Hm.
Black Clover – to be fair, the series is getting better as it tries to rub its grubby hands on every single shounen cliché in the book. But so far, Yuno hasn’t been shown doing much, so many of these characters seem rather one-note, and it’s just progressing way too slowly. I’m simply bored watching this series. But I’m a masochist who gives everything a fair shot, which means I continue to watch Black Clover every week. Otherwise, I can’t blast this series with a good conscience later on.
Mahoutsukai no Yome – atmospheric, pretty, somber. It gets “darker” around episode 6, but the signs were always there. If you loved the OVAs, then you’ll probably love this. However, I’ve always found the relationship between Elias and Chise to be uncomfortable and certain reveals in the latest episode reaffirms my gut feelings and I’m left feeling a bit unsettled as I watch the two interact. Maybe I’m the weird one for feeling this way, though.
Blend S – basically Working!! in 2017. Yuri fans will cry. I do love the OP, though, even though it’s been made into a meme.
Ballroom e Youkoso – lol
Anime-Gataris – it’s not ripping-off other series, people. Learn what parodies, homages, and satire are before you toss around such silly accusations. But Anime-Gataris is looking a bit less wonderful lately. Episode 5 was rather boring since they just stood in line and episode 6 brought in this romance nonsense that was just cringy and weird (why is he getting naked for no reason?) I’m probably not dropping this series just yet, but it better do something to regain my interest quickly since it seems to be stalling for time while giving the viewer nothing of substance.