I apologize for the lack of an article last week. However, after some personal trouble and much deliberation, I have good (bad?!) news: I’ve decided to make this a biweekly program! Here’s the weekend edition, discussing shows which air between Friday and Sunday. The other one will be published on Thursday and cover shows that air during the rest of the week. That way I can write about more shows, but also without having to wait until Sunday to write about episodes that aired last Monday, which feels better for me. I may add shows along the way, too, depending on what I pick up; in fact, I’ve already added the lovely Made in Abyss! Maybe I’ll also drop some, though I’ll mention it if that happens. In the meantime, here’s to a post filled with nice anime; I hope you enjoy, and see you next Thursday!
Ballroom e Youkoso
Hyoudou’s appearance is really pushing this series forward, isn’t it? He sent shivers rushing down baby Fujita’s spine, and even helped reveal some strange talent in him; although our protagonist is still no good at the whole dancing business, he shows signs of being a perfect partner for Shizuku… is it the power of love?! Well, honestly, it’s hard to deny that this kind of cliché notion is playing some part here. However, it pays dividends already in the latest episode. Hyoudou, who’s clearly injured and mysteriously disappears before the standard part of the competition, watches Fujita dancing a messy waltz with his usual partner and understands this. At the end, he can only scream: “give her back!”. He’s offended by how well they go together. This is certainly an… interesting (?) kind of love triangle on the horizon; however, no matter how much Fujita thinks of Shizuku while practicing, he’s still not good enough to claim he can be her partner. The ED seems to indicate this – for the first cour at least, he’ll have to watch on from the sidelines as he keeps practicing, hoping he can eventually dance in graceful harmony with the girl of his dreams. Still, this little incident – we can only call his appearance on a competitive stage an incident – effectively brings up Hyoudou’s competitiveness. He’s worked so hard to build his place in this world; even the smallest affront to what he’s built offends him hugely. This echoes Sengoku’s own reaction to when Fujita claimed he wanted to be like him; for people who’ve dedicated themselves to dancing for years, these things carry huge emotional weight. And yet here we have a boy appropriating them as if they were toys; his juvenility is offensive to them. This is perfectly understandable; but then again it does show how long a way Fujita has to go, and fits his general attitude. Although all sports shows bring up the harshness of a competitive environment and the unforgiving spirit of those who involve themselves in it, the writing in this one seems fairly tight so far.
The short sequence where Hyoudou is seen aching at the bottom of a staircase, as if Iwakuma had pushed him down, is intriguing; that said, I’m not expecting too much. We’re not talking about a mystery show, and the heated dancing antics as well as all the usual sport anime fanfare is what the viewer is here for. The dancing looks great thanks to Production I.G.; the Latin sequence burns Fujita’s cheeks, and while I may not have reacted as strongly, the intimacy and explosive pace of the affair absolutely struck me. So far, Ballroom e Youkoso is delivering what I’d been expecting; it may not amount to anything exceptional, but it’s enjoyable enough. I really wish they’d discuss the specificity of dancing – an art that unites body and soul – more, though. Otherwise it’ll have a hard time establishing an identity beyond a typical, although well-done, sports anime.
Centaur no Nayami
What can I say about this one? Well, long story short, it pretty much is all fluff as I’d initially feared. I don’t have much to comment on; the latest episode even had a random benevolent spirit entertain a little kid for one afternoon… if anything, I find the way the show presents its every incongruity with such nonchalance welcome. Or rather, things that many other shows seem to treat as if they were incongruities. Here we have a relationship between two girls and Mitama dedicating herself to kids when she’s still a high school student, giving shape to a non-traditional household; and all these things are just kind of there, and it’s all cute and lovely. Now of course it doesn’t stop the show from being pure fluff so far, which is a shame, but this show is like a tasty chocolate mille-feuille; a nice desert to finish off the week’s anime, in sum.
Hitorijime My Hero
So, the past two episodes have focused on the childhood friends. This was somewhat of a shift from what I’d expected, but I won’t complain much. The main issue I had was with Hasekura’s behavior – even though most BL is worse when it comes to the seme’s behavior, he still forced Kensuke to kiss him, and that’s not acceptable (especially as it’s a tired BL cliché). That aside, the romance is cute, if a little uninspired; Hasekura’s ultimatum pushes Kensuke to realize his feelings for his childhood friend. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about such a storyline, except that the use of nostalgic places helped give their story some emotional weight, especially when one’s perspective on these remembrances drastically shifts upon learning what Hasekura’s feelings had been like the whole time. Furthermore, this whole drama ended quite adorably. That aside, the noteworthy element in this episode was the addition of short scenes focusing on Setagawa and his beloved teacher Kousuke. We understand that Setagawa sees a few things he’d like for himself in his friend’s romance with Hasekura, and this provides a very handy link back to the main plot. We can only guess the show will be back to focusing on the main pair starting next week; and I’m frankly optimistic. This has been a nice romance so far, and I expect the rest to follow suit.
I don’t get this show. I seriously don’t. At least it seems to be renewing its formula often enough to avoid the oblivion of boredom; episode three had Yumeko losing, and now we’ve got a start of her climbing back to the winners’ lavish heaven, accompanied by Saotome. But even with this, how can I explain the appearance of a girl who needs the thrill of a Russian roulette to tell herself she’s alive?! I could go on about the sheer levels of ridiculousness this show’s characters tend to reach, because it does feel like an important talking point to me; when nothing less than a Russian roulette will pleasure you (in an obviously sexual way, too), you may be somewhat out of touch with reality (though these people clearly don’t care given how they revel in slavery anyway). In this view, the protagonist (while useless in almost every regard) acts as a counterpoint. He comes off as a reasonable; except this sensibleness is in fact what makes him stand out in the insane environment of Kakegurui. But will that lead to anything? I’m unsure. The early passage in episode four where Saotome goes crazy over her “life plan” which decides a future as a slave without any possible rebellion from her is interesting, since it reinforces the notion that those who’re not the system’s winners have their lives very much determined for them – once again there’s an element of exaggeration given how blatant it is, but it’s not a complete stretch as a critique of the world the characters live in. This show has a pretty important choice to make: give its story meaning, or continue reveling in its characters’ frankly laughable excesses? Lavishness is quick to lose its glow and reveal its emptiness of heart; it may not last a full season. In the meantime, I suppose I can appreciate the insanity unfolding before my eyes, along with the detailed approach and variety in the games being played.
Made in Abyss
This show joins my weekend lineup, and it’s a pleasure. Made in Abyss’ story, at its core, may come off as a rather obvious thing at this point: lil’ Riko goes in search of her mother accompanied by her mysterious companion Regu. It’s nothing we haven’t heard about before; however, the show has effectively focused on other elements, and has gotten us believing the story’s mysteries will make the ride worthwhile. Indeed, the Abyss seems filled to the brim with dreadful wonders. The journey itself has been made to seem so enticing, we’re not even thinking about the end goal yet. And this is a good thing. The third episode already brings emotional power to the story by showing the young Riko’s resolve to leave everything behind in order to look for her mother deep within the world’s last great mystery. The experience is a contrasting one; there is a creeping sense of delight as the kids cry the pain of separation away. And this is where the show has succeeded so far; we just want to see what our main characters will go through, and discover it all with them. I don’t often watch shows which manage to mobilize my senses so early; yet here I was watching the third episode of Made in Abyss, smiling from the excitement. I was fully with the characters in my desire to explore the depths of the Abyss; I too felt I wanted to make the dive. And we’ve hardly seen anything yet! But it’s been the subtle world-building: the white whistles being beautifully presented as local folklore; the mystical descriptions of the Abyss’ depths; the sudden appearance of an emotional connection between Riko and the Abyss with her mother’s whistle; Regu’s questioning of his own origins, especially as he’s clearly more technologically advanced than anything else on this island. We’ve seen so little, and yet in a way so much already – just how much does this show have in store for us? I can’t wait to see. Made in Abyss has been amazing at subtly building its universe and hinting at its mysteries; now, I can only hope the revelations live up to this standard.
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