It’s Thursday and as promised, here is the midweek (sort of?) edition of my Anime Diary. I’ve added two shows: Tsurezure Children and Gamers!, neither of which I regret picking up. All in all, I’ve mixed feelings about this entry; although I tend to focus on what I enjoy, three of the five shows covered here I have mostly negative things to say about. So I will claim that Tsurezure Children’s cuteness healed me from the horror of its fellow short Nestuzou Trap. Yes, that sounds like an accurate description of my feeling about this post’s landscape. Now, let’s get to the meat of this Diary entry.
Another show I don’t regret picking up. It’s quite funny – though the jokes are very much what you’d expect from a romcom – and there is a strange lack of anime about people sincerely nerding out over games, so Gamers! is strangely refreshing, typical as it looks. The latest episode has a clear focus on relationships, notably as Aguri becomes jealous of Tasuku’s apparent intimacy with Chiaki; but even then the show doesn’t leave its games behind, as we’re always reminded that Chiaki has entered the scene via her shared interest in games with Keita. Furthermore, the fact that the games they talk about are clearly based on existing franchises – in this case, Ys – helps the gamer audience better relate to the abundant gaming discussions. Perhaps Gamers! only treats games as a means to an end – that end being the romantic comedy which is already unfolding. But it doesn’t mean that the characters can’t have sincere discussions over whether moe is hurting the Japanese game industry or not. It is this kind of discussion that makes you feel the gaming talk is sincere; while one may disagree with the idea that moe is behind Japanese games’ falling popularity, it feels like a legitimate talking point. Furthermore, the philosophy of gaming that is questioned – the opposition between, playing for enjoyment as opposed to playing to complete – is something anyone who’s played games enough will understand. Overall, I am genuinely pleased with this show so far; the romances are cute (Tasuku and Aguri’s backstory…), the gags are funny (poor Karen), the cast is bright (Chiaki made a bright entrance with her sincerity and ability to change herself), and the dialogue is definitely lively. If you need another show to watch this season, Gamers! could be it.
I’d actually been enjoying this show up until now, but the first half of the fourth episode was a serious downer. The incessant narration was far too emotionally distant and elaborate for a work of this sort. Isekai Shokudou is a simple series that thrives on modesty and creating subtle emotional connections, not on coldly articulating the traditions of lizard people. My attention was almost immediately taken away due to this drowsy monologue. The tradition in and of itself was certainly a change of pace from the show’s usually more personal stories, but it was presented in the worst possible manner. Less thinking, more feeling, please! It doesn’t help that the scene where the lizards rushed to eat the omelet used still frames, further reducing the emotional potential of this sequence. The second part was better, though the sheer lack of information on the girl’s background contrasted pretty badly with the first half; one can simply infer that she wants to live up to her dead mother’s culinary skills, but the presentation simply didn’t work out. The main reason for this is that the reason behind her frustration at eating Youshoku no Nekoya’s good food is only revealed at the tail end of the episode; as such, it was impossible to connect with her emotionally at the time when she tasted the tofu. The second reason worsened this by adding a strange element of contempt for humans; without proper knowledge of her background, all we could see was a girl with a strange misdirected frustration toward human cuisine. At the very least it made an attempt at recapturing some of the humble emotionality that made past episodes nice. Finally, am I the only bothered by the seeming abandoning of Aletta’s character development? She’s completely melted into the background as past episodes have focused on one-time characters, and that’s worrying for the show’s future. Whatever its ambitions, Isekai Shokudou will have to do better than anything this episode showed if it wants to keep being a nice fluffy series about people coming together around tasty meals.
Koi to Uso
An interesting detail in the latest episode is the early appearance of Igarashi Shuu, Misaki’s silver-haired friend. For an adaptation that’s proven painfully uninspired so far – and remains so, we really could do without some of the mundane monologues –, this is an interesting choice. Perhaps the staff intends to skip a few steps to the revelations Shuu has to share? Who knows, but I certainly wouldn’t trust Takuno Seiki, whose most prominent past work as director was the disappointing adaptation of Yamada and the 7 Witches, to do much in dragging the best out of Koi to Uso. But I ought to stop talking about adaptation details, I suppose. The third episode finally revealed the show’s most interesting aspect so far; Nisaka’s feelings for Yukari. Until now, Koi to Uso has often been defined by its inability to entice the viewer; there may be the word “lies” in the title, and Takasaki may bring it up at the end of the fourth episode, but I doubt many will have picked up on any hint as to what these lies may be. The show’s “mystery” is simply too opaque for anyone to engage with it. But Nisaka’s case is different; we know what he’s carrying, now. And it’s quite a heavy thing, especially considering the nature of the society they live in. The state notification being designed to overcome the demographic decline, it is a deeply heteronormative system; what place does a homosexual boy have in a society where romantic relationships are decided by such a system? This is where Koi to Uso can shine; but then again the manga itself is focused on the main heterosexual love triangle, and given how this adaptation is going, it will probably do the exact same. Beyond this specific aspect, I’m hardly optimistic about the future of this show: it would need to go rather far into the story to clarify the pseudo-mysterious mess its story is. If it doesn’t manage that, we’ll have to stick with a rather banal affair dealing with confused teenagers thrown into an admittedly ridiculous world. And the humor isn’t even great.
Oh. Dear me. I really am back with this… thing? and am thoroughly impressed. The show’s ability to push every potentially decent element to the periphery – such as Hotaru’s relationship with her abusive boyfriend while Yuma’s is the sweetest boy imaginable – and focus instead on sensual kissing and touching between the girls is frankly astonishing. The greater issue is I can’t help but feel much of this is done for the male gaze. Whatever the case, I’m honestly annoyed by the show’s laziness. When Hotaru has visibly been beaten by her boyfriend, I want to know more; and while her throwing herself in Yuma’s arms makes sense in context, I would appreciate it if the story didn’t actively ignore plot elements in order to make Sapphic interactions the climax of every episode.
I don’t regret picking this up. It’s a short which focuses on a wide range of characters and their (unrelated for now) romances. A couple of things bother me in the show, such as the student council’s president overly forceful approaches on the blonde delinquent he likes, but overall the stories are adorable. Although most of them get off to a happy start (most of the characters got together within their first dedicated chapters), the latest episode ended up packing some emotional weight as we witnessed Takurou and Chizuru’s hidden feelings for one another. I know the issue will be solved in time, but I was still sucked in by the drama; and this kind of story provides a good counterweight to the otherwise light tone of the show. Other stories, such as Jun’s ordeal as he tries to give an answer to Yuki’s confession, are adorably playful. Jun’s emotion struggle is silly – Yuki has confessed and he obviously likes her back –, but that’s precisely the fun in this case. We know all these stories are juvenile, futile; but the characters’ feelings are given enough weight that they are never shallow, and revel in the strangely powerful mundanity of the affair. I’d thoroughly recommend this short based on what I’ve seen so far.
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