Isekai Shokudou delivers its best episode yet, Gamers! is back to its best… although I still have to accuse the usual culprits – NTR being particularly disgusting this time around –, I feel somewhat blessed to be able to write things I genuinely enjoyed into this diary entry. And it’s with a smile on my face that I share with you my latest anime impressions!
The main story picks up from where it had left us at the end of episode three, raising more questions as to what this horrible fourth entry was all about. But putting this horror show – and the fact that Karen still seems to be defined only by her crush on Amano – aside, I found Gamers! to be very much back on track. The comedy is simply great, with Tasuku’s reactions when realizing the full extent of Chiaki and Keita’s connection taking the cake. While the focus remained very much on relationships and misunderstandings, the different situations – Chiaki-Tasuku, Keita-Aguri, etc – all come together to form a confusing but funny mess, and when the episode ended I felt impatient to see how the protagonists would manage to untangle this mess. Although I’ll have to wait to see what I want, I walked away with the satisfaction of being engaged in the show once again.
Aguri makes herself more attaching with her little speech on love, perhaps the most heartfelt moment in the show so far. In fact, I’d say Aguri and Tasuku are the show’s best couple given their history and the visible sincerity of their feelings; plus, the relationship has provided a platform for Tasuku’s development. On the other hand, I’m still waiting to see the extent of the bond between Keita and Karen, or how it may help the two grow; but I guess that being the main plot, it’ll be left alone for a while.
The discussions on gaming were a highlight once again. Keita advising Chiaki about her next game was also interesting – although I’d disagree with him on the idea that a creator’s quirks never disappear even as they chase success –, and his obliviousness as to what games Chiaki is making raises the levels of cuteness. It’d be interesting to see the show delving further into these philosophies of creation to complete its idea of what gaming is all about, especially as whole “the gaming club is not exactly what you guys seek” thing remains vague and honestly suspicious given the conclusion of last week’s episode which reduced Keita’s philosophy of gaming to a wimpy twist of Karen’s. Still, although we sometimes have series about people playing games (D-Frag!) and others about people making games (New Game!), the two are in the end part of what makes gaming, and having both in one show could provide interesting perspectives if it comes to that; I can’t wait for Keita’s reaction when he finds out Chiaki is his beloved Nobe-san! Finally, showing Tasuku playing at the arcade alone was a nice detail: it showed his evolution, or rather how he’s finally starting to enjoy games again.
The episode ends with the characters getting caught in their self-created misunderstandings, and I can’t wait to see how this mess will be put right. It’s hard to praise Gamers! for being original, or for constantly bringing new ideas into its story; but for its philosophy of gaming, cute romances and entertaining gags, it’s a perfect example of the “greatly entertaining putting together of stuff you’ve already seen elsewhere” type of work Amano described in this episode.
This was exactly the type of episode I’d been expecting from Isekai Shokudou, and I’m glad to report I loved every second of it.
The first bathing scene may come off as somewhat fanservice-y, but Aletta’s narration, which reveals her tendency for self-deprecation, as well as how much she’s enjoying her new life, turns it into a beautiful moment: although she feels unworthy of cleaning her body, she still appreciates that she’s finally allowed to treat herself right. It makes us think back on her past conditions and how awful they really were; we finally fully understand just how much her situation has improved, and how much happier she is now. Seeing her smiling as she finally gets to take care of herself should make anyone with a heart beam.
Except, we actually have to wait until the end of the episode for this to be expressed in all its beauty. As Aletta eats buttered potatoes, she realizes how good the food she’d always associated with bare survival can be; the bad memories are washed away, overwritten by new, much more beautiful ones. The simple expression of this evolution, through eating and reserved narration, builds her character beautifully, and this episode was exactly what I’d been wanting: something to make Aletta into the attaching girl she always seemed to be. She concludes the episode on an uplifting note, which is everything I liked seeing from a show like Isekai Shokudou; and, just as I thought its formula was tiring out a little, it managed to renew my affection for it by pulling off exactly the episode I thought could improve the show, giving its heroine the love she deserves and finally going beyond mere one-time appearances.
Furthermore, the potatoes becoming Aletta’s favorite food is tied into the general theme of the episode. We’d already seen in the opening entry people arguing over what the best meal in this restaurant is; yet even those who thought they were over such silly scraps can’t help but get involved, such is their love for their favorite. Aletta is slightly bothered by such noisiness, but in the end, food is about bringing people together, and this giant brawl ends with people tasting each other’s beloved dishes and supposedly understanding the special deliciousness everyone’s favorite has. This is another one of the show’s nice expressions of its characters’ individuality: although this episode doesn’t show much food, the sheer sincerity with which everyone speaks was enough to make me drool.
Although the show will apparently go back to a more traditional format next episode, we may learn a little more about the mysterious dragon woman; and the restaurant’s master revealing he had another teacher is a new mystery we’d like to see elucidated. All in all, this episode had everything I love about Isekai Shokudou: I sit in front of the show as the restaurant’s customers seat in front of their meals. I expect something simple, yet surprisingly delicious: and this show, at its best, is just that so far. It makes me feel one with the characters, and I love it for this.
Koi to Uso
I love starting episodes with needless erotic scenes! Opening stupidity aside, this episode shows the peak of Koi to Uso’s silliness – have you ever seen someone talk as romantically about sex as Ichijou does here? It’s so farfetched, and yet it may be the series’ one redeeming aspect, as I’d mentioned: the twist it gives on the pedestrian concepts of imposed marriage and broken romance is so thoroughly trivial, one has to laugh as the impressive frivolity the show manages to get away with, which in turn gives it its entertaining quality.
Arisa has made her appearance, and her impact is already felt as she’s obviously the one who advices Ririna to try a new hairstyle. She’s quite important, being the first friend Ririna makes outside those directly related to the government notification; furthermore, she comes off as a nice and dynamic girl, although her reason for approaching Ririna seems like somewhat of a stretch. There’s also more airtime for Igarashi; the staff seems intent on giving her a role sooner than in the manga. This could be for the better, especially as her strange involvement with the system is hinted at (the same can be said of Nisaka, though the hints aren’t enough as I’d go as far as saying that the show would be better off making him the protagonist). This is an interesting change; hopefully it helps the show delve deeper into the story in the short time it has.
Other than that, although I mostly laughed my way through the episode, I can’t help but find it somewhat disturbing. I’m tempted to claim the show represents something as authoritarian and inhumane as the government notification in too idealized a manner; although her first proponent, Ichijou, doesn’t quite have the ideal story her speeches may lead you to believe, I still think the show does too little to explore what a counterrevolution it represents. Most people are doing pretty well under the system, and while that’s somewhat expected, Koi to Uso seems uninterested in exploring the nature of love or the importance of failed relationships, things which its setting explicitly restricts (that’s adding to the heteronormativity which I’d already mentioned, which matters all the more when as some have pointed out, it’s pretty damn ironic that the show is about a straight couple oppressed by the government, too). This is definitely the show’s biggest issue, and it appears clear as day when it tries to explain its system as well as its potential shortcomings.
Ending the episode with Ririna and Yukari in bed is a choice I find unfortunately telling of the show’s priorities. It’s obvious nothing is going to happen. All in all, Koi to Uso remains unchanged: it’s either boring or laughable, but definitely best when it becomes fully absorbed in its shallowness. It’s not a great show in any way, and an episode such as this brings out both the worst in it and what makes it entertaining; in the end, it’s hard for me to say anything except that it’s pretty bad, but in a way that makes me unwilling to drop it.
Well, here goes my dose of infuriating anime for the season. The episode opens on Fujiwara suggesting corrective rape, and ends on him closing in on Yuma and Hotaru to do said act (which he says he’d only mentioned as a “joke”!). Of course, this is an incredibly grave thing to even suggest, but the show completely brushes that aside, choosing to focus on Yuma’s increasingly obvious attraction toward Hotaru instead.
I still remember thinking last week: “hey, if this were a good show, maybe it could explore things like corrective rape?” and I was right: it does mention the crime. But the show’s laziness was obvious from start, and here it’s painfully clear: it only shows these things for their perceived sensual value, and not for their meaning.
The way the show swiftly moves on from Fujiwara’s threat is astonishing; even Yuma, who is clearly annoyed, doesn’t seem quite aware of the situation, even though it confirms what a dangerous individual Fujiwara is. She quickly drops the matter. As for Hotaru, it’s annoying that she forgives Fujiwara, but somewhat understandable that she’d try to brush it aside, at least for now: she does need him in a weird way and probably doesn’t want to think about all these horrible things, the same way she brushed it aside when he beat her up.
The flashback on Hotaru and Yuma’s childhood together is fairly cliché and forgettable, but is at least more acceptable than the rest of this episode, and does serve to show us that Hotaru actually loves Yuma, and that there is more to her behavior than even Hotaru herself is inclined to believe; this could lead to somewhat pleasant and fluffy romantic developments in the future… if this were a better show. But once again, it all quickly devolves into girls touching each other, because clearly that’s the be-all and end-all of this series.
At any rate, this story has become disgusting beyond my worst expectations, and I feel like a warrior for not dropping it yet. Maybe part of me likes the suffering.
This may just be the silliest episode yet. The first part is more annoying than it should be due to Akagi, whose teasing sometimes borders on harassment (probably due to the amount of torment he gives Ryouko, which is to say all the time and with sometimes fairly harsh words), although of course the lovey-dovey conclusion is adorable. The second part is also somewhat forgettable because of how stretched and uninteresting the couple’s “plays” are, especially as they lead to nothing but blushing, which seems to be the be-all and end-all of this sequence.
Thankfully, the last two parts’ comedy levels are simply through the roof. First of all, we have a display of burning friendship between two ugly dudes… except Yamane is now involved with a cute girl. The other, Motoyama, speaks in a way that reminded of me Gakuto from Prison School; the pair appears as the ultimate cliché of ugly dude bros… except one has committed treason. But, as the two are total bros, Motoyama gets over his initial resentment and accepts going along with Yamane and his cute would-be girlfriend to the cinema! Except this heroic act of friendship is unwittingly about to ruin a date! And this is definitely the funniest thing: the guys are so ridiculously absorbed in their friendship that everything else just becomes fancy decoration, no matter how important these things actually are.
And then we have the return of Katori for the final part, except here he’s with Kazuko… who actually buys into his stupidly over-the-top ikemen act. This provides a nice contrast with the boy’s first appearance in which Matsuura was rightfully annoyed by him. That anyone would so readily think him cool is unbelievable to the point I didn’t know whether I found Kazuko stupid and pitied her. And Katori leaving is presented in such a silly manner! As if we saw him through Kazuko’s eyes, he leaves like a soldier tragically called away by fate, but who leaves with pride nonetheless. It makes no sense, but the sheer unbelievability was pulled of masterfully; the show never seemed to think it should hold back on the ridiculousness, going all out instead, and that was key to the skit’s success.
I have to say, having started the manga, I also enjoy how the anime makes the situations funnier by being more dynamic than the source’s limited expressiveness (granted, it is a 4-koma). At any rate, this remains an adorable show, and although it’s increasingly evident that some character dynamics are better than others, the good ones are cute enough to make me easily forgive the rest.
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