For this week’s Why It Works, I dig into the established world of Sakura Quest, which is basically just the crumbling world we already live in. I’m not totally confident this show will ultimately go to interesting places with its narrative, but it’s certainly established a solid starting line. I hope you enjoy the piece!
It’s time for more Ojamajo Doremi! Last episode saw Doremi learning a fair amount about responsibility through the perils of fairy ownership, which once demonstrated both her goofy general personality and her admirable willingness to admit fault. Doremi’s ability to acknowledge when she’s wrong is likely her greatest quality, a terrific “power” in the context of dealing with this show’s true challenges – growing up and coming to understand the lives and feelings of others. Let’s see how she screws up and how she eventually fixes it this time!
Welp, this was an episode. Tsuki ga Kirei’s fourth installment was nearly as laudable for its storytelling as it was deplorable for its visual execution. Seriously guys, those CG character models just aren’t cutting it. At least try to hide the damn things in the background, don’t have them walk right in front of the camera!
Anyway, I get into all of that over on ANN. You can check out my review right here!
Alright, let’s get started on Chihayafuru. I’ve had the show recommended to me a number of times, and even briefly started it a couple years back, but never really got into the meat of the drama. As far as I understand, it’s a combination of thrilling sports drama and shoujo-inflected love triangle shenanigans. I don’t actually have all that much experience with sports dramas, but the ones I’ve enjoyed (Girls und Panzer, Cross Game), I’ve really enjoyed. Setting up a kind of “fair,” parsable contest and then letting your characters clash in it is a natural recipe for impactful drama, something that smart shounen properties like Hunter x Hunter also understand. I’m also perfectly on board for romance, so pretty much the whole package here seems good to me. Let’s dive right in to the first episode!
Holy crap guys, it’s time for the Week in Review! Once again, this post turned out to be far more unmanageable than the usual standard, largely because I had so much friggin’ catching up to do. This week saw me burning through episodes of SukaSuka and Re:Creators along with my existing schedule, and yeah, I had a couple thoughts. And jeez, I still need to catch up on Rage of Bahamut… anyway. It feels like I’m still kinda sweeping up the wreckage of preview week, but hey, my untenable personal schedule equals EVEN MORE CONTENT for you guys. Enjoy it, ya bastards. Let’s run these shows down!
Mawaru Penguindrun’s sixteenth episode is goofy as hell.
That’s not really unusual for an Ikuhara show. Just like how his dramas juxtapose grounded, universal themes like gender identity and social ostracization with ornate, melodramatic framing, so too does he often mix his serious material and his absurd comedy. Ikuhara does not believe tone must match dramatic intent in the way, say, a director like Hiroshi Nagahama (Mushishi, The Flowers of Evil) might. The real world often splices comedy and tragedy, so why shouldn’t our fabrications do the same? It’s a style that takes some getting used to, but ultimately it’s quite possible to see the comedy as compatible with the drama, or even a way of underlying the fundamental absurdity of the world.
The Eccentric Family posts start in earnest this week, opening with a piece bringing all those who missed the first season up to speed. Convincing an audience raised on titans and punch men to watch the second season of a slow-burning drama about the importance of family is a pretty tall order, but I gotta do what I can. The Eccentric Family deserves nothing less!
And we’re back for more Casshern Sins! The last episode was an absolutely terrific one, as Casshern’s brief friendship with a painter offered a clear portrait of how far our hero has come. Casshern’s journey out of purposelessness has felt almost like a classic escape from depression – from cursing his nature and not seeing any point in his own survival, he’s come to find great value and even joy in the world around him. The world is sculpting Casshern, and even in a place this destitute, it’s giving him reasons to live. Let’s see what he runs into this time!
Natsume is not the main character of his show’s seventh episode. As the episode opens, we see a white summer hat abandoned in the forest, accompanied by a voice that seems excited to see it. Treating the hat as a strange kind of friend, the voice wonders “is no one going to come pick you up? You’re so pretty.” The view opens up, and we see the bearer of this voice is a young fox in human form. “I’ll show you to Mom,” he says, and then we learn his mother has passed away. This fox’s only friend is the discarded treasure of a human. Like Natsume’s faded shrines and disused railway stations, even the things we abandon can become precious to someone.
Man, this show is going to be a lot of fun to write about. It’s pretty much brimming with all the small, well-observed details of human interaction that make Kyoto Animation shows so special, and it’s also got a lovely sense of humor that occasionally dunks on its cast without ever feeling judgmental. It’s really just charming and well-constructed all around. If you’re not watching it, check it out!
You can read my full review of the first three episodes over at ANN, or my episode three notes below.