Oh man. Get hyped. Loved the first episode – it was as gorgeous as always, rife with KyoAni’s trademark animation (applied both to small character gestures and actual action sequences) and once again making use of a blooming, nostalgic purple-pink color scheme. But there was actually a lot else there, too. We’ve got self-aware banter lightly poking at storytelling in general (a clear weakness of mine). We’ve got those very distinct shots of Mitsuki trying to use her sexuality against Akihito, both echoing Monogatari in framing style and gracefully establishing some relationship dynamics. We’ve the well-integrated exposition, sandwiched in jokes and patter, establishing a world without dictating that world to the audience. We have that interesting world itself, leaning towards dark fantasy but focused on character drama. We’ve got all those great horror-movie shots, setting this show in a tonal place very distinct from KyoAni’s general aesthetic. And of course we’ve still got derpy moe, for better or for worse – though Mirai has seemed more just inept than truly blobbish so far, which is definitely a good sign.
And there’s the timer. Alright, I’m excited. Let’s do this.
0:15 – Where is your healing now? Nice going, KyoAni
0:42 – Alright, fine, KyoAni. We can compromise
2:31 – Nice background. I like the drifting wrappings
Anyway. They straight-up end the OP with that flower imagery, so… yeah. The two of them, I guess? She’s strongly represented as red, between the sword/blood thing and her glasses. That makes him the white flower? Guess we’ll see what it means
2:35 – I love how the sword dissolves into liquid in motion. KyoAni already proved they can sell visually distinctive action scenes with Chuunibyou (and Haruhi I guess… and I assume Second Raid had them, if we want to go that far back), so it’s great to see them actually committing. Not that it’s truly grimdark – Haruhi and Chuunibyou both satirized the kind of show that takes this level of Dark Flame Master storytelling totally straight, so I like how they’re being somewhat playful about genre with the dialogue while playing the fundamentals of the horror/fantasy stuff straight. I also assume they’ll keep things focused on characters over fantasy rules – even if they hadn’t outright stated in the first episode that edgy plot gimmicks are the last resort of writers who don’t understand the fundamentals, KyoAni’s entire catalogue is an exercise in how character is the gateway to drama
2:58 – I’m helping! I really love their creepy battle song
3:00 – And another
3:14 – This is a lovely shot . Isolating her so small in the frame, portraying how wide the angle of attack is, catching those little pieces of playground that seem so creepy at night. Another excellent one in the horror film wheelhouse
3:20 – Moeblob this, motherfuckers
4:37 – I like this shot too. Keeping the camera tied to this ground-level pan makes the whole shot feel more grounded, which in turn makes her movements seem more impressive. When the camera flies everywhere, it’s stylish, but scenes tend to feel less weighted
4:53 – There we go. She’s not inept, she’s just got backstory!
5:41 – Gettin’ himself involved. Those megane make him do crazy things!
5:58 – It is super hard not to imagine Rikka saying this. Damnit Rikka, you’ve ruined fantasy forever
6:46 – I like this shot as well . Again isolating her in frame, but this time it’s emotionally, willfully pushing him out
7:09 – The lights are all so dim in this world. Maybe it’s also this grey, neutral palette they use at night or something, but all these shots feel overcast and imposing
8:18 – Him being half-youmu kinda necessitates this, but it’s certainly much more interesting to have many youmu just be more or less people. Way more dramatic possibilities. Of course, pretty much every single show with a concept like this knows that
9:32 – I like this response
9:39 – But now they’re killing it . Anime seems to be extremely fond of the style of joke that spends two seconds being a joke and eight seconds explaining the joke
11:10 – What is this guy doing in a KyoAni show. He’s not milquetoast, he’s not wittily introverted – he’s obviously still the tsukkomi, but he’s actually straight-up overtly pursuing the girl. A new era
11:57 – Ladies
13:00 – Tiny bits of backstory. We’re only getting pieces, but they’re establishing plenty this episode
13:34 – Bleh. Fuck off, KyoAni
14:36 – More incidental exposition. Something’s coming!
16:29 – I like her design. Casually badass
17:31 – They’re getting a ton of mileage out of her expressions . That “bad at lying” pretty much translates to “dictates all her thoughts visually”
19:34 – And there we go. They’ve spent a lot of real estate establishing this, so I assume this’ll be relevant here, fade for a few episodes, then be very relevant later on
19:52 – And here’s the other big thread they’ve been establishing – Mirai’s feelings of isolation and not belonging
Well, there’s the cliffhanger. Certainly puts her distance in perspective!
Really liked that episode. The humor was weak, admittedly – childhood friend is getting a little too one-note, the mom scene was dumb, and of course there was a shitty gay joke. But everything else I really liked – I like this show’s visual design and direction, I like where they’re going with the character relationships, I like where they’re going with the plot. There are only very slight thematic hints so far, but KyoAni normally keeps that stuff very understated and close to the vest for a while. That first sequence was just fantastic, the protagonist is actually confident and engaging with the world, the world they’ve created is compelling… yeah. Looks like we’re on our way!