Summer of Anime 2017? You Decide!

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Nine days before the 2017 Summer of Anime officially opens, I’ve decided to let the floodgates open.

I want you, the reader of this post, to tell me what I should watch.

Now, this is a bit of a risky move, because I have no idea how many people will actually choose to participate in this and there’s no control over what I could be watching in the end! I could just watch 25 Shounen titles and cry myself to sleep every night!

In all seriousness, there are a few stipulations I’d like to put in place before I give people the key to my anime summer.

  • Limit of three titles per person! I want to fill up my slots, but I don’t want to have to be super choosy by experiment’s end. If it does end up that people recommend me more than 25 slots allotted for the SoA, I’ll pick and choose to my own discretion, but will keep some noted in case I drop anything throughout the event. If you don’t want to recommend three, you’re more than welcome to just recommend one or two!
  • I will be open to rewatching titles! These titles also don’t have to be things I’ve watched from previous SoA’s, they can be anything! If people want me to rewatch Koi Koi 7 or One Punch Man, that’s fair game. I’ll leave a link to MyAnimeList for those who wish to see what I have and haven’t watched before making a recommendation.
  • Rules of previous Summer of Anime’s still apply, so please don’t recommend anything shorter than six episodes of standard-length runtime! Alternatively, please don’t recommend anything with episodes spanning triple-digits! I’m not going to spend my entire Summer marathoning Naruto, Bleach, and Fairy Tail. Also, no currently-airing anime, OVA’s, specials or films!
  • Note that when you’re recommending a series to me, I will watch every season of said show! If you’re going to recommend my rewatching of Zero no Tsukaima, I’m going to watch every season of it. For the sake of clarification, if you want to spare me want me to only watch a certain season of an anime, note in within the recommendation. Otherwise, I’m marathoning the whole series.

As an added touch, I’ll note whoever recommended me a certain anime at the beginning of each post dedicated to their choice. The public should know whoever loves me enough to put me through human torture. Teehee!

I’ll leave this post open for the next nine days for anyone to comment below with recommendations. In that time, I’ll jot down whatever titles I receive and eventually add them to the Summer of Anime Archive in whatever order I choose. Until then, thanks in advance to all who give me something to watch, and have a great summer!

Indiana Jones and the Archives of Inconsistency

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I’ve seen ’em all. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, Last Crusade, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The amount of fan adoration this franchise receives is unlike many in modern Hollywood, rivaling that of the Star Wars franchise or many of Disney’s animated classics. Because of this, many are subject to a very heavy bias when looking at this franchise through an objective lens. While I was made aware of various scenes from Jones’s adventures through parodies and references in other media, never have I actually sat down and watched the films until about a month ago, so there’s no nostalgic bias to be found here (for once). With the occasion of finishing the franchise (until 2020), I felt it’d be interesting to share a fresh perspective as to the weight of these (mostly) ’80s classics. And as the title implies, the theme here is inconsistency.

Referenced somewhat recently here, I did not care much for Temple of Doom. While user ratings for the film are fairly divided, with the more general perspective being positive, I found it to be a fairly insipid viewing. The inclusion of Short Round and Willie completely tampered any potential the film may have had if it didn’t focus so keenly on gross-out humor and silly popcorn theatrics. They ultimately had no place in the film, provided little chemistry with Jones himself, and had as much depth to their personality as characters from Sesame Street. This harshness towards these two characters specifically is due to their influence on the film’s tone, providing more of a comedic approach instead of a serious one. This would be excusable if the comedy was at all funny, but it’s not.

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Kingdom of the Crystal Skull gets a lot more backlash from fans for “ruining” the franchise. Critics gave it decent marks, but user score is typically fairly low, and it was even desecrated on an episode of South Park. Once again, this bunny with no nostalgic bias watched the film with an open mind, and while I think the film is bad, I thought Temple of Doom was worse overall. I thought Temple of Doom’s second act was better than Crystal Skull, but its first act was so horribly misguided that it nearly destroyed the whole experience for me. Crystal Skull has a sort of quality that almost hides behind the greatness of its prequels while trying to be so over-the-top that no one would ever accuse it of being so similar. It’s this absurdness that brings its quality down for many trying to take the film seriously, which it does a decent job at in the first half. Still, with enough references to fill a house, it can’t quite shake the foundations of a soft reboot, catering to newcomers while titillating fans of the franchise.

In my mind, two of the films in a four-film franchise are bad. Two out of four; that’s half the franchise. Not only that, but they’re the second and fourth films, respectively, causing a wave-like effect of turbulent highs and lethargic lows. One is good, one is bad, one is good, one is bad. Without the perspective of a diehard fan that grew up on the films proclaiming Crystal Skull to be the black sheep of the franchise, one can say that the series has always been flawed to some degree, and its consistency is seriously questionable, both in terms of overall quality and the pace of such within each individual film.

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What made the Indiana Jones films so enjoyable was the constant focus of thrilling action, the wonders of adventure and mystery, and the human drama that came with the characters along the way. This is fairly common knowledge to many, but pulling this off effectively is no easy feat. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade have a good number of things in common, including the factors mentioned above. With lots of semi-realistic action, lovable character interaction, and a nose for gritty attitude, they both accomplished a mixed tone of light and dark that boded well for characters to behave as well as they did, with a lot of focus on memorable scenes and noticeable, subtle development. Not to mention, the bond between characters in both pictures, specifically Jones and Marion, as well as Jones and his father, almost single-handedly carry the torch for emotional appeal, seeing as both pairs have some friction between them. There’s a potent humanistic element that makes the adventures feel real and all the more grand for it.

Any more on Temple of Doom would be ad nauseam. Crystal Skull harbors a little character enthusiasm, though struggles to find any balance with the realistic qualms of Jones’s antics. Surviving a nuke by sitting in a fridge. Killer ants with a penchant for human flesh. Aliens. It goes above and beyond to entertain, however, it becomes more of a chore to take any of it to heart when it feels so jadedly superficial. The Indiana Jones movies were always somewhat silly, but Crystal Skull takes it to such levels of ridiculousness that Kali-Ma! seems like a morning stroll in the park. Everything about each scene feels so forced, so maniacally enthusiastic about being able to appeal to everyone that it loses some of its identity. In this sense, I can understand how the latest entry “ruined” the franchise to many. For me, the franchise couldn’t be ruined because it was never a stable library of greatness in the first place.

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Wrapping up, there is an indistinguishable charm that the Indiana Jones franchise manages to capture half the time. Even in the worst of times, there’s enough of a semblance of good merriment to hold over any person not so sternly idolizing of the whole product. I suppose the point of this post made into simplest of explanations is that the franchise isn’t perfect prior to a certain point. It’s important to look at things as single products, then add the outside context later on. How much this context influences one’s opinion is dependent on the individual, but one shouldn’t disregard one or the other entirely. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t great, but neither was Temple of Doom, and some didn’t even care for Last Crusade. Whatever shoots the sword-slinger is for anyone to decide. Just don’t be so picky.

‘It Gets Better’ Is Not Always Better

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A few nights ago, I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the first time in my life. My thoughts on it are not great—in my own words, I described the first hour as “rubbing my face against a boulder.” However, one thing I can appreciate about the film is that it gets better, as the second half of the film provides a lot of the dumb action fluff the first film does to near perfection, which helped alleviate the pain of the first half’s ruefully irritating shenanigans. Even with this, I gave the film a painfully low score of 3/10, as the first half’s lows overtook the limited enjoyment I felt for the second half’s revival, mostly because the end didn’t justify the means in a way that allowed me to give a damn about any of it. It got me thinking of the times when people would recommend various TV shows and anime with the discretion that it “gets better over time.” The more I think about it, the more I believe it’s a nice way of saying, “This series’s highs are better than its lows.”

As a watcher of most things visual media, particularly of the Asian variety, the discretion of “It gets better” is something I’ve come across a number of times, whether directly addressed to me or to others. I’m sure I’ve said the phrase a few times myself, though recently I’ve tried to shy away from it. With the combination of my own belief that anime almost never gets better and the added expectations placed when throwing that phrase around, it creates a conundrum that’s better left for an uncommon few.

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In a more realistic manner, things are supposed to get better over time. To say that a certain series “gets better” is almost redundant, as characters, story, animation, etc. are never fully developed through the first couple of episodes. If a series were to not get better, whether by an objectivist’s sake or a structural sake, then the phrase would make more of a compliment. With as vague as the three-word combo is, this could mean any number of things, including the development of a number of different aspects. From my own experience, it’s usually meant to imply that characters become developed and their actions worth caring for, thus improving the mood and the overall entertainment value. Still, what’s to say it can’t mean anything?

Among the most common type of shows this phrase gets attributed to are the long-running popular shows a la The Walking DeadGame of Thrones, or any of the popular anime adaptations of Shounen Jump manga. True as it may be to insinuate that longer-running shows get better as they go on, the important thing to note is when. When does the series starting getting “good”? How long is a person willing to sit through mediocre or dull slop before pacing themselves for the good to come through? Is the recommendation of One Piece really a recommendation if it doesn’t start getting good until episode 207? Is Naruto a good recommendation if “It gets better” in Shippuden? Time is valuable to certain people, and if the “good” doesn’t compensate for the “bad,” then they’ll leave feeling disappointed, especially if they watched 206 episodes to get to that point. I’d rather not place unneeded expectations on a series when it could backfire harder than it could reward.

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As stated in the first paragraph, there’s a fine line between good and bad, with the balance of the two being the difference between being disappointed and being relieved. For me, The Temple of Doom had far too much bad to make up for it with some trivial good in the end. Allison to Lillia is a series I felt similarly about, except reversed; the first thirteen episodes were charming, if not illogically defined, while the last thirteen episodes undermined all of it and sank it into the depths of mediocrity. The reasons for the two examples are different, but mirror each other with a sudden dip/rise in quality. To say “It gets better,” one should be aware of what the recommendee considers good or bad, what they value, and whether one is confident enough in the show’s good qualities in overshadowing the bad. I also read a blog post recently describing how one show’s good was essentially ruined with one epitomizing episode of pure bad.

In one last argument against it, “It gets better” can be construed as parts of a series being blatantly mediocre. One can understand that a series needs time to develop upon the things it wants to convey, especially those within the genres of drama or psychological thriller, but if it gets better, that might just be saying the genre works, not that the entire product is worth watching. It creates a one-dimensional mentality that if it succeeds in one aspect, the rest can be ignored as non-important. I realize this idea can be far-fetched, but better to cover everything than skim. Perfect Blue is an example of something that I would say “gets better,” as its structure dictates that every detail matters in displaying its messages and intrigue. This doesn’t mean I feel the entire product is perfect, just that it succeeds very well in one thing in particular, and only because the other integral aspects are done well enough to make said one thing succeed. Code Geass’s first season also “gets better,” and unlike Perfect Blue, it’s in spite of its earlier meandering and not because of it.

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People have the freedom to say what they want when they’re recommending things, even if those things don’t necessarily help the recommendation. For me, to say “It gets better” is nothing more than an empty proclamation without the details to ensure its legitimacy. There’s too much at stake with the time available to those who pursue the art of binge watching. Whether it ends up planting the seeds of disappointment or undermining the show’s ability to pace itself, saying “It gets better” is not always better.

Thoughts on NHK’s Top 100 Anime List

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The Top 100 listing can be seen (in English) here.

I’m not normally one to comment on various lists by Japanese publications, but this one stuck out by sheer size and influence—showing the differences in priorities and taste Japanese audiences have from (mostly) Western audiences. To commemorate one-hundred years of anime, NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting station, asked audiences to vote upon their favorite anime that spanned from humble beginnings all the way up until September of 2016 (Sorry, Kemono Friends). According to the poster of the article in the link above, roughly 600,000 people voted for this list, so I feel that’s enough of a sample size to legitimize the impact certain anime have on Japanese audiences. Though what made me jump at the chance to dissect this list is just how bizarre it is compared to what’s typically regarded as popular in Western culture. Lots of popular titles appear within the top 100 list, but their placement is incredibly varied.

To make this post more painful to read embellished with my insight, instead of voicing my opinion on the full picture, I will jot down particular “highlights” of the list that evoke intrigue. See it as a highlight video of an hour-long stream, displaying the best moments in a clickbait fashion.

Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei at #100

Despite being close to within the top 50 on MyAnimeList’s database and similarly in others, it just cracks the top 100 here. In the grand scope of things, I suppose it makes sense that an artistic and symbolically intrinsic series isn’t among the series the general masses champion. Not to mention, it doesn’t necessarily follow trends or take advantage of the “most profitable” demographic. Still, nice to see it even make waves with its semi-somber message.

Dennou Coil at #95

Sometimes Japan has good taste.

Inuyasha at #93

And sometimes it doesn’t.

Jokes aside, I’m not surprised to see this on the list, especially with how long both the manga and the anime ran. I would’ve probably guessed it’d be higher, however.

Pokémon at #85

Nostalgia runs deep, absolutely. Still, is it really that great of an anime? The games are definitely solid in their structure and quality, but should that seep into the opinion of an anime that not only contradicts the games on multiple occasions, but features a repetitive approach that quickly grows old after a single cour or so? Definitely nostalgia. I’m also internally screaming that this was ranked above Dennou Coil.

AnoHana at #83

This was the first entry that forced a double-take from me. AnoHana? That absurdly popular anime that’s ripe with emotional angst and deals with fantasy elements and regret? With over 300,000 user scores on MAL ranking it within the top 70 of the site, I was genuinely surprised this wasn’t ranked somewhere within the top 50. It seems like something any culture, not just Western ones, would eat up. Making this list is already indicative of that, but this low? Very interesting.

K at #81

K? K??? Ranked above AnoHana, Dennou Coil, and Inuyasha? K????? Granted, I’ve seen nothing but a single episode of the series (and dropped it), so perhaps it’s actually a grand masterpiece and I don’t know… but seriously, K?!?!?!?

Mushishi at #78

Another surprise at such a low ranking. This is ranked within the top 35 on MAL and seems like the most Japanese-esque thing ever. Spirits, nature, calm atmosphere; it all screams traditional Eastern values. Of course, it’s also pretty stoic and lacks a lot of, say, pandering. Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising.

Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49 at #74

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One Piece at #72

One of “The Big Three” is as low as #72. Holy fuck. Maybe it’s annoyingly popular because of Western audiences.

Fullmetal Alchemist at #71

Once again, incredibly popular Shounen series ranked much lower than I would’ve expected.

Mob Psycho 100 at #69

The only reason I’m noting this is because One Punch Man didn’t make the list. Goes to show that Western audiences are more enamored with meme faces and unbridled special effects/animation than Japan is. I’m going to witness twenty Marvel movies a year until I’m dead.

Gochuumon (Season Two) at #68

Never, ever, ever, ever underestimate the power of moe.

The iDOLM@STER at #66

So it’s not a myth that Japanese audiences are addicted to the concept of idols… Seeing as this is ranked above fucking One Piece

Free!: Eternal Summer at #62

Female fan service is ranked higher than one of “The Big Three,” Mushishi, and AnoHana. What is this god damn list?

Kimi no Na wa. at #57

One of the most influential, highest rated, and profitable anime films in the last decade is ranked at #57. Does not even crack the top 50. This is probably the most surprising placement on the entire list. W-o-w.

Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000% at #56

THIS IS RANKED ONE SPOT ABOVE KIMI NO NA WA. OH, MY FUCKING GOD.

Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior at #53

I… I… I can’t even begin to gather why this is above Kimi no Na wa or any other crazy-popular titles mentioned before.

Shirobako at #52

This is something I was surprised to see so high. It’s a great series that I would absolutely recommend, but I wouldn’t expect something so grounded in reality to be heralded to this degree in Japan. Then again, it’s about making anime, so is it really that surprising?

Girls und Panzer (Film) at #49

Cute girls + Tanks = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Free! at #48

There you have it. Cracking the top 50 of the greatest anime of all time is Free!. This is ranked higher than all that was listed before it. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever doubt the power of… women?

Mirai Shounen Conan at #39

Fun fact: this is the highest-ranked Studio Ghibli product on this list. Spirited Away, Mononoke Hime, My Neighbor, Totoro; Kiki’s Delivery Service, and countless other film classics didn’t make the list.

Natsume Yuujinchou at #36

Natsume Yuujinchou Mushishi confirmed? It’s probably the abundance of follow-up seasons.

Love Live! Sunshine!! at #33

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever doubt the power of idols.

Bungou Stray Dogs at #31

NO.

Shoujo Kakumei Utena at #30

It’s almost redundant to say so, but I’m really surprised at how high this is compared to One PieceFullmetal Alchemist, and Kimi no Na wa. I suppose if this is any indication, Japan likes girls. Particularly girls with feminine-colored hair. And sex symbolism.

Shingeki no Kyojin at #28

Remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother when Barney proposed the “rule” that anything newer was better?

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood at #27

I remember.

Hyouka at #25

Hyouka? Hyouka?! Either aloof, standoffish male leads are more popular than I thought or Eru is the most moe thing KyoAni has ever created. This is rated higher than Haruhi!

Girls und Panzer at #22

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever underestimate the power of moe and tanks.

Sword Art Online at #20

I’m not even going to bother with this low-hanging fruit.

Psycho-Pass at #19

So Gen Urobuchi is kind of popular, huh?

Digimon Adventure at #18

Get pwned, Pokémon.

Why does “pwned” not have a red squiggle under it? What the fuck?

Gochuumon (Season One) at #16

What in the name of…? This high? This high? Fuck, the moe is strong with this one.

Neon Genesis Evangelion at #14

Japan loves its mechas. And this is among the most influential mechas of all time, aside from the Gundam series. I’m both surprised and not surprised it’s ranked this high, considering a lot of Western viewers are kind of meh towards it.

Joker Game at #12

I take it back. This is the most surprising placement on the entire list. What the fuck is this mediocre slop (Haven’t seen, just assuming) doing so close to the top 10 of the greatest anime of all time? Can anyone who knows anything about this series fill me in as to why it’s so god damn popular? Niches? Fetishes? Moe? What?

Osomatsu-san at #10

Memes are contagious, too. Holy fuck this is more popular than I expected.

Cardcaptor Sakura at #8

Oh, my God! I knew it was popular, but #8 all time popular? Jesus, Japanese anime fans. Nostalgia, moe, idols, and magical girls all wrapped into one was a no-brainer for you, huh?

Love Live! School Idol Project (First & Second Season) at #4 and #5

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, underestimate the power of idols.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica at #3

Gen Urobuchi + Magical girls = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Tiger & Bunny at #1

Tiger & Bunny? #1? Tiger & Bunny?

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Tiger & Bunny is the greatest anime of all time according to 600,000 voters? Tiger & Bunny? I mean… it’s a mecha anime… so… it’s… justifiable? W-Wha…? Huh?

This is like pitching a volleyball during baseball. It technically works, but it’s just… off. It doesn’t feel right. This is so out of left field that I can’t even fathom where all of this popularity came from. It’s practically nonexistent in the West, at least from what I’ve experienced. I’ve never seen Tiger & Bunny on collective Top 10 lists among my peers or even recommended titles for mecha fans. It’s just such a random pick to me that I can’t even feel mad. Just… lost.

Overall, what I learned from this list is that Japan loves three things: girls, mechs, and moe. Exaggerations aside, it’s an incredibly appealing research project as to what’s “in” on the other side of the ocean and what’s important to those within that culture. I had one hell of a time looking over it for the first time, and hopefully my comments weren’t so off-kilter that it would alienate readers.

Notable omissions: Toradora!, Katanagatari, Ookami to Koushinryou.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you, Japan!

An Ode to Super Mario World

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It’s intriguing to me that it’s taken me this long to look at one of the games that made up my very early childhood. Comprised of this, each Donkey Kong CountryMega Man 7, and Super Ghouls & Ghosts (with various others), my first experience with the world of video games came in the form of the Super Nintendo, with Super Mario World heading the charge.

One of the first questions that comes to mind when looking back at this game is how it’s held up, if the game has become dated with time, seeing as it was released over twenty-five years ago. The most dated thing that can be applied to the game is its presentation, which all things considered, is excusable due to limited hardware. I don’t mean its spritework, by the way, which is fantastic to this day. I’m referring to narrative presentation, the sort of linear perspective of level-to-level, world-to-world process that would be somewhat dull to new age players. Looking at gameplay alone, the game is polished, innovative, and a shining example of Nintendo in their prime.

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Nostalgic gauges pumping their pistons within my inner mind go into a systematic overload whenever the colorful images or catchy tunes of Super Mario World invade my imagination. A wave of happiness overtakes my usual resolve and reminds me of a time when video games were my reason to get up everyday, looking forward to getting further and further into the colorful crusade. It was my first taste of the Italian plumber and his Goomba-stomping adventures through the worlds that embody or surround the Mushroom Kingdom. Better this than Mario Is Missing!, I’d say.

As a kid, I would never get past the third area in the game, the Vanilla Dome, as I would lose the motivation to trudge through the rising difficulty with the game. Something about the levels involving flying Cheep-Cheeps always got to me. I’ve beaten this game before as a small child, I know I have. The brazen image of Bowser flying off and Princess Peach floating gently to the roof below her is a moment I will never forget. Remembering the joy I felt as I screamed to whoever would listen that I finally beat the game. Thinking about it logically, I likely hopped onto my father’s file and just went through the final castle until I could figure out how to beat Bowser. That, or I used the Star World to my advantage and warped all the way to the final world. Nice of the game to let the player exploit it like that.

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Something that wasn’t as noticeable to me as a kid when playing it now is how slippery Mario handles as a character. Controls are tight to some extent, but Mario is human, and he needs time to steady himself. The biggest difference between this and the original Super Mario Bros. is that Mario looks like a normal human being. The butter underneath his signature brown shoes is just as prevalent here as in games prior. While annoying, it’s nice that a player has to take his somewhat wobbly movement into consideration when timing jumps, running, and platforming. The emphasis of making the game a tad more challenging makes the platforming all the more rewarding for elite players, who dedicate themselves to things such as speedrunning. Extra stipulations to various levels also give a nice spin to the variety of possibilities within.

For me, Super Mario World was an excellent platform into the world of Nintendo’s flagship franchise. I would absolutely recommend anyone (roughly six people on Earth) who hasn’t played any Mario games to start with this title, as its the perfect creation of accessibility and challenge that Nintendo used to master effortlessly with their games. It still looks great, it still plays great, and if one can overlook the incredibly limited fashion of linearity, it can provide a lasting impression, one that’s touched millions of people worldwide. Regarded as a timeless classic by many gaming veterans, Super Mario World is one of many games from Nintendo’s heyday that made them the gaming empire they are today.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of SaikyoMog.)

Early Impressions: Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭

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Three episodes in, it’s still pretty self-aware.

The defining traits that made me fond of SaeKano back in its debut season was the interactions between characters and the writing’s penchant for poking fun at harem cliches. Thus far, neither of these things are as charming as they were back then, with the writing feeling a little too smug and the characters not as important as they once were. To describe the experience would be akin to the time I went and saw Pitch Perfect 2 without seeing Pitch Perfect. All of the characters suited their roles with not a lick of effort in providing additional depth, perhaps justified by their effort in the first film, while the writing gave everything it expected the audience to want to come from a “successful” sequel. SaeKano 2 isn’t as monotonously uninteresting as its film comparison, but it provides a similar line of thinking.

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Ironically enough, the first season was such an up-and-down experience for me that it was just as frustrating to watch as it was meaningful. Its second season is somewhat the same, as the expectation of improving upon the original is beginning to wither, though it provides enough of a spark to think worthwhile events have yet to occur. It’s almost as though this isn’t a second season at all, rather a direct continuation of the first season, as a lot hasn’t changed for the better or worse. In a way, it’s disappointing to see how little things change. Of course, I’m only three episodes in.

Artistic expression is still prevalent and shiny, with a lot of frames becoming multi-layered in a specific color for no reason. Sexual fan service is still sprinkled throughout the episodes via angle shots of the rear and close-ups of the chest. It’s not so much that it’s exaggerated, just very targeted. I actually don’t recall sexual fan service being so recurring in the first season, though I remember a number of risque scenes. In any case, SaeKano 2 chooses to show its large female cast in a very close-up way. With solid animation and sleek designs, it’s more a benefit than anything. Its appreciation overall depends on the viewer, though.

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As noted above, characters are a tad less important so far, with Utaha hogging a lot of the spotlight in terms of importance to the plot. Others are shared within the scenes for reactions and various other shenanigans, which feel ultimately inconsequential. A fine line is set between making fun of harem tropes and embracing them, while justifying its placement by reminding the viewer that it’s a parody with an out-of-place line. Does that really justify it, though? Three episodes at my disposal, the drama the series exudes reeks of overdramatic, pseudo-intellectual harem filth. It’s possible in time Eririri and Kato will end up shining within the spotlight, but until that time, Utaha needs to calm herself and share.

Potential is still present, as up-and-down the series has been, which is surprising considering I went into it pretty hyped. To say I’m disappointed wouldn’t be entirely accurate, but my expectations have quieted as the series continued to play. Much like its first season, issues with pacing and control over what it really wants to be prevent it from being a solid recommendation. For those who enjoyed the first season, they’ll fit right at home in its second.

Second Blog Announcement

Short post announcing that I’ve created a second blog dedicated purely to football posts (NFL, AFL, CFL, etc.) I’m taking the liberty of moving a few posts already located on this blog to there, but won’t delete the original posts. They’ll remain in place for “historical purposes.” (Some of them still garner traffic and I don’t care to disrupt that.)

While I know 99% of my followers don’t follow me for football, I simply wanted to affirm that with the creation of this new blog, I will not be writing any more football-related posts on this blog. Not that I wrote many anyway, but still. Criticism and Thoughts will strictly cover anything outside of football from this point on.

For anyone interested, my new site can be found at Criticism and Football (Continuity for the win).