In which cute girls might not be the solution to everything.
I make that bold statement in the opening line and I immediately invalidate it by putting Hanayamata back at number one. Still, Hanayamata deserves the praise for being more than just a show that puts cute girls on the screen and goes “look at this! Isn’t it cute?” I loved the way Yaya and Tami played off each other this week. Yaya tries gamely to hide her interest in yosakoi but Tami’s excitement can’t be kept down by Yaya’s outward lack of enthusiasm. Tami’s just happy to be doing something of her own choosing for a change. She reminds me a lot of Mugi from K-ON in this way which I guess would make Yaya Azusa in this metaphor although the comparisons aren’t perfect (which is a good thing). The show as a whole just oozes with a joy and passion that I find infectious each time I watch it. Hats off to Hanayamata for being the one show that did cute girls right this week.
As I said in my full post on the episode, I saw this as a clear change in tone for Glasslip but it doesn’t really move the needle in terms of my evaluation of the show as a whole. I still like the show quite a bit but I don’t feel like this episode really solved any of the problems that the show had going in. The character interactions still occasionally feel wooden and the show as a whole still feels a bit disjointed. Still, on an individual scene by scene level I like a lot of what Glasslip does and the way the characters and their relationships are growing is still compelling to me. It’s still a very agreeable show but it has yet to show me something that makes me believe it will be more than that.
3. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
I take what I said about Hanayamata being the only show to get good girls right this week back. Gekkan Shoujo also has a cute girl doing cute things except in this case the cute girl is actually a boy. That’s par for the course with Nozaki-kun as the show continues to do a great job of playing with gender roles in a refreshing and humorous way. The back and forth between Wakamatsu (Waka?) and Seo was hilarious and I loved the way they handled Waka relying on a shoujo manga to inform how he dealt with Seo’s abuse. The best part of that scene, however, may have been Nozaki’s pained reactions to each awkward statement made by the other two. Normally I’m opposed to characters that only serve as audience stand ins to react to the humor in a show but in this case Nozaki’s physical reactions added a lot more to the scene than a character saying something in response would have. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is making me laugh more than any comedy anime in quite a long time and even when I’m not laughing out loud it’s still pretty good.
4. Yama no Susume
We hit kind of a filler episode this week in Yama no Susume and the show suffered for it. The conflict between Aoi and Hinata felt manufactured and the resolution didn’t really demonstrate character growth as much as it was simply a return to the status quo. I suppose this kind of episode will happen when you have a lot more time to work with but I hope it doesn’t become a pattern. Back to the mountain climbing next week, please.
5. Ao Haru Ride
Now’s probably a good time to mention that I’ve been reading ahead of the anime in the Ao Haru Ride manga and I would say that of what I read, this was the weakest part of the story thus far. The orienteering story was probably necessary to move things towards the next major plot points but I didn’t love it in the manga and I liked it marginally less here. In generally the anime has been a step down from the manga although not terribly so. I won’t know AHR too much for this episode since I know things are going to get better. Unrelated thought: how is everybody just cool with being woken up at some ungodly hour to see the sun rise? I would have told Futaba to go away and let me sleep. I only wake up in the middle of the night to punch idols.
While Barakamon still isn’t all the way to being what I would like it to be, this was definitely a step in the right direction. The arrival of Kanzaki forces Handa to reflect on some of the issues relating to what he wants to get out of calligraphy and how he balances the goals of being unique and winning competitions. I thought this episode did a really good job of showing that you can’t please everybody with your work and Handa seems to be realizing that he needs to focus on what matters to him rather than what other people tell him. On the negative side, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the cute female characters are probably the worst part of Barakamon right now. They don’t really do much to help Handa grow and they often get in the way of the type of reflective scenes that make Barakamon good. I was hoping for more scenes resembling the sunset scene in episode one but instead we’re getting mediocre humor which isn’t really helping anything. Still, if Barakamon can pull off the good scenes on a weekly basis going forward I can put up with the bad scenes. Except for that shield bug scene, that gave me the jibblies.
7. Zankyou no Terror
The plot of ZanTero seems to at least being going somewhere now although I’m not sure I’m on board yet. We finally got out of the “Sphinx creates a riddle, Shibazaki solves it” routine of the previous three episodes into something different. I do like that it doesn’t look like Nine and Twelve are going to be let off easy for their actions simply because they never intended to actually kill anybody. They’ve been putting people in danger this whole time and they finally found that these actions have real consequences when things don’t go exactly according to plan. The next episode or two is probably make or break for Zankyou no Terror. The characters are still rough around the edges but if it can do something interesting with the introduction of a figure from Nine and Twelve’s childhood I can get behind that. If what comes next isn’t much more compelling than what we’ve seen so far then Zankyou no Terror will probably never be something I like.
Also in the category of “shows that I was probably doomed to never like” we have Aldnoah.Zero. I’m running out of patience for Aldnoah because it seems to be shaping up to be a standard mecha show at this point. Now, standard on its own isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Glasslip is pretty standard and Ao Haru Ride is extremely standard but I like both of them. The issue is that Aldnoah.Zero is standard within the mecha genre which is a genre I have very little interest in. If you aren’t going to throw me some kind of wrinkle to keep me interested, mecha combat on its own just isn’t going to do it for me. I’ve enjoyed mecha plus harem and mecha plus lesbians in the past but straight up mecha plus war/politics isn’t going to be my thing. I probably would have dropped the show outright if Inaho had finished off the final arm falling from above but fortunately Slaine intervened to show that somebody other than Inaho can do things. Still, Aldnoah is on a short leash until it gives Inaho some personality or it stops focusing on the least interesting character in the show.
9. Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yatte Mita
Lol Idols has managed the impossible it would seem. It’s become a show about cute, vaguely lesbian girls that I have zero interest in. This week they took an all-out competition between mascot characters from all over Japan and made it… really boring actually. There’s no excitement to this show and neither does there seem to be much heart. It’s just going through the motions without any real direction and relying on us to get invested in its characters promoting a small town that none of the viewers have any reason to care about. I need some kind of human element to get me to connect with the characters in a show like this and lol Idols is providing none of that. Dropped.
10. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
I love how week after week, despite having demonstrated his overwhelming talent constantly throughout the show, Tatsuya is still baffled by anybody asking him to help with anything. I suppose in his mind the only task he’s suited for is protecting Miyuki, who apparently needs protection despite us being told how talented and powerful she is. Miyuki’s been objectified from the start but the extent to which it was done this week was pretty shameless. Still, the way the show pulls all of this off with a completely straight face is pretty amusing. More amusing than lol Idols anyway.