My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Winter 2019 anime season
As before I'm collecting here all of my tweeted reactions to the first episodes I've seen (in the order that I saw them).
- Boogiepop and Others episode 1: That was okay, I guess; it certainly
wasn't actively bad, but I don't feel terribly inspired by what I
saw. Stuff happened. Some things made sense; other things might be
deliberately obtuse. There's a lot of mystery and little reason to care.
- Kemurikusa episode 1: That was a pretty decent start with a bunch of
solid stuff, but I would be much less worried about where it's going
if it had not added a boy. It's also pretty much all setup and lacks
the propulsive push forward that really compelling shows have here.
- Girly Air Force episode 1: That was generally decently fun and I
especially liked the research boss; he's an enjoyable character. It's
no Sky Girls, but I like the genre in general and I'm willing to watch
more to see what happens next.
- Dororo episode 1: That was perfectly well done and it definitely
believed in 'show don't tell', although maybe it went a bit overboard on
it; I would have been a bit lost if I hadn't known the premise. But it
may not be distinct enough to keep me; it feels pretty generic action.
- Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka episode 1: This could have been
interesting, but it has middle of the road aesthetics and mostly came
off as kind of ridiculous and over the top (not in a good way). There
were some decent bits but on the whole it felt entirely too lazily
- Endro! episode 1: That was reasonably decent and reasonably funny,
as people have said, but unsurprisingly it wasn't funny enough to keep
me watching the next episode. (Anime comedy almost never works for me,
so I expected this result.)
- The Magnificent Kotobuki episode 1: Now that's how you do a first episode that nails me to my seat. Not just fun and thrilling along with subtle storytelling that showed instead of told, but also decent introductions to a bunch of fun characters. →
I won't be looking at Kemono Friends 2, not after what Kadokawa did to the scrappy little team that completely unexpectedly turned dross into gold. Anyway, early reports are not positive, which doesn't surprise me at all under the circumstances (I'm sort of surprised that Kadokawa found anyone who was willing to work on KF2 for them). The creative team behind Kemono Friends (the original and only real version) is doing Kemurikusa this season, so watch that instead.
I liked Overlord's first season but I'm not watching any more
I skipped Overlord when it first aired, but then back in the summer season I started watching it for no particularly strong reason; as I said at the time, it's ridiculous and overpowered in a way that amuses me. At that point I'd watched up through episode 7 and stopped. At the end of the year, in the between-season doldrums, I finished off the rest of Overlord's first season (after being annoyed because it had moved from Crunchyroll to Funimation in their great split, and Funimation is a pit of annoyance).
While I pretty much enjoyed the first season of Overlord as a whole in much the same way as I enjoyed the first seven episodes, I will not be watching any more of it. The short version of why not is that starting with episode 8, Momonga is revealed to be an extremely unpleasant person; he is basically a cruel and casually murderous sociopath. Although none of the incidents involved are significant bits of the story (and they don't happen very often), all of them happen without the story so much as raising an eyebrow. For me, this irreversibly taints the show as a whole, because it is actually following a villain and getting me to cheer for him in his goofy, overpowered antics and so on.
It's to Overlord's credit in a way that it's possible to watch the rest of the show, enjoy the spectacle, and to root for Momonga in it. It's very easy to forget that a few episodes ago, Momonga had some perfectly decent people murdered because they were making his life inconvenient, and I'm relatively confident that in the future, the incidents of murdering and cruel killings and so on will be few and far between. In a way that's why I don't want to watch any more of Overlord; I don't want the feeling of the show persuading me to cheer on someone I know is actually a nasty person.
(And the revelation of Momonga's nature has destroyed my interest in him as a character.)
My tweets from watching Bloom Into You
Right at the start of 2019, I decided to try out Bloom Into You (which I had initially passed on) and wound up quite enjoying it. In the spirit of not doing all of my blogging on Twitter, I'm copying my tweets about Bloom to here.
Overall, Bloom Into You is the best high school romance show I've seen since Toradora. Romance shows almost never work for me (which is one reason I didn't even try out Bloom at the start of the Fall season), but Bloom completely pulled me in. The one caveat I have is that the show is not a complete story, because it's based on an ongoing manga (and one that doesn't have a good stopping point where the story conveniently pivots from one thing to another).
Bloom Into You episode 1: That was solidly fun and I quite like Yuu's voice. I don't know if the show will be my thing over the long term, but it's more than earned a second episode and I'm quite looking forward to it.
(I should have tried this out last season, when it aired.) ♯
Yuu's internal voice and out loud dialog were a treasure all through Bloom. Yuu's not a conventional protagonist so she has an edge and a different angle to her thoughts and words, and the actual spoken voice her seiyuu used is a great fit for Yuu the character. The show fit in Yuu's internal thoughts and narration quite well and they're an important part of the story as a whole.
Bloom Into You episode 2: This continues to be a good show, partly on the strength of Yuu's voice but the other people are good too. My experience is changed and probably improved by knowing a certain amount of spoilers, which illuminate various little moments and exchanges. ♯
There are a number of things about various characters which the show drops hints about before it actually tells you. Because I had seen other people watching it on Twitter, I had already heard about a number of those things, so I could pick up, understand, and enjoy the hints in early episodes.
Bloom Into You episode 3: And Nanami has her first moment of genuine emotional honesty (more or less), all because Yuu is actually pretty smart and aware of things. This show is actually selling all of this, which I definitely appreciate; too many romance shows work only by fiat. →
One of my little regrets about watching Bloom Into You (even without spoilers) is that I'm pretty sure that Yuu is eventually going to end up with feelings of love, and while I want her to be happy (& she's sad now), I do enjoy the puzzled, aromantic observer Yuu we have so far.
I would be totally down for a version of Bloom Into You where Yuu simply enjoys Nanami's company more and more without romance coming into it on Yuu's side, and perhaps with Nanami moving to appreciate the companionship as well without feeling she has to be 'in love'.
One of my peculiarities in my spate of tweeting is that I deliberately started out using Nanami Touko's last name to refer to her and later switched to her first name. I did this because in early episodes I didn't feel the show was putting us close enough to her to really think of her on a first name basis. Koito Yuu was always Yuu because the show puts us close to her (in fact in her head) from the very start.
Bloom Into You episode 4: I can't help but see Maki as a male more or less mirror image of Yuu, less self-conscious about how he's 'supposed' to be experiencing love. Also, things are moving and little moments of revelation are adding up (to things I already know from spoilers). ♯
Bloom Into You episode 5: Flustered Namami and more or less innocently whatever you want to call it Yuu is a powerful combo. Nanami has seemed so in control for so long that this is an interestingly different view. (Poor Nanami.) →
Bloom Into You episode 6: This is not a healthy relationship on either side, but then that is sometimes the messy nature of life. Perhaps in time it can grow into something more than two people sort of using each other, even if they're currently sort of happy with what they have. →
Bloom Into You is very good at being very good, and it is beautiful. These people, all of them can say so much without really saying much, and the direction and presentation of the anime is quietly so very good.
Bloom Into You has a mastery of character gesture, tone of voice, expression, how and when characters look at each other, and so on that communicates a whole host of things that lesser shows would have to handle in dialog or in far more obvious character interactions.
Bloom Into You episode 7 is beautiful (and sort of sad, on multiple levels), although I suspect I may be reading things into it about silent societal pressures and prejudices that aren't entirely intended. Such a powerful set of moments, though. Poor Sayaka. →
Given what Bloom Into You is about and what it's already shown us, the comfortable definite moment with the two adults is not unexpected, but it was still great. I admit the initial shot of their legs made me wonder if the show was going to be coy, but no, that was a fake-out. →
Bloom Into You episode 8: This delicate balance is already falling apart, whether any of you know it or not, and all three of you are each falling and lying to yourselves in your own ways. →
Bloom Into You episode 9's first half has such an important conversation. Maki is good for something (very) important after all, not just stirring the shit for his own amusement. →
Bloom Into You episode 9: This show remains absurdly good at illustrating all of the tangled emotions and drives of these people without actually having to spell anything out. Poor Touko, who did not get to feel wanted the way she wanted to be. →
Bloom Into You episode 10: Everything was going so well and then that epilogue AAAAA. On the everything going so well front, those dorks need to give in and see each other in person more. It makes them both so happy just to talk to each other. →
Bloom Into You episode 11: The tensions are stacking up and the illusions are crumbling (and in some cases, revealed as pre-crumbled, it's just that certain parties didn't reveal their knowledge). As great as always. →
Bloom Into You episode 12: And the tensions boil over and the crows come home to roost at last. Yuu gets the answers she implicitly wanted, and they don't please her. Also, I think Touko is balancing herself on a knife-edge even though she doesn't realize it. →
Bloom Into You episode 13: The aquarium overshadowed almost everything else in the episode except the heart-stopping moment at the train station. I have to root for Yuu being selfish for once and getting what she wants. →
Now we get into some of my overall views and quibbles.
I completely enjoyed watching Bloom Into You as a show, but unfortunately episode 13 doesn't end anything so much as it just stops, and I don't know how that makes me feel about it overall. There are a lot of big things left hanging over the story at this point. →
Also, I'll give Bloom Into You points for Yuu still arguably not being 'in love' with Touko, although she clearly likes her company and all of that. Perhaps the story is quietly crafting a message in the combination and contrast of Touko and Yuu here.
Touko is unambiguously 'traditional romance love' in love with Yuu, and shows it in tons of ways. Yuu is not ostensibly feeling this way, but she clearly equally has genuine affection and caring for Touko. I can imagine the show asking 'is this not love too, just different?' →
Quite possibly this interpretation of what Bloom Into You is doing is me thinking too hard.
(But I do so dislike the 'character X is in-love in love and just doesn't realize it' trope that shows up so often. I'd like it to be that Bloom Into You is different.) →
I don't know how I'd have felt watching Bloom Into You week by week during the Fall 2018 season, especially not knowing various spoilers. I'm absolutely sure that my experience was changed by marathoning the show, especially with some spoilers in hand. I suspect that I enjoyed the show more because I was marathoning it and could take it at whatever pace I wanted (which turned out to be a fast pace; I ran through the entire show over the course of a few days and found the last few episodes so compelling that I stayed up very late to watch them).
(Part of the pace was that Bloom wasn't competing with anything else in my anime watching or life at the time, because I was off for my work's winter break and there was nothing else airing. This lack of any activity was part of why I wound up trying Bloom out in the first place; I was plain bored and all sorts of people had said lots of praise about it during the fall season.)