Weekly anime round-up (21st April)

Since most shows from the current season are still only up to the second or third episode, I still feel like I’m ‘settling in’ to them. So far, I think my watch-list is fairly solid and it doesn’t look like I’ll drop anything, although there may be one or two that I stick with out of obligation rather than real enjoyment.

The obvious series is ‘One Punch Man 2’, which does seem to be establishing its new style with the first real fight sequence of this new season. The impression I get is that the animation is trying to replicate the manga panels, with more static camera work and jump cuts. Had this been in place from the start, I could probably have accepted it as how the story would be told, but since it’s such a marked contrast to the dynamic camera work and frenetic action scenes of the first season, it comes as a disappointment because we know what it could have been instead.

I know that it’s going to lose some fans because of this, which is a shame because the humour is still there, and the characters that see some more development in the Hero Hunter arcs are interesting. King makes an intriguing foil to Saitama, being both a new friend and the reason why Saitama hasn’t had any recognition so far. I’m also amused by the revelation that, if the Hero Association choose names for their heroes, then they’re the ones who approved the name ‘Flashy Flash’!

I’ve also seen complaints that Garo’s fight with the assembled villains was ‘cut’. Thing is, it was never ‘there’ to be cut – it’s deliberately glossed over here and in the manga both to keep from revealing his fighting style too soon and to show just how quickly he was able to defeat a room full of opponents. We see about as much of it here as we did in the manga, and the fact that we don’t see it happen is only meant to add to Garo’s mystery.

‘Fruits Basket’ continues along almost exactly the same lines as the original, so there isn’t a great deal of new stuff going on yet. We’re still world-building and introducing characters at this point, and the most interesting thing from episode three is the revelation that Momiji (who hasn’t actually been named yet) is actually going to be speaking German, in both the sub and the dub. My only worry here is that Momiji’s dub actor seems to handle the actual German better than the German-accented English. Personally, I’d rather they’d handwaved the German background than have to put up with a dodgy accent from a character who’s going to be speaking a whole lot of lines in upcoming episodes (and some emotionally significant ones at that – Momiji’s backstory episode is the first one of the series that’s guaranteed to bring on the waterworks, and it’s going to be ruined if it comes with an awkward delivery).

Vat’s dis? A bad delivery in an otherwise-good dub?

I also hope the rice-ball insets aren’t all going to be animated in that scribbly neon on black, because that was painful. Also, why have we switched leeks to chives?

The animation in ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba’ is still its biggest draw for me so far, although I am genuinely intrigued as to how the story and tone are going to be handled as the cast expands. The scenes of Tanjirou’s runs down the mountain show an apt use of CGI, giving depth to the scenery and the obstacles Tanjirou faces rather than just CGI-ing something that moves because it’s too complicated to draw accurate movement (the horses from ‘Black Butler’ always spring to mind when I think of bad anime CGI!).

Apparently Spring ’19 is the season of back-lit characters.

The gradual introduction of a more comedic tone feels like an apt reprieve from the melancholy aspects of the story (one reason I gave up on ‘Attack On Titan’ was the never-ending bleakness with no pause for breath). Tanjirou’s first training montage (spanning six whole months) is light enough to distract from his sister’s condition without letting us forget about her completely, although having a second six-month montage to allow him to face Sabito feels like a bit much.

I like that episode three sets up new questions as it furthers the plot, and that we’re learning as Tanjrou does without getting massive dumps of exposition. I still have high hopes for this series, and look forward to seeing where it goes.

‘Fairy Gone’ is also still in the world-building stages, setting up both sides of the conflict it will explore. Again, I’m enjoying the development and the animation is pleasing, although those trucks-with-legs are incredibly creepy – seriously, how did anyone decide that articulated legs were better than wheels and axles?

(Also, Hosoya Yoshimasa is in this one, making it officially a Sports Anime.)*

‘Midnight Occult Civil Servants’ is the type of show where I’ll happily accept the ‘yokai of the week’ format. Much like ‘The Morose Mononokean’, it feels like it will slowly build towards some deeper plot arc while steadily introducing the various paranormal characters who make up the world that Miyako is getting to know. It feels fun and not-too-taxing, and even though the animation is nothing to write home about, the story is interesting and the characters amusing enough to keep my attention. This one feels like it’ll be my ‘breather’ show in between the more intense stuff I’m watching.

The ‘more intense stuff’, specifically, being ‘Sarazanmai’. This is hands-down my favourite show this season, even after just two episodes. It absolutely requires multiple viewings, and even then it took reading this thorough review/summary to fully get my head around what’s happening.

Seeing m/m relationships and attraction in anime, even in a show from a director known for spotlighting same-gender attraction in other works, always makes me just a little wary. Even Kunihiko Ikuhara kept his m/m relationships for the more villainous or antagonistic characters, and after seeing two male villains draped across each other in this season’s ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ in a way reminiscent of Touga, Sainji and Akio, I’m hesitant to feel happy about some mlm representation. I want this show to explore the complexities of attraction and not just use it for titillation. The dynamics of Kazuki and Enta’s relationship feels like the former; Reo and Mabu seem to be there largely for the latter.

Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku!

The visual nods to ‘Utena’ are fabulous, and the symbolism in practically every shot demands that you pay attention. Episode two was exactly the show I signed on for. The characters are proving wonderfully layered – sweet Kazuki is turning out to be much darker than he first seemd, Toi is tragically shown to be forced to grow up faster than a middle-school kid should have to, and even Enta isn’t above the deviousness, as shown in the final scene.

It’s wacky and fun to watch and already hinting at some incredibly dark stuff. This show is a perfect example of why I tend to pick anime over other formats; it’s the type of story you simply couldn’t tell any other way.

I’ll have another round-up next Sunday; in the meantime, if there’s a show you think I ought to be watching this season, do tell me. Let me know too what you think about the shows I’ve covered – what do you love this season? What surprised you, and what’s turning out to be not what you hoped for?

*Hosoya Yoshimasa is in every sports anime. Therefore every anime with Hosoya Yoshimasa is a sports anime.

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