Weekly anime round-up 28th April

This week has honestly reached the point of anime overload. Along with all of my usual shows, I’ve re-watched the whole of ‘Mawaru Penguindrum’ to help me get into the right headspace for ‘Sarazanmai’, re-watched the first dubbed season of ‘Mob Psycho 100’ ready for the dubbed season 2, and mainlined all of ‘Rilakkuma and Kaoru’ on Netflix. I’ve finally managed to get a look at ‘Carole & Tuesday’, and added a couple of potential new shows to my watch-list. And this on top of organising a fic week, planning out some cosplay stuff and my full-time job! I haven’t even had chance to look at the second season of ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’ since it hit Netflix this week. So I’m going to pour a cup of tea, take a moment to reflect, and try to get my anime thoughts together.

‘Fruits Basket’ is continuing much the same way as the original series with nothing much that feels especially new at this point. The odd little references to later plot points that were never included in the first anime are keeping my interest (should I be avoiding spoilers for a series that’s been around for years?), and I’m trying to remember what’s coming up in near-future episodes to get a feel for where we are in the process of meeting the Zodiac members.

One thing I’m looking forward to is the return of Chris Sabat as Ayame. The original anime was probably the first dubbed show where I ever took notice of Sabat as a voice actor, so it wasn’t until several years later that I realised he was actually playing against type in this (this is, after all, the guy who plays All Might and about half the cast of Dragon Ball Z). I know he was hamming it up a fair bit, but I remember Ayame still showing a decent touch of emotion and fragility in some of his monologues; fingers crossed that Sabat will refine the performance this time around. I’m interested to see what Sakurai Takahiro does with the role – he’s one of those seiyuu with an impressive range and a history of playing a wide range of roles, so however he plays it, I’m confident he’ll pull it off.

Where some of the dub cast have aged noticeably (as much as I stan John Burgmeier, he no longer sounds like the 27-year-old Shigure), Laura Bailey sounds exactly the same, which is just how I want it. Her Tohru manages to sound cute and endearing and just the right amount of vulnerable without veering over into melodrama. Kudos, Laura.

Conversely, ‘One Punch Man’ is showing noticeable changes, and not particularly good ones. The main impression I get is that no one knows just what to do with the camera. The jump cuts are too frequent and poorly timed; it has the feel of a student film, rather than the well-crafted action piece it ought to be by now. As I’ve said before, the humour and the characterisation are still there – the scene with Saitama’s wig, for example – but I don’t feel quite so involved with the main plot this time around. Maybe things will pick up when the martial arts tournament and the monster invasion both begin, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Episode three of ‘Sarazanmai’ feels like we’ve fully established the format of ‘boys become kappas to steal back shirikodama from zombies made by Reo and Mabu’. Internet rumour suggests this will be switched up somewhat in the next episode, with the plot moving forward. Debate continues as to whether Enta is a creep for kissing Kazuki without consent and for stealing an indirect kiss from his recorder, or just an innocent middle-schooler with a hopeless crush. Personally, I’m somewhere in between. Having lived those experiences of early same-sex crushes in a very homophobic community, I recognise in Enta the feelings of danger and desperation in trying to take whatever you can get to feel close to your crush. Not to condone his actions, but when you’re 13 and in love with your best friend in the gayest of ways, keeping things bottled up isn’t easy.

One thing to bear in mind given my experience of Ikuhara’s work is that it’s not a good idea to go into this with shipping goggles on. Relationships may be teased at or even become canon at some point, but don’t expect anyone to be riding off into the sunset with their significant other by the end of this.

The three day-dream sequences serve as a helpful reminder that it’s also best not to take everything literally in an Ikuhara anime, and maybe the idea of what’s real and what’s not real will be a recurring theme in this show, particularly since social media and fake identities have been key since episode one. I’m also enjoying the slow reveals about Reo and Mabu, and the idea of them serving a higher power rather than storing those boxes of desire for themselves is intriguing.

Fan theories regarding Haruka were proved correct, and I love the way this show feels like a puzzle that we’re all working together to solve. Now what I really want is subtitles for Sara’s ticker-tape report so I can read more about this missing prince.

I haven’t yet seen the latest episodes of ‘Fairy Gone’ and ‘Midnight Occult Civil Servants’ – I usually watch those on Monday with a friend, so I’m not up-to-speed today. ‘Fairy Gone’ feels like it has a steady rate of plot development, which is good for me – I’m not a fan of huge info-dumps and piles of exposition, so I like that I’m learning about this world and these characters in small steps. I also appreciate the way a lot of what we learn comes from visible cues, like the trucks with legs. I’m three eps into MOCS, and I was a bit surprised by the dark turn it took last week – this was supposed to be my non-taxing breather show! Not that I especially mind, but it leaves me with lots of intense stuff to watch and nothing really soft or feel-good.

That was part of the reason I watched ‘Rilakkuma and Kaoru’. I’ve been watching two or three of the short episodes each morning over breakfast, and I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t a show about adulthood depression and a vague sense of existential dread. It’s very well made, and I suspect I will be dedicating a whole post to it in the near-future, but much like ‘Aggretsuko’, what looks like a fun fluffy show at first has turned out to have more layers than a slice of Vienetta.

Not what I expected from a cutesy show about a teddy bear.

I have finally been able to watch ‘Carole & Tuesday’, which is actually so much more than I was expecting – I think it’s a real contender for best anime of the season. It looks lush, the character design is beautiful (women who aren’t sexualised! Thank you!) and the music legitimately gives me chills. I have high hopes for this show, and it gets bonus points for referencing Daft Punk and Cindi Lauper. The show also has much to say about the music industry itself, and Angela and Tao, with their pre-programmed music, provide a compelling counterpoint to Carole and Tuesday’s acoustic self-written songs. Ertegun and Roddy add another sub-plot that could go in interesting places.

Now, I would normally watch the latest ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ on Mondays with a friend, but having been Tumblr-spoiled for something major (tag your spoilers, people, please!) I had to check this week’s episode out early (sorry, anime friend!). Yes, The Thing did come out of nowhere, but sometimes I think that’s the best way to handle these plot turns. Had it come at the end of a fight sequence, I think it would have had less impact than it did – the character in question would perhaps have been seen as weak. Instead, we got a pleasantly emotional resolution, and I’m keen to see how the rest of the cast react in the next episode.

Tag. Your. Spoilers.

For a season that didn’t really strike me as exciting a month ago, my watch-list suddenly feels full-to-bursting. This makes me happy, but sometimes it does feel a little overwhelming. I want to find time to fit in season two of ‘She-Ra’ this week, and I suspect that’ll take up all of my mid-week day off. I’m also looking forward to Yorkshire Cosplay Con next month, and making plans for my birthday (two weeks away!). So I’m busybusybusy right now. But if you think there’s a show from this season you think I ought to be watching, do let me know.

Remember, also, that I’m looking to share fanworks by other Fans Of A Certain Age – read this post to find out more.

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