Would it surprise you if I said I’d never played a Pokemon game?
It’s (almost) true. I did dabble in Pokemon Go, during that glorious summer when the mobile game effectively brought about world peace as we all went into the actual great outdoors and occasionally looked up from our devices to avoid bumping into other people doing the exact same thing. I read countless stories of people in the US making friends through the game – my one encounter involved avoiding making eye-contact with a stranger in a park as we both pretended we weren’t grown-ass adults chasing cartoon monsters.
But the game proper? I was already nineteen when the game, along with the anime, hit the UK. I’d watch the anime sometimes, part of our Saturday morning cartoon/hangover TV line-up. It was something of a guilty pleasure; I was never massively invested in it, and it was probably the one cartoon I didn’t admit to watching at the time.
Still, the franchise has been so pervasive that even I was excited for the release of ‘Detective Pokemon’ this week. I don’t know why I was excited – it doesn’t hold the same nostalgic value for me as it does for younger adults, and I’m not especially a huge Ryan Reynolds fan (nothing against the guy, he just hasn’t been on my radar that much). I think the trailer just made it look like a fun film. The CGI looked impressive, and I was curious to see how a crime/mystery storyline would play out in a family-friendly film.
I did genuinely enjoy it. I think the team properly took into account that there’d be more than a few parents and grandparents less versed in Pokemon lore in the audiences, and ensured that even they would be able to follow it. I’ve picked up enough Pokemon knowledge through cultural osmosis that I was never confused and could spot one of the character-related plot twists easily enough. The world-building was thoroughly impressive, although I wish we’d been able to see a few more of those establishing shots of Pokemon being such a ubiquitous part of the film-verse. Honestly, I could have done without the romantic sub-plot – that felt tacked on and under-developed, and I’d have believed a friendship more than the rushed proto-romance.
While the plot did sometimes feel a little too fast-paced, with little time to stop and breathe, I understand that it’s intended to be kid-friendly, and 104 minutes is probably the limit for kids in the cinema. I think it’s important to bear in mind the younger end of the audience age-range when reviewing the film – as long as you don’t expect the sort of sparkling dialogue or deep plot twist you’d expect in an adult-oriented crime comedy, then the film is entirely enjoyable.
(I could have done without the two wankers sitting on the row in front of me who talked all the way through the film, but we can’t have everything.)
In more non-anime news, I finished watching ‘Tuca and Bertie’ this week. It did grow on me over the course of the series, as the silliness made room for some more serious stuff, proving the show has as much heart as it does balls. There were some fun-to-spot cameos too, and I think I’d happily watch a second season.
Between birthday nonsense and prepping for Yorkshire Cosplay Con, I haven’t been able to watch all my usual watch-list this week, but the stuff I have been able to fit in has been a lot of fun.
‘Carole and Tuesday’ is an utter delight to watch. It’s been refreshing to see a story about aspiring musicians that shows some of the struggle involved in ‘making it’, where opportunities can slip away and having talent doesn’t automatically mean instant fame. It gives us room to appreciate the characters, to enjoy seeing them suck at regular jobs like normal people and to let relationships and friendships grow naturally. I know the show is hinting at a developing romance between the two leads, but honestly from the way the show is developing their relationship through a solid friendship rather than immediate attraction, I feel like I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if it doesn’t head that way (it would absolutely be wonderful if it does, though, because when was the last time an anime gave us a w/w relationship that wasn’t based on awkward crushes and overt sexualisation of teenage girls?).
‘RobiHachi’ reminded me that there isn’t a massive amount of comedy in this season’s line-up. It’s fun to watch, not too mentally taxing, and while I could do without the repetitive inclusion of ‘hot’ girls as part of each visited planet’s tourist attractions (making it feel like the worst parts of ‘Space Dandy’), it’s enjoyable enough that I feel like I can happily keep watching to the end of the season.
It’s one of those shows that, like ‘Midnight Occult Civil Servants’, I feel has been a little overlooked this season due to its basic-looking animation. Which is a real shame, as both shows have a lot going for them otherwise. Last week’s haunted elevator episode of MOCS was an intriguing mystery, although I was so caught up in why the spirit-of-the-week apparently had the Hellraiser puzzle box that I didn’t spot immediately that she was actually Pandora. It’s interesting to see the particular blend of international myths and legends being used in this show; I think I compared it once to ‘American Gods’, and I’m glad to see that aspect of the show’s occult theme continuing, although I think it’s more fun when we get to see the spirits out in the real world of Shinjuku rather than in the alternate dimension shown in episode 5. I’m not up-to-date with this season, but I’m looking forward to episode 6. If you haven’t seen this show yet, I’d encourage you to look past the not-so-flashy animation and focus on the world-building instead. It’s a show that feels like it’s slowly building towards something big, and I’m eager to see what develops.
Episode five of ‘Sarazanmai’ thankfully began the delicious downward spiral that I’ve come to expect from Ikuhara. It says a lot about his work, I think, that last week’s revelation about Tooi’s past didn’t actually feel that dark – it was signposted well enough that I wasn’t all that surprised. Likewise, Kazuki’s latest secret was hinted at (it was all in the eyes!) but the exact nature of it was still a little unexpected – his realisation that his adopted family was his ‘real’ family felt like a welcome bit of character development, and helped us put his apparent hatred of his younger brother into perspective. I genuinely felt for Kazuki as his secret identity was revealed in front of an audience, and Murase’s acting during the final scenes was stellar.
Watching Tooi trying to capture Sara was a hoot, as her constant escapes led him from just trying to lock her up to trying to outright impale her with swords. Her reveal as someone not entirely human was so comedic that it didn’t feel like a surprise at all, and I’m curious to see exactly how Sara fits into the kappa/otter mythology. She feels both too air-headed to worry about and sinister enough to be a potential threat later on.
I also got to see the first episode of the English dub this week, and wasn’t that a wild ride! When you’re used to a cast interpreting characters a certain way, it can always feel jarring hearing the same lines from different actors. ‘Sarazanmai’ feels like one of those shows where everything is so good that any dub would feel like a poor imitation, and although the English cast do well enough for the dub to stand up if it’s your first viewing, I think it’s just impossible to match the standards set by the Japanese cast. Suwabe Junichi is practically a mythical being himself, so Tyler Walker’s vaguely froggy interpretation feels a little jarring in comparison. Also, I feel like English dubs always struggle to find actors who genuinely sound like teenagers. The seiyuu industry of late has developed a solid core of male actors with higher pitched voices who can pull off teenage characters believably (Murase Ayumu and Horie Shun in this cast, along with other actors like Yamashita Daiki and of course Kaji Yuki), whereas American studios seem to struggle in this respect. The English cast’s saving grace will most likely be Ian Sinclair and Daman Mills as Reo and Mabu respectively, although we only got a couple of lines from them in this first episode. I’m not sure how I feel about the dubbed song – keeping it in Japanese would have felt awkward, but I think it’ll take me a couple more episodes to decide how I feel about the translated version. I hope the otter song works well in English – we’ll see next week.
Because I’m still a little behind with my watching this week, I’m planning a supplemental update on Wednesday to cover ‘Kimetsu No Yaiba’, ‘Fairy Gone’, ‘One Punch Man’ and ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’. I feel like I’ve had my fill of non-anime shows for a while, so I can get back to what really matters!
How are you finding the Spring ’19 anime season? What shows have you dropped? What’s surprised you this season? Tell me in the comments, or come find me on Twitter @oldanimefan.