Weekly watch round-up 9th June

Just as my work schedule starts to get vaguely back to normal, anime release schedules get disrupted due to the French Open. So there are a couple of shows that haven’t updated since my last weekly watch round-up.

‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ was an absolute delight this week, with its direct references back to ‘Stardust Crusaders’ and the origins of the Stand arrows. Seeing the change in art styles between the two series was interesting, as characters from the days of the bulky uber-macho designs were re-done in the more svelte bishounen style. It did remind me how much I miss Kakyoin, though. The episode genuinely felt fun (in a slightly macabre way) as revelations quickly unfolded. As someone who hasn’t read the manga and didn’t know what to expect, I can’t say I’m a fan of Diavolo’s design – he’s not what I would expect from a highest-level mafia boss, and there isn’t much to make him stand out from any of the other antagonists we’ve seen up to now. He also doesn’t look old enough to have raised himself to such a position (or old enough to be father to Trish) – I’d expected him to look like someone with gravitas and authority, and although I usually enjoy the diversity and flamboyance of the villains in the later series, for me it just doesn’t quite work in this instance.

Less ‘built’ and more ‘bishie’, but at least JoJo looks his age here.

Still, it was fun to have Polnareff back (albeit briefly) and once again we had another bout of grim body horror with the flashback to the events that left him dependent on prosthetics and a wheelchair. I’m hoping that maybe we’ll get to see Jotaro once again near the end of the season, as a neat bookend to mirror the opening episode.

‘Fruits Basket’ is also doing more to acknowledge its source material, with nods to something going on with Shigure and Akito. The Valentine’s Day episode played out slightly differently to how I remember the original series, with more focus on a group date rather than Kyo reluctantly eating Tohru and Kagura’s chocolates. I’m wondering if we’ll see more of these small deviations as the story progresses. I actually don’t think I’d mind – I would like more to this update than simply a scene-for-scene replica of the manga.

‘RobiHachi’ is proving to be one of those shows that I love for reasons I simply can’t explain. It’s always fun, while sneaking in subtle hints and reveals about past events. Hachi is the biggest mystery, as we don’t know much about his life prior to working for Yang – is he really only 18 years old? Is he royalty? Is he human? The flashbacks to Robby’s grandfather and his anime show make me think that perhaps Hachi has some connection with either the Japanese moon landing or with Yarge Senior himself, and it’s possible that he’s met Robby before.

And why is Yang so devoted to Robby? There’s definitely more at stake than just Robby’s debt.

And does the fact that there’s an anime expy of ‘Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!’ in this universe, along with Wombat himself, mean that the show is based on real events? How awesome would it be if the Battle Lovers themselves turn up at some point!

Why? Why? Why?

Why does this dumb comedy have as much intrigue as any of the serious dramas and mysteries I’m watching?

As ‘RobiHachi’ keeps setting up more mystery, ‘Sarazanmai’ is quickly reaching its climax with the unwrapping of its own secrets. Enta isn’t quite dead yet, having been temporarily saved by Keppi, who also isn’t as dead as he could have been. Chikai is definitely dead, after a terrific performance from Tsuda Kenjirou whose gorgeously gravelly voice proved perfect for those final few moments. I was slightly relieved to know that he didn’t really have anything sinister planned for Tooi, and genuinely did seem like he was trying to protect him after all. I did start to get the feeling that Chikai might have been harbouring some resentment towards his younger brother for being the one to kill the gang leader before Chikai himself could, but that wasn’t explored.

Tiny kappa-Enta saying “Kazuki Kazuki Kazuki” while they hugged was both the best and the worst moment in the episode for me. I feel like the “golden duo” moniker definitely means more to Enta than it does to Kazuki at this point, given that Kazuki still hasn’t acknowledged Enta’s romantic feelings for him. I worry that Enta will have his heart broken all over again when Kazuki doesn’t choose him over Tooi.

I did love the visual of Kazuki being isolated at the start of the episode, dealing with the potential loss of Enta and calling out for Tooi. I honestly don’t know if Ikuhara is planning for any end-game ships here – there’s always the chance of someone getting retconned out of existence or sacrificing themself for the others.

The increased focus on Reo and Mabu gives much of the show a more adult feel than it had at the start. It’s still tough to say to what extent the otters have been manipulating them both – I’m half-convinced that Mabu is actually more or less the same person, and that Reo is being deluded into thinking he’s been changed beyond having an artificial heart to keep him alive. Mabu’s admission that he wants the attention and desire he gets from the otter is horribly relatable, and one can’t help wondering how he’s feeling after years of being denied by Reo. The shot of Reo smashing the wine bottle was beautiful, and Mabu looked so small and vulnerable next to the otter-Reo. Sometimes I feel like every single frame of this show is so perfectly crafted. It feels like an anime-equivalent of ‘Hot Fuzz’, which I hold up as an entirely perfect film, with not a single frame or sound or word of dialogue wasted.

Last week I missed ‘Carole and Tuesday’ from my watch round-up, which I’m miffed about because episode 8 had some gorgeous animation for Pyotr’s dance sequence. The whole Mars Brightest arc feels a little predictable, even though it’s giving us some great songs and interesting new characters. There’s so much to love about this show, which is why I’m especially disappointed by the way it’s treating its non-binary characters. The whole ‘Martian androgyny’ thing feels like it’s only being applied to antagonists – first Angela’s mother, and now the sinister Cybelle and the Mermaid Sisters, who seemed like they were supposed to be the episode’s gag characters. Personally, I absolutely adored them, both their look and their song (which is currently vying with the Isekandar jingle for title of ‘Most Persistent Earworm’). I don’t know whether to be glad that the show has non-binary characters at all or wish that they hadn’t bothered if they’re only ever going to be the dislikeable ones.

How I feel about the gender binary.

As for Carole and Tuesday’s performance on the talent show, I was actually disappointed – it wasn’t the best showcase of their vocal talent or their musical ability, and to me it seemed like they coasted through their round purely for the novelty of writing their own songs rather than depending on AI like other singers in-universe. I wanted the upbeat pep from ‘Hold Me Now’, or the delicate beauty of ‘Someday I’ll Find My Way Home’. This performance just felt bland in comparison.

‘Fairy Gone’ picked up a little last week with an action sequence that felt a bit more gripping than previous episodes. Now that there’s more at stake than just the Black Fairy Tome, the scale of the story feels bigger, and while I struggle sometimes to keep track of the expanding cast, I do appreciate the way the politics of the setting are driving the story, rather than just individuals fighting over a Macguffin. I think at this stage, the thing that keeps my attention most is the animation; specifically, the effective use of CGI for things like the artificial fairies. They look wonderfully sinister.

One thing I haven’t watched this week is ‘Good Omens’. I absolutely want to – the novel is my all-time favourite book (and as someone who usually can’t pick a favourite anything, that’s a big deal). But unless there’s a way to watch it without donating to the Church of Jeff Bezos, I’m stuck for now. It has been fun, though, watching the sudden re-emergence of the fandom, fuelled for the most part by the immediate fixation on Aziraphale and Crowley. I never really shipped them when reading the novel, but I did read the odd bit of slash fic back in the day. So far, I haven’t looked at what the fandom is creating based on the show beyond the art that’s popping up on my Tumblr dashboard.

What is slightly concerning me is that fandom doesn’t seem to care about any of the other characters. No love for Newt and Anathema. Nothing even for Dog?

I do wonder, though, if perhaps we’ll see a resurgence of interest in ‘Sandman’ as a result. Please?

Earlier in the week I wanted to look up something from GO to reply to a Tumblr post and realised I couldn’t find my copy. I’ve owned at least two, possibly three copies of that book since 1998. The first, I read so many times that it was literally falling apart. The second, I lent out and don’t think I ever got back, hence the possible third copy. And now I can’t find that one. I feel weird about buying another copy, because (a) it won’t have the same cover as the previous paperbacks I’ve owned, and (b) I have some stupid elder-fan pride that keeps me from wanting to be seen as a recent convert to the book. Maybe I should just order a replacement online?

Due to the delayed scheduling, obviously there haven’t been updates to ‘One Punch Man’ or ‘Midnight Occult Civil Servants’, so those will wait until next week’s round-up.

I do want to make the weekly read a regular feature on here, looking at manga, comics and fanfiction, along with any interesting essays and other non-fiction. So if you have any recommendations, especially fandom meta and webcomics, let me know in the comments or via the ‘contact’ page. If you haven’t already figured it out, I particularly like stories with older characters (30+), fanworks by older creators, stuff that’s queer-friendly, inclusive of POC, mental illness-positive.

Remember, too, that you can follow me on Twitter @oldanimefan.

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