Content note: contains vague spoilers for current episodes of ‘Sarazanmai’, ‘Carole and Tuesday’, ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’, ‘One Punch Man’, ‘Fruits Basket’ and ‘Tales of the City (2019)’.
Also, WordPress isn’t letting me upload pictures for some reason, so please forgive the wall of text – I’ll try to edit tomorrow.
What a week. The ‘Sarazanmai’ finale, another upset in ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’, a kidnapping in ‘Carole and Tuesday’, and Saitama flippin’ finally left the tournament stadium.
I feel like it’s been a busy week for me all around, having also squeezed in a cinema trip and spent some time looking at some live-action stuff on Netflix. After some initial trepidation, I gave in and watched an episode and a half of the new ‘Tales Of The City’ series. Those books are practically required reading for the LGBTQIA community, so any adaptation other than the original season of the TV show has the potential to cause a fandom riot. I’m pleased to see the original cast back, particularly Paul Gross as Brian, although it looks like they have second Michael rather than first, which means he doesn’t have the southern accent. That’s a shame, since Michael’s upbringing was always an integral part of his character and I feel that’s missing since he just sounds like another Californian character now.
I’m honestly miffed that they’ve fudged around with some of the timeline. Even if it was done to bring in Ellen Page, it’s confusing – Shawna’s supposed to be around my age and (if I’m remembering ‘Michael Tolliver Lives’ correctly) a writer with a successful blog, not the discontent twenty-something bartender she is here. And I’m not entirely happy with the change to create drama from Shawna not knowing that she was adopted, since it does absolve Mary-Ann of some responsibility.
Did Mrs Madrigal always talk in riddles? I know she had a lot of worthy things to say, but now she sounds like a walking quotation book. The two wannabe social media stars are irritating so far, and new character Jake’s dilemma is potentially interesting but so much of the dialogue in his scenes feels forced.
I dunno. I’m not convinced by this one so far. Maybe my vision is skewed because I was so emotionally invested in the original books, but it feels quite disconnected from what it used to be.
Also, ‘Brightburn’ finally hit cinemas this week, a film I’ve been looking forward to for months. After laughing through the trailers for the ‘Child’s Play’ remake and whatever that Annabelle movie is, the film was everything I hoped for precisely because it wasn’t trying to be anything other than what it was – Clark Kent but bad. No pretensions, no navel-gazing, just ‘kid finds out he’s an alien with superpowers and decides to hurt everyone who hurt him’. It does rely heavily on jump-scares, but they’re done well. You know they’re coming, just not when or how. Much like ‘Five Nights At Freddy’s’, it’s the anticipation that makes up half the terror. The booming soundtrack is claustrophobic at times and the film knows how to show just enough gore to make you uncomfortable without being over-the-top nasty.
If you want to analyse it, you could talk about adult fears, raising gifted children, or male entitlement (Brandon’s dad, in a misguided attempt at a sex-talk, tells him ‘it’s okay to give into your urges sometimes’, leading to Brandon stalking his crush to the point of traumatising her). The only tiny nitpick I had with it was the way the film showed Brandon’s lack of reaction to one particular death as a sign of his monstrosity – we know it’s because he caused the death, but the parents don’t, and it almost read like watching an autistic kid being viewed with suspicion for not emoting like a neurotypical kid. But maybe that’s just me. It hit a little too close to home. Otherwise, the film was a lot of fun, and the ending contains some nice references which will apparently please die-hard DC fans (I am not one).
As for anime this week, I feel like I’m going to do a lot of shows a disservice by not having much to say about them. I spent the whole week mentally preparing for the ‘Sarazanmai’ finalé, so wasn’t exactly taking in much else.
‘One Punch Man’ is finally moving on to the big finish, and at this point I still have no idea how the Garo arc ends. Ep 11 should cover Garo’s fight with the A-class heroes who’ve cornered him in the shack, but that’s where the manga’s English print release is up to, so it will make a refreshing change for me to have an episode to watch where I don’t know what will happen. The fight-scene animation does seem to be picking up in quality, but what I’ve loved this season in terms of animation is the texture detail on everything metallic. From Genos’ new body to several weapons, the team somehow capture this intense shine and depth which keeps several shots from looking flat. It’s an odd thing to appreciate, I know, but it impressed me.
I got spoiled for this week’s episode of ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ after people mentioned Yamashita Daiki’s not-exactly-cryptic tweet indicating what would happen to Narancia. I usually watch JoJo’s mid-week with a friend, but had to watch on Saturday because I couldn’t bear to wait any longer.
I’ve long since stopped caring that stand powers seem like they’re made up on the fly. Generally I just go with the flow and see where the episode takes me. That’s especially tricky, though, when we have stand powers that allow for chunks of time going missing or stand powers being altered. And Narancia’s death came so out of nowhere that I don’t even know if I was shocked or not. We’ve lost two members of the crew, three if Fugo doesn’t come back (although I’m assuming he does, since he was spotted in this ep?), and Bucciarati’s fate is still uncertain. It really does feel like anything goes now, and I’m fairly okay with that. What I am hoping for is that we get to see Koichi and Jotaro again at the final, for a neat little bookend.
‘Midnight Occult Civil Servants’ gave a reasonably satisfying end to the previous week’s cliffhanger, with Arata being proactive in using his Ears of Sand to call on a host of Anothers to work alongside the department staff to save the silkworm babies. Sure, it was predictable, but the show isn’t exactly subtle in its morals or character alignment.
I just feel like this show is glossing over a few things that could have been explored in more depth, particularly around character development. Arata has an immensely powerful god living with him, and that’s barely even a thing. I can only assume that the manga has more material, in which case I am actually tempted to give it a look.
As for the final episode next week, I have no idea. Presumably there’ll be some sort of sequel hook, but other than that I can only assume it’ll be a relatively sedate episode. The show still reminds me of ‘The Morose Mononokean’, which also had some odd pacing, but which did start to show more depth in its second season, so I will have to hope that we get the same treatment for this one.
‘Fruits Basket’ gave us another scene-for-scene remake with episode 12, bringing Haru and Momiji into Tohru’s school. Zany antics with black-Haru and Momiji in girls’ clothes were nicely balanced by Tohru’s first encounter with an intimidating Akito, and rounded out with Yuki getting emotional over spending time with friends (and Tohru).
Sometimes it’s hard to find things to say about this show, since as much as I love it, it doesn’t always bring anything new if you’re familiar with the original. It’s still gorgeous to watch and hits the right emotional notes, but it feels more comfortable than exciting at this point. Although next week is Ayame’s introductory episode, so there is that to look forward to!
‘Carole and Tuesday’ gave us some exciting drama, first with Tuesday’s injury leading to a beautiful performance of a song with just Carole’s piano and two vocals. Pyotr is great and I hope we see him again in future episodes, but I’m pleased that people are actually starting to recognise the heart and the depth of our lead duo’s performances. The final cliffhanger, with Tuesday’s family (or rather, her family’s security staff) finally catching up with her, served as both exciting drama and another reason to draw out the growing relationship between her and Carole. It would be nice to see their relationship actually become romantic before the end of the season rather than be the climactic story itself – this show has a good sense of subtlety and slow pacing, and it would be nice to see their relationship grow naturally rather than be accompanied by tons of fanfare and shock.
‘RobiHachi’ played its drama for laughs, first with Isekandar predictably turning out to be yet another tourist trap, and then with Hachi, to the surprise of absolutely no one, outing himself as the lunar prince on the run from his family. It really will be interesting to see how this one wraps up next week, as it could go several different ways. Presumably Yang will finally catch up with Robby and we’ll see just exactly what he wants, now that Robby’s debt has been paid and Yang doesn’t have that hold over him anymore. Plus we’ll get to see whether Hachi will go back to his family and his princely duties or (most likely) take off with Robby for more fun space adventures.
As for ‘Sarazanmai’, well, I’m still trying to process it. Usually I’d have watched an episode multiple times by the time I come to write about it, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to re-watch episode 11 at all. I’m not disappointed, not at all. I just think I wasn’t prepared for Ikuhara actually giving us a reasonably uncomplicated satisfactory ending. I was all ready for people being retconned out of existence or someone sacrificing themself to save everyone else.
In particular, the ‘possible futures’ montage went by so quickly with so much packed into it that I’m still mulling that one over. It’s been such a wild ride for the past three months and I’m not quite accepting that it’s over now.
Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a fandom so involved in figuring out a show, sharing resources and theories and art, and that will stay with me as much as the show itself.
I love that Reo and Mabu still get to be together. I love that Tooi doesn’t give up his connection with Enta and Kazuki (although that bridge scene had me worried!). I could have done without Kappa-Sara’s bikini, but hey, we can’t have everything, and I am happy that Keppi’s final form wasn’t some horrendous monstrosity given that his face was concealed in the tag of episode 6.
It’s been a show that has captivated me right from the start, even from seeing the previews back at the start of the year, and it’s not since ‘Yuri On Ice’ three years ago that I’ve been so eager to see each new episode of an anime or to talk with other people about what everything means.
I really think that I need to re-watch first the final episode and then the series as a whole in order to formulate my thoughts. Because it’s a show that has so much to think about, so much packed into each frame and each line and each note. The acting was stellar, particularly Murase in episode 6 and Miyano in episode 10, and I can’t even begin to imagine how proud the whole team must feel to see the responses from fans.
Perhaps later in the week, when I’ve had time to process, I’ll write up my thoughts a little more coherently. I certainly want to post a collection of links to all the great meta and resources that people have shared which have helped me get a deeper understanding of this show and all the cultural references involved.
I know, too, that there are a couple of shows I’ve skipped over this week. Hopefully next Sunday, with no ‘Sarazanmai’ to write about, I’ll be able to spend a little more time (and have a little more brain power!) to get caught up on ‘Kimetsu no Yaiba’ and ‘Fairy Gone’.
It’s almost the end of the Spring ‘19 season, and it’s been a heck of a ride, even with a week still left. But I need to catch my breath. I’ve already fallen down the rabbit-hole of writing ‘Sarazanmai’ fanfiction, and I feel like that’s going to do me in.