It feels like a subdued week in the anime community, following the events in Kyoto. I don’t want to plough on with reviewing as if nothing happened, but skipping a scheduled post would make it harder for me to feel motivated to write the next one. The world keeps turning, after all.
So what’s happening in terms of new episodes this week?
This week’s favourites:
Fruits Basket finally broke out of its scene-for-scene remake formula, skipping ahead to chapter 39 of the manga for some fluffy filler mixed in with Uotani’s back-story. An interesting choice, as it’s Kisa’s introduction that’s been skipped over. Perhaps they’re filling out the non-Somas to give make them a little more understandable before we get into the events I’m assuming will be the climax of this second cour.
It says a lot about the swimsuit story that I genuinely didn’t remember it from the manga, and had to look through several volumes to confirm that it was from the source material and not something completely new (although it did sort-of confirm one of my super-old Tohru headcanons, that she wears such short skirts and dresses because she can’t buy new clothes, rather than because she wants to appear flirty).
Uotani’s history was the real meat of the episode, though, and was handled well, giving us intrigue as to why she and Tohru, with such different personalities, would become friends. It ties nicely into the story’s theme of found family and the importance of making connections that matter rather than relying on the ones you feel obligated to keep.
Given is also still going strong, slowly teasing at the developing relationship between its two leads. I like that it’s not rushing anything, and that it’s focusing on character building. I would have preferred a bit more music this episode, and I can’t say that I felt especially moved by this tune that Mafuyu is supposedly fixated on – not that his singing wasn’t good, but there was nothing amazing about the melody itself. It feels odd, after that belter of a jam the other boys knocked out in episode one, and I want to see this facet of the story improved on in future episodes.
Cop Craft was a new addition to my watch-list this week. Although cop shows aren’t typically my thing, this was one was chosen for what one Twitter user referred to as “the ‘Tsuda Kenjirou is a grumpy, secretly soft-hearted bastard’ ASMR”.
I’m wary of shows adding myth and magic to gritty urban settings – using words like ‘fairy’ and ‘magic’ in what otherwise looks like a grim real-world environment can make a show feel silly if it’s not handled well (see ‘Fairy Gone’ and its underground fairy factories). ‘Cop Craft’ does a good job of showing us the darker side of the two-worlds-collide set-up, focusing on how the criminal underworld adapts, but it’s going to take some more solid world-building for me to feel completely comfortable watching cops talking about fairy dust in a modern America-coded world.
What it has done well so far is establish the protagonist, Kei Matoba, as a watchable character with believable motives. So far, the personality clash between him and his newly assigned partner Tirana is predictable, and I’m hoping that he learns from her as much as she will presumably learn from him (so far she’s been the unlikable one).
I have hope for this show; since I didn’t go into it with bags of excitement, I feel like it can only surprise me rather than let me down.
Vinland Saga is shaping up to be a nice slow-burner of a story (spoiled somewhat by preview articles giving away the fate of Thors). It also feels like a story with a timely theme, stressing the realities of war compared to the glamorised view that its younger characters have. Thors is so likeable, especially for episode three’s glimpse into his past to reveal how much he has grown and changed since becoming a father.
Although there’s nothing majorly outstanding about this show so far, it feels solid enough to hold my interest, with some believable performances from the cast – the kids feel like kids, rather than adults pretending, and the antagonists aren’t overly melodramatic.
To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts felt a little mediocre this week, given how much I enjoyed the first two episodes. I hope it’s not going to become too formulaic, and that Nancy’s addition to Hank’s quest will provide some interesting moral conflict. The show needs some solid storytelling to balance out the rather lacklustre animation quality.
The reappearance of Cain at the end, presumably having gone full Dio Brando, should hopefully add some interest and not make the show needlessly OTT (it’s already got a bag full of mythical creatures clinging desperately to the last of their humanity – it doesn’t need a silly Giant Ham of a villain).
I want good things for this show, because it was one that I was kind of excited for at the start of the season.
Not sure about:
Bem was one of the shows I was looking forward to based on pre-season previews, so I feel a little disappointed that the first episode didn’t grab me or give me anything exciting. I’m going to go with the Three Episode Rule on this one – so far, nothing stuck with me enough to even compose a decent review, so I’ll come back to this one next week.
Dr Stone also hasn’t inspired any tremendous feels, other than irritation that our antagonist Tsukasa seems to have figured out Senku’s plans a little too easily. It would have made more sense, to me, for Senku to attempt to compromise with Tsukasa – hold off on the murders and I’ll let you stay with us, the group who have food and tools and stuff – instead of immediately going into conflict and chasing. But it is what it is. I’ll see how I feel in a couple more episodes.
Are you using the Three Episode Rule this season? What are you still watching? What do you think you’ll drop? Tell me in the comments!