Although we’re about halfway through the Summer season, I don’t have that mid-season feeling from most of my seasonal anime. I’m attributing that to most of the shows being set up to run longer than one season, but it still feels a little odd to be six episodes into most shows and not having any more than the barest of bare bones in terms of plot and character development.
Fruits Basket was my highlight of the week, with Ritsu’s introduction episode. Again, we’re seeing the order of episodes switched around a little compared to the show’s first run, as we’re meeting Ritsu before we meet Hiro. But that’s not a major problem.
Like Ritsu, I’m a Year of the Monkey baby, although when I first watched Furuba I couldn’t identify with Ritsu at all. It’s taken close to twenty years for me to accept my fate as an anxious genderqueer disaster like my Furuba counterpart!
There were aspects of Ritsu’s intro that I was worried about, specifically relating to his wearing a feminine kimono out of a need to feel safe and less self-conscious of his lack of confidence. In the original run, and in the manga, the episode had him later change into a shirt and trousers as a first step to ‘growing up’, and I didn’t especially want to see that happen again. Luckily, that didn’t happen, and instead we got to focus on Tohru’s heartfelt plea that Ritsu find a purpose, or a person to live for, with no mention from anyone of trying to change his appearance. I can only hope that they aren’t saving that for a future episode.
It really was sweet to see Ritsu connecting with another person, someone as anxious and prone to dramatics as he is. It would be nice to see the two of them interacting again, as they have potential for a cute friendship.
Vinland Saga thankfully moved away from the site of my dull childhood summer holidays, heading south to Gainsborough and (after a time-skip) to East Anglia. VS seems to be one of those stories that I appreciate rather than enjoy, as there’s no real way to describe the harrowing experience of seeing Thorfinn losing any sense of honour his father had hoped to instill and instead giving himself over to the Danes by acting as their scout. The scene of his first kill (out of self-defense) was devastating, and only added to the sense of loss as he developed his fighting skills to become an adept warrior. His betrayal of the English women who took him in after finding him injured was deeply sad, if not entirely surprising. This show does not hold back, either with its portrayal of violence and gore, or in its pushing the characters through hellish situations.
Given had an interesting side-step from the main plot this week, letting us look at older characters Haruki and Akihiko, and their complicated relationship. Since this is based on a BL manga, I’m not entirely surprised that we have more than one same-gender pairing, and it was an interesting change of pace to follow a character who’s actually aware of his feelings, instead of the younger boys whose affection for each other is still developing. That Akihiko might already be in a relationship of sorts was a surprise development, although since he’s avoiding the mystery man in his apartment, I think it’s safe to say there’s reason to root for him and Haruki being end-game.
Now the band has an actual gig to work towards, we might see a little more development of their music – we haven’t actually heard them play as a four-piece band since Mafuyu joined, so that’s something to look forward to.
Carole and Tuesday once again introduced another performer from its expanding musical world; Flora, a once-famous, now faded star whose career had seemingly ended, leaving her destitute. Although she was there to serve as an inspiration to Carole and Tuesday, for me this was really Gus’s episode. This man is such a kind and considerate person who genuinely respects the women in his life – consider Gus nominated for Best Boy of Summer ’19!
To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts finally started moving away from its monster-of-the-week format to reintroduce main antagonist Cain, now a seemingly invincible vampire, commanding an army of the leftover Incarnates and a slightly two-dimensional creepy-child character.
I did appreciate the attempt at upping the conflict by having one of the key players in the division fighting Cain’s group be Cain’s brother (played , unsurprisingly, by Ishikawa Kaito, who seems a favourite for the by-the-book boy-soldier types). And Nakamura Yuuichi shows a flair for villainous monologuing. But still, the whole thing feels underdone. Cast members are woefully underutilised – they have Sugita flippin’ Tomokazu as the centaur Incarnate, with barely any lines – you do not do Sugita-san dirty like that. I need to know why I should care about these characters other than ‘one side is good, one side is bad’.
Admittedly, Schaal actually getting injured in the fight came as something of a surprise, although I’m going to assume this isn’t the end for her. I also enjoyed the range of gadgets and gizmos the soldiers had to fight the Incarnates, particularly the jet foot ski thingies. I just want more from this show – there feels like so much more story to tell, but we’re only being given Cain’s and Schaal’s.
Cop Craft has the misfortune to come right at the start of the week, meaning I don’t always remember much of it by the time I come to write these weekly reviews. I tweeted precisely nothing about the episode last Monday, which means I have little to go on now without re-watching the episode.
I know I enjoyed seeing the police commissioner defending his subordinates from other offices badmouthing them, and the vampire proved an interesting opponent, but not much stands out beyond that. I know I’m enjoying this show – perhaps I should keep it for later in the week?
Dr. STONE started with possibly the longest cold-open ever – a nine-minute flashback to Senku figuring out the de-petrification process. Beyond that, I haven’t finished the episode. I’m still not enamoured of this show, but so far it’s inoffensive enough that I feel I can stick it out at least until the end of the summer season. But it doesn’t call to me like anything else on my watch-list.
I was a teenager during the golden age of Nicktoons in the ’90s, probably the exact right age for shows like Rocko’s Modern Life. So I was chuffed to bits to be able to watch the special that hit Netflix this week. ‘Static Cling’ was both a return to the story and a timely clap-back to everyone who complains about reboots of classic kids’ shows updating the source material. That said, I did feel like the new episode was slightly lacking in some of the lewder humour of the original – unless there was a background gag I missed, then Really Really Big Man’s nipples were about as edgy as the show got.
Rachel’s story was nicely handled, and any ‘fan’ who claims it’s not in keeping with the original show should be reminded that this is the same cartoon that had Rocko marry Filburt for an episode in the original run (the story was a forced ‘greencard’ marriage, but I don’t remember it being handled particularly badly).
I’m starting to feel like the Summer ’19 anime season is lacking in any decent comedy or silliness to provide a reprieve from the drama. Maybe the ecchi shows are intended to be the main source of comedy this season?
There most likely won’t be an update on Tuesday, as I’m away for the day, but should be back on Wednesday with my Wednesday Reads Round-up. In the meantime, do remember to follow me on Twitter for more spur-of-the-moment anime ramblings.
Ooh, I’d forgotten about the Rocko special! I need to check that out.
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I’m also glad they didn’t make Ritsu change into “men’s clothes.” What did you think of the way Ritsu’s and Mitchan’s suicidality was treated mostly as comedic? It didn’t bother me, but it might have, several years ago. I used to have suicidal ideation, but now I can laugh about it, and enjoy very dark suicidal humor. But I wondered what others thought.
I think this story, in all its forms, is able to differentiate between comedic violence and serious violence-as-drama. Mitchan and Ritsu jumping to suicide over the slightest thing is a device to show that they take things to extremes, much like Kyo threatens violence over the slightest thing. When the violence or abuse is serious, as with Uo’s and Yuki’s backstories, it takes a completely different tone that makes it clear to the viewer that this is serious. I understand that some viewers will think differently, but I’ve never seen it as something that makes light of suicide or self-harm, because those things are also included elsewhere and handled more responsibly.
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Makes sense! Thanks for your thoughts!
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