Konosuba Season 2 Episode 7 Review

zomAs someone who likes to overthink cartoons about magical schoolgirls, I can’t help but notice how little there is to say about anime this season. This is not to suggest that our current crop of offerings is bad – far from it, this is a perfectly solid anime season.  In fact, it is probably a good sign that most of theses anime episodes feel like five minutes of content. As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. Most anime this season are focused and low energy, so I can summarize each episode in a sentence or two – “boy meets girl and they fall in love” or “this guy fights this guy.” But what I like about Konosuba is that it is an enigma. There is no single sentence that could summarize this episode.

I believe the reason Konosuba is so amusing is because it does not see a need for seriousness. When most shows want to raise the emotional stakes, the music becomes subdued and the characters become quieter. We may have a scene of two characters simply talking, with most of the animation budget being spent on their faces, making their expressions as human as possible. But the faces in Konosuba are anything but, and the show never slows down – it never feels the need to be mundane or down to earth.

And this constant forward movement is part of what keeps Konosuba interesting. Long ago, I feared that the show would begin to bore me, as we got used to the character stereotypes. But this thankfully never happens, as the dynamic keeps shifting. Yes, the characters are all built around distinct stereotypes, but there is a great deal of complexity here. For instance, Kazuma and Aqua start this episode getting along surprisingly well, fantasizing about how they’ll slap people in the face with fat wads of cash. Just a few episodes ago they were wallowing in poverty and threatening to burn each other’s stuff. And for a brief time, Kazuma actually started to convince himself Aqua was noble and useful. The character relationships are all over the map, but never feel random. They are always inline with the established archetypes.

In short, I am surprised by just how good Konosuba is. This may be a strange episode to solidify that fact for me, but there is something so wonderful about the facial expressions, countless callbacks and evolutions of old jokes, and genuinely compelling character relationships. As I have said before, Konosuba is dumb, but it’s very smart about how it does it.

Masamune-kun’s Revenge Episode 6 Review

 

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While discussions about “best girl” and “mai wifu” may feel pointless, there’s a real art to cute girls in anime. After all, harem anime are not simply about titillation, but about some level of emotion fulfillment. They depict a world of soft colors and Skittle tinted hair, where feelings are always little bit simpler. Now, don’t get me wrong  – I don’t get much out of harem anime, nor do I consider them the slightest bit “artistic.”  But I suspect the appeal has something to do with the emotions, and the idea of being loved by cute, simple minded girls. After all, Masume-kun’s Revenge is decidedly asexual, focusing more on puppy love than the “down and dirty” variety.

And in this regard, Masume-kun’s Revenge makes some very interesting choices, like addressing the root of the issue. It may be a small thing, but at several points in the episode, the girls point out that Masumune is a very lonely person. Now, this fact is pretty obvious, given what we’ve seen of Masumune so far. But for an anime of this variety to admit as much is a strange move. But this is the truth – outside of his wifu hoard, most harem protagonists have no human relationships, aside from some pervy guy in their homeroom. Masumune-kun’s Revenge is very honest in its mission to be a tonic for loneliness – a piece of light, feel good fluff.

However, this episode demonstrates a fatal flaw of the show. While it was a warm, cozy experience, that’s only because our “best girl” – the woman destined for Masume at the end of all this – is simply the worst. She’s terrible. In fact, Aki-Sama is totally antithetical to the show’s feel good approach, and I dread going back to her next episode. But the other two girls, the obligatory rich girl and deadpan minion, are both what they need to be – simple and adorable. Are they bastions of feminism or character development? Hell no. But they are cute, kind, and they wear their feelings on their sleeve. For a show like Masume-Kun’s revenge, that’s all they ever need to be.

Masume-Kun’s revenge is frustrating because I want to like it, but it makes that task so difficult. This is not my genre of preference, nor is it particularly ambitious, so I know I’ll never love it. But it’s not a bad show either. Between the visuals and the vibe, it has plenty going for it. In this episode, we get to see what Masume–Kun’s revenge could be – nothing new, but successful at what it wants to do. The problem is that we can only have a finite number of these episodes, thanks to the dreadful character at the helm of the show. Maybe Masumune-Kun’s revenge will find a way to work around Aki-Sama, but I’m still baffled why she’d ever be the focus in the first place.

Konosuba season 2 episode 5 Review

blaLike any good episode of Konosuba, this one was a culmination of many small things – a series of little, hilarious details that made twenty minutes fly by. For instance, my first big laugh came when Aqua was commenting on the little exploding dudes at the entrance of the dungeon – “these masks piss me off.” I think the reason I found this line so funny is because it’s true. Those half masks that villains wear really do bother me, for reasons I can’t fully articulate. And then Aqua warms up to the little masked man, only to have it literary blow up in her face.

And there are other fun details, like how the characters discuss how dangerous the dungeon is, only for Darkness to nonchalantly walk towards it. And then there was the episode’s peak, where Darkness has her body fused with the mind of one of the Demon King’s generals, Vanir. Vanir was an unusual character, who worked best when he was controlling Darkness’s body. Their body melding sequence amounted to one of the most bizarre comedy routines I’ve seen in anime, as the two exchanged threats and declarations of masochistic passion. Unfortunately, Vanir feels like an otherwise forgettable character. He only exists briefly, and his wild gesticulation and speeches don’t feel quite over the top enough. I like the idea of his one goal in life being to troll some adventurers, but the joke didn’t quite hit the mark. I think the reason is that Vanir did not build himself enough as a particularly interesting and imposing villain.

Otherwise, the most notable aspect of this episode is the ending. The conclusion is optimistic on the surface, but I can’t help but fear that it’s setting us up for even more dysfunction. I can’t imagine Kazuma being happy for too long. That being said, I appreciate that the show is giving us a breather, rather than milk the “death row” plot line for too long. Did you even remember that execution was still a possibility? I had certainly forgotten  for a while. In a way, this episode’s questionable pacing and abrupt conclusion feel like a way of burying that plot line. But I don’t think that’s such a bad move. A good show knows when to cut something short, rather than pretend that it’s working and bore us into oblivion. I’m not saying the show was boring – rather, Konosuba changed direction before boredom became a real issue.

The ending was abrupt, and the villain was a bit underwhelming, but all in all, this was a fine episode of Konosuba. It’s also interesting to see how this season splits the characters up, letting us see different group dynamics. Kazuma and Darkness have a particularly fun chemistry, and it’s been great to see them be terrible together these last two episodes.

Steven Bomb Review

blomWhile technically not an anime, Steven Universe comes close enough to warrant mention on my blog. For me, anime has always been more of a feeling than a specific geographic location. Steven has that same strange, unnerving feeling that makes many anime memorable. And this most recent run of episodes is particularly interesting because it marks a distinct shift in Steven Universe.  Mostly the show meanders, with each story arc being loosely held together. We may be in the midst of a serious character progression, or a plot to destroy the earth, and then find ourselves in what feels like a filler episode, as our heroes do something entirely unrelated to the main plot. This structure reminds me of Samurai Champloo or Cowboy Bebop, in the way that it tells a broader story through smaller, more episodic moments.

The story structure of Steven Universe is what sets it apart from its western contemporaries, even more than its art style or themes. Yes, everything about Steven universe feels foreign alongside most American television, but its approach to plot exemplifies its eccentricity. On the one hand, Steven Universe is different from other cartoons as it has forward progression. What happens in one episode will have irrevocable effects on the rest. But Steven Universe is also distinct from other narrative driven works, such as Game of Thrones or West World. Yes, that’s because it’s a cartoon, but it also approaches its grander narrative in a much different way than other successful shows.

This distinction brings me to the advice of South Park’s creators, which I often here cited in script writing classes or in writing forums – a good story is not connected by the words “and then,” but by the words “therefore,” or “but.” This is wonderful advice for any writer. That being said, I feel like we’ve all embodied this philosophy too deeply, becoming enamored with stories that move forward ceaselessly. Our cultural obsession with “but then” has led to having a gimmicky plot twist in nearly every major movie. Meanwhile, our obsession with “therefore” has led to shows that only contain plot, without any moments for rest and contemplation. Steven Universe is wonderful because there is a clear progression, but the show is not afraid of the words “and then.” We can be in in the midst of an intergalactic struggle, “and then” Steven will wind up on some random, wacky adventure. Life is full of detours and randomness, and Steven Universe embodies this fact.

And this is why the newest deluge of Steven Universe episodes comes as such a surprise. We have five episodes that really feel like one episode, without any possibility of a detour. They are almost like one full length, long form episode, as opposed to the show’s traditionally fragmented style. This choice has a few effects. On the one hand, the emotional resonance can be dulled. I remember what an effect Mindful Education had on me, because of how it came out of nowhere, cushioned between two rather innocuous episodes. As a result of coming out of nowhere, and being self-contained, it was rather haunting. At the end, our hero declares “I’m here,” after plummeting from a floating castle in the sky. They softly land on the grass, and the ending theme plays, this time in the form of eerie ambient sounds. The emotions worked because they came out of nowhere, and were never fully resolved. We just go back to goofy episodes without any true closure.  If this episode came after or before a big plot moment, Mindful Education would probably have less resonance. Its appearance would not be so jarring. Mindful Education worked because it existed alongside simpler, “and then” episodes.

Meanwhile, the most recent run of Steven Universe episodes is pure plot – all “and but” and “therefore” moments, creating a different kind of effect. There is no possibility of going back to beach city and hanging out with the residents, or going on fun adventures with one of the gems. Unlike every other episode of Steven Universe, these five lack a feeling of possibility. In Steven universe, this phenomenon appears to be the rule of space. Two of the only other cliff hanger episodes end with Steven being ejected into space, and when Steven and the gang are abducted by Home world gems and taken into space. But why not do these episodes as one long form episode, like Bismuth? Why break off at such a crucial plot juncture?

My theory is that cliffhanger episodes exemplify the feeling of space, and of Home World’s influence.  There is a suffocating feeling whenever Steven Universe is forced to follow a particular plot structure. Like its titular character, Steven Universe is a free spirit and likes to wander aimlessly. When the show is forced forwards in a particular direction, it feels uncharacteristically bleak. The sense of “anything can happen” is gone. If the random, out of nowhere adventures in beach city exemplify earth, then a relentlessly forward moving plot exemplifies the feeling of outer space and the sinister gems that inhabit it.

In these five episodes, we get a different kind of Steven Universe, where the characters feel trapped, and Steven feels more alone than ever. Throughout these episodes, he finds himself forcefully separated from his dad or the gems on a near regular basis, and powerless to do anything about it. There is something foreboding about these episodes, and something frightening about his gem adversaries. The climax of this arc, the song “What’s the use in feeling, Blue,” summarizes these episodes perfectly. Between Yellow Diamond’s condemnation of feelings, to the bizarre human zoo and gem society’s cast system, there is a real rejection of humanity. What’s the use in feeling? What’s the use in being truly human? Despite its childish appearance, Steven Universe is always an ambitious show. And these last few episodes may be the most ambitious yet. Yes, ambition comes with missteps, and moments in these episodes overreach, but it’s always reassuring to watch a show try new things. I find myself eagerly awaiting the rest of this strange, fourth season of Steven Universe.

Fuuka Episode 6 review

zepI’m not a religious person, but if a bolt of lightning were to strike the ground at my feet and leave a message in the scorched pavement, saying “Hey! It’s me, God” then I would reconsider. Similarly, if I were a character in a Fuuka, and the plot kept pushing me in a certain direction, I would ride that wave – see where it takes me. But Hinashi doesn’t see it that way. This episode follows her around on a grey, rainy day, as she considers her unrequited love for Yuu. But when confronted with her love interest, she is too shy to pursue him. And that’s fine- romance is intimidating.  But what makes this scene so frustrating is that it feels like a wasted opportunity. Hinashi randomly runs into Yuu at the front of his house, which is already uncanny timing. He could have just as easily come to the front door when she rang the doorbell. But instead he shows up at exactly the same time she does. Then, once they’re inside, Yuu informs her that his mom and sister are gone, meaning they’re all alone in the house. This leaves us with two young people, damp from the rain, all alone in the house together.

And then, nothing happens. And as a result, the scene feels boring and pointless, at least for the audience. Sure, the characters are exhilarated, feeling the sexual tension and anxiety rather sharply. But it’s hard to be as invested as the characters. Hinashi is tense because she’s considering whether to reveal her true feelings to Yuu, and trying to determine whether Yuu likes Fuuka – but we already have the answers. And by the end of this scene, all we get as payoff is Yuu saying how he’s “happy to be friends” again. The show gives us the perfect chance to complicate the plot. Perhaps they’re forced to deal with their feelings, or reconcile their past, or confront their inexperience when it comes to matters of the heart. But instead, they talk about nothing of great significance. For a story to work, something needs to change, either from scene to scene, or episode to episode. And sure, one could make the case that the show took the high road, avoiding the obvious sexual outcome, but then Fuuka has to go and have an entire fan service scene!

After leaving Yuu’s house, Hinashi runs into Fuuka, which is another strange case of serious deus ex machine. And what do they do? Why, they take a bath together, of course. And Fuuka, being the free spirit she is, can’t help but stand up at various moments in the conversation and completely expose herself. This is when I got frustrated. Something sexual could have easily happened a few minutes ago, when Hinashi was at Yuu’s house. Why not get splashed by water before that scene, and be forced to bathe at Yuu’s instead? This would be horribly cliché and convenient, but at least the fan service would serve a purpose. Some nudity could force Yuu and Hinashi to actually acknowledge their shared sexual tension.

Instead we get another scene that accomplishes very little, letting the love triangle persist. Like anything else, I want to like Fuuka. Sometimes I feel like a grump, giving so many negative reviews. But I don’t think it’s wrong to be upset when a character has every opportunity to move the plot forward, but does nothing. TV should surprise us, or at least move forwards, but Fuuka refuses to do either. Yes, the show does some things well, and I probably should be more positive, but I don’t think plot progression is too much to ask for.

 

Masume-Kun’s Revenge Episod 5 Review

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Masume-kun’s Revenge is like the potato chips anime  – perfectly consumable, vaguely bland, and not particularly memorable. I bear chips no ill will. Between meals I often like to snack, or in this case, enjoy a nice instance of filler between more confusing and ambitious anime. Masume-Kun’s Revenge is ultimately the kind of show that rides its initial premises – that a plump and awkward boy plans to exact his revenge on the popular girl at school. How? Why, by becoming ridiculously handsome and toned, of course. It’s fun to watch our hero bumbling about in hot people culture, struggling to adjust to his newly acquired physique.  And now the plot has thickened, as a romantic rival enters the fray.

And if Masume-kun’s revenge is the chips of anime, then this new girl is the crumpled up bits on the bottom of the bag. Now let me emphasize – I like chip bits. They’re tasty. But my main problem with new girl is that it’s hard to notice she’s there. She is a familiar archetype – the sweet and innocent girl who’s actually rather dirty minded on the inside, doomed to lose to the main girl. She’s there to give the show some raunchiness and sexual tension, along with a chance to see main girl all flustered and jealous. But is it too much to ask for an anime without a predestined main girl? Would it be so wrong to have actual romantic competition, in lieu of the same old song and dance, over and over again?

Part of my problem is that I already like new girl more than the main one. Main girl is selfish and cruel and it confuses me why Masume-kun is falling for her all over again. I get it, she’s a Tsundere – or at least, she is supposed to be. But instead of being bad with her feelings, she mostly feels like a deeply vindictive person, with no real reason for being so unbearably awful. Is new girl much better? No, she’s not, but at least her personality amounts to more than “eats a lot of food.”

Now, all of this may sound rather critical, but I hold no ill will towards Masume-kun’s revenge. I just wish these weren’t plain potato chips, but maybe sour cream and onion, or barbecue. Wouldn’t it be nice if main girl was more expressive or smart at times, or if the romantic rivalries felt like they had real stakes? That being said, Masume-kun is very watchable, and therefore works well as entrainment. We have cute girls doing cute girl things– hard to not find some fun in that, so long as you’re the right audience for it. That’s maybe why I’m so frustrated. Masume-kun’s revenge does what it needs to do, but that’s no reason not to do more.

Konosuba Season 2 Episode 4 Review

blopWell oh boy, Konosuba truly is something else. I’m still reeling from this episode, unsure what to make of it. In a way, the show reminds me of that thing people say about bad couples, where both partners are horrible people – “they deserve each other.” Konosuba seems to have taken this to an extreme, creating characters who are perfect for each other on account of their trash personalities and compatible fetishes.  And sure, at first I was thinking to myself “oh boy, yet another harem anime.” But ultimately, Konosuba is unlike the conventional harem anime. For one thing, most harem protagonists are bland by design, allowing us to self-insert. But Kazuma is so over the top and terrible that it’s hard to imagine anyone quite like him existing. Also, his “harem” does not exist to give him any affection or emotional loyalty. They are not there to assure him he is a decent person. They are just horny, horrible people, like Kazuma.

This episode features, in a way, one of the cuter relationships of recent anime history. Sure, it’s a little messed up, but that’s the point – Kazuma and Darkness are perfect for each other, or rather, imperfect for each other. They bring out the worst in each other. Sure, as a somewhat decent person, it’s wrong for me to root for them. But there is something enjoyable about the depravity. Other than this, there is little to report about the episode. Most of its twenty minute run time was devoted to a long form version of the “Darkness is depraved” joke, intermingled with brief moments of Aqua being a bad person.

While I’d never argue that Konosuba is “deep,” there is certainly something bold about its approach. As Darkness’ father makes clear, our main cast has their fears and worries. They’re human. But unlike the father, who seems to be truly caring and empathetic, our heroes are anything but. What makes them feel good is simply being bad. Konosuba is a rare show that goes all out with its characters’ depravity, never giving them any redemption other than their twisted love for each other (which mostly amounts to lust). It’s a weird and trashy show, but Konosuba is strangely addictive. I eagerly await to see what lows it reaches this season.

Hunter X Hunter: A world of Main Characters

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Over winter break I found myself with  an unusual abundance of free time, and I decided to take on a long awaited anime project – watching Hunter X Hunter. As a general rule of thumb, I try to avoid longer Shonen shows, for fear of inconsistency in both writing and animation.  But Hunter X Hunter surprised me. Sure, folks have been telling me it’s amazing for a while now, but I’m generally dubious of people and their tastes. But lo and behold, the show really is brilliant, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about it and a particular element that makes it work.

Part of what makes the show so compelling is a general feeling of realism. Sure, in a world where people glow with magical aura, realism may seem scarce, but it’s there. Within the show’s parameters, events unfold believably.  A good example is how even secondary characters have unique designs and large personalities. No one in this world believes that they are tertiary to the plot. They all see themselves as the hero. I don’t want to delve too deeply into spoiler territory, but a particularly memorable scene is a confrontation between the arc villain and a conniving, plotting fellow in a slick looking get up. Given the archetype, we expect him to maybe work his way to the top of the food chain, manipulating others. Instead he gets killed on the spot.

One of the many things that makes Hunter X Hunter work is that every character is the hero of the story, or at least believes themselves to be. A great indicator of this comes early, when a man in shoulder pads and a cape is quickly dispatched, his arms turned to rose petals. From the costume alone, we can tell that this guy clearly saw himself as a main character. But as he finds out, that’s not really the case. And in this episode, another character gives us the rundown on all the badass characters we’ll see this season, including a hacker with a unique character design and high brain power. He’s smug and seemingly capable – main character material.  He even shows up in the opening. So I was surprised when he only lasted for one episode.

And as the show goes one, distinctive and powerful characters who show up in both the openings and endings will be killed off abruptly, without ever having a complete story arc. I think of season three, where characters with the powers of brain control and making whatever they write a reality are killed off, filled with bullets or simply beaten over the head. Usually, in a Shonen anime, a character destined to die never gets a cool power. And a character with a cool power will always beat a less interesting one (like a shit ton of aura coated bullets). This phenomenon has become a plot armor of sorts. But in Hunter X Hunter, being distinctive is no guarantee of safety.

Even the actual main characters find themselves out of the spotlight in many seasons, or with a surprising lack of agency. Our hero, Gon, is rarely the one to beat the final boss or save the day. He mostly wins because someone lets him, or he manages to take out a henchman or two. My praise of Hunter X Hunter ultimately culminates in a general criticism of anime and television in general. Secondary characters rarely behave or feel like anything more than fodder. Or more simply, I’m not convinced they think of themselves as main characters. This is problematic because we all see ourselves as the hero to a certain extent.  I don’t assume that I’m that guy in the back of a crowd in a party scene. I imagine I’m the guy up close to the camera saying something cool. Hunter X Hunter works in part because all its characters believe they are the main character – they believe they have a role to play, and sometimes they do.

KONOSUBA SEASON 2 EPISODE 3 REVIEW

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I found this week’s Konsuba quite refreshing, especially in the wake of last week’s episode. While I usually enjoy the raunchy and over the top humor of Konosuba, I did not find the whole “well, I guess we have to take a bath together” routine all that funny. For one thing, we’ve seen Aqua and Kazuma take many a bath together, without ever having to spend half the episode being weird about it. And while we had some weirdness when Kazuma and Darkness had their bath together, at least this scene felt vaguely purposeful, giving them a point of tension and connection moving forwards. But the whole exchange with Megumin and Kazuma felt off and (crucially) not very funny. So I was relieved to see this episode start with a cute montage of the two of them skipping along in the rain, laying waste to the countryside with beautiful explosions.

This episode was something Konsuba needed – a sweet little episode with a hint of optimism. But Konosuba’s unique brand of “feel good” comes off as authentic because the show gets how happiness works. For example, Kazuma decides to let loose and spend the money he greatly needs to repay his debt, and he has a wonderful time, only to regret his decision as soon as he sobers up. And thus is life. Something similar happens at the beginning of the episode, when Kazuma takes a second to think to himself “this can’t go on.” Konosuba is not profound, and I don’t think it’s trying to be, but comedy is only good if it gets life. Or rather, Konosuba is funny because it’s true. Sometimes life is enjoying something, only to later realize that it’s a horrible mistake.

Also, I appreciate how horrible all of Konsuba’s characters are. I know I’m stating the obvious at this point, but there’s something admirable about how far Konsuba takes the depravity of its characters, without ever making them truly unlikable. And this isn’t a case of the characters being cruel on the outside but caring deep down.  No, they’re just bad people.

Another small detail I’d like to mention is, well, the small details. I like how Megumin tries out different cool sounding incantations for her explosion magic, as the cat pretends to be engulfed in her nonexistent attack. I also like how, in the montage in the beginning, Kazuma is holding the two giant leafs that were being used as umbrellas. And more than anything else, I appreciate how the show constantly calls back old jokes, giving Konsuba a feeling of coherency, despite its manic nature.

In short, this episode reminded me why I love Konsuba. This is a show about terrible people in a kind of crappy world, trying to trick themselves into thinking everything’s OK. They go off singing and come back crying and scarred for life. And then they repeat the process again. Konsuba can be cruel to its characters and even downright cynical at times, but that’s where it somehow finds its sense of humor and unexpected optimism.

Winter 2017 Impressions

So far the winter season has been rather innocuous – there is no anime people seem particularly hyped about, at least not on the level of the ensuing second season of Attack on Titan. And yet, there’s also nothing particularly wrong with this season, with something for just about anyone’s anime tastes. So today I thought I’d give a rundown of the more popular shows airing right now. But bear in mind, these are not reviews as much as they are gut reactions –observations and opinions, with a smattering of healthy criticism thrown in. So without further preamble, let’s delve in.

blue-boyI’ll start with Blue exorcist season 2, which is our go to shonen series of the season. Sure, the genre is designed to cater to young boys, but somehow I’ve never outgrown it. Perhaps it’s because shonen anime are not simply explosions and cool costumes, or characters shouting out their special moves. Shonen has always felt stylistic and distinct to me. And Blue Exorcist fits right in with the rest of shonen, with a sprawling cast, a focus on friendship, and special powers. My biggest issue is simply the timing. I believe it is for the purpose of redoing non-canonical parts of season 1, but season 2 starts out in an seemingly random spot. At the beginnings of most shows or seasons, the first episode (even the first few minutes) often announces “this is it! Things are about to start!” But the first 3 episodes of season two have been rather lethargic, and don’t particularly feel like the start of a new chapter. The new season is not bad, but starts at an inconvenient point in the story. Nevertheless, it’s a solid submission to the shonen genre and a long awaited continuation of a much loved franchise.

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Next is the romance anime of this season, in the form of Masamune-kun’s revenge. We seem to get a lot of these shows – the somewhat perverted romance that errs on the side of sincerity over titillation.  It is heartwarming at times, but mostly geared towards warming another body part (I imagine you can guess which one). The show is distinctly low brow. But it’s not bad, and the premise of a nerd sculpting himself into a handsome asshole, all for the purposes of revenge, is refreshing. At the very least, his success with the ladies makes some sense. He’s handsome and goes out of his way to be charming, even when it’s impractical. One of my favorite scenes may be when our hero intercepts a pair of scissors, grasping them with his bare hands. It hurts like hell, and he’s bleeding quite a bit, but he keeps delivering the familiar line “it’s no problem, I’m perfectly fine.” But trust me, he was not fine.

zepNext up is Fuuka, and I fear that I’m about to be unfair. Every show this season treads familiar territory, and is essentially a rehash of dozens of shows to come before it. And yet, Fuuka is the one I keep comparing to its previous iterations. Blue Exorcist is not the best Shonen series, but that doesn’t bother me, and Masamune-kun’s revenge is not the best romance, but that does not bother me either. But I feel like there have been enough good “high school kids from a band” anime that we really don’t need another one. And any show that starts with a girl overacting about some generic main guy seeing her panties … well, it’s never a good sign. At least in Masamune-kun’s revenge, part of the joke is that the characters are terrible people. Their overreactions are part of the shtick. But in Fuuka, the characters lack the same charm. Instead of being unlikable in interesting ways, main guy is addicted to his cell phone and main gal is “a free spirit” giving the writers an excuse to do whatever they want with her. If we are going to have another anime about teenagers in a band, I feel it needs to be a really good one. Otherwise, it winds up feeling rather pointless and repetitive.

zomAnd then there is Konsuba, which continues to be a source or irreverent and derpy humor. As I discussed in a recent review, the show is sort of stupid, but not randomly. Every dumb joke is meticulously set up over the course of an episode, or even a whole season. Each joke is funny because of the work that went into setting it up. The only thing that has me worried is the second episode. While episode two has the same silly sense of humor that makes me love Konsuba, it relies quite heavily on sex comedy. This is not to say there is anything wrong with raunchy humor – the problem is that anime often sees the mere presence of boobs as a joke. But no matter how hard anime tries, a panty shot is not a punchline. And in the case of Konosuba, sometimes a funny moment turns creepy. Cringe humor is one thing, but Konosuba sometimes takes its sexual tension to places where it feels more “bad touch” than hilarious. None the less, I’m excited to watch more of it.

Of course, I haven’t covered all the anime out there (not even close), but here are just some of my random thoughts. Hopefully people are finding something to watch. While  this season has not been particularly note worthy, there’s decent variety and plenty to talk about (even if that means a lot of random rants on my end). Anyways, until next time.