I was gearing up for next weekend to be the big rush of shows, but uh…yeah, apparently it’s already happening. And I’ve been watching, as it were—so here’s my rundown of what caught my attention, what disappointed me, and what left me in the aggravating middle between keeping and dropping. Why can’t everything just be very good or very bad! All this middle-of-the-road stuff is hard to deal with!
Sequel City: Miss Monochrome S3, Haikyuu!! S2, Noragami Aragoto, K: Return of Kings
Miss Monochrome S3: We didn’t even miss a week of Miss Monochrome, which is, in my opinion, probably the best way this transition between seasons could have gone. There’s no difference at all between this season and the one immediately prior other than the new key visual (the excellent OP/ED have blessedly remained the same, as well), as Miss Monochrome maintains its sense of offbeat humor and continues to maybe move Miss Monochrome closer to her dream of being a top idol. Status: Good chrome-ing, kept.
Haikyuu!! S2: While the early parts of the premiere waffled around in the apparently obligatory cursory cast reintroductions, the episode as a whole was peppered with fantastic animation set pieces and a surprising amount of more subtle character acting animation (like when Kageyama gets up from the window at the Shiratoriwaza gym). But when we hit the final few minutes of the episode and Hinata/Kageyama’s staredown with Ushijima, my adrenaline started pumping and the genial excitement/hot-blooded hype that Haikyuu!! is so stunningly good at generating came roaring in at full force. This is going to be an awesome season of a show that’s consistently been one of the best-produced, best-executed sports shounen I’ve ever seen. It may be a little bit light on significant themes, but where you’re producing entertainment this engaging it really doesn’t matter. In other important news, it seems the Karasuno team will be joined by a new manager this season. A manager with blonde hair in a sidetail. I don’t even know her name yet, but it was pointed out to me that she looks like a cross between Nisekoi‘s Chitoge and Oregairu‘s Yui—and yeah, okay, I’m on board with that. Status: Kept, but now I have to wait another week. 😦
Noragami Aragoto: Like Haikyuu!!, Noragami Aragoto‘s premiere felt a little unnecessarily laden with “reintroduction to the world and characters” stuff, but thankfully moved on to what I assume will become the focus of this season: Yato and Bishamon’s tense relationship. From the flashback we say in Bishamon’s dream and the information we learned about her Regalia (useful or not) collected ways, it seems kind of obvious where we’re going. Yato, perhaps, did not actually kill Bishamon’s Regalia (single or plural) in the past out of malice—but to save her from them. We, of course, know full-well that the current Yato is not the same as the Yato Bishamon once knew, so it should be interesting to see how this all plays out. Hopefully we don’t see Hiyori and Yukine sidelined too much by Yato’s divine past, as the main trio was and is the true heart of this story. Status: Hiyori a best, keeping.
K: Return of Kings: So, the first five minutes or so of this episode…wow. It was basically straight fanservice, and I don’t mean lots of half-naked girls (although unfortunately there was one of those around)—an all-out fight between Specter 4 and Homura, but not in their current iteration. Rather, it was a unnecessary, generally meaningless flashback. But man, was it fun, and man! was it pretty. Constructed with Gohands’ jerky camera movements, colored filters galore, a neat soundtrack, and a whole crapton of animation, it was basically a huge Gohands-style love letter to the world of K that we never even saw in the first season (because it was destroyed by Totsuka’s death). The rest of the episode actually moved quite well (certainly better than a lot of the other sequel premieres), setting us up for yet another season of slightly incoherent plotting and super shiny production values. K is such a fantastically distinct experience, and I’m honestly thrilled that the first anime I ever watched simulcasted got a sequel. Status: Keeping, no thanks to Hulu.
Bubble Shows: Hackadoll, Young Black Jack, Utawarerumono
Hackadoll: Another short running in the same Ultra Super Pictures slot as Miss Monochrome, Hackadoll is clearly the inferior of the two shorts, but it’s kind of fun nonetheless. Basically: a trio of anthropomorphized computer programs descend to earth to “upgrade” (aka torment) a lonely fujoshi girl. It’s kind of wacky, kind of dumb, and has a little bit more fanservice than I care for, but I liked it well enough to give it another 8 minutes next week. Also, good faces. Status: next week?
Young Black Jack: Probably the oddest show I watched out of the bunch, as it follows a talented bishounen doctor with a bunch of scars who does surgeries he probably shouldn’t be able to perform. Based on a manga based on a manga by the legendary Osamu Tezuka, Young Black Jack definitely feels…different than a lot of the other stuff airing this season. It’s pretty obvious to me that comes from something inspired by something from another era of anime/manga culture, which helps it feel a bit more fresh than it perhaps should. Hazama himself (aka the Young Black Jack) is kind of an offbeat character with the tendency to border on uninteresting in his competency, but he’s thankfully redeemed by his obvious anxiety post-surgery. I’m frankly not sold on this one, despite the glorious OP song. But we will see where Young Black Jack goes. And, you know, he is really hot…Status: Oh my gosh, he is a hot dude. Is it enough?
Utawarerumono: Apparently this is a sequel to a show based on a visual novel. I picked it up solely because I thought the plot synopsis sounded a bit different than the usual fantasy anime fare—and I was right, although now I’m not sure how much I like it. As a premiere episode, Utawarerumono kind of settled into two distinct modes. The first, shown during the opening sequence, was one of fairly strong direction (although the visuals were a little weaker) successfully creating a sufficiently spooky and then sense atmosphere. The second was the more laid back, and less directorially-inspired, mood of the village. This particular mode lent itself well to the sort of sleepy feel of a small community going about its normal tasks, but Utawarerumono is definitely not a pastoral—and even if it was, the character work is unsteady enough to be a bit of a damper. Kuon is adorable, though, even if she doesn’t have a lick of chemistry with Haku. Again, I generally liked this premiere..but Saturdays are bad days to air. Status: Wait and see, I suppose.
I Was Not Supposed to Watch This: Owarimonogatari
I have never watched a Monogatari weekly. I never intend to. But I watched Owarimonogatari because it was up and because, dangit, it still is Monogatari. This particular story—about math—was more of a curiosity to me than anything. It’s just Monogatari being very competent and good about Monogatari things, but in terms of the larger plot I’m not quite sure of its significance other than the fact that this incident was apparently the tipping point for Araragi to fall into the loner status he was in at the time of Shinobu’s attack validates my current dominant character analysis of the show as of Monogatari Series: Second Season. I’ll definitely continue to watch Owarimonogatari, although I may end up just watching each arc as it finishes, rather than each episode weekly. Status: Keeping on its own schedule.
NO CABLES HERE: Heavy Object
As it happens, I reviewed Heavy Object on Twitter last night.
If you want to read the full review, I’ve compiled my tweets in a Storify for your convenience. Also, I was going to drop this, but then I jokingly made a funding goal on my Patreon that if I hit $20, I’d livetweet the whole season. Someone took me up on it. So now I guess I’m officially being paid to watch and tweet about Heavy Object. Moving up in the world…
Still to Come: Concrete Revolutio, One Punch Man, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, Comet Lucifer, Star-Mu, Beautiful Bones, The Perfect Insider, Garo, and Gochiusa S2.