The season of fall premieres continues to plow forward. I’ll be glad when it’s over and I can settle in to my hoped-for schedule. I’m trying to take it easy, though! I no longer have the desire I once had to kill myself over watching absolutely everything. Thankfully.
If you missed part one, you can read that here!
Yuri!!! on Ice
And so, the first of the real stars of my season appears. I never wrote about my experiencing watching Sayo Yamamoto’s The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit and found Yamamoto’s directing seductive, subtle, and fascinating. Amusingly, Yuri!!! on Ice is not really all that much like Fujiko Mine in terms of the visual direction, but you can still tell we’ve got a real talented creator behind this show. Sadly, first impressions posts aren’t the best place to go into deep cinematography analysis, but you can have this mini-essay on the topic I put on Twitter instead!
As for what I thought about Yuri!!! on Ice as a whole, I’m rather fascinated by the way the show bounces around between tones. There’s the elegance of the ice-skating and then the bouncy, cartoony world of Yuri’s home. Personally, it does make the majestic skating sequences a little harder to transition into, but once they get going it’s impossible to turn away. That’s that same kind of immersive, engulfing effect I felt in Fujiko Mine, so it’s marvelous to see it returning through an entirely different kind of show using different techniques. It’s hard not to be impressed with the range of Yamamoto’s skills, and I’m really curious to see how she continues to use them throughout the rest of the show.
So far, this is probably my top recommendation of the season.
Bungo Stray Dogs S2
As you all know, I dropped Bungo midway through the first season before picking it back up again. The show’s return was quite different than what I was expecting given the ending of the first season, but this dive into Dazai’s backstory with the Port Mafia is actually quite engaging and perhaps some of the most interesting plot material that the show has offered yet. I’m assuming we’ll return to the present timeline eventually, but I’m rather curious what this will all look like compositionally. How will the timing of this flashback story play into the progression of events in the present? Let us all pray that Enokido doesn’t flub it (considering the first season, I’m not convinced it won’t happen).
It was also nice to see that Bungo‘s primary strengths have returned. Poor Tatsuya Igarashi sure has fallen a long way from his Utena days, but it’s still quite nice to see his polished, colorful style and engaging compositions back on my screen. As before, the character designs are sharp and cute, and it’s hard not to find myself wondering at the absolute bounty of male seiyuu this show rewards the ear with. Miyano is good, of course, but it’s more than just him. So, Bungo is as Bungo does—an audio-visual pleasure, even if the stuffing in between isn’t always the sharpest.
I knew what I was in for, so it’s hard not to be happy my expectations were met.
Let me first state that I watched this premiere with the intent of maybe writing a blog post involving it, but then wound up not exactly finding what I expected (although I sort of did). Let me also state that the alternate title, Hip Whip Girl, is so incredibly superior to the official title that it’s not even funny. Let me finally state that I was fully prepared to drop the episode after two minutes if it got really gross, but… I wound up watching the whole thing? Now, don’t get me wrong—I have issues with Keijo!!!!!!!!—but it was nice to see that the fanservice elements came more from the Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere school than, say, Walkure Romanze.
So, about that fanservice stuff, then. The biggest issue I have with the way Keijo!!!!!!!!‘s (laughing at that punctuation) fanservice is how it’s coded directly into the show’s premise. That is, no matter how much of a “serious sports show” Keijo!!!!!!!! is (and it does that fairly well), it is also fundamentally a show that uses that aspect to normalize its sexual elements. That’s just… not something I really care to support in any way, especially since the classic sports formula that Keijo!!!!!!!! utilizes obviously can be used to make a “serious sports show” featuring girls. The fact that it’s about butts and boobs is, in a word, entirely unnecessary. It just doesn’t have to be like this, and it harder for me to be accepting of it when it’s an entire show’s raison d’être instead of just a few moments.
I wish the Keijo!!!!!!!! watchers the best, but please. Calm down with the butts.
Frankly, of the two sports anime premieres I’ve watched this season, All Out!! was definitely the less engaging. The best word to describe this episode is likely “steady” (or maybe “classic”), but unfortunately that also translated into an episode that felt like it took forever to watch. There’s plenty to like here: the show does a pretty good job of translating the motion of the sport onto the screen despite not having a ton of animation, the characters are all pleasant to watch, and straightforward nature that these kinds of shows usually have is no less refreshing despite its familiarity.
However, the thing that all the best sports show have is a sense of active and quick forward momentum. I’m generally pretty willing to sit through set-up and the like, but when All Out!! is treading such familiar territory, it doesn’t really need to be so deliberate about things because it winds up feeling slow. Maybe it’s the limited animation, maybe it’s the relatively slow timing around jokes, or maybe it’s just that the episode overall was just kind of slow moving. I’m not sure. Whatever it was, it was a clear indication that All Out!! wouldn’t really be something I’d enjoy watching weekly. Better to marathon.
Unfortunately, “better to marathon” actually means, “Goodbye, I have robots to watch.”
Lostorage Incited WIXOSS
I have a lot of things to say here, starting with rehashing once again how much I love this title. It’s fantastic sonically, and, turns out, it’s actually quite literally descriptive of the show. “Lostorage” = threat of lost memories. “Incited” = arbitrary way Selectors are thrown in the game. That’s super cool, and not something I was expecting. The second thing is, wow, they aren’t mailing this show in at all! It may not have quite the same excellent visual identity that the first season had, but it’s still well-storyboarded and sometimes strives for and succeeds at achieving real visual grace. The OST was another highlight, as the sparse but upbeat electronic sounds of the first half of the episode did a great job of building a particular mood until the crap hit the fan.
As for the story, it seems we’ve jettisoned the mystery aspect of the WIXOSS Selector game in favor of a more straightforward system. No longer is the threat of loss built through the twin pillars of being sucked into the game with dragging other down after you as your only escape; now, it’s simple annihilation as a person. However, there’s still something rather gutwrenching about the explicitness of it all. With the external threat so firmly established, the relational complications foreshadowed in the OP should pile on the drama further.
Honestly, I was prepared for the worst. This was thrillingly better than that.
Still to Watch: Matoi the Sacred Slayer, Flip Flappers, Girlish Number, Sangatsu no Lion.
By the way, I found out Idol Memories was half-anime, half-live show for the entire season, which sadly killed my interest in it. If it gets picked up for streaming, I’ll probably give it ago, but for now it’s off the list.