Now that the First Impressions are out of the way, let’s crack the season open for real.
This season is gonna suck… oh, not the anime. Having to choose what hits the chopping block, later. Oh well. C’est la vie. On with the show!
That’s it. I’m hooked. This show is just fascinating to me. All this series needed to do to grab me was sell me on the chemistry between the leads. And that it most certainly did. Whether romantic or platonic – an aspect of their relationship I think they’re doing a very good job of keeping vague yet still interesting – Mai and Sakuta just play off of one another extremely well. Normally in a series like this, the male lead, while savvy, tends to just let the female lead have her way. Sakuta has no such designs. At the same time, though, that doesn’t detract from Mai’s force of personality. And that’s what I find so great about them. There’s this evenness to them. There’s this back-and-forth they have going on that’s really endearing. It also helps that the dialogue is delivered in an incredibly blunt, dry fashion, yet is still very punchy and witty despite that lack of energy. It’s right up my alley.
As to the actual events of the episode, I’m obviously interested in figuring out what’s happening with Mai. Not only is she becoming invisible, but people are forgetting her. And the ominous vibe of the whole situation is genuinely unsettling. Yet there’s still this little glimmer of hope in the form of the school. So I really want to know why, exactly, this is happening everywhere but there. Another thing I love is how this show handles its more emotional scenes, so far. Alluding to things getting weightier later, but not really hitting those emotional highs and lows yet. It’s keeping the restrained tone, with the exception of one little scene revolving around Mai’s mother/agent. And I think the strength of that is in the timing. Even when he does lose his cool, it’s not over the top, or anything. I love me some high-emotion scenes. But they generally work better, the more time we’ve been able to spend with the characters and their struggles. So having a more gradual build to that works really well. Overall, definitely an episode worthy of being called Super Effective.
The one thing I’m ever-so-slightly concerned about in this series is the pacing. Not that I think it’s paced poorly. More that I realize this show is actually two cours long, meaning it’ll probably be paced slower than most of my other picks for the season. Meaning it may not hit any real high points by the time of that first culling… hoo boy. But I digress. As second episodes go, this was fairly standard setup. After the dragon from the previous episode is… temporarily removed from the equation, it gets back to our gooey protagonist’s adventures through the cave he’s landed in. He kills a bunch of monsters and gains a bunch of skills, which is neat. Bonus points for the added brutality towards the spider.
The stuff with the goblins was fairly interesting in that it sort of flips the script… kinda. In a lot of series like this, the protagonist stumbles upon some village or… farmers or whatever. Then saves them from [insert evil force here]. This time the protagonist bumps into monsters, rather than humans. Fitting, considering the fact that he is, himself, a monster. But that aside, there’s not much to really talk about just yet. Nothing’s really happened. So the episode was basically Harmless.
I’m really starting to enjoy this. Largely based on the show’s ability to latch onto emotions in a really interesting way. Or, rather… the way the show chooses to visually convey those emotions. I mentioned already that this show does some really interesting things with color. And I maintain that as this episode continues the trend. But I think the thing that works the most, here, is the characters. The dynamic between Yuu and Touko is interesting, in and of itself. Especially with their little chat in the cafe, following the whole train scene. Though another one that comes up and I was surprised to enjoy so much was between Touko and Sayaka. The plot may not be particularly interesting, but it’s a perfect vehicle for exploring a lot of these character dynamics. And I think what we saw of Touko and Sayaka, as well as Sayaka and Yuu were great examples of this.
The show is also fairly slow, and yet blindingly fast in terms of pacing. The whole confession happening in the first episode was a nice surprise, all things considered. But it was walked back immediately… then brought right back into the fore with this episode, except now Yuu needs time to process everything and decide how she ultimately feels. If the series continues on this seesaw thing as a pattern, it could be a bit jarring. But I do think it works rather well in the first couple of episodes so if it stabilizes from here, I think it’ll be really enjoyable throughout. For the time being, though, this episode was definitely Easy Viewing.
Well, no one can fault this show for being slow. The pacing of this is actually surprisingly blistering, all things considered. When compared to the gratingly slow first few arcs of Black Clover, there really is no comparison. This wins, hands down. The episode manages to be pretty fun as well! And also comes with a couple of neat twists on the usual cycle of things for a series like this. It’s still pretty stock Shounen stuff, but that’s not a bad thing. It just makes it good Junk Food.
And then there’s this. I still have absolutely every expectation that this is going to be pulling a hard swerve into darker territory by the halfway point. For crying out like, original concept is by the same person who came up with Akame ga KILL… you were expecting me to say Yuki Yuna, weren’t you? Now, if this does wind up staying more in the lane of Yuru Yuri mangaka, Namori, then it might not actually get very dark at all. It may very well just stay the way it is. And what might that mean for the series?
It means this show may possibly end up staying an enjoyable and fun “cute girls do spy things” series. Similar to Princess Principal, but much more tongue-in-cheek and silly. With cartoonish, super-secret evil organization baddies and all. Like that Cartoon Network show from years ago, Totally Spies (anyone remember that? kid version of Charlie’s Angels? No?), but in anime form. The training montage was amusing, though one wonders if Momo actually learned anything, considering her just eating everything given to her after the poison lesson. The “This is friggin’ Takahiro” part of my brain was screaming at me when that guy from the shop on her street gave her the treat. “Don’t eat it, you fool! It’s a trap!” It wasn’t… but then she went and ate her mentor’s cooking, later, without thinking.
If I have any misgivings about the episode, it’s that maybe they could’ve trimmed the training a liiittle bit so we could have a lil more fun with the chase. But otherwise, this episode was a good, fun bit of Junk Food. Part of me does hope the rest of the series does stay this light. We’ll see, I suppose.
This continues to be a difficult show to really talk about. Now we finally get to see Hitomi interacting with the other characters a bit more. I would point out that something I really enjoy about this series is that “stale emotions” doesn’t translate to “emotionless.” The description almost had me thinking she was going to basically be a robot, emotionally. Which isn’t a bad thing for a character arc. But this series is clearly going for something more grounded.
As for the interactions themselves, there’s not a large amount to report. The whole “girlfriend” thing seems to have been resolved. Though I still have some misgivings about that girl blowing up the video to such an extent and paying absolutely no consequences for it, even if only in the form of someone getting mad at her for the breach of privacy. But whatever. Hitomi’s disdain for magic becomes more clear through this episode, though we’re still not entirely certain as to why she’s like this.
She does get more chances to speak with Yuito. So there’s that. The scene of her showing off her magic in the hall didn’t go as I’d expected. Every instinct in me said she was going to utterly fail, and thus embarrass them both. As is common in stories like these. But nope. She did it. It wasn’t impressive, but she did it. They talked later on the roof and that was a nice conversation as well, that really set up for the dynamic they’d wind up having, based on how it concluded. Now whether or not it can keep me invested is another story. For now, it was a nice bit of Easy Viewing.
It’s really a shame that the odds of this surviving the culling are so low because this show is really fun. The action’s extremely well animated when it wants to be. The comedic timing is great, with stuff like the mob following the leads on their “date.” The overblown emotions are splendidly acted, especially by Juliet’s right-hand guy who is involved in a really amusing window scene. I just love this so far. Buuut there’s not a lot to it. What you see is basically what you get. Which isn’t to say the show doesn’t have its greater strengths. Quite the opposite. The most obvious of those strengths is Juliet, who’s just a really great character for the show and nicely rounded. You can easily see why Romeo is in love with her. Because the series goes to great lengths to show you why she’s so great. Which is something I don’t see often in romance, and I’m not just talking about anime.
Seldom is the ‘why’ elaborated upon in any satisfying way. Usually, this is because… well… audience insert. But really, the thing I like about any romance is seeing why the characters involved actually… you know… like one another. Hell, in any story, the thing I’m most interested in is the dynamics and relationships, platonic or otherwise, between characters. So elaborating upon why Romeo loves Juliet so much is a major strong point of this series. Especially for a Shounen, of all things.
Buuut then there’s Romeo, himself. We’ve yet to actually get an episode from Juliet’s PoV. And I think something of that nature would go a long way towards ridding this series of it’s only major problem (in my eyes), which is a complete lack of the same insight into why Juliet likes Romeo at all. This isn’t to say we can’t see some of the things he does as charming or endearing. He has his moments, especially in this episode, and I wouldn’t blame Juliet if her heart went doki doki in them. But those are just moments. What draws her to him overall? If that’s cleared up, I think this show has the potential to be one of the best of the season, rather than just being… pretty good. The episode was still a lot of fun, and I’d call it good Junk Food. If this show bites the dust, it’ll be because, as a comedy, it isn’t likely to get much better or much worse. While other shows have the room to improve or decline. Comedies tend to be pretty consistent, across the board. So we’ll see.
Episodes 52 and 53 saw the continued attack of the Diamond Kingdom and, well… it was fun. It’s worth noting that this is perhaps the most breakneck pacing the show’s every had, jumping straight into this mini-arc, right on the heels of the Vetto thing. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, I think it works pretty well, all things considered. Black Clover‘s at its weakest when it’s going slowly (so basically the entirety of the first three arcs, barring a couple episodes). Because that’s when the cracks start to show. I still think the characters could be significantly stronger individually because… well… characters are my thing. But what they’ve done with what they have is pretty serviceable. I like the teases of an arc coming for Finral, with his brother’s position in the Golden Dawn, let alone his brother’s apparent contempt for Yuno.
Speaking of Yuno, it’s been a while but we see him again. And I think this was actually a nice interaction between him and Asta. He isn’t doing that weirdly aloof thing that kinda made me scratch my head a few times, earlier on. Like he was trying to distance himself from Asta despite being his best friend. Even his little spirit, Sylph, notes this. Speaking of which, I wasn’t actually expecting her to talk, for some reason. Much less wind up in a rivalry with, of all characters, Charmy. It’s evident that Charmy is nothing more than a joke character (for the time being). But that’s a joke I never would’ve seen coming at all. Oh. And there’s also stuff with Yami and the Captain of the Golden Dawn. But that’s just foreshadowing, I’m sure. And I could care less about the plot of this. Overall, I’d say both episodes were good Junk Food, with fun character interactions and some really cool magic on display.
Overall Episode Medalists
Yeesh. If this was difficult, I can’t imagine what the actual culling is going to be like. Anyway, this week’s Gold Medal goes home with, what else? Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai.
The episode just hit all of the rights notes with me. It did everything it had to do. It brought in some of the best dialogue of the season so far, gave us flashes of the show’s dramatic core, and deepened the mystery of this “adolescence syndrome” phenomenon. I am completely enthralled, by this point. And I can’t wait to see more. Meanwhile, the Silver is going to Release the Spyce. Just a good time, all around. I enjoy the energy that this show brings to even the most “operational” aspects of its running. Things it’s almost obligated to have, it seems to really give its all with, in an incredibly earnest way. That leaves the Bronze with Yagate Kimi ni Naru. It was really a toss-up between this and Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara. But while I think the latter has a much stronger sense of visual storytelling that I really appreciate, it all comes down to the characters. And so far Yagate Kimi ni Naru has managed to do more with the characters it has.
I would love to give this over to Mai or Sakuta. But they’re two characters. An ensemble. One of them can’t operate to maximum efficiency without the other. I could give it to Seth, but he’s really the only major role in his episode. So that’d be unfair. That leaves us with none other than Juliet. A Tsundere rich girl, sure, but I think in this case that personality trait isn’t the entirety of her personality, making her much more rounded and interesting as a result. And even when that side of her does come out, it generally is justified in some manner, as it’s almost always in response to Romeo’s boneheadedness. Overall, her contribution to the episode was great. And while Romeo is the lead, I don’t think the show could honestly exist without this exact version of Juliet.
Unique Achievement: Least Amount Of F–ks Given
This man’s bluntness pretty much makes him my role model.
Unique Achievement: Best Visual Storytelling
I already kind of alluded to this, earlier, but Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara has, by far, the best visual storytelling of any show in my list (and possibly of the season). I’m talking about the ability to have really small, subtle scenes that convey all the information necessary with minimal dialogue. The scene between Hitomi and Yuito that really stands out was on the roof when she asks to see his drawing again. I actually really like that the anime doesn’t show us what she sees there. Just her smile. As amazing as the previous episode’s visuals were, we didn’t need to be beaten over the head with them. So I’m glad this episode didn’t. The smile was enough, especially given that pretty much every other time we’ve seen her smile, it was obviously something she’d forced herself to do.
Another little touch I wanna bring up is the liiittle tidbit of her trying to activate her desk. It’s a really small thing. They bring almost zero attention to it. And yet that one little thing does a surprising amount to paint a picture of what her future was like without relying on flashbacks… flashforwards? Whatever, flashes or exposition. Just a tiny little piece of animation. This anime is pretty dominantly visual storytelling, and I love it that about it.
Culling this season down is going to be a nightmare. I genuinely like everything on my list… for now. What about you? What are you strongest picks of the season? Enjoy any of the shows on my pick-up list? Let us know, down below. That’s all for me. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome.