It’s been a while since I wrote about my seasonal watches. Having MLB back on TV seems to provide me a kind of anchor, rhythm-wise. It is arguable that pro team sports is a good or bad idea in the US, in mid-2020, when/where the pandemic is still raging strong. But that seems like just par for the course in 2020, a year that the lowest of bars in politics, health, and communication are all up for argument.
The lowest of bars in anime is also up for arguments. I have some baseline opinions about Uzaki and how generally cutesy anime with sexual overtones have some link to pedophilia or grooming. But that also seems like an overtly obtuse argument used by tribalists who are not really interested in talking about anime. It’s like, just because you can use candies to lure kids into unmarked vans, they are bad? So let’s forget about the main use cases for candies and just say they are for pedophiles? I guess that is the low bar of media literacy up for grabs, in this era of our 2020. I mean, the candy industry does way more money than the anime industry (and tons of Aniplex titles, well), so maybe we can let that pass. Unmarked vans, though, tsk tsk tsk.
That being said, it is a strawman that I encountered–I have yet talk to any live human who would hold the opinion about Uzaki in such a way (in connection to pedophilia). The original complaint back last year about Red Cross Japan using Uzaki to promote a blood donation drive comes down to TPO, so it turns out, which is really nothing controversial. National, high profile charities should not perpetrate sexist stereotypes is a no-brainer. Need more blood, I guess.
The anime itself is surprisingly watchable. Uzaki is an irritating character that gets increasingly charming, and the cast also gets increasingly self-aware. Nothing to write home about, other than having a so-to-speak controversial urn where piss takes go into the huge drain in the internet sky. Maybe Uzaki’s …uzai-ness is part of the ethos behind those poopy takes.
Some anime on hiatus from last season have resumed. I think the best out of those I am enjoying is Major 2nd second season and Food Wars. It’s kind of odd that my tastes lately have shifted onto these arguably mainstream works. Major 2nd is especially praiseworthy with interesting characters and articulate, if a bit too convenient, baseball knowhow. The level of baseball IQ demonstrated by the show is beyond any middle schooler team, even if it’s one of those things coaches and parents who are hardcore baseball types would know. If you have kids this is not a bad watch to teach them about baseball. The way it plays up gender in teenage sports leagues gives me a Disney channel vibe.
Another last-season pickup is the historical fiction racing anime Appare-Ranman. Talk about weird character dynamics. A literal child is in this anime, a literal chinese woman is in this anime. A bunch of Americans, literally, are in this anime. And Japanese people, of course. It is extremely Japanese in a lot of ways, especially for an anime that takes place in a fictional world where America is a thing, that being the country they are in. But I guess these are not really relevant since everyone speaks Japanese or English in this anime, or whichever dub track you select. Is it post-racial or racist-but-who-cares? I don’t know if I care at this point. The premise is so whack that any appeal to historical underpinnings will be lost in all the noise. As an aside, BNW, Iron, and GM? One is not like the other two. Also that guy is French! LMAO.
Along the same line, something is remarkable about Deca-Dence, but the overall thing felt really slippery. I don’t quite have a grasp on the story or the characters–like I get what’s happening, but the post-humanity humanity of it is hard to sympathize. Like, robots are just robots. It’s the risk when you set up a setting that is quite smart but the level of discourse is not much more advanced than Spongebob Squarepants. The setting is visually grand and a bit all over the place at first. It features a sort of cyberspace kind of thing and a sort of meatspace kind of thing, but I wish they would just explain it to us in the way I just phrased it, as inverted.
Picking things up again is the new season of Oregairu and it is the most beautiful image of codependence ever. But it is a pretty neat non-binary depiction of relationships in which things are clear enough that words can describe, but you’re struggling to find them. It’s not so much a story with any emotional investment on my end, given how these really wordy stories play out over a long period (the first season started in 2013, if you forgot like me). It is simply a thing of beauty that came and will pass, again, like the autumn leaves or melting snow or whichever passing-of-four-seasons analogy you’d like.
As far as fanservice goes, Monster Girl Doctor and Kanokari are probably the top picks. Kanokari story is easily the most problematic thing by a country mile this season, it’s so bad that I really didn’t want to watch it at times. On the plus side, it has a fair amount of cultural cache and ultimately the episodes tend to turn out to be enjoyable overall. Once the story gets on its groove I think it will fall victim to general relationship polygonalism and dull its lame-brain, protagonist-takes-for-story-sakes kind of plot justifications.
Maybe the real reason why Kanokari has legs is that it is controversial, as opposed to Monster Girl Doctor which is just WYSIWYG. It is definitely a work where the element of surprise is not its forte, yet it can still occasionally deliver.
In a different programming track, the fantasy light-novel-anime adaptation flavor this season for me is Maoh Gakuin or Misfit of Demon Academy or whatever. It’s absurd in a fun way and plays on your preconceptions. The power fantasy is on the boring side of things but it does a good job withholding information to keep you interested. I also like how the anime tries to cram a lot of information in terms of last minute reveals.
I’m watching Gibiate. It’s sort of interesting if you look at it as an anime watcher’s anime. In premise, time-traveling samurai, ninja, and warrior monk kicks apocalyptic ass seems like a perfectly cromulent 1980s anime plot. You add the bit about self-recording, the virus, the show-in-a-show take, the zombie tropes, and in the end it’s a swamp of animation production issues bookended with unusual music choices. Also some interesting voice cast here. Trainwreck? Brilliantly bad? More like, just oddish.
There’s this anime about idols and magic school, which is tied to a KLab game franchise in the making (out soon?) called Lapis Re:lights. They had a fully-costumed seiyuu live thing last year (or several?). The idol units in the story all play a short live performance for us throughout the anime series, which gets a Youtube cut without the in-episode dialogue. It’s worth checking out if that’s your thing. Honestly, this is a bit too “love live” for me, but overall it’s worth mentioning. In some ways it’s the same formula as Love Live but more tailored to the prototypical otaku notion. Also, this song has a few sextillions in it.
Is this it? I think this is mostly it. I tried a few episodes here and there, like the fishing anime. The characters don’t do much for me but there’s a level of meta here where just like the protagonist, you end up liking the outdoor activity (or the depiction thereof) despite the annoying people? I don’t know. It’s more than what I can say about Peter Grill, although that show is interesting to think about, and kind of icky to think about, so it doesn’t occupy much thinking time. Umamusume shorts are cute and sweet. What else? I’m probably forgetting something as usual.