My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too – Episode 13 and Season Review

Disclaimer: The first part of this post is going to talk about the final episode, so if you are worried about spoilers and just want my overall review of SNAFU Too, please scroll down.

Episode 13: So it’s halfway into the summer season and I am just getting around to discussing the last episode. While it’s true that I have been busy, it’s also true that I have been putting this off a bit. As much as episode 12 was a fluff ball, this episode was heavy.

Imagine Yui’s dilemma: You like someone, but they have been burnt in the past and won’t open up to anyone.  Over the course of a year, you manage to stay close enough to this turbulent and sometimes abrasive personality that they finally start opening up to you.  Unfortunately, at almost the same time he starts showing an interest in spending time with you, you also notice some awkward chemistry between him and your best friend.  Your best friend, for her part, is another awkward social disaster who also can’t make her own decisions. You’ve been holding things up a bit because you feel bad for her, but you liked him first.  You’ve been waiting for almost a year for him to open up and now he looks like he may be falling for your friend.  So what do you do?  Well, you need to stay true to yourself and that’s what Yui does.  She sets up one last day together.  A nice three way date to the aquarium.  After savoring their friendship for as long as she can, Yui does something she nows might smash it to pieces. Looking serious and trembling, she gives Hachiman her homemade cookies and gives Yukino an ultimatum.  “If we each find out how the other feels, I don’t think we’ll be able to stay the way we are.  So this will be the last help we give.”  In other words, Yui isn’t going to hold back anymore. If Yukino isn’t going to try to get closer to Hachiman on her own, Yui isn’t going to keep giving her space. “If I win, I’ll take everything.”  After Yui asks if that is OK, Yukino starts to cave, as Yui knew she would (that’s why she says it’s unfair).  Hachiman steps in and says that Yukino has to make her own decisions.  Yui knew he would say something and in doing so he saves the girls relationship for the moment.  It’s a beautiful scene, but is also just “kicks the can down the road.” Nothing is really resolved here.  Yui likes Hachiman and Yukino likes Hachiman.  Hachiman likes them both.  The only thing that has changed is that Yui isn’t going to prop up her friend anymore and help her take the heart of the guy she loves.  Yui has told her that she is giving her cookies to Hachiman, whether or not Yukino has the guts to give him what’s in her bag.  And then ED starts.

This is the problem with this season, and it was the problem of the first season as well.  The show just stops.  This isn’t an ending.  It is doubtful whether we will ever get an ending.  Perhaps someone is planning a movie or something, but it doesn’t seem like there is enough left in this story for another whole season.  If this was supposed to be an open ending, it was a very unsatisfying one.  Another issue is that the final scene was very open to interpretation.  I’ve given my impression of the scene, but there are other explanations that also have merit.  That kind of ambiguity is a sour note to end the show on.

Season Review:

The way the season ended was really a downer for me. SNAFU Too spent most of the season being good or even great, but the last scene was convoluted. Even worse, it didn’t actually wrap things up in any way. “Everything will be different now, but we aren’t going to show you that, because the show is over.” What they did they largely did well. Things did get a bit rushed in the last few episodes, and that was even more aggravating considering that they were rushed to fit in this non-ending, but the quality if the show is still high. I like this show and I really want it to be good in the end. A well done ending will elevate this into a contender for one of my all-time favorites. As it stands though, it’s just a very good show. That might be good enough if the potential for greatness wasn’t so strong with this one.

9 out of 10

The State of the Service Club:

I already gave my interpretation of the ending scene. So here, taking the LNs into account is where I think things stand.

Hachiman is opening up to the idea that Yui likes him. I don’t think he loves her yet, but he is open to dating and spending time alone with her. He is also crushing on Yukino. Yukino’s big advantage over Yui is that she needs him. That’s powerful stuff. The two are so awkward though that it’s hard to see a way forward for them.

Yui‘s gambit placed the ball squarely in Hachiman’s court, so what she will do next is a bit of a mystery. Despite her declaration, I have a hard time imagining what her going all out to win Hachiman’s affection will look like. His verbal rescue of Yukino was a setback, even if she expected it. Given how awkward he gets when Iroha toys with him. It is hard to imagine our protag holding out against a sustained effort by Yui during a date.

Yukino has a lot on her plate. In addition to her family troubles, she has to be aware of her feelings for Hachiman at this point. To avoid heartbreak, she will have to move forward and be honest with herself. She can’t rely on her best friend for too much help, as she is a rival for the affection she desires.

Iroha is the wildcard. She’s a cute girl with a crush on Hachiman (I think it’s fairly obvious now) who is comfortable enough and direct enough to make a move at any time. She might make a move in response to Yui or Yukino or she might not. (in volume 10.5 of the novels, which wasn’t adapted, she cons him into taking her on a date.) Even if the other girls were content to keep things as they are, she will provide the pressure to keep things moving.


Spring 2015 Reviews at the Halfway Point

As usual, all ratings are on a ten point scale

  1. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too

Currently: 9, Projected: 8-10

I really enjoyed the first season of SNAFU, and being current with the novel, I knew I was going to enjoy this season as well. Even so, Feel has done an amazing job with the subtleties in the personal interactions. Little looks and expressions have been spot on. So far, the only thing I haven’t liked is Iroha’s high pitched voice. Even that was thoughtful though, as she quickly drops her squeak when she is showing her real personality to Hachiman. The personalities are really oozing from the characters in every scene. This is top notch stuff here, and if the end of the season is handled well, I can see this knocking Toradora! out of the number 2 spot.


  1. Sound! Euphonium

Currently: 7, Projected: 6-9

Sound! has been a nice surprise after shaking off a slow first episode and taking flight. The subtleties of the interpersonal relationships are handled nicely, and the humor is generally funny without being over the top or grating. What really kicks things up a bit is the melodrama bubbling beneath the surface. The conflict between the kids who just want to have fun and the more focused achievement minded students was a nice subplot, but the romantic energy between Kumiko and Reina is what really has my attention. It would be nice to see a lesbian romance played straight in an anime, and not for fan service or cheap laughs. At first I was afraid that Sound! would be more like a traditional sports style anime, with each week bringing a new opponent to vanquish. I’ve never been a fan of that style, so the more character driven story has been refreshing.


  1. Yamada and the Seven Witches

Currently: 7, Projected: 6-9

This show needs to slow down a bit, but even at its current pace it is doing a good job. I’m not a huge fan of the visuals, but they have been competent. (I prefer the opening’s visual style over the actual show’s) As I said early in the season, this manga just screamed “make me into an anime.” If someone messed this up they should be run out of the industry. Also, Urara Shirahashi is best girl so far this season.


  1. Is it Wrong to Pick Up girls in a Dungeon?

Currently: 6, Projected: 5-8

This is the type of show that a certain type of anime fan loves to hate, and I am sure that the forums are full of people who are bullying the people who like the show and ripping it apart week after week. Honestly though, it isn’t that bad. It has even managed to be pretty good a couple of times. This show was never trying to be high art. It is more comedy than adventure, and has so far succeeded in making me laugh. They only thing getting on my nerves was the show’s bi-polar take on women. On the one hand flipping traditional (and stale) gender roles to have the MC rescued by a strong female adventurer, and on the other hand having that same MC spout stupid lines about having to protect people because they are female. The show has hinted that it might have something to say about traditional gender roles. Whether or not it does will have a big impact on how I rate the series in the end.


  1. Plastic Memories

Currently: 6, Projected: 5-8

Plastic Memories has taken an interesting premise and wasted it. It has also wasted the goodwill it engendered with its earlier emotionally powerful episodes. Currently, it is a bit of a mess and is relying on the likeability of its main characters. The show can still be saved if it starts seriously addressing things instead of going for overplayed gags. Just like Toradora! has Golden Time, it looks like Steins; Gate will have Plastic Memories. It’s not too late to avoid this disaster, but things need to change soon.


  1. Fate/Stay: UBW

Currently: 5, Projected: 4-7

I hadn’t expected this to turn into the train wreck that it has been so far this season. The pacing has been awful, the characters have regressed, and even the animation has had its spotty moments. I’ve got too much invested in the show to stop watching now, but Fate/Stay is a show I probably should have dropped. How this is still rated highly on MyAnimeList mystifies me.


  1. Nisekoi 2

Currently: 5, Projected: 4-6

This was a big challenge for Shaft. The manga’s quality really nosedived after the Romeo and Juliet arc that they ended the first season with. The majority of Nisekoi’s chapters since have been dross. There have been a couple of bright spots here and there, but it was going to be hard for Shaft to link those bright spots together into a coherent season. It is not going well. They have failed to find the bright spots, let alone bring them together. So far they have only used one decent manga arc (Chitoge’s mom) and didn’t really do a great job with that. The rest has been forgettable and disconnected. This feels more like a bunch of bland OVAs than a season. The narrative has been lost and the show is on cruise control. Anime has its limits, and making Nisekoi filler chapters into something interesting seems to be beyond the medium’s capabilities.


  1. Triage X

Currently: 3 and dropped

I was never expecting much out of Triage X. The manga was a competent action title with a lot of cleavage, and I had a feeling the anime adaptation was going to favor the latter over the former. I keep getting caught by surprise when studios double down on what is already a considerable amount of fan service. It’s not like there wasn’t plenty of it already in the manga. The one character I found interesting happens to be the male mc and most of the screen time in this show is devoted to showing female skin. The only way this show would be enjoyable at this point is with some Mystery Science Theatre style commentary

My Top Anime Reviews – Pet Girl of Sakurasou

Number 6

Pet Girl of Sakurasou is a romcom based on a light novel, and judged as a romcom, it’s not really anything special.  Fortunately, the show was a bit more ambitious than that. Sakurasou is primarily a High School romance between a girl with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) and a boy who is painfully aware that he is nothing special. The school they go to is focused on arts, and has a dorm reserved for students who are too eccentric for the normal dorms. The dorm is named Sakura (cherry blossom) hall or Sakurasou, and is, of course, home to some outrageous but talented characters.   Two things really help the show shine. The first is the amount of time spent on side characters and the relationships between the residents of the dorm, and the second is the struggle that the average people have maintaining friendships and romances with the far more talented. The show isn’t afraid to let us see people fail, either at their endeavors or at their relationships. This extra effort in fleshing out side characters, the issues our protagonist has with the girl’s AS, and the candid approach to their endeavors lend a weight to what would otherwise just be a forgettable fluff ball of a show.

Sorata is just kind of floating through school until he finds a stray cat. Unable to ignore the animal’s needs, he takes it in and cares for it. He is given an ultimatum, ditch the cat or be moved into the stigmatized and decrepit Sakura Hall. Sorata, being the normal kind-hearted protagonist we are used to seeing in these kinds of shows, decides to move to the hall until he can find a home for the cat. Unfortunately, Sorata is much better at finding stray cats than he is finding them homes. Still, he is optimistic of leaving Sakura Hall and returning to normal society. Things change when Mashiro, a relative of his teacher, arrives from England. He picks her up at the station as a favor and quickly realizes that the girl needs some guidance if she is going to be able to live in Sakura Hall and go to his school. The other residents are more than happy to push the responsibility of this “stray girl” onto him. Of course, like any kind-hearted protagonist, Sorata already has a girl that is interested in him. This girl is not too happy with the situation and romcom hijinks ensue. At the same time, Sorata decides to become a video game designer. Running parallel to the romance is his struggle to achieve his dreams.

Sakurasou is in turns inappropriate, funny, touching, inappropriate, heartbreaking, funny, and inappropriate again. There is a lot of fan service, from tired old “walking in on the girls changing” gags to repeated examples of Mashiro’s lack of modesty. The story though is strong enough to survive these distractions and is burdened more by its plodding romance than by boobs and panties. Where the show really shines is in portraying the struggle to balance personal relationships with your dreams and how to deal with failure. Underneath all the goofiness is a somber tone and a serious message. Life is not easy and how much you enjoy it depends on how you handle your disappointments. Pet Girl of Sakurasou is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

9 out of 10


My Top Anime Reviews – Patlabor the Movie and Patlabor 2

Number 7

When you first start watching anime, there is usually one show or movie in particular that blows you away. Something that kicks so much ass that you are left searching for that same feeling of awe. The Patlabor movies were that show for me. The art, the story, and the entire experience really raised the bar for what I expected from an anime. Up to that point, I had only seen shows like Ranma and Tenchi, or movies like Ninja Scroll. This was so much more intelligent that I was completely unprepared for it. It worth noting that these movies are based on the OVA or TV series which is pretty hard to find at his point (25 years later), and the TV show focused much more on snarky clever humor instead of action and suspense. This was director Mamoru Oshii when he was at his peak. He had already received plenty of critical acclaim for the Ghost and Shell film (now considered an anime classic) and he brought that same brooding atmosphere to these two great films.  It is a bit of a cheat to talk about both here, and the second one is my favorite of the two.  If you haven’t seen the TV show or OVAs, I think it is better to view the two together.

The first movie is set in the near future (humorously 1999, but the movie stays remarkably fresh) where large manned mechs called Labors are used in a variety of roles. Their biggest job is a massive land reclamation project in Tokyo Bay called project Babylon. Unfortunately, the large construction mechs ended up being used for criminal activities and the regular police had a tough time dealing with them. This led to two divisions of Patrol Labors or Patlabors being formed. Based on a small piece of land in Tokyo bay, the straight-laced Section 1 and the misfit filled Section 2 handle any Labor related emergencies. The stars of the show and the movie are the misfits of course, who are currently being stretched thin by a rash of Labor incidents while Section 1 is away training. The characters don’t get the introduction I would like in the movie, but we do see a glimpse of their personalities before it goes into detective/thriller mode. Most of the action is saved until the end, but it stays fresh and interesting throughout.

The second movie is a set a few years after the first, and ups the ante considerably in the drama department. The film is an amazing example of the old school hand drawn style, being both beautiful to look at and listen to. The story gives a window into debates about Japan’s place in the world that are still being argued today. The commander of section 2 is the star of this one, and he is one of my all-time favorites (he also happens to be my avatar picture). An incredibly bright man who plays down his intelligence to avoid political problems and is masterful at using soft power to get the most of his officers. There is very little action, but it’s not something that you are likely to notice until after the movie is over. Patlabor 2 stands out as one of the more intelligent thrillers I have ever seen, touching on some serious questions about what the role of a non-superpower and its military should be. If there is one bad thing about these films, it is that they will make you wish that anime like this was still coming out of Japan. Since it really isn’t, all we can do is enjoy these gems from the past.  I own both of these movies, so I’m not sure where to find them streaming, but with luck you might find them gathering dust at a half-price book store.

9 out of 10


My Top Anime Reviews – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Number 8


Mami_magical_outfit_2Do not let the upbeat opening and cutesy character designs fool you, this is a dark story. It is full of grief, betrayal, and other dark themes. This is anti-war classic  All Quiet on the Western Front repackaged as the kind of Magical Girls show usually aimed at preteen girls. The result is stunning. The animation is avant-garde and might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it is very well done. However, the star of the show is the story, and that is what makes this show so difficult to review.

Madoka Magica does the best job I have ever seen at examining the Faustian bargain that soldiers make when they choose to fight. Whether done for selfish reasons or out of a desire to help others, there are sacrifices that nobody can truly understand when they decide to take on that mantle. Through the eyes of a kind-hearted 14 year-old girl, we get to see the horrors of combat and the aftermath of all this self-sacrifice. However, this is not a gory tale and is not about jarring imagery. This is about what conflict does to the heart. Emotionally heavy and with a moral complexity rarely seen in any medium, the only thing keeping Madoka Magica from being higher on my list is it’s depressing tone. Still, this is an anime that everyone should watch, not only because of it’s exceptional quality, but because it has something important to say. I feel like I should say more here, but it is hard to do that without spoilers, and you should definitely avoid spoilers while watching the show. Some of the scenes really need their full shock value to be appreciated, so stay off the internet for the time it takes you to watch these 12 episodes. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

9 out of 10


My Top Anime Reviews – The World God Only Knows Season 3

Number 9

Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai Megami-hen or The World God Only Knows Goddess Arc is the third season of the series. I find it odd to single out just the one season, but the third season changed the dynamic of the series drastically. Elevating a mediocre show to, well, one of my all-time favorites. The story that is laid out in the first two seasons is that Keima Katsuragi is a brilliant young boy who only wants to use his keen mind for one purpose, to play video games. Specifically, Keima is a master of the dating simulator style of visual novel (often called galge or gal game). He has no interest in real girls and focuses all of his considerable talent into romancing the two-dimensional or 2D girls in his games. That is, until he unwittingly signs a contract with a demon. Now he has to use his romance skills to capture the escaped spirits that feed on a girl’s loneliness, or he will die. To force the evil spirits out of the girls he just hast to make them fall in love with him. After they are freed from the spirit (this is done with a kiss, get your mind out of the gutter), they lose all memory of the romance, leaving him free to target the next girl. He is surprisingly good at this, considering that he finds the real world (3D world) to be a nuisance and really just wants to get back to his games.

The third season starts with Keima and his demon partner being one of the best in the “lost souls” division with more than a dozen evil spirits captured. His clinical, Sherlockesque approach always seems to work out, but there is a new development. It appears that at least some girls have not forgotten him completely, and those girls are the key to stopping renegade demons who want to establish hell on earth. He now has to make all the girls that remember him fall for him again. All of this ups the stakes considerably. He is now trying to save the world, and the worst possible complication, his former “lovers” having memories of him, makes his job extremely difficult. As the opening music tells us, “this is not a game anymore.”

The World God Only Knows has a few issues. The biggest is that, in order to animate this arc from the manga, they had to skip an awful lot. Some of the girls in the third season are familiar, but some were introduced in the manga chapters that were skipped. This forces an awkward recap of the romances we never saw. It also doesn’t help that these girls were much less conventional than what happened in the first two seasons. Once the messy first couple of episodes are over though, the show really takes flight. The most enjoyable development is when our cocky protagonist finally slips up, leading to a heartbreaking decision. We also finally see that all this loveless romance is taking its toll on Keima. For a show with such a wacky premise and over the top characters, it handles the more serious tones exremely well.

Watching the show is a bit of a challenge. The best way, in my opinion, is to watch the shows listed below and treat The World God Only Knows as a 25 episode series. If you find the early episodes very entertaining, then you can watch all of seasons one and two. The biggest challenge though, is that while seasons one & two are on Crunchyroll, the two Tenri OVAs (original video animation) are not. I watched them, after considerable searching, on Youtube. Unfortunately, it may be necessary to turn to less savory methods to watch them. You do need to watch them, or read the relevant manga chapters. The developments in the two Tenri OVAs act as a prologue and are very helpful in negotiating the early episodes of the series.

9 Out of 10

The Backstory Watch List (in order):

Season 1, Episode 1, 5 – 7, 9 – 11

Season 2, Episodes 3 – 7

The Tenri OVAs, 1 & 2


My Top Anime Reviews – My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

I give a quick description of why my favorite anime are my favorites, but I have never done full reviews of them.  I was thinking about reviewing some older anime, so this seems like a good place to start.  I have decided to start at the bottom and work my way up my list, so here it goes.

Number 10

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru (which translates roughly as “Again, My Youth Love Comedy is Wrong”) or My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU on US shelves, is one of many, many, high school based RomCom animes.  So what makes it so different from the rest?  The main draw for SNAFU is our protagonist.  Hachiman Hikigaya is a cynical teenager whose sarcasm well is never empty and who takes pride in his outsider status.  He mocks his classmates and their petty lives internally and, on occasion, in the papers he has to write in class.  His teacher, who sees the wounded soul inside, punishes him for one of his papers by putting him in the “Service Club,” where he will be tasked with helping other students with their problems.  It just so happens that the only other club member is also the school’s other big loner.  The beautiful, smart, but frosty Yukina Yukinoshita (whose name can be translated as snow under snow).  The booksmart Yukino and the cynically observant Hachiman make a great team, partially because neither of them seem to have the capacity to fit in anywhere else.  They also make for one of the best slow burn romances that I have ever seen.

The comedy and romance are nice, but what makes this show really shine are the characters. As I mentioned at the beginning, Hachiman Hikigaya in particular stands out. He embodies the angst ridden teenager that wants to find a comfortable place without having to fit in. His journey from cynical malcontent to something approaching a “normal” teen is remarkably enjoyable, for him and for us. As he bounces off of those around him, the rough edges start to disappear. It seems that Hachiman might just find happiness, whether he wants it or not.

The show starts off episodic, as the club handles requests from students.  The short storylines at the beginning give way to longer, richer stories before the series abruptly ends, and that is my biggest and almost only gripe with this series.  The show just stops, resolving nothing, and leaving just about everything flapping in the breeze.  Fortunately, we are finally getting the sequel and hopefully the conclusion to the series.  Having read all of the novels to this point, I expect that the show will only get better from here.  Unless the second season is criminally mishandled, I think this show will rise to nearly the top of my favorites.

My Teenage Romantic Comedy SNAFU (season 1) is available on  My Teenage Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too! (season 2) is being simulcast on Crunchyroll right now.  The first episode will be available to non-members on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

9 out of 10


Your Lie in April – Review

This review is separate from the rest of last season because I watched it with the family, which slows my pace down a bit. Your Lie in April is, in one word, beautiful. The animation is very good and the music is amazing. The story line is ambitious. It is not that there is anything specifically new in the show; it is just that so much is going on at once that it is a bit of an impressive feat that they (mostly) wrap everything up at the end. It is easy to get caught up in the shows flaws, but the fact is, I enjoyed Your Lie in April a lot.

About those flaws, you can have a glass half-empty outlook on the show and come away feeling that a great story was brought down by poor pacing, awkward humor, and unnecessary plotlines. All of these things try to diminish the show’s shine, and for some I am sure that these issues ruined the show. In the glass half-full camp, I would say that the show reached high enough that the flaws in execution couldn’t keep it down. This is a difficult show to review without spoilers, but I’m going to do my best.

Your Lie in April wants to connect with you on an emotional level as much as it wants to tell you a story. Kosei Arima is a sad drab boy living in a sad drab world. He is also a musical prodigy that is scarred by his experience with music. The central theme of the anime is how he makes peace with music, and learns to deal with how unfair life can be. This is not a shiny happy story. As Kosei’s world brightens, it also becomes turbulent. Loss and courage are central themes here, and seeing the characters fight through their pain is inspiring and sobering. These are just kids after all, and the demons that plague them are all too real. The storylines woven together here are familiar, but there is a gravity to them that is rare for an anime. As I have said, the music is amazing. It elevates the story throughout, sometimes making a lackluster episode watchable and sometimes acting as a cathartic release for the underlying angst. The beautiful classical performances do far more to take the sting out of the story than the awkward attempts at humor. Perhaps that is by design. Much of the humor in the show is a front to cover the pain that lies beneath. The music, however, always rings true. Musical performances are all about the experience and how the music touches you at that moment. Your Lie in April reminds us that the same thing can be said about our lives.

8 out of 10

A word of warning, I do not consider Your Lie in April to be harmeshit, but it does have multiple interwoven romantic storylines and some harem tropes.  I know that even the trace of this is a dealbreaker for some, so I thought I’d mention it.


Reviews for Winter 2015

Here are the my thoughts on Shirobako, Durarara!x2, KanColle and Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano):

ShirobakoShirobako was good, not great, but solid.  The little doll and bear were unnecessary, and a bit of a crutch.  The biggest issue I had with the show though, is that I feel like it could have reached higher.  The problem with a really good slice of life show is that if you’ve spent the a lot of effort on the characters, they are going to outshine the plot.  Shirobako avoids falling into this trap by being educational, but I feel that the setting and characters could have handled more drama pretty effortlessly.  Down the stretch, I was as interested in what was going on in Aerial Girls Squad as I was what was going on in the animation studio.  Still, despite (or perhaps because of) playing things a bit safe, the show was consistently good from start to finish.  While not an anime I would recommend to everyone, I think that the educational elements of the show make it a must watch for anyone who consumes a lot of anime and manga.  Shirobako does a great job of showing the pitfalls that cause bad anime or at least shows how a number of flaws, from bad frames of animation to airing delays happen.

8 out of 10

Durarara!x2 – Watching the second season of a show you like is a bit of a trap, particularly with the kind of juggling act style that Durarara! uses.  I kept waiting for everything to come together, and when something happened that I wasn’t that fond of, I excused it with the thought that the show would iron it all out in the end.  That, I’m sad to say, is not what happened.  It wasn’t really until the last couple of episodes that I realized how disappointed I’ve been with this season.  It just didn’t click.  Perhaps the “I bet you didn’t see that coming” style doesn’t work as easily on the second go around.  It might be like watching a comedian that relies heavily on shock factor.  It just isn’t as funny the second time around.  The Orihara sisters antics and Heiwajima’s bizarre romance weren’t bad, but the mafia/yakuza story and the return of the street gangs were very skipable.  Really, the only interesting thing in the second half of the season was Mikado’s development.  Whether this is a direction issue or problems with the original LN, I don’t know.  The second half of the season just felt flat to me.

6 out of 10

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano)Saekano is like that slacker, that barely pays attention and doesn’t really care, but then suddenly makes a real effort and does an amazing job.  The first couple of episodes were almost painfully slow, and to be honest a bit boring.  This may be because I hadn’t warmed up to the subtleties yet, but the show didn’t even attempt to do what any really successful show needs to do.  It didn’t set the hook.  There is little in the show’s early episodes to indicate how good Saekano is going to be later. Sadly, I think a lot of people were turned of by the fan service in the hot springs episode or simply found the first couple of real episodes boring (because they were).  Once the show hit it’s stride though, it proved to be quite good.  If not for some pacing issues, I’d say really good.  Saekano manages to pull off being the harem show for people who don’t like harems and take aim at the harem connoisseur.  There are plenty of tropes around, but they actually get explained.  Great effort is made to make each character more than just a cardboard cutout.  Even the fan service is good, in that it is actually sexy, when it shows up.  There a plenty of elevator pans and lingering gazes, but no anti-gravity boobs or panty shots.  However, a huge issue with the show is that is in no way complete.  There’s been a serious gamble made here that a second season will be made.  Without it, we really just have the introduction.  It really makes me wonder why they spent the first couple of episodes messing around.  Sadly, until we get a proper finish, I can’t really recommend the show, even though it was the most enjoyable to watch most weeks of the season.

6 out of 10 

KanColle – Disclaimer: I skipped the Curry Cookoff episode                                           I got sucked back in to Kancolle because I’m a history buff and there were enough WW2 parallels to get me interested.  How exactly was the show going to handle the Japanese Navy’s crushing defeat at Midway Island.  It’s hard for me to talk too much about those last couple of episodes without major spoilers, but it was not a particularly satisfying ending.  The show in general wasn’t particularly satisfying either.  The cutesy stories never really synced with the war as a backdrop.  The combat sequences were pretty, but with just a couple of exceptions, never really had a real suspense to them.  There was just enough history brought out to scratch that particular itch, but not enough character or action to elevate the show past it’s pretty animation.  I’ll give my score first, and then I’ll talk about the elephant in the room.

4 out of 10

Something that came disturb me as the show went on, was the US fleet being portrayed as monsters.  That’s something I was willing to give the show a pass on at first, but as the historical parallels became clear, it became harder to justify.  An anti-US bias  or revisionist history are not anything new, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it done so blatantly in an anime.  If this had been a German film paralleling WW2 in a similar way, people would have lost their minds.  I’ve always been one to stand up for Japan when people start bashing them about the war.  A very small percentage of the people represented at Yasukuni Shrine are considered war criminals, about 0.04%, and the US targeted and killed almost half a million Japanese non-combatants by the end of the war (some estimates are higher).  The question remains in the back of my mind though.  What would a Japanese victory in WW2 mean to the people of East Asia?  It certainly would not have been good for the civilians in Korea, China, or anywhere in Southeast Asia who suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese military. More than the cutesifying of combat in the anime, the nationalistic overtones are disturbing.  At a time where many here in the US are hoping for Japan to take a larger role in the security of themselves and their neighbors, the show causes me some concern.  It is important that Japan takes an increased military role gracefully and not with a nationalistic bent.  Japanese atrocities are still very much in the minds of their neighbors.

As a side note, the actual Battle of Midway is a fascinating subject that is well worth reading up on. The battle had a massive impact on the outcome of WW2, and is a fascinating example of how small factors, decisions, and luck can determine the fates of nations.


Winter 2015 Reviews at the Halfway Point

Trying to judge an unfinished work is almost always a pointless endeavor, but this is a blog after all. I’m pretty sure that this format is tailor-made for pointless endeavors.  I will not assign a score to Testament, KanColle, or Isuca, as I dropped those shows.  It was fairly clear that Testament and Isuca were merely fan service vehicles, which was disappointing.  I felt that the material being adapted had more potential.  KanColle was too serious to make the “cute girls doing…” work and too frivolous to make a story out of a conflict and it’s participants.  I am ranking Shirobako and Your Lie in April at their halfway points instead of where they currently are.  I haven’t seen either show past episode 12.  I am not ranking Assassination Classroom because the show is only 1/4 of the way through it’s run and I feel that is too early to make a judgement on the show.  All shows are ranked on a 10 point scale, with 1-2 being utter trash, 3-4 is bad, 5-6 is watchable but average, 7-8 is good, and 9-10 is reserved for the very best.


Shirobako:  Halfway Score – 7, Projected Finish – between 7 and 8

Shirobako is informative and entertaining, but is missing the drama needed to really make it great.  Perhaps that will change in the second half, but I can’t see how.  I also don’t see Shirobako collapsing on itself either.  Slow and steady seems to be the show’s mantra, and I expect to finish well.  However, I can’t imagine ever re-watching the show and I can’t imagine recommending the show to someone unless they request an anime about making anime.


Your Lie in April: Halfway Score – 6, Projected Finish – between 4 and 7

I can tell where this is headed and it’s dragging on my enjoyment of the series like an anchor.  Kaori is flying enough death flags for a plague ship (I’m apparently feeling nautical today).  The wonderful music is this show’s saving grace, and it makes up for a number of the show’s faults.  So far, I feel the show is spending too much time on Kosei’s piano troubles and not enough on everyone else’s issues,  particularly Kaori’s.  The melodrama that the show seems to be holding in reserve and it’s tendency to hyper focus so far makes me worry about where the show is headed in the second half.  The foreshadowing has set up a difficult trick for any story to pull off, a satisfying unhappy ending.  It is possible for the show to manage it, but I can’t say from what we’ve seen so far that I expect that it will.


Durarara! x2: Halfway Score – 7, Projected Finish – between 6 and 9

Madcap as ever, Durarara! is chugging along.  The interweaving stories and characters make this a difficult show to quantify, but so far it seems to be going as expected.  I do think that the quality is slightly behind the first season, but unless the show fails to tie up the loose ends, I think it will still be pretty good by the end of the season.


Saekano: Halfway Score – 6, Projected Finish – between 4 and 9

My enjoyment of this show is lessened by the feeling that this could have been done better.  The show is hitting it’s stride now, but the first half has been all over the place.  I can see the screenwriter using the same tricks  employed in White Album 2.  I didn’t like them then and I don’t like them now.  We are being kept in the dark as to why Utaha and Eriri have feelings for the protagonist.  This is similar to how WA2 kept Kazusa Touma’s side of the love story hidden from the audience.  It’s dramatic to drop that all on us at once, but I think it is a cheap literary trick.  With only 11 episodes and it’s fan service special to tell the story, getting halfway through without giving us the back story doesn’t bode well for a complete and coherent ending.  I’m also a little annoyed that the cousin, who was the only character that I found interesting in the hot springs episode, has yet to appear.  She plays pretty prominently in both the opening and ending, why has she not been introduced yet?

My opinions are not all negative. I like Megumi, she is a refreshing character, and I feel that the story here still has potential.  Seeing Aki unwittingly romance Megumi has been entertaining and even sweet at moments.  The snarky dialogue has been pretty good too.  This show is the one that is hardest to predict out of the shows I am watching this season.  It could crash and burn or fly magnificently.  If it is going to do the latter, the next several episodes will have to be very good indeed.