March Comes in Like a Lion Series Review

Overview:

March Comes in Like a Lion follows Rei Kiriyama a professional Shogi player despite being in highschool. Rei struggles with social interactions and sometimes just facing the day is an overwhelming challenge, however an encounter with three sisters will see some small changes in his life. You can find my episode reviews here.

Review:

There is no denying that I have absolutely loved watching March Comes in Like a Lion. For me there was an instant connection with Rei (not that I’ve gone through the same challenges or anything but I think we’ve all had those moments where we’ve wanted to run away from everything and hide). Rei’s really at the centre of everything in this show and whether you love it or not will depend entirely on how you take to him. Whether you enjoy watching him struggle and want to get behind him, whether you feel it cuts too close to home and feel uncomfortable, or whether you just don’t connect and find the proceedings fairly dull, it all comes down to that central character.

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That isn’t to say there aren’t some other very strong points to the show but with a plot that is almost non-existent this show heavily relies on the character journey to carry the story forward. Outside of Rei’s emotional journey you really just have  boy drifting through life and encountering others, occasionally getting caught up in their drama, and then drifting on to the next thing. Some of those encounters are amazing, but it doesn’t make for much of a plot.

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So what do I like about Rei?

He is at times represented quite pathetically, which isn’t the same as being a pathetic character. There are times when he gives up, when he loses his temper, when he surrenders a battle before he begins fighting. At all of those moments, everything about the show paints Rei as being pathetic. However, as a character he is magnificent to watch. This show gave me one of the best representations of a character going through depression and dealing with social anxieties that I have ever seen. Early in the series I worried that the sisters were going to be like some mystic fairy godmother and wave a wand and ‘cure’ Rei (a feat we’ve seen in so many other shows where getting a friend or a girlfriend/boyfriend suddenly changes everything). However, while they certainly give Rei an anchor to the world at times and a bright point within the darkness that surrounds him, they alone are not enough to transform him. They merely provide a catalyst for Rei realising he wants to change.

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And that is probably the strongest part of his character. Rei remains the agent of change regardless of the other characters who may support that change, provide a means for that change, or provide guidance on how to change. Rei is the one who chooses to move from where he is. Because of that his journey is not linear. He moves forward and back, stepping into more positive spaces before falling back down. Each time he learns and gains from the experience but it feels incredibly genuine and more importantly, if you’ve connected with him, it is heart wrenching watching him fall. You just want to reach out to him and grab his hand but you know you can’t fight the battle for him anymore than his teacher at school can or the sisters.

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The sisters themselves remain fairly nebulous to me. While they are that shining ray of hope that Rei needs, and at times they certainly kick things into gear (dragging Rei out when he’s sick to nurse him, running into him in town and bringing Nikaido over) as characters they get very little time and almost no development. The middle sister probably has the best moments when going through her first love and again when mourning her parents, but really the sisters seem more like a plot device than characters at times. That doesn’t really detract from the show but given their impact on the main character it would be nice to know more about them other than that they are nice. The cats are a nice touch though.

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Later in the series an older shogi player becomes fairly significant in Rei’s life. Shimada is probably the best developed character outside of Rei and his influence on Rei is enormous in the second half of the series. Shimada is a great character to watch and his story plays out very well and is thoroughly engaging. At first it seemed odd that he was getting so much focus, particularly as it seemed like Rei, the main character, was being sidelined, however the choice was well made and when the focus shifts back to Rei you realise just how essential seeing Shimada’s story was.

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The only other character I want to address in detail is Kyouko, Rei’s sister in the family that adopted him. She is set up as an antagonist and to be honest she is quite antagonistic, however that doesn’t appear to be her main role. Her relationship with Rei is more complicated than it first appeared and while at no point do I actually feel sorry for her, she is a horrible person, you begin to understand her actions a bit more when you realise that the father essentially forced his children to turn against each other in order to be the best. Losing out to Rei, and in so doing losing her father’s affection, seems to be the cornerstone of Kyouko’s entire character so her actions are understandable. What is less clear are Rei’s feelings for her given he clearly hates and fears her, but also seems drawn to her like a moth straight to a flame. If there was any relationship I’d like to see more of, it would be this one, because there’s a lot of unanswered questions about how Rei feels about the situation.

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Outside of the characters what makes this show an amazing watch are the visuals  and the music. Both have been chosen very well throughout to really convey the emotions on screen. While at times the visuals get a little over crowded as they hit you with a plethora of colours and symbols, for the most part they perfectly convey the feeling of the moment and really give a concrete substance to the emotions of the character.

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Okay, a few criticisms because I can’t leave this all shiny and happy. This show is slow. At times in the first half it is really, really slow. And the shogi cat song needs to disappear from existence and never be heard again. Plus, the first opening theme is significantly stronger than the second in terms of matching the tone of the show (though both ending themes are brilliant). And that’s really all I’ve got as overall criticisms.

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All and all though, if you didn’t watch this or try it while it was airing I am definitely recommending it. It won’t grab everyone but it is worth trying as if you can get into it the character journey is well worth watching. I know it is only the Winter season that has aired so far in 2017, but I know it is going to be hard for another anime to have as much impact on me this year as this one did so this is definitely a contender for my anime of the year.


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In Case You Missed It

Not a lot happened this week, other than most people now have a consolidated watch list for the season. A brief reminder that next Monday is 100 Word Anime’s 1 year anniversary (though I have anniversary posts scheduled all week because why not). Hopefully you will all join me in celebration.

Below I’ve linked to some great posts I found this week. As always, feel free to add a link in the comments to any posts you feel deserve a bit more attention (preferably anime related).

Shameless self-promotion: As you all know I started a patreon site for my blog and am looking for patrons to support the expansion of 100 Word Anime. Thanks to my patrons who already support this site. End shameless self-promotion.

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Seasonal Prattle continues to give us some very fun quizzes and this week we got to find out which My Hero Academia character we are. While I’m not exactly convinced of the result on this one, I love taking Prattle’s quizzes and the results are always entertaining to discuss in the comments. If you haven’t checked out any of these quizzes, or Prattle’s other excellent posts, you should definitely make some time to visit the site.

Sakura Sunrise has an interesting post (part 1) asking Is Bones The Best Animation Studio In The World. While I’m not big on following particular studios, I really do enjoy a lot of Bones’ anime releases (with a few exceptions) so I enjoyed reading through their reasoning. If you didn’t come across this post during the week you should check it out.

Shoujo Princess shares a list of 10 Anime You Can Watch With Your Boyfriend. I really enjoyed reading this because their reasoning for each inclusion on the list is well thought out. Not to mention, while I have a handful of people who watch anime with me, they’ve all got different tastes and preferences so finding a range of anime and ways of selling them to different viewers is always helpful.

Psychime has an interesting post about Why Bakugo is My Hero. It’s an interesting look at the somewhat brash and regularly confrontational Bakugo in My Hero Academia. Well worth reading if you watched season 1 or are thinking about it.

The Alfredeo Blog has a list of their top 15 songs from Love Live. As I haven’t watched the show and have no familiarity with any of the music, I have no opinion on the placement of things on this list, however, it is a fun list to read and I loved reading the reasons for each song being on the list. So fans of the show should check out this post.

From Anime Reviewer Girl there is a 3 Life Lessons Reinforced by Anime. If you haven’t visited Anime Reviewer Girl before she mostly posts videos on a single topic where she discusses her thoughts. Very fun to listen to.

Archi-Anime had a great post this week on Townsperson B: Hitoka Yachi from Haikyuu. While I’m not finished watching Haikyuu yet, Hitoka was quite a welcome addition to the cast during season 2 and this post neatly highlights some of what she brings to the show.

For those who enjoy Prattle’s quizzes, or haven’t tried them yet, last week they had a quiz that let you find out if you could make a hit anime this season. It was pretty fun to play with and got you thinking about the shows that are doing well or might do well this season.

And that’s all from me.


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Spring 2017 Week 3

The Spring season continues to be entertaining, which is great afer the relatively slow Winter season. My list is pretty much consolidated now though there are still a handful of shows that I’m not convinced I’ll watch through to the end. That said, I have 15 shows at the moment that I’m going to be reviewing episodically this season. Looking forward to what everyone else has decided to follow.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

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Must Watch

Natsume Yuujincho 6 (Episode 2)

So sweet. Okay, I loved this episode as it kind of touched on everything I love about the Natsume series and following on from such a great first episode, this season is really starting well. Absolutely love this series.

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 3)

This show is definitely in no rush to move the plot along. It is taking its time with each scene and the waiting in between. Rather than finding this dull or boring, I’m actually finding that it is adding to the tension of watching. There’s so many answers you are waiting for and hoping the next conversation will reveal. While not everyone is going to love the pace of this, there’s a fairly compelling story being set up here.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 2)

Episode 2 introduces yet more characters and plot threads into the mix and this really feels like it is going to go the same path as season 1 where lots of ideas slowly develop before coming together at the end (or at least lets hope they do). Pretty much is you enjoyed the humour and tone of season 1, season 2 is much the same (which means I’m having a lot of fun with it so far).

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 4)

Okay, it took 4 episodes but Attack on Titan is getting better each week. The slow start to this season is paying off as more and more pieces are coming together and the show is finding its pacing and tone. I really enjoyed episode 3 and episode 4 was better. Hoping this can maintain for the remainder of the season. Plus, the opening song is finally growing on me.

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Usually Entertaining

Sagrada Reset (Episode 3)

Given my episode review on this took me clear over 500 words and I still wasn’t sure I’d said everything I wanted to and given right now I’m desperately awaiting the next episode, I had to move this up the list. It isn’t highly recommendable given the incredibly slow pace and unrelatable characters, but I’m really enjoying picking at the mysteries being presented and still trying to piece together where this story is going. Part of me kind of wishes they’d started with episode 3 and just filled in some of the blanks rather than having us sit through the first two episode before jumping two years.  This episode really got the story moving and while the characters still have as much personality as your standard talking toaster, when they are surrounded by intrigue you can kind of get behind the pair.

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 17)

I’m feeling that while I’m going to mostly enjoy watching this season, a common complaint is going to be whether or not we actually needed to watch something. There are so many scenes and conversations where I just have to wonder what they are adding to overall character development or plot and mostly they aren’t. They are just there getting us from A to B but we could have easily skipped straight over it and just figured out that a conversation or a scene had happened without watching it. Still, it is good fun even if it isn’t the most compelling viewing.

WorldEnd (Episode 2)

This second episode wasn’t bad, but it definitely had a lot more work to do filling in story than episode 1, and as a result, it wasn’t as interesting. That said, there is still quite a bit of promise in this show and I’m hoping now that its gotten through some of its explanations we can move forward.

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Okay, I Guess

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 3)

So this went from the bottom of this category to the to and if it keeps going I may have to move it to usually entertaining. The various fights around the school were well done with enough variety that it didn’t feel like Glenn was just pulling the same trick on each villain. Admittedly, that final win was a bit convenient, but it is only episode 3 so I guess you can’t go killing off your title character.

Sword Oratoria (Episode 2)

And down it goes. To be honest, I enjoyed this episode less than the episodes of Alice & Zoroku and Granblue Fantasy, however Sword Oratoria still gets a few points for being a spin-off of a show I loved. Still, once we get past episode 3 if the series hasn’t managed to find its own feet (or anything of interest to present) I can see this show diving well to the bottom of my watch list. This second episode was almost painfully dull to watch as it contained everything I didn’t like about DanMachi and none of things I did enjoy.

Alice & Zoroku (Episode 3)

Right, so this is staying on my watch list but it is pretty ordinary. The ideas are good (or at least interesting) but the narrative and tone aren’t settling as we jump around and it makes the viewing experience less than thrilling. I get some people will be enjoying this more but I’m finding myself bored during the comedic stretches and less than impressed with the attempts at drama.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 4)

Last week I said, “There’s no reason for me to drop this but little reason to recommend it”. I’m just going to leave that as my description of the show at this point. It is working well enough but it isn’t exactly great.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 3)

I don’t think this will ever come up on my list of must watch anime and even saying it is entertaining is a stretch. What it does is formulaic cautionary tales but there’s something satisfying about watching it. The visuals aren’t great (but they are consistent), and with the exception of the Salesman there aren’t any recurring characters so character development is non-existent. That said, this is twenty minutes of viewing where I can switch off and happily watch and let the story just kind of roll over me and sometimes that’s enough to get out of a show.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 2)

This one is slowly moving downward. There’s still a possibility that after it gets through these early episodes it will pick up, but to be honest, I’m not very impressed so far. It really sounds like it should be more fun than it is.

The Royal Tutor (Episode 3)

The Royal Tutor isn’t badly done. It’s perfectly nice to look at, the jokes are there and only a few are actually cringe worthy, and the characters are slowly but surely taking shape. That said, I am watching this with about as much interest as I watch the sports section of the morning news at this point, which is I’ll sit through it because it is there but barely remember it once it leaves the screen. One more episode (I say this week and probably for the next three weeks after that).

The Silver Guardian (Episode 4)

This finally clawed its way out of the ‘They Made This’ category as it finally looks like they are actually going to tell the story they promised us at the start of episode 1. All and all, episode 4 was a pretty interesting episode (not great by any means but compared to episodes 2 and 3 it was pretty good). If the show actually builds from there it might even become passably entertaining.

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They Made This

Nothing at the moment that I’m watching.

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Tried and Dropped

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

Week 3 over – what made it onto your watch list for the season?


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Sagrada Reset Episode 3

Review:

Little bit long this time for a single episode review this time.

Despite the ongoing question of whether everyone in this show is actually a robot, episode 3 has finally managed to move this show from ‘interesting concept but what are you doing’ to ‘okay, show me more I’m really quite intrigued’. In a previous episode Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics were used to make an interesting point and now now we have a fairly ongoing MacGuffin around the character figuring out why someone asked him if he knew what a MacGuffin was.

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Self-aware comedies annoy me, I admit that openly. However this show is aware its characters are portrayed in a robotic manner and deliberately raised the issue that one of them might be an android and continued that line of thought with Asimov’s three laws. This week we have a clear MacGuffin thrown at our protagonists in the form of ‘save the cat’ and the characters are discussing what a MacGuffin is and how it works in stories.

The clear self-aware and slightly pretentious vein running through this story would annoy me if this were a comedy, and yet in this context, is working remarkably well. Because the story without this commentary on their own use of plot devices and references, and without the potentially multi-layered interpretations these have created, Sagrada Reset would be pretty much a nothing show. In fact it would be a dull show where little to nothing ever happened. With these devices in place it remains slightly pretentious though it just might live up to that if it can bring all of these ideas together into something that resembles an actual cohesive theme by the end of the season and might even be kind of brilliant in its own self-aware way.

Otherwise, we’re going to have a mess of ideas and references that will entertain me enough to keep me watching but at the end of the season will make this show unrecommendable.

Despite all that, this episode introduces a number of possibilities both in regards to the resets and to the purpose of the Bureau. The thing is, despite being obvious and heavy handed in some areas, Sagrada really does play the important information close to the chest and there are too many possible theories that would actually fit the information we’ve been given at this point. The obvious would be that the Bureau is trying to see if it can use the Resets for some nefarious plan of its own and sent cat-girl with the request to Kei having set the whole thing up in advance given he clearly reports when they have a save point to the Bureau guy and everything that is happening at the moment is just a field test. That conclusion is supported by the teacher telling Kei not to Reset until the maximum time had passed, implying he knew that an occasion for a Reset was going to come up despite the fact that they theoretically were on a new timeline.

While that fits most of the clues it doesn’t explain the hole in the wall that appeared after the first Reset and loose ends tend to irk me when I’m theorising but I just don’t think I’ve got enough pieces yet to see what the picture is that I’m constructing.

Even if this show ends up tanking, this episode got me really thinking and wanting to sit and pull it apart and put it back together so Sagrada is kind of a keeper for the season at this point.

Sagrada Reset is available on AnimeLab.


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Hunter x Hunter Episodes 31 + 32

Review Episode 31:

I’m definitely a fairly petty person because watching Hisoka get knocked around a bit this episode was kind of fun. What made this better was he didn’t suddenly become incompetent or lose his composure. They merely pitted him against someone who’s power was a bit unusual. Still, I really pity his opponent next episode because it looks like Hisoka is done with this fight.

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I’m glad they finally tried to give some reasoning for Gon’s ridiculously quick regeneration given how fast he’s recovered from every injury. I’m not sure I totally buy it, but at least it means down time after getting hurt is minimised. Still, my main question this episode is what happen with Kurapika?

Review Episode 32:

Okay, I strongly disagree with the title of this episode. This was not a surprising win. It’s more or less exactly what I expected (the outcome not the how, because if anyone predicted that convoluted series of moves from Hisoka please tell me the numbers of the lotto).

Anyway, I really loved this episode. My key descriptor of Hisoka so far has been creepy (and I stand by that) but this gave an additional couple of descriptors to him. He’s flexible, adaptable and fairly unshakable. The combination of those attributes is frankly terrifying so I have no idea how Gon is ever going to hit him in the face (forget beating this monster). Then of course we have the reveal at the end of the episode which I’m not really sure what to do with just yet so I’m putting it in a mental basket for later sorting. But I loved this episode because it was surprising, tense, fun, and managed to help us understand a character who has been pretty much an enigma just a tiny bit better (though I somehow doubt we’ve see anything close to all that Hisoka has to show us yet). Still creepy though.


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WorldEnd Episode 2

Review:

As a single episode, this particular one is not impressive. Then again, episode 1, while highly entertaining and beautiful, didn’t really give us any details of the girls or what they were doing. Episode 2 fills in those gaps, but the end result is a lot of exposition and slightly flat dialogue. Despite that, episode 2 manages to find its moments of charm particularly early on as Willem works to win the girls over as most of the children are outright avoiding him to start with.

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The way it builds up to Willem understanding that the girls aren’t ‘normal’ (by whatever means he uses to judge) works well and while the dialogue isn’t great, it does the job and we more or less get the situation the girls are in by the end of the episode. With the exception of the final sequence where Chtholly basically has an orgasm after receiving a massage from Willem, they are keeping the overtly fanservice moments minimised considering the set up and the cast.

Despite this episode being weaker, i’m still quite hopeful for the story as this world gets more fleshed out.

WorldEnd (SukaSuka) is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 3

Review:

While this episode certainly works well enough and has a few moments of genuine pleasure, we’d already see Heine face off with Leonhard and convince him to take the test. Having the Prince run off after getting the result before having a touchy pep talk including the line “Has you heart ever felt lighter after running away” (or similar) doesn’t really add much to the storyline or character development.

Admittedly, in terms of visual humour, Heine on a horse works well enough.

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I’m not really sold on this series at all but it isn’t really doing anything to make me want to drop it either. It’s kind of just there and doing enough to not be dull but not really appealing either.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor Episode 3

Review:

This week I have to say this show was genuinely fun to watch. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t without issues, but it just kept things moving along nicely with three different confrontations for Glenn and three different solutions.

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I’m going to be honest, it isn’t much of a secret society if Glenn can identify them from the tattoo they wear. I’ve always wondered why, if you were a secret society, you would have such a give-a-way. Also while it might be nice that Sistene is no longer being quite so obnoxious, and the whole life and death situation she finds herself in certainly warrants her getting on with Glenn a little better, she becomes really clingy really quickly.

Still fun to be had even if part of me was kind of hoping Glenn would take a more serious injury.

Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor is available on Crunchyroll.


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Friday’s Feature: Discussing Sequels, Prequels and Spin-Offs

When it came to movies, I was always wary of sequels growing up. It was more or less universally accepted that the sequel would be weaker than the original with a few exceptions (which of course proved the rule). I was less aware of prequels until the Star Wars franchise essentially hacked the heart out of their own series by delivering 3 very underwhelming movies that pretty much told us nothing that we hadn’t already figured out from watching the original series. Since then we’ve had plenty of other examples in movies of prequels and sequels just not quite hitting the mark.

So how does this translate to the anime watching experience?

Well it doesn’t really because anime sometimes wraps up the story in one season, but often it doesn’t. What we usually call a sequel in anime is regularly just an ongoing continuation of a story that wasn’t finished. Which means that sometimes that second part is awesome (or third, or fourth, or whatever in the case of very long running series). However, sometimes even if the story isn’t finished it feels like the characters have said everything they needed to and we’re just getting put through the motions of yet more fights and battles for the sake of it.

That said, some sequels are amazing. Higurashi’s second season is fantastic, and totally necessary if you ever want to know why everyone keeps dying in that story. Meanwhile, Black Butler 2 I probably could have done without (and Darker Than Black 2 and quite a few others). What it comes down to is while I will watch a sequel to a series I enjoyed, I always watch with the assumption that there’s a good chance it will go downhill fast, that way if they manage to pull off something decent I’m always pleasantly surprised. And I know some people are screaming Endless Eight right now which is probably another reason to be wary of some sequels.

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The occasional prequel that shows up (such as Handa-kun) doesn’t really register given how infrequent they are. Generally, any backstory that is needed is told through flashbacks and prequels just aren’t needed. That hasn’t stopped various ‘young’ insert character name stories cropping up but they aren’t exactly flooding the market (and please don’t).

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Then, we’ve also got spin-off series which are extremely hit and miss. Some manage to surpass the original where others just end up looking like a watered down imitation. A Certain Scientific Railgun is an excellent example of a spin-off that kind of left the original material in the dust. While I like A Certain Magical Index, the need to explain magic, esper abilities, and Touma’s weird ability which falls into neither category, meant the whole thing was very crowded. Also, Touma regularly faced magical villains which meant despite the show being set in a city of espers, esper abilities sat more as a background setting than a focus. Railgun deals pretty much exclusively with the espers and esper issues and as a direct result the world building is significantly stronger and the conflicts are far easier to convey and explain.

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This season we’ve got Sword Oratoria giving us a different view of the world from DanMachi (Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?). Where Sword Oratoria concerned me even from its announcement was in the focus character. See, Railgun took the most interesting character out of Index and gave her a chance to shine. Sword Oratoria takes the least interesting character out of DanMachi and so far hasn’t done much with her. That isn’t to say it can’t pick up, but you have to wonder why we didn’t just get a continuation of DanMachi given Bell’s story wasn’t yet done.

What it means is, there’s no hard and fast rule in anime (or in movies really) as to whether a sequel, prequel, or spin-off will work or not which leaves a lot of fans wading through poor follow up seasons in the hope of stumbling across a good one.

Winter 2017 gave us a number of sequels to consider and to be honest I found them all lacking. Tales of Zestiria the X had been reasonable in season 1, but season 2 lost all focus and forward momentum before rushing to a conclusion that made very little sense to those who hadn’t played the game because so many things happened just because. It was kind of a let down even for those of us with minimal expectations of it. Iron Blooded Orphans similarly kind of faded during its second season. While it maintained a reasonable storyline, it just lacked the punch of the original. Meanwhile, Super Lovers 2 just left me wondering if the characters actually had made any headway at all and Blue  Exorcist just felt like they thought they could just throw any random villain at the characters because the audience would be happy with whatever.

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Then we got to Spring 2017 and while I’m watching the spin-off Sword Oratoria, in terms of sequels the load is heavy. My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, The Eccentric Family and Natsume Yuujinchou are all trying to draw me back into their worlds. Natsume has the advantage in that it’s up to season 6 (and I’ll come back to Natsume in a little bit). The Eccentric Family made a strong start. Both My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan have done a reasonable job (and I’ll admit My Hero Academia seems to be getting stronger by the episode), but at this point neither has really convinced me they can surpass the first season (I’d love to be proven wrong and for both to end well).

For me, the main issue always seems to be that unlike a new series, a sequel is stuck with all the expectations of the audience and preconceived notions. We’ve watched part 1, we know these characters and this setting. It limits where the story can go but it can still be very good if there is character development to be found or more story to be told.

There are three series that I want to discuss in regards to sequels.

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Starting with Full Metal Panic, this series had a season 1 and then we got Second Raid. There’s also a filler comedy season which should be regarded in its own way (its hilarious) but I’m not discussing that here. Arguably, you can stop watching at the end of season 1. You can. Chidori realises she’s got all this stuff in her head and she uses it to save the submarine. Sousuke beats the guy he’s been wanting to beat. They celebrate and then they go back to school. Yeah, Chidori is still going to be targeted and Sousuke still knows nothing about living in the real world, but essentially, it’s a good stopping point.

So why Second Raid?

Because what does Chidori want to do now that she knows she has this knowledge in her head? Is Sousuke actually just going to play the good soldier forever? And what is their relationship? There were plenty of character points still open that had more than enough points of interest to explore and certainly more than enough villains in the world to get the plot moving again. The reason Second Raid works though is Chidori and Sousuke both get pushed to their limit. Chidori is forced to fight for her own life because Sousuke doesn’t instantly save her. He’s too busy going through his own little mental break down which is spectacular to see given everything he’s been through. And while he recovers just a little too fast, it is a mecha series and mental health was never supposed to be the main focus (it isn’t Evangelion).

However, then there’s the announcement about yet another season and the only question I had was why? While season 1 set the scene and the plot really well while introducing us to the characters and season 2 showed us the true effect of everything they’d been through on the characters, what will season 3 offer us other than either more of the same or just another random villain? As much as I love this story and these characters, I’m not convinced yet that another season is needed. Though, there also haven’t been any details about season 3 released (other than a delay) so maybe they have come up with something worth saying.

Kirito_Dual_Blades

But all of this contrasts with my view of SAO in terms of sequels. Sword Art Online was fantastic when it came out. The entire first arc, playing Sword Art Online, was good (I know some people have issues with it but it works). I loved it. Then Kirito beats the game and they all wake up. That’s great. We’re trapped in a game that can kill us and someone finally let us out. Whoo-hoo.

So why isn’t that the end of season 1?

Because some people didn’t wake up. Okay. Fine. Why not?

Technically, this could have worked as a continuation. It could have. But most people will agree that Fairy Dance is the weakest of the SAO stories. While it does tie up a loose end or 2 from SAO, it isn’t necessary. The story could have ended with them waking up and being reunited. They added an additional complication for no reason other then to force a continuation that wasn’t needed, turned a reasonably capable female character into a damsel in distress, and introduced a villain who was so immature and cartoonish in his villainy you couldn’t have taken him seriously if you tried.

Then we have GGO and the Mother Rosario arcs, both of which I kind of regard more as Spin-offs given how little in common they have with the original story at this point. More importantly, Kirito pretty much stops developing as a character (and I know some people will argue he didn’t develop in the original, but we’ll save that argument for later). Essentially, he freezes at the end of Fairy Dance. There’s nothing more to say about him. He does stuff, but he no longer changes as a result of his actions or decisions.

natsume-yuujinchou-0070

The last series I want to touch on is Natsume Yuujinchou which is already 5 seasons, with season 6 getting underway. Natsume in terms of story has never really felt like it is driving toward anything. The conflict has always been Natsume dealing with how to live. That isn’t something that can be ‘solved’ or ‘overcome’ and it isn’t something that ends. And it is a conflict that continually sees the main character reflect and grow (admittedly in very slow and small steps). What that ultimately means is that despite the number of sequels, this story still doesn’t feel finished and this character is still evolving. Spending more time with him on his journey is always fun.

Basically, anime sequels (or prequels or spin-offs) all need to be considered in the light of the series they are attached to. For me if they actually are needed or are adding something of value to the character or the story then I will usually find them highly enjoyable. But if I’m just expected to swallow lack luster story telling because someone slapped a name on it I recognise, I’m going to move on.

How do you feel about sequels and prequels in anime?


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Natsume Yuujinchou Season 6 Episode 2

Review:

I don’t even know why Natsume reiterates the point that getting involved with unknown yokai is a bad idea. After 6 seasons we know he’s going to get involved so he may as well just accept that fact. Still, after last week really only mentioning past characters in passing, this week Natsume’s school friends, Touka, and the mid-level yokai all play a role as Natsume helps locate a missing stonewasher.

NatsumeS6E2

While the hunt for a missing yokai is standard enough, this episode continues to look at Natsume and the fact that he doesn’t just blindly help whoever. Once again, Natsume relates to the yokai way too well as he thinks about his own loneliness and how happy he was at finding a home. It is that emotion which drives him to help find the lost yokai.

NatsumeS6E2b

Throw in another Natori reference and the fact that the yokai only got lost because of an exorcist and I’m still hopeful we’ll get more of the exorcists in general later in this season. Really enjoyed this episode.


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