While episode 2 of The One’s Within doesn’t really get us
any closer to knowing the who, what or why of the situation, I do like that at
least some of the players are open to testing how the mechanics of the game
they find themselves in work. It makes sense that views come from more than
just participating in the games and finding ways to use that to their advantage
as well as finding other potential loop-holes may very well be what keeps this
That they demonstrated this while sending two of the girls to an outdoor hot spring is the kind of fan-service that makes sense. It serves a narrative purpose while providing the audience of the anime with those lingering shots of girls in a hot spring without actually showing anything thanks to the miracle of non-transparent water and unmoving hair that must be duct taped to conveniently cover breasts. Of course they’ll get more views if they are bathing, though we still don’t know who is watching these gamers in the first place.
They also gave us a bit of time to get to know the group
dynamic that is forming before four players nominate to take part in the next
game. I do like that not all of them are required to be helpful or involved in
every situation. Asking the whole group to cooperate on every challenge would
be overkill and difficult to make interesting and so narrowing the focus down
seems an efficient way of dealing with each situation.
Of course, that’s more or less where the positives for The
One’s Within end as to be honest this is fairly disorganised sequences with a
cast of characters who seem to be determined to stick to their trope regardless
of the situation. The angry boy threatening to kill everyone is already getting
old two episodes in and really all of the characters are kind of suffering from
being incredibly one note so far.
Affiliate Link – Figure
The game itself, raising a girl and then getting her
together with the most popular guy in school, is not inherently interesting,
though they are pulling out all the stops to be zany and weird for the sake of
it. Like the llama headed guy giving the instructions. Seemingly purposeless
weirdness so they can point out how random and cool this all is.
Well, panda school girl baking cup-cakes doesn’t make the
scenario any more interesting and the fact that she was crushing on one of the
team members but they didn’t ultimately pursue that plot line at all just
smacked of a wasted opportunity. This seems like it will remain watchable and
there’s a potentially really interesting story here is they ever do anything
with it, but so far it is sending up a lot of red flags for being a mess and
probably not even a hot one by the time the season is over.
Another mouthful of a name so we might just go with ‘The One’s
Within’ as it is called on Anime Lab and call it a day. I’m very on the fence
with this series more so than any other I’ve so far tentatively added to my
Summer Anime watch list. Mostly because it has severe Danganronpa vibes about
it and I always had mixed feelings about that title.
I think my problem with Danganronpa, and likewise my problem
here, is how contrived the situations are the characters find themselves in. I
don’t mind a fantasy character stumbling upon a dragon in a cave because it is
a logical stumbling block for the setting. However these kinds of stories
deliberately place the characters in settings that defy logical reasoning and
the conflicts they come into contact with are not a natural by-product but more
a deliberate hindrance to them.
I’m not actually saying that can’t be fun and all. The
original Saw movie certainly demonstrated that sadistic manipulation of
situations to push others to the limits and beyond could be compelling viewing.
Yet every following movie had diminishing returns as the initial motive for the
contrivance became less relevant and we mostly engaged in contrivances for the
sake of sensationalism and nothing more.
But that’s taking us a long way away from The One’s Within.
Basically a group of gamer have been abducted and have woken up somewhere where
some guy wearing a suit and a llama head is setting them challenges to overcome
all the while with an overall challenge of getting a huge number of views (I
can’t remember if it is was 100,000 or 1,000,000 or 100,000,000 – there’s a bit
of a difference there).
Affiliate Link – Soundtrack
So I guess whether I find this series satisfying overall
will depend on who is watching and giving these views, and why the game is set
up this way and people are being abducted. If we don’t get some kind of context
that gives some sort of logic (fictional logic is find) to the situation and it
is just arbitrary because it is, then I’ll feel like this is mostly a waste of
time regardless of how entertaining individual moments are.
Still, the characters are so far a nice mixture of personalities that will hopefully develop beyond their current one note stance, there’s certainly plenty of intrigue, and I don’t mind this visually. I’d really like to be optimistic but Afterlost last season has currently brought my hope for delayed explanations in anime down to zero again.
After the light midnight stroll we had last week, this
episode of Midnight Occult Civil Servants was a slap across the faces folded by
a glass of freezing water tossed over our heads. And while there were certainly
hints early in the episode that it was going to get a little darker the twist
at the end actually did catch me off guard because I just didn’t believe this
anime was going to go there.
As usual the episode begins with a new case to deal with and
we see the team doing the usual office things before Arata gets assigned to go
and look into a situation where a child has gone to sleep and won’t wake up.
After Arata’s on his way we learn from Kyoichi and Theo that there have been
cases like this one before so they suspect Arata can handle in. Then there’s a
weird moment where Arata gets sent to work with the government office. This
would have made more sense early in the episode before he picked up the case but
it seems to just kind of get thrown in.
However, right from meeting the two guys Arata is now
working with, you kind of know things aren’t going to go well. There’s a guy
with a scar on his eye-brow who seems to have an intense hatred of the Anothers
and you can see the ideological clash that’s coming even if not the
The actual hunt for the Another goes much smoother than
normal. They talk to the brother of the most recent victim and find out the
location the kids were dreaming of and off they go. It does strike me as weird
that the mother wasn’t present during this interview but that’s a minor detail.
I’m just going to say, the Another they find this week is
really cute. Arata plays a game of tag with it, has a bit of a chat and more or
less resolves the issue. Then get prepared for the slap in the face as that
government guy you just knew was a problem takes matters into his own hands.
The idea of who is more monstrous, monsters or humans, isn’t exactly a new one
for supernatural stories to delve into however I was shocked by the callous
cruelty on this one.
Mostly it makes me very curious as to what the last couple of episodes will bring for Midnight Occult Civil Servants as there’s plenty of fodder to dig into here but will it do it justice?
The thing I remembered most about Fruits Basket is that
every episode of the original had some part or another that either hit the right
emotional note, was utterly charming, or was just fun to watch. I would have
been hard pressed to say that the school festival episode was better or worse
than the episode where we met Tohru’s family or even the episode where we saw
Hatori’s backstory which was a personal favourite of mine.
Fruits Basket 2019 has this same consistent charm.
Eight episodes in, and while I’ll still say that Kagura’s
introduction wasn’t as great as it potentially could have been with a few minor
changes, every episode has given us enough charm and emotion to make the
experience as a whole fairly unforgettable and yet individual episodes just
kind of blur together as a series of moments in the lives of these characters.
Episode 8 of Fruits Basket focuses on New Year’s and we
learn early on that Tohru is going to be alone for the holiday as she has
turned down the invitations of her friends, not wanting to intrude on their
family time, and the Soma’s are returning to the main house and will not be
around. Tohru takes this is typical Tohru fashion which, as Yuki points out
early in this episode, is fairly inscrutable.
It isn’t that Tohru is hard to read. She’s pretty obvious.
But the problem is given she’s always looking out for others and trying to
protect them, calling her a liar when she says she’ll be fine is difficult even
for the closest of her friends.
The episode is full of delightful Yuki and Kyo moments
though the MVP of the episode, as it was in the original anime, is Hana.
Hana takes it upon herself to guilt trip the other two into
abandoning their plans and returning to Tohru for New Years giving us a
delightful emotional ending to the episode even if the future implications need
to be considered.
Fruits Basket continues to be a beautiful and emotional affair and honestly I have very few complaints about how this is progressing. I really enjoyed every moment of the episode even knowing where it was going as this one is all about the feeling it constructs in getting there.
Here we are with the standard club anime where all the
previous members graduated but one and now we’re recruiting new members. We’re
just combining this with the standard delinquent/misunderstood trope character
who needs to find some way to absolve his guilt after his actions led to the
destruction of his grandfather’s work prior to his death. That said, just
because we’ve seen these stories before doesn’t make this a bad start. Not at
With its soft colour palette and slow pacing, this episode
is fairly calm and mellow even with the violent encounters and flash backs.
While the outcome of the episode is more or less guaranteed, the journey is
worth taking and while neither of the main characters is getting points for
originality any time soon, both Kudo and Takezou are interesting enough in
their own ways.
One thing that is a little amiss might be that this is a
koto club and other than one flash back sequence to the seniors playing, where
we didn’t really hear it, there’s no koto playing in this first episode. Maybe
that’s fine given this is the set-up for recruiting members and we’ll get
there, but it just seemed like you would put the instrument on more display
early in a season.
There’s a lot of anime this one will inevitably get compared
to, but taken on its own, while it is an ordinary kind of story it is one that
so far has been nicely put together and was fun to watch. I’m looking forward
to seeing how the other members get recruited and to seeing them actually doing
proper club activities.
Well I said I was curious as to recruitment of other members
and to hear them play the koto and episode 2 hit both those points. Admittedly
Kono Oto Tomare doesn’t appear to be in any rush introducing just one new club
member this week. Turns out the whole message about not judging a book by its
cover isn’t just going to be applied to Kudo as Houzuki, the new member is also
a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to her appearance and personality.
With another fiery personality in the mix, things are more
lively than last week. We see Takezou perform to try to recruit new members
though with fairly indifferent results before we meet Houzuki and it is
revealed that she’s apparently a genius player. They hold off on proving that
for a fair while until Houzuki is in the club room alone and Kudo hears her
playing from outside the door. It was pretty impressive all things considered
with pretty visuals thrown into the mix.
Kudo continues looking for absolution for past misdeeds,
this week helping the club get their instruments fixed before volunteering to
help repair them. The delinquent with the heart of gold act is one we should
all be familiar with but that doesn’t make it any less endearing and it is
certainly enough to finally thaw Houzuki’s chilly personality.
While I’m still a bit behind on this one I think I’m going
to enjoy it so for now this one is firmly staying in my line up.
The secret is out and Hina takes it all upon herself (which as the adult in the relationship and the supervising teacher that quite clearly acted in a way contrary to her position it makes sense that she does this). In order to avoid the scandal becoming public, Hina accepts a transfer of position (why she isn’t fired is a question I guess we’ll never understand) and then she vanished from Natsuo, Rui and the rest of the family (though she does send her mother a text). Domestic Girlfriend has been big on these extreme reactions to emotions rather than more measured responses but to be honest at this point this was actually a fairly low-key way to handle the situation.
All of which is better than Natsuo’s approach which is to literally hide in his room. I’m going to give full credit to the support cast of Domestic Girlfriend in this instance for not putting up with that. The support they give Natsuo in this episode is phenomenal and Natsuo really hasn’t appreciated Rui enough given everything she’s done for him (of course, her throwing herself at him in the end is all kinds of weird but more or less expected from this story at this point).
After being encouraged, shouted at, and dragged to a bath house, Natsuo turns to writing to help deal with his emotions. While at first he ignores the food and other supports Rui brings him, in time it is almost as though the writing provides a release for him and he returns to the world around him.
Of course, this being the kind of story it is, it isn’t just a personal writing venture. he gives the draft to his teacher who is a writer who just happens to decide to pass it on and the next thing you know Natsuo is winning an award.
There’s something very unbalanced about Domestic Girlfriend in that some moments are really grounded and touching and then it does things that makes you wonder just what planet these characters are living on. It always takes things just that little bit too far and pushes them past the ability to suspend disbelief.
That said, for an anime that has been borderline trashy since the beginning, is well outside my usual preferred viewing genres, and is generally full of characters that aren’t all that likeable, there’s been something kind of great about watching this. It is going to make for an interesting review and I’m kind of looking forward to writing it.
The drama continues in Domestic Girlfriend but as each of these characters insists on making fairly short sighted decisions I’m more at the point of just kind of watching to see what wrong turn they take next. Rui, for her part actually gets out of this episode fairly unscathed making a number of reasonably sensible choices. The biggest one being to simply push Natsuo away from her thoughts and not hold a grudge against her sister. That could have gotten ugly and certainly would have strained the family relations and so Rui is actually acting the most sensible of any of these characters right at this point.
Unfortunately, Rui being reasonably sensible doesn’t help Natsuo and Hina who are apparently just born to be stupid in love.
Still, before I tear Natsuo down too much, he did do one smart thing this episode (which if I said he’s stupid in love but not actually stupid). Shaken when Rui wins an honourable mention in the writing contest, Natsuo decides he needs to start taking writing seriously if he ever is going to pursue a career as a writer. Fortunately he’s more than determined enough and actually willing to work for it, so the progress made on this front is actually kind of pleasing to see this episode.
While I still find the adviser guy a little creepy and honestly hard to get a character reading on given he seems to fluctuate in whatever mode they need for the scene, his offering Natsuo advice is actually kind of nice to see and you could actually see these two developing a nice mentor/student relationship. Assuming of course he doesn’t flick back into creepy mode.
However, Hina and Natsuo together are a terrible idea because they both just stop thinking. On a school trip, Hina invites Natsuo to her room to talk. There’s a whole lot of stupid just in that decision. Then Natsuo declares he wants to get more serious with her at the same time that she says they should break up. She then outlines some fairly clear and logical reasons why they should and he just rejects them out of hand. Why worry about reality when you have true love on the table, I guess is the reasoning but it just sounds so dumb. And she accepts it.
Next thing they are making out and discussing when they fell in love and he even reveals he saw her masturbating that one time… This is while they are on a school trip and she is there in the capacity of the supervising teacher.
But it is all sunshine and roses because he asked her to marry him one day. It really is just a disaster you can’t look away from.
By the time the end of the episode rolled around you’re just waiting for it and when Hina is called to see the head-teacher you more or less know what’s about to happen. Of course they end it there and I know I’ll watch it next week anyway because this is some great pop-corn worthy melodrama. It’s just terrible and yet unmissable all at once and the only question left is what stupid choices will they make next week?