Thursday, April 21, 2022

Anime Roundup

As I mentioned in this previous post, I took an unintentional break from anime because there was a sudden glut of non-anime shows that I wanted to watch. In addition to the ones I listed in the post, there was also the second season of Raising Dion, the rest of The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, and Letterkenny. But, well, you can't keep an anime otaku away for too long, now, can you? (WARNING: CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS)

Weathering With You
A full-length feature film brought to you by the same writer/director behind the brilliant Your Name (featured in this previous Anime Roundup post), this is a rom-dram with fantasy elements (similar to Your Name) that is about a teenage boy who runs away from home, goes to Tokyo, and meets a teenage girl who can control the weather - kind of like a slightly more subtle Storm from the X-Men. It starts off a little slow but gets real good, especially in the third act. The background art is some of the best I've ever seen in an anime, with near-photorealistic depictions of Tokyo that (I assume) are completely accurate. It's a great story with likeable characters, lots of emotion, and some humor sprinkled in. The secondary climate change theme is pretty relevant, as well.

Kotaro Lives Alone
This vignette-style dramedy takes the anime trope of kids living on their own without parents or guardians to the logical (illogical?) extreme, focusing on a four-year-old boy who lives by himself in an apartment complex. It does a good job of exploring exactly WHY a young child would be in a situation like that (as opposed to some animes where it's never explained where the parents are) and it delves into some pretty heavy and serious topics, like child abuse/neglect, divorce, etc., without getting overly dark about it. In fact, the overall tone is pretty light and optimistic, and I found myself breezing through all ten episodes of the first season in no time at all. Apparently there is also a live-action version, so Netflix, get on that, will you?

Soul Eater Not!
I was and am a big fan of the original Soul Eater (discussed in this previous Anime Roundup post). So when I found out there was a subsequent spinoff and it was on Hulu, I was all over it. Then, after a couple of episodes, I realized why it's called "Soul Eater Not!" - because although it's set in the same world as the original show (and, in fact, contains extended cameos by original characters), its tone is markedly different. Whereas the original was more of the shonen genre variety (plot-heavy action-adventure targeted at a teenage male demographic), this one is more slice-of-life/comedy/high school (in the middle of the second episode I was like, oh - I get it. "Not.") There is an in-world explanation of the "Not," with the main characters of this show being in the "NOT" class of their school, which focuses on simply controlling your powers, while the characters of the original are in the "EAT" class, where training to become heroes is the goal. Eventually the show does dip into some drama and peril, but then it quickly gets right back to being fuwa fuwa (light and fluffy). Or does it? Yes, it does. OR DOES IT??

Death Parade
This is a psychological thriller about a purgatory-like place, if said place was a bar where you play bar games (billiards, darts, etc.) to determine whether you go to "the void" or get reincarnated. Kind of like Squid Game, except not (also, this show came first). After the first episode it starts to veer away from the main premise a bit - which is good because otherwise it would get stale pretty fast - and injects an element of what I would call workplace drama as the various entities (called "arbiters") who run the purgatory-like place clash with each other. The penultimate episode features a fun cameo for hardcore anime fans, or at least fans who have watched anime shows that start with the word (HINT/SPOILER) "death."

Himouto! Umaru-Chan (Season 2)
I talked about season one of this show in this previous Anime Roundup post. Then recently, while sifting through my various streaming services for stuff to watch, I stumbled upon season two on Amazon Prime. Why they have season two but not season one, I have no idea. But it doesn't really matter - because of the slice-of-life style of the show, you don't need to have seen the first season to know what's going on (but you really should watch it anyway, it's on Crunchyroll). This second season basically continues the "story" of Umaru, the teenage girl who's a total overachiever at school and in public but a lazy otaku (nerd) at home, this time kind of delving more into her blossoming friendships with a few of her classmates, one of whom constantly says DESUWA?! (Japanese for "indeed") at the end of every sentence. Surprisingly, this is not as annoying as it sounds; in fact, now I find myself adding "DESUWA?!" at the end of my own sentences when I'm talking to my cats. One question I do have for the show (that I only thought of now for some reason) is: if Umaru wants to keep her slobby "Himouto" personality a secret, then why do her brother and she herself refer to her as "Umaru" when her friends are over? And why do said friends not catch on? It's not like they know tons of other people named Umaru. Maa, nandemoii (well, whatever).

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