Winter 2019 Grab Bag Week 4: Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai, Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai

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I think I might have finally settled on a reasonable post schedule for this season. And so, I bring you a reasonably timed grab bag.

The girls plan their bonus spending

**Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai Episode 3

This series still doesn’t feel like it has shown its hand yet, so I’m inclined to conclude that we’re just in for casual adventure time with the main girls. This week’s episode seemed to hint at some character development for Emma, but we don’t get any context for it. That being said, if the pirates from this episode end up being some kind of recurring gag antagonist, I could actually see that working.

The townspeople brag about their victory

It is kind of funny that we’re introduced to the townspeople first in this episode. Because they talk so big with only decrepit defense systems to back it up, it’s really hard to root for them. Combined with the somewhat goofy Elite Industries, it makes it tough to decide who to side with.

Elite Industries presents a very convincing painting

Well, I can’t exactly get upset about this. Sure, these guys are pirates, but they have the respect to bribe the town with a fake painting. That’s dedication.

Emma lectures the town about pirates

I suppose it’s clear that Emma has some big issue with sky pirates, but that’s all we get in this episode. I mean, it’s fine for explaining why she goes off the rails, but I honestly think the episode could have spent a little time with her story. There was a decent amount of time that felt empty, with the townspeople going on about how great they were.

The girls can't chase after the pirates

I think it’s interesting that the series has the girls fail a mission early on. Given that the format of the series is still in question, it’s hard to say whether they’re going to try and finish the job. The fact that the villagers take a different victory from the battle makes it seem like this episode is supposed to stand on its own, but it’s always possible.

Shirogane wonders why he has to do the work

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai Episode 3

I’m enjoying how goofy this adaptation is. The first two episodes seemed to focus more on delivering satire through extremely serious situations, which this episode seemed to toss random jokes in for fun. To that end, the episode even starts off by fast-forwarding through the intro, almost acknowledging that it has shown us those exact scenes twice now.

Lewd country

With so many of the previous battles determined by excessive overthinking on both sides, it’s fun to have a battle that’s just a complete misunderstanding. I guess it’s supposed to focus on the fact that Kaguya is heavily sheltered. I think it’s hilarious how Chika eventually describes the “first time” to Kaguya in the end. It goes on way longer than I would have expected.

Shirogane gets the right answer

The second story is probably my favorite of the episode, since it’s seems to be the more straightforward mind game. Kaguya intentionally misleads Shirogane with vague answers, and he manages to see through it in the end.

Friends with a yeti

This scene is probably my favorite joke of the episode, since it’s completely random and requires a bit of attentiveness. When the child clarifies Yeti is just a nickname and not a reference to the actual Abominable Snowman, we get a brief glimpse of a yeti on the side. It’s a great example of innocently correcting a misunderstanding only to throw it back into play.

Chika dances to the ending

I think this should go without saying, but Chika’s ED theme is amazing.

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Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai First Impressions (1): Love is hard

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The battle for love has begun

Even though I’ve read the manga, watching this first episode was still good for some laughs. I’ve been a fan of this series for while, so it was fun to see. The basic concept is simple. The main characters, Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya, overthink romance to a level that would put me to shame, as they fight to make sure that the other is one who confesses first. It’s a fun premise, and it makes for some truly hilarious schemes.

Miyuki's grand plan to make Kaguya fall for him

I do have a small comment about the visuals in this series. For the most part, they’re fine, but I do get the sense that they’re a bit simplistic for how over-the-top the scenes are. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by some of the visuals from the previous season, but I would expect more going on in the background.

Miyuki needs to figure out a plan

The mental battles themselves are what really drew me to the series. It’s not that the two are necessarily smart, but a lot of the jokes tend to be clever and enjoyable. Still, it’s tough to talk about this series, since it’s a comedy at its core.

Kaguya thinks Miyuki is cute?

You’re going to be seeing this scene a lot. Have I mentioned how much I like this series?

Chika is sad to see Kaguya go

Chika is also great as an agent of chaos in the episode, throwing the plans of both main characters into disarray. She’s the source of a surprising amount of tension throughout the series, and it just makes it funnier.

Yagate Kimi ni Naru Review: Some consistent, relaxing romance

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Yuu is upset

I’ll be honest. I didn’t talk too much about this series as it was airing because it felt pretty low-key to me. It’s not a show that goes to great lengths to be flashy, despite the insane attention to visual details in the animation itself. However, it is a show that has a clear character dynamic that it executes well. The main character, Yuu Koito, is a girl searching to understand the feeling of love. She meets Toukko Nanami, who seems to share her plight, but Touko instead falls for Yuu and confess to her.

Yuu doesn't fall in love

A large part of why I thought the show was a pleasant viewing experience is the fact that it doesn’t shove its yuri component in my face. While it’s certainly a factor in Yuu and Touko’s relationship, there’s no constant reminder of how forbidden or taboo the love is (as you might see in a show like Citrus). While it’s probably true that the relationship between the two girls would cause uproar if it was made public, it wasn’t a constant source of drama driving events forward.

Yuu feels nothing

Yuu, as a character, was surprisingly relatable for me. While she shows the empathy of a kind person, she approaches her feelings with a sense of rationality that can hold her back. As the series progresses, we see her start to take more chances to learn more about herself and the love she’s trying to find.

Touko knows what she wants

On the other side, Touko isn’t such a simple character herself. While she gives off the initial appearance of the typical model student, we learn that there’s more to that personality as she opens up to Yuu. It becomes a bigger decision point for her, as she also tries to discover who she really is, rather who she believes she is.

The stage play won't be easy

Unfortunately, the story is forced to stop at a bit of a weird point, given its relatively slow pacing and the unfortunate consequence of being an adaptation. It’s sad to see so much time devoted to setting up the all-important student council stage play only to have series end before it can be resolved. It’s not really fair of me point it out, but it did leave me wanting more. Maybe I should just read the manga, right?

Don't say you hate things Yuu likes

I’d love to go more in detail about the visual appeal of the series, but I’m, as always, woefully underqualified to do so. I will say, though, that it doesn’t take too much training to notice how much effort goes into every scene. The show is pleasing to look at, keeps a mellow atmosphere without pushing the drama to unrealistic levels, and delivers interesting characters who feel oddly realistic.

Overall Score: 8/10

Fall 2018 Grab Bag Week 12: Yagate Kimi ni Naru

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The student council makes curry together

It feels weird to talk about this show for the first time right as it’s get close to its ending, but I’m not really in a mood to comment on Sword Art Online. For the most part, I’ve generally stuck this series on kind of a middle-level. I think it’s interesting because of how it seems to truly explore character thoughts and motivations (rather than using generic, flowery language like other romances), but I haven’t been overly enthusiastic about it. The series does look great, though.

Former student council member talks about Touko's sister

That being said, I do like the general idea of personas in this series, especially with the recent episode’s shift to exploring the assumptions we’ve had about Touko’s sister. Even without having younger siblings, I’m sure it’s not hard to understand the desire to project the appearance of reliability to someone who looks up to you, so it’s a nice development.

Touko's sister seemed capable because of the efforts of others

If anything, this episode made it sound a lot more like Touko’s sister was actually a bit opportunistic, having gained a positive image as the hard-working student council president purely through the support of her friends. I’m actually quite curious to see how this affects Touko’s view of herself and her sister, since it seems to shatter a lot of her preconceptions.

Touko is nothing like her sister

Still, part of me wonders if Touko has always secretly known this about her sister. In an earlier episode, Yuu was trying to find out about Touko’s sister, only to find that many of the records related to her had disappeared. At the time, it was suggested that Touko was the reason behind it, so it’s possible that she already had an idea.

Controlling yourself in bed

To take a step back, the recent episodes haven’t focused as much on Yuu, but she’s part of the primary focus in the series. I wanted to note that I find her intriguing as a character. She seems to take an analytical approach to “love” as an emotion she doesn’t understand, and I find that cool.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Final Episode (13): Some clever joke about rainbows

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While I feel like the resolution of this episode was “correct”, the cynic within me doesn’t feel quite satisfied with how this episode played out. Most of the “surprises” were actually set up pretty well, so it has nothing to do with that. I can’t come up with a great way to summarize, so I’ll just take the grievances individually. Maybe it’s just the general sense that the episode was trying hard to make it seem like the happy ending was impossible when it was the only one that fit the tone of the show.

This isn’t really a huge deal, but I did get the sense that they were going a little nuts with the “deep quotes” in this episode.

This point feels a bit overdone with Mitsuyoshi comparing his current situation with the tragedy in his childhood. It almost feels like he’s relearning something he should have realized in the previous episode. Also, the whole thing with Mitsuyoshi running after the invitation felt longer than it needed to be. Really building up the tension, huh?

Honestly, having Charles call off the wedding at the last minute felt fine. He generally gave me the impression that he was someone who cared for Teresa but felt pained watching her interact with Mitsuyoshi. It’s big of him to take one for her, but it’s not a huge shock. It honestly felt like one of the few clean ways we could get this ending to work, but I could never really say for sure because it was so hard to gauge the political ramifications of cancelling the wedding. The series never makes it clear.

We did it?

Where? But back on topic, I thought for sure that at least Pin-senpai and Hina would get their shot together. Oh well…

Misdirection aside, this ending feels awkward to me. Sure, Mitsuyoshi and Teresa have fought to be together, but I feel like it’s a shame that they’re the only ones who truly get an ending in this episode. Charles and Alec seem to have a moment in the end, but they feel even less deserving of that. It would cheapen the gesture Charles made if he quickly shifted his affection toward Alec.

Final Score: 6/10 This show ended up being pretty straightforward. It was cute in a lot of places, but I don’t think it did anything particularly special. I don’t really see myself remembering it down the line.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Episode 12: Bad end?

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Well, that episode was kind of depressing. I think my main complaint with this episode was that it felt too much like it was trying to catch up. Many of the conversations in this episode cover aspects that have been made very clear to the audience, and it feels like the show slows down to make sure all of the characters are up to speed. It makes sense logically, but it’s not really fun to watch, especially when it’s a pretty sad experience.

I mean, I get that this scene is here for the sake of comedy, but how important is it that Kaoru finds this out? Maybe it’s meant to justify Kaoru finding Mitsuyoshi at the end of the episode. He goes to the palace to investigate this picture or something.

I had so much hope for that bracelet when Charles first brought attention to it. It seems like such a small thing now. It establishes the relationship between him and Teresa, but it doesn’t do much else.

This scene kind of illustrates what I was saying in the opening. The fact that time has to be spent here to have Charles react to Mitsuyoshi feels like taking a step back.

How do we make this revelation more shocking? Flashbacks!

Doesn’t Mitsuyoshi look pretty sad in the photo he shows Teresa?

I made a joke about the Alec flashback, but this flashback was worse in my mind. I didn’t get the sense that these scenes truly related to Mitsuyoshi’s realization that Teresa was always talking about her royal legacy.

We’re right up to the final episode…and I don’t buy it. The bittersweet ending just doesn’t make sense in this series. I acknowledge that it could be done, but it doesn’t fit the tone of the series. Additionally, Teresa hasn’t done enough throughout the series to make me believe her determination. She has insisted that she would fulfill her role, but words only go so far.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Episode 11: The decision is made

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I think this week’s episode was pretty good, but I still can’t get over my initial trouble getting a feel for Mitsuyoshi as a character. I guess the episode centered around how he came to terms with his feelings for Teresa in order to motivate himself, but the very nature of his personality made it difficult to understand where he started in relation to where he ended up. Also, many of the events in the episode seemed pretty clear (especially the thing about the photo being submitted to the contest).

Well done, Kaoru support.

This line from Mitsuyoshi was actually pretty sad to hear.

Using the older couple to give the message about expressing your feelings was pretty nice. I find it a bit hard to believe that the old man hadn’t expressed his feelings before, but it still works. I would have expected something more along the lines of saying he hadn’t said it in a long time.

I liked the use of the old video to trigger Mitsuyoshi’s realization. It was a nice throwback to a really good episode.

The line about going to see the rainbow after clearing the rain in Mitsuyoshi’s heart felt like a good one. Anyway, I could see this story going either way when it comes to a happy or bittersweet ending, so I don’t really know what to expect. I’m actually kinda cheering for the happy ending.

What are you doing there, Kaoru? That’s a pretty committed stalker.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Episode 10: And so the suffering begins

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Okay, I’m going to say right off the bat that I had a blast watching this episode. I still have my criticisms for the relationship between Mitsuyoshi and Teresa, but I really loved the way the episode laid out its hints. The entire episode felt like a treasure hunt that rewarded me for paying attention.

Well, I said last week that I wanted the gruff Rainbow Shogun fan to show up in this date, and the episode really delivered. I think the scene with the policeman was a bit excessive, but I thought it was hilarious how he kept appearing in the background. I think I would have preferred if he hadn’t been so blatantly revealed. As you can see from the last screenshot, I was keeping track of him.

These conversations between Teresa and Mitsuyoshi were really great. Even though Mitsuyoshi speaks only of his fear of planes on the surface, the conversation seems to be secretly driving home this idea that Teresa and Mitsuyoshi don’t belong together by planting this idea that Mitsuyoshi would have trouble going to Teresa’s home.

The hints about Reiko seem interesting. She’s starting to seem less like a relative based on these descriptions. Maybe she’s a former friend of the grandfather? It certainly sets up the grandfather’s scene in the preview where he seems to be giving some advice to a saddened Mitsuyoshi.

Also, Alec’s interaction with Kaoru worked really well. The show pretty much confirms that Teresa’s date with Mitsuyoshi is actually a last hurrah by having Alec act uncharacteristically nice. It’s the type of behavior you’d expect when you’re about to part for a long time.

I’m a bit upset about this scene where Mitsuyoshi misses Teresa’s suggestive line. It just seems unnecessary.

Okay, this is cheesy, but well played on the rainbow effect in Teresa’s eyes.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Episode 9: And so it begins

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While this episode actually delivered a lot of scenes that I found funny, I feel like I’m starting to become disenchanted with the series. I think that devoting the episode to Mitsuyoshi being sick fell flat for me. There didn’t seem to be any sort of spin in this episode. It was pretty normal for a romance episode in which one character gets a cold.

I have to hand it to Alec. She definitely delivered on this goal.

I was kind of hoping for a bit more from the supporting cast after these scenes. There were a couple of moments when the scene shifted to Hina as she watched Mitsuyoshi helping Teresa. Those scenes really made me think that she was picking up on Teresa’s feelings because of her own unrequited love, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. She just asks whether Teresa was acting weird, which is something anyone could have noticed.

This transition from a motivational speech to a view of normal slacking was great.

Okay, that was way more text than I was expecting. It’s kind of late in the game to pull out those verbose photography explanations, isn’t it?

Seriously, I don’t understand what this conversation contributes to the situation.

Teresa’s determination sure crumbled quickly.

I guess this doesn’t really count as a cliffhanger since the preview pretty much confirms that Teresa will ask Mitsuyoshi to see the Rainbow Shogun show with her. I sure hope they show a brief glimpse of the serious guy, since an earlier scene suggested that he was going to buy tickets for the show after hearing from the old couple. That’s just good continuity if it happens.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Episode 8: The future’s looking rough

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While I still enjoy the show and find it interesting, I thought that this week’s episode was a bit lacking. The relationships seem to be getting more established, and the show seems to be suggesting a really bittersweet ending for all of them. However, I guess I just didn’t feel anything when I was watching the big moment in the episode.

I feel kinda torn on the fortunes. I feel like they were pretty deliberately put there as negative foreshadowing. There’s no way that love fortunes in a romance show could be meaningless. So, the fact that Mitsuyoshi’s fortune spells bad luck feels pretty worrisome.

Okay, I guess this scene means that Teresa knows about Alec’s affection for Charles or soemthing.

Well, I certainly like the way Mitsuyoshi reads Teresa in this scene. As the devoted camera guy, it would make sense that he “sees” more than the other characters.

I suppose that Teresa’s reaction to Mitsuyoshi’s “deep” comment was meant to indicate that she’s falling for him. I’m totally on board with that particular aspect of this scene being important, but I guess I didn’t feel like Mitsuyoshi was saying much while I was watching the conversation. But different people respond to different things. I don’t feel like I should press it.

That certainly sounds ominous, Alec.