Finally got around to watching Future Diary episodes 1-4 and Ben-To episodes 2-3 this weekend. Here are some quick points on each:
Future Diary (Episodes 1-4) – Guess I should feel embarrassed for missing this anime. But hey, I’m all caught up now. What makes this series enjoyable for me are the characters and when the show doesn’t take itself seriously. Yuno has been outstanding as a support, balancing carefully that unhealthy level of insanity while still remaining a competent and contributing character. Her role has made the story a lot more fascinating; she is the X-factor that makes this anime work. If Yukiteru were on his own, then this would’ve made for a terrible anime. Yukiteru has been a pleasant lead though, growing from that pathetic, indecisive loser into someone who thinks rationally and carries out his actions. But he is nothing without Yuno. Been happy with all the other cast members although I don’t agree with what they did to the Ninth, trying to add some sympathy to her character in the recent episodes. My favorite scenes are those when the series doesn’t take itself seriously, like during the Ninth’s escape (episode 2), the Twelfth in the dungeon (episode 4), and whenever Murumuru is on screen. It’s then when the series is at its best because it’s having fun, it knows it’s having fun, and the audience is having fun, too. When the show tries to be too serious, it comes across as forced and ridiculous. The animation and artwork have stood out as bright spots for me, especially with that dazzling use of lighting. The romance between Yukiteru and Yuno is a pass for me. And the plot is quite original but that doesn’t mean I like it. Anime with similar story elements to this one have never fared well for me (didn’t like Eden of the East and I hated Deadman Wonderland) but this is definitely the best of that bunch. What separates this from those two anime (and by quite a bit I might add) are the characters and the fact the series doesn’t take itself seriously the whole time. Will keep up with this regularly and integrate it into my weekly posts.
Ben-To (Episodes 2-3) – I’ve always had a weakness for comedy/fighting/ecchi anime, so I decided to give Ben-To another shot after hearing some positive reviews from some people. But hardly anything in that show is working for me. The comedy is generally infrequent and ineffective to me; I haven’t laughed through 3 episodes now. I’ve smiled but then again, I smile at the jokes in virtually any anime so that’s nothing significant. I’m not sure if it’s the characters or the material but something isn’t working there for me. The fanservice is forgettable except those who have a fetish for different types of leggings. The fights have been decent, undoubtedly the most entertaining aspect of the show so far, but there is hardly any animation to them. I like how the fights are free-for-alls with everyone going berserk but still managing to follow the rules (they do look pretty fun to be a part of) but a still-frame and a shaking camera is probably the worst way to depict a fight in my opinion. The animation elsewhere has also been shoddy and I’m not too fond of the art style either. I enjoy Yarizui and Kaneshiro as characters but the rest of the cast has been pretty standard and there is only one character I despise (shouldn’t be hard to figure out). I love the absurd plot, that people get together and fight over food and take it seriously, which is probably why I keep coming back to this anime. Two episodes was enough for me to let me know it’s still not worth keep up with weekly but I may restart it at the end of the season when I have some free time. Why? Well, because again, I have a weakness for shows like this. I might not love this series but if it continues to be entertaining, then it’ll be worth it in the end. Putting it in my delayed line.
And as always, the regular listing of anime this week:
Chihayafuru (Episode 5) – What respect I had for Wataya is all but gone now after this past episode. His behavior now toward karuta is somewhat coherent but his attitude toward Chihaya and Taichi is unforgivable. Blaming himself for his grandfather’s relapse (which really isn’t his fault, there’s not much he could’ve done to prevent it or mitigate it) makes sense because he went out to play karuta rather than monitor his grandfather, so that’s fine, I can accept that. But being a total bitch toward Chihaya is ridiculous. She had absolutely zero part in the whole mess that’s making Wataya depressed and for him to take it out on his friends is inexcusable. He did try to redeem himself at the end by chasing after the train on his bike but after that exchange, I don’t think I’ll ever like Wataya for the rest of the series. I can’t stand characters like that and it’s a shame Wataya has become that character in this anime.
Mawaru Penguindrum (Episode 17) – I remember when Kanba was my favorite character in this anime. I liked his witty personality, this comprehensive thought-process, his dominating demeanor, and how he always took action into his own hands. But the whole incestual relationship with Himari has really bothered me lately. While it has tarnished his character for me, I actually like what it’s doing for the series, the story, and I really enjoyed this episode. Still, at this point, he’s not my favorite character anymore. And since Masako’s grandfather isn’t likely to be around anymore, I need to find someone else to cheer and be giddy about whenever they’re on screen. It’s funny how I like Ringo now when she used to be my least favorite character in the series but I don’t think she’s my favorite now. I don’t think I can choose one of the penguins as my favorite but I really like what Penguin #1 does whenever he’s on screen (like looking up skirts in this episode). If I had to choose one today, it’d be Sanetoshi since he’s calm, calculated, and deceptive which are all traits I like in a villain. I’d like to see more of his motives soon since he seems to be the mastermind behind everything going on.
Persona 4 the Animation (Episode 5) – That was a boring episode. I’ve never been a fan of romance in anime and installing the dating element of the game in the anime like this did nothing for me. I was hoping there’d be more of a focus on exploring the village and highlighting its impressive cast of characters but it spent too much on only a couple characters. I’m guessing that’ll be it for this little side story and that the anime will go back to its action/mystery side but I’ll give it props for trying to give us a change-of-pace for one episode. Now if they show more of that short, blue haired waitress, then maybe I would change my mind about episodes like these…
Tamayura ~hitotose~ (Episode 5) – Is it just me or have the characters in Tamayura stagnated, like they’ve hit a wall after establishing their traits and oddities and have nowhere else to go? We know Norie loves cooking and obsessed over Kou every time he’s within her line of sight but that’s all we know about her. Is she going to do anything else or will she repeat the same ish every episode like she has for the past five? What about Maon and her whistling? It doesn’t annoy me like it once did but I want to see her actually sing or do something else. Her working at the inn was a nice start but I want to see more. And Kaoru, my favorite character, hasn’t had the time to do anything special, not even with her quirk toward scent and fragrance. All she’s good for is being the reasonable one and being bossed by her older sister. I’m hoping to see the characters crawl out of their comfort boxes and try something else because otherwise this anime will start to get tedious with all the characters sticking to their one-line descriptions and never growing into people.
This week we finally learn about Ritsuko’s past as an idol and see her replace Azusa in a surprise concert. I found out that she was an idol in the first game (this anime is focused more on the second game where she’s a producer), so this episode must’ve been nice for those who were fans of Ritsuko in the first game and were disappointed in her lack of singing, dancing, general screentime compared to the other girls. This anime certainly has its fans in mind when they create each episode, kinda like me with last week’s Makoto episode. It doesn’t mean that the episodes are spellbinding or creative but they do a good job of giving the fans what they want.
UN-Go (Episode 4) – I’m going to like the addition of Kazamori to Yuuki’s detective duo. While Inga is still my favorite character, I think Kazamori will add a welcome contrast to the current team and he will help bring out Yuuki’s and Inga’s characters more than what they can do together. The past four episodes have shown Inga (boy) simply follow Yuuki and shower him with praise while Inga (woman) tries to dominate him sexually and psychologically. Kazamori will break up that monotony by disturbing their current balance, being able to go against Inga (female) due to the nature of his being or responding to Inga (boy) in various ways rather than Yuuki’s constant composed demeanor. And Kazamori can help flesh out Yuuki’s character, too, although I’m not sure exactly how that’d work just yet.
A side note: now we have a male character (Kazamori) in a girl’s body and a female character (Inga) in a boy’s body. And yes, I’m going with Kazamori being a male since that’s what he originally was programed to be. Doesn’t matter that he’s in a girl’s body now, I’m going to consider him a male character. Shouldn’t be hard with all the traps and reverse traps in anime these days.
Working’!! (Episode 5) – With the way Working’!! is progressing with its characters, its episodic content, and its humor, I have a feeling this season will rank/score higher than its first season. There were some aspects of the original that irked me that are missing this season, so I haven’t had as much to complain about as I did (to my friends) when we all watched the first season. The artwork and animation seem to be much better which really doesn’t help with the humor but is an extra bonus that I always like to point out. The humor, obviously the most important part of any comedy anime, has been operating at a level above what I remember from the first season. I don’t remember having a bunch of heavy laughs with the first season but I am having them this season. I’m not sure if I’m more sensitive to this style of comedy or if the jokes are better or if it’s because I’m liking the characters and their dynamics more but something clicking between this anime and me. I’m dying to see Maya return for a few scenes (more than her waiting on tables) but I see there are some new characters showing up soon, as early as episode six. Guess we’ll see how these affect the balance of this anime.