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Spring 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 2

Jellyfish Can’t Swim at Night – 2 [Mei the Fangirl]

Jellyfish was fantastic this week. I’ll admit, early on I was a tad put off. Mei was such a fangirl, so obsessive and weird, that I really didn’t like her. And I feared that Jellyfish would somehow end up supporting her antics, justifying them or having Kano give in to her demands to get her working with them. Luckily, Jellyfish did nothing of the sort. It still made Mei sympathetic, but instead of excusing her obsession it instead sought to explain how she got there in the first place. How she was desperate for a friend, for acceptance, for some kind of human connection, and she found that in Kano, known as Nonoka at the time, by going to one of her fan events. It was the first time someone was genuine to her, accepted her hair color and mannerisms, even seemed to like her. Watchin Mei’s room slowly fill up with Nonoka merch, over taking the trophies and book, it was really sad but really effective. Jellfyfish didn’t excuse her behavior, only made us understand it. And by the end? She had walked it back a bit, coming to view Kano as her own person and not as her obsession. Meanwhile Kano came to realize that she can’t just deny her past, that while she may not want to continue it anymore, her work as Nonoko is still part of who she is and touched a number of people. I really liked that, it worked for me, and by the end I found myself enjoying the episode a lot.

Dungeon Meshi – 16 [Cleaners/Dried with Sweet Sake]

At first I thought that Dungeon Meshi had fallen back into its early ways again, what with how focused it was on cooking and ecology and such. That isn’t a terrible thing, early Dungeon Meshi was still fine, but it isn’t nearly as good as what we have gotten for the past two months, at least not in my book. So it was a welcome surprise when Shuro and co showed up, breathing some novelty and conflict into the episode. First it was a pleasant reunion, explaining why he left and how Shuro hadn’t truly given up on Falin, instead seeking to get help. Then we get some more wholesome fluff as they two parties interact, whether it be Senshi talking about his love of cooking and connecting with Maizuru over her care for Shuro, or Laios and Kabru sort of just vibing, though that might be because Kabru is putting on a front to seem personable who knows. Anyways, this all starts to fall apart once Laios reveals how they revived Falin, what with the Black Magic and all. Now that it’s out in the open, will they accept it? Apparently it’s so taboo that if it gets out not only would Marcille be locked up, but the entire party Falin included. Obviously Shuro won’t like that. But he also doesn’t appreciate his love being brought back with “tainted” means, especially not using the meat of a dragon. Oh, and Kabru’s just ecstatic feeling vindicated to see the “dark side” of Laios’ party. Anyways, there’s a lot to unpack here and not much time for them to do it. Top that off with the rather dark scene of Falin at the end, slowly transforming into a dragon, and Dungeon Meshi seems to be slowly speeding up again. Looking forward to where it goes!

Wind Breaker – 3 [The Man Who Stands at the Top]

This was a pretty standard Shounen-y episode for Wind Breaker. Introducing some rivals, our strongest “Mentor” character, and even a future group of antagonists in Shishitoren. While all of that’s solid, fights still look decent, Nirei wasn’t as annoying and Sugishita is slowly growing on me with his expressive faces and various grunts/growls, I would still say it was a step down from previous episodes. This is mostly because Wind Breaker was more concerned with setting up stuff to come rather than spend time on Sakura’s hangups. That’s still there a bit, them doing community service was a nice way of showing they are about more than just fighting, and the people thanking them for it and his comment about the human body being “warmer than he thought” were both cute. It just wasn’t on the level of the previous two episodes for me though. Still, it was good and I have a lot of hope for Wind Breaker. Even while setting up future Shounen battles it isn’t forgetting what sets it apart , just toning it down a bit so the entire episode doesn’t revolve around it. So long as that’s always present, I expect to enjoy the show. Besides, Togame seems kind of cool for an antagonist, so his inevitable fight should be fun.

Viral Hit – 2 [I Have to Become Stronger]

Viral Hit is… I’ll be honest, I don’t know why I like this as much as I do. It really doesn’t look all that good, it isn’t well animated, and most of the characters are just ugly. But they’re ugly in a way that makes them feel like real people, not just because someone can’t draw. They are purposefully ugly. And the narrative is sort of the same? Almost every single person in this show is an asshole, a bad person. Snapper actively causes trouble to get good YouTube clips, Pakgo and the beauty channel girl are literally just clout chasing pieces of shit, and Hobin is quickly letting his moment of virality get to his head. Despite his desire to save his mother being pure, he’s still kind of a shit. Yet it’s because everyone sucks, because everyone is clearly in it for themselves, that I feel like it works? Viral Hit isn’t making YouTube seem glamorous or ignoring it’s bad parts, rather it feels like it’s directly calling YouTubers out. Plus the fights seem to be slowly improving now that Hobin has stumbled upon a magical YouTube channel that can teach him out to fight with nothing but a 20 minute tutorial video from a foreigner in a chicken mask. It’s not bad advice, he’s right about angry opponents, but Hobin is picking it up a tad too fast. Anyways, point is, I’m not totally sure why I’m enjoying Viral Hit, but I am. Watching bad people do bad things, get rewarded for it, and know they will almost certainly lose it all down the line, is very cathartic. Hopefully that feeling doesn’t disappear, because without it I’m not sure I’ll enjoy this much.

Astro Note – 3

Astro Note continues to be fun while still dodging a lot of the worst rom-com tropes. Take the Fiance thing for instance. While it was the cliffhanger for last week, this week Astro Note walks it back almost immediately, downgrading it to more of a childhood friend thing. I’m sure some find that disappointing, why introduce it at all if you’re just going to walk it back, but I thought it an effective way to introduce a romantic rival while still getting some jokes out of it. Him being an alien and not understanding Earth culture/humans at all only helped make Shoin a tad more fun, though he really doesn’t get that much screen time. Instead the bulk of the episode is on Miyasaki, both his reaction to Shoin and him getting to show off how he’s a genuinely good guy by making Ren lunch. Combine that with the rest of the house rallying behind him so to speak, such as the unemployed father purposefully coming off as a shitty dad so that Miyasaki could deliver the lunch in his place, and you have a pretty fun episode. I also like how it’s still progressing the plot a bit as well, slowly introducing the Hubs and laying the ground work for new characters. Hopefully Astro Note is able to deliver on those and stay interesting for the rest of the season.

Bartender: Glass of God – 3 [The Perfect Taste]

And thus does Bartender introduce Shounen power scaling to a series about making cocktails. Can’t say I was expecting that. Can’t say it was particularly welcome either. The core of the show that I enjoy it still there, how Sasakura makes drinks specific to the individual befitting how they are feeling that moment, what those drinks mean to them and why he chose them. That’s still there, and it’s good. Same with what bartending means to Sasakura, his meeting and conversation with the female bartender talking about why she quit and pushing her to get back into it was solid. Hell, even the new antagonist, Mister Perfect, isn’t inherently bad. But the way Bartender uses him is… disappointing? The guys super power is that he makes the drink perfectly, the same, every single time, delivering a consistent experience for a client to return to. And somehow that’s celebrated more than Sasakura’s own ability to make a drink perfect for the client in that very moment, even if it may not be perfect for them the next moment? I get that the series inevitably wants to prove his style correct, to let him find and pursue his own way of bartending, and that some of the other cast members agree. However applying Shounen power scaling to bartenders, having them compete  directly like this when, to be frank, both are perfectly valid approaches to bartending, seems at odds with the rest of the series. Maybe Bartender pulls it off, is able to refocus on the clients and their experiences rather than this competition, but the existence of Mister Perfect and the bet doesn’t give me a lot of hope. Also, a friend showed me shots from the original 2006 version, and that one just has so much more character. I might start watching that instead.

The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio – 2 [Yuhi and Yasumi and the Group]

This was another cute episode for Voice Actor Radio. Nothing too special, still fleshing out Yumiko and Chika’s relationship, shoving them into situations both on and off the air, and generally just getting them mingling a bit more. Still, that’s what I liked about the pilot, so keeping that up isn’t really a bad thing. It’s nice to see the two of them support each other, whether it be Chika validating Yumiko’s talent as a Voice Actress, making it clear she deserves to be here, or Yumiko helping Chika see what their Idol personas mean to their fans. We also get to see a bit more about how predatory the VA industry can be, such as Otome working herself to exhaustion or Yumiko having to succeed now before her mandatory rates go up due to being in the industry longer, making it less likely she will get booked unless she’s a big name. It’s nothing too damning yet, this isn’t an expose, but it’s made clear how hard this job can be. That’s solid! Hopefully Voice Actor Radio can keep that up and not lose it’s way as the season progresses.

Train to the End of the World – 3 [Short, Happy, and Easy]

This week was an improvement for Train, but not by much. At first the episode was solid horror. The easy-going locals, free food, odd insistences on things like the sauna. Then things began to escalate, odd looks, figures in the dark, suspicious comments or food. Until finally everything went to shit, the mushrooms began to sprout,  the other girls began to succumb and the town turned on them. All of that was good, great even! The show even managed to retain some of it’s silliness with the bitter melons being the mushroom people’s kryptonite, turning them away. But then Train backed off, unable to commit to the zombie horror vibe. The mushroom people just… let them go without a fuss, turning into bitter loud people complaining about short happy lives being better than long shitty ones. I get the message here, people choosing short term happiness and all, but as someone who was invested and enjoying the zombie stuff this felt like a betrayal of everything the episode had been building up. Suffice to say, while it was better, it still didn’t live up to what I was hoping for. Maybe future episodes will be able to, what with the hints towards Akane’s growing tail. Will have to wait and see.

Mysterious Disappearances – 2 [Schoolhouse, Drool, and an Apartment Wife]

Jesus H Christ the fanservice. The only supernatural mystery Mysterious Disappearances cares about is Sumireko’s tits, and how many shots it can shove them into. Seriously, almost every shot is an excuse to focus zoom on her chest. Trying on a school uniform for an infiltration mission? It’s too small, the suspenders break and her tits flop out. Walking to school? Center on her chest so when she walks away there’s a cat behind her, but the chest is more important. Waking up? First thing, giant honkers in your face because the younger sister is staring at them jealously.  In a meeting with other students? Have one of them lament their breast size and grope themselves. And the worst part? Anytime it’s not focused on her tits Mysterious Disappearances pivots to her ass/panties. And it’s not like the actual narrative is any better. Originally presented as a more adult setting, what with a 28 year old female lead who lives on her own and works a day job, Mysterious Disappearances has figured out how to force us into highschool anyways, complete with all the bullshit that comes with it. Suffice to say, this is one of the biggest step downs from a pilot I’ve seen in a long, long time. I had hoped it would pivot to focus more on the mysteries, however it’s instead chosen to do the exact opposite. A damn shame.

Unnamed Memory – 2 [The Past Recalled Once Again]

This was a real step down for Unnamed Memory sadly. It took what made the first episode work, the relationship between the King and the Witch, and replaced it with a lot of rather dull world building and combat. Did we need to spend half the episode inorganically introducing a bunch of side characters one by one? And why even bother with the whole “Witches apprentice” shtick if you’re going to blow that up and ignore it almost immediately, revealing that Tinasha was the witch all along? About the only positive thing I can say is that, of the two fights Unnamed Memory had this week, one of them wasn’t half bad. The battle against the Druza beast was a tad affects heavy, maybe overly ambitious, but I would still say that it worked. Meanwhile the battle against the mage just looked… mediocre? In every sense of the word? So between lackluster battles and very little meaningful character interaction between the Witch and the King, Unnamed Memory doesn’t seem to know what kind of series it is, or at least where its strengths lay. Maybe the next episode can resolve that, but if it doesn’t I may have my first drop of the season. Oh, one nice upside though was that Tinasha aged up a bit, though it makes me wonder why they didn’t start her at this age to begin with.

The post Spring 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 2 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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