Hiroi Sekai
The vast world of Japan

Blog

Honest Seasonal Impressions - Chroma's Summer 2018

Beloved readers, thank you so much for once again joining me on a seasonal dive into what I watched, as well as my to-heart, honest feelings on what I experienced. I want to make clear that these seasonal posts act only as a window into what I personally felt while perusing these series week by week.

Anything that comes out as “rambling” or “hating” does not attest to the intentions I have for Hiroi Sekai as a whole. I may have definitely been busy and (to a fault) distracted, my heartfelt goal is to utilize the concept of unabashed promotion of self-discovery. The idea that you can personally like and dislike your own unique list is why we aim to cover as much as humanly possible. As such, I thank you all again for your kind words, patience and openness to cooperate in this golden road we aim so hard for. With persistence, we will lay out a foundation for positive enforcement and harmonious acceptance that no matter what we enjoy or dislike, we are all part of this anime community.

All that said, let’s finally get into what I watched this season!


Boku no Hero Academia - 3rd Season

 
 

After watching this season of Boku no Hero Academia, I think I realize why its prior season had a bit of a fallout effect on me. Personally, I appreciate this series a great deal when it stacks on the foundation of All Might’s need to pass on his legacy and just how much weight that action has on Midoriya and his closest friends. I do lose my sense of immersion when the cast list keeps growing, but it dismisses certain characters as '“goofy” or “greenhorn”.

Now, these traits are by no means bad, especially in a series as superhero-shonen as this. However, for the majority of Season 2 and practically half of this season, we’re blasted with a huge cast of aspiring heroes, of which their varying quirks have almost preset certain characters as more powerful than others. While there are flashes of realization of how to better utilize their quirks, these weaker characters get an abysmally tiny fraction of development. To that point, I personally feel like having so many heroes be a part of these competition arcs is almost detrimental.

This sense of being lost in a crowd actually seems to affect the villain side too, from my observations. Luckily, as previously mentioned, there are some absolutely fantastic moments in Boku no Hero Academia as a whole. The training of Midoriya by All Might. Todoroki’s acceptance of his fiery father’s curse, despite his wanton need to ditch it for the much colder half of his quirk. This season, it was the explosive clash between Bakugo and Midoriya, which arises emotions that have been raging since the very first episode of the show.

So yes, I really do enjoy this series as a whole, and as it goes on, I appreciate its little “quirks”, if you’ll pardon the pun. It may seem a little too muddled with throwaway characters at times and really irk me with characters like Mineta and his blatantly rampant sex drive, but I am still excited to see what awaits every week. Given that this is a genre I personally don’t even really find any huge interest in, that’s saying something.


Steins;Gate 0

 
 

“The future is in our hands.” For so long, Okabe Rintaro has felt the cold sting of quite the opposite. After spending time in far more time loops than Marty McFly could ponder, Okabe has ditched his flamboyant white-lab-coat-personality for a desolate black-suit-defeat. He now spends his days helping test a groundbreaking AI built in the image and memories of his unrecoverable love, Makise Kurisu.

Okabe dropping out of the time travel game does not stop the Earth’s rotation however, and soon enough, the war on time travel technology is waged directly within Okabe’s escapism. He has no choice but to venture on another strenuous adventure where he must not only search for the fabled “Steins;Gate” (the one timeline that saves everyone and prevents World War III from breaking out), but he must also garner the courage and strength to find his old, determined self.

The season actually spends a decent majority of its time slowly drawing out how deep the pit of defeat Okabe has dug is. Steins;Gate 0 implements an idea that I really liked in contrast, and it’s the absolute duality of this alternate timeline compared to the first season’s. Originally, Okabe would brandish his majestic white lab coat, laugh raucously and drag everyone along as his own little lab members. In his defeat, Okabe refuses to move, but his friends as a collective become the persistent Okabe of this timeline. I really like this idea because on either side of the coin, it retains the fact that the world will always be on the move. It’s through the unwavering support of his friends that Okabe finds the will to embark on this hellish quest through time that will put every inch of his nerves to the test. It’s a really entertaining series.


Hataraku Saibo

 
 

The human body is an absolutely amazing amalgamation of bones, muscles and the cells that work tirelessly to keep it fuelled and functional. In a concept I wouldn’t have even thought of, Hataraku Saibo delves into the innards of an unknown person and shows us the love and labour of the very entities that keep them alive.

It’s a pretty simplistic series as a whole, but it’s quite enjoyable in many ways. Red blood cells make tireless journeys through the circulatory system, carrying moving boxes of O2 to the resident cells living in Japanese style condos. White blood cells don military gear and viciously knife invading viruses into fountains of blood. When the viruses become too strong for the white blood cells to handle, the Macrophages jump in, swinging their absurdly large weapons. It’s a lot of fun watching how the series gets inventive with these cells and their actual characteristics creating bonds between each other. As hilariously macho-violent the white blood cells get, we get a charming weekly interaction between a heart-of-gold white blood cell (voiced by Maeno Tomoaki) and a ditzy airhead red blood cell (voiced by Hanazawa Kana).

This poor body these cells inhabit is attacked by horrendous stuff, week after week. From deadly viruses of varying size and shape, to physical trauma so intense that it literally tears through buildings and foundations, this person we’re inside needs absurd amounts of help from their helper cells. Luckily, when it comes to bodily repairs, nobody does it better than the platelet team. These criminally adorable children of the body move in organize groups like a kindergarten class, stretching out large webs called fibrin to heal the body’s wounds. Every single instance of them is sinfully cute, and I just want to take their clingy fibrin webs and capture them all to take home (“FBI, open up!”). This is just another example of how the cells in the body may appear to be incredibly obtuse in its widely differing personalities, but how they still ultimately work together to keep the world they live in alive. You’ll see the buff musclehead T-cells yelling at every other cell, but almost never at the most physically inept platelets, as nobody else can do the very important tasks they take on. There’s other nice little touches, like how the red berets of the red blood cells look like an actual red blood cell when viewed from above.

My only personal complaint is that the concept of the defender cells fighting off invading viruses does get a bit tiresome along the way. Bugs are bugs, but I don’t think they all have to come in cackling and twirling their moustaches like Disney villains. There was an episode where regular cells became zombified by a cancerous infection, causing them to slowly inch towards healthy cells to latch onto. The source cell also had an internal struggle, having been born into the body, only to be hated and targeted by the other cells. It was miles ahead of the typical superhero villain fight scenes I was already getting through Boku no Hero Academia.


Yama no Susume - 3rd Season

 
 

There’s been this nice focus on the pleasantries of outdoor adventures in anime as of late, with shows like Yuru Camp and especially with Yama no Susume reaching a third full season from its very small beginnings. With slice-of-life being one of my favourite genres of anime, it’s great to see such attention brought to series that probably sound extremely simple on paper.

Yama no Susume aired all the way back in 2013 as a small set 2 minute shorts. While cute, it really only had the opportunity to captivate through tiny bursts of motivation. As this series has evolved into a full series with three seasons, I’ve really come to love its characters and the bonds they’ve formed through hardships. If you haven’t seen this series yet, it all begins when a timid high schooler named Aoi is approached by her energetic friend Hinata for a mountain climbing adventure. Having experienced an accident at an early age in a playground, Aoi has an innate fear of heights. Throughout the three seasons, Aoi finds herself enjoying the treks and the challenges they bring, and she ends up coming more out of her shell to join other friends in their collective hobby.

What really impresses me about Yama no Susume is how very real it can be, despite the age of its protagonists and the playful antics they can often get into with one another. Hinata and Aoi have a relationship that is more attuned to sisters than childhood friends, and while they childishly clash often, the show stages physical and recollective manifestations to cement just how long their friendship has been nurtured for. Something as simple as a spout of jealousy or stubborn disagreement is only malicious enough to take up a momentary lapse in camaraderie, which is always followed up by unwavering returns to true friendship. This series gives me the same beautiful outlook on the genre like Tamayura did throughout its four season run, but if I’m being honest to what I feel, I think Yama no Susume does it even better. Absolutely beautiful, and it’s always fun to learn some interesting facts about mountain climbing along the way.


Aikatsu! Friends

 
 

Some gems lose their shine over time, but for the length of 25 episodes thus far, Aikatsu! Friends has been steadily shining brighter and brighter. If you’ve read any of the seasonal/annual posts from the last few years, you’ll know that I place Aikatsu! on a very high pedestal, finding it personally much more enjoyable than its much more popular sisters, like Love Live! School Idol Project and Wake Up, Girls!. This is a series that gives its all, in every sense of the word.

As a refresher, the term “Aikatsu” is a portmanteau of “idol” (or aidoru) and “katsudo”, meaning club activities. It’s a long, but incredibly enriching journey through unforgettable songs, unparalleled 3D CG stage shows, illegally cute characters and treasure boxes full of great takeaway morals. Every single iteration of this franchise is structured around the idea of a newcomer idol gazing bright-eyed at what is unequivocally seen as the best of the best in the idol world. The Aikatsu series takes this miles further, having these gold star idols work tirelessly to prepare the next worthy idols to reach the pedestal they stand upon. This is a huge ambition for girls who are averaging the age of about 14-16.

“Friends” is no different in its overall approach. In this universe, idols are encouraged to pair up into “Friends Units” and play off of each others’ strengths and weaknesses to stimulate constant growth and discovery. The show playfully treats this as constant lighthearted yuri between the paired idols, and it’s always at a level where it’s much more charming than anything uncomfortable or inappropriate. At the top of this world’s ladder sits the Diamond Friends duo, Love-Me-Tear, and at the bottom sits our main protagonists, Aine and Mio, ready to take on the idol world as a new pair.

Prior readers of my seasonal impressions will remember that this series’ predecessor Aikatsu! Stars left me wanting more. While it still kept its foundational charm and likability, I ultimately felt like it left a gaping hole where so much more beauty could have bloomed from. It was that void that honestly left me concerned for the future of the Aikatsu name, but man, if Stars was the campfire of the series, I’m absolutely being burned alive in the hearty pyres of Aikatsu! Friends. This show not only rejuvenates a lot of what I’ve been craving for in terms of story and presentation, but it goes further by presenting new concepts and ideals within its own universe, leaving me curious as to what’s to come. I unapologetically adore this series to death, and can’t sing its praises enough.


Shingeki no Kyojin - 3rd Season

 
 

Man, that is some absolutely crazy $#!t going down right now. I’ve been taking myself back to the very first episode of this series and remembering when the titan threat and scare was so much more restricted, at least in our exposure at the time. So much has happened since then, and so much still needs to happen.

As always, Wit Studio does incredible work with the visuals in this series, and this time, they’ve taken this lovely little turn which gently pulls Shingeki no Kyojin away from the choir-heavy music and dystopian visuals. This hits you right from the incredible new opening sequence, performed by YOSHIKI (feat. HYDE) and accompanied by gorgeously vibrant art stills akin to the painted beauties of Hai to Genso no Grimgar.

Now, I know everyone and their grandpas have seen or at least heard of Shingeki no Kyojin, but if you haven’t yet, then let’s quickly look back at where we’ve come from. It’s been centuries since mankind was nearly destroyed by these fearsome masses of flesh known as titans, and to preserve what remained, humans built cities within gigantic walls of stone. Long after this devastating retreat, one day a colossal titan breaks down one of the walls and slaughters most of its residents. In great rage over his mother dying in the confrontation, Eren Yaeger escapes, vowing revenge on the titans and joining the riskiest military force to become stronger. This is only the very tip of an astronomically large iceberg however, and as the seasons progress, we’ve been learning so many dark secrets about the titans and humanity as a whole. It’s a wild experience that leaves you on the edge of your seat almost all of the time, but what’s astounding about Shingeki no Kyojin is that there are always still so many questions left unanswered.

Season 3 is no different. After uncovering the true lineage of the monarchy that has governed the people and its protective militant forces, we still have little to no idea what some of these titans are and how they came to bolster such wildly varied traits and sizes. On top of that, humanity has been so naturally segmented by the literal idea of walls that there is very little trust left amongst them. Too many secrets lying in the darkness, some that may prove to be more deadly to humanity than the titans themselves. It’s very little wonder why this series is such a juggernaut in the anime world, and I too am hooked.


Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katri no Nazotoki File

 
 

I won’t spend too much time on this one, as the series itself is quite episodic in nature, leaving my impressions on it from the prior article quite similar.

Katrielle Layton is the incredibly fun and charming daughter of one of London’s greatest archeologists and puzzle-solvers, Professor Hershel Layton. Having just opened up her new freelance detective shop, she’s approached by a talking dog that she cheerily names “Sherl” after the famous Sherlock Holmes. While Sherl himself has a request to Katrielle to find out how he turned into a dog in the first place, Katrielle herself is episodically led astray by her fascination with any new case that comes her way. At least it keeps the shop nice and busy.

Hanazawa Kana does a really great job voicing Katrielle, as if I really needed to say that at this point. To be 100% frank, I had this characterized interpretation in my head of Katrielle from playing the game on iOS, and Hanazawa Kana’s voice didn’t enter my mind once. However, her ability to give this character such determined hysterics and a gleeful outlook on life really cements her charm. It’s hard not to grin like a big idiot when she refuses to just reveal the intricacies of a mystery like a normal person, instead opting to making sharp turns at hidden cameras around the room to shout her findings hysterically at. It’s really amusing.

The mysteries themselves aren’t really on the levels of depth like Hyoka or even the grand original Layton adventures, for that matter. As they are episodic, you’re given a series of 5 general clues to piece together an answer, which Katrielle never fails to do. That said, while the mysteries have a sort of hierarchy of which I enjoy more than others, there are some star players that span multiple episodes, like a grand treasure hunt that features the original duo of Luke Triton and Hershel Layton themselves. It’s a really charming, bite-sized approach to the formula that I don’t mind watching it for 50 episodes, despite my nature to easily want to replace longer series with other experiences. Oh, and if you like the series, please do check out the Layton series of games on DS/3DS. They’re even re-releasing them with HD graphics now on iOS, making them even more accessible.


Macross Δ Movie: Gekijo no Walkure

 
DeltaMovie.png
 

Finally, it’s time once more to join the space opera forces of the Superdimensional Venus, Walkure, in their intergalactic war filled with blood-pumping music and too many spacecraft projectiles to count.

Macross is a long running treasure in my library that I kind of watched in the complete wrong order. Starting with Macross Frontier, I moved onto Macross Δ, then watched the original Chojiku Yosai Macross, finalizing on Macross 7 and Macross Zero. Even with such a weird approach to the timeline, the intricacies of the Macross universe are so fundamentally tied together that I’m confident I got just as good of an experience as any other fan of the series. This is even coming from someone who doesn’t really find mecha as a favoured genre.

Macross Δ’s movie is, more or less, a recap of the original series. The beauty of it is that while many of the scenes are replicated, many of them are also reimagined, with more songs added to Walkure’s already stellar repertoire. There’s a particular 3D CG stage show that’s brand new, pretty decently modelled and insanely impressively coordinated. If you’ve watched Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa, there’s a concert scene there that I had held as my favourite in the Macross universe…until now.

Despite many Macross fans showing disdain for the changes made in Macross Δ, I have a genuine love for this series. It really shows this universe is evolving with the times, while being faithful to its origins as a whole. Watching this movie not only put me right back into the excitement of the franchise, but it now really has me pumped for the supposed new Macross entry in 2018. Still no solid news on that, by the way. Maybe it’ll just make it for Winter? We can only hope.


And that’s it! Another season passes us by, and another season awaits. What more lies in wait? Only time will tell, dear readers.

ChromaComment