I have officially finished my grad project and I am glad to be back! Have an anime round-up post from me before the First Impression reviews start rolling out.
Osomatsu-San Season 2 (Cour 1 and 2):
I gotta admit, as hyped as everyone was for a second season of Osomatsu-san, what we eventually got was a little disappointing. The Matsuno bros seriously felt like one-note characters at times in this second season. Osomatsu became The Pervert, Choromatsu is the Loser Nerd, Ichimatsu became Apathy and Depression Incarnate, Jyushimatsu is now just “the random one,” Todomatsu’s double-faced tendencies got amped up to 11, and Karamatsu got shafted. The reason I liked the first season of Osomatsu-san so much was because the characters were fairly complex. Yes, they were pretty shitty human beings at times, but they also had a few good traits as well. In season two they’re just far too predictable and act shitty basically all the time. Perhaps the appeal of the brothers being shitty characters has just worn off for me by now?
The comedy in this second season also feels lacking. There appears to be too much of an over-reliance on overly long gags; too many gags that feel like pure “fanservice”; as well as a lot of crude sex-related humor. And what the heck is up with all the nudity in this season? It was shocking and humorous the first few times it happened, but now it’s just terribly stale. At least… the animation can still be amazing in some episodes. And the voice actors are all still great. I’m just sad that Osomatsu-san’s second season had so few memorable episodes. The best episode by far of the entire season is “Iyami, Alone in the Wind” (episode 18). If only we could have gotten more heartwarming episodes like that one…
Anyway, if you’re a big fan of Osomatsu-san, you probably won’t be disappointed with this second season. As someone who’s lost a lot of interest in the series, I honestly felt that this show was kind of a chore to watch at times. It’s still mildly amusing, and still one of the more unique anime out there compared to the typical anime stuff we get every season; but a lot of its previous charm feels lost. Taken as a whole, season 2 of Osomatsu-san did have a few great and genuinely funny episodes scattered throughout such as episode 16 (the “Cutie Next Door” skit), episode 22, and episode 25. And I also can’t not mention the “idol skits” between Totoko and Nyaa (we seriously need more idol shows where the idols are fully willing to beat the absolute shit out of each other). However, this season (in my opinion) definitely feels more like a mixed bag in terms of quality compared to the first one. If a third season of Osomatsu-san ever comes out in the future, I’m not sure if I’d be interested enough to watch it.
Out of five:
Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles:
It’s an anime about a girl who really freaking loves ramen; that also doubles as an anime essentially ABOUT ramen.
I mean. That’s basically it. I feel like this is a really niche anime series, because I don’t think there’s enough “girls eating things erotically”-type fanservice for it to be marketed to that crowd, nor do the characters really do much outside of eating ramen to label this series a part of the slice-of-life genre. There’s just a lot of animated ramen and ramen facts. This is a great anime if you really like staring at anime food (I personally find it relaxing) or just really love learning weird trivia about food. The ramen restaurants featured in this series actually do exist in Japan, so I guess that adds another layer of “fun” if you’re planning a trip to Japan and want to check out a few of the ramen places Koizumi visited.
Honestly; you can just turn your brain off while watching this anime and you won’t miss anything important. This is a very episodic type of series with no plot other than “people eating ramen.” Sometimes it’s nice to have an anime that basically functions as background noise or whatever when you’re feeling stressed and just want to zone out for 20 minutes.
The only thing I will say about this anime is that I hate what Yuu eventually became over the course of the series. All the characters in this show aren’t exactly amazing (save for Ayane who’s pretty great); but Yuu is just… in a league of her own. Yuu in the first episode was an optimistic, friendly girl who just wanted to be friends with the mysterious Koizumi. As the show went on, however, Yuu became a straight-up stalker towards Koizumi; and it got to the point where her obsession with Koizumi became her sole defining personality trait. Let me say now that stalking someone is really NOT COOL even if they’re both girls. Even though it’s played for “comedy,” Yuu’s obsession with Koizumi is seriously concerning and it’s not something I enjoyed watching. What a total waste of a good character design.
Out of five:
Hakumei to Mikochi:
I am so incredibly sad that this series was such an underrated gem for this season. Hakumei to Mikochi is definitely not for everyone, as it is a “slice-of-life” series in the purest sense. But it’s a shame that so many people dismiss it without watching it due to its somewhat “cutesy” art-style.
This series is essentially just about Hakumei and Mikochi’s day-to-day life—their work, their interactions with other characters, and the places they visit. Watch them shop at a market, befriend a beetle, go on a train-ride, and get involved in gang turf warfare (yes, seriously). The charm of this series definitely comes from the intricate worldbuilding and somewhat fantastical elements due to our two heroines being so small in size. The entire show has a whimsical yet calming atmosphere, and there’s just something novel about seeing the world from a smaller viewpoint. The backgrounds in this series are simply gorgeous. Some people might not like the stylized “manga panels” that are sometimes used throughout the anime, but I found it quite charming.
I’ll be upfront here, there are a handful of episodes dedicated to construction-work, as that’s Hakumei’s job (she fixes things). Depending on how interested you are in learning about architecture, these episodes can admittedly be a little bit on the dull side. Fortunately, all the characters involved are fun enough to watch that these episodes never feel totally boring.
Hakumei and Mikochi definitely get the bulk of the focus, as they are the title characters. However, I do love nearly all of the characters introduced in this series. Some characters (such as Konju) are a little bit more arrogant than others, but no one is a completely bad person. Yes, even the group of troublemakers from episode 8. Hakumei and Mikochi themselves are interesting enough characters to carry the show. I initially found Hakumei to be better characterized than Mikochi, as Hakumei gets the most obvious character development. However, as the season went on, Mikochi also got some subtle character development of her own. She also serves as a good foil to the loud, tomboyish, and strong-willed Hakumei.
Watching this show seriously feels like watching a children’s storybook come to life. It’s just such an incredibly feel-good series that seems to capture a simple life in the woods perfectly. I’ll definitely miss it now that the season is over. The manga is still on-going, so here’s hoping for a season 2.
Out of five:
Kira Kira Precure a la Mode:
Okay, okay; I know this actually finished airing at the end of January. But this is the first Precure series I have ever completely finished since Smile (which aired five years ago), so let me have this moment to talk about it.
Kira Precure is… to be blunt, not an amazing series. It actually has quite a few problems. The first is that the main cast feels a bit under-developed. Despite going through several character arcs each, the five (and later six) main girls still feel lacking in personality at times. Perhaps it’s just because so much of the series’ focus was put on Ichika (the protagonist) and Ciel (the series half-point newcomer)—which resulted in everyone else getting shoved aside and neglected until it was time for their designated character arc episode.
However, I do think Kira Precure has some of the best reformed villains I have ever seen in a Precure series so far. The reformed villains actually show up after their reformation, and they actually do things! Nearly all of the villains in Kira Precure were pretty great, actually; except for the main baddie Noir. I’m not going to write any spoilers here, but Noir definitely has the silliest villain motivation in the entire Precure franchise.
The second failing Kira Precure has is that the overall plot is terribly flimsy. I know the Precure series is essentially an extended glorified toy commercial, but the story direction in Kira Precure was all over the place. Even though I’ve watched through the entire series, I don’t actually remember what the girls’ ultimate goal was… or if there even was one in the first place. That’s pretty bad, since past Precure seasons always had the Cures working towards something significant and memorable. I think it’s because this Precure season tried to mash two themes together: sweets/baking and animal motifs. It kinda worked in the beginning, but the animal motif thing was pretty quickly dropped in the second half of the series; and even the sweets/baking aspect felt badly shoehorned in as the series went on. It doesn’t really help that out of the six main characters, only three of them really have baking as their passion (the other three are only going along with it for fun/for the sake of their friends).
Also, despite the villains becoming increasingly “harder” as the series went on, I never felt any real sense of danger or urgency throughout the series. If I had to be honest, I think that Julio was the greatest villain of the series—and he was just the “first boss”! There were also some truly egregious episodes that had characters acting in a certain way just because the plot demanded it. (Yukari, why wouldn’t you just… TELL YOUR FRIENDS about something weird you noticed right away??? But noooo, Miss Mysterious needs to talk cryptically and be mysterious because that’s *her thing* I guess.)
Plus, this is the first series that I felt had waaaaay too many Cures, to the point that it got ridiculous. People also like to bash on Kira Precure for its lack of hand-to-hand combat. And yeah, I do agree that the lack of physical combat really did make the battles feel lackluster. Because it ended up making most of the battles boil down to: we shoot magical energy at you! Oh no, we got our butts kicked! Insert inspiring speech here about friendship or something. And then we finish you off with a super-powered attack!
Despite everything, I still feel a little defensive when people trash this series and call it “the worst precure series ever.” Yeah, Kira Precure is not a great series, but… I still enjoyed it during its run. Another point people like to bash Kira Precure on is its magical girl outfit designs. I’ve seen many people calling the Cures’ outfits tacky, overdesigned, or “looking like someone’s DeviantArt OC.” I personally quite like how bright the designs are and how they cleverly incorporate the sweets theme. Yes, even Cure Parfait’s design grew on me after a while, even if it does look like a rainbow-colored mess at first. People who rip on Kira Precure’s designs must not have remembered Smile Precure (the season with all the ridiculous hair) or Doki Doki (the season that had outfits with a ton of weird asymmetry and ribbons) or Go Princess (the season with the giant poofy dresses). People who diss Kira Precure’s designs also seem to forget that at its core, the Precure series is aimed at little kids. Sure, even I think some of the designs in past Precure seasons were kind of ridiculous, but as long as the kids like it that’s fine.
I really love all of the girls’ transformations in Kira Precure. They’re really high energy and match each of the girls’ personalities well. Plus, the soundtrack for the Kira Precure series itself is amazing. I usually don’t listen to many anime soundtracks, but Kira Precure was the first Precure series where I actually looked up the BGM soundtrack on Youtube. Furthermore, I just appreciate any Precure series that is so unafraid to be this unabashedly colorful and cheerful and sweet (pun intended). Kira Precure was just such a charming series despite its weaknesses, and the final episode seriously made me teary.
Overall, the Kira Precure series was an enjoyable enough series for me. I mean, heck; it managed to keep me invested for its entire run—which no other series had been able to do since Smile. I still probably wouldn’t recommend Kira Precure to many people outside of die-hard Precure fans, due to all of its faults. But I appreciate it for what it was and what it tried to do. And I mean, you gotta admit that magical girls fighting baddies with cake and frosting is kind of hilarious.
Out of five: