Hey, it’s time for me to come out of hibernation again!
I thought this post would be a good excuse to talk a little about my absence from the blog. I haven’t reviewed an entire series since Houseki no Kuni and that was autumn season last year. There’s a lot of reasons for this – part of it is how busy I was, part of it was a lack of anime that I wanted to blog, but one of the main reasons is that, sadly, the whole episode reviewing thing just became a chore to me. Eventually I realized it was time to think about the future of this blog.
Next year, Moeronpan will turn 10 whole years old. That’s a pretty impressive life-span for an anime review blog – apparently it gets said that most only last two years. Even if we aren’t the most active blog, I’m kind of, just a little tiny bit proud that it still exists, and that you will soon be able to see a decades worth of anime reviews on it. And while looking back at our early years stuff its hard not to cringe at our writing (or even our taste in anime, its funny to think how many shows what have very different ratings if we’d blogged them now), it’s also cool to see how much we’ve grown.

Basically, as it stands right now, I still really like doing First Impression reviews, and I still really like doing the Awards posts at the end of each year. Even if I decide to give up on individual reviews, I’d like to keep doing those, and roundup posts like this one – it’s more a question of whether its worth keeping the blog running just for those. (Not to mention the site is in desperate need of an overhaul in terms of banner/layout, and it would be pointless to do so if I didn’t plan to continue)

Anyway, I haven’t made a concrete decision yet. I will do this seasons First Impressions, and the 2018 awards post, as normal, and hopefully by January I’ll have a better idea of how motivated I am to continue Moeronpan-ing.

With that all out of the way, here’s a quick wrap-up of the few shows I managed to watch this past season.
Like with many seasons, I didn’t get the chance to watch a bunch of things I was kind of interested in, like Planet With, which seems to be getting high ratings from others. Hopefully the shows that slipped through the cracks I can manage to see before the end of next season.

Cells at Work

I genuinely enjoyed this silly but creative look at how hard my body works to keep my dumb arse alive every day. While Ariana wasn’t fond of its predictability, I didn’t mind it. It didn’t really seem to be like there was meant to actually be any suspense, as each episode was more focused in showing different responses to different types of germs/ailments – although it does kind of dress it up in a ‘monster of the week’ guise. And some of the depictions of these microscopic bodily functions were really quite clever. While it does start off light-hearted enough, the last three episodes show two much more serious medical emergencies. (I wont spoil it, but the way the climactic emergency in the final episode was resolved brought a smile to my face – I did expect it, but the delivery was very creative) And I just generally really love all the character designs, especially the main White Blood Cell. (seeing as he was the first one to get a nendoroid, I’m clearly not alone in this)

It does leave me with two major questions, though. Firstly, since all these cells need to eat food, bleed blood and also are capable of succumbing to heat stroke themselves, does this mean that inside each of them are even smaller cells, and inside those cells are even smaller cells, and it just keeps going and going infinitely? Secondly, I kinda wish we’d gotten to see who the poor schmuck who owns this body actually is at the end – I really wanted to know what circumstances led to their traumatic injury.

In all, I can now better fight the urge to pick at scabs, as I don’t want to ruin the cute little platelets diligent work.

Out of 5,

1/2

 

Happy Sugar Life

Happy Sugar Life is honestly a difficult beast for me. I feel like I should actually hate it – it’s ridiculously over the top and melodramatic, it tries very hard to be edgey, and the central ‘romance’ is so eyebrow-raising that mine were in danger of floating off my head. And yet, there is something bizarrely compelling about it that kept me glued to the screen from start to finish. To its credit, the ‘romance’ never felt particularly endorsed, and the two characters the most obsessed with Shio (the tiny grade-schooler) are certainly not portrayed in the best light. In fact, their love for Shio is seen as something actually frightening.

Satou was certainly an interesting character to watch, and I did like the slowly suffocating atmosphere the show builds up whenever she’s somewhere without Shio. While I wouldn’t call it the best portrayal of psychological horror (it skirts the line a little too close to ridiculously edgey to truly achieve this), it was competent enough to keep me engaged. Even when the show literally opens with a scene from the final episode, I still had no idea what was going to happen in the story – so it did do a pretty good job of building up suspense.

There was the makings of a much better show here, in my opinion, but it got bogged down too much with how hard it went on making sure nearly every character had a Bad Life, and some just felt like overkill. (There’s also the unfortunate implication with one certain character that being sexually abused will make you a creepy lunatic). But, I did still find myself eagerly tuning in each week just to see what bad decisions these crazy kids would make next, so it gets points for that.

Out of 5,

 

 

Banana Fish

Banana Fish hasn’t actually finished yet – it will be continuing into the next season – so these are just my thoughts on the first half. While I’m reluctant to admit it – given that I felt it had the strongest first episode of everything I reviewed, it kinda felt like a chore for me to watch after a while, which makes me all the more glad I didn’t blog it.
I certainly wouldn’t call the show ‘bad’, but I really have to admit that it doesn’t seem like a great deal happened other than Ash getting gradually more broken…but gradually softer at the same time, due to his bond with Eiji. But the thing is, that alone would make for a decent show, and I would have stayed more engaged with it had there been more focus on that.

The problem is that the show really needs to remind us at every opportunity that everyone wants to bang Ash. Given that he was sexually abused as a child, it seems like a poor way to build tension. He even spends a stint in prison, and gets out again remarkably quickly, and that whole subplot felt unbelievably pointless to me and just another excuse for more random characters to want to rape him (and apparently succeed). It’s kind of sad that I have to commend a show for not once portraying this as something sexy or titillating (it doesn’t actually show anything at all), but it really does make me roll my eyes how much the plot keeps inserting stuff like this. Ash is really pretty, we get it. Oh and Eiji is super innocent and ‘corruptible’, we get that too. I feel like we could have covered a hell of a lot more story if we didn’t have to spend so much time on those two things.

It’s hard for me to tell how much of the plodding pace and frequent failure to engage me (I gotta admit, I watched a lot of this while playing Fate Grand Order) is the original writing or the anime’s direction choices, and I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s the latter. Hopefully I can read some of the manga before the show wraps up, because I always feel this weird guilt when a big classic just doesn’t click with me the way I think it will.

All that said, the show itself still looks really nice and has great acting and music choices, and there’s several really amazingly done shots. I’ll be following it next season for sure, but I really hope things pick up in part 2.

Out of 5,

 

 

Free! Dive to the Future

So here’s the thing: the first Free! caused a huge stir when it was first announced, so everyone remembers when it first aired and there was an anticipatory buildup. The second season the following year did as well. But I do not remember hearing a single peep about Dive to the Future until I suddenly saw it on the anime chart when I was dividing up the First Impressions. I know its been a bit too long a wait between this and Endless Summer, but has the fandom really dried up that much? I didn’t actually have time to watch any of this until recently, and figured if it was good I’d see some discussion about it, but…nothing. Not even gif sets on tumblr ending up on my feed. And after I decided to finally watch some of it, I could see why.

The immediate problem with Dive to the Future is that it features several characters that anyone not familiar with the non-anime Free! content (the original novels and the recent movies) is not going to know or recognize. This content is not legally available translated, and to be frank, even if it was, I find it really annoying when a franchise requires you to know about the thing in other formats to understand something. It’s an anime series. We should only need the other two anime series for this. (And yes, this is coming from a Fate fan, but its annoying there too) It really does rely on you having down your homework between seasons to not only know who these new prettyboys are, but how they related to all the other characters and their shared pasts. While it does give us some flashbacks and it’s not exactly difficult to piece things together yourself, it’s honestly hard to actually care. And…seriously, there’s so many of them now. Look at that screencap above. Introducing a bunch of new characters is fine and all, but did we need -that many-? Most of these new guys aren’t even particularly interesting or have personalities vastly different to any of the core cast, so I fail to even see the point in them. Not to mention that all of this has to be stretched across multiple locations, because Rin is back in Australia (and unlike the extra mile Endless Summer went with Rin and Haru’s trip to Australia, Rin’s friends in this…seem to talk in American accents now, okay.)

That’s the main problem, but there’s also the fact that a lot of this just feels like more of the same. The boys swim, Kyoani lovingly animate their forms, they get angry at eachother, there’s some melodramatic teenage drama (even though most of them are approaching 20), and they act AlmostGayButNot. Remember, between this and Endless Summer we got Yuri on Ice. Boys acting ‘almost gay but plausibly deniable’ (in a non BL show) just doesn’t cut it for  a lot of people anymore now that there’s been a show that commits to it. The bar has been raised, KyoAni. Now, true, I did only have time to watch the first 7 episodes, so for all I know they do stop dancing around the willtheywontthey notsupense with Mako and Haru. I’ll probably try to finish it before the end of the year.

The complaints I have seem to be the same complaints that many others have had, but, despite all this, and despite how much it feels to be on autopilot now, it’s still ‘okay’ and was watchable to me, even if only as background noise. Characters like Rei and Nagisa are still fun to watch (they just get a lot less screen time) and I really like how they have them doing the next episode previews. It still has a ridiculously over-the-top and fun opening and ending, and some of the jokes did make me smile. I also really like the new girl working with Gou as assistant manager – probably my favourite of the new additions, but she also doesn’t get much screen time with it needing to be divided up between everyone else. Unfortunately it really does feel like an unnecessary sequel, and apparently it ended with the message that it’ll be back in 2020. Free!,  we had fun and all back in the day but at this point that kinda sounds more like a threat.

Out of 5,

 

 

Angels of Death

This is another show I didn’t manage to see all of – but that’s actually because I got five episodes in and just couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t exactly kind to it in my First Impression but I kept seeing people raving about how much they loved it and sharing fanart, and it made me feel like I might have been too hasty. Turns out I wasn’t, and this show sucks more than I thought it did. Now, yes, I know the game is apparently popular, and anime based on games are almost guaranteed to be bad, but with how grimdark edgey this anime’s plot is I’m really not sure if I can entirely blame the anime adapation here. I’m highly suspect the game is just like this too.
The Edgey McScytheman there actually ends up becoming the sidekick character to the MC, Rachel – after they make a promise that he has to be the one to kill her once they finally get out of the weird tower they’re stuck in. Rachel really wants to die, but for some reason this is important to her, so she doesn’t want to die by anyone elses’s hand. Whether unintentionally or not, this is framed like some beautiful and romantic thing, even though Zac (the scythe guy) is one of the most unlikeable anime characters I have ever watched. I’m already not fond of ‘smiley laughing psycho murderer’ characters – but he has the extra whammy of just being an overall jerk. We also get to see him gloating about how he murders women who beg for mercy and the entire reason he hasn’t killed Rachel yet is because her traumatic experience in episode one has robbed her of her emotions and she won’t be fun to kill with such a blank face. Did I mention that we keep getting flashbacks about his Troubled Childhood and are apparently meant to feel bad for him…?

In nearly every episode they run into some gimmicky weirdo or some dangerous obstacle and Rachel is nearly killed, but then remembers her promise to Zac, and isn’t killed. Even though she wants to die, and if she did die, she wouldn’t have to put up with Zac’s unfunny bullshit anymore. It feels like it’s trying to have a really deep and solemn mood, and then will frequently ruin it with the characters turning chibi and making dumb anime faces.

Maybe, maybe, I would have enjoyed this a little more when I was an edgey 15-year-old, but I think even edgey 15-year-old me would find this to be a bit over the top. 

Out of 5,