Caught up on Tate no Yuusha ep3, Domestic na Kanojo ep2 & 3, 3D Kanojo ep3 and tackling Endro~! ep3 later. Still waiting on Kaguya-sama ep3 from GJM, and Boogiepop 5 from GJM and DameDesuYo.
On top of that, I watched the Heaven's Feel Movie II: Lost Butterfly last night, which technically is a Winter Season release as it started airing this month in Japan. I regret not going to see it in cinema today, on the one occasion I'd have had, but no matter.
Anyway, some structured thoughts on what I watched.
Gotoubun no Hanayome
Let's start here, instead of leaving it at another Miku picture.
Episode 3 was supposed to be Nino's time to shine... and I guess she kind of did? Her issue is clearly that Miku is a First Magnitude Star. Even when showing off her domestic skills, Nino couldn't hold a candle to Miku's well-meant efforts full of heart and soul. Even while only wearing a towel, Nino couldn't convince over Miku in full garb.
Bottom line is: Miku is love, Miku is life. Nino is rough, Nino is strife.
Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
Episode 2 of Kaguya-sama was pretty late this week again, with 3 still a ways out, so I'm one behind there. Still, Kaguya-sama ep2 is an interesting one.
For one, episode 2 once again reintroduced the setting and characters like the first episode did - and deliberately so. While A-1 Pictures switched some things around, they decided to keep the reintroduction in, instead of cutting it. The reason for it existing in the original was simple: Kaguya changed magazines after a few issues, so the author needed to get people back up to speed. In some sense, you could call episode 2 a soft reboot, even, although the author noted in the manga that readers should please just look at it as a straight continuation despite the need to start over from the premise.
There, that's this week's weird animanga trivia!
The episode itself proved to be just as enjoyable as the first, with the overly dramatized back and forth between Kaguya and Shirogane taking center stage, with Fujiwara being the oddball that either defuses or explodes the situation. Funnily enough, while the official subs (despite improvements and even retroactive changes to ep1 on Crunchyroll) didn't translate the eyecatch text, the GJM version (and corresponding manga page) describe Fujiwara as the "heroine of this work", in a sense placing both Kaguya and Shirogane into the roles of villains to her peaceful student council life. It's pretty apt, I'd say.
Anyway, I'm seriously looking forward to episode 3 and where it'll go this time. The segments so far have been on point, and I can't wait to see the rest of the cast getting their real debuts (outside of background scenes, where most of them have been teased already). Bring on Hayasaka Ai, I say!
Ep3 brings a fantastic new ED to the table too, so that's a lot to look forward to!
Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari
Episode 2 was a real gutwrencher, obviously. Raphtalia is as amazing as expected, especially in episode 3, where she really starts to kick arse. She's a wonderful young lady at this point, as demi-humans age as they level up. The episode didn't really spell it out, though it is implied in a few spots. Naofumi himself doesn't seem to fully realize it yet, though.
Either way, they actually changed a few scenes just slightly from the novel, to emphasize Rapthalia's growth as a character. I loved it.
What I didn't love was basically the entire Royal Guard, the other "Heroes" and That Bitch. Holy shit, they're despicable. While the anime adaptation strips most of Naofumi's internal monologues, I think the series did a decent job implying his thoughts on various matters, and the differences between his way of handling the Waves from that of the Fucktard Heroes.
Naofumi takes a bigger look at the unfolding disaster, whereas the others are, right now, still glory-hounding, underestimating things and considering it all a game. It's pretty clear that their pre-established experience with their corresponding game versions of the world are coloring their perception of it: To them, they're each the protagonist of the adventure, whereas Naofumi, whose gaming experiences moved in a different direction, more content with immersing himself in the world and gaming the economy, make him more of an inhabitant of the world than they consider themselves.
It's not simply that the Shield Hero protects the "NPCs" of Lute, but that he values their lives the same way as his own, if not actually more. The three Fucktard Heroes don't care about anything but their own grandstanding, and might not even consider their party members as anything but tools and personal worshippers. Naofumi does what's right not because he wishes for praise and reward (something hinted at even in the prologue of the first episode, regarding his family situation), but out of an inherent sense of justice and empathy that the others lack. To them, nothing is real enough in the world, and once they beat the Waves, they'll leave and don't care if half the world burned down. It's no trouble to them.
As such, I think the characterization of the trio has been on point so far. They're the kind of shit gamers that'd play Final Fantasy XIV, maybe purchase a level skip potion, skip all cutscenes and dialogue, then farm endgame for savage/extreme raids. Basically, playing an immersive game full of lovable characters and intriguing story parts as if it was as shallow as WoW..... but I digress.
Shield Hero is pretty convincing so far, and the only reason I haven't started buying the Light Novels yet is that I'm still behind on Spice & Wolf and have 5 semi-regular series on preorder as is. Ain't nobody got enough time, funds and shelf space for another series with currently 13 released volumes...
Domestic na Kanojo
Well, Marie certainly is a candidate for Best Girl of the season.... I'm surprised the Social Justice Brigade hasn't caught on yet. They might burn the series to the ground for being ~insensitive~ by the protagonist refusing to call him by his preferred pronouns/name...
Anyway, episodes 2 and 3 were great, amping up the drama. Hina-nee certainly fucked up quite a bit here, with Rui gaining myriad waifu points instead of her. Especially for that home-cooked meal.
I'd still like to be supportive of Hina-nee, funnily enough, but it will depend on how she turns things around in episode 4. Her misery is all too relatable, I'm afraid, but for all her talk about "adult problems", she's extremely childish about her love life, and how she shuts others out.
Hina-nee is a fantastic crush to have when she's bright and cheery, but deep down, she's probably the most broken one around right now. And her misery is infective. I saw somebody saying the following about her:
"Hina is the type of girl I would like while hating myself and her for it."
Can't say I disagree with that assessment, really.
However, all of the drama has led to the season's Best Parents to emerge. If it wasn't clear already, these old folks rule. They even brought home cake despite being somewhat drunk! Good parents are good. And Fumiya is scoring Best Friend points as well. The supporting cast really is something else this time around.
The real winner for these two episodes was, without a doubt, Rui, however. While her pouting doesn't manage to rival Gotoubun no Hanayome's Quintuplets, it's surprisingly adorable for a character of her archetype. Her banter with Natsuo in class was delightful, too. In general, the two of them are really hitting it off as siblings, at the very least. Whether or not it develops into lasting love is to be seen, but she clicks rather well with Natsuo for now. Can't wait to see their plan in action next week.
3D Kanojo 2nd Season
I'd call this one a guilty pleasure, but I don't feel guilty for liking it in the first place, so I won't. 3D Kanojo is pretty weird in the sense that it's overly dramatic while keeping a rather mellow, soft tone all around. Episode 3 of season 2 especially proves that point, by going where few anime dare to go: Impending divorce of protagonist Tsutsui's parents, after his father cheated.
And yet, despite the drama, despite the heartbreak, despite the threat of Tsutsun or his brother having to move across the country with their mother, despite both having girlfriends in town, not to mention Tsutsun finally having a social circle he feels comfortable in, and developing social skills etc, the episode managed to be upbeat, comedic and surprisingly normal. In fact, a bunch of viewers are angry at the way the show tackled the divorce subject with such nonchalance and comedic fashion, while manga readers hated the arc in the source material as well and were surprised it was even getting adapted.
Personally, I found it refreshing and rather appropriate, considering the protagonist's view on things and actions up to this point. It's a teenage highschool drama through and through, and if anything, this divorce arc is yet another instance where the series hammers home how important proper communication between friends, family and lovers really is. The episode itself even posed a comparison between Tsutsui's relationship with Iroha and Tsutsui's parents, while also comparing him to his father and contrasting Tsutsui's own growth throughout the series with his father's passive attitude. In a way, the current situation showcases the Bad End route of what can happen when couples drift apart, something that Tsutsui and Iroha had a few issues with already, albeit more out of their own respective insecurities.
While episode 3 (or 15) didn't feature much of the other characters, and only a little of Iroha, at least the first two episodes covered the Culture Festival arc, which, again, saw noticeable growth for the entire cast. I think that's what I like most about this series. It is entirely inoffensive and some may call it dull, but to me, it showcases steady, realistic improvements of social skills, relationship skills and feels warm and fluffy.
It also helps that Iroha is pretty much perfect to begin with, though I still question some of her clothing choices sometimes...