I’m such an idiot.
I made another mistake today in my experiment. So I have to move it… AGAIN. This is frustrating. I wish that someone could just hit that fast-forward button and skip to the part where I get my diploma and a trip back home. And then I spend a year preparing for my PhD placement in Japan.
Yes, I want to study in Japan. I DO need the PhD, but I’ve always dreamed of studying in Japan. So I guess that’s the only thing pushing me forward at this point in time… but till then, it’s this shit I have to deal with. So yeah, someone find that fast-forward button, quick.
Speaking of fast-forward, my viewing this week was rudely sped up no thanks to two shows taking a hiatus to post recap episodes, instead. And it didn’t help much that the two shows in question were actually my favorites among this bunch. Thanks, Japan.
But surprisingly, even without those two powerhouses (Tsuki ga Kirei and KADO, if you were wondering) the shows actually did pretty well this week!
Shocking? Yeah, that makes two of us. So let’s move along and run down just what happened this week:
Natsume Yûjinchô Roku
I keep using this term whenever I talk about this show, and it finally feels more apt than ever now that Natsume Yûjinchô is maintaining a consistency that is well up to the pedigree of this long-standing franchise. Of course, I’m referring to thematic coherence. It’s very, very clear that in this sixth installment in the series, the home as a metaphorical representation of the self is the central theme that guides dynamics of the characters thus far. And it was refreshing to see an external perspective towards Natsume’s lived experience through the eyes of Nishimura and Kitamoto. These two have always been peripheral characters that work insomuch as they provide some form of comedic relief or emotional blanket of sorts for Natsume to buffer his previous (traumatic) lived experience.
But here, we get a glimpse into the households of both Nishimura and Kitamoto and see how their personal space defines a reality that isn’t so much “mundane” as it is not entirely different from Natsume’s as we are lead to believe. It’s true that Natsume has an exceptional gift in the form of seeing spirits, and that has, in effect, lead to a troubled life full of fear, misunderstanding, and marginalization. But Nishimura and Kitamoto have similar emotions that perhaps aren’t as impressive as Natsume’s, but resonate on a tone that allows them to connect with him.
And this is what’s important. Resonance and interpersonal connection does not come at the expense of personal experience — in other words, one need not experience famine or death in order to express empathy. Likewise, Nishimura and Kitamoto, through a force unclear even to themselves, are drawn towards Natsume because they feel the pain seething through his otherwise calm exterior. They long to connect with him and understand him on a genuinely human level — something that seems so utterly basic in principle, but is enough to make Nishimura drag Natsume into his own house, or make Kitamoto feel guilty for using Natsume as an emotional scapegoat to reassure himself of his own fortunate upbringing.
But that’s precisely what defines genuine companionship. There is no clear give or take or moment of delineation that identifies people as soulmates. It’s a snap of the fingers — a moment that happens all too naturally — and the result is a friendship that couldn’t have happened any other way. This was a wonderful exploration into the essence of friendship in a manner that was both fundamental and sincere. All of this consistent with the theme of home. Really, this show is just absolutely stellar this season.
I love shows that prove me wrong immediately after I vent out my concerns for them. So it goes without saying that Sakura Quest literally saved itself from the fire with what could possibly be the best episode this season. In particular, I appreciated how the episode neatly packaged some character development for Maki, Yoshino, and Shiori. And this was achieved through the unified theme of dealing with the past. Maki has always been trapped by her own ideals of becoming an actress to the point that she uses it as an excuse to justify her own stagnation. In her mind, at least, she can’t come to a reconciliation with her father because it was her intention to become an actress from the get go, and its his stubbornness that forces her to remain where she is.
But the reality is that she was never truly engaging herself honestly in the field she claims to be so passionate about. And her own passion is put to question when she sees the efforts of not just her former junior, but Ruri (who was even made to play the part supposedly meant for her). It’s this half-assed attitude the made Maki trace her roots, all the way back to the very reason why she enjoyed acting in the first place — and the reason was rather simple — she just loves it. Everything she’d been doing up until now was an excuse, perhaps born out of an insecurity of failure, which was wonderfully depicted in her superimposed childhood sequences. But at the end of the day, what she really needed to do was be honest with her own passions and actually leap into that burning building. It’s going to scorch her for sure, but at least it’s something she knows she did out of passion. And I’m sure her father knows, after seeing what she did, that she’s truly serious about what it is that stirs up the fire in her soul.
Which brings us to Shiori’s perception of looking back to the past. To her, it’s about emotional attachment and nostalgia. Her character that has a strong link to people in the past, as well as a fear of isolation from the people that leave her. She made this clear early on when she didn’t want Yoshino to leave, and she makes it clear again when she shares the story of a kind elderly lady who unfortunately died. But Shiori reprimands Yoshino and accuses her for not being able to understand what it means to have cherished memories of a hometown, given Yoshino had just run away from her own country in the sticks to seek out a better life in the city. But Shiori is just as guilty of running away by retreating to the past. It’s her strong attachment to the past that prevents her from moving forward, and is something that Yoshino was trying to express, albeit through the use of a poor choice of words. But Yoshino’s apology comes in quite nicely in the form of legacy. Although it is unfortunate that the (zany) powers of industry literally burn down our past for the sake of future pursuits (the director keeps on implying that the plot is a “dynamic” thing, harking towards the flow of modern living), that same industry cannot burn down the legacy planted in those left behind.
It’s the same idea brought up in girlish number wherein Chitose insists on expressing herself in everything that she does. Similarly, Shiori needs to realize that memories are nothing if they are kept to oneself for the sake of posterity. It must be a legacy that goes beyond itself and expresses itself in everything that you do. If Shiori truly loves Manoyama, then she should be ready to actualize the legacy of the town that she truly loves.
But how can we do this without inadvertently losing the very essence that ties us to our own roots? That’s a tricky question, and is something that was brought up in the previous Sanae arc when they were dealing with the woodcrafter’s art. With this in mind, it’s interesting to see some form of thematic cohesion starting to take shape. I’m quite pleased now that Sakura Quest is starting to make sense of itself. Now hopefully they can maintain this level of polish for the remainder of the season.
Little Witch Academia
I have to say, I’m quite pleased to see more focus on Diana beyond the “Ojou-sama” facade in that she has her own domestic issues that add to the depth of her character. It’s pretty much been hinted throughout the show that she isn’t high-strung for the sake of antagonizing Akko just for the heck of it; rather, her own frustrations are the result of Akko not being consistent with her own supposed goals. And I find that character trait of Diana quite admirable in that regard given the fact that she has to deal with the all of the shit that Akko throws at her.
Which is why Akko’s investment in bringing back Diana felt a little less sincere for me, since part of me could imagine Akko actually screaming out “good riddance!” But whatever the case, Akko’s spur-of-the-moment decision to bring back Diana has her discovering a more complicated domestic situation, which brings back the theme of tradition versus modernity. It seems like an inevitable conflict to have to bring up when confronted with themes of magic and witchcraft, which makes me wonder how this will tie in to the overarching goal of Akko to collect all the lost words.
That said, I’m really hoping for some sort of closure between Akko and Diana. If anything, the show mirrors their relationship with Chariot and Croix and we know how that turned out. But would they eventually end up becoming best frenemies? I think however obvious that outcome might be, it all lies in the execution of that possibility. And I truly hope this show will deliver on that regard.
The love polygon basically gets bigger in this week’s episode of Fukumenkei Noise, but I think I’m starting to warm up to the characters, even if I still find them a little too emo for my tastes. But if there’s anything to love in this episode, it’s the symbolism of the scratch on Momo’s guitar. It’s an interesting sort of device that reminds us of how we can readily hurt the people dearest to us, and that in itself is proof that we are still valued in their eyes.
Now that might be me over-analyzing things, but it’s a nice level up of sorts for Alice to actually know he’s making a dent in Momo’s world — this without aimlessly directing her voice like an aimless toddler. Alice now has a purpose — the lead singer of in NO hurry to shout; — that in itself is a monumental achievement towards actualizing her goal of a reunion with the boy that literally exited her life.
But what about Yuzu and Miô, and that metrosexual guy that digs Miô? Yeah, I still feel like they’re noises in the gallery to add to the dramatic tension of the love polygon. That’s the price to pay for adolescent romantic dramas like this. But oh well, at least the show is now watchable.
Vinegar vomit. 🙂
To be honest, I really feel like the source material of this show is pretty awesome. It’s got a wealth of ideas behind its lore and a reasonably compelling romantic drama of sorts. But the execution just feels so rushed and full of lengthy exposition, it’s almost as if we’re getting plot dumps without any actual emotional connects.
I dunno, I’m intrigued by the story, but I just can’t understand what the whole point of Chtholly becoming mentally broken meant when she winds up simply waking up through the power of love. It feels a little lazy and contrived, and I’m sure I’m missing a lot of details along the way simply because the anime format is not doing the entire franchise justice.
So yeah, this is starting to become a clumsy exercise of how not to adapt a light novel into an animated show. What a shame.
And there you have it. To be honest, all the shows did reasonably well this week. Still sucks that I didn’t get my fix of Tsuki ga Kirei and KADO, but I guess that means there’s at least something to look forward to in the next few days to come. What are your thoughts on any of the shows I discussed above? Do feel free to comment down below — I’d love to hear what you guys have to say. Until next time, ciao!