Tuesday, November 11, 2014

3 for 3: 11/8/14 Edition

In this new weekly column, I will write three paragraphs each on three currently-airing shows. These paragraphs will cover thoughts on the show's execution as well as personal reactions, just like a standard aniblog post. Two of the three shows will consistently appear every week in a season, while a third show will be a "show of the week" that might change from week to week, depending on which show I feel like talking about that week.

Each show's write-up will contain spoilers. To jump to a specific show's write-up, click on one of the links below.

Celestial Method (Ep. 5-6)
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Ep. 5)
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying (Eps. 1-6)

Celestial Method, Episodes 5-6

Shione is a tough nut to crack... but Noel time is time for The Nutcracker.

While I've felt from the start that this show was very much like a P.A. Works show, as of late, this show has been giving me vibes of another, non-P.A. Works slice-of-life-slash-drama show: AnoHana. There are actually quite a number of similarities between the two shows; you have a group of childhood friends that have grown apart over the years to varying extents, a supernatural character that serves as the driving force for bringing the characters together again, and a lot of drama over addressing the issues that pulled the characters apart in the first place. Of course, AnoHana is my third favorite anime series of all-time, so for this show to follow in its footsteps is not a bad thing at all.

The climax to Yuzuki's story arc is nothing short of beautiful. The scene at the end of episode 5 has some truly wonderful visuals to it to really bring the most out of Yuzuki's reconciliation. As she finally comes to terms with how she had been blaming the saucer for her own guilt in an accident her brother had, the others are there for her, and she even gets some fireworks from a somewhat unexpected source. There's a certain poetic irony in how the very thing she hated for so long is now the very thing that gives her the fireworks she had wanted to see all this time, which only adds to the sheer beauty of this entire scene.

Episode 6 provides a nice final wrap-up to Yuzuki's story as she asks Nonoka to hit her back to get "even" over her earlier slap, but instead gets Nonoka's forgiveness. We also start to see the high walls Shione had put up starting to come down as she spends time with Noel, which should set the stage for her reconciliation with Nonoka and the others. All these things have cemented Celestial Method as one of this season's best shows, and almost guaranteed at this point to be among the Elite Four of the season.

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When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Episode 5

Tomoyo, taking a chance to fully indulge in her chuuni side.
Tomoyo is a very strong candidate for my favorite character of the season. It helps a lot that I can relate to her desires to write stories and share them with others, even if it's something she's not entirely sure that she wants to be completely serious about. That, combined with the various way she is a well-balanced character, not falling completely into any one archetype, just makes her that much more likable. Considering that she seems to be this show's "main girl", it's a really good thing that she is such a well-structured character.

Of course, it's not just the characters themselves that make this show, but also their interactions, and in this episode, the relationship between Tomoyo and Jurai continues to develop. They continue to support each other in interesting ways, especially when Jurai discovers that Tomoyo wants to be a light novel author. It's interesting to see how he refuses to outright support her, considering her own uncertainty over her hobby, though he does celebrate her success later. Their "date" was also cute, and shows how the two of them have a way of understanding each other, which bodes well should the show seriously develop a romance between them.

Unfortunately, there's one person who is not entirely happy about Jurai and Tomoyo getting along with each other: Hatoko. As someone who's been close to Jurai for a while, although perhaps not as close as she would like, she looks to be the third wheel in a love triangle here. That said, this show has so far been good at handling the typical anime plots, and there's no reason to believe that it would fumble with a love triangle like many other shows do. In fact, considering how everything this show has done has brought it to be another one of this season's Elite Four, I'm actually looking forward to seeing how they handle Hatoko in later episodes.

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I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying, Episodes 1-6

Bottom subtitle: Wife's reaction to anime movie. Top subtitle: Husband/otaku/aniblogger's reaction.

Short series only occasionally go beyond quick, brainless fun, but every once in a while, a show like this comes along and brings something greater to the table. I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying looks on the surface to be a simple, 3-minutes-per-episode comedic show about an otaku husband and the wife stuck trying to understand his otaku ways. However, beneath all that comedy lies something that is extremely rare in anime and in fiction in general: a closer look at the relationship between husband and wife.

The very first scene of the first episode sets a very interesting precedent for the show: during the wedding ceremony, the husband, Hajime, explicitly tells his wife-to-be, Kaoru, that he cannot make her happy. Kaoru responds that she does not need him to make her happy, as she will find happiness for herself. This is quite a turnabout from the typical Hollywood message about how marriage is about finding The One that will make you happy for the rest of your life (when they're not telling you how crappy marriage is). And honestly, this message is a much better one, as relying on another imperfect person to bring you happiness can go wrong in all sorts of ways. Kaoru certainly loves Hajime and is definitely in love with him, but her choice to keep her happiness her own responsibility sets the stage for a much healthier marriage, which is what plays out in the following episodes.

In the following episodes, there are all sorts of otaku-related humor, oftentimes associated with Kaoru's complete ignorance of otaku terminology (hence the show's title), coupled with additional antics from characters such as Hajime's trap brother. Throughout, it's easy to see Kaoru as the better half of the relationship (save when she's drunk), considering she's a proper working office lady while he's a jobless otaku, but Kaoru's gracious love helps him as well, as he does go get a job later on, making their relationship more balanced. It all makes for a surprisingly sweet short series, and one that I think is worth checking out.

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