Winter Anime 2017 Review (Part 3/3)

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen
Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Annalyn – 9/10

The first season of Rakugo Shinjuu captured me through, among other things, its beautiful animation and music, fantastic storytelling, fallible and relatable characters, and skilled use of motifs like candles and specific rakugo stories. It was real and painful and lovely. This season continues in the same vein. I have only one complaint, but that complaint is a spoiler, so I will not share it here.

There are many powerful elements in this season of Rakugo Shinjuu, but for the purpose of this review, I will mention only a few surrounding Eighth Generation Yakumo, or Bon, as we once knew him. Over these twelve episodes, we watch him continue to struggle with guilt and depression, largely due to the tragedy that took both his best friend and his former lover many years ago. His personal struggles are reflected in his attitude toward rakugo—such as whether or not he really wants it to continue as a viable, beloved art form even after he dies. His internal conflict also comes on stage with him, manifesting in hallucinations (or perhaps hauntings, or some combination thereof) and near-death experiences. But even as he despairs for himself and for rakugo, he encounters hope and love through his family—Konatsu, Sukeroku’s daughter, whom he took in all those years ago; Yotarou, his enthusiastic disciple; and Konatsu’s son, Shinnosuke, who is like a grandson to him. This, it seems, keeps him alive. And it keeps the show’s tone from staying too somber all the time.

I’m sad to see Rakugo Shinjuu end, for I’d love to follow more of our dear Yakumo’s legacy. These characters and their art have endeared themselves to me. But its ending is, at least, well done. I am content, and I am thankful this beautiful anime exists.

Nyanko Days
Nyanko Days

MRNewman – 7.5/10 

Nyanko Days is a simple series. It’s a story about a girl who has trouble making friends and her three cats…who are actually tiny cat girls. In fact, as the series progresses, you find that all cats in the Nyanko Days universe are cat girls. Each two minute episode is short, a little silly, and never takes itself too seriously. This is a show that knows exactly what it is, cuteness for cuteness’ sake. In 2 minute bites, the charm doesn’t wear off and it remains cute and fun enough to keep watching. I’m not sure the show would work in a full length series for that reason, the characters aren’t deep or interesting enough for a full length show. However, in this format – it works. You can watch all of Nyanko Days in less than half an hour, so if you don’t like it – you’re not really out all that much. You can stream Nyanko Days legally at Crunchyroll.


stardf29 – Hikari 4/10, Toru 6/10, Kyoko 7/10, Overall 6/10 

This show is intended to be a spiritual successor to Amagami SS (it even uses the same school and timeline), and as such it shares its format of taking a single guy and giving him separate four-episode story arcs exploring his romance with three different heroines. As such, to an extent I can rate each arc separately. The first arc, Hikari, is by far the worst; it starts off okay as a fun bit of flirty romance with a fun-loving girl, but the ending goes in a direction that goes completely against her established character, making it much more frustrating than it already is. The second arc, Toru, is reasonably enjoyable, especially if you like romances between gamers. The third arc, Kyoko, is the best, taking hold of a definitive theme in childhood friends suddenly having to deal with newfound feelings for each other, and following it all the way to a satisfying finale.

The main guy through all these arcs is unfortunately incredibly bland and not even much of a character, knocking the series down a bit across the board. Also, this show shares Amagami’s awkwardly-suggestive-but-not-particularly-explicit brand of fanservice, which might turn some viewers off. Those looking for an example of this sort of “omnibus romance” are probably better off watching Amagami, but Seiren is more accessible and a reasonable watch overall despite the first arc’s failings. Those looking for some simple four-episode romances are better off just skipping the first arc and only watching whichever of the other two arcs interest them.

Little Witch Academia
Little Witch Academia

Medieval Otaku – 7/10 

Trigger has created another winner with Little Witch Academia.  The episodic plots are held together by Akko’s dream of becoming a distinguished witch in imitation of the bewitching entertainer, Shiny Chariot.  This is all despite having no talent for magic.  The serious plot of Akko following her dreams nicely underpins the Looney Tunes inspired hilarity.  (Their debt to Looney Tunes is easily seen in the episode where Akko dives into Sucy’s mind and the piano music accompanying the chase scene in episode ten.)  The characters are all likable, with Sucy in particular being one devil of a character.  (I had to laugh at Sucy’s true self being located in room six hundred and sixty-six–she’s essentially a mushroom-loving imp.)  All in all, Trigger gives us a fun show with their unique style, and I’m looking forward to the next twelve episodes.

Urara Meirochou
Urara Meirochou

stardf29 – 7/10

Basically, it’s a classic cute-girls-doing-cute-things show.

The setting is a bit more fantastical and there are some surprisingly good emotional moments as well as even a bit of ongoing story progression, helping it at least be a well-executed example of its genre, if not the most original. In the end, though, this show basically just follows in the footsteps of other “classic” cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows. Of course, that is not a bad thing; these types of shows have been rated fairly well throughout Beneath the Tangles’s seasonal reviews. They’re fun, cute, and relaxing, and this show is no exception. It has enough unique elements to stand on its own in the genre while still indulging in everything that fans of these shows are used to. For people that know they like these kinds of shows, like me, it’s another very enjoyable watch.

Sangatsu no Lion
March Comes in Like a Lion

Kaze – 8/10

Between Rakugo and Sangatsu, this season had plenty of painfully real yet excellent drama. Continuing on from last season, Sangatsu begins to take a more focused look into Rei’s shogi life and the effects it has on both his own personal life and the lives of those he is surrounded by. The anime does a fantastic job of focusing on Rei while still managing to develop other characters by how they act around him. For example, his sister, despite her usual malicious tongue, is shown to be so very human – sometimes playful or selfish and other times depressed, angry, or rebellious. Even Gotou, who is the closest character to being a villain, is shown to have his own human side as someone who respects the game of shogi. Shaft’s animation style continues to feel strangely fitting alongside imagery such as freezing alone in a blizzard or drowning underwater. While I have complaints such as some scenes were not handled well or other parts simply too weak in comparison to others, the work as a whole is powerful with its depiction of a high school student who is struggling to find his place in the world. No matter how much he fails or runs away from his problems, he knows he has to stand back up and not only fight again but also change himself in the process. With a second season announced, I look forward to continuing the story of Rei and his struggles that all too closely resemble some of the daily struggles we encounter in our own lives.

Thank you for reading our reviews and be sure to comment on this season’s anime below!


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