Based on your votes, Twwk is spending the upcoming weeks watching BNA: Brand New Animal, Mob Psycho 100, and A Place Further Than the Universe, three series he’d never picked up or barely started, and continuing with one show he made it a third of the way into before stalling, Vinland Saga. He’ll watch four episodes at a time and blog on them, but at any point, could drop a series and may end up finishing just one or two (or none at all!).
BNA, Episode 2
If episode one introduced the idea of speciesism into the BNA landscape, episode two cracks the challenges of this world wide open. It’s not only some random group of beastmen exploiting their own kind for human gain, as with the bombing in episode one; there are problems a’plenty in Anima City. Michiru visits the Rabbit Town neighborhood as she seeks to find her stolen wallet, which proves her identity as a human, and while there runs into a female gang enduring the problems of sexism even as they seek to exploit beastmen themselves through child trafficking.
Almost unanimously, I’d heard that BNA introduces interesting elements that could spark deeper discussion, but doesn’t meet the expectations it sets. I can see how that might be the case from early on as the anime introduces heavy topics but glosses over them.
Religion also enters the picture, as beast children tell Michiru about their religion, which seems to focus on a silver wolf deity. When she and the children are imprisoned later in the episode, to be sent off via a gang network to some unknown destination, a child cries out for help from their god. Michiru responds that you need to do the work to save yourself. It’s an interesting reply, and one that draws an immediate line between belief and unbelief. If this is what BNA does, just scratching the surface without digging deeper or offering answers, I admit that I can live with it. I don’t need philosophizing (we can provide that ourselves!); I’m just grateful for a show that pushes me to consider significant questions.
I’m also entertained by the idea that Michiru is some sort of unique being in this world. Is she 100% human? Has she transformed into a beastman? How? Can she ever turn back? Is she the titular brand new animal? And with Shirou in tow, the story evokes sci-fi movies where a gruff or otherwise flawed man protects an individual who is key to life, survival, or the universe (The Golden Child, The Mandalorian, and T2 come immediately to mind, but I feel that I’m forgetting a better example. What am I missing?). I love seeing this thread running through the series.
But the scenes with her and the basketball in the opening credits? That has me afraid that this show will go down a very inconsequential route. And I’m not likely to complete a show that runs out of things to say.
Episode grade: B-
Likelihood for completion (1-5): 3 (-0.5)
Mob Psycho 100, Episode 2
What I don’t like about One Punch Man is that, so far at least, it’s been a one trick pony. The idea of an all-powerful superhero that everyone else treats as a weakling is consistently funny, but it can only carry the series so far when the rest of it is an average shounen anime. Two episodes in, Mob Psycho 100 is proving to be something different; it’s just as funny, but has many more directions it can go. Kageyama is such a likeable protagonist, and the added dimension of his everyday school life (and more than that, a focus heavily upon it) is setting the stage for a series that’s enjoyable for a whole lot of reasons. And I have to admit…I wonder what happens when the progress toward explosion hits 100.
Episode grade: B+
Likelihood for completion (1-5): 2.5 (+0.5)
A Place Further Than the Universe, Episode 2
My worry about the series, and the reason I didn’t watch it initially, is that it would be too unbelievable for me to enjoy. “CGDCT goes Antartica!” was too much for me. Episode two, though, continues to temper the incredible journey that Mari and Shirase attempt to go on by setting obstacles in their way that are semi-realistic and semi-cute, like the two sempai who chase the girls through the street when they attempt to crash an Antarctica expedition meeting. Bringing up ideas like grant funding, danger, and a poorly arranged expedition make for a smarter series than I anticipated, but getting to know the two lead girls (and now a third in Miyaki) keeps the anime fun. The reveal of Shirase’s character as been especially entertaining, as her actions and words make is so that just can’t be pegged as any particular character type.
Episode grade: B+
Likelihood for completion (1-5): 4.5 (+0.5)
Vinland Saga, Episode 11
It’s easy to say that any series featuring a medieval setting and strong violence resembles Game of Thrones. However, episode 11 of the show really does resemble the HBO series with an impressive three-way battle scene, cast of characters without a “truly good” character in site, and, yeah, graphic deaths galore. I’ve remarked that I haven’t been big on the series in part because it’s too grim, but I should note that what I mean is that the series has lacked a heart for the past half-dozen episodes; I need to see a glimmer of hope. However, I’m all on board when it comes to the bleakness of battle, and just the anticipation of a showdown between Thorkell and Askeladd or Thorkell and Thorfinn had me at the edge of my seat. Even if neither duel ultimately happened, I was satisfied with the action in the episode, and even found something more to write about, as the conversation that follows the screencap above inspired a short article, which will post this week.
Episode grade: B+
Likelihood for completion (1-5): 2 (no change)
At this point, my viewing of all four series are going well! And because I’m streaming through them pretty fast, I may go six episodes at a time before posting, or perhaps eight. Something to look forward to for next time!