It’s been a while since I’ve watched seasonal shows (Winter 2018 has been the first time in… 6 years? 7?). It just so happens that next season has a bunch of adaptations of manga I’ve loved and a ton of high profile sequels too. I figure that even though some of these are bound to flop, it’s an important time to record down the hype I’m feeling at the moment.
…is that I don’t give a SHIT about Violet Evergarden. After writing my last post on Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (which, by the way, has a stupid-as-hell English name so I’m going back to Japanese), I went and watched episode 5 of Violet Evergarden.
I had Violet Evergarden in mind as I was ranting about how Antarctic Girls is falling into the pattern of a “conflict-of-the-week,” and it’s pretty obvious why: it’s an episodic show with a microscopic overarching plot of Violet becoming human. I’m using “microscopic” because so far I haven’t been able to detect any meaningful change in our beloved robogirl. And while the conflict-of-the-week is sometimes interesting, everything revolves around KyoAni trying to make me feel sorry as I watch socially-inept Violet drawing pity as she takes off her gloves.
I don’t give a shit about this character. There’s nothing remotely appealing about a main character who has no emotions, and it’s even worse that every interaction and dialogue has to do with how she has no emotions. I could bear with it for the first few episodes, but now it’s just KyoAni flexing their animation skills and puking out a European Endless Eight where the only thing everybody talks about is how Nagato has no emotions.
From this point on, I’m switching from weebanese to English. Why use “Sora yori mo Tooi Basho” with basically arbitrary capitalization when I can use the actual English title?? Related to this: I noticed the other day that “Boku no Hero Academia” sounds pretty dumb in English compared to “My Hero Academia,” but I guess I just get used to whatever I see first… usually on reddit discussion threads.
Anyway, these past few episodes have been excellent. They’ve taken this genre, whatever it is, and perfected it. There’s one point in Episode 6 where Hinata loses her passport, and then there’s a shot of the hotel wall. I was half expecting/half dreading the stereotypical shriek of panic, and then a scene of Hinata frantically looking through her stuff. But as always, this show doesn’t fall prey to the tropes. The next scene is actually all of Hinata’s stuff on a bed, with the girls looking at it. I don’t think it’s very realistic that they’re not panicking, but it’s better than the over-the-top scene I was picturing.
I do have a gripe with the show, though. It treats conflicts like the monster-of-the-week. Every episode is a neatly wrapped bundle of conflict -> resolution -> next episode. I’d like a bit more continuity in the character development instead of the current formula of focusing on one character at a time.
The worst offender of this is actually what I thought was the best episode so far: episode 5. This episode focused on Mari’s glasses-wearing friend Megumi. Her annoyance at Mari and passive-aggressive attitude was spot-on and I felt so uneasy watching her try to hold Mari back. But then the end of the episode felt like such a cop out! I can understand why Megumi would want to break her ties with Mari: Mari can then enjoy her time in Antarctica without worrying about her friend back home who doesn’t get to have such fun experiences. But it felt more like the friendship was ending conveniently, to both wrap up the episode neatly and to have the audience enjoy watching Mari in Antarctica without worrying about Megumi.
If this was the only instance of this sort of conflict-of-the-week, then I’d be fine with it. But episode 6 strolls along and presents another one-episode minor conflict. Without a big, multi-episode goal like “trying to get on the expedition,” it seems like this show is floundering a bit. I’d much prefer just a fun episode about the girls having fun in Singapore, or multiple episodes in Singapore to make the conflict seem… important. In the end, it’s all resolved with a few cheap laughs. I hope this isn’t the end of Hinata’s character development, but it sure feels like it.
Still, this stuff is all minor. A Place Further Than The Universe is the best show of the season so far, miles above bigger names like Darling in the Franxx and Violet Evergarden.
… has had one of the best opening three episodes ever.
So far this show has perfected the moe slice-of-life genre of “cute girls do cute things” (CGDCT). While pioneers of the genre (Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star, K-ON) featured cute girls doing either boring-as-fuck or purposely cutesy things, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho makes what happens interesting by itself. The actions, rather than the characters, are cute. Look above at Hinata and Mari’s stupid-looking grins as Shirase panics.
What about Mari’s “sexy pose”?
It’s with good reason I had to look up the characters’ names while writing this post. I don’t remember them, and moeification/sexualization is not the point here. So far this show has succeeded because it hasn’t wasted time deliberately trying to make waifu material (a la Mio of K-ON), as shown in the really low number of favorites for the four main characters on MyAnimeList: 20, 9, 8, and 5 favorites out of over 25,000 people watching the series.
These past three episodes have been fantastic, but with the gang all together, I’m a little worried about the future. As long as the series can stay away from overused, stereotypical scenarios and dialogue I can predict minutes in advance, it should easily break into my top 20.