Pupa – 01

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Well, this will be brief! Pupa is about a guy whose sister sees red butterflies one day, meets a puppy that turns into animate viscera that attacks her, and then she sheds her human skin and becomes a vicious man-eating demon. Any questions?

We have some. For one, why is this show so damn short? If this was an attempt to make something compelling as possible in as short a time as possible, it didn’t quite succeed. There wasn’t enough time to set up any kind of drama or suspense, and we can’t be expected to recoil at gore if it’s censored.

We also entered this thinking Ise Mariya would be the voice of the older sister, but the sister turned out to be a brother, and Ise’ll probably only voice the younger him in some future four–freakin’-minute episode. Oh well, that’s what we get for not doing our homework.

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Rating: 4
 (Fair)

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Golden Time – 13

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Having control over your body taken away by a new personality, and being held prisoner within that body, having to watch helplessly as that personality moves further and further away from the person you were: it’s a special kind of hell we wouldn’t wish upon our greatest enemy (that dog who barks at us when we pass by its house). But Past Banri is starting to show that he’s not utterly helpless after all. Literal and figurative stormy clouds are gathering about New Banri and his lovely girlfriend, and Past Banri would have us believed they’re of his making.

We still can’t blame New Banri for going cold turkey on Linda; he did what he felt he had to do to protect Koko. New Banri is done with his past self, an yearns for a simple, happy new life with his girlfriend. Linda didn’t help matters by so easily going along with his wishes, but a part of her still blames herself for what happened to Banri in the first place. That guilt has crippled her from acting for her own sake. In a way, New Banri made things easier for her by being decisive for both of them in cutting her loose.

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There’s no sign that she’s sore over it this week, but then Linda’s always excelled at hiding her feelings. The Awa dance pre-gaming, the parade, the festival date, and Koko’s faux culinary exploits are so much pretty window dressing, while the wood of the window’s frame just behind it is starting to show signs of rot. If New Banri truly loves Koko as deeply as his past self loved Linda, he may never find peace, as Past Banri will always be that splinter in his mind, giving him bad dreams, raining on his dates, and even making him recoil from Koko’s kisses.

Golden Time didn’t waste any time re-asserting its supernatural elements, leaving us weary on many levels. We worry for Banri’s future sanity, and how it will affect his relationship with Koko; we worry about Koko getting hurt; we worry about Linda drifting even further away; but we’re also concerned about Past Banri wielding too much “magic” influence in his quest to punish his successor, making him a bad guy easy to root against. We’d prefer if everyone played a role in their downfalls, if they have them, rather than be able to blame all their ills on one scorned ghoul.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 01

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Chu2Koi Ren may well be another beautifully animated KyoAni guilty pleasure, packed with pretty characters, goofy situations, wry quips, and the occasional magical battles, but that doesn’t diminish our view that the most impressive and complete first episode of the new Winter season, not the least of which because it so brilliantly executes all of those things with equal efficacy in a way few other series can manage.

To be fair, Chu2Koi Ren has a sizable head start on the rest of the season: it’s a direct sequel backed by an entire season of emotional investment; we’re still being introduced to the other Winter shows and trying to remember names. Indeed, we can’t really say how much we’d enjoy this episode if we hadn’t seen its first season. All we know is, we did, a lot. From the clever split screen that reveals that Yuta and Rikka are living together when their mornings merge, we felt like we were curling up with an old friend.

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That’s the appeal of Chu2Koi for us, as well as Kyoukai no Kanata, Hyouka, Suzumiya, etc.: while they may all contain their fare share of perils moral, physical, emotional, and philosophical, there’s an underlying sense of optimism and reassurance that all will be well. It’s the anime equivalent of comfort food, only flashier. Don’t get us wrong: many a favorite show of ours has tortured its characters from start to finish, but can also be gratifying to see a show pamper, even spoil them, along with us. It might even be tougher to make an interesting show that way, but Chu2Koi Ren makes it look easy.

Our primary hope at last season’s end was for Yuta and Rikka’s relationship to endure and progress; it has and it looks like it will. We also wanted the brief but powerful “imagination” battles to carry over; they have. The visuals dazzle, the dialogue crackles, and there’s abundant comedy woven throughout. Every movement major or minor is fussed over, while and the previous season’s worth of experience working together is apparent in the voice actors, who bounce off each other with gusto. Chu2Koi Ren hasn’t missed a beat, reminding us why we fell for its predecessor, leaving us eager for more.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)