Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru – 01 (First Impressions)

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The title is a mouthful (the English dub is shortened to Beautiful Bones), but Sakurado-san is a modest yet intriguing little show centered on a rich, gorgeous, brilliant, and very (justifiably) immodest young osteologist in Kujou Sakurako. She loves bones and is always on the lookout for new ones, even, nay, especially if they’re of the human variety, and even more especially if they’re of the murdered human variety.

In fact, Sakurado seems to prefer the bones of the dead to other human beings, as she seems a bit of a misanthrope. Her only regular contacts seem to be Gran, her housekeeper, and Tatewaki Shoutarou, who is the Watson to her Sherlock, only he’s not a veteran of Afghanistan, nor is he a doctor. He’s more of a student; a kohai.

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The unconventional relationship between Sakurako, who looks to be in her mid to late twenties, and the high schooler Shou, looks to be the ongoing “mystery” running parallel to the mystery-of-the-week (or weeks). Shou is our conduit to Sakurako; we know a little more about what’s going on in his head because he’s narrating, adding to Sakurako’s mystique.

Despite her being older, Shou seems the more responsible and attuned to society and bureaucracy, calling the cops when they find human remains. Yet Shou is still enough of a kid to allow the prospect of an Alaskan shrimp feast dangled ahead of him like a carrot.

Whether it’s the fact Shou’s so young and non-threatening and malleable, or that she probably doesn’t want to marry her actual fiancee (being from a wealthy family, that’s probably an arranged thing), Sakurako not only tolerates but seems to enjoy Shou’s company, and the feeling is mutual, even if she sometimes goes too far and causes trouble.

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So those are the characters, to my mind the most interesting aspect of the show. Plot-wise, the opening episode is an introduction to them and a kind of “ridealong” to one of their typical days scrounging for bones.

It’s also demonstrated that Sakurako’s analytical and investigative skills and instincts outstrip the average country detective, though she has no interest in actually entering law enforcement. There’s a great sense of occasion and drama to the moment she locks into “investigation mode”, when she’s surrounded by light and hundreds of reconstructed skeletons.

This show also has going for it: a Wednesday timeslot, so it’s more likely to be retained than if it aired during the always busy weekend. Plus, it’s a fairly pretty, undemanding show that invites you to sit back and get lost in the wake of Sakurako for a spell, as Shou obviously delights in doing, despite his protestations. Heck, I even learned a few things about bones I didn’t know. Very nice; I’ll see where it goes.

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K: Return of Kings – 01 (Quick Glance)

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K: Return of Kings is an extremely stylish magical fighter where people drop trailer-style sound bites at each other while sword-dancing around a beautifully 3D rendered cityscape. It’s full of visual elegance and wonderful dancey/comfort jazz riffs and it has absolutely no weight or feeling of tension.

For context, I accidentally watched K: Return of Kings without knowing it was the sequel to a show RABUJOI reviewed back in 2012.  So I am certainly missing context. However, K:RoK has some pretty straightforward problems…

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The episode opens with a fight between the 3rd King (Red) and the 4th King (Blue) and their clans. It introduces about 12 characters, what I presume are some ranks and relationships, and sets off scattering those characters around the city in lengthy one-on-one fights.

Aside from the female character, who gets several half-sexy/half-awkwardly rendered crotch and boob shots, many of the characters look the same. e.g. The blue King & Captain both wear glasses and a similar uniform and are only identifiable because the Captain has throwing knives and fights the red guy on the skateboard…Right off the bat, I don’t even know who anyone is unless they are holding a specific weapon.

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You may like it if: you want high production values production values and can turn off your brain. K:RoK isn’t Fate stay/night visual quality, but top-shelf for tv.

You may not like it if: the lengthy lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi’won in Star Wars EPIII bored you with it’s flashing, highly polished, lengthy emotionless grind. K:RoK’s pretty flash and explosions becomes dull if there is no tension or moments of rest for the action. Likewise, a giant, highly-detailed cityscape does not immerse you in a space, if you have no idea who anyone is, or why they are acting so strange.

 

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In closing, K:RoK feels like an action packed trailer as a full length episode: all the snappiest dialog and explosions and fights are on display without any of the ‘boring’ dialog between characters that would make the world feel lived in and the relationships real. When Dialog and moments of pause do creep up, its mostly sloppy exposition and unnatural feeling character re-introduction.

It’s pretty, it has boobs and crotch jiggle, swooshy magic attacks, and is unoffensive. If you watched the original, or plan to go back and watch it first, you may even get something out of it. Just not enough here for me.

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Haikyuu!! Second Season – 01 (Quick Glance)

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Haikyuu!! has always reminded me of Bleach…albeit drawn with a quarter the budget and doing away with all the plot to focus exclusively on its orange-haired hero’s tactical growth. Maybe it’s unfair to call Haikyuu out on this, given that many sports anime feature underdog teams (and players) with potential and the drive for fame and Naruto-like-enthusiasm.

If anything set the original season apart, it was that the team loses their big game anyway, not even making it to the final show down of the regionals, let alone to their goal: the nationals. That, and I swear the characters’ chins and overall head design is the ugliest in all of animedom.

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You’ll like it if: you enjoy stories about the little guy struggling to be the best, about teams coming together, and enjoyed the first season, without which you won’t have enough context for the characters’ motivations to grip you.

You may not like it if: you didn’t watch the first season and get to know the dozens of characters, rivalries and relationship growth. Season 2’s opening is also a little disappointing is how quickly the characters ‘rebound’ from their crushing defeat. Everyone is driven, without reserve, for heroic ‘revenge’ and absolute victory in the Volleyball world. And guess what? A new tourney is already just around the corner for our heroes to grow, surprise more opponents with their speed and tactics, and probably win the day.

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This is the deep-fried candy coat of fun that I watched Haikyuu for and my criticisms are a little unfair. Watching characters wallow in self pity or be broken by defeat would have been a bold move for a show that sets the stakes at: win volleyball or not.

But goodness! Season 2’s first episode already feels like more of the same. Watching is a guilty pleasure show, to be sure.

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