Oigakkosan’s Summer 2019 Anime Season Wrap-up

Arifureta began as a grim, visually unremarkable dungeon crawler, hinting at global conflicts and structures of political and social control… before devolving into guy-shoots-monsters-gets-harem-rinse-repeat. Pitting guns, missiles and motorcycles against orcs and wolves is tricky to make compelling, and Arifureta’s mediocre animation, slow plot, and constant battles doesn’t help.

Worse shows aired this season but few featured dragons being anally raped by the protagonist with a giant metal spike, nor said dragon joining said protagonist’s harem afterwards. However, and I’m going out on a limb here, even if this is up your personal kink, Arifureta’s PG-13 sensibilities probably wont go far enough for you. Niche at best, Barely Watchable for the rest of us.

Dr Stone is delightfully consistent with it’s focus on science process, over the top characters, and methodical plot to rebuild society from the stone age up. While its medium term objective (defeat super-strong/ super evil antagonist with science) has taken a back seat to gaining support of the villagers Senko discovered mid-season, its not forgotten.

We’ve learned about electricity, food chemistry, and glass as much as human nature, motivation and weakness. Hand in hand with lovable characters and charming visual style, Dr Stone is probably my most recommended show of the season.

Given’s relationship story is lovely, thoughtful, and matured with deeper issues of loss. The wow is in the details. From taking a dozen buses just to stand by the ocean, just to stand where you once stood with a close friend, to walking off stage after only one song, Given doesn’t over explain itself with dialog.  It’s solid but, like real romance, the best parts come from getting to know the characters. So I called it quits after episode six. Still, highly recommended

Granbelm finally developed an emotional core: Mangetsu is a magic puppet created by Ernesta’s subconscious desire to have a friend who isn’t an effed up mess. Also, despite earlier signs that losing wasn’t that big a deal, it has been revealed that girls die all the time in magic fights but no one remembers because… magic amnesia.

These are solid reveals and Mangetsu’s heart filled good bye to the cast (almost all of which immediately forget she ever existed) was strongly delivered. It just took way too long to develop. Combined with a dull pure evil villain, power levels that swing at the whim of the story, and Granbelm’s misunderstanding of what a mystery is (as opposed to just being confusing) and the show is only watchable.

Maou-sama, Retry! started off so absurdly bad, so generically Demon Lord/Isekai, that it had a certain charm. As it strolled forward, it took no greater objective than to introduce new characters to Maou’s harem, and forget about previous characters and potential destinations for the story. Aku hasn’t even been in the previous two episodes. The result is powerfully without purpose. It doesn’t care. You shouldn’t either. Barely watchable.

UchiMusume also suffers from a lack of purpose and follow through. For a show that features a central character who’s past is a mystery, and a hero who occasionally kills people for political gain, there’s an awful lot of wandering around aimlessly and eating food!

The result is harmlessly cute but smidgens of world building do not make up for a four episode long trip to and from a village to buy a new trench coat. It’s Barely watchable.

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UchiMusume – 07 – Looking at Things

Latina looks at stuff!
Some stuff people.
Some stuff food.
Some stuff even animated
but some stuff static…
like a stone.

What began as a soft touch culture-crossing adoption story, with safe romps into medieval’ish fantasy life has become uneventful beyond the point of watchability. The sum total of this week’s non-looking at stuff content was a chat with a demon musician lady, who explained that Latina’s bracelet had her the full length version of her father’s name. This is common practice amongst demons living in the first demon lord’s domain.

Also, apparently, there are a lot of demon lords out there, with political and social ramifications to their deeds. I doubt UchiMusume will ever get to them though and I don’t care if it does. I’m dropping this show like a stone!

UchiMusume – 06 – Shopping and Death

Dale’s most recent growth spurt has stretched his coat to tailoring limits. For whatever reason, replacing it requires him to return to his home town, far from the capital. Less surprising is Latina’s desire to come with him.

Dale and a Lady Elf Mage shop for Latina’s combat-grade magic gear, Ken takes Latina to Ruby’s dad’s blacksmith shop to buy a multi-purpose knife, and Rita reveals that she’s pregnant. When Dale and Latina finally do leave town, they travel the opposite direction in order to visit Latina’s dad’s grave… and slaughter two waves of woodland creatures along the way.

From the very beginning, the basis for this episode was a miss for me. Character age and aging are tricky to capture in anime and Dale’s change of height was difficult to identify. The very idea felt out of nowhere, as did Rita’s side plot about having a baby. None of the cast have grown emotionally since we first met them. Growing physically makes that disconnect even more apparent.

At least Latina’s dad’s grave looks like its flipping off the viewers. It gives me a gentle chuckle every time I see it.

While many things technically happened this week, few developments are consequential. Shopping is shopping, after all and unrelentingly uneventful but earnest nature of UchiMusu has become exasperating.

If UchiMusume ever gets to its mystery, or any plot arc whatsoever, it’s going to be rushed. Combined with its bare bones animation and nonexistent audio design, it is highly unlikely to feel satisfying. At the risk of repeating my previous reviews, UchiMusume has good bones but it lacks the skill to do anything at all with them.

UchiMusume – 05 – Kidnapping is Fun!

Latina experiences snow. Later, guys try to kidnap her, while Dale is killing magic animals. Fortunately, the elderly thug intervenes and the guardsman take her home.

Uchi has it’s charms. It has enough charms to keep me watching. However, it does not have the muscle to cash in on its ‘darkness behind the happy facade’ theme and… well… there’s no plot developing in the meantime.

UchiMusume – 04 – Calling Social Services

 

Latina begins her first year of school but a psychotic nun with PTSD is serving as her teacher. While friends run to her rescue, Latina is traumatized by the nun’s physical and emotional abuse. So much so that she breaks off her other horn and nearly dies in the process.

Chloe’s slap to the face and Dales gentle reminder that everyone eventually dies, and that everyone is scared of that fact, cuts through Latina’s self hatred and fear of being left alone. Then she sings off-tune at her recovery party.

The Verdict: Like last week, UchiMusume hints at seriously dark undertones, especially surrounding Dale himself. He apparently wields significant influence — enough to threaten the church itself! However, like last week, this contrast doesn’t have the art style to back it up with emotional punch, and the goofey side is too damn goofey to take seriously.

UchiMusume – 03 – Pie and Dragons

Our tale continues with Dale lamenting that he needs to go to work and leave Latina behind. There is much rolling on the ground and shouting like a child. Awkwardly, every character that deals with Dale from that point forward channels what we the audience are feeling: Dale is acting out of character and it is very very annoying.

While Dale is away, Ken teaches Latina how to bake Shepherd’s Pie. This incidentally reveals that Ken is not only a retired bad ass adventurer, but that he personally mentored Dale along the way. From the glimpse we see, Ken’s axes are probably the same axes hanging on the tavern wall.

Then back with Dale, we get murder. Emotionless, trouble free, murder. Apparently, in addition to Adventuring, Dale serves as an assassin for hire. In this particular case, he is killing supporters of the 7th Devil Lord. A young woman is among them and she looks, perhaps suspiciously, like she could be Latina’s mother.

UchiMusume’s sudden dark turns were a pleasant surprise this week. In addition to Dale’s brief kill spree, Latina reveals that her Father died because he wouldn’t abandon her. Emphasis on Latina being the one cast out by Demon kind. Latina, not her family, is the one in trouble.

The Verdict: There is value in contrasting Dale’s dopey side with his murder machine profession. However, the dopey side is too annoying to watch. This is worrisome because UchiMusume has good bones that are already straining to support the weight of its lack luster production values.

Also, the magic system of goofy long winded chanting is kinda stupid.

UchiMusume – 02 – Dead Dad and Rainbows

Dale and Latina are settling into their new routine as young adventure dad and adopted demon girl… and Latina is doing a much better job! She’s learning human language very quickly, helping prepare food and cleaning around the pub. These efforts are melting thuggish hearts left and right but Dale is an emo mess.

Buckling under Rita’s stern guidance, he lets Latina join Ken on a shopping trip and buggers off to work. As luck would have it, Latina gets lost on said trip but makes friends with a pack of local kids by the end.

She also shows us that she can cast magic and tragic love for rainbows.

The Good: UchiMusume nails all the feels about watching children grow up, including the nervous adults watching it happen. It also sneaks in subtle world building elements, like side conversations about work scarcity and the dysfunction of job searching now that quests get posted to the internet/magic job board.

The Bad: Dear lord was Dale’s OTT character shift hard to watch. From gushing over Latina’s cute pronunciation errors to moping at the bar, his characterization lost the grounding it carried last week.

The Verdict: Episode two continues UM’s trip down safe-feels-lane but it wasn’t uneventful. Better editing and less Dale could have added contrast to Latina getting lost but it worked as a platform to introduce more kids her age to the plot. It was also fun to learn that Dale’s part of town is the sketchy part of town in the eyes of the rest of the city.

My concerns are long term. UM has to be about more than cuteness and more than day to day life at a pub in a magic world. Introducing the mystery of Latina’s broken horn and dead dad and the hints that some crime may be involved will feel cheap otherwise.

For now, the cuteness is good enough. Bring on all the feels!