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!

Mr. OldSchool’s Summer Season Quick-Fire Reviews

Granbelm – A kind girl stumbles into a magic girl battle royale with super deformed style Gundam. The art style is visually striking and the action is top shelf’ish. Too bad Granbleh’s kitchen sink of tropes is delivered in such a loveless and generic way. 7

Maou-sama, Retry! – A game developer is sucked into the fantasy MMO he created in the moments before the servers go dark! Now he is a super powerful demon lord and looks like a yakuza! Zap! Loli! Art with zero style and story without originality or substance! 5

Kanata no Astra – Space High schoolers get lost in space; must show grit (and team work) to overcome crisis. Crisp animation and competent narrative construction save it from an underwhelming cast and middle shelf art style. If a kid dies next week, my opinion will move higher. 8

UchiMusume – A young adventurer adopts an orphaned demon girl he finds in the woods. There’s a potty joke! It’s charming but very safe and gives all the hints that it wont go anywhere by the end of the season. 8

Joshikousei no Mudazukai – A girl realizes she picked an all girls high school and she just. can’t. even. The comedic timing is on the money… but humor kinda whiffs? Mid shelf artwork makes it watchable but not remarkable. 7

Araburu Kisetsu no Otome – The literature club tackles sex in literature… AND LIFE! Reading train schedules and draping penises on girls’ heads play out in this earnest, bashful, slow burn. Looks to be Summer’s sleeper hit. 9!

Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? – A high school girl gains weight for comedy. Goes to gym for comedy. I got bored and stopped watching. 6

Sounan Desu ka? – Girls wash up on a beech. Panty shots. ¯\_()_/¯

Tejina-senpai – A boy must choose a school club and meets a girl into magic. 12 minutes of humorless antics ensue. #Skippable 5

Enen no Shouboutai – A boy with a tragic past starts his first day as a Magic Firemen fighting demoney fire people. There’s a churchy vibe and Soul Eater art style. The animated fire is fantastic but the production costs must have been too much for the studio. (scenes linger) Worth a watch though. 8

Katsute Kami Datta Kemono – A squad of super human monsters turn evil shortly after winning an alt US civil war. Bad guys laugh like evil bad guys and tragic love interests die for motivational purposes. It’s lower shelf animation and writing with some blood to tide viewers over. 5 #shitshow

Dr. Stone – Suddenly everyone turns to stone. 3,700 years later, two teens break out and start to figure out the stone-age world around them. With style so jarringly OTT my brain can’t tell if I love it or hate it, and a narrative construction so bat shit crazy I have to keep watching. 8 #WTFFTW

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 10

Claude is off to Dijon to meet with an important client about new metalwork. Claude has to study his late father’s work, and it brings back memories of his childhood when his father was still alive and business was booming. He’s conflicted about keeping the business running by simply copying what his father did. Meanwhile, Oscar keeps Yune and Alice entertained with a projector and phenakistoscope found while Yune was cleaning the storeroom.

My favorite scene this week was when Yune remembered what Claude told her about the metalworks shop: His father and grandfather worked to make every metalwork sign in the entire Gallery, so their skill is on display everywhere, with signs fulfilling the dual purpose of advertising for the shop it hangs over as well as advertising for the one who made the sign. It’s as impressive as it is sad; the best days seem to be behind both the Gallery and the metal shop.

Claude’s father was a genius with metal, but Claude also remembers him being cold and stern. This new job in Dijon is the latest challenge – can he outdo his departed dad? Oscar has never pushed him to keep the business going. The question is, is he keeping the fires of the forge burning for his father, or for himself? Not much to say about the B story involving Yune, Alice, Oscar, and eventually the whole gallery; it was pleasant enough. People were certainly easily entertained back then!


Rating: 3

AnoHana 8

Everyone feels their share of guilt over Menma’s death, from the surviving Peace Busters to her mother. It seemed, in the beginning, that all her friends had gotten over her and moved on except Jinta. But one by one, we learn that everyone has unresolved guilt and pain within them; Jinta, being haunted by Menma, brought them back together and brought those emotions back to the surface. So the question now is, what to do with them?

Anjou is distressed by how hard Jinta is working, or punishing himself, for Menma’s sake. She also confesses to him that she was glad and relieved when he said he didn’t like Menma way back then at the secret base, and never got over her guilt for feeling that. She lays it all out for Jinta, but all he can do is walk away; no matter what anyone says, he can’t forget about someone who he can still see, hear, and touch. You can’t help but feel bad for Anjou either, though.

When everyone visits Menma’s mother, she accuses them of only wanting to have fun, and curses them for being allowed to grow up and live out their lives while Menma can’t. She’s haunted by her daughter’s memory, but not her person, so she has even fewer answers – and hence more despair – than anyone else. It outlines the “competition” (for lack of a better word) between Menma’s friends’ pain and that of the woman who gave birth to her. She may see exuberance and life in Menma’s grown friends, but she doesn’t know what we know about what they feel beneath their exteriors.

When Jinta goes to apologize to Anjou, everyone else is there, and a sort of invervention occurs, with only Poppo on his side. Just as Yukiatsu is about to slug him, Menma makes her presence known to everyone for the first time by writing in her diary and dropping it. This is a huge development, though it may not assuage the skeptics among Jinta’s friends. But it’s clear one thing Menma wishes above all is for everyone to be friends and not fight.

One other character I’ve neglected until now is the force of Jinta’s dad: this guy lost his beautiful wife, but he carries on, in a way Jinta hasn’t figured out how to do. He’s also the best kind of dad; one who isn’t as concerned with his son following the rules as much as following his heart and his own path in life. Rating: 4