2017 Summer of Anime – Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation

16 Yowamushi Pedal New Generation

HIME FIST!

Since this is one of those I’ve talked about in a previous post (here it is!), I won’t go into too much depth with the intro paragraph.  I’ve also written about season two and the movie right here.  Okay, reigning Summer Inter High champion Sakamichi Onoda is in his second year of high school at Sohoku High.  His cycling team is already training for their next Inter High, but their rivals are working just as hard, and Sohoku is especially far behind because they’ve lost half their winning team.  Time to Hime Hime, y’all!

Jeez, I’ve been watching Yowamushi Pedal for almost four years now.  My, how time flies.  This anime sure don’t, though!  *Laugh track*  I praised New Generation when it was six episodes in for how much the pace had stepped up from previous seasons.  And it kept to that…for a while.  I’m an old hand at sports series, so I’m no stranger to sudden flashbacks, thinking/talking as free actions, and drawn out matches, but it really does feel like Yowapeda has mastered the art of padding.  Those whiplash-inducing flashbacks returned in a hurry, and this season ends before the first day of the Inter High is over.  The bit before the race felt like it took forever.  Getting to know everybody, getting to see their backstories, getting to hear everyone’s thoughts, etc.  Again, it’s a sports series.  I get it.  But three seasons in and most of the cast returning from the previous two…you don’t really need to spend too much time on this stuff by now.  Or at least do it better.  Eiichiro Oda is so unbelievably adept at making long flashbacks feel natural in One Piece.  Yowapeda is far from being that good at it.

My other big complaint about this season, and I’m sorry if this is a spoiler, but I gotta get this off my chest:  This feels exactly like the last Inter High so far.  Sohoku sent two sprinters for the sprint checkpoint against Hakone’s one, Onoda gets separated from the rest of his team by the pack and has to fight his way back, Midosouji messes with him as he does so, Sohoku has to make a desperate call for the mountain checkpoint.  I just described the first day of both Inter Highs.  It is unabashedly similar.  I genuinely hope things get changed up for the rest of the race, but it ain’t looking too good.

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Best timeline?  Worst timeline?  I…don’t really know.

I know it sounds like I’m being harsh on Yowapeda, but it comes from a place of love.  It is a true delight to see all these characters again, and the new additions are quite welcome.  The new kid on Sohoku’s team who’s somehow dumber and more hot-blooded than Naruko, Hakone’s monster Doubashi, Kyoto Fushimi’s…masseuse.  They bring familiar characteristics to the table, but they all feel different enough to not be redundant.  I also love how existing characters have to step up into roles like with Teshima and Izumida becoming the captains of Sohoku and Hakone, respectively.  It’s interesting to see how they approach the struggles and responsibilities as captains of two of the best teams in the country.  Teshima especially stands out in this season as he not only has to race to win his spot as captain, but he also has to man up in the mountain stage of the Inter High.  Dude has definitely become one of my favorites.

And yeah, the show can still get me hype when it wants to get me hype.  I wish it didn’t take so long to get from one hype to the next, but such is Yowapeda.  Also, it continues to have the best stingers in anime.  Bar none.  I can’t tell you how funny these things are.  My favorite has to be when Kyoto Fushimi’s former captain has a nightmare of catching grasshoppers as a kid and one of them turns into Midousuji.  I laughed so hard.  There’s also a really special one at the end of the last episode.  Again, the show can easily get me hype when it wants to.

Despite New Generation doing everything good that previous entries in the Yowapeda franchise have done with great characters, races, and humor, it also does everything bad that the others have done with ham-fisted flashbacks and woefully drawn out episodes.  I’ll give it a 7.5.  Probably my least favorite season, but I do still love it so.

Seasonal Sawce: Winner, Winter Anime Dinner 2017, Part 1

Return of the Seasonal Sawce, y’all!  Get hype!

You kids know the drill by now:  At least six episodes into the new season, so it’s time to talk about what I’m watching in order of what I look forward to the least to what I look forward to the most.  This is a mercifully small season for me with only three carryovers from seasons past.  Without further ado, let’s talk about some Chinese cartoons.

7) Fuuka

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“Fuuka me?”  Fuuka you!

Yuu Haruna is a Twitter-loving introvert who’s just moved in with his three sisters for some reason.  While out and about town one day he is accosted by a hardheaded, unpleasant girl who accuses him of taking a picture of her panties after she kneed him in the face.  She then does the only sensible thing and breaks his phone.  The following day at his new school, Yuu finds his attacker, Fuuka Akitsuki, and returns a CD to her she dropped after assaulting him.  Fuuka soon warms up to the shy kid she tormented and ropes him and a few other people she somewhat knows into forming a band because she loves listening to the songs of pop idol Koyuki Hinashi.  Turns out, though, that Yuu and Koyuki are childhood friends!  Can you say, “love triangle?”  I can, but why bother?

As you can tell, I don’t think too highly of Fuuka’s character.  Or some of the set-up.  Or Yuu’s character, for that matter.  But, I do likes me some shoujo-for-boys anime every now and then, and Fuuka fits that role okay.  I’m mainly sticking around for the music angle, though.  Well, that and one other thing.  There’s a twist I happened upon one day, and I’m curious to see how that plays out in the anime.  The show’s not that good, but I appreciate how kinda realistically it handles some of its outlandish situations (does that even make sense?).

6) Masamune-kun’s Revenge

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Her legs are as long as her personality is trash.

When he was a wee little lad, Masamune Makabe was fat.  Like, “his parents probably couldn’t pick him up” fat.  This led to him being bullied all the time.  His only solace was in a strong-willed rich girl named Aki Adagaki.  She didn’t suffer bullies and took pity on/became friends with the little fatty.  Masamune one day confessed to his only friend, but she soundly rejected him and dubbed him “Pig’s  Foot.”  This set the boy on his path of vengeance and he became Pigman!… Okay, not really.  What it did do was hurt him so bad emotionally he moved in with his grandfather in the mountains and started dieting and training.  Now, Masamune has returned home as one handsome devil with only goal:  To make Aki Adagaki fall in love with him so he can brutally dump her as she did him many moons ago.  This…is Masamune-kun’s revenge.

So, I started watching Masamune-kun’s Revenge because I have watched entirely too many romcom and harem anime, and a lot of those anime live and die by their unique set-up.  This revenge plot was enough to get me interested.  Halfway in and I don’t think it’s done as much as it could have with its premise.  Like, I get homeboy’s determination, and I kinda want him to succeed.  On the other hand, the anime’s dropped enough hints for us to know he probably won’t go through with it and they’ll wind up together for realsies.  Still, though, I do enjoy the characters.  Whereas Fuuka’s insufferable qualities bring down her show, Aki’s are part of the joke.  Also, I think the best way to describe Masamune is a gold jerk with a heart of jerk with gold inside it.  It’s great to see him play off Aki, her manipulative maid Yoshino, the compulsive liar Neko, his mother, etc.  This is a fun show that could definitely do more with its premise, but the characters have me looking forward to it every week.

5) Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation

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He’s gonna “Hime Hime” all the way to the finish line.

The third years are resigning from their clubs and getting ready for their lives outside of high school, but for all those who remain, there’s no time to rest.  Especially for Sohoku High.  Half of their Inter High-winning team is graduating, so they’re in more dire need of new recruits than most other schools.  Time to hop back in the saddle again as the new generation comes together.

(Heh.  I kinda like dropping the title in the description.)

Here comes Yowamushi Pedal with that young third season.  Now, I quite love this series.  It does everything a sports series needs to do, and it does it well.  So, I am very interested in seeing how the new team looks.  Kinda like what happened in Ace of Diamond.  I love the original line-up, but you can’t help but want to know if they’ll find the same success without their veteran members.  Plus, I gotta give props to how quickly the pace is so far.  Six episodes in and we’ve already gotten two decently big races…and a lot of feels.  Good on ya, Yowamushi Pedal.  Still interesting after all this time.

4) Interviews with Monster Girls

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These girls’ hopes and dreams may be heavy, but he can carry them all wit dem arms.

The world is much more open-minded than it once was.  Nowadays, demi-humans are widely accepted around the world.  Still, though, not many people actually know one.  Biology teacher Tetsuo Takahashi is one such person.  He’s fascinated by demi-humans and wishes to learn as much as he possibly can about them.  He just can’t seem to meet one.  That is until he pays attention to his surroundings.  Turns out his school has three demi-human (well, they prefer “demi”) students and one teacher.  Tetsuo now has his chance to talk with a vampire, dullahan, yuki-onna, and succubus, and it looks like they want to understand his muscles as much as he wants to understand their demi ways.

(Thought about working the title into the description, but I’m past that joke.)

I love this show.  There’s just something about quirky slice of life shows that you watch on the weekends to wind down from a long week, and this new offering from the weird genre of monster girl anime is just what every anime fan needs.  I earlier gave some (extremely) slight praise to Fuuka for how down-to-earth some of its over-the-top plot points are handled.  Here, I’m giving Interviews with Monster Girls high praise for that exact thing.  How does a teenage vampire with an absurdly upbeat personality deal with her blood-cravings?  By drinking from government-issued blood bags and occasionally nibbling on her twin sister’s arm, of course.  Does a dullahan want to make jokes about her disembodied head?  Can a snow woman make friends even though she’s worried about freezing the people around her?  Yes!  It’s great seeing these odd situations being handled like somewhat normal teenage problems with advice from your resident bulky teacher.

And if you don’t feel for the plight of Sakie Satou, the succubus teacher, then you are the true monster.  (Also, Sakie is best girl.  Even if we’re just six episodes in.)

3) Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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What’ll anime think of next?

Kobayashi is an office worker with a penchant for drinking and an obsession with maids.  Imagine her surprise then, when she wakes up one morning after getting quite plastered to find a maid at her apartment.  Well, she actually finds a dragon who turns into a maid.  Her name is Tohru, and it looks like Kobayashi saved her while she was blackout drunk.  Kobayashi’s kindness and ranting about maids made Tohru fall in love with the office worker and convinced her to serve Kobayashi as her very own maid.  Kinda makes you wanna go out drinking more often, huh?

Two monster girl anime in one season and they’re both good?  What madness be this?  Yes, I like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid a smidgen more than Interviews.  Mainly because I feel like it does a little more with its premise than its fellow monster girl show.  Also, it’s good to have you back, KyoAni.  I was scared off thanks to Beyond the Boundary and Myriad Colors Phantom World.  But this proves to me you still have good within you.  And I gotta tell ya, when KyoAni is having fun, you can definitely tell.  This show is just dripping with charm.  The characters are so lovingly animated, and the scenes where the dragons display their powers are some of the finest feasts your eyes can have.  I have faith in KyoAni again.

2) KonoSuba 2

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Question: Which one is the most competent?  Answer: No.

When last we saw our heroes, Kazuma Satou was being brought up on charges of blowing up the house of a local noble and allying with the forces of the Devil King.  Season two picks up with his party letting him take the fall and the town too scared to stand up for him.  It’s fine, though.  He shouldn’t have expected any different.  And hey, little things like possible treason, rogue Devil King generals, and rampaging lizard monsters aren’t enough to deter our woefully unqualified band of heroes.  They’re too dumb to realize when it’s time to quit.  Sometimes.

I guess I watched season one of KonoSuba before I started trying to write more on this blog.  Otherwise, I’m positive I would’ve written about this anime before because I love it.  I’ve seen a lot of comedy anime that make me smile when their jokes come around, but season one of KonoSuba consistently made me laugh hard.  And season two is no different.  Kazuma’s scumbag tendencies, Aqua’s inability to not screw everything up, Megumin’s steadfast refusal to learn different spells despite her potentially vast power, and Darkness’s determination to be punished at every turn rarely ever fail to make me laugh.  This show also has the best facial expressions out there, and don’t you dare let anyone else tell you otherwise.  Give it a watch.  You’re bound to laugh.

1) Descending Stories: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

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Let me tell you a story.

In season one we saw Yakumo Yurakutei tell his apprentice Yotaro and his adopted daughter Konatsu the story of his days as Kikuhiko with Konatsu’s parents Sukeroku and Miyokichi.  Season two jumps farther ahead with Yotaro moving up in the ranks of the rakugo world and Konatsu with a baby boy.  Yakumo is even older and more jaded, and he seems determined to have rakugo die with him.  Those closest to him refuse to let him have his wish, though, so the old man can’t be done just quite yet.

I meant to write about season one in a post about all the anime I’ve watched outside of Seasonal Sawce and the Summer of Anime, so I haven’t yet had a chance to gush about this anime.  Allow me to gush:  The first season is quite possibly the best anime of 2016.  Really only JJBA: Diamond Is UnbreakableRe:Zero, and Mob Psycho 100 give it a run for its money, and even though I love those three to pieces, I still might side with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.  It’s not the best-looking or the best-animated, but I’ll be damned if you can find something with better characters or understanding of what art means to its audience.  I thought the first season was squandering its potential greatness by leaving the ex-con-turned-storyteller plot to tell the one about his master.  I was so wrong.  But now, with Descending Stories, we get to follow that ex-con.

I don’t know what all I want to say about the first six episodes of this second season.  I know that even though I look forward to this anime more than I do any other I’m watching it’s still hard to watch new episodes.  And that’s because this anime elicits so much emotion from me.  This show has been so good about getting the audience invested in these characters and what will happen to them next.  They’re so well-done I feel like I know them.  And really, that’s when anime–and rakugo–is at its finest.

Well, that’s all I’m writing for this Seasonal Sawce.  I do feel bad ‘cuz I don’t feel like I properly explained why Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu deserves every bit of praise it gets, but maybe I’ll revisit that down the line when I’m a better writer.  Hopefully, I’ll be writing some more things on this blog in the near future, but I feel like I always say that.   Ah well.  Seasonal Sawce will return in a month and some change when most of these shows wrap up.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.