What I Watched This Week – 2/14-2/20

Title image for Mo Dao Zu Shi. The profiles of two long haired men above a mountain top shrouded in clouds

Mo Dao Zu Shi S1&2 – Despite going into this with fairly high expectations, I was still surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this. All of the political intrigue, power struggles, and bloody fighting scratched the same itch that Kingdom and Arslan scratched for me, but with an added bonus of some top-notch longing between the two main guys. My only complaint is that season 2 ends at what felt like the climax of the mystery, but with a planned season 3 I guess I can hope to find the solution then. 9/10 YouTube

Title image for Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Girl in futuristic clothes holds a rifle and stands next to a giant insect

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – It says something about a movie when its message about war and the environment is still completely applicable over 35 years after it’s released. It’s a little depressing that we don’t seem to learn from our mistakes, but good on the writers for getting at the essential nature of humanity so perfectly. In addition to the writing, I also loved the gorgeous painted backgrounds and the glorious lack of CG. They don’t make movies like they used to. 9/10 HBO Max, Netflix

Title image for Rec. Young woman in front of recording microphone holding a script booklet

Rec – I’ve been meaning to watch this short series of half-length episodes for a while now, as it’s unusual for a romance anime to not only feature working adults but also contain a sexual relationship. I enjoyed the complicated dynamic between the advertising salaryman and the aspiring voice actress he takes in after her apartment burns down, and liked how it was a messy mix of attraction, gratitude, and friendship that the characters had to work to untangle. I thought he was a bit of an ass, but I liked their story all the same. 7/10 YouTube

Title image for Bleach. Orange haired high school boy wearing black robes and holding a sword

Bleach ep.111-150 – This chunk of episodes starts off the canon Arrancar arc with a couple runs of filler episodes included in the middle. I thought the filler was pretty decent at spacing out the canon material without totally killing the momentum or being too weird. I don’t love the Arrancar character designs, but I am really enjoying the canon material. Something about the pacing or the way the fights are choreographed just makes it so much more exciting than even the good filler. Additionally, this arc has brought out some fabulous eye candy and I’m in agreement with Keigo’s sister on the appeal of Ikkaku. Ichigo’s dad can get it, too. Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix

What I Watched This Week – 2/7-2/13

Title image for SSSS.Gridman. Various high school aged characters standing at the feet of a giant humanoid robot.

SSSS.Gridman – I am not particularly well-versed in kaiju or mecha shows and movies, but I’ve watched enough to find this adaptation of a 90’s live action series highly entertaining. It’s not trying to be subversive or ironic, it’s just a 100% earnest story about teenagers fighting kaiju with the help of a giant robot and the power of friendship, and I totally enjoyed the ride. While maybe not as visually stunning as Trigger’s other works, it was still stylish as hell with great character animation and well-integrated CG for the giant monster fights. A sequel/continuation comes out next season and I’m looking forward to watching it. 8/10 Crunchyroll, Funimation 

Title image for The Boy and the Beast. A large bear-man and a small boy stand in a plaza with a wooden sword on their shoulders.

The Boy and the Beast – I enjoyed this movie about a runaway boy who finds himself in a fantastical world of beastfolk and demigods after slipping through a narrow alley while running from police in Shibuya. It was a fun blend of fantasy, action, and drama, and it was satisfying to watch the relationship between the boy and his adoptive beastman father, and see how they pushed each other to become better-rounded people. The final confrontation was drawn out a little much and was a touch silly, but on the whole it was a touching story about growing up and finding your way. 8/10 Rental via Amazon Prime, YouTube 

Title image for Hozuki's Coolheadedness S2.

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness S2 – Season 2 of this comedy about the mundane administration of the afterlife brought more of the cultural references and satire that made season 1 so amusing. I still only get half of the allusions as I’m just not up on my Japanese folklore, but even when I miss the specifics, the jokes were still relatable enough to draw a smile from me. The highlight of the show is in the writing, but the backgrounds, which are made to look like the old-style ink prints, and the character designs are both really pretty, and not something I expected to find in a comedy series like this. 7/10 Crunchyroll, Hidive 

Title image for Bleach. Orange haired high school boy wearing black robes and holding a sword

Bleach, Ep. 75-110 – This wrapped up the Bount arc, which wasn’t the worst anime filler I’ve ever watched by any means, but was not particularly good, especially compared to the canon arc right before it. The pacing felt a little awkward, and the way it pulled in basically every character we’d met before just seemed a bit forced. I will admit that Kariya was a fairly charismatic villain, but the whole Bount thing was half-baked, and the final confrontation was wildly anticlimactic. Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix

What I Watched This Week – 1/31-2/6

Title image for Hozuki's Coolheadedness. An oni and the king of hell against a ukiyo-e woodblock print style background

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness – I started a different show about yokai and quickly bounced off of it before deciding to watch this workplace comedy about the demons who manage hell. Stone-faced sadist Hozuki is a top-ranked demon tasked with keeping hell running smoothly while trolling his superiors for fun on the side. It’s full of references to Japanese folklore and pop culture, half of which sailed right over my head, but was always at least somewhat amusing, if not laugh out loud funny. 7/10 Crunchyroll, Hidive

Title image for Given Movie. The five main characters all standing outside with their respective musical instrument cases

Given Movie – I re-watched the show again before watching the movie, and this sequel was pretty much everything I wanted from it. Like the series before it, it does a nearly perfect job of showing realistic, messy relationships between people, and building a romance fully aware of how just being in love isn’t always enough to keep a couple together. I’ve always found Akihiko and Ugetsu’s relationship interesting, and while it’s sad to watch a relationship break up, sometimes it can be cathartic to see characters recognize they’re not happy and make the changes they need to find happiness elsewhere. The music was great again, but I was hoping a movie might have gotten rid of the bad CG stage performance bits. 9/10 Crunchyroll

Title image for Cromartie High School. Tough looking boys in black high school uniforms

Cromartie High School – This comedy series about a high school full of delinquents was full of the absurd characters and anti-humor I associate with early 2000s Adult Swim cartoons. Among the delinquents is a robot, an 800-pound gorilla, a silent Freddie Mercury lookalike, and the normie main character who leads the rest of them around by the nose, either by design or by accident. Not all the jokes landed for me, but some parts were just so absolutely freaking preposterous I couldn’t help but laugh. 7/10 Crunchyroll

Title image for Bleach. Orange haired high school boy wearing black robes and holding a sword

Bleach ep.39-74 – Well, the Soul Society arc was certainly as good as everyone said it was. Orihime stayed pretty useless, but everyone else got some really fun fights and interesting character development. I enjoyed seeing all the different swords’ personalities and their abilities, and it was fun watching Ichigo battle it out with the top brass. The resolution and that heel turn were surprising in the best way, and ended the arc in a satisfying way. On the other hand, however, this Bount filler arc is not particularly enjoyable. I’m a stubborn completionist, so I plan to watch all of it, but the first twelve episodes have not been great so far. Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix

What I Watched This Week – 1/24-1/30

Title image for Bleach. Orange haired high school boy wearing black robes and holding a sword

Bleach ep.1-38 – It’s been a while since I watched Naruto over the summer, and it was time to start another long-ass shonen, so I rolled the dice and decided to start watching this one. I like the characters, especially Chad, and the setting is interesting, but the fights can be a little repetitive with Ichigo just shouting and charging in to smack stuff with his sword. I’m enjoying it so far, but I can’t help worrying about all the filler coming later on. Crunchyroll, Netflix, Hulu

Title image for Momokuri. A girl and boy in high school uniforms walking outside.

Momokuri – This high-school-set romcom grabbed the dial for “cute” and cranked it to 11. If you like seeing kids blush from head to toe over the simple act of hand-holding, this is the anime for you. It follows a first-year high school boy and his extremely devoted second-year girlfriend as they navigate his insecurity about being short and cute, and her bizarre obsessive behaviors, like collecting his used drinking straws. All of the characters were a lot of fun, and the main couple was a nice example of loving someone for who they are, even when they’re a little bit odd. 7/10 Hidive

Title image for Radiant. Assorted characters with magic swirling around them.

Radiant S1 – This was an unusual show in that it adapted a French comic rather than a manga, and it was basically your standard battle shonen, but cute and with slightly different politics. I enjoyed the creative fantasy setting full of airships and magic, and liked how the tension between the sorcerers, the public, and the church provided conflict without making any one side entirely villainous. The slice-of-life parts of the first half dragged a bit at times, but the second half, which I believe follows the source the closest, was pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to watching season 2. 7/10 Crunchyroll, Funimation

Title image for Yes, No, or Maybe. Two men leaning into each other over an old tv.

Yes, No, or Maybe? – This BL movie about a newscaster with distinct work and home personalities and the animator he literally runs into in his off-duty persona wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really excel at anything. The animator spends most of the story not realizing the smooth newscaster interviewing him and the brusque guy in a face mask he’s befriended are the same guy, but I did like how their relationship formed through conversation and friendship like normal people despite the only in fiction setup. The art and animation was okay at best, and the one bedroom scene checked off several of my BL/yaoi pet peeves, so I can’t quite call it good, but it scratched an itch. 6/10 No legal streams 

What I Watched This Week – 1/17-1/23

Title image for Sagrada Reset. A boy and girl in high school uniforms in the foreground with a girl in a middle school uniform standing behind them on the breakwater

Sagrada Reset – I think I liked this light novel adaptation that mixed mystery, suspense, romance, and the supernatural, but I’d be lying if I said it made sense 100% of the time. It takes place in a town full of people with various psychic abilities and our main characters are a boy with a perfect memory and a girl who can rewind time. They pair up to go back and forth in the timeline solving various problems from the trivial, such as preventing a cat from getting hit by a car, to the life-altering, such as preventing a higher-up at the government agency from changing the town irrevocably. Some scenes were a little too dialogue-heavy, with long monologues on ethics or metaphysics, that may have worked well in the novel, but didn’t reflect the way people actually speak and were a little hard to follow. 7/10 Hidive, Amazon Prime 

Title image for A Sister's All You Need. A group of young adults crossing a street in a crosswalk.

A Sister’s All You Need – Lord knows why I decided I needed to watch this romcom about a light novel writer obsessed with little sisters. I don’t particularly care for ecchi stuff, and I really don’t like siscon stuff, but I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I saw someone describe the series’ opening two minutes as “a normie filter”, and it’s absolutely correct. If you can watch those two minutes and chuckle at the obscene absurdity, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the show and the antics of the main character and his equally strange friends. Other than a few drawn-out fanservice scenes where one girl forcibly undresses other girls, that were unfunny at best, it is, at its heart, just a silly romcom about young adults finding their way in the working world. 7/10 Crunchyroll

Title image for Beelzebub. Disreputable looking high school kids in a grassy field with a green haired baby.

Beelzebub ep.31-60 – The second half of this introduced a bit more action and a bit more demon lore to go along with the high school delinquent character comedy in the first half. The funny parts were funny, and the fights between the delinquents and with the visiting demons were exciting, and the large cast of characters was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the final cour was about half anime original filler that wasn’t as good as the canon material, and the show just sort of… ends without much of a conclusion. Still, I had a lot of fun with Oga and his foster demon lord baby. 7/10 Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime