What I Watched This Week – 11/22-11/28

Title image for Bungo Stray Dogs. Cast of characters in 1930s style clothes against a sepia tone cityscape.

Bungo Stray Dogs S1 – The first few episodes were rough, and I’m still not sure what this show is trying to be, but ultimately I found it entertaining enough. I don’t know much about Japanese literature, but if the characters named for North American authors are any indication, the connection between the characters and the author they’re named after is superficial at best, which is an odd decision. The mystery writing isn’t terribly good, as you’re not given the info to play along, and the chibi comedy is a little weird, but I’m enjoying the characters and the action, so I’ll keep watching. 7/10

Title image for Log Horizon S2. Four characters dressed like MMO characters.

Log Horizon S2 – Being the romance fan that I am, I don’t often say this, but this show would be so much better without the romance sub-plots it has. The parts where they work to establish a system of government and manage relations with the NPC factions are really interesting, and watching them raid a boss is lots of fun, but then you have these young girls panting after grown men and it’s just gross and a waste of my time. I’ll still watch season 3 next year, though. 6/10

Title image for The Royal Tutor Movie. Six fair haired princes arranged around their short tutor sitting on a fancy sofa.

The Royal Tutor Movie – This movie sequel to the series was short at only 60 minutes, and it lacked a bit of the charm and humor that the show had. It was still cute and relaxing, but the story built to a climax where they all sang at an event, and it was a little cringey to me. 6/10

Title image for Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond. Cast of characters all displaying their different paranormal abilities.

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond – There are two things I’m absurdly weak to when it comes to action shows – over the top violence and jazzy saxophone – and this urban fantasy set in post-apocalyptic NYC had them. Unlike season one, there’s no real overarching plot tying together the 1-2 episode long stories, but that was fine with me, since the characters were so much fun. What I didn’t like, though, was how it handled Leonardo’s sister, and how he didn’t want to give up on finding a fix for her blindness, even though she gave no indication that she even wanted a cure. She deserved better than to have her closest allies view her as broken. 7/10

Title image for Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge. Cast of characters floating inside bubbles.

Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge – The second season of this absurd comedy still didn’t always land for me, but it really leaned into the weird this time and made me laugh a lot more than season one did. It’s hard to tell sometimes which crazy things the riverside residents say are supposed to be real and which are just delusions, but maybe that’s the point. 7/10

What I Watched This Week – 11/15-11/21

Title image for Classroom of the Elite. 10 headshots of high school students in red uniform blazers and blue ties.

Classroom of the Elite – For the most part, I really enjoyed this thriller about kids playing mind games with each other at a competitive high school for aspiring master manipulators. The situations were interesting and the ever rising stakes were exciting, but some of the characters felt a little cliched, including our aloof, monotone main character with dead eyes orchestrating the class’ schemes alongside a cold, overachieving girl desperately trying to catch up to her successful older sibling. I liked the premise, though, and I’ve heard the novels are better than the anime, so I might read the series. 7/10

Title image for Kuroko's Basketball. High school boys with vibrant colored hair in basketball uniforms

Kuroko’s Basketball – Somehow this show took the non-stop action of basketball, mixed it with colorful, over the top special moves, and managed to bore me. I’m struggling to put my finger on why – maybe it was how it launched right into 15 straight episodes of games, maybe the special moves were just too silly, or maybe the repetitive, basic trash talk just didn’t hit for me – but I really struggled to get through this one despite expecting to enjoy it. Oh well. 6/10

Title image for Saiyuki.

Saiyuki Ep.26-50 – There were a number of things I liked about this 20 year old road trip adventure and an equal number of things I didn’t. I thought the fantasy setting mixing Buddhism, gods, demons, and humans in a world that was part modern, part pre-industrial was interesting, and I liked how the antagonists had motives beyond being bad just to be bad. But the 1-2 episode long stories weren’t really much better than Naruto filler episodes and Goku’s voice annoyed the hell out of me. I might watch the sequel, though. 6/10

What I Watched This Week – 11/8-11/14

Title image for Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. A group of friends lean against a railing by the waterfront

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens – I added this to my list earlier this year after seeing it on a hidden gems list somewhere, then totally forgot why I added it. It turns out that it’s a delightfully pulpy action series that mixes hitmen, baseball, and cross dressing, which is 110% my kinda party. Don’t look at the plot or setting too hard, and just roll with the idea of a medium sized city so full of contract killers that they can field baseball teams to play against each other while enjoying some over the top spasms of violence. The first arc has a lot of sexual violence that can be really uncomfortable to watch, and Lin’s backstory is probably offensively xenophobic, but I was willing to overlook the problems thanks to a great cast of fun characters. I thought the show was really teasing something romantic between the two main guys, and now I want to read the novels to see what that’s about. 8/10

Title image for Your Name. A high school boy in Tokyo and a high school girl in the country look into the distance

Your Name – I’m sure I’m the last person on Earth to finally see this movie on nearly everyone’s favorites list, but here we are. Aside from the one plot hole where nobody thinks to look at a calendar, this body-switching sci-fi romance about a girl desperate to leave her rural hometown and a boy living and working in Tokyo was super entertaining from start to finish. I could’ve done without the boob grabbing, but watching them adjust to life in a different gendered body was sort of amusing, from using the wrong pronouns, to not being sufficiently delicate in a skirt. I’m glad it ended the way it did, although it had me worried right up until the end. 9/10

Title image for The Royal Tutor. A short man attempts to teach four handsome princes.

The Royal Tutor – A Twitter friend mentioned this one to me a while ago, and I’m so glad he did, because I really enjoyed this alternately silly and heartwarming fantasy story about four teenage princes and the diminutive tutor who straightened them out. All four boys had distinct, completely charming personalities with a mix of strengths and flaws, and seeing Heine encourage them and bring out their potential was an excellent source of warm fuzzies. My only complaints would be that some of the voice acting felt a little flat, and the dramatic grand gesture near the end felt kinda awkward. 7/10

Title image for Kono Oto Tomare. Seven teenagers in blue school uniforms playing a koto.

Kono Oto Tomare – I wanted to re-watch this to see how watching it straight through without a three month gap between parts one and two might change the experience, and I liked it just a little less than I did while watching it as it aired. It’s still a great show full of characters with fleshed out personalities and backgrounds, with solid pacing, a little romance and emotional storytelling, but all the shounen manga style exposition talking over the music kinda bugged me. There was a lot of telling me to be amazed by the music instead of just letting the music amaze me, which was extra frustrating because the music being yelled over was really delicate and pretty. Also was baffled at the decision to make the OP/ED songs for a show about a high school koto ensemble be unremarkable J-pop songs without any connection to koto or other traditional Japanese instruments. 8/10

Title image for Saiyuki.

Saiyuki ep.1-25 – I saw a couple different people talking about this, looked to see if it was on VRV out of idle curiosity, accidentally hit play, then just sort of decided to not turn it off. I’m not loving this fantasy setting road trip adventure, but I don’t dislike it either. The characters are fairly interesting, and the short 1-2 episode long stories are entertaining enough, but the animation is slide show level lazy and Goku’s voice is super annoying. I plan to finish this series, but I doubt I’ll watch the sequels. 6/10

What I Watched This Week – 11/1-11/7

Title image for Doukyuusei. Two boys in white shirts and red ties with their backs to each other.

Doukyusei – I rewatched this BL movie for the first time after reading the manga, and now I appreciate how good an adaptation it was, as the stuff they cut was the stuff I didn’t like in the manga. It’s kinda short at only 60 minutes, but it’s the right length for the story it’s trying to tell about two boys at a boys’ high school who fall in love despite being polar opposites, and the watercolor-like art and animation is super pretty. 8/10 Amazon rental 

Title image for The Eccentric Family 2. People floating in the sky over Kyoto along with a flying streetcar.

The Eccentric Family S2 – I watched this just before the election ended when I was about 95% anxiety by volume and it was the perfect distraction. Takahiro Sakurai is so good in comedic roles like the ace troll Yasaburo, who lets his tanuki “idiot blood” guide him as he runs around Kyoto causing, and occasionally solving, problems among the tanuki, tengu, and humans around him. Like season one, there’s a mystery plot involving the Friday Fellows’ tanuki hot pot, and this time there’s a new, powerful tengu in town making things extra fun. Just a good, fun watch. 8/10 Crunchyroll

Title image for All Out. Seven high school boys in red rugby jerseys and tight white shorts on a grass field with their coach.

All Out – I’m giving this rugby series a “good” rather than a “fine” for two reasons: 1. the quietly badass coach and 2. those tight uniforms over those muscles. Other than the shorts clinging to lovingly sculpted bottoms and the strict, demanding coach with surprisingly progressive ideas of how to handle teenagers to help them succeed, it’s a bog standard sports anime with mediocre animation. The main character is a short and energetic first year, they’re aiming for nationals as an underdog, the third years are worried about their futures, and so on. I like the formula well enough, but coupled with the weak animation and some straight up odd character designs, it is all a little meh. 7/10 Crunchyroll

Title image for Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater. Four girls in blue high school uniforms fish from an ocean pier.

Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater – This CGDCT about a high school fishing club could’ve been really cozy and relaxing, but the main girl’s voice cut through me like nails on a chalkboard. Her screeching and whining was really frustrating, because I really enjoyed watching the different ways each character approached catching the fish of the week, and seeing them cook what they caught totally made me hungry. If I could’ve muted Hina, I’d have rated it higher. 7/10 Funimation, Hulu

What I Watched This Week – 10/25-10/31

Title image for Honey and Clover. Three young men and two young women sitting on a grassy hillside.

Honey and Clover S1&2 – If you posted any of these relationships in r/relationships, the comments would be full of screaming to DTMFA and run, but I really enjoyed watching these art school kids floundering around making mistakes while finding their way as young adults. None of them know how to behave at all – one can’t get tf over a crush to save her life, one’s a creepy stalker, one is going on year 8 of undergrad, one’s a directionless doormat, and one looks and acts like a grade schooler – but what fun is youth without running around at full speed with your friends and trying new things? I can’t condone their choices, but I could relate to them 100%. If you don’t like age gaps, though, this would definitely test your patience. I don’t mind them, but one of the pairings had me a little skeeved out. 8/10 Crunchyroll

Title image for Love Stage!! Four young men in fashionable clothes.

Love Stage!! – Parts of this BL romance I really liked, and parts of it I really didn’t like at all. Aside from the one pushy scene early on with them, I liked the main couple a lot. The pushy guy genuinely apologizes and the time they spend texting and hanging out as friends does a good job of showing their relationship development. Unfortunately, the older brother had a brother complex, which I can’t stand, the main character wanted to be a manga artist while lacking artistic ability entirely, which had me anxiously dreading the moment he’s humiliated for it, and there’s a really uncalled for use of sexual assault between the main character and some strangers just to add cheap drama that ticked me off. 6/10 Hidive

Title image for Earl and Fairy. A blond aristocratic man, a copper haired woman in a gown and a cat in a top hat.

Earl and Fairy – While I definitely notice when art or animation isn’t great, it rarely ruins a show for me. In this case, however, the production was so bad that it felt like a cheap parody of shoujo manga. There would be whole scenes of dialog with no moving parts at all, not even their mouths despite being visible. I did like the magical 19th century England setting with all the fairy folk, and the characters were interesting, although the “will they or won’t they” romance got a little tiring. 6/10 Crunchyroll