This season the simulcast situation has been a bit iffy due to the arrival of COVID-19. Plenty of shows have gone on hiatus, while premieres of others (including OVAs and films) have been pushed back by quite a few months or put off indefinitely in some cases. Luckily, my watching shenanigans hasn’t been affected too terribly yet as I’ve only been keeping pace with four anime serials thus far and only one has been smacked with a break. This has worked out stupendously for me in other regards as well. For example, the transition from on-campus to online with Uni has been kicking my arse quite a bit, so having a lighter simulcast load helps to keep the pressure off my back somewhat.
Of the four anime that I am watching, which ones are good and which ones are probably a waste of time? The good news is that none of them have felt like a waste of time to me at all. One show in particular is more of a ridiculous romp than anything else, but it’s entertaining and makes me giddy with respect to literature, so definitely not a regret by far. The others have all surprised me in awesome ways and have made this season feel like a wholesome and spectacular blast, especially in the midst of a pandemic crisis. I’m so indescribably thankful for it too!
Let’s go ahead and take a gander at the serials that have been my solace during these tough times of isolation and uncertainty.
Bungō & Alchemist –Gears of Judgement–: The series revolves around a group of famous Japanese authors who use special abilities to combat evil forces known as the Taints that are trying to curse books in order to corrupt and eradicate literature from the world.
In my First Impressions I chatted about how messy the execution of episode one was and that I wasn’t expecting it to be anything other than a romp with a literature twist. Well, suffice to say that nothing changes too drastically as it progresses. The second and third episodes were less messy, but still a bit convoluted to an extent. The fourth episode was my favourite thus far because the story it focused on was bittersweet and greatly done. It does a decent job of exhibiting a lot of the themes that Dazai explored in his novels No Longer Human and Setting Sun, and even highlighted the negative impact that the disappearance of literature could have on many people. Yet, the series as a whole is still pretty inconsistent and all over the place with what it wants to be versus what it’s doing in actuality. If there’s anything that I’m adoring immensely, it is the references to these amazing authors and the works they’ve written. Seeing a unique take on their stories has been pretty entertaining so far, even sad at times, and I’m mostly sticking around now to see if Sōseki will make an appearance and what Akutagawa stories they’re going to shag around with.
Fruits Basket Season 2: A shōjo, supernatural, romcom series about a young girl named Tōru Honda that is living in a tent in the middle of the woods while her grandfather’s home is being renovated. One day, a classmate uncovers her dilemma and invites her to stay with him at his family home. Shortly after accepting his offer, Tōru discovers that the Sōma family have a very peculiar secret.
Six episodes down and I love every fucking thing about it. Every week I get to feel my heart fill up with warmth and laughter and even occasionally a bit of sadness at the characters as they struggle with things like romance, identity crises, figuring out the future, the complexities of friendship, standing up to psychological and physical abuse, and much more. There is more depth in a single episode of Fruits Basket then there is in some 12 or even 24-episode serials of anime or dramas. The animation is tasteful and stunning. The musical score evocative yet buoyant. The food scrumptious and mouth-watering. The shenanigans of Shigure and Aya-chan as risqué and fabulous as possible. It’s definitely my favourite title for the season (no surprise there).
The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED: A detective, mystery series with comedic elements, this one follows Daisuke Kambe, who’s the heir to one of the wealthiest families in Japan. He gets assigned to be a detective in the Modern Crime Prevention Task Force. He doesn’t waste any time with using his family’s influence and riches with solving cases. But his partner, Haru Kato, doesn’t believe that money can solve everything and becomes repulsed by Kambe’s materialistic demeanour.
THE MUSIC IS MOTHERFUCKING FIRE!! It’s my number one favourite thing about this series. The Jazz-infused musical score is supremely well-done and a marvellous complement to the high-stakes yet comedically satisfying tone of the series. I also love the duo of Kambe and Kato. Originally, I felt that Kambe might be an idiot who was just looking for a way to waste time, but it turns out that he’s really great at what he does. He sort of reminds me of Bruce Wayne if Bruce wasn’t a broody and boring guy stuck in his own miserable sack of grief and pity. Plus, the dude is so stylish and exactly the type of character I tend to fall for. Kato polarises a lot of things that are outrageous and at-times frustrating about Kambe, which makes their chemistry a bit more tense and phenomenal.
Only two episodes have aired so far (it was put on hiatus due to the exasperation of COVID-19, but is set to return in July), and I have thoroughly enjoyed both of them and look forward to seeing what the rest of the series shall offer up. My hope is for some background on Kambe and what drove him to become a bajillionaire detective, as well as some light on the incident that almost ruined Kato’s career as a cop.
Sing “Yesterday” for Me: A coming-of-age, slice-of-life tale about three individuals: a university grad who’s having trouble finding work after college, an enigmatic woman with a pet crow, and the grad’s former college classmate.
When I first heard about this series, there was nothing specific that caught my attention about it. I just felt drawn towards it for some reason. It could have been the slice-of-life previews or the nostalgic flair to the title. Whatever it was, I’m so happy that it did because this is one of the most beautiful shows I have seen this season. A few things that have kept me so deeply engrossed in it include the mature tones of romance versus the more youthful and fresh-spirited love we see in high school-centric anime; the tasteful and at-times eloquent artistry of the animation style and musical score; and the exploration of difficult emotions such as grief and loneliness. On the surface it feels like a basic show about grown-ups finding love, yet it is so much more than that and I couldn’t possibly cover all of it in one paragraph. All I’ll say is that if you are a fan of character-focused narratives, particularly as it relates to real humanistic feelings and struggles, then you have to watch this. It is one of the most underrated serials for the whole damn season. I really look forward to composing a full in-depth review once it wraps up.
So, it’s safe to say that I’m rather well-stocked on entertainment during the Spring simulcast season. Admittedly, since I won’t have classes during the Summer, I’m more open to adding titles to my weekly selection. Some seasonals that I haven’t started yet but will probably pick up in a day or two just to test them out a bit include: Wave, Listen to Me, Woodpecker’s Detective Office, and Tower of God.
Aside from simulcasts, I’m also making my way through a few completed serials, which I hope to wrap-up and review over the next couple of weeks. These include Shiki, Phi Brain: Puzzle of God, 07-Ghost, and Naruto: Shippuden. The only show that I know I won’t be finishing in May—or June or July or August for that matter—is Shippuden. There are 500 episodes of that thing and I’m only about seven or eight segments through it.
What are some of your favourite anime streams this Spring season?