Mid-Season Musings: Winter 2021 Anime Simulcasts

G’morning, chums. With this week, we shall be reaching (and in some cases surpassing) the halfway mark for most of the Winter 2021 anime simulcast season. I thought it would be neat to briefly chat about my overall musings for the stack of serials that I’ve currently got my hands in (well, that doesn’t sound naughty at all…). Luckily, most of my watchings have been bitchin’ awesome with only a couple of sour mangoes in the bunch. I saved my biggest disappointment for last as I became a bit ranty with my feelings on it.

Please note that I curse a lot here, so if you’re not a fan of it, uummm… too bad. Clicking the titles shall take you to respective AniList pages. Any relevant first impressions posts shall also be linked up at the end of their corresponding sections. A lot of these thoughts are unfiltered and somewhat spoilery, so if you’re looking to avoid spoilers for specific titles, just skip down past those portions.

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki

This anime began by making me mad, mostly because I loathed the extremely bitchy and straight-up rude attitude with which the main girl had addressed Tomozaki when they met in-real-life for the first time. If anyone had spoken to me the way she spoke to him, I would have turned around and walked the hell out. Even so, I do appreciate the way the anime seems to be tackling the idea of self-improvement. I don’t agree with this notion that people should have to change everything about themselves to “fit in,” particularly when society has toxic perceptions of what constitutes “fitting in.” Nevertheless, I see the way it has inspired the folx who watch it and I think that is pretty neat.

The anime itself is rather average all around for my personal tastes. When something kicks off by leaving a sour taste in my mouth, I can have a difficult time connecting with it. While I am having this struggle, I’m also enjoying the presence of a lot of the side characters and the sense of self that is building within Tomozaki. Watching him come into his own is cute and mildly inspiring. My hope is that the romance shall take a different direction because I’m less than thrilled about the possibilities, yet I won’t invest too much effort into it at the same time as I feel it’s basically unavoidable given the tropey concoction of anime titles of this calibre. All in all, I do recommend it as it stands thus far, and I strongly believe there are folx out there that shall get a much better and bigger dose of delight from this than I have, which is totally cool. [First Impressions]

Dr Ramune: Mystery Disease Specialist

Six episodes into this series and I’m loving every ounce of it. It’s strange and hilarious with moments that can be surprisingly sentimental. Dr Ramune and his trusty assistant Kuro have such a wholesome friendship as well, which I enjoy mostly when the doc is being a total dumbass and Kuro kicks his ass for it. I feel like this is one of those shows that has wisdom to impart whether you watch it right as it releases or twenty years from now; small life lessons that humans never seem to outgrow. The animation and music is rather average all around, but if you’re in the market for a supernatural-esque, slice-of-life, unorthodox medical-type series, then I definitely recommend it. Just keep in mind that the style of humour, which can be crude or even a bit raunchy (depending on the episode) may be everyone’s cup of chai. [First Impressions]

Horimiya

The manga for Horimiya and I did not jive very well. But the anime? It stole my heart. This is a super cute romance series that is perfect for fans of couplings who build their relationship on friendship and platonic intimacy that eventually develops into something deeper and more romantic. It has adorable moments between two individuals that are equally shy and smitten with one another, a realistic and positive look at rejection and moving past said rejection, friendships in unexpected places, and heart-warming family dynamics. Plus, the animation is exquisitely lovely with music that is very upbeat and whimsical. I’m looking forward to how the second half shall go, but by the same vein I’m also dreading its end. [First Impressions]

Jujutsu Kaisen

Eighteen episodes into this Fall 2020 premiere and I’m loving it more and more and more with each new segment. I think what has really been surprising me with this series in particular is the depth to the action animation and also the incredible plethora of side characters that get introduced. Granted, we only receive brief screen-time with them, but in that short period, we learn about their powers, motivations, morsels of history that is relevant to what is going on, and much more. The complexities of which they are crafted makes it impossible to hate them right out or love them in a supreme and impetuous way, which are the best offerings as it pertains to grey characters.

If there are any complaints that I could make about Jujutsu Kaisen, it would have to be that we are going to need a second season for sure, and if that doesn’t happen, I shall be royally ticked off. The scope of the plot of watching Itadori consume more parts of Sukuna and thus get stronger (and, in turn, learn how to control said powers) was super enticing to me as a newbie to the franchise. While the breaking into bits of competitiveness that is happening between the sister schools feels slightly out-of-place for the moment, I have been delighting in the brutality of the fights and no-barred fisticuffs. Even so, it has side-tracked the ultimate plot’s point. Watching it veer back onto its trajectory and then continue towards the endgame of Itadori collecting Sukuna so he can be executed (for now) will definitely require a second season in order to maintain the prime quality it’s been putting out so far. Squeezing all of that shite into the last six episodes of one season will be a severe disservice to what Jujutsu Kaisen has given us up to this point. If does manage to pull it off, then I shall be impressed as all the Seven Hells. [First Impressions]

Laid-Back Camp Season 2

When the first season for this aired, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’m not typically a fan of moe and moe-adjacent things. However, this has turned into quite a heart-warming and mouth-watering treasure for me. As the second season was announced, I smiled so gleefully because I knew I would have something beautifully encouraging and lovable to indulge in. Thus far, season two has been excellent. The friendships formed in the first season are deepening and blossoming as the girls get to know one another in more informal ways. The campgrounds and scenery is breath-taking. The meals are wickedly delicious in their allure and make me want to rush out and experiment with cooking them myself. My favourite aspect of this season is the added inclusion of familial screen-time. It’s so nice to get a flash of how the home life is for a lot of these girls, their adoring parents, grandparents and caring siblings. I feel like it’s giving the characters more dimension while also contributing amazingly to the series’ overall feel-good, slice-of-life essence. [First Impressions]

So, I’m a Spider, So What?

Ugh, how do I even begin talking about this? When I saw the pilot, I thought it was going to be fantastic and possibly even my favourite anime for the season. Now that we are about six segments into it, all I can think is, “When will this agony fucking end?”

The biggest issue with this series is the poor construction in terms of writing and execution. We have two arcs: the first involves the spider main character and then the other is about a set of humans who seem to have been transported along with her into the same universe but in a totally different area. Both of these sections, rather than feeling like cohesive parts of a whole that are slowly inching towards one another, are more akin to completely different shows that happens to be airing in the same titled time-slot. Then there’s the godawful use of computer graphics.

The 3D aspects are some of the worst that I’ve seen in a long fucking time. Every time the spider girl fights a bigger, badder foe, a small part of me dies from cringing at the horrendously fabricated, almost N64 level graphics for it. Plot-wise, nothing much has happened either. We’ve been watching her level up over and over again, and some jealousy, popularity bullshite with the humans seems to be going on, yet nothing truly of consequence has occurred beyond that. While I am tempted to drop this, since I’ve already made it this far, I’m going to try and push through until the end. Whether I make it there or not is an entirely different story though. [First Impressions]

SK8 the Infinity

This is the biggest surprise that I’ve encountered all damn season. I never planned on watching this since I don’t know anything about skateboarding. But slapping the studio Bones on it was enough for me to give it a shot. SK8 the Infinity is basically what one would get if they smacked Initial D together with skateboarding, tossing in a fabulously charming friendship between two very different guys that bond over shared interests. It’s a show about working hard at things once we’re passionate about them. There’s themes relating to dealing with and moving forward from grief that we don’t realise is holding us back, finding friendship in unlikely places, the incredible sense of satisfaction that comes from achieving hard goals, and racing like a bad motherfucker. Plus, it has a kick-ass fucking soundtrack and such a wondrous palette of vibrant colours. Hands-down, this is my favourite new show of the Winter 2021 line-up. [First Impressions]

With a Dog and a Cat, Every Day is Fun

Sometimes I think that a minute and a half to two minutes is not nearly enough of a length for this endearing little pet-infested treat. However, I’m sure that if it were longer, I doubt I’d enjoy it as much. The humour and anecdotes are still doing a fantastic job of bringing a smile or bouts of laughter to my face. I still can’t relate to the doggo segments too much, but seeing the kid’s excitement is super sweet. Meanwhile, I completely relate to the Yakuza, snubby, kitty attitude so much that it makes me look fondly over at my holiness, Kheb, and smile knowingly. Knowing that he’s probably plotting my demise as I stare dotingly at him. The two minute dose of fun that this series provides is a marvellous ice-breaker for all of the other more serious shite I seem to have picked up (in overall tone) this season. Plus, I’ve been enjoying re-watching certain episodes whenever I just need a quick indulgence of happiness. I’ll be sad when it eventually ends in the next month or so. [Pet Appreciation]

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demons

In my last mid-season musings back in Fall 2020, I had talked about how the driving force behind my watching this sequel to Inuyasha: The Final Act has been pure nostalgia with some curiosity for good measure. That was after about twelve episodes. Now that we are eighteen segments in, I really have to question why the fuck I keep watching this hot mess of a fucking show.

Every single character is still being literally labelled in every single episode, even though we are four and a half months in. This feels so unnecessary and if this series ends up being over fifty episodes, or even one hundred episodes long, I can only imagine how it shall irate those that choose to binge-watch it.

Next… where is the plot? What happened to it? Why is it only very briefly touched upon every other episode or so? I know that the peon bitch dude for the main baddy is stirring up a lot of trouble for the three young ladies, especially in an effort to kill them for reasons, but it’s so diluted by so much other crap that it becomes so outrageously easy to forget that these ladies are supposed to be working towards a definitive goal. We finally have some substantial backstory as to what happened to Inuyasha and Kagome, and a brief understanding of the nonsense that Sesshomaru is finagled up in, but the progression towards resolving all of these conflicts are… ridiculously absent, to say the least.

What made Inuyasha a mostly fantastic series even in the midst of its length (190+ episodes total) was that the plot consistently moved forward. Yes, there were some fillers, and the crew did get occasionally side-tracked from their main mission, yet it was never to the degree that we’re experiencing with Yashahime. At least the series created a decent foundation for the overarching plot before it segued into other shit. This… has not. (Don’t even get me started on the characterisations of the three girls…)

As it stands, I feel like these episodes are being pumped out on a machine just for the sake of having episodes. It is milking off the nostalgia of an old-school anime that was a huge success in many regards while trying to make it appealing for contemporary audiences. Except, when there is no cohesive plot and all you’ve got are singularly crafted, shallow as the bleeding Hells characters, what one is left with is a mess of disillusion to said initial nostalgia. I am so disheartened by this series and it’s extremely one-dimensional nature that I’m tempted to drop it. Irrational optimism seems to be the only driving force behind my continued watching of it, and even that seems to be fading pretty fucking fast.

These are my unfiltered thoughts for how the Winter 2021 simulcast season seems to be faring for me. As you can see, it’s a bag of mixed experiences and emotions. I’m happy that the majority of the anime I’m consuming this season are giving me great heaps of pleasure, but I’m also a bit saddened by the disappointments as they are stemming from the shows I least expected it to come from. Only time shall tell how the remainder of the season shall proceed. Hopefully the tides shall be positive ones.

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10 thoughts on “Mid-Season Musings: Winter 2021 Anime Simulcasts

  1. It’s so disappointing to hear about Yashahime. But I’m not top surprised it’s going the route it is given the original creator doesn’t really have a hand in its creation/production. Much lost potential it seems.

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