People seem to have a love/hate relationship with sequels. Chances are if the sequel is to a show they watched and liked then the sequel is looked at with either happiness or cautious hope. If the sequel is to a show they did not like they complain about how sequels are killing creativity and anime in general. I think anime, as a whole, is better off that sequels are made over not having sequels; I just wish we’d get more complete stories as a result.
Sequels don’t normally rate too much attention in these impression posts because people pretty much know if they’re in or out by the time the sequel comes out; however, this season features a pair of sequels that are clearly outperforming their predecessors and I wanted to make sure I mentioned them. This also gives me a chance to cover a significant chunk of the series I’m watching this season.
Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine
Have the creators/animators improved the 3D CG animation of Knights of Sidonia so the people don’t look so creepy? … Nope. Have they improved the sometimes very clunky, cringy character interactions and attempts at character development? … Nope. So what has been done this time around to improve the show? They made the story even better and interesting. For example, in the last episode during the Gauna fight scene they had me literally – and I mean actually and completely – on the edge of my seat. The last time I had an episode of anime capture my attention that strongly was during the Chimera Ant arc of Hunter x Hunter, well over a year ago. And that’s about the highest praise I know.
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
For the unfamiliar, this slice-of-life comedy series is about a Japanese girl that is head-over-heals bonkers about everything English (as in England, the country) whose family invited a girl from England whose head-over-heals bonkers about everything Japanese to stay at their house and go to high school with their daughter. Yes, this is a cute girls being cute series; however, the first season was a very solid series. It was consistently funny, taking good advantage of it’s set-up, and the characters were above average with good chemistry between them. The second season begins a new school year and the show takes a bit of a risk by splitting up the main characters (who’d all been the same class) into two different classes. It’s a bit of risk because sometimes a subset of the overall group just doesn’t work like the full group does. However, I’ve been really impressed by the results so far. The split has allowed the introduction of a second teacher which opens up many new avenues of interaction and comedy. There are new students to mix things up and the subsets of the main characters have a different feel and flow then when the main group gets together. Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic is the funniest series I’m watching this season and if this level of excellence can continue this series has gone from a solid second tier series to a top tier series.
Holding the Line
Kaitou Joker S2
The Phantom Thief Joker is back with his friends/rivals in this children’s anime that is really much too fun, silly, and delightful to demise it as “a great children’s anime”. It’s a good anime period; I wish the animation was a little better, though. I’ve mentioned before that the person in charge of series composition is Dai Satou who did the same job for Eureka Seven and wrote individual episode scripts for a number of other series like Cowboy Bebop, GiTS:SAC, and Samurai Champloo. I’m happy to see that the writing for this sequel is just as sharp as it was for the first season. It’s a bit premature to include this series in the above group; but, I’ve got a feeling that the this series will finish stronger then the first season (unless they’re planning on a season 3).
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru. Zoku
The first of two sequels that I’m watching where I don’t like the main characters and still find the energy to keep watching, if only just barely. SNAFU, as it’s called, though FUBAR might be a better name, is back and has lost none of it’s teen-induced, badly over thought out because teenage confidence doesn’t really make up for experience, awkward teen – did I say teen enough times – drama that’s supposed to be a love comedy. This show makes a good case why arranged marriages were around for as long as they were. Before it’s thought I completely dislike this series I will point out that I’m giving the sequel a B+ so far. There is some good writing and the show is certainly interesting to watch. I also don’t have to worry about the show ever boring me and there are some characters like the main character’s little sister who are enjoyable.
This series is seriously messed up. There is absolutely no way that anyone could consider this “good” anime; however, the animation studio 8bit have successfully attained a level of insanity for this anime that I can’t help but watch and see what horrible thing they’re going to do next. Is this the reason people watched Jerry Springer? It’s like a bet was made to see how many terribly dark things – the type of stuff that most series are fine with having one or two total – could be spliced together and still tell a somewhat coherent story. If I’d been keeping track I’m sure the number is over 50 after only 15 or so episodes and it appears that the writers are no closer to running out of ideas then they were during the first season. And, finally, what I find really funny is the director for this anime is the same one who’s also currently directing Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic. Tell me that wouldn’t make for a brain-numbing level of emotional whiplash when having to switch between the two.
Sequel number 2 where I don’t care for the main characters or even most of the side characters yet continue watching is Nisekoi. It seems to me an editor needed to tell the original creator that this story would have been much better if all the complex setup – with the keys, lockets, faking a relationship, etc. – were cut out because there are moments, like when the main character working his fingers to the bone so the one girl might have the chance to spend some time on Christmas with her mother, where this show isn’t that bad. I also still enjoy Shaft being Shaft and this series was given enough of a budget that the animation and animation style is a plus for continue watching. I’d been silently hoping to see obvious signs of a decline in quality in this sequel so I could drop this already but this series has stubbornly kept chugging along at the same pace it did in the first season.
Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu
I know it’s not particularly fair to compare this series to KyoAni’s handling of the main franchise; nor, is comparing a fluff spin-off series to it’s original series. So, even taking that into account, this series still feels like it’s underperforming. The big problem is that Haruhi is still the much more interesting character and should be at the center of the story and not this shy Yuki who somehow has less character to her now that she’s no longer an alien designed to be emotionless. Of all the possible spin-off variations one could do with this franchise, this one was a very weak one. I would rather watch another 8 episodes of Endless Eight if KyoAni was animating it then this series. A stronger spin-off series, in my opinion, would have been to flip the genders of the characters and go from there. Heck, maybe KyoAni would be up to animating that (think guys from Free! in the story of Haruhi).
At this point I’ve decided that this franchise is never going to get as good as it thinks it is or as good as I was hoping it would be. There’s very basic problems with this series. For all the near unlimited levels of talking this series wallows in (which, incidentally saves on animation costs immensely), there’s been hardly any interesting character development or raising of dramatic tension. In fact, it seems like the more time that is spent on a character the less interesting they become. This sequel series should be busting knees and taking names at this point and it’s not; at least the first season had the excuse that it was supposed to be setting everything up. As a positive, I have developed more of an appreciation of Gen Urobuchi and his ability to craft interesting characters and a compelling story. It’s a shame he wasn’t allowed complete control to create the prequel and then given the chance to create his own version of Fate/stay night.