Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-Hen
Sukeroku Futatabi-Hen is pretty much what I expected, and for once that’s a good thing.
Apparently there is some weirdness where the first season had some content that was cut and only recently released, and as a result if you just dive straight into season 2 you’re going to be wondering who this Mangetsu guy is and if your memory is just bad. At least I was.
There were some good emotional moments in this episode, but mostly it’s kind of an introduction to the themes and troubles that we’re presumably going to be dealing with this season. It’s not an exciting first episode, but it sets the stage and it’s a nice reunion after a year-long break.
First episode rating: 7.5/10
Youjo Senki/The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Well, they figured out the secret to making this show vaguely appealing: hide the actual premise.
Back when this anime was announced and I first heard about, I looked up the light novel because it sounded really stupid. I read a chapter or two, and it’s filled to the brim with exposition, mostly about magical devices and how they work. This all gets skipped in the first episode of the anime, presumably because it sucked.
But they also skip the backstory about how Tanya is the reincarnation of some evil successful Japanese middle manager. This leads you to believe throughout most of the episode that Tanya is just some kind of weird genius little girl, and that makes it… well, I wouldn’t say good. But it certainly makes it better.
Reincarnation plots are fucking stupid and I can’t believe they’ve turned into a common light novel trope. At least “character is magically transported to a fantasy world” is easy to explain and follow. Adding in the concept of reincartion just complicates things for little benefit. Now you have a baby with the memories and personality of a teenager/adult, and then that baby grows up into a character who is just a carbon copy of the original person except in a different body. It’s so much effort to justify something that doesn’t even add anything.
Anyway, the first episode leaves this out for now, and that makes it better because you don’t have to deal with the fact that the little girl is also an adult man at the same time, or what will probably be stupid “this Japanese management concept translates directly into military strategy that blows all the generals’ minds” plots. It also proves that the whole thing is utterly unnecessary and it would probably make Tanya more unnerving if she wasn’t secretly a adult.
And by the way, they hint at her backstory by having her randomly say “it’s tough being a salaryman” It doesn’t make much sense in context and no one gets it. It’s not like he just got there; he’s lived in this world for like a decade and hasn’t been a salaryman in ages. The only thing that scene was missing was having her turn to the camera and wink.
My episode 1 experience can best be summed up as… reluctant enjoyment? I was expecting it to be terrible, so I guess my bar was set very low. There were some annoying things and overall I only expect it to go downhill from here, but it honestly was all right.
The part where the show really broke character and reminded you that it’s based on a light novel is after Tanya blows up a bunch of dudes on flying steel horses with a magic nuke. Watching from afar, one of the soldiers starts expositing about how the explosion works and that “even if you dodge the impact, you can’t escape the oxygen deprivation or carbon monoxide poisoning that follows”. Stop showing off, smartass. No one asked for a lecture.
Lastly, I want to rant about something that irrationally annoys me and I keep seeing in anime. If you’re going to set your show in alternate universe Europe, why do you have to change all the names? Why the hell did you call Paris “Parisee”? Are you afraid France will sue for copyright infringement? Izetta did the same thing last season, and I don’t get why this is a thing. Either come up with your own fake Europe, or use the real names. You’re not being clever or original.
First episode rating: 7/10
I’m certain I saw something somewhere about how Seiren was going to be a ‘pure’ love comedy with no pantyshots. That’s a little disingenuous when you do employ all other forms of fanservice.
I am so goddamn tired of seeing the same boring-ass lead character in these shows. At some point a character points out that he’s popular with girls now, even though he wasn’t in middle school. No one offers an explanation for this, and I’m at a loss too. The fact that the girls themselves seem to have a bit of personality makes it even worse. I just can’t see what anyone would see in this guy, and it makes all the potential romance fall completely flat.
The running joke in this episode reinforces this. A teacher asks him about his life goals and he has none because he’s the main character, so she suggests he become a manga artist for some reason and then starts rambling about what his manga would be like. I guess it’s supposed to be funny, but she just sounds mental and the rest of the show doesn’t seem that wacky. Anyway, this eventually evolves into a meme where everyone thinks he’s going to become a eromanga artist. He’s barely involved in any of this himself, it’s just a thing the rest of the cast came up with to desperately try to give him some personality.
And then there’s what seems to be a double-layered misunderstanding, where first they think this girl has an older boyfriend because someone saw her with a bearded man (who is later clearly shown to be a coworker), and then he also thinks she’s cheating on her non-existent boyfriend with a furry. I’m not making this up.
That said, it’s not terrible or anything. At least the romantic interests seem to have a little bit of effort put into their characters, but if they’re all falling in love with a cardboard cutout, I have no interest in watching more.
Final episode rating: 6/10
I wasn’t going to watch this because it didn’t look interesting. But then I kept hearing people speak in hushed tones about the dark mastermind behind this series, and how his works are rumored to drive people insane. So then I fell prey to morbid curiosity, and now I’m typing this from an asylum.
I was ready for bizarre drama and stupid characters. I was not ready for the kind of setups and plot devices that a trashy harem show would consider too cliched. I swear, if you just took everything a little further, it could pass for legitimate satire. The lead character worries about returning a CD to a girl who smashed his phone because of a dumb misunderstanding. Then she destroys his phone again because of another dumb misunderstanding. Then by the end of the episode they’re basically in love. There’s no rhyme or reason to anything, and the main character repeatedly makes me want to die of embarrassment.
I thought it would just be this level of nonsense for the rest of the series, but then I ended up reading spoilers, and I wouldn’t even have suggested those twists as a joke. They’re absurd enough I almost want to stay along for the ride. But I don’t think I could bear to watch even one more episode of this.
Final episode rating: 2/10