Anime roundup 12/28/2017: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Land of the Lustrous finale – A quiet ending, then, as Phos looks back on eir development and prepares for what lies ahead. Padparadscha seems sympathetic enough to the cause to give em some advice while e is lucid. And then Phos finally tries to fulfill eir promise to Cinnabar to find something for em to do other than night patrol.

Rather than bringing Cinnabar back into the gem community, Phos has moved toward Cinnabar. Now they are both on the outside, doubting. Now they even have similar abilities, with Phos’s alloy and Cinnabar’s mercury.

Land of the Lustrous manages the best conclusion it can with the time it has available, but it still feels maddeningly incomplete. This is a terrific, innovative story with great work on the production all around, but I can’t give it a wholehearted recommendation. If you don’t have Amazon Video (or Anime Strike in the US), it’s not time to burn that free trial yet. This could easily be the best show of whatever year the adaptation is finished. Sadly, with the word being that all the major anime studios are booked through 2020, it could be some time coming.

(Anime Strike/Amazon VideoHIDIVEADNVVVVIDbilibili)

Inuyashiki Last Hero finale – Ichirō is finally confronted by his family and is somehow surprised to discover that they’re actually okay with him being a superhero. Then the asteroid comes crashing back into the public consciousness with an announcement from the US president that the big, beautiful rock is going to do amazing, beautiful things for Earth. Wait, no, this is the Alternate TV Dimension, so the president is fairly articulate and willing to admit failure.

Despite the fact that they’re all going to die if Ichirō doesn’t do anything, his family tries to talk him out of saving everyone. At this point the drama starts feeling forced and doesn’t ever stop. Hiro has flipped back to the side of good because he doesn’t want to kill absolutely everyone, so he and Ichirō neatly remove themselves from the story, leaving no messy loose ends like, say, someone having a chance to reverse-engineer the cyborg technology to keep saving people with otherwise terminal diseases.

Despite my grumbling, that was a pretty good, competently made dark superhero story. Alas, it was not the genre-defying older-person-centered story I was hoping for. The teenagers got to steal the spotlight way too much. Mrs. Inuyashiki never gets fleshed out the way Mari does; all we ever find out about her was she wanted to visit that NSFW museum once. Decent if you want an action-heavy thriller, but otherwise disappointing.

(Anime Strike/Amazon Video)

Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series finale – Kino and Hermès ride through a sheep-dotted countryside, only it turns out those are killer sheep, and eventually Kino has to break out the guns and the sniper scope and the flaming gasoline and the Reynolds ramp to save herself and her companion. And then there is a philosophical lecture on the nature of the journey that would be a fine epilogue to a much better show than this one.

This finale is a tidy little package of nearly everything I’ve come to hate about this show. Yet another story that was clearly voted in strictly because the guns come out. Yet another where the thought experiment sounds interesting on its own but is so de-emphasized in the telling that it’s not worth discussing. Yet another dubious gender choice in the English translation. (In the original Japanese, the dead body is just ano hito, “that person”, with no determined gender.)

I believe people who say the first adaptation of Kino’s Journey is a much better show, I really do. I believe people who say that there are much better stories available for adaptation. But you can only go so far blaming the adaptation; the fact remains that the series does somehow also contain the dumber stories that we saw.

Still, if someone wanted to pretend this show never happened and start fresh on adapting the series, I might risk taking a look.

(CrunchyrollAnimaxFunimation)

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness #12 – This is probably going to be my top pick for this season when all is said and done, so what’s it doing down here? Well, you know how special programming between Christmas and New Year’s means there’s no room for anime? Apparently this show is too awesome to let a little thing like that get in its way, so the finale is coming on the 30th and I’ll be cramming its final score into the best-of-the-year post somehow.

This week is basically Shiro Has Questions and Everyone Else Has Answers. On the occasion of Anubis dropping by, he and Shiro get to visit the court of Gokan and discuss the use of balancing scales in the Egyptian and Japanese afterlifes. Then it is time to revisit King Enma’s bath with more discussion than you could have thought possible regarding the temperature of the water in Hell.

You may notice that Gokan, despite being one of the kings of the underworld, is actually female. This is not as big a contradiction as it sounds like. Although the judges are traditionally believed to be male, the specific term used here, ō is only customarily translated as “king”. It’s implied to be male by the fact that there is a specifically gendered term for female rulers (jo-ō). However, ō is not explicitly gendered. In fact, in Land of the Lustrous earlier this season, Ventricosus was also an ō, despite being identified as female.

(HIDIVEADN — Aniplusbilibili)

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