Panning the Stream: Mushi-shi: The Next Passage (Part 2), Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru, Girlfriend BETA

The stream may have slowed to a trickle, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still find some gold.

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It always feels strange to do a premiere post after doing a Rule of Three Review, but due to licensing issues and delayed release schedules, sometimes it happens. This time we’ve got girls both magical and vanilla (in every since of the word), plus an old friend returns (again!) and I’m very happy to see him. Hit the jump to read what may very well be the last premiere post of the fall season.

Mushi-shi: The Next Passage (Mushishi Zoku Shou), Part 2

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Studio: Artland
Based On:
The manga by Urushibara Yuki
Sequel To:
Mushi-shi (26 episodes), the “Sun-Eating Shadow” OVA (44 minutes), Zoku Shou Part 1 (10 episodes), and the “Path of Thorns” Special (47 minutes)
Streaming On:
Crunchyroll (US, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa) (listed as “MUSHI-SHI”)

Note: Crunchyroll only carries the OVA, Zoku Shou, and the “Path of Thorns” special. The original Mushishi anime is available on Funimation and Hulu (U.S./Canada)

In a Sentence: A sequence of loosely connected short stories about a world where humans coexist with strange creatures called “mushi,” and the wandering mushi expert (“mushi-shi”) Ginko who works to keep the two spheres in harmony with one another.

How was it? {Insert your choice of superlatives here}

Overall
The Mushishi anime continues to adapt Urushibara’s original manga with beautiful artwork, limited but effective animation, and a balance of gorgeous, minimalist music and pregnant silences to fantastic effect, taking what was already an excellent story and making it even better. Mushishi is one of my rare 10/10 anime series, a masterpiece of short-form storytelling that also slowly develops a bigger picture, expanding its world, deepening its exploration of the many facets of both humanity and nature, and continuing to unveil more of Ginko’s personal history (as this week’s episode did).

Honestly, what more is there to say? At a certain point you run out of adjectives to describe a show and just start throwing confetti at it. Mushishi is one of those shows, a unique experience from start to finish. If you haven’t watched it yet, you really are missing something special.

Did it make the watchlist? There will never be a day that Mushishi doesn’t make my watchlist.

Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru

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Studio: Gokumi
Original Series:
Written by Uezo Makoto and directed by Kishi Seiji (Kamisama Dolls, Humanity Has Declined)
Streaming On:
Crunchyroll (Worldwide except for Asia)

In a Sentence: The members of the junior high “Hero Club” find themselves thrown into a supernatural battle when they’re chosen to protect the divine Shinju-sama.

How was it? It combined Rayearth’s chipper energy with Madoka’s stylistic flair, and barring a few weird fanservicey shots I actually… really… liked it…? I know, I’m confused too.

Overall
I went into this one wondering how long I’d go before switching over to something else, then ended up blazing through both the first and second episodes (Crunchyroll secured the licensing rights a little late, so they tossed both episodes up pretty much simultaneously). There’s an energy to this series reminiscent of old-school magical girl shows like Rayearth and Sailor Moon, fanservice is minimal and mostly limited to the transformation sequences, the fight scenes are dynamic and stylized, the fantasy world distinct (and a little trippy), and the girls’ interactions and vocal performances have a natural cuteness to them rather than that forced, squeaky vamping so common in shows like these. There’s a sense of a larger mystery in the world as well, suggesting that the story might have real legs, too.

YuAru also does a good job balancing humor and drama, so that I found myself giggling fairly frequently and also rooting for the gang to “suit up” and succeed, particularly in the second episode. And props to the creators for not only including a character with a disability (Togo, a paraplegic), but giving her a superpower that helps her kick ass but doesn’t just magically cure her. There’s always a chance she could become a stereotype, but so far I really like the way they’re presenting her character – and all of the girls, really. There’s a good foundation here. Hopefully the story can build on it.

Did it make the watchlist? I’m in for the three-episode rule at the very least. The writer/director have a slightly mixed track record, but they’ve worked together before on some noteworthy projects. We’ll see if they can make the first magical girl anime I’ve wanted to watch since Madoka.

Digests

Girlfriend Beta (Girlfriend Kari)

A lot of blandly designed girls hanging out at school and behaving based on a set of various bland rules about what constitutes “cuteness.” I can’t tell you anything else about it because about 10 minutes in, I felt my eyelids starting to droop. The best that can be said for it was that it wasn’t outright insulting. Just very, very dull.

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