Rule of Three Reviews, Sequel Digest: Yowamushi Pedal, Chaika the Coffin Princess, Psycho-Pass – Episodes 2-3

Nothing like spending Friday with some old friends.

Figured I’d pop in with quickie updates on the sequels I’m watching this season (sans Mushishi, since it’s only on Episode 2), and let everyone know how we’re doing. Mostly positive statements of varying degrees across the board, so we’ll keep this short, since if you’re looking at sequel reviews then you’re probably already invested in these shows (and if you aren’t watching Yowapeda yet, you really should be, as it’s one of the most delightful shows of the year). Hit the jump to check in with autumn’s returning players.

Yowapeda (Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road)

The tooth will set you free.

Yowapeda continues to do what it’s done very well since Day One: Provide a balanced diet of exciting road races and character development. The highlight of these early episodes has definitely been the much-needed focus on Kyoto Fushimi, who have been portrayed as pretty one-dimensional villains up to this point (particularly the reptilian Midousuji).

But Watanabe Wataru is a writer who doesn’t believe in throwaway characters or motivation without reason, and sure enough, we saw a whole bunch of backstory for both Captain Ishigaki and our old nemesis Midousuji, which didn’t absolve them of their earlier behavior but certainly puts it in a new and perhaps even sympathetic light. YMMV, but I found the third episode quietly moving, and while I’m still firmly in Sohoku’s corner, I have to say that I was rooting for some surprising people there at the end of Day Two. Yowapeda keeps delivering the goods and I keep falling deeper in love with it.

Chaika -The Coffin Princess- (Hitsugi no Chaika: AVENGING BATTLE)

This show, still fun. Plot thickens. Grateful!

This is a series that shouldn’t really work when you see it on paper – there’s nothing particularly new here, and if I gave you a rundown of the character’s personalities you’d be convinced you’d seen it before – but what Chaika lacks in ingenuity it makes up for in execution. Each character fits into a “type” but does so in a way that makes them fresh and funny instead of stale (particularly Akari, a “brocon” who would normally drive me crazy but is portrayed as such a deadpan badass that she’s my favorite character on the show). The story itself is like that too, somewhat: While I feel like I’ve seen a world very similar to this before, there are just enough differences to make it stand apart as its own (quite enjoyable) fantasy series.

Season 2 is very much the same show as Season 1, so if you liked the first one (or didn’t) then your opinions are unlikely to change here. The only real difference is that we’ve picked up the pace in terms of overarching story, which is a bonus in my book, and seem to be moving ever faster towards the finish line. It’s unclear exactly what that finish line will look like (another nice thing about Chaika: while it can be somewhat predictable on a micro scale, macro scale plot twists have continued to surprise me), but I’ll certainly be around to find out.

Psycho-Pass 2

What’s your hue telling you?

If you were worried about the switch in writers and studios, don’t be. While the animation has seen a small dip (the 2D stuff is pretty comparable, but the CG cars and buildings are noticeably out of place), Psycho-Pass 2 is still very much the world you remember: A future nation governed by a deeply flawed system, a group of hardened Inspectors and Enforcers with a heavy sense of doom about them, and a lot of intellectual but emotionally distant dialogue, with vocal performances to match.

I’ve sort of come to realize that, no matter the writer, PP will never be a show that I love. There’s a coldness at the heart of this series both in terms of characters and setting, and while I suspect this is intentional (especially given that the detectives have to remained detached if they want to keep their Crime Coefficients at a respectable level), it also makes it hard for me to really care about what’s happening to everyone. Even so, I do find the central concept pretty engaging (if not a little redundant, as the themes under exploration don’t seem much different from those explored in S01), so I’m sticking around to see what’s going on story wise. I don’t want to guarantee that I’m in it for the long haul, but it’s on my watchlist for now, and if the plot can keep teasing me with new information, I’ll stick around to see how everything shakes out.

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