I may never be able to listen to “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” the same way again.
And here I thought winter was supposed to be the quiet anime season.
A solid mix of carryovers, sequels, and newcomers has (so far) made this the best winter anime season in recent memory, filled to the brim with engaging shows of varying styles and genres. The fall trend of arealism continues as almost every series on this list has at least some fantastical element to it, but perhaps most happily, there’s a sense of people taking risks – or, at the very least, having fun – this season, both in the art/animation and in the storytelling.
There are a surprising number of original series on the list (a relative rarity these days), and while it’s often messy and unpolished, it’s not the same ol’ blend of tropes and story lines churned out without imagination or even enjoyment. Energy and enthusiasm can make up for a lot of imperfections, and this season has me thoroughly engaged because of the amount of sheer excitement splashed across these frames. Here’s hoping that continues through the second half of winter, too.
A picture book nestled in a memory nestled in a flashback nestled in an episode. Well. Things must be getting serious, then.
Because Yurikuma was becoming just a liiiiittle too straightforward, this week sees us jumping back and forth through time like a Gallifreyan kangaroo. To help keep everything coherent (and avoid clogging this thing with the written version of establishing shots), I’ll be using bolded cues so everyone knows where we are in time. Allons-y!
Admiral Ackbar Approved!
And now for something completely different…
Yurikuma has been pretty much a nonstop bear-shock horror movie experience from the word “go,” and while I was starting to settle in to that experience and finding ways to not just analyze it, but also kind of like it, I do think that after the Mitsuko Madness of last week we were sorely in need of an episode that offered us a reprieve from the harsh angles, saturated colors, and unrelenting intensity of Arashigaoka Academy. Fortunately Ikuhara must have realized that himself, because this week takes us away from the main story almost entirely and delivers a lovely, melancholy, and at times pretty darn funny fairy tale.
Oh, and speaking of—Ikuhara included a fairy tale in an anime, you guys! Everybody do a shot!
Then grab a chaser and gather ‘round, boys and grrls. It’s story time at the Severance Court.
The moment of truth.
I considered dragging out the tension like an extended drumroll (durarararara…), but instead, let’s spend the last half of the post talking references and the first half talking personal reaction, which is this: I’m sticking with Yurikuma Arashi. I wasn’t sure if I would last week, but this episode assuaged a lot of my fears and gave me hope (and some outright confirmation) that my initial readings of this show weren’t completely off the mark. There’s still plenty of time for Ikuhara to step on a land mine and blow this whole, crazy experiment to the Moon Kingdom, but it’s looking slightly less likely that that’s going to happen, at least.
Creepiest. Harem. Ever.
I had the same relationship with Episode 2 of Yurikuma that I had with Episode 1: On my first viewing I felt deeply uncomfortable and incredibly wary about writing about it. But after some thought, a second viewing, and a little bit of online research, I became invested in the series again.