This has been a real funny season, and I think that the ‘summer curse’ that I’ve always been affected by here on Otaku Theater is turning into a winter one now. 2021 saw me despairing over season 2 of The Promised Neverland (along with everyone else). As for this year, the big franchises dominated once again. Attack on Titan is over for good (as far as we know…), and the Demon Slayer fans got exactly what they wanted while I despaired over something else. I definitely got the short straw. Okay so perhaps that’s not entirely true, because picking World’s End Harem was my choice entirely, and it’s something I’m going to have to live with.
It wasn’t all bad though, as the Winter season also gave us what is most definitely a contender for my top 5 of the year. My Dress-Up Darling has been consistently great, and I’m really going to miss it so much. Slow Loop, on the other hand, was something I ended up nitpicking at too much, meaning I couldn’t really enjoy it for what really was.
Slow Loop Episode 12
I didn’t really expect Slow Loop to go out all guns blazing, with some major heartfelt fireworks episode, or a Christmas one, or anything like that. It was good that it didn’t, because I think that would have ruined what this show has become in these last 3 months.
This final episode gives us both the things we like to see in any other past episode along with an ending that isn’t quite open-ended but still something that would bring Hiyori and Koharu closer together like the inseparable step-sisters this show is trying to portray them as. Even if Koi is doing a far better job at that. I mean look at this…
Split into three sections, we were first taught how to make flies for fly fishing; if there was one thing you could count on in watching Slow Loop, I suppose it would be how informational and educational things got to be. This was definitely something Yuru Camp did, and to be fair I do have mixed feelings about shows doing this. The reason why is because it can either be really fun and cool to watch, or get really boring – there is no in-between. In Slow Loop, I did kind of get tired of these educational snippets.
Later on was some friendly flyfishing competition that the adults in the show apparently put together every year; the one who catches the biggest fish get prizes, and since the top prize was a giant plushie, this spurred Hiyori on some more. But the real heart of this episode was the end, on Koharu’s birthday. The episode started off with the two of them doing some reminiscing, and with Hiyori’s present being an empty photo album, this gives Koharu the opportunity not only to look back and remember all the activities that went on when she came into Hiyori’s household, but give space for future ones to come. It was a good way to end the show; if it doesn’t get a second season, that won’t be a problem. As I say, it gave us something that wasn’t quite open-ended, but not quite closed either.
My Dress-Up Darling Episode 12
Comparing that final episode to My Dress-Up Darling‘s one though…well this one might just be the best finale I’ve seen in a long time. It shifts from cosplay to what has been the other main big plot point of the show: their romance. While we didn’t get some extravagant fireworks/Christmas/holiday finale in Slow Loop, we got just that here, and there were a lot of little things in it that made it stand out from the others. One in particular was the fact that Gojou had not really been to any firework festivals before; he had either been stuck in his room or working on Hina dolls. This goes back to the Gojou we saw in the first episode; the pushover that his classmates took advantage of, and the one who kept to himself because he knew that his Hina doll passion would be something that would drive others away. But meeting Marin and working with her and her cosplay hobby has changed him so much. I was worried that this would be a ‘loser-turns-into-jock’ kind of show, and so I’m glad it didn’t go down that road.
Interesting how this final episode felt shorter than it actually was though. Not to say that’s a bad thing of course, as all the great stuff we wanted in this ending for the show came all at once. Are all fireworks episodes this short, and I just haven’t noticed? Well I suppose they only really have one thing to talk about. Well it’s only really been in these last episodes where it suddenly dawns on Gojou on how much he likes Marin and how much she has changed his life.
I’m sure all the fans of the show, and there are many of them, will be asking whether a second season of this will come. Well there’s still plenty of material for them to cover, they have many more cosplays to put together, and they can carry on being in the same kind of relationship they are. The only question is whether it would be just as successful as this one was. I guess it’s up to the studio to decide. And I have plenty to say about Cloverworks later on in the post.
The Helpful Fox Senko-san Episode 12
For this final episode of The Helpful Fox Senko-san, we get some kind of explanation of what happened to Senko in episode 11. In that, while Nakano was recharging his batteries, Senko had vanished. It turns out that she had needed to have an extended chat with her boss Lady Yozora, who keeps on reminding her that she is immortal and will not be with Nakano forever. Apparently this is anime-only content, so I’m not sure how I feel here. Was this melodrama even necessary for a final episode? Makes me think back to the finale of Dragon Maid‘s first season, where Kobayashi confronted Tohru’s father and told him his daughter should have the freedom to live the life she wants. Here, Senko clearly wants to carry on pampering Nakano until all of his negative thoughts have gone, and then stick around some more.
This finale was a bit of a tough one to pin down. Was it a decent ending to what has been an enjoyable show, or did unnecessary anime-only melodrama ruin it? I guess it’s down to what the viewer looked for in this show in general. Room has been made for a second season for this to happen, as there is apparently a lot more material for Dogakobo to do; the manga is still going after all. The finale did not go too hard on emotions though, and all the plot gaps that happened in previous episodes had been filled here.
Having finished the show now, I’ll say that The Helpful Fox Senko-san did not grab me in the way that I had hoped it would. That’s not to say that it’s a bad show though, since there were some really great episodes tucked far away into it. The show gave us a slightly different take on the ‘mythical creature moving into home’ story. Senko was not presented as some loli character, and Nakano was not really presented as some weird pervert. I did like the background story of all the fox deities being centuries old and going to the mortal realm to help the people who paid them respect when they were younger. Dogakobo have been a bit of a hit-and-miss studio, but The Helpful Fox Senko-san was a strong show for them; it’s just a shame that I could not get the experience that I had been expecting from the start.
Maybe another watch is warranted…
Well this season really was a hoot wasn’t it? I can easily compare my experiences of it to last year’s winter season, where I made the mistake of thinking that season 2 of The Promised Neverland could eventually redeem itself towards the end. For that, staff just gave up on production and animation, and even creator Kaiu Shirai took themselves off the credits. Well this year, Justin has something to dangle in front of me when I make a questionable show suggestion for Otaku Theater…another thing that is.
So you really want to know what I think about World’s End Harem? Well I do still think it really could have been something semi-decent if the studio put their minds to it. Yes, the raunchy scenes were pretty central to the story, but a heavier focus on the sci-fi in the show might have turned things around here. I wouldn’t have minded finding out about how Reito got his cure, or how Erisa took down the establishment with her cult, or if Karen got to be that big hot-shot executive she wanted to be, or anything else for that matter. The writers were just far too concerned with cramming as much plot points as they could into 11 episodes. Story didn’t just go to the back row here, it left the building entirely; too many things were left unfinished, the animation team just didn’t bother with some scenes, and we were left caring even less than we already did. And that’s not to mention the horrible black bar censoring we had to see during the entire show.
As I said last week, World’s End Harem will not have the same levels of immortality and infamy that last year’s EX-ARM has; instead it will just wither away into nothing. The best place for it, to be frank, as I’m sure people who were responsible for putting this show together will want to wash their hands of it and take it off their resumes.
Slow Loop on the other hand has been a show that has made me think about whether I can get overly critical of shows that are meant to be very harmless. Throughout this season, I ended up making some criticisms and complaints about stuff like animation, the educational snippets and the fact that the relationship that Hiyori and Koharu are supposed to develop in the show was something that wasn’t aired as much as the one that Hiyori and Koi already has.
That’s not to say that the two new step-sisters were able to build something because they certainly did. Hiyori acted like the shy and awkward one still thinking about what to do without her father around, while Koharu acted like the cute and clueless one; opposites really did attract here. Koi on the other hand ended up becoming the one in the middle, trying to help Koharu get into fishing and still be the same shoulder that she’s been for Hiyori since they were little.
As for the other secondary characters, they all developed their own cute little characteristics, but despite that, they ended up being people I couldn’t connect with. And I do think the show used still images far too much than necessary. See, I’m doing it again…nitpicking. Slow Loop was still a decent ‘cute-girls-doing-cute-things’ show. I suppose I should just let shows like this be what they are, instead of nitpicking in the way I did in these 12 weeks.
Now onto the shining star of the season: My Dress-Up Darling. The fact that every single episode of the show had their own strengths is something alone. Whether it was Wakana working his butt off to get Marin’s cosplay right, or her trying to deal with her puppy love, or the two of them out of their date-not-dates, everything we saw was awesome to watch.
I’ve pointed out some highlights of the show already when talking about the final episode, and some of them I will say again. Marin really has become the darling of the year so far. We saw someone so confident and happy with life, and still have vulnerabilities. She was highly inexperienced in cosplay, and crumbled when it came to her building relationship with Gojou. Oh and we later discover that she can’t swim and hates horror movies.
Even if this was the Marin show, I still think there could have been a lot more we could have learned about Gojou. What brought him to love Hina dolls so much?
Think back to all the troubles that Cloverworks had this time last year. Season two of The Promised Neverland was a complete disaster, and the production for Wonder Egg Priority kind of imploded. We didn’t get any of that for this season though. It wasn’t just My Dress-Up Darling that did well; another one of their winter shows, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, was very well-received too. I very nearly chose that show too, so perhaps that’ll be something I’ll catch at some point this year.
So yeah, this winter season was an odd one for me. The spring season is going to be very different though, as not only are my chosen shows all comedies, but they are all sequel shows as well. Something to cheer me up after what I had to go through. See you in April…and we will not be mentioning the harem show ever again here.