I think that this final season of 2021 has given me a couple of other shows that I could really sink my teeth into, now that the 3-episode mark has been and gone. Yes, in the end, I wasn’t able to watch World’s End Harem (yet) due to its delay, but it may have been for the best. I would have likely torn it to shreds, or said a lot of embarrassing things that I would later regret. Well, Komi Can’t Communicate! finally arrives, and more on that towards the end of the post, but meanwhile let’s start with everything else…
Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut Episode 3
My first impressions of Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut have not been great. The story looked very interesting on paper, but now that we’ve reached the 3-episode point, has it improved? I want to say yes, but that’s only because I’m really loving the world that’s built in the show. It could still be way too early to call this though, but episode 3 gives us a little more on Irina herself, and it isn’t just that she has acrophobia.
Here we get a little taste of how the Union got her; seems she and her coffin were simply taken by a squad of men, where she would later on get physical tests before officially becoming ‘N44’. Lev asks himself this week why Irina is pushing this hard in training when we all know what will happen when (or if) she returns to Earth – higher-ups are already toying with the idea of simply disposing of her.
It’s extremely predictable that Lev will end up getting more and more attached to Irina, now that they sort of have something in common. He is no longer a cosmonaut candidate and can longer go up to space, while Irina has been pushed aside long ago, because of the Union’s sheer ignorance when it comes to vampires. What I will say though is that while a researcher character needed to exist in the show, I don’t see why it has to be someone like Anya. Her cutesy moe behavior and desire to get closer to ‘Irinyan’ sticks out and makes the show more uneven than it already is.
Oh what am I going to do with this show? It’s very uneven, with the seriousness and the cutesiness not being balanced in any way. It feels like the anime studio don’t really want to make any effort in balancing it either. It’s a real shame because I think Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut could have had a really awesome start, but instead we have this. Maybe now that we know much more about Irina, it’ll pick up.
The Aquatope on White Sand Episode 16
We’re deep in the second cour of The Aquatope on White Sand now, and this week’s episode went in a slightly different direction than what I had expected. Here the focus isn’t on everyone’s favorite hothead or everyone’s favorite idol-turned-penguin handler – instead it’s Chiyu.
To some peoples’ surprise, I have had absolutely no issues with her whatsoever, despite the Kukuru fans labelling her otherwise just because the two are constantly at each others’ throats. In fact when she first appeared back in the first cour as a Tingaara ‘representative’, I sided with her when she said she worked hard for the job she had, as opposed to Kukuru who was just given it. Well the big reveal this week is that she is a single mother.
She chooses to work hard to provide for her young son. This week we get little hints of how she made it to the point she is now. Seems she had a child young, got distracted at her old aquarium job due to juggling family life, had her husband leave her for another woman, and made the decision to keep her son a secret in fear of the same thing happening again at Tingaara. Because of her drive to work hard (not just for her son, but to prove the rest of the world wrong), she doesn’t appreciate Kukuru stepping in and taking shifts from her believing that she should spend time with her son.
It’s an understandable reaction from Chiyu. She already has a thing for the ex-Gama Gama staff, and this interference in her life (both work and home) isn’t what she needs at all. Question is whether this episode is painting Kukuru to be the bad guy here. Hard to say, because she clearly means well, but ends up getting too engaged in things. And this episode is a clear example.
The Aquatope on White Sand has been a very unique P.A Works show for me, in that I have enjoyed the secondary characters infinitely more than the main ones. She may be a few years older, but Kukuru’s childish behavior hasn’t changed at all, while Fuuka’s attempts to be an unbiased mediator makes her less and less interesting to watch. The last cour had Udon-chan a lot more, and I found her a lot more exciting, whilst here in cour number 2, a lot of the other Tingaara staff (who aren’t ex-Gama Gama) have been great, and all have interesting backstories…or will have in future episodes. I know that 2-cour P.A Works shows love to add a lot of material when it comes to secondary characters, but the fact that, for me, they overshadow the main ones here in The Aquatope on White Sand, is very curious.
Komi Can’t Communicate! Episode 1
Now the most anticipated show of the season arrives, and what did I get out of episode 1? I think that Netflix has done a good job here. I was surprised that they didn’t rush to make other dubs of it in the space of two weeks; the only available spoken language here is Japanese. No doubt dubs will arrive in the future, and we’ll never realize they’ll be there until we spot them should we ever want to re-watch the show in 2022 for instance. But what about the show itself?
Well I’m going to be honest here. There were things I liked about the episode, and there were things I didn’t like. Of course this is only the debut, but these things I didn’t like will, I fear, be stuff that’ll carry on through the rest of the show. But I can already see that Komi Can’t Communicate! will be staying very loyal to the original source manga. This was of course just the introductory episode, where the MCs are established on their very first day at school, and a shot at what is to come later on. Both Komi and Tadano do exceptionally well as MCs, I think. Tadano in particular, from how the story’s point-of-view is told from, is seen as breaking out of his own shell from a total and complete wallflower to someone who can help. We followers might have already established Komi, but I believe that there’s still more from her for us to see.
The show will become a standout of the season, that much I am certain of. But what didn’t I enjoy here? Well the one big thing is the narration. It is something I really do not like, and is not needed in the show whatsoever. I understand that the show wants to remain loyal to the manga, but it could have worked perfectly fine without it. Let Tadano be the chief narrator, not some outside voice. There’s also the issue of pacing here, which isn’t something I dislike, but will instead be something I will need to get used to. The show doesn’t go on one long narrative and is divided into sections. Do I think Komi Can’t Communicate! be better if it had one long narrative instead? I can’t answer that, but these ‘sections’ aren’t a dislike for me; I will get used to them, eventually.
(The below means ‘I really do want to speak’, by the way.)
People might look at this and think whether the show is making light of the touchy topic of Social Anxiety Disorder; a topic I take very seriously as I suffered from it myself throughout my school life. It’s something that can burrow deep into your psyche, the smallest of conversations can be a struggle, and actions and choices you make (no matter how miniscule) can stay with us for years. It’s partly why I got into anime blog writing in the first place back when I was a high school graduate, to be an outlet for me. The show is tackling it well, with Komi’s blackboard text becoming wholesome scenes themselves, and the more she progresses, the better these scenes will likely get. I may complain about pacing, but this combination of light humor to something more wholesome and serious I really do like.
Super Cub Episode 3
In the three episodes that have passed so far, we get to see Koguma on this very slow and evenly paced journey from being a ‘girl with nothing’, to someone who fawns over their used Cub. With a little help from her new Cub enthusiast buddy Reiko, she has been able to make three big steps in this one episode.
What was once a pretty bare looking Cub is now something a lot more practical: a box on the back from a used parts shop, a donated front basket from a teacher, and covering for Koguma’s eyes as she rides. These may be things that some people (and some bike riders) see as miniscule or even take for granted, but since her Cub has changed her mood dramatically in such short a time, Koguma takes these as another step forward to being something else.
…and the fact that we her smile a lot more means we have something to protect.
Koguma said to Reiko at the end of this episode that she’s much more eager to explore new places, which is cool. The one thing that’s rather subtle in these three episodes is this Cub journey from home to school. She has initially bought the Cub to get from A to B, and somehow watching this ride to school and back again and again brought out something in me I can’t quite understand. It’s different from those other school journeys you see in other shows where the MC walks up a hill while the sakura blossoms are out (or something). Instead it’s more like we as the viewer are on the journey with Koguma. We are becoming far more attached to her as she makes these little steps.
I think it’s more like we’ll be getting just one classical piece per episode now, but that’s perfectly fine, since adding upbeat pop music to this show would completely ruin it.
- Liebestraum No. 3, by Franz Liszt
I said last week that I’d wait until Komi Can’t Communicate! came out before I’d make a decision whether this Fall season was worth it. Well as I said earlier, there’s some other shows this season that have also caught my eye. Maybe I’ll talk about them another time here in Otaku Theater, when I’ve passed the 3-episode rule with all of them. But has the season passed the litmus test for me? Tough question to answer. Anime years usually like going out with a bang, and so far for me, I’m yet to see that bang. Maybe I just need to be more patient.