Nonon’s Otaku Theater: Fall Anime 2021, Week 4

Nonon’s Otaku Theater: Fall Anime 2021, Week 4


Komi Can’t Communicate carries on, and I’m not going to lie when I say that it isn’t the kind of school comedy show that I was expecting it to be. You might think that I’m being a little ridiculous in that opinion, considering how pretty simple the story is, but a lot of things that have cropped up (and apparently will crop up later on in future episodes) make me think otherwise. More on all of that later though, so let’s get started with the other shows.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut Episode 4

I’ve been very critical of how Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut started, but now that episode 4 has arrived, it seems like it’s finally getting going. A real relief for me, since the world and the story were what drew me into following it in the first place. We already knew why Lev wanted to go to space, and now we finally discover why Irina’s so desperate to go too.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut

A date has now been set for Irina’s launch, meaning all of her training has to be completed by then. As well as things like parachuting, space food and centrifuge training, it seems there’s a lot more she needs to do. The one major thing that’s highlighted here in this episode is solitude training, in an anechoic chamber. In this soundproof pod, oxygen levels are raised and air pressure is lowered, and subjects are required to spend days in them, to get used to being cut off from the rest of the world. But it is the remainder of this episode that effectively makes it what it is.

Despite other peoples’ insistence that he should not get too close, Lev carries on with small talk with her, choosing to treat her like a fellow person. Why Irina was so curious on why Lev went to a local jazz bar to cool off is something I don’t quite understand, but in this episode, the two decide to go on a ‘date-not-date’ there.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut

The second half of the episode turned into something quite charming, I thought. Here we discover that Irina actually lied about her age (she is actually only 17), and that she doesn’t care about what humans think about her being the first humanoid in space. As for her own reason for going up there, well we learn that because of what happened to her family and home, she doesn’t really have much left to live for. She goes on to tell Lev that vampires are ‘people of the moon’, and so as she has nothing left to live for now, the moon is the one place she can go to for peace. Rather cute how she went on to say that she wanted to be the first person to touch the moon before humans ‘defile it’.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut is getting much better, and I hope that it’ll keep this pace. I know that considering the launch date is getting closer, the plot will end up becoming a lot more complicated and detailed, and no doubt these two will end up falling in love. But I’m fine with that. Despite my criticisms of the first three episodes, I still love the faux-Soviet setting and this space race that is going on in the show.

The Aquatope on White Sand Episode 17

So from what was, I thought, a really great episode covering Chiyu and juggling work and being a single mother, we get what can only be described as the filler of fillers, for this week’s episode of The Aquatope on White Sand. Given how much I know the episodes of P.A Works’ ‘working’ shows (Hanasaku Iroha, Shirobako, Sakura Quest), this one really stood out. But why?

The episode revolved around a ‘hospitality party’ that Kukuru, Fuuka and Udon-chan hold because they all happen to have the same day off. I would have understood if they simply called it a get-together or something, but calling it this just seemed a little silly to me. Everyone was invited too, even all the second-cour secondary characters we know next to nothing about. Perhaps a future episode will focus on them, just as last week’s one focused on Chiyu. I think one I’d quite like to see is one for Marina, one of Fuuka’s coworkers as a penguin attendant. Her backstory says that she has Venezuelan family roots and that she still struggles with speaking Japanese, occasionally dipping into Spanish. I hope she won’t become someone invisible like Akari seems to be right now, as there’s a lot of things about her to make an episode out of…especially as she’s able to geek out with Kukuru when it comes to marine life.

The Aquatope on White Sand
The Aquatope on White Sand

Considering how different this cour is compared to the first, I hope that we won’t get more episodes like this one. The character design in this show is something I really like, and so I hope that the show won’t get sidetracked into making filler episodes for the sake of them. I want to know more about Marina, Akari, Eiji, Umi-yan, and even the resident gloomster Kuuya. I want Kukuru’s and Fuuka’s story to progress further. All the ‘fantasy’ that was initially promised at the start of the show has all but disappeared. A silly little mascot continues to follow the cast around, but will that be a part of the end story? So many questions I’m eager to know the answers for; I guess I just need to be a little more patient, and not criticize filler episodes like this so much.

The Aquatope on White Sand

Komi Can’t Communicate Episode 2

I mentioned last week how there were going to be some things I didn’t like about episode 1 of Komi Can’t Communicate that I was worried that would carry on through the entire show. Well it seems that I was right about that.

Komi Can't Communicate!

This week’s episode focuses on Komi getting her next friend; one of Tadano’s old childhood friends, Najimi Osana. Here in episode 2, we see Najimi has an very strong personality, and is the type who is able to befriend anyone no matter who they are. However they seem to initially fumble when it comes to Komi, as they think back to how cold she came across when they were in second grade with her.

We see how the screen writers are sticking very closely to the original manga here; almost too much, perhaps. In terms of anime shows, Netflix already has a bit of an issue when it comes to Japanese text being on screen and feeling compelled to translate it all. So one trait that I think will carry on throughout the rest of the show is that we’ll get so bombarded with text in each episode, The show will be split into episodes sure enough, but these episodes will be split into missions; missions to get Komi the 100 friends she wants. This isn’t something I’m opposed to at all; I think it’ll just be something I’m going to have to get used to, but I’m pretty sure this won’t be the only thing I’ll need to get used to while watching this show…

Komi Can’t Communicate has been something that people have been looking at this season; the same people who were angry that Netflix snapped it up so quickly. I’m just unable to connect with any of the main characters here, and so I’m unable to connect to the show itself. I think I might well be alone in my opinion in that this adaptation will end up being something people will have wished could have been better. The more I read about other characters in Komi Can’t Communicate that have not arrived yet, the more I worry. Is it merely the case that the entire classroom is filled with misfits and weirdos who are all obsessed with Komi, and Tadano is just meant to be portrayed as the average guy?

Komi Can't Communicate!
Komi Can't Communicate!

As well as that, I really ought to bring up the elephant in the room – Najimi themself. The source manga (along with this adaptation) does not actually confirm what their gender really is, and it feels like it’s left to our imagination whether they are non-binary or genderless or anything else that fits in that umbrella. And because of this, I can’t help but worry that this is some kind of tasteless gimmick in the story. I don’t want people to think I’m overreacting here or looking too deeply into what is ultimately just a school comedy show. Is it wrong of me to bring up such a sensitive topic like this in a highly anticipated show like Komi Can’t Communicate? Well thanks in large to mainstream media, the transgender community already feels alienated and marginalized as it is, and thus making light of Najimi’s gender fluidity in the way that it could potentially do just does not sit right with me at all.

Ugh, this will be a tough show to call. This will be a dividing show, I think. And so the question is whether it’ll live up to the hype or not.

Super Cub Episode 4

Super Cub

When we first saw Koguma’s Cub, it was a old and plain-looking piece of kit that had a bit of history of its own. In the space of a few episodes, she has managed to take this same Cub and make it all her own. The last episode saw her add front and back sections to it, and here in episode 4, an awful lot more happens.

The summer break arrives in Super Cub, and as she has no pool parties or karaoke nights or fireworks displays to go to, Koguma takes the time to get a part-time job: her very first job. Using her Cub, she ferries important documents from her own school to another one over in Kofu. The trips take a toll on her Cub though, meaning she has to learn how to do an oil change. But Koguma doesn’t mind any of this; in fact, she comes to embrace it, and not because of the pay. This is her chance to push her beloved Cub more, and let her go to whole new places…even if it is just to Kofu and back.

Super Cub
Super Cub

The episodes in Super Cub are all wonderful so far, but I particularly liked this one for many things. Episode 3 saw Koguma add new things to the Cub, but in episode 4, we see her grow just that little more. Heck, one part gives time to how she tackles the summer showers by buying a raincoat; only an iyashikei show can make an otherwise unexciting scene fun to watch. Oh, and Koguma’s smile becomes more and more of something we need to protect. Once again, only one piece of impressionist classical music for this episode:

  • Suite Bergamasque: Prélude, by Claude Debussy

I’ve said my piece when it comes to what I think of Komi Can’t Communicate so far, and as this year gets closer and closer to ending, it feels like the more I want the shows I’m watching to end. Not in a bad way, however. Maybe when years are out, we seasonal anime followers feel like we have had our fill of the year’s shows, and look forward to the next. Ugh, what am I thinking? We’re only around 4 weeks in.



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