Nonon’s Otaku Theater: Fall Anime 2021 Review

Nonon’s Otaku Theater: Fall Anime 2021 Review

It honestly doesn’t feel like Christmas will be at the end of this week. You get to an age where holidays mean so much less than when they used to. I don’t even have a tree, but that’s mostly because I don’t have room for one here. I’ve often found that the Fall season brings shows that studios want to really show off, and I haven’t found any of that in these 3 months. Sure enough I’ve enjoyed watching episodes, but nothing stood out as really special, like it did in other seasons.

Well, the season’s over now. Shows on Netflix will carry on through into January since they started in late October. I’m not sure how Komi Can’t Communicate will end exactly, and even though it’s grown on me, I won’t be hyped for a second season of it.

Komi Can’t Communicate Episode 9

As for this week’s episode, Komi is further up that ladder now. Everyone is back from their summer vacation, meaning she gets to be worshipped more in class. Along comes the latest character, Nokoko Inaka, who is on her own level of social anxiety. Unlike Komi though, hers is stemmed from the fact that she is a country girl now living in the big city and terrified of everything around her. While Komi just wants to communicate and function in life, Inaka wants to impress others and be on their level (be the quintessential city girl seen on TV). I don’t know if she’ll be a recurring character though, like the others have been; I hope so though. Despite knowing so little about her, I like her character design, and is something that this show can build on.

Komi Can't Communicate

I know people are still pretty frustrated at how Netflix were able to bag the rights to this show, and to be fair, I understand one reason why: it’s the subtitling. Because Komi Can’t Communicate contains a lot on text-on-screen (how characters are feeling inside, especially Komi), the viewers’ focus ends up being more on that than anything else. Sadly it’s something that cannot be avoided, except to those who are fluent in Japanese and can read the text. Of course, there is the fact that Komi’s primary source of communication is still written text. So with all of this, was it really a good idea for Netflix to get the rights for this? It’s a rhetorical question though, as they have just as much a right to license shows as Crunchyroll, Funimation, HIDIVE and so on do.

Komi Can't Communicate
Komi Can't Communicate

This week’s episode also goes on to Nakanaka inviting Komi over, originally with the plan to duel her in video game battle, only for her to get completely flustered at having the first guest in her home since elementary school. Also we got one thing that was inevitable: the ‘can-you-call-me-by-my-first-name?’ moment of the show. Still haven’t finished the show, but we’re heading towards the final part now. I’m anime-only here, but I know that we won’t get some climatic ending. Instead we’ll likely get something a little more muted, or something that will tease viewers into wanting a second season. And I wouldn’t be surprised if a second season did eventually come.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut Episode 12

The followers of this show are calling for a second season, but as we see from the ending, it most definitely won’t get one. Why? Because Irina and Lev’s story has ended here in this final episode, and has ended so so well.

Lev has had to write this epic speech because he has to stand in front of not just the citizens of the Union on TV and radio, but to the rest of the world as well. Yet he still can’t just let the Union cast aside Irina’s accomplishments as a test subject.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut

I really thought that the ending of the story would be a much darker one, but even if we didn’t get that, I was satisfied with what we got. Maybe some followers might even say that we got something like a predictable ending, but to be fair, I can’t really think of an ending to the story that wouldn’t have meant Lev and Irina be separated forever. Should it have gone down the ‘revolution for the future’ path? I had no objections, but I don’t think a pretty montage of moon landings and photos of the International Space Station (with vampire astronauts inside, I’ll add) was really necessary.

We didn’t get a dark ending, however I did like how we were teased every now and then that the Union was capable of making things ‘go away’. One example was here, when Lev’s senior had to explain why Irina showed up mid-speech; pinning the blame on the ‘Delivery Crew’. This teasing was something that went on throughout the entire show, of course. It showed us who this faux-Soviet country was like, and while we didn’t really cheer them on, we didn’t really condemn them either. This kind of thing happened in Saga of Tanya the Evil, where we neither cheer for or condemn the invading Empire in the show that Tanya is a model soldier for.

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut
Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut had to be one of the most underrated shows of this season. It started off a little rocky and in a confusing manner, but once the Nosferatu project was better explained, and Irina and Lev got to know each other better, episodes just got better and better. I think I’ve mentioned it probably, but I really loved the world-building here, and how everything was very clearly not the Soviet Union’s project to put a man in space.

True enough, the animation in the show got a bit choppy at times, and there were some times where plot points weren’t really explained as much as we would have liked. I for one would have really wanted to know more about the secret plans that they had in mind; whether to keep Irina alive or dispose of her. These are things that I can set aside though, as I really got into the main story, and wanted to cheer both Lev and Irina on. Maybe it’ll make some followers want to know more about the real US-Soviet space race. It wasn’t just about the first man in space and the first men on the moon after all; they can start here, if they want.

The Aquatope on White Sand Episode 24

I look online and see that followers have been eagerly waiting for the finale of this show. Will Fuuka go to Hawaii to be a part of the Aquatope project? Will Kukuru grit her teeth and put up with her marketing job? Will Udon-chan get that big chef job of hers? And will Kai ever get over the fact that his crush is simply not interested in him? Well a lot of things were all wrapped up in this final episode, centering around the successful wedding event and the opening of the new aquarium area, where Senor douchebag assistant director finally cracks a smile.

However, this episode was really more about how both Kukuru and Fuuka are going to grow into mature and responsible adults. Around halfway through, there was one scene that stood out for me: where Kukuru’s grandparents come and visit the new area. Even with all of these episodes, you’d think that Kukuru would have some goal set in stone, but as we see, she is still very hesitant on whether to carry on in marketing. Gama Gama has been her childhood life, and while she may have been handed the acting director’s job to her, she is still that directionless and naive young girl. It has only been working alongside everyone at Tingaara (or Tingarla – I was never 100% sure how it was really meant to be written) where she is able to find the answer herself…even if she has had to be worked hard to the bone for it.

The Aquatope on White Sand
The Aquatope on White Sand

And with this final episode, we can also see that this apparent fantasy element was much more visual than anything else. Visitors at both Gama Gama and Tingarla would have these visions, but there was nothing that paranormal about it. These visions would simply be woven and combined with memories and dreams, and we got this for this week, where Kukuru gets a glimpse of her late parents and unborn twin sister.

Maybe this is just something that I was unable to see here in The Aquatope on White Sand; something that everyone else could. A lot of other 2-cour shows from P.A Works had many things that really did it for me, Shirobako and A Lull in the Sea being 2 good examples. Yes I did get very frustrated with how slowly Kukuru was maturing and wasn’t so hot on letting go of the past when it came to Gama Gama. And yes, I did want to see a lot more backstory when it came to Fuuka, especially in her running away from her idol career and off to Okinawa. It’s a very beautiful show, and that I won’t ever deny. P.A Works have done a lot of research when it comes to marine life; not just what they are, but how they behave in captivity and how they can be animated. The show is yet another chapter in their ongoing ‘working’ project, and I have no doubt that more shows like it will come. We’ve had a traditional inn (Hanasaku Iroha), the anime industry (Shirobako), and a tourism office in the country (Sakura Quest). And when these future shows come, I’ll be interested for sure.

The P.A Works die-hard fans will miss this show greatly, and will miss these two dorks. I however will not.

The Aquatope on White Sand

Season Review

This was yet another season with sequel seasons of big franchises and many more isekai shows. Projects that were initially delayed due to the pandemic are coming back, and schedules are slowly and surely getting back to normal. This pandemic is still with us though, and my own country is being very foolish in handling it, like it did right from the start. Circumstances meant I couldn’t make it to this year’s Scotland Loves Anime event in Edinburgh in October; they had premieres of not just Belle and Fortune Loves Lady Nikuko, but the international premiere of Sing a Bit of Harmony too. Those movies will all hit theaters on both sides of the Atlantic soon enough; I am especially interested in catching Sing a Bit of Harmony.

But this season in general has been an okay end to what’s been a weird year for anime. We had the absolutely flawless EX-ARM in the Winter season, along with season 2 of The Promised Neverland, which was another masterpiece…yeah. P.A Works has a new show coming up next year, but I won’t be getting into that. While there was a lot I could commend in The Aquatope on White Sand, I was just unable to see all the great things that a lot of other viewers could. There’s also been a couple of other shows that didn’t make it in my final three for this column, and they’ll be things I’ll talk about in the year review post, coming soon.

So this marks the end of what has been a very very up-and-down year for me. I had to take the Spring season off due to real life issues, and am still catching up with shows from then. Apparently some of them in that season turned out to be very good. Some big-name franchises ended for good, while Kyoto Animation brought out their first TV show since the tragic arson attack in 2019, with the second season of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Next year sees Attack on Titan ending on screen, while we’ll get yet another My Hero Academia season. I think it’s become a given for that. Well yeah as I said, I’ll say more in the year review post.

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