The Spring season cometh. Well…it actually started way back, but some shows start dates have meant I had to reorganize when Otaku Theater posts came out. Nothing new though; last season’s Otherside Picnic had a bit of an awkward release date compared to the other shows I was watching then. I’ve got the same here; one show I chose had an early debut compared to the others. At least we’ve managed to get some kind of order here, with this extended post.
I’ll be getting to the big hype show that I promised to watch later, but in the meantime let’s begin with the SHAFT one. And I have a lot to say about that one.
Pretty Boy Detective Club Episode 1
I looked on Reddit for opinions about this debut episode, and pretty much the first thing that crops up is how much it resembles Ouran High School Host Club. I never got around to watching that, so I can’t really respond to that or make any comparisons of my own. It also seems that everyone there has been bitten by the SHAFT x Nisioisin bug, as if every Nisioisin-adapted show is ‘practically perfect in every way‘. I might be the one overreacting here, but I’m going to go against the grain on my first impressions of Pretty Boy Detective Club. As a long-term SHAFT fan, I know full well that not every single SHAFT show is unquestionably outstanding.
The first episode starts with the three rules of the club: first is be pretty, second is be a boy, and third is be a detective. I don’t know why I found this so stupid, but it sort of sets the tone of the show straightaway: daft, ridiculous and comical. Later on, I could even add flashy to that. Too flashy, in fact.
Mayumi Dojima had dreams of being an astronaut after gazing at a pretty star, only for her parents to force her into taking school life seriously as she approaches high school (the show is set in middle school, by the way). The sweet-talking Manabu Sotouin confronts her and drags her along to his secretive detective club, which is actually in the art room. Along with Manabu the Aesthete, there’s Nagahiro the Orator, Michiru the Epicure, Hyota the Adonis, and Sosaku the Artiste. This case of finding her star will be something that will stretch into a few more episodes, so this debut is more of a taster of what is to come.
The thing is, the episode is so pretty to watch that I actually want to completely fill this week’s post with screencaps, and that’s its one problem. These first impressions of ‘style over substance’ have not impressed me one bit. This was something that a couple of episodes from the Monogatari series suffered from; some of the original stories weren’t that exciting or were too complicated to follow, and so the viewer’s attention ended up turning towards pretty aesthetics instead. It doesn’t help that I’m not really liking these five boys very much either. At first glance, they all come off as extremely narcissistic and arrogant, and so the only one I’m enjoying watching right now is Mayumi herself. You really get the impression that they are only agreeing to help her to make themselves look good; she even scolds them on their belief of everything going their way because of their pretty looks. I really love that Mayumi begins to call them out on this narcissism this week. Towards the end, Mayumi said the one thing I was thinking the whole time, and it’s what has made me drawn to her the most.
“I feel like you’re looking down on my problems, and honestly, I’m not very happy about that. It seems like you’re a bunch of eccentric, flashy, and privileged people, who are taking advantage of my problems…I don’t want to be helped by people who won’t take me seriously. I’m not your toy.“
I wanted to scream that out at the end of the episode, and I’m so glad that she beat me to it. Maybe these five boys will show that they are more than what they seem, but right now I’m not seeing any of that, and so they are going to have to do a lot to make me think they really are genuine, and not just pretty faces.
I praised Fall 2020’s Assault Lily: Bouquet for many things: it looked great, the character design was cool, the world-building made us curious, the soundtrack was great as well, but the one thing that let it down slightly was the script; something that couldn’t really be helped given it was more of a mixed media project than anything. Here in Pretty Boy Detective Club, we come in expecting all sorts of things – most of them the things we expect when we all watched the Monogatari series. I could coin the term ‘Nisiosin Syndrome’ here; people should not dive head first into this show thinking that, because Nisioisin wrote the manga and LNs, it’ll be ‘practically perfect in every way‘. This is a whole new story, with whole new characters. Whether the story and characters are thing you’ll enjoy watching is another matter, though.
Even when this show has a few episodes under its belt, will it still linger in the shadow of the Monogatari series? It’s far too early to predict that, but I really don’t like shows that go on ‘style over substance’, and as the weeks go by, I fear we might get that. It’s only been the first episode, and these pretty boys already annoy the heck out of me.
SSSS.Dynazenon Episodes 1 & 2
We’ve had quite a few Trigger pieces that have been pretty chaotic, but it’s equally as good when that chaos is put aside and we get to see something more…normal. Is normal even the right word to use here though?
The first episode of SSSS.Dynazenon introduces three of the main characters. Yomogi Asanaka is a well-meaning but directionless boy who just wants to disappear into humdrum society, Yume Minami is a silent girl who is mourning her dead sister, and has ended up retreating into her own bubble, even while her class gossips about her. And then there’s Gauma, the crazy homeless guy and self-confessed ‘kaiju user’ who arrives out of nowhere and is able to bring the Dynazenon mecha to life. We are introduced to the other main characters later on, but let’s start with episode 1.
We get to like both Yomogi and Yume immediately. Both of them clearly have a lot going on in life, and neither of them are really that open with their feelings. It’s still unknown as to what is really going on in Yomogi’s head, but we learn very quickly why Yume has retreated into a world of her own. While she mourns her sister, she doesn’t really know how exactly she should open up. Her parents constantly argue, so she makes the time instead by toying with schoolkids by asking them out and later rejecting them. So we become curious about them both, and want to know more about them.
Gauma, meanwhile, appears out of thin air, and gives off the impression of a crazed homeless guy. He latches onto Yomogi and makes out to be some kind of loyal protector to him, even when Yomogi wants him to go away. The end scene of episode 1 sees Gauma, Yomogi, Yume, and other main character Koyomi become a part of the Dynazenon mecha, just as a mechanical kaiju wrecks havoc on the city.
Right away, the show builds a story, but unlike its predecessor, we get a deeper look at the main characters. As well as that, we get a much better look at the city itself. Of course, everyone in the city is very nonchalant that both a mecha and a kaiju arrived out of nowhere, fought each other destroying buildings and city blocks in the process. I mean, you’d get your phone out to film it all as well, right?
Yomogi wants to live a more independent life, and appears the least willing to take part in all of this, putting his work shifts before their mecha training. Both Yume and Koyomi take part because they have nothing better to do, and the fifth main character Chise appears only to be playing along because she’s expecting her own Dynazenon part.
Just as its companion show drew me in, SSSS.Dynazenon has got me hooked in. And I can see the similarities with SSSS.Gridman straightaway. The frequent shots of empty spaces, the use of silence throughout the show to build mood, along with tiny other little things. These are all intentional of course, to build and expand on this Gridman Universe that Trigger are creating here. SSSS.Gridman gave us the story of a kaiju nerd bringing people she wanted to interact with in her own little world. It’s far too early to predict what will really happen in this show, but I’m really loving this mystery so far. It’s the exact same kind of mystery its companion show had.
To Your Eternity Episode 1
I went into To Your Eternity completely blind, but I still wanted to know why people were flocking to this adaptation. Not quite an ‘obligation’ like last season where I almost felt obligated to watch season 2 of The Promised Neverland (and regretting it). Well To Your Eternity goes on long into the Summer season, so it’ll have a good amount of time for its story to develop. As for what I think of it? Well all four of the shows I’m watching this season are totally different. While we have some shows that are more light-hearted and upbeat, To Your Eternity‘s debut takes a far more serious and somber tone.
We get to know the main character straightaway; an unnamed young boy roaming the Arctic wilderness. The story begins with a mysterious force taking the form of a rock, then a dying wolf. This wolf turns out to be a silent companion of the boy, who is surviving in the cold and is going on the hope of finding civilization. This boy maintains a positive and upbeat attitude, and so it’s very heartbreaking to see this hope gradually disappear when he realizes that there is nothing out there for him.
I might as well talk about the ending of this week’s episode, as this debut acted more like a prologue than anything else. The immortal being, who has taken the form of a wolf (and originally a rock), finds itself incredibly moved by the boy’s resolve, integrity and upbeat attitude whilst being stuck in the middle of nowhere. So as time passes, the wolf chooses to take the boy’s form, to roam the lands himself. I later found out that that immortal being does actually have a name of its own: Fushi. Of course this will be this boy’s new name.
It’s all extremely touching, and this was a truly outstanding debut. With the boy pretty much being the only voice in the episode (if you don’t count the immortal being’s narration), we understand how alone he is out there. We feel his pain and anguish when he realizes that there’s nothing out there but snow. And by the end of the episode, we’re left very curious on what will happen to him. The manga, of course, goes into far greater detail, and I’m actually glad that this won’t be a single cour show. We’ll be getting a lot more time for this story to get going, and if the rest of the show is anything like this debut, I know for a fact that we’re all in for a real treat. It’s only been the first episode, and I’m already predicting To Your Eternity to be on a lot of peoples’ top 5 of 2021.
A Lull In The Sea Episode 14
I’m not going to lie; I was looking forward to this fourteenth episode and dreading watching it at the same time. Having seen 13 episodes of Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, Kaname & Tsumugu being middle-school age, Akari being a young adult, and Sayu and Miuna being elementary school kids, I developed this ‘mindset’ when it came to these characters. The cliffhanger ending of episode 13 left a real mark on me and this sudden change feels really bizarre, but not in a bad way. Five years have now passed, and a lot has happened since. Chisaki has been forced to make a new life for herself on the surface, and is now a student nurse. Tsumugu is studying oceanography. Akari is now married to Itaru, a stepmother to Miuna, and had a son of her own. Sayu and Miuna are now in middle-school. As for the town? It has been in a perpetual winter after the events of the Sending five years ago. The ocean has completely frozen over too, meaning the residents of Shioshishio are still in hibernation.
A lot of reminiscing takes place in episode 14; we see Akari feel rotten because her brother won’t get to see his nephew, we see Chisaki worry inside about because she doesn’t know when the others will wake, and scared that she’ll be an outcast on the surface, and also Miuna discovers in this episode that Hikari had feelings for Manaka. Of course due to the events of episode 13, no-one knows what really happened to her. Did she survive? Did she just go into hibernation like the others, or is it something else entirely? The town meanwhile prepares for the Tomoebi; an event where the reflection of the sea makes out there are three suns in the sky. Due to the sea being frozen over though, it’ll be three moons instead. But just as the event happens, Hikari reappears on the surface, having not aged a day.
It really does feel weird, but I think P.A Works did this transition of cours extremely well. It’s made us want to know what happened to the sea villagers, and what actually happened to Hikari, Manaka and Kaname in that hibernation? It’s made us want to know how the people who made it out of all the chaos of episode 13, and have all gotten older. And it’s made us want to know what will happen in the future when all of these people find out the truth behind the perpetual winter and frozen sea. A Lull In The Sea will remain being a highly melodramatic show, but because of all of these new circumstances, I think we’ll be getting that Melodrama™ at a whole new level.
Am I overreacting when it comes to how I feel about Pretty Boy Detective Club right now? Maybe I’m alone in thinking it, but there’s just something about the show that I know will make me really tick throughout the entire season. But with To Your Eternity continuing into the Summer season, it’s worth noting that my Summer season shows have already been picked. Saves me from worrying frantically what to watch, huh?
Sorry this week’s post was really long; 2-episode coverage of SSSS.Dynazenon, sobbing over To Your Eternity’s debut, and me criticizing the debut of Pretty Boy Detective Club did that. Future posts will be normal length, I swear. Since the new season of My Hero Academia will pretty much dominate the whole of Spring, is there anything else you’re watching? And with all the isekai shows that regularly churn out each season, are you getting sick of them too and are trying to find something else? Feel free to hit that like button and air your opinions in the comments below!