Nonon’s Otaku Theater: Winter Anime 2021 Review

1 month ago 50
A Lull in the Sea, Otherside Picnic, Yuru Camp Season 2, The Promised Neverland Season 2

I often say at the end of seasons that I’m glad they’re over, but this season has been a real trek. Have the really great shows outweighed the really terrible ones? Hard to tell. Maybe I just ended up getting the short straw this winter. Right from the start, I did want to check out the new season of The Promised Neverland, and I knew Yuru Camp was coming back too. I just didn’t bank on how these shows were going to turn out. Spring shows have already started, I know, but this is a look back to the Winter shows that have not only ended recently, but ended earlier in the month.

Yuru Camp Season 2 Episode 12 & 13

These final episodes has them all deep into their long camping trip along with their journey back into the real world, but it seems some of us had forgotten one big reason they all went in the first place: to celebrate Nadeshiko’s and Aoi’s joint birthdays.

Yuru Camp

Episode 12 makes me think back all the way back to the big camp trip of season one. In that, it only took up one episode pretty much, and so as this season’s big camp trip has ended up taking up a whole arc of around 3-4 episodes (with the ‘going home’ episode being episode 13), I knew straightaway that the girls (plus Sensei) were planning something on a larger scale. Yeah, one reason is to celebrate Nadeshiko’s and Aoi’s joint birthdays, but this trip was also to mark the end of the school year.

I think that episode 12 marks a significant point between Nadeshiko’s and Rin’s friendship. I mean think all the way back to when these two first met in the very first episode. Rin was a seasoned solo camper, and Nadeshiko was a big airhead klutz. Now we have seen how much both of them have changed since then, and here in this episode we notice that since then, they share a lot more things together. There’s also one flashback point at the beginning of this episode where Ayano (remember her?) suggests to Nadeshiko that she should try a new pastime to help her transition to moving to a different town. And we can see all too well that that has worked.

Yuru Camp
Yuru Camp

Episode 13, the final episode, sees them all head off home. We all know the ending, but the episode really showed us how the trip went for them all, what it really meant for them, and at the end, how eager they are to do it all over again. There’s one moment that stands out in the finale where Nadeshiko gets frantic with worry when she hasn’t heard from Rin (who decided to go home on her own on her moped). I guess things ended up going full circle; remember when both Rin and Sakura got frantic with worry when they thought Nadeshiko would run into trouble on her first solo camping trip.

I’m going to miss watching this show. It’s taken a while for this sequel season to come, but as we’ve watched it all, it’s like those three years (and it has been three years) were nothing and that’s something not a lot of shows are capable of pulling off well. Season 1 of this captivated all of us and became a landmark iyashikei show, and this second season just…picks up where it all left off.

Yuru Camp
Yuru Camp

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 11

I have not been alone in voicing my opinion of this second season of The Promised Neverland. At least we were already expecting EX-ARM to be terrible, and could laugh at it.

Unpopular opinion: EX-ARM turned out to be better than Promised Neverland s2. At least we already knew EX-ARM was going to be stupid (and could already poke fun at it), and not disappointing to the highest level (and get mad at the slideshow in the final ep).

— Nonon (@Nononkun) March 26, 2021

This final episode goes on from what the penultimate episode ended with; do we even remember what happened? Emma and Peter Ratri face off here, but with Peter having an existential breakdown, Emma offers him the chance to remake the human world. Saying any more would spoil the anime-only folk, but I would think the readers of The Promised Neverland manga already know. Precisely because I haven’t read the manga, I can’t really distinguish what was meant to be adapted from the manga, and what was made specifically for the show.

The Promised Neverland

I don’t think I’ve ever said this openly about any show, but for this final episode of The Promised Neverland, I could barely bring myself to watch it a second time just to write this review. I’ve hated a lot of shows, and perhaps this might be me getting unnecessarily upset here, but I don’t know what else to say. There’s no way I can big up the episode, as while you watch it, you really get the impression that the staff just gave up. Once again, there are no credited writers, and Kaiu Shirai has been removed from the credits.

The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland

A good portion of the episode is a series of still shots, and we are treated with some kind of bizarre slideshow at the very end; watch and you’ll see what I mean. Now studios often do this when they are behind on animation work, and have to pad out the time with some still shots or flashback moments just to keep the story going. But to have this at the last episode is very strange, and perhaps shows us that they wanted this season to end just as much as we did…maybe more. Continuing with this slideshow, a heck of a lot of plot from the original manga were squeezed into all of these slides, most of which making little sense. A shame, because these were all things that could have been good to see in a third season too. As they reach the gate to the human world, we could have had an open ending, with the gang-of-three moving on to help anyone else stuck in the demon world and ready for a possible third season, and yet they felt it all had to end here and now? Your guess is as good as mine on why…

You know, looking back at this season, I should have picked EX-ARM after all. Maybe I would have gotten frustrated at how bad it was, but I can be a real sucker for intentionally bad shows, and I could of at least poked a lot of fun at it. Because we were expecting so much from The Promised Neverland‘s second season (and wanted it to be on par with season 1), that was a good portion of why it turned out to be the way it did. Then again saying that, I have long been discouraged by the OASG overlords not to deliberately pick away at terrible shows without mercy, which I understand. The Mahouka spinoff show featuring the crazy and incestuous younger sister is coming in the Summer and I just know that they won’t let me cover it, because they know I’d rip it to shreds…and I would. And so I’ll talk down both EX-ARM and that Mahouka spinoff in my own time.

A Lull In The Sea Episode 12 & 13

These last episodes of the first cour are very much focused on how important and how big of a deal this hibernation really is to the sea people. And both of these episodes really hit it both to our gang-of-four, and us as the viewer.

A Lull In The Sea

The older villagers have already accepted that it is just a part of life for them, but because our 4 kids have developed such a connection with the surface, this idea of hibernation has hit them really hard. One thing that the sea villagers have made a point of constantly is that they have no idea when they will wake up, or if they will all even wake up at the same time. For some of them, it could be weeks or months, but for others, it could be years…or even longer. There was one small and notable scene in episode 12 when Manaka arrives home to see her mother asleep in the kitchen, prompting her to freak out and panic, thinking her mother went into hibernation early & meaning she wouldn’t see her again for who knows how long. For our gang-of-four, the thought of separating because of hibernation scares the heck out of them. This could be one reason why Kaname made the decision to confess to Chisaki a while back – because he didn’t know how long he’d be in hibernation. It has prompted the others to announce how they really feel about each other too, even with the possibility of ruining pre-existing friendships.

In episode 13 P.A Works just doubles down on the feels.

This is the episode where The Sending ceremony takes place, and where Akari offers herself up for the Sea God. All while the residents of Shioshishio are gradually going into hibernation, the gang-of-four have only a matter of hours before they have to return to the sea to join their villagers. At this point Kaname has accepted the fact that Chisaki has feelings for someone else, but still wanted it off his chest. Hikari stands by what he said in episode 12 in how he feels about Manaka. When we all thought everything was going to be fine and dandy…

A Lull In The Sea

The Sea God responds to what the surface people have done to put this Sending ceremony together. Whipping up a series of powerful whirlpools, they bring Akari deep into the ocean, prompting both Hikari and Manaka to dive after her. Knowing that Akari has so many people who care for her and look up to her now, she decides to take Akari’s place as the ‘sacrifice’. Not just them; Tsumugu gets caught up in it all too, prompting both Chisaki and Kaname to rescue him – he can’t breathe underwater, after all. But once safe onboard a boat, Kaname slips and gets caught in the storm himself. And then? The entire village goes into hibernation and becomes enveloped in a mysterious barrier. The only sea people who escape all of this are Akari and Chisaki.

A Lull In The Sea

We assume that Hikari and Kaname joined the rest of the sea village in going into hibernation, but as for Manaka? If she chose to take Akari’s place and be the ‘sacrifice’, what really happened to her? This mystery has gotten me hooked, and I really really want to know. We’ll find out in the second cour of course, but by this time, everyone on the surface will have gotten older, Akari and Chisaki included. That promise of them all staying together has been shot to hell now; the next time Hikari and Kaname will see Chisaki, she will have grown up.

This was a really amazing way to end this cour, amidst all the Melodrama™ that has happened so far. I initially wasn’t too sure on how this hibernation would really affect everyone (both the sea people and the surface), but I can see now that it was a bigger deal than I thought. I may have been complaining about the overflowing Melodrama™ that A Lull In The Sea has, but I still really glad you guys picked this show for me to watch, as it’s turned into a real treat…and I’m only halfway through.

Season Review

We can all agree that Yuru Camp lived up to all of our expectations, unlike one other sequel season. Season 1 was such a runaway success that we had some worries that a second season wouldn’t bring the charm back. But it was able to do just that, almost like the show had never gone away at all, even though season one is 3 years old (yeah, can you believe that?).

Yuru Camp

C-Station could give us a third season even, and I don’t think we’d have any worries that it wouldn’t be as good. We’re all still struggling with dealing with this pandemic, even with vaccination programs now in place, and so a cozy and comforting show like this is just the thing we needed right now – to separate us from bad vibes and give us happy thoughts again.

Yuru Camp

This will still be my favorite shot from the season, though…Nadeshiko longing for local grilled meat on her solo camping trip.

On to Otherside Picnic, which ended last week. I was very pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. At the start of the season, I was thinking that Yuru Camp and The Promised Neverland would take up my attention almost entirely, but I ended up really growing to enjoy Sorawo and Toriko’s antics in the Otherside as ‘partners-in-crime’. True, the show still had some things that needed ironing out; the final episode could have been much better and more action-packed, and there were times when could have seen things from Toriko’s perspective (instead of always seeing it all from Sorawo’s).

While some viewers may have gotten distracted and put off by all of the Japanese folklore/urban legends told in the show, I wasn’t fazed by it at all. In fact, I found it rather interesting to listen to. Unlike the spoken lore and annoying exposition that featured in The Promised Neverland, all of these explanations by Sorawo didn’t dominate the show. And speaking of Sorawo, she ended up becoming someone we could all love to watch; her metamorphosis into a positive and upbeat Otherside adventurer was good to watch, and all the secondary characters had their own charm as well. Otherside Picnic turned out to be a good choice for me, and while it won’t be a show I’ll return to, I’m still glad I watched it.

Otherside Picnic

Okay, so the things I can say about season two of The Promised Neverland would probably fill up an entire post, so I won’t do that. Instead what I’ll say is that the show ended up being a massive disappointment. We were all expecting to see a great adaptation of the manga; a continuation of what happened to the children once they left Gracefield Manor and how they managed to survive in a world that was totally alien to them. Instead we were given an uneven storyline, a heck of a lot of dull exposition (‘tell and not show’), and anime-only plot points that just did not gel with the rest of the adapted story.

The studio writers took a huge gamble in creating anime-only segments of a story that is already well received. Whether they wanted to try something new or whether they wanted to bring a lot more lore into The Promised Neverland story is something we may not truly know, but what we know for certain was that this huge gamble didn’t work at all, and I fear that staff associated with this season may not want to openly say that they were a part of it. A reason why writers mysteriously disappeared, perhaps? I’m speculating there, but it’s still within the realm of possibility. Perhaps we should see this sequel season as a pariah show, to show us how straying away from original sources and creating anime-only scenarios can potentially end in catastrophic failure.

The Promised Neverland

An up-and-down season for me, then. The three shows I picked for the Spring season are all ones that look amazing. I haven’t gone down the road of picking sequels, so maybe that’ll work for me better. I’ll be wrapping up Yuru Camp season 2 in the first Spring post, and I’ll be seeing what really happens to the residents of Shioshishio in A Lull In The Sea as well. A shame that EX-ARM is ending though (no seriously, I will miss it…), but I will find a way to watch Tropical-Rouge! Precure somehow (it’s currently not licensed here in the UK). Also, I’ll be doing a little something on Wonder Egg Priority on my own blog at some point in time.

But what did you think of this Winter season? Did you find The Promised Neverland disappointing as well? Were there any other shows you enjoyed this season? Did you find EX-ARM fun to laugh at too? Feel free to hit that like button, and air your opinions in the comments below! And see you in the Spring!

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