Just Because! Episodes 1 + 2 – Shaking Things Up

Just Because! is, in many ways, a pretty large departure from the shows that we as the Backloggers have covered in the last three seasons. While we try to decide on the show we’ll be covering episodically for any given season, we work to whittle down our choices to what seems interesting, what we feel would be neat for our readers to check out for the season, and honestly just what seems like would be an enjoyable watch. It’s kind of funny to me that over the last few seasons, we’ve ultimately gravitated towards shows that are essentially fantasy light novel-esque shows with a penchant for action and the dramatic. While there’s definitely nothing wrong with that, and we’ve genuinely enjoyed Youjo Senki, SukaSuka, and Princess Principal, as we were mulling over writing about, say, Kino no Tabi or Juuni Taisen, we kind of came to a collective realization of “oh god, we can’t do a show like this for a fourth consecutive season”. With this idea being part of the inspiration for our choice this season, we’ve happily decided to shake up our usual formula a bit. Why?

Well…Just Because!

Yes, I’m sorry, I know that joke has been beat so far into the ground that it should be right around the earth’s core right about now, but in a lot of ways, the choice really did come as conscious choice to just do it because we could (and because we haven’t covered a show quite outside of our unintentional genre bubble yet), especially after the first two very strong episodes that this show presented us with out of the gate.

Continue reading

Princess Principal Episode 12 — Course Correction

Something I’ve always respected about Princess Principal is how unabashedly it likes to just do its thing time and again. From its first episode, it tossed us into its high-flying world of steampunk technology, deception, and espionage and essentially told us nothing except to buckle up. It asked us to trust it with its narrative, its characters, and its fascinating world, and to just let it take us where it was going, wherever that may be. If the final three episodes are any indication, this show did indeed go places, and it escorted us through them in a masterclass style.

Following on the heels of the last two episodes, Princess Principal 12 picks up right where 11 left off, and it’s only fitting for the rollercoaster ride that this finale has been shaping up to be. The show decides to ask us again to simply sit back and take in the sights one last time, and it truly is worth it to do so. The major happenings of episode 12 aren’t necessarily surprising, per se, but they are cathartic, and they work to bring an all-around satisfying conclusion to Princess Principal.

Continue reading

Isekai Shokudo, Shokugeki no Soma, and Rispara: A Three-Course Meal of Food, Character, and Narrative

In my youth, food was always hugely important to my friends and family. Food wasn’t just something you brought to a family reunion or put on the dinner table. It was a way that you connected with one another – a cornerstone of life, physically and socially. Even though I don’t dabble to an intense degree in the cooking arts, it’s because of these early experiences that I’ve always held a vested interest in food and how it connects things and people, and that carried over into my taste in anime. Food holds a solid place in a lot of anime these days (just ask any schoolgirl that’s running late on her first day), but shows that revolve specifically around food aren’t exactly common. That being said, some of the few shows that do focus on food hold a special place in my heart for the fascinating ways that they present food, and for how they give food a central role in their narratives. Here, I’m going to look at just three food-centric shows – Isekai Shokudou, Shokugeki no Soma, and Ristorante Paradiso – and dive into the vastly different ways in which they use food for narrative purposes.

Continue reading

Princess Principal Episode 9 – Trans-Cultural Connection

As previous history with Princess Principal has indicated thus far, the show has kept consistent with its character explorations with each passing episode, especially if we consider the bombshell that episode eight was. Episode nine chooses to focus once again on the combat expert and resident Nihonjin of the spies, Chise. We already had a pretty solid episode of development dedicated to her earlier in the season, wherein which she faced off with and slayed her father-turned-traitor, and we saw a distinctly human side of her by the end of it. That episode focused somewhat on integrating her into the team, and in many ways, this episode is largely the same, thematically. However, we learn far more about Chise in relation to her Japanese pride and heritage, and how that comes into play with her work as a spy. In a way, though, this episode serves as a deep dive into the character of Princess, as well, using the events of last week as a frame of reference.

Continue reading

Princess Principal Episode 6 – Somber Shifts

God, what a bummer of an episode.

This episode of Princess Principal, Case 18 – Rouge Morgue, is by all regards a fantastic episode, but is by far the heaviest that we have seen thus far. It follows in the footsteps of episodes 3 and 5, in which we got to know Beatrice and Chise through their own focused episodes, respectively, and this time, our sights are set on Dorothy. Unlike the other character-centric episodes so far, however, this one has little high-octane action, if any, and instead hones in on story. What also sets this episode apart, however, is how decidedly somber it is, and how tonally different it seems to be from the previous episodes. Personally, however, I believe that this brief departure from the show’s established norm makes for a solid, deeply interesting episode, dealing with love, betrayal, and ultimately, death.

Continue reading

Princess Principal Episode 3 — Ties that Bind

In a development that I have found not at all surprising, Princess Principal episode three serves as yet another thrilling romp through steampunk London with our spy ladies, and it most certainly does not disappoint in any aspect that the previous episodes have lead me to expect. Its quality has remained one of the most consistent among this season’s offerings, and it certainly does not leave me at the end of the episode feeling lacking. Rather, episode three follows a pattern episodes one and two have set in place for us, and it goes to town. Or the sky, rather.

Continue reading

Country Roads, Take Me Home – Sakura Quest and Making Home Where You Are

As the Spring 2017 season comes to a close, Sakura Quest continues through into the Summer season, I could not be more pleased with any other shows this season getting this chance. As the spiritual successor to P.A. Works’ prior working shows Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako, it feels pretty strongly as though it is living up to that legacy, with a stunning cast of characters and the endearing town of Manoyama. While I love the journey that the show has taken us on thus far, something that has really struck me about the show is its treatment of employment in urban and rural spheres, and how an unstable job market and idealized perceptions of the city and the country affect these employment opportunities. Yoshino’s perspective initially is quite simple: she was, by all accounts, born and raised in a rural town, and as soon as she could, she shot off to Tokyo, the land of big dreams, in search of that certain something that rural towns just couldn’t quite do. Even at the risk of not having a job, Yoshino is of the mind that she will never go back to her hometown, even if she were to have a stable, guaranteed job there. The country just doesn’t have the same spark as the city, or there aren’t the kind of job opportunities that someone like Yoshino in her generation would want to take on for a career. In many ways, these ideas that Yoshino has, as well as being a student fresh out of college that can’t seem to find a job for the life of her, speak to me as a reflection of a several-years-younger General Tofu.

Continue reading