Given how it works within the romcom genre of anime, 3D Kanojo is an odd show to begin with. It eschews a number of tropes that make so many of the romantic plotlines in those series feel contrived and samey through how it approaches the awkwardness and insecurities of new romance, and in turn makes its characters feel surprisingly relatable. As we reach the midpoint of the season, however, things seem to have gotten a bit muddied in terms of some of the show’s strong track record out of the gate. While episodes 5 + 6 do have their fair share of heartfelt moments that get to the core of what makes this show so good (in my view), it definitely suffers in terms of a few pretty important story plotlines and character-building moments.
3D Kanojo got off to a fascinating start in the first two episodes, giving us some perspective and a view into our awkward, complicated romantic leads Tsutsui and Igarashi. It was a pretty solid foundation, in my opinion, to base the rest of the show off of, and episodes 3 and 4 have both proved to have not dropped the bar of quality that has been set for the show thus far. While the first two episodes acted as a primer of sorts, episodes three and four focus quite heavily on the ways in which insecurities can develop on all sides of a new, burgeoning romance, how they can complicate issues between partners, and ultimately how people can respond to those issues in healthy, trusting ways.
3D Kanojo, on the surface, isn’t exactly a show we haven’t seen before. At first glance, it appears to follow the archetypical show/book/etc. formula of “nerdy boy finds love through beautiful girl”, a trope which, obviously, is fairly problematic. But there is far more to this show going on below the surface. From these first two episodes, we find that, in fact, it has so far come to us as a show about harmful misconceptions, and how looking beyond them can lead to genuine, satisfying relationships. While there’s a lot that we could focus on for a discussion of this show, I want us to look specifically at our main characters, Hikari Tsutsui and Iroha Igarashi, and the fascinating, complex spaces that they inhabit.
If there’s nothing else that should be taken from this article, the tl;dr of all of this is:
Just because I know the destination and can name all the stops along the way doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the ride, especially when the train is this freaking jazzed up.
Megalo Box is a reimagining Ashita no Joe, taking its classic story of the underdog boxer and setting it in a near future version of Japan where the rich live in a beautiful utopia while the poor exist in sprawling slums outside the city and aren’t even considered citizens. Junk Dog, our Joe of this series, makes a living convincingly losing matches to payback his coach’s debts to a crime lord. We see him battered and bruised, sick of this life but stuck without a way to make things better, especially given that as part of the poor class, he’s unable to get a citizen’s license, meaning he’s not even considered a citizen of this world. He spends his days recklessly driving until he accidentally almost runs over the head of a large corporation who is in charge of a new league of boxing sport called Megalonia. Junk Dog, due to his love of old fashioned Megalo Boxing, hates the ideas behind Megalonia and tells off this business woman, causing her prized boxer and devotee, Yuuri, to almost fight him before he is called off. Because Yuuri is still upset about this, he later gets a match with Junk Dog in the illegal boxing ring Dog calls home and defeats him brutally. Junk Dog wants a rematch immediately but Yuuri says he will only fight him again if he can fight him in his own Megalonia ring. This kickstarts the journey of Junk Dog to get into Megalonia and get his revenge on Yuuri.
Violet Evergarden’s final episode is an episode largely of catharsis, and it is one that I, and many others, have wrestled with. In many ways, it brings us to the logical conclusion of the show, or rather to the stopping point for this portion of Violet’s story that we receive. In truth, I have watched this episode numerous times over, mulling its events over in my head, and it has been a process of numerous revisions to how I have come to finally view this last piece of Violet’s story (for now, anyway). Through this, I have found that my thoughts have changed significantly in more recent viewings. This final episode, depending on your reading of events, can be quite clear-cut on the surface, or somewhat more muddied as you dive deeper into it. It does give Violet a great sense of closure, a lifting of burdens, a renewed sense of self and purpose, and a renewed vigor to live her life. But that vigor for a life that she has fought tooth and nail for over the course of this season, again, depending on your reading, can manifest as either a genuine sense of moving on, or it can be somewhat tainted, if it is read as a vigor to live her life for Gilbert; no longer in pursuit of him, but to live life waiting for him, should he be alive. I want to talk about the two as we go forward here, because through my viewings of this final act, I have come to see both.
Violet Evergarden continues to surprise me on several different levels, pulling out some of the biggest emotional gut-punches that I’ve seen from a single anime in a while. While other anime of Winter 2018 such as A Place Further Than the Universe have also had some huge emotional moments, I think Violet Evergarden has one over every show of the season, especially with some of the previous episodes and how they’ve ended. The show is still far from perfect though, and while I still love the show dearly, it’s obvious where some of its problems lie within these two episodes.
While we as a community are still wrapping up from the absolute craziness of the Winter season and its amount of just amazing shows, the spring season just comes in like a lion right after in another feeble attempt to create after-season/pre-season chaos amidst all the shows that are being talked about at once. One of these new spring shows, which I’m sure you’ve seen countless pictures of at this point, is Umamusume: Pretty Derby, an anime about girls that are also horses, but also idols.