In looking back on episodes seven and eight of Just Because!, it genuinely feels as though those episodes were in a way a fairly bubbly (by comparison) reprieve from some of the existential and romantic angst that has come from the show in previous aspects. The focus on Eita’s dedication to Natsume, the admittedly fun date that Komiya dragged Eita into, and Souma’s optimism over his possible future prospects with Morikawa all really gave the last two episodes an easy sense of genuinely not having to worry too entirely much about what the future holds. It is, of course, a naive sort of reprieve, one which comes with some of the youthful and childish kind of optimism that is so easy for us to hold on to. I guess it’s only appropriate, then, that with the episodes nine and ten, “Answers” and “Childhood’s End”, we are brought fully back into the show’s dealings with difficult questions, and some genuinely painful, adult answers.
Hey all. General Tofu here, and I’m back from the dead! For our December monthly round-up, we decided to do things a bit differently. 2017 has been a bit of a dumpster fire in some respects, and we really wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some of the great things that came out of this year, including both shows we enjoyed, as well as posts we wrote and are pretty proud of. For brevity’s sake, we each have selected three shows each that aired this year (and one that didn’t) that we highly recommend, as well as three posts from our blog this year that we want to signal boost a bit, so help us ring in the new year with some good anime recommendations and some sweet Aniblogger content!
When I talked about some of the previous episodes of Just Because! serving as the climax for a first act of the show, I feel as though I inadvertently hit the nail on the head with regards to the shifts that episodes seven and eight set in place for what might be the last (or at least most central) major arc for the rest of the show’s season. There’s always been a focus on Eita in the show (and rightly so, considering he is set as the central character of the series from the outset), but for about the first half of the season, I felt as though Eita was mainly just playing a support role, and didn’t seem to have quite as active a role in the major plotlines. We knew, for instance, that Eita was quietly doing his best to pursue Natsume and support her, but we didn’t see anything quite as in-your-face as some of the antics surrounding Souma. The central focuses for the first six or so episodes largely gravitated towards Souma and the sort of love-parallelogram that encompassed him, Natsume, and Morikawa. Now that these threads have been resolved at least to a point, it feels like the stage has been set for us to see Eita’s own tangled web of infatuation sprawl out before us.
And boy, does it ever.
As Just Because! has continued its chug through to the midway point of the season, I had honestly expected it to stumble in some way that would break the spell that the first two episodes cast over me initially. Thankfully, this has not been the case, as it has actually kept a steady pace with regards to its plot pacing and genuinely interesting character interactions. I’m definitely still deeply enjoying the show’s depiction of the existential trepidation that comes with, essentially, every aspect of high school life, and feeling for the characters as they wrestle with issues that, frankly, many of us struggle with today. Episode four, as Mythos said, brought the relationships between Eita and Natsume, as well as Souma and Morikawa, to a very early sense of heavy drama for the show – the climax of the first act, if you will. Coming right on the heels of that, episodes five and six have a lot of weight on their shoulders – the climax is important, flashy, and heavy, but the resolution of the events that transpired is just as important, if not more so.
It seems appropriate to cap off this set of 12 Days of Anime posts with Anime-gataris, as I think it’s something that both readers and other content creators can appreciate to end the year on a more uplifting note than perhaps some of us may have experienced over the last several months. Anime-gataris itself may not seem to have a lot going for it at first, as many of its jokes start off as being solely referential or just about wacky club dynamics that you can get from plenty of other anime as well.
At first, there may not seem to be enough appeal for a sort of show that runs on those concepts alone though, and perhaps if the show had just left it at that, it would have never really become something that would have been worth talking about in of itself.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a show that basically has the synopsis of “girls join a tank club and fight with tanks”, especially since I heard some rather good remarks concerning the recent film that the series had gotten, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the series as a whole. While I still don’t think that it’s the best of its kind and other anime, such as High School Fleet have expanded on this sort of “genre” (if you want to call it that) in a much better way, it’s always good to see the roots from what those newer, better shows were built off of, something I addressed in my previous 12 Days of Anime article.
Now, I’m going to start this off with saying that I realize that this may not feel like it meets the definition for “anime” for some, but personally I feel that Doki Doki Literature Club is close enough and unique in its own way to at least consider it a part of the “anime-esque” media, considering it greatly pulls from the convention of Japanese visual novels. Oddly enough, I could probably be writing this about the actual Japanese visual novel Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi (Totono) and make the same sort of comparison, but without any translation for it (something which I hope happens at some point), this is what I have to work with.
Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC) is questionably innovative in what it does for this reason, but that doesn’t make it any less gratifying to see it play out in of its own. There’s something to be said about how we perceive media, and I think DDLC makes an excellent observation about that which can change how we view certain works in the future, while also giving us appreciation for the past works that led up to the creation of a better one. It becomes a sort of love letter to the creators and players of these sorts of games, which I think is pretty neat in its own regard.