We are heaved back into the seething cauldron of uncertainty and panic, better known as high school, where the slightest misstep or errant statement can doom you to a life of abject despair. Well, that’s what it felt like for me when I attended! Anyway, this is a bit of the plotting and thought-work behind the latest student rom-com, “Gamers!” (“Gēmāzu!”). (more…)
It’s All “New” to Me
When the show “New Game!” came out, I had two big problems with it. The first was the overwhelming female cast in it (men were there, but certainly background at best) and the fact that for trying to put out a video game, there was a decided lack of pressure. The game would come out when it would come out. Not very realistic. With the second season of “New Game!! 2” (“Nyū Gēmu!! 2”) upon us, they have at least raised the stakes a bit. (more…)
Ne “Plus Ultra”
Latin is a funny language, in that it is used mostly in the scientific naming of things and in any column from George Will. There are useful phrases, but you may end up having to explain them, so it loses its punch. The phrase ‘ne plus ultra’ means ‘nothing greater beyond’, so you have reached your zenith. However, for the second season of this show, it is “My Hero Academia: Plus Ultra”.
Now, if you wish, you can take in Show 13.5, as it’s a recap, but it can be missed as well. With the survivors of the attack by the League of Villains still recovering, the school decides to hold its annual Sports Festival, where all the students trot out their quirks and battle one another. The first rounds are typical events: obstacle race and cavalry battle. Then, the Top 16 students face off against one another. It is here that we see those personalities take shape and how it might predict the kind of superhero they will become.
Once the tournament is over (and did you think I would tell you who the Big Winner was? Really?) Mr. Aizawa announces that everyone has to decide a hero name for themselves, and that since many of the students have gotten multiple offers from pro heroes groups, everyone will be doing a one-week internship at a hero agency. Izuku (Oh, Mr. Green in the middle) is still not sure which agency he should join when suddenly All Might shows up. He tells Izuku that his teacher has offered an internship, and Izuku accepts it.
Now, teachers have differing styles and approaches, so it ends up being a real workout for all of them, made worse by the arrival of Stain: The Hero Killer. This ending arc puts the show on its collision course with the League of Villains for the third season.
This show has gotten better, if you can accept that. We are now defining everyone and what they can do and how events will soon overtake them all. It’s just that the villains were really cartoony and Stain came off as not much different than Syndrome from “The Incredibles” and he had a terrifying quirk. Izuku still has a long way to go, but it’s going to work out. The one tip-off is that there are moments in his narration that he references these things and events as being in the past, so the whole series is a caliber of giant flashback for him. He might even be at the end of his hero life, and is passing on salient information to his apprentice. Only time will tell.
Binging with this series has always been at crossed purposes for me. I mean, there is certainly no reason as to why you can’t link it all together, but there is just such a lot going on and needs to be unpacked and has to be addressed that binging might work against it, but that’s a difficult decision. It’s just that I like this show quite a lot, so I am not all that anxious to get through it all at once, my main argument against binging. However, if you do find yourself at home and you don’t really care what’s happening with Wendy or Maury or Ellen, fire up the barbie, mate!
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (The villains can get too ridiculous)
Plot 8 (Getting better and better)
Pacing 8 (Moves along consistently and purposely)
Effectiveness 8 (Good use of flashbacks)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 9 (It can be done, but it’s a personal call)
Overall 8 (Let’s hope the set-up pays off)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I am here.
The Halls of “Academia”
The biggest problem with any show that deals in magic is that it is all going to be referred back to ‘Harry Potter’ and how they did it. It can put a damper on things, as you want to let all of these institutions and locales teach magic and all its complexities in their own manner. It’s just that “Little Witch Academia” started out practically like a Harry Potter rip-off.
Akko Kagari (her of the center) enrolls into Luna Nova Magical Academy, a school for young witches. But she has zero magical abilities. She can’t even ride a broom! On her way to school, she has to pass through a portal in a high tower (and not Platform 9¾, OK?), but can’t do it. She is befriended by two others who HAVE the power, Lotte Jansson (on our right), a Finnish witch who specializes in talking to fairies and Sucy Manbavaran (on our left), who hails from the Philippines and deals in poisons.
Well, they get in trouble right off the bat and end up on everyone’s radar as being troublemakers. However, Akko manages to obtain the Shiny Rod, a tool used by her hero, Chariot de Nord, and the reason she got into magic. The series details her adventures and misadventures as she tries to become a real witch, over the objections of practically everyone in the academy.
Yes, we have the Star of the Academy, the very pretty, incredibly smart, and totally obnoxious Diana Cavendish from Britain. I mean, she is the elite of the elite and she feels those like Akko are nothing more than a blob of marmalade on a napkin. Yes, Akko is able to do more, and in serious situations, than Diana does or can achieve. But how well does Diane accept this?
We also a key moment in the series. It is a 25-episode run, so when we get to Show #14, we have the switch-over to the new plot and the new foes and the new situations. It’s that it was rather naked in what it wanted to achieve and where it was going, but it did not detract from a rather compelling five-episode closing arc, where all the questions are answered and everything is revealed.
There is nothing overall wrong with the series, but one got tired of all of Akko’s misfires and Diana’s haughty preening and the exposed machination of Croix Meridies. I mean, even Harry learned how to do something, so he wasn’t that big of a bumble, but Akko takes forever to achieve anything of merit under Diane’s scornful eye. Yes, it is part and parcel that we see Akko flail and fail, but, still, there has to be some headway in all of this. But I still say you see it. Aside from the approach to wizardry presented, it does it in an appealing manner, and the rather cartoony artwork helps, rather than hinders (although Professor Ursula has got hips to spare!)
Now, as it stands, it could be over, but there is enough energy to continue on for another season. Time will tell. Oh my flaming gosharoonie, you have to, you must, you had better, binge, binge, binge. OK, we really see what an enormous clothead Akko is and it’s a wonder she can put on her hat and not suffocate herself in the process and that might get tiresome, but the rest of the cast holds up marvelously and if you are willing to overlook Akko’s liabilities for her enormous zeal and commitment to all of this, you will be rewarded. This will especially help with the concluding arc episodes, where it comes at you fast and furious (Hmmmm. That’s a good name for a movie franchise).
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Effective, despite the cartoony approach)
Plot 7 (Rather typical, even for magic)
Pacing 7 (A lot of ‘nick of time’ rescues)
Effectiveness 8 (Slowly comes around)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 10 (A perfect candidate for such an action)
Overall 8 (Springs far from common ground)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Never forget, a believing heart is your magic.