Weekly Trash Update! – 01
Day: So, I’m pretty proud to announce a new feature for this season for both Caraniel’s Ramblings and GAR GAR Stegosaurus – the Weekly Trash Update! In it, we’ll be covering the trashy shows that both of us are watching this season. Right now, we’ll both be covering K: Return of Kings, High School Star Musical, and Dance with Devils. I’ll additionally be covering Valkyrie Drive -Mermaid-, although I’ve got nothing for this week since episode two hasn’t aired yet and I already wrote a fair bit about its première episode.
Cara: Yes, really excited about this new project! We’ll be switching the hosting each week, so make sure to check both blogs each week for the new update. I’m also going to be covering Seraph of the End S2 (well if it proves to be as entertaining as S1 was anyway), and other shows may pop up from week to week (since we all know I watch everything!). So without further ado, lets get into some quality anime!
Cara: There has been a dramatic upswing in weird fanservice in K this season – I really don’t think there was quite as much focus on tits & ass in S1! It’s like they’re trying to overcompensate for the fact that 95% of the cast is male and are trying to milk the few females for all the boob & ass mileage they can get! Strangely I can’t really get too mad at K for this though, because it is hardly a bastion of high-brow entertainment to start with.
Anyway, the second and third episodes mostly dealt with further introducing the structure of the new Green Clan (Jungle), establishing further links between the Sliver clansmen and the Red & Blue clans and finally getting Shiro back into the picture right at the end of ep3. Jungle is currently reminding me heavily of the Dollars gang in Durarara!! in its structure. In that there are lots of low level people involved in a social media app and only a few high ranking ‘named’ members of any real note. Suitably for K the high ranking members of the Green clan are easy to remember as straitjacket-wheelchair King, stay-at-home dad/priest dude, effeminate sword fella, annoying parrot and scythe gamer shota. They’re a fun bunch to watch interact and I am so glad I don’t have to remember names yet!
Over with our more familiar characters, I really like how Neko & Kuroh interacted with the Red and Blue clans – you can easily see how both would fit in with either clan. Neko would be perfectly at home with the loose, family feel of the current Homra – she has the right level of chaotic energy to her. Kuroh would be a perfect fit with the orderly structure of Sceptre Four (although he does seem a bit uncomfortable with Munakata’s intensity……but nearly everyone is), he already uses a sword as a primary weapon after all. However both turned down the sanctuary offered by the two Kings in favour of returning to the comfort of their own room on the school island – the place they and Shiro first called home. It’s super cute really how the trio are such a family even with Shiro absent – it’s one of the things I enjoy most about K.
But yeah, more twirly cameras, FILTERS and fish eye lens – it’s K as usual and I’m having a great time watching it.
Day: It was a relief when the second episode cut back on the spinning camera approach, so I was dismayed when it opened with that nauseating fish-eye perspective in the third episode. Viewers of K must truly have strong stomachs or we’d be barfing whenever we watched it…
Episode two was alright, but I really do want more to talk about episode three since it spent a decent amount of time with the chaotic Green clan. The Reds and Blues are, honestly, kind of boring, partly since they’re executed in a pretty standard manner – the Blues are into the whole calm, cool, and collected thing, while the Reds are fireheads? Whoooa! Radical! And when you drill down past the group behavior, it doesn’t get much better. Even their homebases reflect an uncreative approach, as, yep, the Blues have fancy and very neatly organized place but the Reds have a dimly-lit bar with lots of tchotchkes on the walls. (The Silvers are definitely archetypes themselves, too, but the franchise put a lot of effort into developing them enough that we *do* care about them and their fate… on their own, Kuroh, Neko, and Shiro aren’t really interesting, but their relationships with each other are compelling. I love the way they formed a family together.)
The Greens aren’t totally cutting edge BUT since their whole thing is chaos, they bring some much-needed fresh air to the show. I really enjoyed the time spent with them in their low-end apartment homebase. Also, one of them is a priest who drinks beer, gets ticked off when people don’t get him the laundry detergent that has fabric softener in it, and vacuums. Hm, what was up with that vacuum, though? That was a pretty high-end vacuum for such a tiny apartment… Anyway, I’ll admit to having always liked the non particularly-good-at-pious-goodness religious figure character, so, yeah, he’s got my vote.
Cara: I think this was my favourite episode of the week – it had an excellent mix of ridiculous cheese and actual character moments; Starmyu continues to be surprisingly good! It is hardly breaking new ground as school idol shows and multi-coloured bishie fluff shows aren’t exactly rare, but Starmyu is really sincere feeling and just good natured fun. There’s nothing jaded or rote going on, we’re treading familiar ground, but having a lot of fun with things at the same time – I’m loving it a lot!
So this week we had our Star Group have their first real meeting and Hoshitani’s hopeless newbie-ness comes across in full force in his cringe-worthy overacting. But fair play to the fella for being fully committed to going all out right from the start in the face of some very condescending group members. Speaking of which, my favourite character is Angry Redhead who thinks everyone else is boorish trash – he’s a complete dick and great fun to watch (he and Bitchy Blue are a great pairing). I also enjoy Mute Purple since he decided to be helpful in the most roundabout way (with the least amount of communication too) – kind of admire his dedication to talking as little as humanly possible. But yes, this little improv acting session was a fantastic way to show off the character’s quirks in an entertaining way….and that’s before we get into Otori’s flowery intro routine and Nayuki’s friendship song featuring magical flying dolphins! I really hope that all the insert songs are as ridiculous and OTT – they’re just gold.
Really the primary reason why I’m loving Starmyu is the effort that is put into making its musical component as cheesy as humanly possible. I love the randomness of the character song insert PV thing we’ve got going on here – I think I nearly choked laughing at Nayuki’s song, the accompanying visuals were just inspired! What says we’re great friends already better than flying dolphins? Bring on all the flowers, sparkles, stupid costumes and cliché dance routines – I am totally on board with whatever Starmyu is selling right now!
Cara’s current Starmyu character ranking: Angry Redhead > Otori > Mute Purple > Snooty Megane Senpai > Nayuki > Bitchy Blue > Hoshitani
Day: This episode featured a high school boy riding on a dolphin while dressed up like a Star Driver refugee as he sang about friendship. This ranks up there with other great moments for dolphins in anime like the Newtype dolphin episode in After War Gundam X. Beautiful.
So, watching this episode, I kept getting that nagging feeling like I was watching Gakuen Heaven but with the overt BL removed. This isn’t an entirely fair comparison, since Gakuen Heaven was a pretty terrible show that had some funny moments (the school is named BL Academy!), while Starmu is a delightfully cheesy show. Buut I did keep thinking of Gakuen Heaven while watching, something not helped by how similar the leads of both shows are – although, their similar traits are also similar to many, many other hapless leads in shows and manga about “average” teens going to ~amazing~ and ~sparkling~ schools (see also: Strawberry Panic, Mikagura School Suite) or about hapless leads trying to do the whole entertainment industry deal (Love Live, Voice Over! Seiyuu Academy, some of the La Cordo d’Oro series, Aikatsu). Anyway, at least for the most part it was a matter of thinking that while Starmu could do with some YAOI, it’s a much better show.
Speaking of BL, ah, the shipping opportunities – the first episode definitely set the stage well, and this episode advances the cause. What to ship?! Otori and Hiiragi is a pretty obvious one given their somewhat contentious relationship; Hiiragi is so clearly ruffled by Otori’s approach while Otori doesn’t care and does things as he prefers. But then there’s Hoshitani and Otori, and who can resist the boy yearning to shine like the one he admires? Then there’s my weak-spot for the romance option with the close friend, which Nayuki would fulfill with Hoshitani. Bitchy bluenette and rednette are clearly a match made in heaven… well, no, hell, really. I feel I’ve barely even scratched the surface!
(I just realized, by the way, that this is a Love Live situation – there’s not a single female character at all! We’ve never even seen them as background characters.)
Onto more… substantial? serious? matters – I really liked the second half of the episode, in part because while the show got busy with having the boys try to go from acting from a script to improv on the fly, it crossed over from “excellent cheese” to “pretty decent character conflict”. It wasn’t quite stand-out type material, but it sure was of a higher grade than anything surrounding it. We already had a rough idea of the shortcomings of the various characters, but this filled out the picture a bit more. You know, if rednette and bluenette hadn’t been so committed to being catty as hell, they could’ve just eased onto a more comedic route with their scene given Hoshitani’s over-acting, but Kuuga handled it quite well.
Oh, and, yeah, this is still Revolutionary Girl Utena. Did you see Otori with the sword in his musical bit? HELLO, AKIO???
Cara: Dance with Devils is a bit of an odd duck. It does seem to want to tell a straight story with a decent female protagonist, but it also wants to have weird musical numbers to sell its supplementary material. The strange thing is that this combination does work – I’m definitely much more interested in Dance with Devils than I ever thought I’d be given how lacklustre this brand of show generally is. I can totally buy that our demon school president will break out into song while casually dispatching lesser demonic lackeys – somehow I’ve just accepted that this is just that kind of show. Which is pretty great considering this is only the 2nd episode……or maybe I’ve got better at just going with the flow for these popcorn shows. Well whatever, I’m definitely pleased with Dance with Devils so far.
Saying that though, the animation did take a nosedive this week – things definitely lacked the polish that the first episode had. It isn’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but there is noticeably less detailed animation going on with more stills & panning used. On the upside we did get our first glimpse of the brother character, who seems primed to be a member of Ritsuka’s harem (going to guess that they’re not immediate blood relations, oni-san looks much more like the dead aunt than Ritsuka’s mother). Also the ED makes an appearance with some brilliant tarot/gothic/circus imagery that reminded me heavily of Kuroshitsuji.
So yeah, Dance with Devils is definitely one of the better reverse harem otoge style shows to come out recently, looking forward to more random musical moments in future episodes!
Day: To be honest, while Dance with Devils has some moments where it gets a bit trashy (such as when all of the OTHER student council demon boys were trying to seduce her this week), it’s genuinely not that trashy, and it’s especially not trashy for an otome game-type show. Ritsuka still pushes back pretty hard against attempts by male cast members to snowball her (good job!), which means there isn’t much chance to sleaze the hell out, unlike some other reverse harem this season (ahem, Diabolik Lovers).
Unfortunately, the animation took a pretty steep dive this episode, presumably since they had less time to work on it than the premiere. I will give some credit, though, as while there’s noticeably less animation going on (especially once they started up the fight scene), no one ever looks off-model and there are none of those distance shots where everything looks off.
Ritsuka’s onii-chan arrives at the very end of the episode, and I’m curious to see how he ends up figuring into the proceedings. Shots of him the OP seem to imply that he might be a “Christian” “priest”. Is he destined to be the incest angle? I genuinely hope not because I like the idea of Dance with Devils being a reverse harem that ultimately hinges on a family story since that’d be a unique approach (although, of course, it isn’t that the harem genre writ large has never utilized that approach before – but reverse harems? not so much).
Cara: Seraph of the End decides its characters need to fight their inner demons this week – literally. This show is so subtle with its themes! Kind of love how they just gloss over how Yoichi tames his demon just by talking to it every night but Kimizuki & Yuu have to overcome psychological attacks to get theirs to fall into line! It’s like they couldn’t really be bothered animating Yoichi dealing with his demon because they know the kid is super boring. It is much more entertaining to watch Yuu win over Yashamaru with a friendship speech and Kimizuki force his demon to bow to the ultimate power of overwhelming Siscon! See how much these characters have developed!? Well……they’re fundamentally the same, just not hostile towards each other anymore I suppose……I guess that’s progress.
Elsewhere we get a vampire teleconference and it seems it is law that vampire royalty must be young looking – newest noble on the same level as Krul is a shota. Bonus points for Ferid making crazy faces & pissing off Krul by draping himself all over Mika…..ah this show. Also conspiracy theories……blah blah blah Seraph factor, blah blah blah Hyakuya Sect. I don’t watch this show for the plot.
Day: I’m not watching this, so I won’t be commenting on it at all. I did read a few volumes of the manga, but I really didn’t like how Wit adapted the material, so I dropped it after the first episode of the first season. I will give credit for Wit’s visuals, as the backgrounds were lovely and I did like how they adapted the character designs, but a woman can hardly live by her sight alone, can she?
Cara: So that’s week one of our weekly indulgence of trash! Next week check out Day’s blog for our thoughts on the next batch of episodes.