Episode 5 is… hard to watch, largely because Ayako’s story feels drawn out of real-world struggles with disordered eating and diet culture that are afflicting teenagers both in Japan and across the world, which are often born from institutions that seek to regulate and discipline female bodies. I cried when I read this arc in the prequel manga that Kageki Shojo!! draws from, and I teared up here as Ayako tried to do her best, but the floodgates well and truly opened when Mr. Onodera knocked on Ayako’s door and reminded her of her worth because… who hasn’t needed to be told that they matter, that they have something to be proud of, in spite of their body?
As the fourth episode out one of two cours, it’s… still somewhat sluggish, though it does a lot more in terms of setting up future plot elements, especially around Fuuka. It’s tempering my expectations and turning this into the slow burn I crave as the summer heat turns extra balmy ahead of August and even more episodes of aquatope. And as an avid fanfic reader, let me tell you: I love slow burns, and this series has the makings of a slow burn so leisurely that I’ll be on tenterhooks until the end of this year since thankfully, aquatope’s cours are consecutive. (And it’s great!)
It’s not often that you see such a candid exploration of abuse in anime: it’s even less often that you see someone actually have to pay penance of sorts for being a problem. And like I said, it’s definitely not perfect: Ai is still living with her trauma, Mr. Stalker Otaku still retriggered her and ultimately can’t undo stalking her even if it was for an apology, and there’s a ways to go before Ai is able to reconcile with her own past and ongoing trauma.
The stunning thing about The aquatope on white sand isn’t the story—honestly, the story is pretty straightforward—but how well it’s executing the plot and the tropes it’s playing with. Sometimes, simple is best, and aquatope is proving that having solid characterization, beautiful animation, excellent music and sound design, and solid pacing (for now) can make even the simplest story feel out of this world. I’d much rather have a simplistic narrative over a complex story that ultimately can’t deliver.
I’m not I have high hopes for Kageki Shoujo!!, and feel confident that my gut feeling that this will be Summer 2021’s IIt’s still too early on to make any predictions about aquatope’s the larger story. What we get in episodes 1 and 2 is compelling, though I’m not sure if the magical realism elements will dominate the show, or if the production will find a happy balance as aquatope finds its sea legs. What’s ultimately clear from certain events so far is that there will definitely be a magical, otherworldly element to this series: I just hope that it won’t come at the sacrifice of Fuka and Kukuru’s tender, tentative friendship and potential relationship.
I have high hopes for Kageki Shoujo!!, and feel confident that my gut feeling that this will be Summer 2021’s strongest show will play out like a grand ballet: fluidly, thrillingly, and beautifully week to week. That’s thanks to PINE JAM‘s animation, as well as the stellar voice acting from Sayaka Senbongi (Sarasa) and Yumiri Hanamori (Ai), both of whom convey just who these two girls are at their core. Those elements, combined with the other voice actresses, the music, animation, and sound design, really elevated Kageki Shoujo!! in my eyes, and make it an easy, “Why aren’t you watching this?!” kind of recommendation.
Pretty Boy Detective Club Episode 4 kicks off a new arc of the series with Mayumi and the pretty boys of the Detective Club hitting up a casino for teens!REVIEW: ‘Pretty Boy Detective Club,’ Episode 4 – “The Swindler, the Vanishing Man, and the Pretty Boys Part 1” — But Why Tho? A Geek Community
Pretty Boy Detective Club Episode 3 wraps up the events of this first arc by being as extra as possible and making Mayumi’s club membership permenant.REVIEW: ‘Pretty Boy Detective Club,’ Episode 3 – “The Dark Star that Shines for You Alone Part 3” — But Why Tho? A Geek Community
Pretty Boy Detective Club Episode 2 continues to aid Mayumi in finding her star and the Pretty Boy Detective Club is more than ready to help her.REVIEW: ‘Pretty Boy Detective Club,’ Episode 2 – “The Dark Star that Shines for You Alone Part 2” — But Why Tho? A Geek Community
Blue Reflection Ray is a middle of the road magical girl show that’s boring… until it isn’t. Yet I’m not sure that’s enough to make it worth watching week to week, especially not this season.Blue Reflection Ray – Episode 1 — Anime Feminist