Yikes, I’ve started the summer season already and yet I haven’t stopped to take the time to say what I think of the previous season as a whole. That one is on me. The Winter 2022 had a couple of hiccups that really stood out for me, and now Justin has something to dangle in front of me when I make a bad decision to pick an awful show for Otaku Theater. The Spring 2022 season was different. I had thought that picking only sequel shows would be something both weird and neat, as it has been something I’ve never done before for The OASG. But now the spring season is over, I will very likely not be doing it again.
I’ve also taken the time to look back on what shows I’ve picked so far this year. I like to think that I have a sixth sense when it comes to shows that I would generally enjoy and/or would find fascinating or interesting. Picking up on both the Kaguya-sama and Yuru Camp franchises was worth it, but recently I have worried that this sixth sense of mine is starting to crumble. If you asked me in the past whether I would choose a show like World’s End Harem for the column, I would have laughed…and yet here we are. As for the Spring season, I had hoped that picking only sequel seasons for shows I’ve enjoyed in the past would turn that wariness around. And while they are good franchises I enjoy, I still felt a lot of unease.
The second season of The Demon Girl Next Door in particular. I did a review post of the first season a couple of years ago and gave it some good praise. I even released the thought of it getting a second season. Now it’s here, did it live up to my expectations? Well the show is pure gag comedy, and often shows like that are hard to change, but that doesn’t mean that things can go downhill quickly. One other thing I seemingly forgot about the first season is how fast-paced the main story got, and as the gap between seasons was so far apart for me, this fast-paced story that comes back in season two really threw me off a lot .
But the story of this second season does start immediately where it left off in season one. Shamiko is still trying to find ways to make Momo her vassal, who in turn is still trying to find her way as a magical girl. But Momo is also on a mission to find her sister, who may or may not have been responsible for a lot of the mess that Shamiko and Momo uncovered. Over time, she learns about another new power she has; consuming dark powers to become a whole new magical girl: Darkness Peach. Despite how adorable it looks and how much the anime-only community have praised it, it’s something Momo can’t have, as she discovers that the power may take over her entirely.
As a whole, nothing new is brought into season two of The Demon Girl Next Door. I suppose to a lot of people that’s a good thing, right? So I think that my trepidation towards it is wholly down to how I had forgotten the fast pace and quick gags that I saw in season one. All the main and secondary characters were good and had their great moments, and the main story does not deviate off into weird tangents. So maybe I’m the one who’s at fault here, and I should not have been so nit-picky about it.
Moving onto season two of Komi Can’t Communicate now. As of time of writing, the show has not finished yet on Netflix. Like with The Demon Girl Next Door, the story here also picks up directly where it left off. The winter is approaching and the class think about how they want to celebrate upcoming holidays. Season one took place mostly at school, and so the episodes we had here stood out some more, as we got to see Komi develop her social skills a lot more, outside of the four walls of the classroom.
School comedies have their atypical Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day episodes, and while they all come up here, I like how they are done. You see, I normally cringe at such episodes mostly because they have become so predictable. But for Komi, they are all approached in a slightly different way. We’d normally expect to see the main cast gasp and cheer at New Year fireworks, but we don’t get that here. Instead we get an episode where Komi visits her grandmother and takes on volunteer work at the local shrine (with a classmate who just so happens to have been born and raised there). Also the Valentine’s Day episode is done well too; Komi doesn’t have the courage to give Tadano chocolate in class, and so she heads off to his home at night and hand them to him personally.
But my favorite episode was the second part of the school trip one, by a long shot. For the trip, Komi is put into a group of people she has never interacted with before; yo-yo enthusiast Sasaki and shogi player Katou. What we see in this episode are how these three work together to do as much as they can in Kyoto on their day off. Having Komi interact with people she doesn’t know ends up paying off, as she learns to reach outside of the cabal she has hung around with so far, and taking one step forward towards meeting new people. On top of this, Sasaki and Katou are characters we have never really seen before until now, and so learning that the school isn’t completely full of misfits and weirdos is kind of comforting…I guess.
Right now I’m still finishing up this second season of Komi Can’t Communicate, but I have enjoyed it so much. We never really got much in the way of ‘filler’ moments in season one, and we don’t here in season two either. Each segment/moment/chapter stands out and shines in their own way, meaning Komi’s mission of finding 100 friends isn’t so painfully linear. It’s also this season where Komi and Tadano’s relationship starts to intensify a lot more. Not having seen the climax as of time of writing, I’m keenly interested in how the studio will close up on it. My coverage of the show will be continuing on into the Summer season.
And lastly to the one sequel show I was looking forward to the most. Kaguya-sama: Love is War was something that grabbed me straightaway; From the first sketch of Kaguya and Miyuki fighting over whether they should go to the movies (and who should speak up about going first), to this end point in season three. For the finale, I did something out-of-the-ordinary and devote an entire post to it. I praised the direction that season two went, as it touched a lot more on the characters themselves and any drama they had. I like how they kept that here in season three, where the characters and their backstories play just as big a role in the show as the laugh-out-loud comedy. One moment in particular is early on in the season, where Hayasaka meets Miyuki at a mixer party (which he was not really told all the details about). She is initially sent by Kaguya to make sure he doesn’t interact with any women, but instead she decides to do it herself. By the time the episode ends, we find out she chose to do this to deliberately wind Kaguya up, with the intention of making her jealous, and in turn reinforcing her love for him.
But aside from moments like that, very little has changed when it comes to the comedy. Chika is still full of mischief, Ishigami is still full of depression and anxiety, and Miko is still incredibly by-the-book. By the time the show ends in the school festival arc (which goes on for a good few episodes), a decent climax arrives. It begins with a massive bombshell of Miyuki going to a university in the US, and carries on to both he and Kaguya finally acknowledging their feelings for one another. But the battle is still on though, as they have not actually confessed. The two of them have developed a close bond in the space of these three seasons that they both realize that they cannot separate from each other. The great war of confessing first that we saw in season one has since tempered down, but that’s okay for the two of them.
There was no way Kaguya-sama could not carry on after this, and so it’s great to hear that their story will continue. Whether it’s a fourth season, or an OVA, or even a movie, we don’t know yet. Personally I would be fine with any of them…or all of them.
I probably will not do a whole Otaku Theater season with all sequel shows again. These were all franchises I had initially enjoyed, and while I found a lot of enjoyment in both Komi Can’t Communicate and Kaguya-samaI was really thrown off by seeing Shamiko, Momo and co in The Demon Girl Next Door again. And it feels very strange too, as every other critic really enjoyed the second season.
Outside of the column, this season brought us Spy x Family, which will no doubt be in the top 5 of the year for everyone. Before it began I just knew it would be something great, and I chose not to cover it here so I could enjoy it by myself. And oh boy, I really have. Each of the three main characters stand out in their own special way, the story goes on a good and steady pace, and the world-building is something I like especially. The spring gave us the first cour, and the fall season will give us the second one, and once again I’ll be enjoying that outside of Otaku Theater.
Elsewhere, some other shows have stood out for others. The PA Works show Hey Boy Kongming! didn’t appeal to me personally, yet it still won’t over a lot of followers. Season two of Love Live! Nijigasaki gave the fans exactly what they wanted, and the franchise will continue in the summer with season two of Superstar!, which will add four new characters to the group. Added to this, we got the news this season that Disney+ have decided to throw their hat in the anime streaming ring, by acquiring licenses of two shows. Summer Time Rendering is a very popular manga that appeals to fans of Higurashi, Steins;Gate and Erased, and so the news of Disney getting exclusivity has not been received well at all. I was also scratching my head for the Black Rock Shooter license too. I enjoy the franchise, and Dawnfall is a reboot show I had my eye on back when it was announced, and it has turned out to be a mixture of Mad Max apocalypse and violent sci-fi craziness. And what sucks even more is that we do not know when they will even appear on Disney+ (in the West). Likely when they finish the numerous language dubs for them, which might even be until the end of this year, if not longer.
An interesting season for some, and a dull season for others, but knowing that some shows in the future may end up going to ‘Disney jail’ might be something followers will dread. I personally don’t like the term myself. All of our favorite streaming platforms are doing this because they are businesses who want profit, and I think that’s something anime followers sometimes forget. We have grown into people who want their favorite anime shows as soon as physically possible, and so the thought of some of them not Doing it (like Netflix, and now Disney+) has thrown them off a lot, and given them a real excuse to sling mud at them. I still remember when we had to wait years for episodes to come out on VHS tapes that cost a fortune; that’s my old weeb fan talking there so I’ll be quiet now.
So the summer comes, and I’m sure it’ll be as fine as the spring was. I just hope I have my sixth sense back.