This was my second Precure and let’s just say Heartcatch was a tough act to follow. And well, it’s a good thing that Smile doesn’t try to out-Heartcatch Heartcatch. It’s certainly fun and everyone has fun. Even the villains don’t seem to be trying very hard sometimes, almost as if they knew what show they were in. So it’s not as punch-kicking, but it still knows how to entertain. Of course, it does get serious on occasion and the fun that we’ve had for the weeks beforehand don’t seem to detract from it. But really, it’s the best when it goes all out with its ridiculousness.
A lot of people love Sword Art Online. A lot of people hate it, too. Yeah, Kirito is pretty hax, but I’ve been enjoying it largely because of that. It’s kind of like back when I had a playable version of Jedi Knight 2, sometimes, I’d just start it up and turn on cheats and go wreck things. I was also fairly hopeful that Asuna would be interesting, but that didn’t pan out as well as I’d hoped in later volumes. But after all that, I’ve kept reading it because in the end, I just want to see Kirito and Asuna be happy together (´・ω・｀).
So I figured it was time to start at the beginning. And in the beginning, there was nothing but Black and White. No themes or gimmicks, just two girls punching monsters and holding hands and shooting beams. These were simpler times. And surprisingly, they were more dangerous times too. While the villains here didn’t really succeed any more than they do in the Precure shows I’ve seen, they felt a lot more threatening. Obviously, the villains in Smile are a bunch of loveable scamps, but even the crew from Heartcatch didn’t really feel quite as sinister. Maybe that’s why it always seems like Black and White have their work cut out for them.
Nisemonogatari is kinda weird. In Bakemonogatari, for the most part, everything’s resolved fairly neatly. The supernatural stuff is dealt with and relationships are in the correct alignment. Here, we solve some of our supernatural mysteries, but those responsible end up walking away. The relationships we’re following are still in the middle of development. It feels very much like a lot of this was setup and so the ending comes and I’m feeling like, well, that’s it? But luckily, the most important part of the series has been largely unchanged (and this was something I was worried about because the ones responsible are real characters now): the preview quizu.
Something that I found very surprising was that Saki was much more enjoyable after I learned how to play the damned game. As a Chinese kid, I had a very rudimentary understanding of how mahjong worked, with almost none of my knowledge being any use in the Japanese MJ context. If you have no idea how the game works, it just looks like cute girls doing cute things breaking probabilities. But once you know what’s going on, there’s a bit more to it than each of the girls being horrendously imba. Here, the girls are defined by their game-breaking powers and watching how the conflict plays out at the table becomes much more interesting once you understand how those powers match their personalities.