Anime  

Weekly Digest 07/30/22 – Hataraku Maou-sama!!, Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru

Hataraku Maou-sama!! – 03

If you’ve got a good enough memory, the formula Hataraku Maou-sama is following will be quite familiar.  Start out with slice-of-life and comedy hijinks, then transition into increasingly heavy plot.   We’ve officially started that process in this episode, which also seemed like the snappiest so far in terms of overall production.  I wouldn’t say it was overly stylish or anything, but perhaps less mechanical than the first two.

There were two main issues for me here, though.  The first being Alas Rasmus, the sort of plot device (I won’t even call her a character) for which I have an extremely limited tolerance.  The other is that Emi-heavy episodes, especially Emi-Maou, tend to grate on me.  She’s a tsundere in the old-school sense, which for me usually means kind of tired and unfunny.  Even nine years ago she was my least favorite part of the series, and the side of Maou she brings out is his least appealing (which is common with mediocre tsunderes).

The rest of it was fine, with Ashiya, Chiho, and Suzuki-san (was her being into Ashiya always a thing and I just forgot?) stalking the “family” on their amusement park date.  I like the little details this series manages to highlight, always one of its strengths.  Like how if you live from paycheck to paycheck, you can’t just go with the flow (I feel you, Ashiya), and how Maou-sama always seems to be thinking one level deeper than Emi is.  His backstory was interesting – saved by an Angel was not what Emi expected to hear – and basically confirms who (what) Alas Rasmus is.

On that front, clearly this is all down to the kabbalistic Tree of Life, as pretty much every name dropped by A.R. and that Angel (Yesod, Malkuth, et al) is connected to it.  For the nonce the Archangel Gabriel is the problem, as he’s showed up to take A.R. back to Heaven (along with Emi’s sword), and would have wreaked some havoc if Chiho hadn’t stepped in and shamed him into a reprieve.  Let’s hope we get more of Chiho being GAR and pulling faces next week.

 

Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru  – 04

Things are certainly moving quickly in Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru.  I mean, it’s already Christmas and New Year’s and it’s not even August yet.  Even given the aging up of the protagonists, it’s a bit of a jolt to see romance in a Yamamoto series move so quickly.  That adds a bit to the general uncertainly over how much staying power this premise will have, but so far it’s still working pretty well.

We do get a similar mix of the pure slice-of-life stuff with the actual romance.  The boxes, the light bulb, the DVD – all endearing enough without requiring a whole lot of embellishment on my part.  I did especially enjoy when Ayumu said he’d gotten “hooked”, and Urushi’s reaction.  But this is all building to the handicap game, where she takes no less than 6 pieces off the board and Ayumu finally manages to “win” his first game against her.

So – does that count, or not?  If you’re going to be stubborn enough to contingence confessing on winning a shogi match, I would think winning under such circumstances wouldn’t satisfy the condition.  But that begs the question – would asking Urushi out for Christmas count as confessing?  I’m not sure, since Ayumu already asked her out for the culture festival without having achieved his objective.  It’s all in the realm if semantics with these two, as they’re as official as you can get without being official (and their friends know it).  And 10th graders don’t typically splash ¥1000 on the wish of a casual friend.

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