Weekly Digest 8/13/21 – Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru, Shadows House 2nd Season

Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru – 06

It’s starting to feel as if Soredemo Ayumu is a kind of romcom survey course – as seen through the eye of Yamamoto Souichirou.  I don’t know if it’s the case with the manga (not to this extent in my memory) but the series is just blazing through the school romance checkpoints.  It makes sense that it would move faster than Karakai Jouzu being a high school series, but I get the feeling the anime is picking and choosing the milestone chapters rather than trying to create a narrative, as Takagi-san’s adaptation did.

One might infer from that Soredemo Ayumu is intended as a one-and-done adaptation, while Karakai Jouzu was always planned to go the distance.  Whether that’s true or not every episode here is some sort of major event, which certainly works well enough for the short term.  This time around it’s Valentine’s/White Day, with Urushi struggling to muster the courage to give her chocolates (they may not be honmei but I don’t think they’re giri) to Ayumu.  In contrast Maki makes it rain chocolate indiscriminately, and Sakurako uses a single piece like a surgical scalpel on Takeru.

That couple – Sakurako specifically – are wearing on me faster than any other element of the series, largely because the relationship is pretty one-sided and one-note.  Urushi and Ayumu complement each other more appealingly, with their distinctly contrasting personalities.  The second chapter, with Uruahi tutoring Ayumu only to have him bomb out by putting his answers in the wrong column, was quite amusing.  If nothing else Sakurako and Takeru give Urushi a lot of food for thought about her own romantic inclinations.


Shadows House 2nd Season – 06

As I noted last week I kind of have an open slot for a digest partner for Soredemo Ayumu.  I’m probably dropping Hataraku Maou-sama (this week really needed to change my mind, and it didn’t), and Ayumu just give me enough for stand-alone posts.  I guess this amounts to a sort of audition for Shadows House – maybe it will be a one-off and maybe not, but the scheduling works out and this might have been its best episode of either season, so I thought I’d give it a punt.

Shadows House is a funny sort of series in that the premise is certainly strong enough to be a regular for me – it’s just that the execution isn’t.  That theoretically gives it a lot of upside, even if it’s probably foolhardy to imagine it could somehow level up mid-stream.  Yet I’ve never disliked the show, and never strongly considered not watching it (though I have fast-forwarded on occasion).  I’ve noted before that Kate and Shaun (John?) are the two most interesting characters for me, so given that the past two eps have focused primarily on them, it’s hardly surprising that they’ve been among my favorites.

Last week was shadow-driven, and it gave us a chance to see them – especially Kate – in an unusually relaxed setting.  This time around it was the dolls that took the stage, especially Shaun.  I’m not crazy about Emilico as a stand-alone character, but I do like she and Shaun together.  They’re so opposite – she’s an unfiltered dingbat without an ounce of hesitation and he’s a neurotic intellectual – that they’re quite appealing as a couple.  His earnest thoughtfulness brings out the best in her, and that scene with the two of them seeing the stars and musing on the nature of their existence may have been the best in the entire series.

Now that we’re really digging into what the premise means on an existential level (fittingly it would be Shaun at the heart of that), Shadows House is gaining a bit more traction for me.  The mechanics of the mystery – while interesting – are less important to me than seeing how the children at the heart of it react to its controlling influence on their lives.  I really enjoyed seeing Shaun and John interacting with Jeremy and Jeremiah, inching closer to the truth in the process.  The idea that it’s interacting with the dolls than gives the shadows their personalities is an interesting one, especially when considering a pair like Shaun and John who are so different.

Does Shadows House have legs as a series I’d want to consider picking back up?  Honestly I have no idea, but it at least has potential and always has.  Whether what we’re seeing is a blip or a trend is the crucial question, but at the level of the past two episodes it certainly offers enough to merit strong consideration.