To be continued: News June 2021

I’m sorry tonstant weader, we screwed up again at least as far as the anime fans out there are concerned. I intended to do a wrap up of both “Higurashi Gou” and “My Next Life as a Villainess,” since I finally finished both series not too long ago, as a sort of double review. The problem is, neither series ended up being particularly full review-worthy beyond what I’d already said, and now we’re in the middle a slew of retro thrillers.

That’s still going on, by the way. Expect more Bela Lugosi. However, to fill some time and tie up some note-quite-as-retro loose ends, here’s the best this blog could muster.

Let’s start with “Higurashi Gou,” the retread of anime’s classic time-bending high school horror. I had previously complained that this “Higurashi” was playing things a little too safe. To its credit, the series started getting increasingly downbeat and definitely gorier in its second half (episode 15 in particular stands out). While it might have been more for shock value than for probing deeper psychological themes, the darker atmosphere and a couple of late game twists meant that things felt riskier and more compelling.

Then the story blundered into melodrama for the conclusion. Episode 23 in particular felt pretty soapy, with a lot of family drama attempting to resolve itself. Episode 24 – the series finale – fared a little better but still sported some theatrics. Was it necessary for everyone present to step on a particular research professor’s notes to make a point? Probably not.

Still, the final episode did a decent job of contextualizing the psychology and adult problems of a certain villainous character who has often been a little cartoon-y. On the other hand, said character was still a bit fan service-y in said episode. One could complain about that if one desired, but I will reserve judgment.

I was ready to give the series a pass for going out on a dark, confusing note, but I saw a fat “to be continued,” presumably in July 2021. Fuck a duck. Just when I thought we’d had a complete story, we get left hanging. Worse, we get left hanging on purpose.

I’ll admit a partial failing on my part. An appreciation of “Gou” might be improved by an appreciation for the broader Higurashi/When They Cry franchise lore. A lot of the images and reveals are likely given depth or interest by an “aha! That particular item!” attitude. To be honest, while I count myself a Higruashi fan, I’ve never cared too much for the broader lore. Heresy? Maybe. For my own part, Hinamizawa syndrome could be parasitic, chemical, supernatural or extraterrestrial for all I care. What fascinates me much, much more – and what I did not see so much of this time around – is the masterful breakdown of human weakness apparent in the original anime, especially in certain cycles from the first season.

Shion did nothing wrong, by the way.

We should pivot.

One of my betters – I don’t remember the blog – hinted at something metaphysical, or at least meta-narrative, when it came to the conclusion of “My Next Life as a Villainess.” So I finished watching it. I didn’t get it. Which is not to say the series was a big let down, unworthy to those already interested in a show about reincarnation into a romance game, only this time you’re the bad guy, er, gal. If you’ve made it that far, you can make it to the end. Catarina’s constant and comic ignorance is consistently amusing (I will never understand the toy snakes though). It just wasn’t what I had been led to believe.

To be fair to notions of meta-whatnot, the 11th episode started like a back-to-the-real-world reversal of the series so far. The way it’s done is pretty boilerplate for an anime, but it can stil be fun to watch. In this case, it ended up being somewhat absurd, which was fine for the series. I would never advise anyone to take the advice of this blog, but the bottom line is that “Villainess” did OK in the long run.

There were some hiccups. The show lied about certain things, or at least it got garbled about its character interactions. And it got a little convoluted, if not outright convenient, at points. There’s another “to be continued” moment at the end – of course there is – but it feels tacked on, as if someone decided to add it last second. While that seems like something to complain about, it means the overall story still feels complete, something that can’t be said about “Higurashi.”

It’s probably my fault. My expectations were all off. I would definitely recommend “Higurashi” first as a thriller fan to a thriller fan, but I’d have to admit that “Villainess” at least ends. Something to consider when playing 2020 catch up. But whatever you decide, don’t watch “Japan Sinks.” I did get around to it, and it was… It probably does deserve its own review at some point.

Either way, that will end the anime reviews for the moment. Was this really news? I finished watching some anime over a long weekend? It was news for me.

We’ll get back to the black-and-white movies – with one exception – for the rest of the month. After that, there might be some game reviews in the pipeline, but I don’t have too much in mind. If you’ve got any suggestions on something I should be watching or playing or reading, and ultimately writing about, dust off that comment section, tonstant weader. I’m always happy to hear from you.

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