Just a couple of shows that I’ll quickly lose interest in by February. Well, I wouldn’t put any money on it, ’cause I’m a fickle person.
Hatena Illusion Ep. 2
Sadly, there’s nothing spellbinding about this romantic comedy. To its credit, the anime does kinda have an overarching plot. As I understand it, Hatena’s mother is stealing back artifacts that were originally stolen from her family. These items have since fallen into less than scrupulous hands, so we gotta get them back. Since Hatena wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps, she dubs herself a master thief-in-training. So, um, why does she need to steal back Makoto’s wand? Wasn’t that given to him as a gift?
The main “plot” takes a break at this point in order to introduce us to the supporting cast. Unfortunately, it’s like Dumb and Dumber, but with spoiled, rich girls. Hatena repeatedly whines or throws a tantrum throughout the episode. She can’t be seen at school with Makoto, boo hoo. One of her classmates won’t stop calling her Hatena instead of Kana, boo hoo. She doesn’t want people to know that Makoto is a butler at her house, boo hoo. But then we meet Kokomi, who isn’t any better. Every so often, she drops by the mansion to make a huge mess. Why? Because Hatena got a magical scarf, so Kokomi wants a fancy artifact of her own as well. There isn’t a single endearing thing about either of these two girls.
Housekishou Richard-shi no Nazo Kantei Ep. 2
I want to like this episode, because it deals with an important social issue. Mami finds it difficult to be a lesbian woman in Japanese society, so for the past year, she has been forcing herself to be straight. Before she got into this mess, she told herself that she just wanted to feel normal like everyone else. But as the wedding date nears, Mami comes to realize that she is hurting both herself and her fiance. Pretending to be something you’re not isn’t going to make you feel normal. Instead, the cognitive dissonance will tear you apart. There’s a reason why Mami has been losing weight. But worst of all, she’s racked with guilt over her fiance whom she doesn’t truly love. She convinced him to love someone who doesn’t exist. So as you can see, this should be a compelling episode on paper. The elements are all there!
But there’s just something so drab about the episode. The animation is flat and uninteresting, Richard is wooden as all hell, and Seigi’s “Hero of Justice” schtick is kind of cringeworthy. The animation is stiff, so you can barely see any emotion on the character’s faces. Likewise, what contribution does Richard even make in this episode? He has practically no presence. Also, when you have a mystery, the hook needs to be effective. The hook should leaving me imploring the details for answers. Usually, a gruesome murder does the trick! But this is a show about gemstones, so we can’t have dead bodies. So what do we get instead? We get Mami asking Richard whether or not the ruby in her brooch has been heated. That’s it. It’s funny watching the characters scratch their heads over such a enigmatic request when I’m just shrugging my shoulders in abject apathy.
Let me see if I can’t use an analogy to bring this full circle. When cooking, simply using the best ingredients won’t save your food from being bland if you forget something as basic as salt. The same is true with spices. You can throw in cayenne, saffron, cumin — use whatever the hell you want! — but if you don’t have salt, those spices won’t sing. And like with salt and cooking, I think this episode is lacking something equally basic to storytelling: heart. Mami’s tragic tale is delivered without any thought or soul, so in the end, nothing comes alive. I had to fight to stay awake long enough for the “big” reveal.
As a side note, I did watch Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun this week, but I have absolutely nothing to say about the episode.