Well that season sure flew by. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve gone another 3 months without writing anything.
This season’s shorts had one unusual thing in common. With a single exception everything was a sequel or a continuation. As such it’s a lot of “if you liked this already it’s still good” for the most part. But enough preamble. In the spirit of the swiftly passing season let’s get right down to it.
The only completely new series on this season’s roster and it’s tied to an existing franchise. Much like Im@s I have next to no familiarity with Bang Dream! With that said this stands on its own surprisingly well. While it does have the same “for the fans” feel as Cinderella Girls Theater, Girls Band Party!☆PICO manages to be a little more newcomer friendly, with the first episode being dedicated to brief intros for each of the five bands. The focus on bands rather than individual idols also helps with this to some degree which, paired with each episode only containing a single skit rather than two completely unrelated ones helps establish the characters a lot quicker. The characters are fun and bounce off each other well, and the show manages a few genuinely funny gags from time to time. It’s continuing on through Fall so here’s hoping it can keep up this level of quality.
First on our list of sequels is the third season of Cinderella Girls Theater. As before there are both TV and half length web shorts (although for whatever reason only 7 of the web episodes were released this time around as opposed to one per week as with previous seasons). It’s still sort of reliant on being familiar with the characters but this deep in enough of them have recurred that you have a better chance of recognising any particular idol, which helps add a little more investment to the skits. Of course this franchise has approximately 5 billion characters so there are new faces as well. It’s a sequel; you know what you’re getting into if you’re still watching three seasons in.
Continuing from last season My Sweet Tyrant carries on being not so great. As before none of the couples feel at all plausible, nor do they ever really go anywhere. While the show does use a lot of its second half to build on the backstory and explain why Non-tan puts up with her awful boyfriend it doesn’t change the fact that he’s consistently awful to her. The attempts to ground things do go a little way towards papering over the cracks but this one ultimately still feels half-baked.
The second half of this third season saw Nobunaga no Shinobi stall a bit. With the majority of the runtime spent on various iterations of the Oda being stuck in a stalemate with one faction or another. It’s still a fun series but it does feel like a lot of the momentum is lost outside of the death of Yoshinari, which does manage to provide a solid emotional core for the last few episodes. Unlike previous seasons though, this one just sort of ends, failing to find a reasonable stopping off point so that it feels like it cuts off right as the narrative is starting to pick up pace again. With all that said the series has generally been consistently good to excellent, so a few minor stumbles aren’t going to damper my enthusiasm if/when season 4 comes around.
Another sequel which remains much the same as its predecessor. Working buddies season 2 follows its central duo through another random assortment of jobs with the assistance of various colourful characters, it’s still fun and endearing and the two leads have a solid chemistry to them. A particular standout is the episode early on in the season where the show suddenly becomes live action, carrying on entirely as usual except it’s the voice actors themselves being roped into yet another form of employment.Complete with a real life giant Koala mascot, naturally. A solid followup to a solid series.
I had possibly unreasonable expectations for the third season of Yama no Susume. Being the somewhat belated sequel to one of my favourite series of all time it had a lot to live up to. Did it? For the most part yes. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it as much as season 2, but it’s still a fantastic followup that was a joy to watch each week (to the point where I delayed watching the last few episodes because I didn’t want it to end).
Season 3 changed focus a little, with the mountains taking a backseat to Aoi’s attempts to move out of her comfort zone in other ways, and how this leads Hinata to feel left out without that core experience that brings them together. It was entirely possible that this could have backfired, and at points it did seem like the friction between the two was consuming the entire series, but in the end the series was better for it. The fact that Hinata’s understandable but increasingly hostile jealousy started to drown everything else out ultimately served to make the resolution more satisfying. There may not have been as many real mountains this time around but the peak they did manage to surmount was every bit as valuable.
All in all this season managed to be pretty consistently great, being mostly sequels perhaps means it was a little impenetrable to newcomers. But, on the other hand, that’s one of the great things about shorts; it’s super easy to get caught up when an entire previous season is less than an hour long.
Next season’s looking pretty strong so far too, we’re back to a more ordinary mix of sequels and new entries, and at least one of those newcomers has the potential to be fantastic. Here’s hoping.