Two more shows:
KADO: The Right Answer: Now this is interesting. A first contact government procedural, yum! Okay, I have kind of weird taste. But lately I find it refreshing when a show is about mature adults (give or take a somewhat annoying genki-girl physicist). Our hero is a bureaucrat, a negotiator for the Japanese government, and he ends episode 0 and starts episode 1 by delivering what I take to be the show's statement of intent:
"Getting what's in your interest is the goal of negotiations. But defeating your opponent and temporarily gaining what you want will always come back to bite you in the long term. What's best for you is giving both parties something in their interest. ... There isn't just one answer, for one thing. We aren't gods. We'll never know what was right --- and what was the right answer --- for our whole lives. But, even if we don't know, we just have to keep looking."
And well... that works for me.
"Episode 0" is a kind of gaiden where our hero shows us what he means by that, seeing through the motives behind an assignment and thinking outside the box to achieve an unexpected win-win solution, and it's all very down to earth until at the end of ep 0/beginning of ep 1 --- immediately after that speech in fact ---
THE HIPPIE BORG ARRIVE.
Yes, some extraterrestrial and/or supernatural force appears in the form of a giant psychedelic cube which envelops our hero's plane. The show spends ep 1 going all government procedural on it (not unlike an old kaijuu movie, come to think of it), and our hero doesn't re-emerge until the end, but I actually like this kind of granular and deliberate approach. It mostly feels believable and lived in, down to a moment when an onlooker at the Hippie Borg incident drops her ice cream.
Plus our hero has an adorable relationship with his air-headed work partner/roommate and is now apparently friends with a white-haired prettyboy from outer space, if that sweetens the pot for ya. BTW, women aren't especially numerous, but other than perhaps genki-girl physicist, the ones who do appear are treated as serious professionals.
I have heard someone worry that this is going to devolve into "Yay Japan" nationalist propaganda, and I think that's a genuine risk, but for now, I'm on board. For the first time this season, firmly: Watch.
Before moving on, though, I do want to talk about Kado's animation --- because a lot of it is cell-shaded CG. Lately I've been impressed by what they can do with that, but it still does look a little odd, and I've never actually committed to watching a show that was done that way* until now. On this show, I'd say it looks quite good. It helps that the visual style is pretty down-to-earth and conservative, so they're not pushing the CG to do a bunch of stuff it can't. Actually the biggest issue was that they switch back and forth between the two techniques (ep 0 is mostly 2-d), and I kept distracting myself trying to spot what was being used when --- and it was distracting because it's to the point it almost blends, like the seams are clearly there but they're not instantly obvious. When it is CG, it's noticeable in the tightness of forms and that floaty quality to the motion, but I didn't think it looked bad at all. If anything, it adds something to the appeal. All right, technology, I'm ready --- show me what you've got.
And the other sampled show for now...
Tsuki ga Kirei: I want to like this show. It's lovely to look at, with appealing character designs and a nostalgic and luminous sense of color. (Admittedly I got distracted by CG crowd scenes here and there, but the good far outweighs the bad, visually.) The storytelling emphasizes tenderly-observed and subtly-conveyed emotion. Occasionally the reaction shots of "uh"-ing and staring are a bit overplayed, but mostly it's good. The leads are clearly falling for each other without either of them having to say a word. My personal favorite bit is when their families happen to go to the same restaurant and the boy finds himself in front of the girl at the soda fountain; he moves to another machine and gets iced coffee instead --- whether to make way for her or to impress her with his maturity or both, we're not told and I'm not sure he even knows, but the moment doesn't fully land until he actually tries to drink the stuff and finds it too bitter for him. On the downside, the emphasis on a social media app goes to the point of feeling like product placement and the boy's Osamu Dazai fandom generates more clunkiness (and in one moment more cringiness) than he can understand, but so far, this seems to be a slice-of-life school-days romance with its heart in the right place and a sweet, subtle touch. If only it weren't so boring. I want to like it, but there's just no hook to bring me back for another episode. The show didn't do anything wrong to speak of, it just didn't do enough right to overcome my general apathy toward school-days romances. Drop, but gently.
The still-to-watch pile as of now: Kabukibu!, Re: Creators, and I caught myself being like "c'mon, where's the period fantasy?" so I might belatedly give Granblue Fantasy a try. Plus the new Uchouten Kazoku season starts tomorrow! Or today maybe, time zones and such...
*The closest I've previously come to watching a cel-shaded CG anime was Ronja the Robber's Daughter, which actually looked quite good as I recall, but... Gorou Miyazaki was trying too hard to be his dad, I think. Like, I love the animation of a heartfelt gesture (see also really wanting to like Tsuki ga Kirei), but that show just did it constantly until it felt like way too much cream in the tea. So I'd say that one was brought down for me by its pacing, although the animation got caught up in the problem.