Umi Monogatari 2 kind-of sort-of shed some light on the questions I had after the first episode. Kind-of. Sort-of. In episode 1, I was confused because the episode had started off light-hearted, slow, and slice-of-life-y and then got a bit darker and more unfamiliar. I was expecting episode 2 to either return to the light, slice-of-life style or take us in a darker direction… and instead it did neither and completely became a magical girl show.
Yeah, Umi Monogatari episode 2 goes 100% magical girl show on us. The episode starts off expectedly enough with Marin and Urin’s honestly quite touching reunion (made so largely in part by the incredible Ken Muramatsu soundtrack.) Then this turtle comes to life, tells them an ancient evil has been awakened, Marin is a priestess who can defeat it, bla bla bla, gives her magical item.
Then Kanon storms off thinking this is all a charade before she is suddenly ambushed by Megurine Luka. Marin then shows up and turns into a magical girl, and starts fighting against Luka. And then Kanon, of course, also turns out to be a magical priestess, and she joins the good fight. They beat Luka, but instead of killing her, Marin ‘purifies’ her and turns her back into Taco Luka. Day is saved, but Kanon walks off not convinced she’ll see them again. (Note: This is a very simplified plot synopsis.)
Plot-wise, this was a fairly generic magical girl episode – unseen evil, transforming, sparing villains – the usual. However, a generic magical girl episode means something different when it comes right after a completely not magical girl episode. Once again, there’s really no way to know what to expect from this show. Unless the next episode falls into complete magical girl formula, then it could be anything, and I doubt it will be formula. Junichi Sato doesn’t roll that way. Princess Tutu seemed like an average magical girl show until it made a swan dive into a pit of needles and razor wire, and Kaleido Star is like a magical girl show, only there’s no magic and it’s about a circus. So I’d be hard-pressed to expect anything normal from him.
Looking at these first two episodes side-by-side, I think we can at best expect another Futakoi Alternative. Lots of strange genre fusion and fun to be had, even if it comes across a little awkward (which it does so far.) At worst, this could turn into This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, a show that tried to cram a lot of genres into itself but ended up coming off as a generic fanservice anime with really forced plot twists.
With Junichi Sato at the helm, my hopes are high. However, I can’t say that I really like this show yet. It’s not very gripping at all – fusing different elements is fun and cool and all, but it all feels rushed so far. We jump semi-instantly between placid and active, plotless and plot-heavy, and it’s hard to tell what is supposed to be going on. Like after the first episode, I’m so lost that I simply can’t tell what to think without seeing more. This is definitely a show that can’t be judged before seeing more of it, and that may take a rewatching to fully appreciate.
Complaints and confusion out of the way, though, there are things I liked about this episode. The fight scene was pretty awesome and featured some stellar animation that almost hearkened thoughts of Hiroyuki Imaishi. There were some nice little moments that made me laugh (like Luka going ‘chuuu~’ when she had Kanon in her grip) and I felt that the voice actors were getting more used to their roles. Kanon’s mom was quite simply made of win. As mentioned before, the music is very nice, and the art and character designs are excellent, even if the bikinis on Marin and Urin still feel a little awkward to me. I really want to say that this is a great show, but I can’t get a good enough feel for it’s pacing yet to tell. So I’ll just have to continue~
Hmm. Didn’t like the sudden shift to magical girl. It’s got something like 12 episodes total? I hope it sorts itself out soon.