So, my anime viewing these days falls into three general categories: sampling most of each new season, and sticking with a half dozen or so that hold my interest; re-watching old favorites with friends who have never seen them; and picking up shows that I missed in recent years, that either I didn't have time for when they released, or have been recommended to me since. Recently, two titles from that last category have been leaving me rather frustrated: Kimi to Boku and Sket Dance.
The cause of this vexation is that I can't decide whether I like these shows or not. That's a problem I've been having a lot with recent anime, but for different reasons. Most of the new fare in the past few seasons has been simply bland - either no plot ever manages to materialize, or the apparent goal changes too often to remain coherent; the characters display nothing to make me develop any specific attachments; the visuals and music are pretty and sparkly and beautiful but fail to cover up the lack of substance - in short, either all fluff, no fill, or a solid foundation that is never built upon.
Kimi to Boku had none of these failings. It was very clearly a school-life dramedy following a group of boys going about their daily life together and dealing (usually awkwardly) with anything or anyone who disturbed the routine. I've watched a decent amount of slice-of-life anime, and when done right, it can be one of my favorite genres, and I've really liked most of the J.C. Staff shows I've seen. For the most part, though, Kimi to Boku did not get things right. Most of the jokes fell flat. The characters were largely under-developed and fostered little more than indifference. The idea that just about every important event that shaped these high school juniors' lives happened in kindergarten, and they still remember so many of them so clearly, became unbelievable pretty quickly, and the constant flashbacks became a pretty annoying one-trick-pony. For the most part, the series just bored me, and it sometimes felt like a chore to finish. Then, just when I would be ready to drop it, something amazing would happen.
I don't often get what many anime fans refer to as 'the feels.' It takes a pretty special show to move me, get me thinking on a level both deep and emotional, really make me tingly all over. Usually, it happens during a brilliant scene in a well-done series that is good in all regards and goes on to become one of my favorites. In episode five of Kimi to Boku, I got the feels - not strongly, but solidly enough to keep me watching and start to view the series in a different light. A handful of episodes later, it happened again. Unfortunately, that was it. By the time the series came to a disappointing non-ending, it still hadn't realized its full potential anywhere beyond those few moments.
Sket Dance is giving me a very similar vibe, twelve episodes in. After the first handful of episodes, the show was feeling like a pretty stereotypical club-based shonen anime. Nothing was wrong with it, but nothing was good enough to hold my interest, either. Then, it, too, stunned me into reconsidering. At least two episodes in a row left me with some serious 'feels,' and I very nearly cried at one minor character's catharsis. Immediately afterwards, however, the show took a large leap in the other direction, becoming even sillier than ever. I'm still watching, but the entertainment value is dropping in a hurry, and I don't know if it's worth continuing based on the hope that the flashes of brilliance will return - because that's all they've been: flashes.
Both of these series have been so frustrating because I can see what they're capable of, and they each manage to achieve it a few times, but so inconsistently that I don't know if it's worth it. Of the thousands of anime out there, I'm already spending most of my time searching for the series that are diamonds in the rough - I don't want to have to start doing the same amongst the individual episodes of each series. Should I have to suffer through hours of boredom for a few minutes of feeling so good? That sounds too much like real life, from which anime is supposed to be one of my means of escape.
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