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Moyashimon Returns

15 JUL
2012

Yea, been a while since my last blog!  I still have a lot of opinions, but haven't had the time to sit down and write them out most of the time.

Today, however, I'm going to cover season two of Moyashimon, which is titled "Moyashimon Returns".  It's two episodes along, and I'm disliking it already.

The first season was incredible, informative, and just plain interesting.  Though I typically prefer anime/manga with younger protagonists, Tadayasu and his ability to see microbes (which look different from what they appear as under a high powered microscope) caught my attention right away.

Then, there was the eccentric professor Itsuki, the slightly sadistic female assistant Hasegawa, and the two "strange" yet brilliant sake-brewers Misato and Kawahama.  A classmate of Tadayasu's often showed up (Oikawa), and there was an interesting turn of events with his childhood friend, Kei.

The art style was different from what I'm used to, but I liked it in the first season.  The lines were bold and solid...I don't know how else to describe it, but it helped the mood of the series.

The microbes could communicate with Tadayasu (and vise-versa), and were often featured in explanations (typically given by Itsuki) on how different alcohols are brewed and items are fermented. The explanations were done at a reasonable pace (even to me, and I'm not an auditory learner), and I was able to learn a lot.

I was so impressed with the series overall, that I purchased the manga volumes that are currently available in English (and am eagerly awaiting more translations).

The second season, Moyashimon Returns, however...

The overall mood completely changed.  The first thing I noticed was that the characters got a major overhaul in designs.  This isn't what I want to see when I find another season of an anime I loved.

Imagine if Rumiko Takahashi (the creator of Inuyasha) radically changed the colors and designs of the characters from the first anime series (Inuyasha) to the second (The Final Act).  As in, DRASTICALLY changed it.

Well, that's what happened to Moyashimon Returns.  The colors are much brighter (glaringly, at times), and the characters have rounder eyes and faces, which gives them a younger appearance than that of college/university students.  It's as if the animators are trying to appeal to a younger audience by making the characters look younger and more "shounen" than they should.

There was always humor in the first season, but this season so far (two episodes in) is based more on attempts at comedy as Oikawa attempts to find some secret underground area of Itsuki's.  She tells Tadayasu, and by the end of the second episode, all of the "students" (Tadayasu, Misato, Kawahama, Oikawa) are involved in trying to find this mysterious hole/passageway.

Sounds interesting, right?  Well, it took until the final 4-5 minutes of the second episode to get to that point, with a lot of mindless and seriously unrelated things in the process.  During one point in the second episode, it just randomly cuts to some "new" yeast microbe "recruits" being "trained" by a drill sergeant yeast microbe.  It made no sense (it was just really promoting miso in the longest, most drawn out yet fast-talking method I've ever seen), and was at a completely random spot in the episode.  There was no prelude to it, and no background as to why it was there...it just WAS THERE.

My guess is that, when they finished the episode, they realized they needed to kill another 2-3 minutes, and made a microbe feature on miso, then randomly inserted it into the episode.

The new season also is very "busy", and the scenes don't flow smoothly into each other like they did in the first season (feels like a hodge-podge of different events).  Though there really isn't a lot going on (Itsuki's crew is working on the sake in the brewing cellar, and preparing rice and beans for it; then the mysterious hole that Oikawa discovers), it's like everyone is on fast-forward.  They're moving quickly and talking faster than needed, and the fast pace of the episode and the characters makes the anime feel more fast paced than it is.

It's NOT a fast paced type of series...they shouldn't have tried to make it fast-paced, and that was a huge mistake on their part.

The microbe theater and explanations involving the microbes and brewing are so packed with explanations and things going on (attempts to explain it in as few frames as possible, I guess) in a single frame that I'm learning nothing by watching it.  I also don't enjoy the microbe explanations this season like I did in the last season.

There isn't as much interaction or focus on Tadayasu's ability to see microbes this season as there was last season, too.  It's in there from time to time, but all those scenes are moved along quickly and pushed around by the new fast pace of the anime.

If they had kept the same animation and pace, I probably would enjoy this season a lot more.  In fact, I'm immensely disappointed with the new season.  The first season was so good, and then I find that there's a second season...

...and it looks and feels nothing like the first season.  I barely even knew it was Moyashimon!

I do like the ending song, and they did keep some of the funny expressions the characters make, but they tried to make it "cuter", "brighter", and more "fast-paced"...and it's obvious.  Unfortunately, all three of those terms really don't belong in Moyashimon at all. 

I liked the series for the slow pace, slight storyline, focus on the microbes (and Tadayasu's relationship with them), and the characters themselves. 

Moyashimon Returns falls short, and fails to deliver the same mood and feel that captured and won me over in the first season (and the manga).

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