Anime Taste Testing: Vinland Saga Season 2 and Mononogatari

One of these was about as expected, the other sounded good on paper but is bland as hell when viewed on screen.

Vinland Saga Season 2

I won’t dedicate a whole lot of wordage to this show – it’s a direct sequel, so if you’re already watching/planning to do so, I have to assume you know exactly what kind of thing you’re in for, and if you’re interested in watching, getting through the first season is a must to know what’s happened in the story thus far. I expect no major changes to the anime in this second season as far as general quality and tone goes – it’s a different studio but otherwise all the same staff, and while I haven’t read the manga, I hear it’s a reasonably faithful adaptation.

As for my thoughts on Vinland Saga as a whole, they haven’t changed much, if at all, since I last checked in roughly 3 and a half years back. This is a perfectly decent series, albeit not necessarily a particularly deep or complex one, and it’s certainly not afraid to explore the depths of human misery, often in relatively explicit and harrowing detail. Vinland Saga isn’t the kind of show that makes you think “I’m gonna have a good time watching this anime” – it’s more like “I’m gonna have a time watching this anime.” If that doesn’t sound like it’d be up your alley, pretty understandable. I don’t live and breathe the show like a lot of fans seem to do – as I said, I don’t think it says or does anything terribly profound or groundbreaking – but as a historical series at least, there’s still plenty to appreciate here, regardless of whether or not Vikings was ever your Thing as a kid.

Score: 7/10

Malevolent Spirits: Mononogatari

On paper, this is the kind of anime that sounds right up my alley. In practice, it’s a mildly annoying, mildly cheap-looking snooze-fest with one-note characters whose often outlandish and/or over-the-top character designs do little to make them either memorable or likable. Mononogatari may be based on a seinen manga, but it both looks and feels like a generic B-list shonen – and frankly, the opening minute tipped me off to all this with its basic in media res action sequence, where it looked like to try and make everything super dramatic and engaging, the producers just grabbed their images, shoved them into MS Paint, and clicked Invert. I highly doubt this will be the worst thing to come out this season – after all, it’s not offensively bad – but I’m absolutely not inspired to watch any more of it.

Score: 4/10

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4 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Vinland Saga Season 2 and Mononogatari

  1. With Vinland Saga, I’m not yet sure what I think about Einar. I was fine with the first episode, but wasn’t quite as into it as I was into last season, but then it’s only the first episode and even in season one the show’s biggest strength was its build-up. I’m happy to have it back and expect it to be either anime of the season or at least very near the top. I’ll probably have to refresh my memory of how season one ended, though. I’m not entirely sure whether I should already know how Thorfinn ended up in slavery, or if I should be wondering that. My memory isn’t what it used to be…

    And talking about memory: I already have trouble recalling much about that other show. I remember raising an eyebrow at hearing the term “tsukumogami”. Sure they turn into items when defeated, but other than that I so far saw nothing that suggested an item endowed with spirit when used over a long time, and instead I get something about… “sending them back”? I do remember that confusion, but little else. (I think I might not like the main character much, but I might be confusing him with someone else from another show. I really need to work on my memory.)

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    1. Yeah, I do definitely think that season 1 of Vinland Saga got better as it went along. I don’t mind slow build-up as long as there’s good payoff at the end, and I do think that in general, Vinland Saga is capable of that. Viewers will just likely need to have the patience to wait for it.

      Possibly you’re referring to Tsukumogami Kashimasu, which aired back in 2018? It was a fairly low-stakes slice-of-life affair set in Edo Japan. Clearly, Mononogatari is taking a much looser approach with the term “tsukumogami” (and I agree, that did make me raise an eyebrow too, since what I assumed from the premise based on that and what I actually got were two very different things). Either way, it’s not a show for me.

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      1. Nah, something that aired this season. I tend to click play on nearly everything, so when a new season starts I sometimes have trouble remembering what happened in which show, or who’s in which show. Especially among the more forgettable shows that I put into the same category (shounen fighters, supernatural edition). It’s getting worse with age, I’m afraid.

        I quite liked Tsukumogami Kashimasu, even though it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it would be. As someone who uses old stuff like say wallets or watches or coats way beyond their functionality and only gives them up when others tell me it’s embarrassing to walk around with this, I’ve always been drawn to tsukumogami. It’s such a me-concept. It feels… gimmicky, in Mononogatari (though that might change in the future, as they explain more). My main confusion was that the term’s oddly specific, without adding anything to the show so far. And I still don’t really remember much about the show.

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