Fruits Basket The Final Season: Episode 3 – “I Hope It Snows Soon”

Roughly the first half of the episode focuses on Machi. The episode opens with her noticing that it’s snowing and hoping that it doesn’t stick and accumulate. She notices a box of new chalk that has just been opened and looks pristine, and she suddenly knocks it over.

Meanwhile, in the student council room, the student council members (minus Machi) are talking, and Nao starts lashing out at Yuki. Kimi ends up guessing correctly that Nao is in love with a girl who’s been pining for Yuki. The audience can tell she’s right by how Nao is blushing furiously. We’re going to hold this thought, though, because I’m going to be focusing on Machi for a little while in this writeup.

Two of Machi’s classmates come to the student council room and relay the chalk incident. They also share a rumor they heard that Machi was kicked out of her house because she tried to kill her baby brother. Machi overhears this and runs off. Later, Kakeru talks with Yuki and shares what he heard from his parents about the incident. But Kakeru suggests going to Machi’s place so Yuki can ask her directly. Not surprisingly, Machi is stunned to see Kakeru and Yuki appear at her front door.

But this leads to an important scene between Yuki and Machi, where we learn why Machi acts the way she does… she’s afraid of perfection because of how perfect her parents expected her to be. When her younger brother is born, her mother talks about how they have the boy they always wanted, and complains how dull and boring Machi is. When Machi tries to tell her mother that she was doing what she thought her mother expected of her, her mother accuses Machi of blaming her for the way she turned out. And when it comes to her baby brother, she thought he was cold and was just trying to put a blanket on him to keep him warm. But her parents come in right as she’s about to finish, and jump to the worst conclusion that she’s trying to suffocate him out of jealousy. By the end of this flashback, I was so angry with Machi’s parents. They are, quite frankly, horrible people… and I think she’s better off without them.

Even though it may have stirred up those kinds of emotions in me, I was happy to see how this moment brings Yuki and Machi closer together. The final scene of the Machi portion of the story made me quite happy. During the next student council meeting, a new box of chalk is brought in, and it’s placed in front of Machi because it’s her turn on chalkboard duty. You can see in Machi’s eyes that she wants to do something about it. Yuki, who is sitting next to her, suddenly reaches over and breaks one of the pieces of chalk so it no longer looks perfect. Like I said, this moment made me quite happy.

The rest of the story focuses on the seniors graduating. Motoko has a final talk with Yuki, and she actually handles this situation as well as she could have. She’s matured enough at this point to realize that there’s no chance with Yuki, and that she sincerely wishes happiness for him in his future. Yuki handled this situation very well. I thought this was the perfect way to bring Motoko’s storyline to a close. I can’t remember if this is basically the end of the Prince Yuki Fan Club in the manga, or if there’s still any hijinks from them after Motoko’s graduation. It’s just been too many years since I read these later chapters of the manga.

Now, remember when I mentioned Nao earlier in the episode? After the graduation ceremony, Motoko goes back to her classroom to take one final look before leaving. Nao approaches, and it’s then that the viewer realizes that the girl Nao had been pining for was Motoko. There’s a similar exchange between these two, although the roles are reversed (Motoko is now in Yuki’s shoes, while Nao is in Motoko’s shoes). I thought this juxtaposition was very effective. There was a flashback scene we saw earlier when Motoko was remembering encountering Yuki, and I know it’s one we’ve seen in the past. When it shows up this time, we see that Nao was actually there, too, but Motoko never even noticed he was there. With this encounter, it only reinforced my opinion that Motoko has matured a lot from the character we met at the beginning of the series.

Right after this, we see that Hiro’s little sister, Hinata, has been born. There’s a sweet scene in the hospital between Hiro, his mother, and Hinata. It was a nice, feel good moment right before the final scene of the episode.

Kagura visits with Shigure and Hattori, saying that Rin graduated while she was in the hospital. Kagura had gone to pick up Rin’s diploma. and she starts wondering aloud about Rin. While everyone’s been told that she’s in the hospital, no one seems to know which hospital she’s at. Also, Kagura has been unable to reach her. Shigure basically tells her to butt out and stop investigating. The very final shot of the episode is Akito leaving the room where Rin is being kept, and she has a pair of scissors in her hand. As Akito leaves, it looks like hair is flying out of the doorway. I’ve got to say, that was quite a dark way to end the episode after having such a feel good moment with Hiro and his family. But that feel good scene was needed to help blunt the darkness of that final moment.

Now that the seniors have graduated, our main protagonists are now going to be in their final year of high school. I’m really looking forward to watching the remaining episodes of Fruits Basket and finally seeing the entire story in animated form after all these years.

Additional posts about Fruits Basket:

Arata: The Legend Manga to Return on May 19, 2021, With All-New Chapter Debuting on July 7, 2021

This year’s 21st issue of Shogakukan’s Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine has announced that Yuu Watase’s Arata: The Legend (Arata Kangatari) manga will return in the 25th issue on May 19, 2021. The magazine will first republish chapters of the manga that will be included in the 13th volume of the “remastered” edition of the manga. The magazine will publish all-new chapters starting with the 32nd issue on July 7, 2021.

Watase had posted on Twitter in March 2021 that she and the staff of Shogakukan’s Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine had decided on the resumption date of the manga, as well as the release date of the 13th volume of the manga’s “remastered” edition, but would announce the resumption date later.

Arata: The Legend has been on hiatus since 2015. Watase last resumed the manga in July 2015 (after an earlier 17-month hiatus), only to put the manga back on hiatus in August 2015.

Source: ANN

Manga Creator and Animator Fumio Hisamatsu Passes Away

Publisher Seirindo has announced that manga creator Fumino Hisamitsu passed away on April 16, 2021. He was 77 years old at the time of his passing.

Hisamitsu was born in Nagoya in 1943, and debuted with the Chikyū Ayaushi manga volume when he was 15 years old. He also worked as an assistant to Osamu Tezuka.

He designed characters and served as a key animator for the Shōnen Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru, Bōken Gabotenjima, and Mirai Kara Shōnen Super Jetter anime, and he drew manga adaptations of all three. He’s also credited as the original creator for Bōken Gabotenjima.

Hisamitsu was also the first manga creator to adapt Japan’s mythological text Records of Ancient Matters into a manga form in its entirety, in the Manga de Yomu Kojiki series. He also drew manga adaptations of other historical texts, as well as manga about Japanese history.

Source: ANN

Osamu Kobayashi Memorial for Overseas Fans

On the night of April 17, 2021, anime director Osamu Kobayashi lost his two-year fight against kidney cancer and passed away at the age of 57.

Kobayashi was best known as the director of the BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad TV anime to fans overseas. But throughout his career, which started in 1988 doing the mechanical design and key animation on the Dragon’s Heaven OVA, he touched the lives of many, whether that was through his works, his style, his love of rock music, and his lovable personality and attitude.

Now a memorial page has been opened for fans from across the world to send their messages of love to the family of Kobayashi.

Fans are encouraged to write whatever memories they have of Osamu Kobayashi-san and how his work impacted them via the Google Forms link below.

Osamu Kobayashi Memorial for Overseas Fans

(Note: Messages will be filtered for profanity and other unsavory comments)

Anime Blu-ray Review: Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter

Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter is the 21st film released for the Case Closed franchise, which was released to Japanese theaters in 2017.

Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter
English Publisher: Discotek Media
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: December 29, 2020

The focus of this film is on karuta, a Japanese card game where players have to quickly determine which card out of an array of cards is required and grabbing it before another player does. While there isn’t a lot of focus on the mechanics of playing karuta, I was still glad to have seen the first two seasons of Chihayafuru before watching this film. This gave me some knowledge about the game before going into this film, and I think it helped me to better appreciate and understand the karuta aspects in the film.

Kogoro is in Kyoto for an interview that includes the man behind the Satsuki Cup and the Satsuki school for karuta. He is accompanied by Ran, Conan, Ayumi, Mitsuhiko, and Genta. Ai decides to stay at home with Professor Agasa, and this fact becomes important when Conan needs help solving the mysteries that present themselves during this film. They are joined by Heiji and Kazuha, who are there to cheer on their classmate from the karuta club who is playing in a tournament against the current Queen (the best female karuta player in Japan). Although I question the inclusion of Ayumi, Mitsuhiko, and Genta. They really aren’t pivotal to the story and just seem to just be “there.” Honestly, I think this story could have worked without having these three characters being brought along for the ride.

When Heiji and Kazuha run into Momiji Ooka, the current Queen, Momiji says she’s happy to see her future husband. I realized that I recognized this character from some of the later episodes of the Case Closed anime that I’ve seen. It was an “a-ha!” moment to realize that this film serves as Momiji’s introduction into the series. Since I hadn’t seen this film prior to seeing Momiji in some of the episodes, I had assumed that Momiji was a weird rich girl who was stalking Heiji for some reason. When Heiji and Kazuha’s friend breaks her arm during one of the bombings, Kazuha goes into the karuta competitions in her friend’s stead, which leads to a subplot between Kazuha and Momiji. Through this subplot, we learn that Heiji’s mother is a former Queen. I thought this was an interesting fact to learn.

There are ultimately two mysteries involved in this story: who murdered a karuta champion and who is setting off bombs trying to kill particular karuta players. It was interesting to watch this story unfold, even if the scene on the roof of the television studio where Conan makes a rescue attempt to help Heiji and Kazuha came across as a little unrealistic. It was one of those scenes where you have to use your “willing suspension of disbelief” in order to accept that it was happening.

When all is said and done, I enjoyed Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter. It’s ultimately one of the more important films in the franchise, since it introduces a recurring character who appears off and on in the anime series. Without seeing Momiji’s introduction here, her appearances in the anime series don’t make sense, and you get a very different perception of the character without this introduction.

When it comes to the Blu-ray release, it has 1.77.1 16:9 / 1080p High Definition video. The audio includes English DTS-MA 5.1, Japanese DTS-MA 5.1, and Japanese LPCM 2.0. I had no complaints with either the video or audio quality for this release.

For bonus features, there was a clean ending, a teaser for the film, and two trailers for the film. I was glad to see that there were some kind of bonus features included on this release. Considering how hard it’s been to get anyone to release Case Closed in the west after FUNimation Entertainment lost the rights, I have a hard time nitpicking these Case Closed releases for their bonus features. I feel grateful to be getting any of these releases at all at this point.

It should also be noted that the outer slipcase labels the release as Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter, but the cover artwork on the Blu-ray box itself and the Blu-ray Disc labels the film as Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter.

If you’re a fan of the Case Closed anime and are trying to acquire home video releases for the series, I would recommend acquiring this release of Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter for your anime library.

Additional posts about Case Closed:

DAKAICHI – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year- Anime Is Getting a Feature Film

The Fandom Post is reporting that the DAKAICHI – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year- anime will be getting a feature film that focuses on the Spain arc from the manga.

The anime series was directed by Naoyuki Tatsuwa, based on the series composition by Yoshimi Naruta. Minako Shiba handled the character designs, and CloverWorks handled the animation production.

The story of DAKAICHI – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year- is described as:

Takato Saijyo has reigned as the idol industry’s “Most Huggable” for five years, that is until freshman actor Junta Azumaya. Takato was always considered brusque while Azumaya’s smile is winning over admirers by comparison. The whole fiasco drives Takuto to overindulge in alcohol and his actions catch the attention of the last person he wants to see. To his surprise, Azumaya uses this new info to blackmail Takuto for physical affection.

Source: The Fandom Post

Sentai Filmworks Acquires the Digital Distribution Rights for the My Little Monster Anime

The Fandom Post is reporting that Sentai Filmworks has acquired the digital distribution rights for the My Little Monster anime, and that the series will be added to new locations soon. The anime will be made available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Latin America, Spain, Portugal, Turkey plus all Nordic and Scandinavian countries.

The story of My Little Monster is described as:

Standoffish, reclusive Shizuku Mizutani cares far more about earning stellar grades than cultivating friendships. But her opinions on friendship and relationships begin to change when she meets habitual truant Haru Yoshida, who happens to have a rather fearsome reputation. Like Shizuku, Haru’s reputation has made it difficult to make friends. And yet through their budding friendship and stirrings of attraction the unlikely pair learns to understand one another, the world around them, and the tenor of their own emotions.

Source: The Fandom Post

ABLAZE Presents Space Pirate Captain Harlock Cover Reveals for Issue 2 of the New Comic Series Launching in June 2021

Comics publisher ABLAZE gives readers and fans another special sneak peek of its forthcoming series, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, with cover reveals for Issue 2. A total of 5 variant covers have been created for the sophomore release of the new sci-fi series by legendary creator, Leiji Matsumoto, and French artist, Jerome Alquié. Issue 1 launches in print and digitally on June 9, 2021.

Each installment of Space Pirate Captain Harlock is published as full-color, 32-page issue with special variant covers by renowned artists from the comics world. The variants for Issue 2 include artistic homages from talents including Mirka Andolfo, Junggeun Yoon, Andie Tong, Philippe Briones, as well as one by the series’ main artist, Jerome Alquié.

Space Pirate Captain Harlock Issue 2 goes on sale on July 7, 2021. Issue 2 will be available for pre-orders on April 23, 2021 after the July ’21 solicitation information is released by Diamond. Pre-orders and solicitations for Issue 1 are available now.

As Issue 2 unfolds, the Earth’s government is not up to the task of protecting the planet from an impending invasion, so Captain Harlock and his crew take it on themselves. The space pirates rush to investigate a looming threat already implanted on Earth that will make a Mazon takeover that much more likely. Will they be able to meet this threat head on and eliminate it from the board before humankind is under siege from all sides?

Captain Harlock first appeared in Leiji Matsumoto’s manga, also titled Space Pirate Captain Harlock, which was published in 1977. An anime adaptation followed in 1978, and the character went on to star in several feature films and television series achieving iconic status among legions of ardent fans. The Space Pirate Captain Harlock comic series published by ABLAZE depicts a brand-new story arc set within the same timeline as the original manga series.

The cover image featured at the top of this post was done by Philippe Briones

Crunchyroll Expands the Territories for the Reborn! Anime

Crunchyroll has announced that it will expand the streaming territories for the Reborn! anime. The updated list of streaming territories includes the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, non-French-speaking Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Crunchyroll previously streamed the anime in English-speaking regions, but the company will release episodes with subtitles in each new region’s respective language over the following months.

The story of the series is described as:

The tenth boss of the Vongola mafia family has been decided, and it’s Japanese high school student Tsunayoshi Sawada… also known as “Loser Tsuna.” He’s not smart, he’s not athletic, and he’s the furthest thing from cool. But the boys back in Sicily aren’t about to let Tsuna stay that way. To make a man out of a boy, they send in the baby–the best hitman in the business, Reborn. In this collection, the daily life of Tsuna and the people he meets, fights, and grows to trust (amidst zany antics) are contrasted by the deadly battles brought on by a rival seeking to take the Vongola boss position for himself. Then, Tsuna is cast into the future, to deal with a threat that promises to end the Vongola for good.

Reborn! ran from 2006-2010. Crunchyroll and VIZ Media streamed the anime adaptation outside Japan. The series is also streaming on Hulu. Discotek Media licensed the anime and released it on Blu-ray Disc in September and October 2018.

Source: ANN

Anime Film Review: Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter

Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter is the 21st anime film released for the franchise.

Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter
Directed by: Kobun Shizuno
Written by: Takahiro Okura
Starring: Kappei Yamaguchi, Minami Takayama, Wakana Yamazaki, Rikiya Koyama, Ryo Horikawa, Yuko Miyamura, Megumi Hayashibara, Yukiko Iwai, Ikue Otani, Wataru Takagi, Kazuhiro Yamaji, Masako Katsuki, Naoko Matsui, Masaki Terasoma, Satsuki Yukino, Daisuke Ono, Kenichi Ogata, Daisuke Miyagawa, and Riho Yoshioka
Run Time: 112 minutes

The focus of this film is on karuta, a Japanese card game where players have to quickly determine which card out of an array of cards is required and grabbing it before another player does. Fortunately, I had seen the first two seasons of the Chihayafuru anime before watching Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter, so I already had some knowledge about karuta going into it. Because of this, I think I was better able to appreciate and understand the karuta aspects that are brought up in this film.

At the beginning of the film, the reigning champion of the Satsuki Cup is murdered while he is practicing karuta, and the cards that are spread around the room provide an important clue. But the murder isn’t the only mystery that takes place in this film.

Meanwhile, Kogoro is in Kyoto for an interview that includes the man behind the Satsuki Cup and the Satsuki school for karuta. He is accompanied by Ran, Conan, Ayumi, Mitsuhiko, and Genta. Ai decides to stay at home with Professor Agasa, and this fact becomes important when Conan needs help solving the mysteries that present themselves during this film. They are joined by Heiji and Kazuha, who are there to cheer on their classmate from the karuta club who is playing in a tournament against the current Queen (the best female karuta player in Japan).

Things get interesting when Hattori and Kazuha run into Momiji Ooka, the current Queen. She recognizes Heiji and says she’s happy to see her future husband. Hattori has no idea who this girl is, but of course, Kazuha becomes upset by this ordeal. As soon as I saw Momiji, I realized that I know her from some of the more recent episodes of Case Closed. I had an “a-ha!” moment here, when I realized that The Crimson Love Letter is Momiji’s introduction to the series. Since I hadn’t seen this film before encountering her in the anime series, I just thought Momiji was this weird rich girl who was stalking Heiji for some reason. It turns out they met in elementary school, when Heiji entered a karuta contest and won. Momiji has the belief that the two made a promise to marry someday, which is why she believes Heiji is her future husband.

The next mystery is revealed when a bomb threat is relayed to the television station where the characters are getting ready for the karuta match and the interview. Most of the characters evacuate in time, but Heiji, Kazuha, and their friend from school are trapped when the karuta player decides to save the special karuta cards that were brought to the studio for the match. After Heiji and Kazuha are separated from their friend, there’s an exciting scene of them trying to make it to the roof in the hopes of getting out of the smoke. It’s up to Conan to use his solar powered skateboard to rescue them. The excitement is amplified when Conan himself ends up in danger during the rescue attempt. I have to say that while this was exciting to watch, there were portions of it that felt unrealistic. I think in order to truly enjoy this rescue scene, you have to be able to use your “willing suspension of disbelief.”

Heiji and Kazuha’s friend breaks her arm during the incident, and Kazuha has to take her place in the upcoming Satsuki Cup match. Heiji calls in his mother, who is a former Queen, to help Kazuha train before the big match.

But there’s still another bomb to be dealt with, this time on a car being driven by one of the members of the Satsuki school. Conan and Heiji help to investigate both the murder and the bombings, and through various clues discover that a former rival of the Satsuki school could be behind the incidents. The story builds in intensity and leads up to the karuta competition for the Satsuki Cup, as well as revealing the truth behind the murder and the bombings. The truth behind Heiji and Momiji’s promise is also revealed, and it is quite amusing. Considering how intense this mystery gets, it was nice to get such a light-hearted scene at the end.

When I heard the karuta readers in this film, I thought they sounded an awful lot like the karuta readers in Chihayafuru. As I recall, Chihayafuru used real and certified karuta readers for those scenes, so those same readers could have been approached for Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter in order to help add a layer of authenticity to the karuta that’s depicted in the film.

The one thing I’m still puzzled by is the inclusion of Ayumi, Mitsuhide, and Genta. Yes, they wanted to see Kyoto, but when it comes to the actual plot, they really don’t do anything important. They basically just tag along with Ran or are just kind of “there.” Quite frankly, I think the story could have worked just as well without their involvement.

I thought the animation looked very nice for this film. Even though I found the rescue scene on the unrealistic side, I was still impressed by the animation that was used for this scene. I could just see and feel the danger of the flames and smoke on the roof of the building. And I thought that the animation worked well for the karuta match scenes.

But when all is said and done, even with the nitpicks I had with Case Closed: The Crimson Love Letter, I still enjoyed it. It’s ultimately one of the more important films in the franchise, since it introduces a recurring character who appears off and on in the anime series. Without seeing Momiji’s introduction here, her appearances in the anime series don’t make sense, and you get a very different perception of the character without this introduction. It’s definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of the Case Closed franchise.

Additional posts about Case Closed: