And so we’ve finally made it to the last of the first-round matches of ‘Crunchyroll of the Dice’. The winner of this battle will move on to the quarter finals where it will face off with Kiznaiver in an episode two battle. Before we begin, here comes a quick reminder of the rules:
- The winners of round one has been paired up for battle, and I will now be watching episode two of each anime
- If the series has multiple seasons, I stick with season 1
- I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show has made it through
After I watch both episodes, I give a quick run-down of my thoughts on each and then compare them in several categories, giving points to the winner in each. This week, we have another odd little pairing with a fan service filled wrestling romp going up against a short-form comedy about otaku culture. Let’s begin …
Wanna be the Strongest in the World
We open with the lead, Sakura, screaming and blushing while the camera cuts between her face, chest and other areas. ‘I like the way you scream’, says another lady with an evil smile, and we find out that it’s a wrestling match. ‘That was the day everything started’, Sakura says, and we cut to the opening. The opening theme has a nice orchestral rock feel to it, and mostly features shots of Sakura running. We’re back in time with Sakura and her fellow Idol Elena battling it out to be lead in their Idol Group, Sweet Diva. A brief performance ends with the public vote, and Sakura is voted in for the fourth year running. Elena seems upset, but she swallows her pride and offers a handshake. And now they’re in the shower. Of course they are. After the opening scene, I should have expected that. Smoke is used to barely censor things and there’s some, um, grabbing … and we cut to a meeting with Sweet Diva’s manager. They have been offered a TV assignment where they learn the basics of pro wrestling. Sakura volunteers and Elena immediately throws her name in too, as she desperately wants to keep up with Sakura.
The pair travel to a gym run by Team Berserk, and within moments, Sakura is knocked down by a punch bag. Yup, she just jobbed to an inanimate object. It turns out she only volunteered because everyone else was scared and she thought it was a good opportunity for Sweet Diva. Elena now goes up to the top rope and does a pose, but is interrupted by the sneering lady from the opening scene, who it turns out is Rio Kazama. Rio is annoyed that Elena is mucking about and Sakura ponders if the ring is like the wrestler’s version of their live stage. Anyway, Sakura and Elena do some stretching, and Elena decides that pro wrestling is easier than she thought. Rio, being both a heel and a pro, calls her on it and challenges her to take some pro moves if it’s that easy. As an ex pro myself, I’ve gotta say, I would have been annoyed too, and having seen some veterans take similar actions with disrespectful trainees, I could see what was coming a mile off. Elena gets stretched, legit. Which means more screaming, blushing and fan service. Finally, Rio calls Sakura and Elena ‘idol bimbos’ and Sakura starts to get annoyed. Meanwhile, randomly, a former idol named Misaki is outside talking. And we’re back inside with Sakura training with Rio, trying to take revenge for Elena. To prove her point, Rio challenges Sakura to a ‘Cabellera contra Cabellera’ match (hair vs. hair if you don’t watch Lucha Libre). Sakura accepts, not knowing what the stipulation is.
There’s some quick training where Sakura bounces more than Rio in Rio Rainbow Gate, and then we cut to fight night. Sakura enters, all cheery and happy, and the fans scream insults at heel Rio. The bell rings and Sakura starts strong with a brainbuster, dropkick, and some knees … But Rio is unimpressed and takes back control with a single stiff knee and head-butt, followed by a bodyslam. And now we’re back to where we began. The crowd goes silent while Sakura screams in pain and starts crying. Rio yells about using a move becoming of an idol, then locks in another fan-service focussed submission that intentionally spreads Sakura’s legs for the cameras. Sakura is still crying and hates that the press are happy to take photos of her like that, but she refuses to give in. Rio says that if Sakura insists on sticking by her convictions, then she’ll just have to shatter them. Rio locks in the sleeper hold locks in, and Sakura blacks out. She comes to with Elena in the ring and Rio’s hand held high in victory. Sakura apologises to Elena, and Rio reminds her of the Cabellera contra Cabellera stipulation. From the shock, I’m guessing that some of the group neither had the stipulation explained to them nor bothered to go looking it up. Sakura accepts her fate, and Rio chops off a large chunk of, but nowhere near all of the hair. That really should have been a head shave, but there you go. Sakura is sad, not that she’s losing her hair, but that this is the end of pro wrestling for her. Sweet Diva gather around her their fallen comrade and Rio continues to taunt her, finally ripping on Sweet Diva as a group. Sakura is angry now and challenges Rio to a rematch, swearing to become a pro and beat her. Good luck with that. Manami Toyota she is not, and in reality, wrestling takes a long time to learn properly. But this is anime, so I guess that’s not how it’ll work. The end theme feels more ‘idol group’ than the opening. In all honesty, while too heavy on fan service for my tastes, the episode sped by and was relatively fun.
I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
This is a short it seems. We open up with a marriage scene with Kaoru pondering how she and her husband, Y, managed to get married. Was it because they knew their faults? The husband knows he won’t be able to make her happy after all. Maybe because there’s no gap between their ideals and reality? I mean, she’s in a wedding dress, so she’s obtained happiness as a woman for the most part (her words, not mine). Or maybe it was because they fell in love. Kaoru can apparently make herself happy and says that Hajime should do the best for himself too … and we’re on honeymoon. Hajime says there’s nothing to do but swim, and Kaoru doesn’t want to get a tan, but Hajime wanted to see her in a bathing suit, so Kaoru offers to des in it anyway if it’s in the hotel room. She does, and looks terribly awkward. Apparently they had a lot of, ahem, you know, after that. Thanks random narrator. And we’re on a plane with Hajime asleep and Kaoru looking out the window. She thinks to herself that nothing special really happened but she’s oddly happy anyway.
Hajime, at twenty-three. is two years younger than Kaoru. Kaoru explains that Hajime is an otaku, which she defines as a lifeform that dies if he can’t watch anime. Kaoru says she doesn’t get it at all, and asks if the show he’s watching is interesting. ‘Interesting?’ Hajime roars. ‘Mashiro-tan is my waifu!’ Kaoru complains that she’s Hajime’s wife, then explains that Hajime makes a living as a blogger. She says it’s impressive and he just says that he doesn’t want to work until he dies like everyone else. Next, Kaoru tells Hajime off for leaving a bunch of manga out in the living room with various ladies on the covers and he apologises that he forgot to put them away after he ‘used’ them. Kaoru picks up immediately that he said ‘used’ not ‘read’, peeks inside, and finds them to be full of fan service. Next, Hajime is drooling over Moe stuff, so Kaoru pulls a Moe face, and Y’s head snaps around like a homing beacon.
On their day off, Kaoru wants to go out, but Hajime is tired. He says that he’ll go if Kaoru makes him feel Moe. So she pulls a Moe face and does a catgirl Nya. And they’re off out, with Kaoru looking really pleased with herself. They go to the cinema and decide to watch an anime. Kaoru enjoyed it, but Hajime was unimpressed. He reels off a bunch of random review stuff, and Kaoru apologises for watching without considering all of that. Kaoru wants to go home, but Hajime wants to take her to a hotel, and she blushes. Ending theme is kinda sing-a-long-y. That was OK for what it was, if perhaps a little inconsistent.
Let the battle commence!
I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. The battles will be: Best Opening Episode (in terms of achieving the goal of setting the series up), Best Main Character, Best Supporting Cast, Best Storyline, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.
Despite one series being a collection of short, sub-four-minute episodes and the other being a standard length affair, both do seem to have a running storyline of sorts, and so the initial set-up is important here. Wanna be the Strongest in the World has an OK premise, and I don’t doubt for one minute that the first episode was representative of what’s to come. Meanwhile, I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying gives us a clear indication of the type of humour that will continue through the run. In terms of setting things up, this one is pretty close, but I wold say that Wanna be the Strongest doesn’t suffer from the same mild inconsistency of its foe. For that reason, it gets the points. Best Opening Episode: Wanna be the Strongest in the World
Sakura … annoyed me a little. There’s nothing particularly wrong with her really, she’s just a bit generic. Now, you can have a focussed lead, out to defy all odds, and who believes in their convictions without them feeling bland. The problem is, Sakura seems to have nothing going on other than loving her Idol Group, Sweet Diva, so much that she’ll put herself in harm’s way. That’s really not enough for me. On the other hand, Kaoru is perfectly likeable. It may be that others find her to the bland one of the two, but there’s an odd sort of realism to her that makes me find her more palatable as a show focus. Sakura may not want to give up, but Kaoru’s beaten her down this time. Best Main Character: I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying only really has one supporting cast member at this point: Hajime. Hajime is representative of otaku stereotypes, and that’s pretty much it. I honestly can’t say anything else about the guy. Wanna be the Strongest in the World meanwhile gives us two additional cast members to play with, full-on heel, Rio Kazama, and tweener, Elena. If you’re not used to wrestling terms, a face is the hero, a heel is the villain, and a tweener is someone is neither face nor heel. Rio is an effective villain in many ways, though I can’t say I disagree with her annoyance. The main thing is though, she’s suitably evil enough (at least within the boundaries of the setting) to work in her role. Elena meanwhile has shown a jealous streak and some genuine concern, giving her some potential to grow as a character, perhaps more so than Sakura. In all, Idols vs. Wrestlers is far more effective in this category. Best Supporting Cast: Wanna be the Strongest in the World
What this boils down to is a battle of ‘impulsive Idol stands up for her friends and works hard to vanquish a stronger foe’ vs. ‘the everyday life of an ordinary woman and her struggles to understand her otaku husband’. The thing is, both shows are completely different genres, and their storylines fit in just fine with their chosen genres. In terms of which one I thought was better overall, I would be hard pressed to pick. Neither one immediately makes me think that the story is so compelling that I must continue no matter what, and neither one puts me off either. Best Storyline: Draw
Neither show is anything special in this category. They both seem to be somewhere between average and poor to me, especially compared to some of the other shows out there, but neither is a complete disaster. Best Animation: Draw
The only thing that really stood out for either show was the opening to Wanna be the Strongest in the World. I’m a fan of orchestral rock, so the feel of that sat well with me. The problem is, with nothing else leaping out at me, that single factor is all it takes to clinch it. The voice acting seemed fine in both shows, but that’s it. Best Soundtrack: Wanna be the Strongest in the World
Final Scores: Wanna be the Strongest in the World – 8 points, I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying – 4 points
The results there make it seem a little more one-sided than it actually was. I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying is actually a passable way to spend four minutes, and while it didn’t make me laugh out loud, it’s not cringe-worthy at all. Wanna be the Strongest in the World really made it through in the same way that Rio Rainbow Gate did: it didn’t try to put itself up as something that it wasn’t, and just got on with telling a simple story. The fan service levels were way too high for my liking, but there you go.
And so ends the first round of ‘A Crunchyroll of the Dice’. The Quarter-finals will be contested based on episode two of each show, and the brackets are as follows:
Love Live! School Idol Project vs. Lupin III Part 4
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories vs. Flying Witch
Rio Rainbow Gate vs. Amanchu!
Wanna be the Strongest in the World vs. Kiznaiver