The Spring 2021 Preview Guide
First up for me is Gloomy the Naughty Grizzly, mostly because I love the title. I was not, however, expecting what I got: a minute-long show about a kid who for some reason keeps a pink grizzly bear as a pet and finds it hysterically funny when he eats things and then blood drips down his chin. There's really not much story here, to be perfectly frank: kid and Gloomy watch a news report on how bears chase fleeing people, doorbell rings, Gloomy attacks kid as he's walking away from Gloomy to answer the door. Credits. It is at least a little funny, if only for the shock factor, but beyond that, I can't say that this short has a lot going for it beyond the amusement value of a pink bear named Gloomy.
Fortunately for all of us, in the short-shorts department there's also Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S, little bit-size pieces of joy to tide us over until the next full season of the show. Because they're only a minute and forty-four seconds long, there isn't much time per episode, but what we do get is charming. The first episode simply covers Tohru deliberately waiting too long to wake Miss Kobayashi up for work so that she has no choice but to let the dragon fly her there. It's simple but sweet – we get a good grasp of how the two women feel about each other in the way that they interact, with Miss Kobayashi perhaps a bit exasperated with her dragon maid, but not actually angry, because she basically recognizes Tohru's actions as being born out of affection. The animation is also surprisingly nice for something that's plainly meant as a sop to those waiting for season two: Tohru's tail flopping out of her skirt looks particularly good. I wish it was longer, but I'm also not going to complain, because getting to spend any time with these characters is a treat.
Finally, the season's shorts round out with Let's Make a Mug Too. At fourteen minutes, this is the longest of the short-form series, and how you feel about it may be up to how much you enjoy CGCT shows and pottery. The story follows Himeno, who has moved back with her father to her deceased mother's hometown, where he plans to run a café with his mother-in-law. Himeno's mom was a famous potter who died twelve-odd years ago, a fact which has somehow escaped her legions of local fans; they appear to simply know that she's stopped throwing pots. Himeno seems never to have had any strong feelings about using a potter's wheel until she meets her super-perky new classmate and pottery enthusiast, and suddenly, somewhat to her dad's chagrin, she's interested in learning. It's implied that Mom may have worked herself to death, or at least ignored her health in the interest of continuing to make art, which certainly would explain Himeno's father's lack of enthusiasm. From watching my father throw pots, it looks as if the actual technique is pretty sound (and in the spirit of our heroine, I'll just announce that he took up pottery after he retired and needed a hobby), and each animated episode is followed by a live-action segment to help you learn more. It's not thrilling and the perky friend could get annoying VERY quickly, but this could be a nice relaxing way to spend fifteen minutes once a week.
Let's Make a Mug Too
I'm not really that big on short-form anime. Sometimes I'll check out a show if there's a unique hook or some interesting animation ideas – like with Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan – but usually I just prefer to sit down with a full half-hour episode over something half- or quarter-length. I'm also not big on slice-of-life hobby stuff, so I doubt I'll be watching any more of Let's Make a Mug Too. But if you're somebody more inclined to this style of anime, this seems like an easy winner.
There's surprisingly little time spent on the central hobby of pottery this episode, but that's actually a good thing. Rather than diving into the deep end of the process and details of making handmade pottery, this premiere takes its time to build up an emotional attachment to it instead. Lead heroine Himeno could have just been a newbie who thinks pottery is super neat, but instead we focus on her hazy memories of practicing as a child with her late mother. So instead of being a simple exaltation of how totally cool pottery is, it becomes a way for her to reconnect with a lost loved one. I especially appreciate the scene with her father at the end, which gives both characters enough depth to feel worthwhile even if you have no interest in making a mug, too.
Gloomy the Naughty Grizzly
Gloomy the Naughty Grizzly, on the other hand, is more what I expect from super short anime. It's a 60-second series built around 1 joke and 1 marketable mascot character, punctuated with cartoon violence and bloodshed as the punchline. It honestly feels a little silly to talk about what amounts to 45 seconds of Happy Tree Friends when it probably takes longer to read this review than it does to watch an episode. Suffice to say, if you're just really into barely animated cartoon violence, sure, why not spend 1 minute a week on this? Otherwise it's pretty bear-en. Ba-dum-tish.
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