[Series Review] Moyashimon, Season 1

My original reason for watching Moyashimon was getting a better understanding of agriculture for an aspect of “The Story” I was researching. I stopped watching it partway through when I dropped that research. It always stuck around in my mind as a show I should complete. The first episode of season one is a good example of a well-crafted episode, so between that, and its approachable use of microbiology, I would say it’s …mostly worthwhile.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]
Spoilers: minor-specific, major-vague

There is a section of episode 1 I particularly enjoy.

The two main characters have just arrived at the agricultural university for orientation. They had earlier walked by people handing out pamphlets and police, which they commented as weird seeing police there. Their boring orientation is interrupted by someone asking them to look at the flyer the police handed out, asking to look for the missing person on the pamphlet. Our main characters continue on with the boredom of orientation.

There’s momentary tension in the plot.

They later walk through the forest as a shortcut until one of the characters, Sawaki, sees microbes, which is something the other character, Yuuki, comments without suspicious surprise. Yuuki notices that Sawaki hasn’t seen microbes for years. Sawaki sees more microbes coming from a clearing in the forest where they see what looks like a human-sized grave.

There’s a significant increase in tension.

Cut to a crowd barricaded by police. Yuuki comments the police are not casually dressed so it must be serious. They are considered suspects, or at least, suspicious until this tension is relieved between the introduction of Professor Itsuki digging up the “grave” and the return of missing person herself, Hasegawa, reappearing to reclaim the contents of the “grave.”

Plot mechanics like this normally don’t interest me.

However, a major component I casually explore in Media Meandry essays is how the media is made or makes me feel – think an unprofessionally written review. When shows like Moyashimon have multiple minor plot elements like this in an episode going on – going to university, finding the professor, a missing person – it leads to a more exciting show.

I rewatched the first episode for three reasons.

First, grabbing the introductory screenshot. Second, seeing how it ties in with the last episode, since plots ‘whose beginnings nod to their endings’ is a concept I picked up while writing Novel 01. Third, by pure accident. I thought I’d watch enough to grab a screenshot and go, but the aforementioned plot weavings kept me interested so I asked ‘why?’

What do you look for when you meander through new media?

For me, I prefer a modestly-sized cast of characters going through a mostly clear story. The more characters there are, the less likely I am to keep track of each character, especially when they’re spread so thin that you meet them and never see them again. Moyashimon has a modest yet distinct cast of characters and the story is mainly slice-of-life.

A weird note for me is Oikawa’s motivations late into the series.

After a festival where our male characters buy aphrodisiac materials in order to seduce women, they end up leaving the materials for our female characters to consume, who find themselves influenced by these materials. Oikawa wakes up naked with a female character, then is later disgusted by male character Sawaki kissing another male. …Why disgust?

This plot point isn’t resolved and seems more like problematic fan service.

Does fan service only serve to draw people to the show? If so, is it because the media can’t stand on its own weight? I hear variants of these questions occasionally. My usual thought is if it helps progress plot or character then I’m OK with any degree of adult material. I’m not convinced the plot benefited nor did I learn about any characters from this content.

Instead, I’m left feeling like I need to qualify the show as: “this is a good show, but…”

Despite the plot, which goes along at a fast enough pace with enough going on that it’s easy to watch, and despite the premise of Sawaki seeing microbes, leading to a scene that has aged well, where he sees microbes hanging out in a face mask he wore inside of an area full of influenza microbes, I still wouldn’t say it’s a favorite show of mine or anything.

I do plan to watch season 2 eventually.

I have other shows I’d rather watch first. Even if I restrict myself to my usual 3-episode-per-day rule, it’ll be easy to watch since it’s 11 episodes at under 20 minutes, which is short enough for each episode to not be boring. Although boredom isn’t a primary criterion for me, generally, I’d rather not be bored meandering through passive media like anime.

It would be easy for Moyashimon to be boring with its microbiology topic.

Instead, by having microbes represented as silly caricatures, we can abstract the ramifications of the scientific concepts without worrying about memorizing their scientific names. We can, instead, see them float through the air, interacting with Sawaki, all while showing how common microbes are in life. The face mask scene made me wonder.

Would modernizing Moyashimon for a hypothetical season 3 include COVID?

Admittedly, seeing that face mask scene made in 2007 carries different connotations now in 2020 where face masks are mandatory in my area and many other areas around the world to prevent the spread of a microbe we don’t fully understand. It would be nice if there were real-life people Sawaki to help identify, capture, and stop the spread of COVID.

Although that’s unrelated to season 1, media doesn’t live in a vacuum.

When we read old novels, we can understand the context from which the authors wrote, but if they use unforgivably problematic language or imagery, we shouldn’t ignore it just because we like it. Same here, where fan service of Moyashimon only served to hinder a show that otherwise was strong enough on its own. Will season 2 be better?

I’ll take my time to meander through season 2.

Endtable
Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I wrote this review/meandry mainly to explore my mind’s curiosity toward the show, the first episode, then as I wrote I wanted to explore the unresolved subplot. Is Oikawa disgusted by Sawaki kissing a male character because she slept with, and is implied to have had sex with, a female character? This was something that could have served to empower the LGBTQ community if she had acted differently, but instead, it’s resolved by her getting kissed by a female character as a way to shut her up. Writing this review made me confront that I didn’t like how that was handled, so I dropped the score down a point, because even though it’s an enjoyable show to watch, that event made me realize the show is not significant enough to consider worth that 4-star rating.
Related: Other Series Reviews and Media Meandry essays.
Screenshot: Not quite representative of the show, but I went against the notion of including a screenshot from a later episode that might have imagery that spoils certain elements, perhaps.
Written On: 2020 August 30 [6:07am to “or at least, suspicious” at 6:26am in Gdocs.] [10:07am to 11:07am]
Last Edited: 2020 August 30 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]

 

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.