TV Review: Master of None (Season 2)

Nothing but spoilers ahead!

After all this time we finally have the second season of Master of None available on Netflix! I’ve enjoyed most of Aziz Ansari’s work, except maybe his role in the last season of Scrubs, and I remember binging the first season of Master of None like there was no tomorrow. Season two is quite possibly better than the first, and starts out with Dev in Italy in a black and white neorealism style exploring the city of Modena.

After traveling abroad, Dev (Aziz Ansari) returns to New York to take on challenges in his personal and family life, a new career opportunity, and a complex, developing relationship with someone very meaningful to him. – Netflix

The first two episodes in Italy were beautiful and was a great chance for Dev to show off his Italian. We also get to see the character Arnold again when he drags Dev along to his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. Plenty of laughs and cringe packed into those two episodes!

In the third episode ,”Religion”, we’re reintroduced to Dev’s parents (Aziz’s actual parents) as well as some family friends and a portrayal of Muslim life in America. Or at least a portrayal of two pseudo Muslims eating their bodyweight worth of pork and trying to hide it from their parents. I actually really enjoyed this episode because of how relatable it was. I was raised in a Catholic family and was pretty devout for most of my life. However as I grew up and apart from Catholicism, I felt the need to hide it from my family just like Dev. Eventually I realized I shouldn’t pretend to be someone I’m not, but just like in the episode I could’ve probably been more respectful about it.

The next episode, “First Date”, starts off in a way familiar to a lot of people with women using a Tinder like application and deciding wether or not to match with Dev. This episode probably draws a lot from Aziz’s book Modern Romance which admittedly I’ve only read a few chapters of. It was still fun to see several first date tropes shown through what seems like one date but the women kept changing. Some of the dates went well, some were an absolute train wreck, but none really led to anything great. As playful as an episode as it was, it also makes you reflect on how the dating scene has changed so much with the influx of new technology and our changing society.

In, “The Dinner Party”, Dev takes Francesca, a friend he made while in Italy, to a dinner thrown by his celebrity chef boss for the show Clash of the Cupcakes. The pair hit it off really well to the point Dev’s boss even advises Dev to make a move on Francesca. Dev informs him that she has a boyfriend, but his boss insists that Dev should act on his feeling for her. After dropping her off at her hotel room, the camera stays focused on Dev in the taxi for an excruciating amount of time. It’s a very real, very relatable scene where you can see him fighting with himself internally about what he should do, and you can’t help but hope that he’ll tell the driver to turn around or at least call or text her. Instead Dev does what most of us would do and goes home. Heartbreaking but realistic.

“New York, I Love You”, follows the story of several different types of people in New York. Some are work in hotels, some are deaf, some are East African cab drivers. Each story is different, but make up the key reasons New York is such an amazing city. This episode offers a lot of perspectives that are rarely, if ever, shown on mainstream television. The episode wraps up very nicely bringing everyone together in the end watching the same movie.

We get some real plot development with “Door #3” when Dev gets an offer to host Clash of the Cupcakes for another seven seasons. Considering his feelings towards the show — lukewarm at best, he’s hesitant and honestly wants to do more with his career. This episode is great because we also get to see more of Brian and his dad for a whacky adventure, and Dev pitch a new travel show to his boss.

“Thanksgiving” starts out with a flashback of Dev as a child with one of his early girlfriends (actually his friend Denise) and her family. We get a picture into the black community’s thanksgiving and interestingly a young Indian boy’s take on it. As the episode progresses it skips forward several years to when Denise first comes out to Dev as a lesbian. The time skips from there show some of her relationships and her family’s reactions towards them. It was a rough journey but in alls well that ends well, and this episode ends beautifully and hilariously. Probably my favorite in the season… thus far.

The next episode “Amarsi Un Po'” is a true work of art. Francesca comes back into the show with her now fiancée and Dev decides he’s going to go for it. The two exchange A LOT of flirting, and she really doesn’t seem all that interested in her fiancée. After a convenient string of events involving a snow storm, the pair end up in Dev’s bed after a very romantic night. They don’t have sex, but from that point on Dev knows he has to confess to her. However after that night it’s all cold vibes from Francesca, and Dev pries until they’re both very aware of the situation. He confesses he loves her during a helicopter ride around NYC and she says she probably loves him too.

Episode ten, “Buona Notte”, the season two finale shows the filming of an episode of BFFs “Best Food Friends”, the show Dev and his boss are working on. He’s finally got everything he wants, except Francesca. I don’t want to spoil too much from this episode, but I will say the cinematography is something you don’t typically see anymore. If television was this emotionally strong I doubt I’d typically be reviewing anime. Admittedly I wasn’t expecting to see H. Jon Benjamin and Raven Symone in this episode, but it certainly led to an interesting twist, among others, that I imagine will strongly affect season 3.

But come on that callout to “That’s So Raven” was classic.

Ultimately this episode is something most of us can relate to — even with a vague ending. Now I feel like I should start to get more critical about my rating system, because I give Master of None

a simple 5/5

It’s beautiful and a must watch.


Anime Review: Natsume Yuujinchou

Natsume Yuujinchou (Book of Friends) has been one of my favorite anime series since 2013. I suppose you could call it a mystical slice-of-life about a boy named Takashi Natsume and his ability to interact with youkai or supernatural monsters, spirits or demons in Japanese folklore. His grandmother Reiko Natsume also had this ability, and would take youkai’s names after she encountered them and put them in her Book of Friends. Ordinarily if this happens to a youkai they would become slaves to the one that took their name, but Reiko never had ill intentions for them and rarely, if ever, actually called on them. Takashi decides to give the youkai back their names along with his “bodyguard” Madara, a powerful cat-like youkai he calls Nyanko-sensei.

Precious days with kinds friends. A beautiful yet fleeting story about people and spirits. Natsume Takashi had been able to see youkai ever since he was young and inherited his grandmother Reiko’s Book of Friends. He spends his days with his self-proclaimed bodyguard Nyanko-sensei and freeing the youkai that were bound to the book. Natsume continues to find ways to protect the precious days where he tries to find which path to follow through his connections with spirits and those involved with them and being helped out by friends who share the same feelings – Crunchyroll

Huh, maybe I should’ve just used Crunchyroll’s summary from the beginning… Anyway, with the release of the sixth season I’d like to finally do a review for this blog. Before that though, I thought I’d plug the review I did on Crunchyroll three years ago for the first four seasons.

When I first started watching Natsume Yujin-cho, I was surprised at the lack of action in a show that has “monsters” who like to attack a boy who can see them. Over time however, I began to appreciate Natsume for his methods of trying to befriend both humans and youkai. This show has been one of my favorites because it manages to teach good messages while still telling great stories. I’m sad to see the series end, but this season delivers just as much, if not more, than the previous seasons in terms of plot, message, and tear-jerkers. It gets a 5/5 for being one of the few happy-go-lucky “slice of life” animes to keep strong without turning into a snooze fest after a few episodes. It easily deserves the four seasons it has had, and could easily pull off another four if the writers and animators wanted to make it. But for now, I’ll have to say goodbye to one of my favorite series. Goodbye Natsume Yujincho. I will miss you.

It seems my writing style and vocabulary haven’t changed all that much since then… Might need to do something about that. I was also surprised to see that I didn’t write a review for the fifth season, which I thought I was going to be reviewing today, but to be honest each season is more or less the same — which is why this review will be over the series as a whole and not necessarily specific to season six.

To point out one of my often favorite things about a great anime, the art in this series is simple amazing. I hate to use this phrase but it’s breath-taking — especially when showing landscapes. Natsume Yuujinchou is also a master craftsman of the emotional rollercoaster. If you can watch an entire season without tearing up then I question your humanity. That said it’s not necessarily a sad show, so much as it is profound, melancholy and sweet. Some episodes are rainy days while others are the peak of spring. I don’t really enjoy using flowery language like that but it’s a perfect metaphor.

Friendship is definitely the defining theme of this series, and if the title doesn’t spoil that one I don’t know what does. What makes Natsume really admirable though is that he values the friendship of humans and youkai alike — a value I find equally admirable when reflected in real life’s society. I always find it funny that the youkai he encounters mistake him for his grandmother because in their eyes all humans, especially relatives, look alike. Much like Japan, or the rest of the world for that matter, the youkai are very xenophobic are prefer to stick to their own kind. But a few are more accepting of Natsume and the bonds they make are really beautiful to witness.

For a show that’s so heartwarming and unique, it’s hard to really point out too many flaws. If anything I often feel like it’s biggest flaw is also one of it’s strengths. There are times an episode or two might feel too long, but then before you know it you’ve finished an entire season and then you’re caught up unsure if they’ll make any more. Honestly I would consider myself ungrateful if I complained about episode length. Oh and speaking of unique, shows like this really are hard to come by. The more popular Mushishi might be the closest example I’ve seen, but I’d say it lacks the warmth and humor of Natsume Yuujinchou.

All in all, Natsume Yuujinchou easily deserves

5/5 Yokai