First Impressions- Spring 2019 Anime

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and it’s finally warm enough that I can stand outside for 20 minutes without praying for the sweet release of death, so I guess it must be Spring. This is always a pretty loaded season on the anime front, but even with that in mind there’s a pretty hefty amount of potentially heavy hitters coming out of the woodwork over the course of the next couple of weeks. and they’re all of varying genres too which sadly doesn’t feel like something we come across too often. Excited as I am for the big stuff there’s always the chance a few welcome surprises could be waiting in store so as always I’m gonna be running through as many shows as I can and praying that I come out of the other side with my sanity in tact. Let’s hop to it.

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World

Synopsis: During the summer, Takuya Arima receives a package—from his missing father—detailing the existence of parallel universes. He investigates further and soon realizes that he’s been given the key to cross-dimensional time travel. Now, Takuya is forced to use this newfound tech to unravel the mystery of his father’s whereabouts and find out why those closest to him are keeping secrets.

First Impressions: And we’re kicking things off with a visual novel adaption…from 1996. Well more accurately it’s an adaption of the 2017 remake of said VN from 1996, but regardless of how convoluted that sounded one thing I can tell you pretty clearly is that it was a very boring premiere. The story begins after our protagonist finds out about the death of his father, but you certainly couldn’t tell that by how he behaves because he spends most of his time here flirting with or sexually harassing almost every girl he encounters, one of which includes a moment where the dude literally flashes himself in front of a new transfer student and no one around him seems to bat an eye (can you tell this was written in 1996?). All these girls seem to pretty obviously be the romance route options but the show doesn’t really do a great job of introducing them, and the actual plot setup isn’t much better as the revelation about a device that allows MC-kun to travel to parallel worlds just kinda seems to happen after an episode of mostly meandering, and given that I’ve seen parallel world plots done better (including in VN adaptions by the very same company that remade this game), it certainly didn’t do anything to grab my attention. I suppose if I were to think of anything nice to say it’s that the production here looks decent as you would generally expect from a studio feel thing, but given how much of a “let’s play” the overall direction here feels like, even that doesn’t really do much to give this any legs. I guess if you’re really curious to see how a VN from the 90’s holds up then maybe this’ll do something for you, but I’m gonna give this one a hard pass

Rating: Bad

Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu

Hitoribocchi no OO Seikatsu

Synopsis: Hitori Bocchi, a girl with extreme social anxiety, has had only one friend throughout elementary school. When Bocchi learns they’ll be split up after graduation, she makes a promise to her: “By the time of my middle school graduation, I’ll make friends with everyone in my class.” And if she can’t do it… they won’t be friends anymore?! But Bocchi has a hard time talking to people. When she gets nervous, her legs cramp. She can’t look other people in the eye. She doesn’t even know how to make friends! Every way she thinks of to make friends ends up failing. Will Bocchi’s friend-making plan pay off?! It’s a story of the persistence of the lonely girl, Bocchi!

First Impressions: I didn’t know anything about this one, or had any real expectations going in, so I was actually pretty surprised by how much I ended up liking this one. The main gist of this show involves a socially awkward girl named Bocchi who’s starting middle school, and is tasked by her only friend from elementary school to befriend all her new classmates. Having been someone who sometimes had trouble making friends when I was younger, and also continuing to be a person who generally doesn’t like talking to people I don’t know, I could relate to her struggles here pretty well. It helps that she feels like a genuine portrayal of someone who’s bad at being sociable rather than a comfortable moe archetype, and it also helps that we do see her making progress over the course of the premiere and she manages to befriend one of her classmates named Nako who also seems pretty likable, and doesn’t really seem to judge Bocchi for her awkwardness. Production wise this isn’t really a standout, but it looks pleasant enough and this premiere had enough good visual gags that it kept me pretty entertained on that front. How much mileage I get out of this will probably depend on how well Bocchi progresses in future episodes, but for now I can get pretty safely behind this one, and if you’re a cute comedy this season, this seems like it’ll be worth taking a look at.

Rating: Great

Senryu Girl

Senryuu Girl

Synopsis: At first glance Yukishiro Nanako seems like a normal high school girl, but she has a notable eccentricity: instead of speaking, she communicates only through written senryu poetry! This means she expresses herself only in 5-7-5 syllables. To most this might seem like an inconvenience, but for Nanako and her ex-delinquent bestie, Busujima Eiji, it adds to the experience of their high school lives as they run the Literature Club.

First Impressions: I’ve heard pretty good things about the manga so I was a little curious about this one and having seen the first episode, I can kinda see why. Like Hitoribocchi this one also stars an adolescent girl dealing with social anxiety, but Nanako’s way of coping with those fears involves writing out her thoughts in the forms of senryu poems. Compared to Hitoribocchi’s fairly grounded approach to the subject, this felt a little more like what I feared that would be, and came off feeling more like a cute anime girl gimmick than something earnest. However my feelings turned around when we’re introduced to one of her club friends named Busujima who’s a delinquent that also has trouble talking to people and is often assumed to be more violent than he actually is. His troubles felt a little more believable to me, and watching him bounce off of Nanako helped in making her feel a little more endearing to me by the end of the episode, and a romance between these two seems like it could make for a pretty good time. Given that said romance is likely the end goal here and not Nanako overcoming her social anxiety, this might end up getting repetitive pretty quickly so I hope it starts branching out ideas as quickly as possible. In the meantime though this was pleasant enough that I’m down for giving it another couple of episodes, and while I didn’t find it quite as charming as Hitoribocchi, this looks like another safe pick for a cute comedy this season.

Rating: Good

Mix

Mix

Synopsis: 26 years after Meisei High conquered the Koushien, a promising pitcher-catcher battery was formed in its middle school by the Tachibana step-brothers, Touma and Souichirou.

First Impressions: Cross Game is not only one of my favorite sports anime, but is also probably my single favorite romance anime, so when it was confirmed that the latest manga from series author, Mitsuri Adachi, would be getting an anime adaption, this shot pretty high up my list of things to check out. Much like with Cross Game, this is a little atypical of your average shonen sports fare in that the stakes and general dramatic beats are alot more relaxed and low key, meaning that if you don’t have a lot of patience this may not be something that’ll exactly grab your attention. If that does sound like your jam though, then this premiere should do you pretty nicely as it slowly introduces us to our three main protagonists who are presumably directly descended from the main characters of Touch, another one of Adachi’s previous works. Two of the leads are brothers who share the same birthday and age without being twins, which makes me suspect their most likely half-siblings but the show doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry to answer that question and instead focuses a little more on the struggle going on with their baseball team.

While the show isn’t super explicit about what’s going on there either, it seems like the team as a whole is being forced to hold back for the sake of a rich student who’s publicly displayed as being the ace and presumably has enough influence that no one on the team can ever be allowed to show him up, which they seem to have mostly accepted. Neither of these things quite compare to the big emotional hook at the end of Cross Game’s first episode, but Adachi’s ability to a relaxing but very natural sense of atmosphere with how he writes his characters, remains as compelling as ever and did leave me curious what direction this will end up going in. It helps that the animation production from OLM of Pokemon fame is pretty polished, and while some of the narration cuts a little into the show’s down-to-earth atmosphere, it wasn’t too distracting, and the general visual direction here has a bit of style to it (which is probably about the only thing I’d knock Cross Game for). While I’d be lying if I said previous goodwill from Adachi’s last work wasn’t a factor in how much I dug this premiere, this looks like it’ll be a pretty chill sports drama and while that obviously isn’t going to be for everyone, if that sounds at all interesting to you, I recommend giving it a shake.

Rating: Great

Ao-chan Can’t Study

Ao-chan Can't Study!

Synopsis: Ao Horie’s father, a popular erotic fiction author, chose Ao’s name because A stands for “apple” and O stands for “orgy”! Desperate to escape her father’s legacy and get into a prestigious university, Ao devotes herself to studying instead of pursuing romance. She has no time for boys, but there’s just one problem: Kijima, her handsome and popular classmate, just confessed his love to her! And to make matters worse, she can’t stop thinking dirty thoughts about him! Looks like escaping her father’s influence will be harder than she thought.

First Impressions: Going off the premise this seemed like it would be on the raunchier side of the romcom spectrum and having walked away from the first episode, that assessment was mostly accurate. The series follows a girl named Ao who hates her name because of the double-innuendo her father added to its meaning, and vows to become a respectable person who has pretty much nothing to do with boys. Unfortunately for her, she seems to be catching the attention of the most popular guy in her class, and while she’s convinced she hates him, her awkward attempts to turn him down seem to imply she might actually be into him but hasn’t processed this yet. That seems like it would make for a pretty cute romcom premise and I could see the potential here, but that potential was shot down upon being properly introduced to Ao’s dad. From his character design to his mannerisms this guy feels like if someone resurrected Happosai from Ranma 1/2 in the modern day, and since that guy’s shtick was being a lecherous old fart with zero redeeming qualities, seeing Ao’s dad exude the same energy was a pretty big turnoff and I wanted to see this guy get punted through a wall nearly the second he opened his mouth. To make matters worse it seems like part of his purpose here is to play cupid for his daughter by trying to help her get laid, and that honestly feels a lot more gross than funny. Maybe this could have a chance at being cute if this guy stays far, far in the background but I’m not sticking around to find out, so this is looking like another skip

Rating: Bad

We Never Learn- BOKUBEN

We Never Learn

Synopsis: Nariyuki Yuiga needs a special scholarship, but he has to tutor three genius girls to get it! One is a literature virtuoso, but her skills in science are lacking. Another excels in math, but the arts are in her heart. The last one’s athletic prowess is unmatched, but she struggles with everything else. With university application deadlines on the way, can Nariyuki teach the unteachable in time?

First Impressions: So as a Shonen Jump subscriber, I’ve actually been following this series since it debuted a few years back, and while I can’t say I’m a diehard fan of it, I enjoy it well enough so I was curious to see how this adaption would turn out. So far it seems to be pretty much exactly what I was expecting. This premiere follows our main character Naruyuki who wants to get on the fast track to college by getting his school’s special recommendation, and hopefully ease the burden on his extremely poor family. However in order to receive this recommendation, he must tutor two girls named Fumino and Rizu who are both considered geniuses in certain subjects, but want to major in the areas they’re bad at. This proves to be more of a challenge than Naruyuki bargained for as neither one of them seems like they’ll really be able to improve, but watching their struggles reminds him of how often he’s failed in getting to where he is now, and he vows to help them achieve their dreams. It’s a pretty by-the-numbers premise for a romcom but the characters are fairly likable for the most part, and even Naruyuki is kind of endearing even if he doesn’t venture too far outside of the audience insert qualities that most harem protagonists tend to have. Of course while this premise is pretty fluffy there’s also a bit of cheesecake here if you’re looking for fanservice, and while this show isn’t super horny, its also pretty aware of who its audience is. The production here is equally by-the-numbers and while we do get some pretty good facial expressions here and there, its not exactly a selling point. Long story short here, We Never Learn is kind of a case of what you see is what you get. If you like this particular brand of ecchi romcom, you’ll be well served. If not, this series probably won’t do anything for you. As for me, I’m just here for best girl Uraka, and since she isn’t showing up till next week it kinda goes without saying I’m gonna be here for a while.

Rating: Good

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Synopsis: Bloodthirsty demons lurk in the woods, and nobody dares to venture out at night, save for the demon slayer of legend. Surviving in this harsh world, young Tanjirou takes it upon himself to protect his family–until the day that everything is taken from him in a vicious slaughter. Now, all he has left is his sister, and she’s not even human anymore.

First Impressions: This is yet another big Shonen Jump adaption and one I was really looking forward to. I’ve been interested in this series ever since Viz published the first three chapters of it back when it debuted, but the rest of the manga hadn’t been made available here until pretty recently, and while I was collecting the manga volumes for a while, the manga’s unique, but unpolished artstyle was a little hard for me to get behind and I figured I’d just wait for the anime. Fortunently the anime adaption was handed to Ufotable whose reputation for high quality productions pretty much speaks for itself, and so far its off to a strong start. The premiere here pretty much covers soley the first chapter of the manga as we’re introduced to the protagonist Tanjiro and the tragedy that befalls his family as they’re all slaughtered by demons with his sister Nezuko as the sole survivor. To make matters worse, Nezuko has been tainted by demon blood, and the only way for Tanjiro to save her is for him to start tracking down the demons responsible for her transformation. While this set-up seems pretty part the course for a JUMP battle shonen, there’s a quiet, but powerful sense of atmosphere here that helps to draw you into the show’s feudal era setting, and that feeling extends into both the visual direction and the musical score, as it allows for the show to carry a vibe that feels more akin to an old samurai film or folktale. While the hook here means that we don’t get to spend too much time on characterization in this premiere, Tanjiro comes off as a fairly likable protagonist thus far, and although Nezuko doesn’t get a lot of lines here (especially after her transformation), the show manages to convey her with a righteous sense of spirit, and I’m pretty curious in seeing how these siblings will survive going forward. All in all, this was a pretty rock solid premiere and while this was another case where there was pretty much no chance I wasn’t going to be keeping up with this, I’m glad it seems like that decision will be well rewarded

Rating: Great

Fairy Gone

Fairy gone

Synopsis: Fairies possess and reside within animals, granting them special powers. By surgically removing and transplanting the organs of a possessed animal into a human, humans can partially summon the fairy and use it as a weapon. Eventually, such individuals were used for war, and were called “Fairy Soldiers.” After a long war, these soldiers lost their purpose, and had to reintegrate into society. Nine years after the end of the war, Maria is a fresh recruit of “Dorothea,” an organization dedicated to the investigation and suppression of fairy-related crimes and incidents. Even in peacetime, the government is still unstable after the war. Many criminals still have lingering wounds from the previous conflict, and there are terrorist groups bent on revenge.

First Impressions: This was one of my most heavily anticipated shows of the season, and that’s largely due to the big names behind the production. Director Kenichi Suzuki of Stardust Crusaders and Drifters fame has proven to be a pretty reliable action director, and series writer Ao Jumonji is also the author Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions which managed to be a surprisingly strong story about the pathos of losing a loved one. Combine that with the fact that the band KnoW NaMe who handled the themes songs for Grimgar is also on board for this series, and this seemed like it had the potential to be a real winner. Going off the premiere I’d say it…mostly lives up to that potential. The premiere here starts a few years after the end of a conflict between two nations and the protagonist Marlya is one of the only survivors from a tragedy that befell her village during the war. The other survivor is a woman named Veronica who Marlya has been searching for, but Veronica seems to be purely out for revenge and wants little to do with her. In the middle of a fight between Veronica and a mysterious man named Free, Marlya awakens to the power of controlling a fairy, but the ability to use fairies has been outlawed after the war and Marlya is left with no choice but join the organization Free belongs to known as Dorothea, who are investigating incidents related to fairies. While this seems like a fair amount of plot for one episode, most of this premiere is actually action-focused and these story beats end up playing second fiddle to that. Seeing as the mostly quiet drama of Grimgar is what helped make that story appealing to me, I was a little surprised it went this route, but that is very much in like with Kenichi Suzuki’s sensibilities and for what its worth the action scenes here are pretty cool. Unfortunately said action scenes come with a monkey’s paw in the form of the fairies being animated in 3DCG, and while that wouldn’t be too big a deal in most circumstances, the overall look of this show seems to be aiming for a dark fantasy aesthetic not unlike say, Berserk, so it feels a little out of place and will probably take some getting used to. I also can’t really say that what we’ve gotten of the story so far has grabbed my attention much either since the heavy focus on action means that we don’t get a whole lot of time to get properly introduced to these characters and seeing as the connection between Marlya and Veronica is looking to be what’s gonna drive this show, that seems like it might’ve been a bit of a misstep. Regardless of those complaints though, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious where the rest of this story might be headed, and this certainly held my attention well enough that I’m pretty willing to follow that bit of curiosity for now. It’s hard to say if this show will live up to its pedigree but if you’re in the market for another dark action show this season besides Kimetsu no Yaiba, this seems like it’ll be a safe pick.

Rating: Good

Cinderella Nine

Cinderella Nine

Synopsis: When Arihara Tsubasa enters Rigahama Municipal High School and learns that it has no baseball club, she starts up the Girls’ Baseball Club on her own. Drawn to the club are girls who have never played baseball before, girls who once played it but quit, and girls who are constantly tackling great challenges. The Rigahama Girls’ Baseball Club races through the trials of youth, periodically clashing and quarreling, but supporting each other all the way! And so begins the hottest summer the world has ever known…

First Impressions: About all I really knew going in here was that this is yet another mobile game adaption and that this show’s name is strikingly similar to that of a sports anime from the 90’s called Princess Nine, which also happened to be about a girls baseball team. Being a mobile game adaption though, this premiere here felt less like a typical sports anime and more like an episode of an idol show (the leading girl even looks like she could be the long lost twin of Honoka from Love Live). The girls we’re introduced to so far pretty archetypal, and the show has yet to introduce any stakes that would make it endearing as a basic sports anime narrative, instead feeling incredibly fluffy and low-key. Seeing as I’m not the biggest fan of idol anime and they typically need a good gimmick to impress me, this premiere didn’t do a whole ton for me, but basing itself off a sport, however soft the execution, gave this at least a little more momentum than these kinds of shows tend to have, and to its credit the show at least attempts to create some low-stakes drama with two of the girls having their own awkward history with playing sports. I can’t say those elements exactly helped in making this quality television but I at least wasn’t completely bored by watching this. Right now I’m feeling kind of on the fence about this one, and giving it another episode will probably depend on how many other Sunday shows catch my attention, but if the idea of “idols but baseball” appeals to you in some fashion, this might be worth a peek.

Rating: Decent

Kono Oto Tomare!

Kono Oto Tomare!

Synopsis: Down to its last member, the koto club will accept anyone who is interested in the traditional Japanese instrument. But when a delinquent and a prodigy player sign up, finding harmony isn’t going to be easy—especially not with ensemble competitions looming around the corner. With enough time and some incredible skill at the strings, perhaps this motley crew can strike a chord with the judges.

First Impressions: This is another one I went into blind, and going off the character designs I figured this was going to be some variation of a bishonen ensemble show. To my surprise this ended up being more of a straightforward drama centering around a music club, and therefore something that’s a bit more my speed. The primary focus for the premiere here is introducing us to our leads Takezo and Chika and both feel pretty compelling so far. Club-based anime featuring a senior trying to hold everything together isn’t a particularly new concept, but it’s rare to get that character as the protagonist, and that desire to protect the club while also being a person with low self-esteem makes Takezo interesting right off the bat and makes his initial distrust of Chika both understandable and frustrating. Chika himself however is the one who really carries the bulk of this premiere as we learn about his history with his grandfather who was a koto maker, and how joining the koto club is his way of reverencing the only person who ever believed in him. It was a pretty good story and was a much bigger emotional gut punch than anything I was expecting going into this. Production-wise on the other hand things are a little rougher as while the character designs look pretty nice, the animation here is a little stiff and there were a few areas in this premiere where I could tell where they were cutting corners. That’s more a nitpick than anything though, because otherwise I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting too, and while I didn’t have much in the way of expectations going in, I’m pretty eager to check out more of this.

Rating: Great

Midnight occult civil servants

Midnight occult civil servants

Synopsis: When Miyako Arata joins the Shinjuku Ward Office, he thinks he’s gotten a normal civil servant job. But it turns out he’s joined the Night Community Exchange Department, one of which operates secretly in each of Tokyo’s twenty-three ward offices. Their job is to resolve occult issues concerning non-human beings. Accompanied by his senpai and department head Sakaki Kyoichi and the occult obsessed Himetsuka Seo, they work night after night, facing off with beings whose existence defies the laws of our world.

First Impressions: This is another thing I assumed was going to be more of a bishie ensemble thing than anything else, and once again I walked away fairly surprised. While there’s certainly a few pretty boys on display here, the general vibe here is more along the lines of an office worker learning the ropes at his new job, and said job happens to involve mediating with the supernatural. While yokai focused stuff can be a little hit or miss for me, generalized supernatural folklore is definitely my jam, and this premiere features everything from angels to Cu Siths and tengus. The angels and tengus in particular make up the bulk of this premiere’s conflict as the protagonist’s first day ont the job involves stopping a territorial dispute between them that ends up being more of a Romeo & Juliet scenario. Its a pretty by the numbers plot and nothing about the writing here really stood out, but it was entertaining enough, and the angle of the protagonist being the only one with the ability to directly communicate with supernatural beings seems like it could be interesting, and might make for more dynamic conflicts later down the line. The production here is also pretty standard looking and while that’s a little disappointing for something featuring a lot of fantastical creatures, they look decent enough to get by, and there weren’t too many notable issues with the animation here. While I wouldn’t exactly call this premiere a slam dunk it did enough for me that I’m willing to give it another episode or two to see if it’ll stick, ad if you’re into low key supernatural shenanigans, this might be up your alley

Rating: Good

AFTERLOST

AFTERLOST

Synopsis: The entire population of a city disappeared—vanished without a trace. Yuki, the sole survivor, joins Takuya, a contract courier, on a perilous journey to find answers within the newly named ghost town “Lost”. With a letter from Yuki’s father as the pair’s only lead, a secretive organization refuses to let Yuki and Takuya’s meddling go unchecked.

First Impressions: So I knew going into this that this was some kind of game adaption, and that in addition to being produced by Madhouse, the footage of it they showed in trailers looked…mediocre to say the least. Still I was kinda curious what we were gonna get here and uh…that sure was a show I guess. There’s technically a fair amount of “plot” going on here in that some kind of apocalyptic disaster happens, some people have superpowers now (or at least I guess because the show sure as heck didn’t seem interested in explaining that) and the only survivor of the aforementioned disaster is now going back to ground zero to find her missing family with the help of a mysterious courier. The problem here is that the show does a bad job explaining well just about anything really, and while the plot threads here are basic enough that it’s not impossible to follow there’s pretty much zero attempt here to do any kind of world building, and instead makes this feel like someone’s just checking off a list of obligatory sci-fi anime tropes. It doesn’t help that the characters feel even more barebones than the plot and we’re introduced to such lovely archetypes as sad anime girl for our heroine, stoic emo dude for the male lead, and a hacker otaku who tries creeping on sad anime girl the second he sees her. There’s no real attempts here to make any of them feel remotely distinct or interesting and it mainly feels like the show expects you’re just here for sci-fi action shenanigans which would be okay if the show didn’t look…rough. While the animation here isn’t outright terrible, there’s quite a bit of corner cutting going on here, and the 3DCG for all the vehicles looks so plastic, they nearly feel like carryovers from an early 2000’s anime. The color scheme here is also pretty bad and there’s a couple of shots where the show looks like an utter mess which doesn’t really bode well for the rest of the series given this is only the premiere. With all these complaints you’d think I’d have a serious ax to grind with this show but really the greatest sin of all for this premiere is that it was just really, really boring. Nothing about this show stands out and pretty much everything it’s had to offer in this premiere are things I’ve seen executed better in at least a dozen other shows. If you’re really into sci-fi action tropes then maybe there’ll be something salvageable in here for you, but I couldn’t find anything appealing here, and in an era with more stuff to watch than ever I’d recommend looking elsewhere.

Rating: Bad

Robihatchi

RobiHachi

Synopsis: In the year G.C. 0051, humans have obtained super light-speed navigation technology and formed a commonwealth of planets with other species. In-debt freelance reporter Robby Yarge has had a streak of bad luck; losing his job, his girlfriend, and was nearly killed in a traffic accident. When his bag is stolen, Robby meets 18-year-old Hatchi Kita, who apprehends the thief and return his property. The two part ways soon after, but Hatchi eventually turns up in Robby’s life again, this time as a debt collector working for a loan shark named Yan. A cat-and-mouse chase begins, and Robby tries to elude Hatchi and escape to space while shaking off Yan’s group – only to discover Hatchi hiding inside his spaceship. The two decide to travel across the galaxy together in search of Isekandar, a distant and legendary planet in the Milky Way that is said to bring happiness to those who go there.

First Impressions: Looks like I’m three for three on assuming something’ll be a bishonen ensemble show only to get the rug pulled out from under me, so I guess I’ve got a consistent theme going here for the season. Aside from the pretty boys higlighted all the promo material I’ve seen for this the only other thing I really knew was that this was going to be some kind of anime-original sci-fi romp. Turns out this is operating mostly on the latter end of those things and comes off as a buddy-cop ala Tiger & Bunny or Double Decker but in space. Our boyfriends here happen to be a guy named Robby who has habitually bad luck and is looking for a quick way to get rich, and Hachi a bored genius who thinks there’s nothing interesting left in the world and is constantly seeking new thrills. As with any buddy cop show, the appeal here largely lies in how much comedy you can mind out of the main duo’s interactions and while they’re antics certainly aren’t boring both feel a little archetypal so far, and they didn’t really get more than a few chuckles out of me. Having said that, anime about romping through space are an extreme rarity these days, and while a show parodying that doesn’t seem like it’d have much appeal for modern audiences, it’s something that’s relatively in my line of interest and while nothing here floored me, I also didn’t encounter anything in this premiere that was a total deal breaker. If I had any other complaints here it’d probably be that this looks a little visually underwhelming for the kinds of 90’s Sunrise shows its parodying, but its passable enough, and this doesn’t strike me as the kind of thing that’s going to be all that reliant on visual gags. So…yeah long story short I’m probably gonna follow this purely because this particular genre of anime is practically a fossil at this point, and I’m curious exactly how far this’ll end up leaning into 90’s anime sensibilities. With any luck this’ll actually be entertaining enough to be worth gambling on, but for now I’m wiling to go along for the ride.

Rating: Decent

Isekai Quartet

Isekai Quartet

Synopsis: The button appeared out of nowhere. There weren’t any signs NOT to push it… so the solution is obvious, right? Is it a trap or the start of something new and exciting? The crews of Re:ZERO, Overlord, Konosuba, and The Saga of Tanya the Evil will find out when they go from their world to another and get stuck in… class?! 

First Impressions: At this point, Kadokawa’s been behind so many of the big light novel based hits of the last few years that I’m a little surprised we didn’t get a crossover comedy sooner and…yeah this sure is a comedy crossover alright. Saga of Tanya the Evil, Overlord, Re:Zero, and Konosuba are all very popular titles for better or worse, and this show assumes right off the bat you’re pretty familiar with them and jumps into having these characters collide as quickly as possible. Given how much isekai in general is built on the concept of a normal guy from our world ending up a fantasy one, it was a little amusing to see characters like Tanya and Kazuma react to suddenly finding themselves in a world that mostly resembles the one they left behind. Aside from that though, pretty much all the entertainment value you’re going to get out of this is largely dependent on how familiar you are with each of these shows and since I didn’t get farther than episode 1 for both Re:Zero and Overlord respectively, I’ve only got about half the context I needed to properly enjoy this. It was kind of fun watching the antics of the characters I am a little more familiar with, but until we actually see them all interacting in full it’s hard to say how much entertainment value this’ll have. Whether or not I go any further than this will probably depend on if the dub keeps the cast consistent for Re:Zero and Konosuba since I’m likely to get more out of this show with a punchier dub script, but for anyone else who’s ever wondered what it would be like if these characters ever met up, this looks like it’ll be exactly what you’d expect.

Rating: Decent

Wise Man’s Grandchild

Wise Man’s Grandchild

Synopsis: A young man dies in a car accident and is reborn in a magical new world. The old, yet wise Merlin finds the boy, names him Shin, raises him from infancy, and teaches him combat and powerful magic along the way. 15 years later, Shin is ready to travel the globe on his own, but Merlin forgot to teach him something major—common sense!

First Impressions: It’s time for everyone’s favorite time of the season: isekai time. As always it’s pretty much impossible to get through a season of anime without at least one of these in there somewhere and for the last couple of seasons, we’ve actually been getting fairly lavish productions with the likes of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and Rising of the Shield Hero. This show however feels like a throwback to what we’d normally come to expect from isekai, and by normal, I mean that it’s boring and looks bland as sin. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A normal Japanese dude gets hit by a car, and upon dying he finds himself reincarnated in another world. In this world magic exists and the guy is extremely talented in it to the point that his mere assistance is a threat to the world order. Also he gets to transfer to a magic high school. If this sounds familar than congratulations you’ve described the plot of almost every dang isekai in existance (and a couple of more generalized light novels). About the only point of distinction here is that MC-kun’s grandfather was apparently a legendary hero in his own right and while that could have made this a slightly interesting tale about the relationship between a grandfather and their grandchild, it’s made apparent almost right off the bat that this is just here to justify why MC-kun here is such an incredible Gary-stu and the show seems incredibly disinterested in its own title. Aside from that, everything else here is something you’ve seen in at least a dozen other isekai and while that would normally be par for the course, like I mentioned earlier, the last couple of isekai shows we got tried a lot harder than this did, and as much as I despised Shield Hero’s premiere, even that felt better directed than anything this had to offer. It doesn’t help that again, this looks super bland and aside from a couple of decent looking shots, its pretty bottom barrel looking compared to what we’ve been getting the last couple of seasons. I guess on the bright side this doesn’t have slavery in it (yet) so if you’re somehow just in the mood for a basic isekai power fantasy that doesn’t feel too scummy I guess you could do worse, but with the stronger productions we’ve gotten recently, this just doesn’t seem like it has anything worth offering

Rating: Bad

Sarazanmai

Sarazanmai

Synopsis: The setting is Asakusa. One day, second-years in middle school Kazuki Yasaka, Toi Kuji, and Enta Jinnai meet Keppi, a mysterious kappa-like creature, who steals their shirikodama and transforms them into kappas. “To return to your original forms,” Keppi tells them, “you must fight the zombies and take the shirikodama from them.” Can the boys connect with each other and steal the zombies’ shirikodama?! At the same time, something is happening at the police box where Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu work. This is the story of three boys who can’t connect with someone important to them, learning about what it truly means to do so.

First Impressions: And rounding off my seasonal impressions is the series I was looking forward to the most out this entire lineup. Kunihiko Ikuhara simultaneously one of the most brilliant and absurd directors in the entire anime industry, and I get excited pretty much every time he announces a new project. That’s largely because he’s the driving force behind Revolutionary Girl Utena, Penguindrum, and Yurikuma Arashi, which are all strange but beautiful masterpieces in their own right, and shows that have tackled LGBT issues better than just about anything else anime’s had to offer. However up to this point, Ikuhara’s dissection of those issues has largely been geared towards exploring queer women, and this series marks his first notable attempt at a story about gay men. So far, it’s off to whatever constitutes as a normal start for an Ikuhara which is to say it’s super weird and there’s a million and one metaphors here to unpack. Given how stressful the task of doing weekly reviews for Yurikuma was back in the day, the act of sitting here and attempting to go through all of this show’s potential themes is a bit too tedious for me, but the stuff that immediately stands out to me, is the prevalence of boxes as a metaphor for suppressing desire (something of a recurring theme in Ikuhara stuff) and the revelation that the main character Kazuki goes around crossdressing as a female idol. With the already heavy homoerotic undertones of the first episode, and the idea that he repeatedly frames this as a desire to “connect” with the idol he’s pretending to be, it seems like he’s either trans or its his way of trying to suppress his homosexuality by pretending to be devoted to her (possibly both), but this being an Ikuhara thing, I don’t wanna jump the gun too much at what themes are on display here. At any rate I’m really excited to see what this show has to say, and I’m equally excited just to look at it because the art direction here is also on par with what I’ve generally come to expect from Ikuhara stuff, which is that it’s totally gorgeous, and almost every other frame is packed with some kind of hidden meaning. Of course it’s entirely possible that this could end up being the series where Ikuhara somehow drops the ball, but he’s impressed me so many times, I’m willing to believe he’ll keep the score at 4-0, and I’m totally on board for the rest of this ride

Rating: Excellent

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