First Impressions- Fall 2019 Anime

Yet another new season of anime is upon us and honestly…it doesn’t look terribly interesting to me. While some years have had better prospects than others, Fall is usually the season where a lot of heavy hitting titles come out, but it seems like production commtties decided to flip the script and dump out all the really promising stuff in the Summer so what we have left seems kinda shurgy save a couple of sequels. As I’e said before though, sometimes having lower expectations means there’s more room for surprises, so I guess it’s time to dig and see whether or not that ends up being true.

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 .


Ahiru no Sora

Ahiru no Sora

Synopsis: He may be shorter in stature, but Sora Kurumatani can soar and score on the basketball court! With a passion for the sport he inherited from his mother, Sora vows to her that he’ll take top prize at a high school basketball tournament… but there’s one problem. His new school’s basketball club has turned into a hangout for delinquents! Will Sora’s sheer tenacity and amazing three-point shooting change their minds and get the club up and running again?

First Impressions: While I can’t say I was excited to check this one out, I was definitely pretty curious about it. Although this is a 2019 anime, the manga for this has been running since 2004 and is still ongoing, so the fact that it’s been seralized for so long and is somehow only now getting an anime made me pretty curious what it’s deal is. So far it’s…pretty much an early-mid 00’s sports anime. Kurumatani is more or less your average shonen sports anime protagonist, being short and seemingly unsuited to his sport of choice, but has a heart of gold, and hidden talent beneath his unassuming exterior. His “teammates” are a bunch of as-of-yet unreformed delinquents who are all assuredly about to get some comeuppance (though the episode stops just short of that so it’s possible that could get subverted a bit) and you’ve even got cliches like Kurumatani and one of our other eventual male leads Chiaki, spying on the girls’ locker room. All those story beats really do feel like they walked straight out of 2004, and while that seems like that could be pretty grating, I had a decent time with this. Nothing it did felt terribly original or set the world on fire, but these were and still are pretty popular genre cliches for a reason, and while I’m not super invested in Kurumatani just yet, I’m at least a little curious to see the full extent of his skills next week. It helps that diomedia’s production for the show is pretty solid, and even features some surprisingly good ball animation in a few instances. Of course I could already see where they were cutting corners, and this show is running for a full year so there’s no way they’ll be able to maintain this, but at least it’s off to a nice start. Even if the production does implode though, it at least has an opening by The Pillows going for it, and it’s hard to knock anything that could get them attached to it. This wasn’t the strongest premiere in the world, but there’s some room for promise here, and it was decent enough that I’m pretty willing to give it a few more episodes to see what it has up its sleeve

Rating: Decent

Oresuki: Are You the Only One Who Loves Me?

ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me?

Synopsis: Kisaragi Amatsuyu thinks he’s hit the jackpot after popular upper-class girls Cosmos and Himawari invite him out! But to his sheer disappointment, they spill a juicy secret: the girls are into his friend and not him. Overhearing this reveal, a girl in the shadows begins to pester Amatsuyu, finding enjoyment in his lady woes. But he’ll soon find out this girl is the only one who likes him!

First Impressions: This was another thing that was at least partially on my radar though mostly because I had seen a couple of trailers for it. Highschool romcoms are practically the most common form of anime in existence, so subverting expectations by having MC-kun (or more accurately, Incel-kun in this show’s case) be a scumbag, and his potential “harem” members instead being interested in one of his other friends is a pretty good hook to say the least. I’ll admit the lead up to said twist feels a little by the numbers even if it’s obviously setting up a punchline, but once it reveals the twist it goes all in on it, and I spent the entire second half of the episode hoping Incel-kun would get hurled into the sun and that both girls ditch him before he has the chance to enact his “plan” of trying to hook up with whichever one loses out on dating his friend. This is where Incel-kun’s stalker comes in, and where I find myself at an impasse about what this show might pull. On the one hand, Incel-kun sucks so the idea of him getting made as uncomfortable as possible by his stalker could work as some funny comeuppance, especially since she already seems like she could be a pretty amusing personality. On the other hand this is based on a light novel and it’s still a romcom so there’s a very real chance Incel-kun will just end up falling for her without having to ever reevaluate himself or improve as a person. I’m cautiously optimistic that it won’t pull that, but the possibility existing makes it hard for me to get 100% behind this. Still, this was a pretty amusing premiere and while that danger could still lurk beyond the horizon, I’m at least curious to see where the next episode takes this, so I guess I’m on board for now.

Rating: Good

Ascendance of a Bookworm

Ascendance of a Bookworm

Synopsis: Avid bookworm and college student Motosu Urano ends up dying in an unforeseen accident. This came right after the news that she would finally be able to work as a librarian like she had always dreamed of. When she regained consciousness, she was reborn as Myne, the daughter of a poor soldier. She was in the town of Ehrenfest, which had a harsh class system. But as long as she had books, she didn’t really need anything else. However, books were scarce and belonged only to the nobles. But that doesn’t stop her, so she makes a decision… “If there aren’t any books, I’ll just create some.”

First Impressions: It’s everyone’s favorite time of the season, isekai time! Although by favorite, I mean the genre that never ever seems to go away. This time around though there’s a few interesting twists. For one thing this one stars a female lead reincarnated as a little girl, and the fantasy world she’s been trapped in doesn’t seem to have any RPG elements, or even monsters for that matter. Instead it seems to be a medieval fantasy world where printed text is rare, and books even more so as only the rich have the privilge of owning them. This sucks for Myne because she’s a total bookworm, and being stuck in a world without them is like her own personal hell, so she’s willing to go any lengths to spread them through the world. That setup more or less establishes the first episode which takes things pretty slowly and doesn’t offer too much worldbuilding aside from what I already mentioned. With that in mind, how much mileage you’ll get out of this premiere probably depends on how much you like Myne since it’s all about her coming to terms with her new world. As for me, while I found her obsession with books to be a little one note in the beginning, her antics are cute enough, that by the end of the episode I just wanted someone to give this kid a book to read, so I guess it succeeded in it’s goal. Isekai have gotten so repetitive at this point that I’m up for just about anything that’s actually committed to doing something different rather than simply making do with poking fun at existing cliches, and this is certainly different. Since this show seems like it’ll move pretty slowly, it’s hard to say how much long term investment I could get out of it, but the prospect of Myne theoretically toppling this world’s class system to spreak knowledge to everyone certainly seems like something that would be right up my alley, and it’d be cool if the show actually committed to that. Not sure if I’ll be keeping up with this in the long run, but I had a decent enough time with this that I’m willing to at least give it another episode.

Rating: Decent

Kemono Michi: Rise Up

Kemono Michi: Rise Up

Synopsis: Professional wrestler Genzou Shibata was preparing for his next match, when suddenly he was summoned into another world. He’s asked to defeat the magical beasts that roam the land, but as an avid animal lover, Genzou would rather help these creatures. So after a short stint as a hunter, the man opens the Kemono Michi pet shop. There, along with his part-animal employees, he hopes to adopt out rare beasts and foster a pet culture in his new home. 

First Impressions: Hey, it’s another isekai, but this one I was actually kind of anticipating. I didn’t know much about it going in other than the base premise, but since it’s from the author of Konosuba, I figured it could make for a pretty solid isekai parody. What I actually got was…something. The concept of having usual MC-kun instead be a buff wrestler is a pretty unique change in expectations, and him both turning on the princess and more or less outting himself as a furry is even more out of left field. With all that it mind it seems like it could have been a riot, and I definently did get a few laughs out of it, but something about it just didn’t totally click with me. Mainly that Genzou’s shtick of petting/harassing every beast or animal-eared girl he comes across already felt like a little much before the episode even ended, and this seems to more or less be his one joke aside from people assuming he’s a pervert based on his costume. It doesn’t help that while the show’s heroine seems snarky enough, she kind of pales in comparison to Aqua from Konosuba proper, and didn’t bounce off of Genzou’s antics as much as I’d hoped she would. This feels like a case where a dub might be where I give it a second chance because it certainly seems like the kind of thing that would probably be funnier if it spices up the jokes a bit more, but for the time being, I wanted to like this show more than I actually did and while I wasn’t bored with it, I don’t feel as inclined to watch more it as I hoped I would. Eh, I guess I’ll see how I feel in a week.

Rating: Decent

Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious

Kono Yuusha ga Ore Tueee Kuse ni Shinchou Sugiru

Synopsis: In the world of Gaeabrande, Goddess Ristarte is tasked with summoning a hero to save her world. The hero, Seiya Ryuuguuin, is an OVERLY cautious hero who’s obsessed with muscle training and buying armor before setting out to deal with low level creatures. It’s simply one overly cautious mission at-a-time for this invincible hero!

First Impressions: And here comes isekai #3 which seems to be the true darkhorse of the bunch. I didn’t know anything about this one going in other than it’s title, and while it’s title seemed like it could be a decent enough idea for an isekai comedy, previous attempts at “subverting” isekai tropes have been a mixed bag, with only Konosuba really taking home the crown in that area. Konosuba seems a pretty apt comparison though, because this premiere gave me some pretty similar vibes. Like Aqua, Ristarte is an incredibly smug goddess who’s only following around the hero Seiya because it’s part of her job description, with the only major distinctions being she’s not nearly as mean-spirited and she seems more than little distracted by how ripped Seiya is. She’s a lot of fun to watch, and Seiya’s no slouch either, as while his primary joke of being overly paranoid seems like it could get old quickly, it’s well matched by how snarky he is towards Ristarte about basically everything, and watching the two bounce off each other was pretty hysterical. It helps that the show looks pretty good and White Fox went all in on the visual comedy, as this show has some of the best squash and smear animation I’ve seen in an anime comedy in a good while, and it even gives the intentionally janky expressions of Konosuba a pretty good run for their money. It’s possible this show could lose steam pretty quickly, and having one of the Demon King’s generals show up right in episode 1, makes me a little worried about that prospect, but I’m pretty optimistic that it’ll hold up, and I got enough laughs out of this that it’s a pretty easy recommendation for this season.

Rating: Great

High School Prodigies Have it Easy Even in Another World!

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!

Synopsis: Seven high school students are involved in an airplane crash. When they woke up, they found themselves in a parallel world where magic and beastmen exist. Of course, they panicked at their sudden unexpected predicament… or not? Instead, they create a power plant in a world that doesn’t have electricity, they did a little extra work and managed to take economic control over a metropolis, they managed to repay their gratitude to some oppressed citizens by upending a corrupt government, and basically do whatever they feel like?!

First Impressions: We’ve reached an Isekai Quartet, and I honestly wish I were watching that show instead. While Cautious Hero was a pretty fun comedy, this is more along the lines of what I tend to associate with isekai these days and it’s pretty bland. The gimmick of having seven characters travel to another world together and having all of them be insanely skilled (the fact that they all know each other is some incredible plot convience, but I guess you can kinda roll with it) seems like it would be an interesting hook, but there’s an obvious lead, and he doesn’t feel terribly different from your typical isekai MC-kun. The other members of the group haven’t really been developed beyond their gimmick yet, which would be fine if their gimmicks weren’t kinda bland, and the fact that it doesn’t really introduce us to them despite moving pretty slowly, made this premiere feel like a total slog. That it’s also pretty bland on the visual front doesn’t help things either, and while nothing here looks awful, it doesn’t have any real distinction from the dozens of other isekai in existance, and at this point it’s hard not to knock these shows down for that.

About it’s only merits are that it has yet to establish any RPG mechanics meaning this could be an actual fantasy world and therefore present a more interesting challenge in how the heroes manage their way through it, but with how obviously powerful they already are, I don’t have too much hope it’ll follow through. The other thing is that it seems like it’ll be pretty fanservice heavy as a lot of the animal-eared girls have some big knockers, and one of them even gives MC-kun a rather sensual mouth-to-mouth feeding, so if that sounds up your alley, it might be worth giving it a peak. That’s kinda where the show lost me though, since throwing in that last bit not even 10 minutes into the show didn’t do much to make me think this was going be anything better than a boring power fantasy, and nothing in the rest of the episode did anything to change my mind. This is far from the worst isekai premiere I’ve sat through, and it certainly could get stronger later on as the other members of the group get developed, I only but so much patience, and with the ever increasing number of isekai anime in the wild, first impressions matter to me a lot with them, and compared to Cautious Hero, this seems like a giant shurg.

Rating: *blah*

Azure Lane

Azur Lane

Synopsis: Azur Lane, a combination of all the different Camps in the world, was once successful in repelling the underwater menace, the Siren. Now splintered, they must face a new threat in Red Axis, former allies who crave to wield this otherworldly Siren technology for their own nefarious desires! Who will be victorious in the never-ending war between these battleship girls!?

First Impressions: And breaking away from isekai, comes our mobage adaption of the season and uh…it sure is a mobage adaption I guess. Like Kancolle Collection from a few years back this involves naval carriers being antropomorphized as anime girls with the main difference being these girls don’t seem to be based on real world ships like the ones in Kancolle were, and the girls seem to be divided into factions despite sharing a common foe. The whole factions thing probably makes this sound like it could be more complicated than it is though, because the show is so unconcerned about that plotthread that the members of the opposing faction to our…heroes (?) (there’s not much in the way of PoV here) literally announces how the two factions are opposed to each other, as though they’re explaning it to the audience, which I guess would make more sense than them explaning this to the people who are already opposed to them.

If there’s any “plot” you’re coming to this show for, it’s the character designs, and while I wouldn’t knock that too much normally, this kinda loses out in two big ways for me. One , aside from the two fox girls, a lot of the character designs look pretty samey and mostly boil down to either giant boobs or lolis with not much room in-between (and there were a few too many of the latter for my liking which felt a little uncomfortable). Secondly, despite the girls being the obvious marketing point of this show, there isn’t a whole lot of cheesecake in this premiere, so if you were looking for any decent fanservice, this doesn’t have much there either. The one big thing it has going for is that it looks gorgeous, and in addition to some pretty good character animation, the 3DCG used for the action sequences is actually pretty impressive by anime standards. Still, that’s not quite enough to elevate how blah the rest of this was, and while I imagine you might be pretty happy with this adaption if you’ve played the mobile game, I haven’t so this an easy skip for me.

Rating: Bad

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun

Mairimashita! Iruma-kun

Synopsis: Suzuki Iruma, human, 14, one day finds himself taken against his will into the world of demons. To add to his predicament, his doting owner and self-appointed “Grandpa” is the chair-demon at his new school. In order to survive, Iruma must deal with a haughty student who challenges him to a duel, a girl with adjustment issues, and so many more scary beings! Can this ultimate pacifist dodge the slings and arrows that are flung his way? As he struggles frantically, Iruma’s innate kindness begins to win over enemies.

First Impressions: Didn’t know what to expect from this going in other than that it was probably a kids show going by the character designs, and yeah it’s basically that. While that sounds like it would be a knock against it, kids anime can be surprisingly entertaining when the execution’s there, and sometimes even more so than the otaku-centric stuff that we tend to get injected into our veins on the regular. Iruma’s overall character felt like a mix between Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler fame (for anyone who remembers that franchise since kinda died down it’s last few years) and Deku from My Hero Academia, which seems like a weird combination, but somehow it works and my brain immediately latched onto this poor kid. All his life he’s been suckered into doing what other people wanted and now he’s found himself getting sold by his parents to a demon. Fortunately it turns out to be a very nice demon who just wants a grandson to call his own, and this turns into a weird but charming unreluctant power fantasy as Iruma inadvertendly makes himself into the most frightening being at demon school. While there’s nothing particularly original about this show’s humor or concept, I still somehow found myself pretty amused by it, and the execution on the jokes was just solid enough that I got a few good chuckles out of it, which is something I kinda needed with how drab the rest of this anime season looks right now. Production-wise this looks about like what you’d expect from a kids show not attached to a major franchise in that it’s competent but lacking in polish and probably isn’t gonna ever set the world on fire. Still, what it does have it uses well, and while in a more packed season, this might be have been something I’d be a bit more on the fence about, it was one of the better premieres I’ve come across so far for the fall, and I’m in the mood for it, so I’ll probably stick with this until it gives me a reason not to.

Rating: Good

Africa Salaryman

Africa Salaryman (2019)

Synopsis: Imagine your co-workers–a lion, toucan, and lizard! Hey it can happen right? Africa Salaryman is a comedic take on office life of three African jungle animals who could be your potential co-workers in corporate America. It’s full of ridiculous office place antics and hilarious scenarios, that keeps things quite entertaining, while the animals cope with their working environment.

First Impressions: While I didn’t know what to expect from this, I’ll admit I was at least mildly curious about it because well…how could I not be with its premise. The show itself is certainly…something. We have animal salaryman and animal high school girls which is more or less the main joke, and while I wasn’t sure how much mileage it was going to get out of that I had a few good laughs at things like the lizard getting his tail violently pulled out, or the whole mixer scene in the third act where the toucan inadvertendly tries hitting on a non-sentient pig. It’s…pretty weird, and the animation style only makes it weird as the show shifts between heavily blended 3DCG, wacky 2D animated cuts, and even possibly some flash animation. The constant art shifts certainlhy got my attention, but if there’s one thing that kinda held me back from giving this a full recommendation, it’s that most of the chararacters introduced so far are a little annoying, with the toucan in particular being obnoxious in a way that’s not always funny. Granted I did laugh at this regardless so I might keep up with it in spite of that, but it does make me worry about how this’ll hold up in the long term. For now though, I guess it was passable enough, so I guess I’ll at least give it another episode or two.

Rating: Decent

Val x Love

Val x Love

Synopsis: Takuma Akutsu has a “unique” appearance that, unfortunately, leaves him feeling isolated and alone among his high school classmates who shun him. Enter the Valkyries sent by Odin himself! Once they descend into Takuma’s life, he discovers they aren’t scared of him one bit! In fact, they’re super keen to get to know him better. As the intimacy between the Valkyries and Takuma grows, so too do their powers. And that’s a good thing, because they’re on orders to slay the vicious monsters intent on destroying the earth. How far will they go to deepen their connection, level up, and save the world… by any means necessary!?!

First Impressions: I’m uh…not totally sure what I just watched but I guess it’s an action harem anime? The basic gist here is that Takuma is a dude who looks big and creepy and is a social recluse thanks to that but also has a group of pretty valkyries living with who grow stronger through intimacy and all want his spear, if you know what I mean. If what I just said sounds like a bunch of confusing nonsense, don’t worry because I’m just as confused as you are. There would be something potentially interesting in having an unconvientional harem protagonist who isn’t much of a looker, and wants no part of his harem or people in general but the problem here is that in addition to this show’s premise being a bunch of weird nonsense, the weird nonsense isn’t even explained until the last two minutes of the episode. Up till then we’re just told that Takuma is a recluse while the show proceeds to have all the girls living at his house like it’s normal and not even allowing us to get a decent grasp of their personalities. Although I guess even if it didn’t start in media res, I’m not sure how much personality these girls would have to offer because they all seem like pretty standard anime girl archetypes, which would normally be pretty par the course for a typical harem anime, but feels a little weird contasting off of how actually interesting Takuma is, instead somehow making them feel bland in comparison. On top of all the plot confusion, the show itself looks pretty medocre, and the opening is barely animated in some areas which doesn’t feel like a promising sign for the rest of it’s production cycle. I guess if there’s any appeal here it’s that it’s got plenty of fanservice on display, and since that more or less seems to be the goal here anyway, I can at least give it some minor props for cutting right to the point. Still it’s kinda sad seeing something that could have possibly been interesting if handled better be so all over the place, but alas this is what we got, and I’m pretty sure this is getting a big pass from me.

Rating: Bad

Special 7: Special Crimes Investigations Unit

Special 7: Special Crime Investigation Unit

Synopsis: In the year 2×19, the last of the “dragons” have banded together and taken the form of humans. A group known as Nine is after the dragons’ power. To combat Nine and protect the dragons, the police create the Special Crime Investigation Unit – Special 7. Seiji, a bright and knowledgeable rookie, joins Special 7 and is tasked with solving cases about Nine, alongside his unique new teammates.

First Impressions: Welp it’s finally time to break away from isekai and into detective dramas because that’s another genre that seems to be (weirdly) plentiful this season. Like summer’s Cop Craft, this one takes place in a future where supernatural beings came to Earth at some point and began diplomacy with humans. Unlike Cop Craft though, any conflicts between humans and the supernatural seem to have been mostly resolved so this isn’t likely to serve as an awkward metaphor for race relations, and the cops we’re following are all clearly supernatural beings themselves, minus our lead who’s seemingly human (I say seemingly because he mysteriously survives getting shot in the chest and the show is vague about the details on that). This makes the show decidedly less commentative than Cop Craft tried to be which also makes it a little less immediately interesting, but since Cop Craft wasn’t exactly nuanced with that subject, I’m pretty willing to take a safe buddy cop drama starring vampires and elves among other things. Most of the premiere is pretty formulaic for this kind of story down to main character being a rookie cop who gets roped into joining the unit with all the presumably wacky supernatural characters, but the execution was solid enough that I never found myself getting too bored with it, and while the visuals of the show aren’t exactly awe-inspiring it looks decent enough for the kind of show this is. I wish I had a stronger opinion on this other than “this is fine” but well…this is fine, and given the season hasn’t particularly wowed me so far, I’m willing to take fine over bad, and this seems decent enough to warrant a couple more episodes.

Rating: Decent

Kandagawa Jet Girls

Kandagawa Jet Girls

Synopsis: “Jet-Racing” has become a mega-popular extreme sport across the world, and with good reason! The “Jetter” pilots a high velocity watercraft and is paired with a “Shooter” who blasts rival teams with a hydro gun. It all adds up to explosive, wet-and-wild action as they race to the finish and compete to earn supremacy. Among those competing is Rin Namiki, and racing is in her blood. Rin aspires to become a legendary Jetter just like her mother, and after meeting the cool and gorgeous Shooter Misa Aoi, it looks like Rin’s dreams are finally in reach with a partner who shares her passion! Every race brings them tighter together as a team and closer than ever to their dream of becoming the best Jet Racers on the water.

First Impressions: I knew going into this that it was a new franchise behind the vreators of Senran Kagura, meaning that whatever else this show might have to offer, the one thing I could definently expect were boobs. Given that I’ve been pretty outspoken about fanservice at times, you’d think a thing centered around just that wouldn’t quite be my cup of tea, but I’m still a hetero dude so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the occasional big slice of cheesecake, and since the cheescake here is the main attraction rather than a side dish, it’s a lot easier to roll with so long as the execution feels fun. Having said all that, I was a little less amused by this premiere than I was hoping to be. This indeed has plenty of fanservice going for it, and just about every camera angle is framed in a way that makes it clear this show knows its audience, and yet it didn’t feel quite as over the top as I was expecting. Much of the episode plays out like you’d expect of any basic sports anime premiere, which would be fine if this was that, but provides a little bit of whiplash when from a girl innocently dreaming of riding on a jet ski someday to cloth destroying lasers. Also gotta say that the limited looking production kinda hurt things a little too, as while there’s plenty of detail in the fanservice shots, the actual jet racing sport looks a little underwhelming, which kind of makes both that and the accompaying fanservice, feel less fun than it should be. Plus if you are here strictly for the fanservice, this is definently a “buy the blu ray” kinda deal, which is a little annoying even as someone who isn’t totally here just for that. In the grand scheme of things I’m pretty sure all my complaints here will hardly matter to the people who were anticipating this show since again, it’s got plenty of big boobs, but since I was also hoping to be at least a little entertained outside of that, I don’t know if this quite did it for me enough to watch more of it.

Rating: Decent

Stars Align

Stars Align

Synopsis: The teen adolescence story revolves around the coming-of-age of boys in a junior high school’s soft tennis team, which is on the verge of shutting down. Touma Shinjou asks Maki Katsuragi to join the team for his vaunted abilities, and mentions a summer competition. Katsuragi asks for money in return for joining the team.

First Impressions: So while there honestly wasn’t much of anything I was actively looking forward to this season, this show was one of the things I was the most curious about. Mainly due to it’s director, Kazuki Akane. For those unaware, Kazuki Akane happens to be director behind a little known show called The Vision of Escaflowne, alongside Noein-to your other self, both of which are very strong shows that mix together cool fanatastical concepts with compelling character drama. Going by the previews, this show looked like it was going to be focused squarely on the latter, and while I slightly suspected this might pull some kind of bait and switch since there wasn’t much promotion behind it, this is indeed a sports drama, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. Right off the bat there’s a sense of energy to this show’s direction that makes everything here feel very naturalistic, and especially in regards to boys’ tennis team largely being comprised of a bunch of slackers who don’t take any of this seriously. In a lot of other sports shows that sort of thing would be heavily dramatized, and while the threat of their antics getting the club shut down is a pretty big part of the episode, it’s used more as a springboard to introduce us to our leads Toma and Maki. Both boys seem to come from troubled homes with Toma apparently having issues with his mother, and Maki having to take care of the house by himself to help support his single mother. The latter of the two is definently the most immediately interesting as Maki’s dad comes into the picture at the very end of the episode, and he’s an abuser (also possibly a yakuza member) who only ever comes home to take money , which immediately paints a much darker picture of his family’s financial situation. The tension of that last scene in particular is pretty well done, and I really dig the whole set up of Maki only joining the tennis club under the condition he’s paid, which could certainly make this more than a little atypical for a sports drama. Good as the story setup here is, it helps that whole show itself looks pretty good, with the only real nitpick being that the show doesn’t quite have the level of character animation it’s clearly trying to display, and it makes a couple of scenes look slightly wonkier than intended. That aside though, this was a pretty good premiere and while I wasn’t sure what to expect, even with a trusted director, I ended up enjoying this more than I thought I would, given that it looks like this’ll stay pretty grounded. Since it is a sports drama, I don’t know if it’ll be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re in the mood for one, this is definently one to keep an eye on

Rating: Great

No Guns Life

No Guns Life

Synopsis: Humans that have been physically altered and turned into dangerous weapons are known as the Extended. Juuzou Inui awakens as one of these weapons—with amnesia. But his job as an agent investigating the Extended leads to a mysterious child with Extended ties showing up at his office. Now Inui must keep the child away from street gangs and the megacorporation Berühren, and it won’t be easy.

First Impressions: I’m not sure if I was necessairly looking forward to this one but I was certainly curious about it because well…how could I not be when the main character has a literal gun for a head. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but putting aside that bit of weirdness, this is pretty straight forward noir stuff. Juuzo is about as much of a walking hardboiled detective cliche as you can get from his mannerisms to his dialogue, with his most distinguishing characteristic being that he doesn’t seem to be very good with women, which makes some his facial reactions pretty amusing. Beyond that the setup here is pretty straightforward as Juuzo stumbles onto a case that ends up tying into a much larger conspiracy, and about the only thing seperating this from just about any other noir movie is that the world is one where Juuzo’s very existance somehow isn’t out of the norm, and while most of what we get in the premiere concerning Extendeds feels like technobabble, I’m at least mildly curious to learn more about them. Aside from the noir cliches, the other knock I’d give this premiere is that the show’s overall visual aesthetic looks extremely middle of the road, which normally wouldn’t be too big a deal, but for the kind of setting this has it’s a little underwhelming and about the only thing that stands out visually aside from Juuzo are the character designs for all the women, which are at least more up my personal wheelhouse than Jet Girls ironically enough. Putting all those complaints aside though, while something this by the book would be kinda bland in most genres, noir is something we don’t see a whole lot of in anime, so even a super textbook one is still something different than what typically comes out in a regular anime season. Plus while I was never really wowed by anything in this show’s plot, I certainly entertained by it, so that at least gives it an edge over some of the other stuff I checked out. Since this show is set to run for two cours, hopefully it manages to impress me a bit more sooner rather than later, but for now this seems like a perfectly fine genre thing, and if you’re in the mood for anime noir, this is pretty much your one-stop shop for the season.

Rating: Good

Blade of the Immortal

Blade of the Immortal (2019)

Synopsis: Edo, an era of warriors. There lived an immortal man, the Slayer of Hundreds, ‘Manji.’ He meets Rin, who has sworn vengeance for her parents. Rin’s grudge is against a group of swordmasters – Ittou-ryu. She asks Manji to be her bodyguard on her journey. He refuses, but then sees his late sister in Rin. So began the violent struggle that would bring even the immortal Manji to his knees

First Impressions: I didn’t know too much about Blade of the Immortal going in, but I knew it had a solid reputation as a prestige seinen manga, which definently put it pretty high on my list of things to check out this season. I also knew that it had an earlier adaption by Bee Train that apparently wasn’t very good, so this new one had a lot to live up to, both in attracting newcomers, and pleasing manga fans who weren’t happy the first go around. The show itself is a samura revenge drama, which isn’t quite what I was expecting, but samurai films are some of the coolest pieces of cinema out there, so that at least helped to grab my attention. Our basic setup is pretty straightforward for a samura revenge drama as our heroine Rin watched her father get killed and her mother raped and kidnapped, and now she’s out to kill the group of swordsmen responsible. Unfortunently while she’s spent time training in the sword, she isn’t nearly skilled enough to take down elite swordsmen so she’s left with no choice but to hire a bodyguard. Said bodyguard is Manju, a man known as the 100-man killer, who also happens to be immortal (though this certainly doesn’t stop his limbs from getting chopped off a lot) and that more or less explains this show’s title. Aside from setting the basis for this revenge plot, much of the show’s first two episodes are spent establishing the dynamic between Rin and Manju, which is certainly an interesting one, as while Rin intitally offers herself up in exchange for Manju’s help, she reminds Manju of the younger sister he lost to his violent past, and the end of episode two finds Rin taking on the role of his new sister. It’s a little strange for sure, but I like both characters so far, and while Manju is a bit of an enigma outside of his prickly personality, the show’s opening sequence made me more than a little curious as to what circumstances led to his sister’s death, so I’m looking forward to finding out a little more about that.

More than anything though, what really endeared me to this first two episodes is the show’s art design because HOLY CRAP does this show look gorgeous. Everything from the line art to the backgrounds gives the show a very unique sense of flair that almost feels like you’re watching a painting come to life, and the actual direction’s no slouch either, as the show is littered with impressive shots, and manages to use the heavily stylized artwork both for dramatic, and in one instance, comedic effect, which makes it far and away the most unique looking show of the season. Admittedly I’m onboard for this more because of the art design rather than the story, since it hasn’t completely grabbed me yet, but even with it’s straightforward premise, there’s plenty of potential in the actual writing, and even in the event it doesn’t quite deliver on that end, despite the manga’s reputation, at least this’ll be super pretty to look at, and I’m still totally floored LINDEN FILMS was able to put together such an incredible looking production. If you’re hunting for an easy recommendation for this season, look no further than this.

Rating: Great

True Cooking Master Boy

Shin Chuuka Ichiban!

Synopsis: During the 19th century China, the protagonist, Liu Maoxing, wins the title of Super Chef and is the youngest to do so in history. His master, Zhou Yu, suggests that he broaden his skills as a chef even more, so he goes on a journey around China with his friends Shirou and Meili. After returning, he also teams up with Xie Lu and Lei En to fight the Underground Cooking Society. He then learns the secret about the 8 Legendary Cooking Tools. In the past, Mao’s mother, Bei, had wished for everyone’s happiness and fought against the Underground Cooking Society. In order to continue his mother’s wishes and protect the Legendary Cooking Utensils from the Underground Cooking Society, Mao and his friends go on a journey…   

First Impressions: I don’t know much about the original Cooking Master Boy, but from my understanding it’s a pretty well known cooking manga in Japan, and I certainly like food so I was a little curious about this one. This premiere follows our protagonist Mao as he and his companions end up in a town that specializes in making dishes centered around chicken, and ends up befriending a restaruant owner. Unfortunently her restaurant has a bad reputation because they raise black feathered chickens that are considered bad luck, but Mao sets out to prove otherwise through his cooking skills as he enters the local cooking competition, and demonstrates the real value behind that chicken. It’s a pretty basic cooking show setup but it was a pleasant little watch regardless. Mao feels like a pretty likeable protagonist, and while we don’t know much about his past yet, the snippets we get indicate that he had to clear a few trials to get to his current skill level, and I’m a bit curious what the deal is with that. I also appreciate that the food in this show looks really good, and while I was lucky enough to be eating dinner while watching this, if I hadn’t I can almost guarantee that looking at some of these dishes would have made me hungry.

If there’s one serious hurdle for this show, it’s that it had the misfortune of being out in the same season as the last season of Food Wars and feels a little redundant next to it, since both seem to have pretty similar forumlas down to the wacky foodgasm reactions (though this show’s doesn’t lean into the lewd like how Food Wars does), and Food Wars is pretty well-known by this point, so this seems very easy to pass up. Having recently finished the manga though I know that the material in the last season of Food Wars is gonna be lame at best, and a dumpster fire at the absolute worst if it actually covers the final arc, so I have no real desire to watch it. With that in mind, this seems like it’ll work as a decent substitute, and while I know a lot more folks will obviously lean towards Food Wars, if you’re looking for another fun cooking show, this seems pretty solid, and I’m up for giving it another episode.

Rating: Good

Babylon

Babylon

Synopsis: Zen Seizaki is a prosecutor with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors’ Office. While investigating illegal acts by a certain pharmaceutical company, Seizaki stumbles across a conspiracy over an election for an autonomous “new zone” established in western Tokyo.

First Impressions: This show wasn’t particularly on my radar, but I’m always down for new original anime projects, so I’m glad I went to check this out. This is the second of several detective shows for this season that I actually checked out (well third if No Guns Life counts), and this one seems to be really by the book. Anime is certainly no stranger to dipping in procedural cop dramas, and even big franchises like Ghost in the Shell have quite a bit of that going on, but I’m used to it being done through the lens of cyberpunk and/or a distinctly western setting. This show however seems to center around goverment-salaried Japanese investigators, and the politics of the show are kept strictly to the Japanese government, which I certainly haven’t seen one of these do before on the anime front. That gives this a bit of a unique edge in terms of what it could actually explore but the core of the material itself isn’t terribly different from anything you’d see in your average episode of CSI, and this dumps you straight into the procedural stuff without even bothering to fully introduce the central characters, so how much you get out of this is quite literally dependent on how much you enjoy these kinds of dramas. They aren’t exactly my jam to be honest, but I at least like anime cop shows well enough, and while I didn’t latch onto any particular part of this, I was at least pretty engaged with it, and the production is certainly pretty compared to some of it’s competition. There’s certainly no shortage of detective shows this season, and I can’t even declare this to be the best one since I’m not totally sure I’m gonna check out the last one, it was certainly the most polished of the ones that I’ve seen so if you’re really in the market for this kind of show, this feels like it’ll be a good genre watch, and I’m probably keep up with this for a couple more episodes at least

Rating: Good

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