First Impressions- Winter 2021 Anime

We might have escaped the trenches of 2020 but there’s never any escape from the clutches of anime. and there’ll always be a new season to loom over the horizon bring both hope and dread in equal measure. As always, I’m here to waste my time shifting through as many premieres as possible and hoping to find at least a few new exciting things to make the effort worth it. This is looking to be a pretty stuffed season in particular so I’m probably gonna be a little more selective for my own sanity, but I imagine you’re here to see me ramble about specific Japanese cartoons so let’s get on with that.

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 .


Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies moved to a starter town?

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town

Synopsis: Considered a weakling his entire life, novice adventurer Lloyd leaves his village located at the fringe of the mortal world to fulfill his dream of becoming a soldier. When he arrives at the capital, the people discover that this oblivious kid from hard knocks might be more powerful than anyone expected.

First Impressions: I’d say it’s time to get the obligatory isekai of the season out the way, but in a surprise twist, this one isn’t actually isn’t an isekai. While I was waiting for some kind of explanation for how our hero got to this world, or some flashback of his former life before he reincarnated, it seems like he is in fact an actual denizen of his world, and despite the JRPG-ish flavor of the setting, it’s an actual fantasy world. That said, even without that one caveat, this premiere otherwise has a lot of the basics you’d see in your standard isekai fantasy in that Lloyd is extremely overpowered compared to everyone him, and girls are already falling at his feat. The only major differences really seem to be that Lloyd actually is a sweet kid instead of a potato putting on the facade of one, and all of his antics have been played entirely for laughs so far. This is far from the first time an isekai power fantasy premise has been turned into a comedy, but a lot of the other ones I’ve seen have been more on the mean-spirited end of things, while this seems relatively fluffy so far, and one of the characters came off as particularly obnoxious. That said, this premiere was kinda missing the key factor to totally win me over, and that would be that the jokes weren’t all that funny, and while it didn’t seem like the show was in any particular danger of running out of ways to make fun of Lloyd’s absurd strength, only a couple of the gags actually landed for me. Still I guess I wasn’t exactly bored by it, so I might give it another episode or two to see if it works for me personally, but I guess if a fluffy power fantasy comedy is your speed this seems pretty harmless so far.

Rating: Decent


Otherside Picnic

Otherside Picnic

Synopsis: Moments from death, Sorawo is saved by the mysterious Toriko in the Otherside. Attracted to its beauty, she soon discovers that this dimension is inhabited by monsters once thought imaginary. Joining with Toriko in her search for a missing friend, they set out to explore this nightmare-realm and maybe make a little money. What they encounter could bring enlightenment—or drive them mad!

First Impressions: I’d heard this was a pretty interesting yuri story, and while I was a little let down by last season’s Adachi and Shimamura being a little bit too much of a slow burn for it’s own good, this grabbed my attention pretty quickly. For one thing, exploring weird and mysterious fantasy worlds is kind of my jam, and I’m already pretty intrigued by the concept of the titular Otherside that our two heroines explore, and how it seems to be a weird mix between urban myths and weird high-concept sci-fi logic. Much of the exploration we see in this premiere outside of Toriko and Sorawo having their first meeting involves the two of them hunting down a mysterious “Wiggle-Waggle” monster that can make you go insane by looking at, but can also only be killed by attempting to observe it head-on. It’s the kind of bonkers fantasy stuff I crave, and I’m already pretty excited to learn more about both the Otherside itself, and how Sorawo and Toriko learned of its existance in the first place. Speaking of Toriko and Sorawo, it helps that the two of them have pretty good chemistry, with Sorawo being a bit of an introvert, while Toriko seems much more gung-ho about exploring the Otherside, and ropes Sorawo into being her “partner-in-crime”. While there aren’t too many hints of it right here in the premiere, if the show actually does commit to being a yuri romance. it’s done a pretty good job of laying the seeds and the direction of their first meeting in particular where Toriko saves Sorawo from dying abandoned came off pretty strong on that end.

If there’s one serious weakness this premiere had, it’s in the show’s production, because while the backgrounds look good, and I like the monster designs we’ve seen so far, the actual animation has been extremely limited for what a show like this will probably require, and there were more than a few really awkward shots of the girls in 3DCG whenever the camera zoomed out from them, and they felt more like a weird cost-cutting measure than a way to help balance out the animation for important scenes, and they kinda killed the atmosphere of the show for me a couple of times. That the show is already showing some notable production woes in its very first episode is a pretty big red flag, and its got me pretty worried it could end up falling apart well before the finish line. I did enjoy the premiere in spite of those problems, but knowing that danger looms on the horizon makes it hard for me to give this show as quick a recommendation as I would otherwise. For now I’d say it’s certainly worth at least giving a peek, and it’s got plenty of potential to be both a cool sci-fi fantasy romp and a good yuri romance, but whether or not it lives up to all that might end up depend on the production holding up, so here’s hoping this show can make it to the end of the season in one piece.

Rating: Good


Gekidol

Gekidol

Synopsis: Five years after a mystifying disaster decimates cities across the globe, Seria Morino receives an invitation from a mysterious woman to join Alice in Theater, a small stage troupe that takes it upon themselves to brighten the world through their performances using 3D hologram technology. As Seria settles in, she begins to uncover unexpected truths about herself and the world around her…

First Impressions: So uh…this was a thing I watched I guess? For a whole hour? This seemed like it was going to be an idol based thing going in, even if it’s more about acting specifically, and given how many IPs like that we get every year, I sorta figured it was based off a mobage game, idol group or some kind of otherwise existing product, meaning it was designed to cater to existing fans. Yet after sitting through this and checking AniChart, it seems like I was wrong and this is actually an anime original product…which makes me really wonder what the heck was going on with the premiere. So the first half is pretty straightforward: a young girl watches a play and gets inspired to become an actor before getting recruited by an acting troupe. Also one of the girls in the acting troupe is some kind of robot, and apparently some kind of implied apocalypse happened in the show’s setting prior to all of this. Okay, so maybe it’s not too straightforward, but it was easy enough to follow, and while it admittedly leaned a little too much into cute girls doing cute things for my personal tastes, I thought it was pretty decently directed, and while the girls themselves didn’t seem all that interesting, I was at least curious enough about where the premise was headed that I was considering maybe giving it another episode. This premiere also happened to be some kind of weird double length thing, where the first episode, and what I guess was meant to be some kind of OVA special were packaged together to make it double-length and the second half was…confusing to say the least.

I guess to be clear it seemed like going off of how the first half of the episode concluded, the OVA was meant to be an extended version of one of the plays the girls were performing with said play centering around a zombie apocalypse scenario. That’s a bit of weird set-up for a play, but it’s a neat idea nonetheless…except that the OVA spends the entire episode on it and without the added context that it’s all just a play, so it mostly just comes off as weird zombie story that feels completely separate from the thing I’d just spent the previous 25 minutes watching, and that disconnect kind of made it hard for me to get invested in the play’s scenario since I kept expecting it to cut back to the show proper and it never did. In fairness this is probably more of a problem with how Funi chose to stream this than the show itself, since had they split these episodes up and made it clearer the latter was just a one-off OVA thing I’d be less irritated, but because I ended up spending an hour watching what felt like two completely different shows, I ended up being able not to appreciate much of either and that kinda sucks. If I were to put my annoyance with that aside I’d say that based off the actual first episode this seems like it could be a pretty okay idol/acting set up, and it certainly seems to be more ambitious than this kind of show generally tends to be, but if the plays themselves are gonna be the main focus, then it kind of weirdly makes me less interested. I’m not doing the best at presenting my case with this one, but I’m not even sure what the case really is at this point. I guess this show seems unique if nothing else, but unless I hear good things about it through the rest of the season, I’m probably gonna pass it up.

Rating: Decent (first half), Ehhhhh…. (second half)


Hortensia SAGA

Hortensia Saga

Synopsis: Set in the Kingdom of Hortensia, a world power thanks to its main territories (Camellia and Olivier) serving as sword and shield against invading countries, a revolt begins in Camellia! With Hortensia headed toward chaos and the arrival of monsters making things more complicated, can the knights of this war-torn world survive and protect Hortensia?

First Impressions: I went into this one blind so I wasn’t even sure what it was based off of, but apparently it’s a video game adaption which certainly explains why the direction here felt a little stale. The show has a pretty basic fantasy world set up where a kingdom called Hortensia suddenly erupts into civil war, and in the process the king is killed, and the princess is led to safety by one of the knights. A few years later the story follows a local lord named Alfred who fights alongside his squire Marius to defend themselves from invaders, and that’s about as much as we really get for the premiere. A lot of it comes off as a kind of boilerplate JRPG set up (and I’m guessing it probably is based on one) and nothing about it came off as particularly inspired, but it executed on most of the standard tropes for this kind of setting decently enough, and while the production values aren’t great, the show looks decent enough, and it doesn’t seem like it’d be at too big a risk of falling apart at the seams later on. About the biggest point of interest in the premiere is that Alfred’s squire Marius is obviously the missing princess who has disguised themselves as a male knight (gonna refrain from using pronouns in the off chance Marius does identify as male but going off the visual in the ED song that doesn’t seem too likely) and for some reason Alfred seems to be completely unaware of that, and the knight that brought Marius to him seems okay with Marius fighting on the front lines seems seems kinda weird as far as politics go, but I am at least sorta curious what the exact story there is. Especially since going by the OP visuals it seems there’s a good chance Alfred will get killed off at some point in the story and Marius will become the main protagonist. That said, everything else about this premiere just seemed aggressively fine, and while I’m not opposed to watching something this low-key, I can’t say it held too much of my attention. Maybe I’ll give it another episode if I need another show to fill out Wednesdays besides The Promised Neverland‘s second season, but for now I’m leaning more towards passing on this.

Rating: Decent


LBX Girls

Soukou Musume Senki

Synopsis: In an unplanned field trip, Riko is transported to an alternate Japan where metal-based life forms known as Mimesis ravage the world. Only girls equipped with LBX armored weaponry can stand up to this scourge. Joined by four other displaced young women, Riko will have to adapt to save humanity. The hope of a planet now rests on these heavy metal soldiers who desire one wish—to return home again!

First Impressions: I know from twitter circles and what little clips I’ve seen of the heavily localized dub that LBX is based off a toy franchise in Japan. and it seems like this show is an attempt to market those robot models to the otaku crowd. The show kicks off with our heroine Riko going to the mall to get an LBX figure for her dad, and she ends up getting isekai’d into another world. In said world a bunch of girls fight a mysterious group of monsters called Mimesis using robot armor that’s based off the LBX models, and wouldn’t ya know it? The LBX model Riko was touching when she got isekai’d gave her some armor of her very own, and now she’s stuck helping her newfound companions fight against the Mimesis until she can manage to find her way home. Between the stock personality types of the girls and the fanservice heavy transformation sequences each one gets before they go out to fight, it’s pretty clear what this show is going for, and if you’re gonna pander, I can at least appreciate when a show is honest about it. For the most part this show seems perfectly fine. The production values seem pretty decent, with some acceptable 3DCG for some of the transformation and fight sequences, and while the designs of the girls aren’t exactly unique, they work well enough if that’s what you’re here for. Frankly this is the kinda thing where your enjoyment of it probably is gonna entirely centered around how much the fanservice appeals to you, and while I’m certainly not against watching a fanservice romp, this show doesn’t seem like it’d have much appeal for me on that end, so I didn’t exactly walk away from this premiere feeling eager to watch more. If the girls or the general aesthetic of this do sound like your kind of speed though, this show seems harmless enough.

Rating: Decent


Cells at Work!: CODE BLACK

Cells at Work! Code Black

Synopsis: A newbie Red Blood Cell is one of 37 trillion working to keep this body running. But something’s wrong! Stress hormones keep yelling at him to go faster. The blood vessels are crusted over with cholesterol. Ulcers, fatty liver, trouble (ahem) downstairs… It’s hard for a cell to keep working when every day is a CODE BLACK! You’ve seen what happens when a young, healthy body gets in trouble… but what if the body wasn’t so young and was never very healthy? This new take stars a fresh-faced Red Blood Cell and his friend, the buxom White Blood Cell, as they struggle to keep themselves and their world together through alcoholism, smoking, erectile dysfunction, athlete’s foot, gout… it’s literal body horror!

First Impressions: I got a pretty good amount of mileage out of the first season of Cells at Work, and I dug it’s mix of edutainment, comedy and campy ultra-violence, and enjoyed it enough to happily take more of it. While we do have a second season proper also airing this season, we also have this serving as its darker counterpart, since while Cells at Work proper takes place in a healthy body, this one depicts the lives of cells in a much unhealthier one. The episode kicks off with a young blood cell starting his first day at work, and going by the orientation he’s given, it seems he’ll have a nice place to work where everyone’s friendly, there’s good benefits and little in the way of mandatory overtime. But of course as any millennial would tell you, such an ideal job environment is way too good to be true in our modern age, so in reality it turns out to be an utter nightmare where he’s thrusted onto the job without any training, isn’t allowed to take any breaks and has to deal with constant complaints from both disgruntled cells mad about how the oxygen’s being distributed and his fellow co-workers for his naïve attitude. The only comfort he finds is in a somewhat friendly senior colleague who advises him that the best way to get through work is to simply cut off his emotions and not question anything about the job.

Amazingly the episode manages to get even more depressing from there. because we get a very detailed look at what what happens when carbon monoxide from smoking enters the body and affects blood cells, and by detailed look I mean the red blood cells get slowly zombiefied before getting brutally murdered by the germs that also entered the body through the cigarette, and Red Blood Cell has to watch his colleague sacrifice himself in front of him so he can safely make the next oxygen delivery. It’s a lot, but I guess on the bright side this is also how we’re introduced to this version’s White Blood Cell who’s a busty lady with a longsword instead of a himbo with a knife, and she informs our broken hero that she’s about as unsure if there’s any meaning behind her work when things like this will keep happening as he is. So uh…yeah as far as anti-smoking ads go this is pretty depressing, and even knowing this show was going to be darker than it’s mother series. I wasn’t expecting it to be this unrelenting, and mixing in some abusive workplace allegories into the mix just makes it hit even harder. All that said, it certainly had my attention pretty much the entire time, and as awful as everything that happened in it was, it was also interesting to learn, and in some ways that actually makes this show a more effective piece of edutainment than the original. It’s hard to say how much darker this’ll get, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious, so I guess I’m willing to hop aboard this obvious sadness train. Hopefully it’ll be a worthwhile ride.

Rating: Great


Heaven’s Design Team

Heaven's Design Team

Synopsis: In Heaven’s Animal Design Department, designers create a variety of new animals daily while contending with the unreasonable requests of their client: God. Funny, interesting, and full of useful information, this series answers questions such as, “Why can’t unicorns exist?”, “What makes an animal taste delicious?”, “What’s the most powerful creature in the ocean?”, and, “Bird versus snake: who would win?” You won’t believe it’s a manga series when you read up on the featured animals in the included encyclopedia entries. Heaven’s Design Team will make your next trip to the zoo or aquarium 100 times more fun!

First Impressions: Sometimes you truly have to appreciate some of the wildness only anime has to offer because it’s hard to think of any other medium where you could get ideas like “what if God’s angels were designer interns and he relegated the duty of creating all the animals to them?”. It’s a pretty weird idea for a comedy setup, but certainly one that caught my attention, so I was expecting this one to be pretty wacky, and it kinda wise, but like Cells at Work, this ended up falling more into the line of edutainment. Throughout each of the three shorts that comprise the episode, the angels toss around animal design ideas in order to figure out if those designs can actually survive on Earth, and what features those animals will need to aid in said survival. This leads to stuff like one of them really wanting to make unicorns a thing, but never getting it past the design phase since it’s body is too large to fly, or having to go through several redesigns with bird types in order to help them avoid getting their eggs eaten by snakes before they can hatch. Some of these lead to a few solid jokes, but it mostly felt like a way to learn more about the various ways animals can adapt to their enviornment or fight off predators, and each short even ends with a segment that goes into detail about how some of these animals do just that. It’s perfectly fine as far as edutainment goes, but if that sort of thing doesn’t interest you or you were looking for something a little wackier, you might be a little let down here. Personally though, I had a pretty decent time with it and I thought some of the trivia was neat so I might keep up with it, though with both Cells at Work and Cells at Work: CODE BLACK airing not only in the same anime season, but on the same day, it’s got some stiff competition in the edutainment department (boy is that something I never though I’d hear myself say about anime). I imagine anyone in the mood for this kind of show will probably gravitate towards those first two, but if you have room in your heart or schedule for a third, this seems about as good an alternative as any.

Rating: Good


2:43 Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Club

2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team

Synopsis: Kimichika Haijima leaves Tokyo behind and returns to his childhood home where he’s reunited with an old friend, Yuni Kuroba. The two become an ace pair on the volleyball court but at the last tournament before graduation a fight causes the duo to split. Now reunited in high school, they are forced to mend their relationship in order to achieve their dreams of making it to the top.

First Impressions: I generally don’t like to harp on too much about shows with similar premises, or that are in the same genre, but considering that Haikyu is both the most notable volleyball anime to date, and one of the biggest sports anime juggernauts period, it’s kinda hard not to compare other shows about boys’ volleyball to it. Unlike this season’s Skate Leading Stars though, which at least has it’s high school setting to differentiate it from the figure-skating monolith that is Yuri on Ice (even if that made Skate Lead feel immediately more generic by comparison), both this show and Haikyu star teenagers, and one of the leads Chika, even looks like Tsukishima so that made it even harder not to feel the similarities. Anyway, this one stars two boys Yuni and Chika who were childhood friends but reunite in middle school and are both on the boys’ volleyball team. Chika is extremely dedicated to the sport while Yuni comes off as much more disinterested about it, but Chika’s commitment wins him over and he and the other team members start to get a little more dedicated to practice. This goes over all well and good until a couple of Yuni’s buddies (who based off their “rich boy” comments just see him as a way to spend money) run into him and Chika while they’re walking home from practice and reveal that Chika has an infamous reputation for being extremely overdemanding as a setter (because there weren’t enough Haikyu comparisons already) and that his overbearing nature lead to one of his former teammates attempting suicide.

So as far as sports anime setups go though this is pretty straightforward but since again, Haikyu exists as pretty direct competition to it kinda needed to stand out a bit from it, and I’m not quite sure it did. Production wise the folks at David Production seem to be doing a pretty solid job with it, and it had some good cuts for some of the volleyball sequences, but compared to how kinetic and powerful the best stuff in Haikyu can be, this didn’t really come anywhere close to that, and even the designs of the boys, while perfectly fine, don’t really feel bold enough to wrestle away Haikyu’s fujoshi audience. About the only really big distinction this really has from Haikyu is in its tone as compared to the energetic, blood-pumping shonen bravado of that series, this seems to be a little more down to earth and melancholic, especially with the thing at the end about Chika’s former teammate. That could make this show pretty interesting in it’s own right, but there wasn’t quite enough of it to totally grab me, and I spent a good chunk of this premiere remembering that I still need to catch up with the latest season of Haikyu, which I guess kinda says it all. I guess if you’re specifically interested in a volleyball sports show that’s more on the grounded side then this seems pretty alright and there wasn’t anything really wrong with it, but if you do have the option to watch Haikyuu and you somehow haven’t yet, I’d probably point you in the direction of that show first.

Rating: Decent


So I’m a Spider, So What?

So I'm a Spider, So What?

Synopsis: I, the protagonist, was just an ordinary high school girl, but suddenly I was reincarnated as a spider monster in a fantasy world. Not only that, but I awakened in a dungeon filled with vicious monsters. Armed with only my human knowledge and my overwhelming positivity, I’m forced to use spiderwebs and traps to defeat far stronger monsters just to stay alive… So begins the labyrinth survival story of a girl with incredible mental strength living as one of the lowest-ranked beasts!

First Impressions: So here we have our first actual isekai adaption of the new year and I was…actually sorta looking forward to this one. I’d heard fairly good things about the original light novels for years and I actually skimmed through the first two volumes a couple of years back when I found them one day in a library. They didn’t exactly strike as high art, but it was entertaining enough that I was curious to see how this would pan out in animated form and my feelings are a little more mixed than I was expecting. So as you might have guessed from the title, this show’s brand of isekai involves our unnamed heroine getting reincarnated into another world, but as a spider. Though unlike Rimuru from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime or most isekai protags frankly, by all accounts she seems to be an ordinary spider by this world’s standards and pretty low on the food chain. While she does have the benefit of this world functioning off of JRPG logic meaning she can level up her abilities, a fair chunk of the time spent with her in this premiere involves her scraping by for her survival and learning how to make use of her webs to trap prey. Since isekai protagonists rarely ever have to struggle for anything, this was the aspect of the light novels that caught my attention the most, so I was curious how that was gonna be handled in anime form, and it ended up being played for laughs a lot more than I was expecting, and I was a little disappointed. At the same time though, a lot of those laughs come courtesy of Aoi Yuki’s hamtastic vocal delivery so it’s hard to get mad at it, and she’s clearly having a lot of fun here.

We also discover that our eight-legged heroine isn’t the only one who’s been reincarnated into isekai land as it seems like all her classmmates and her teacher are too, though the part about one of her male classmates being reincarnated as a girl and having that treated as a gag was a little eh. I’m more invested in how our spider girl will survive her new environment and I know that’ll be the focus for awhile so while there’s probably plenty of mystery in what happened to the class, I’m in no hurry to get there. As far as the show’s production goes it looks pretty alright though your mileage may vary on the 3DCG used for the Spider and some of the other monsters. I kinda wish they’d animated her in 2D but given how many wild facial expressions she has and how complicated a spider’s movements can be I can see where that would have been taxing for a TV anime production so I guess it works as a compromise. Honestly I’m not quite sure how I’d feel about this premiere if I wasn’t already semi-invested in this series, but I am at least looking forward to watching more of the Spider’s adventures in the cave so for the time being I’m on board for at least the next few episodes, and if you’re looking for a slightly different flavored brand of isekai, this could be a fun romp

Rating: Good


Back Arrow

Back Arrow

Synopsis: Ringarindo is a land surrounded by a wall. The wall covers, protects, cultivates, and nutures this land. The wall is god … it is the foundation of this land of Ringarindo. One day, a mysterious man named Back Arrow appears in Essha village on the outskirts of Ringarindo. Arrow lost his memories, but says that all he knows is, “I came from beyond the wall.” To restore his memories, Arrow heads out beyond the wall, but is embroiled in a battle with himself as the stakes.

First Impressions: So there are a lot of sequels to hit titles this season, but this was the show I was looking forward to the most. Goro Taneguchi of Code Geass fame is a talented director, but his track record since Code Geass has been pretty spotty and especially when it comes to original projects. However this time around he’s teaming up with writer Kazuki Nakashima who’s worked on the likes of Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill, and given both men have a penchant for campiness in their work, the two of them seemed like a match made in heaven. Having watched this premiere that assertion seems to have been pretty accurate since I had a blast with it. While the whole setting of a civilization being contained within a giant wall might make you think of Attack on Titan this show establishes pretty quickly that it’s not going to be anywhere near that grim since the conflict of the episode starts with a bunch of hungry villagers trying to cook the pod our hero crashed in on because they assumed it contained food, and it only gets sillier from there as he spends pretty much the entire episode running around naked before getting into a tokusatsu-esque mecha suit when a bandit attacks the village looking for him.

It’s pretty goofy but it had me grinning almost the whole way through, and it felt very reminiscent of the kinds of mecha shows we got in the mid 00’s that were pretty much lost to the 2010’s. There’s also enough mystery in why all the humans are so insistent that nothing exists beyond the wall, and where all the pods that fly down from the sky are from that that I’m curious to learn more about the world itself, and with Nakashima the helm, I’m pretty confident the script will be tight enough to keep up with whatever madness Taneguchi throws in since he’s got nothing on the madlad Hiroyuki Imaishi and some of his other regular collaborators at Trigger, The mecha suits also look pretty cool, and they don’t exactly have the best 3DCG I’ve seen, they work pretty well for the fight scenes and manage to stay in line with this show’s abundant levels of camp. This show could go in any number of directions since it’s set to run for half a year, and it could always run out of steam fast, but everything here was so much fun that it seems like a more than acceptable risk, especially with who’s attached to this. For right now though, this is easily the best premiere I’ve seen so far for the season, and I highly recommending giving it a go.

Rating: Great


Scar on the Praeter

Project Scard: Scar on the Praeter

Synopsis: After a rebellion in the Akatsuki Special Ward of Tokyo, the government collapses and citizens are left to fend for themselves. With Divine Tattoos that each possess unique powers, agents known as the Scard rise up to become the protectors of peace. But loyal to three contending organizations, they’ll have to face more than just criminals in order to serve their own definitions of justice.

First Impressions: If you’ve hung around the anime sphere for the last few years, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of the infamous anime studio GoHands, and while the first big anime original project, K, looked pretty alright, their overall aesthetic when it comes to visual direction, backgrounds, and basic shot composition have gotten progressively worse with each new show they’ve worked on (we don’t talk about Hand Shakers in this house), and now even the mere mention of their name will illicit dread from the average anime fan. I actually did kinda enjoy K though, so whether out of the desire to see if they could make something that looks that presentable again, or just morbid curiosity, I’m always curious to at least watch the first episode of any new thing they make. But much like every other time I’ve done that since K, it was absolutely terrible decision. Right away, the backgrounds looked distractingly rotoscoped from real world buildings, and the characters, while fairly pretty looking on their own, never look like they’re on the same plane as the backgrounds in even a single shot of the episode and it’s kind of a mess. It doesn’t help that the show is supposed to take place in some kind of sectioned off ward of Tokyo that’s supposed to be considered the slums, but you sure couldn’t tell from looking at it because every single indoor shot of the city we see looks like it’s from a high end apartment or restaurant and it makes for just as much dissonance as the issues with the backgrounds. The fight scenes also look like well…pretty much everything you can expect from fight scenes with GoHands which is to say they have characters running around completely 3D backgrounds with camera movements that can range from trying too hard to look cinematic to drunken, whatever good animation there is to appreciate is kinda lost in the process.

To the show’s “credit” though, it doesn’t look as bad as Hand Shakers, so it might have been semi-passable if the script was decent, but GoHands can be as bad with story composition as they are with basic art design, and aside from the fact that our main character was from the slums and he met a guy who was known in the slums as a hero before that guy sacrifices himself at the end of the episode, I could barely follow anything. Like I guess there are supposed to be a bunch of gangs vying for supremacy similar to the ones in K, but none of these characters exactly look like gangsters and their motivations aren’t exactly clear so it’s hard to say. Also I guess there’s some evil guy with fire powers who wants to kill heroes. So…yeah, safe to say this premiere was pretty bad. I can at least say with Hand Shakers it looked so absolutely terrible at all times that I was compelled to keep watching it to see how much worse it could get, but ugly as this is, it’s still more restrained looking than that show was, and the script is a lot more boring so I frankly can’t think of a single reason to keep going with it. I guess if you like gawking at bad looking productions, or just want to ogle pretty boys you might get something out of it, but we’ll likely have EX-ARM to fill the quota on that first one so it doesn’t even have that going for it. Maybe someday GoHands will make a good show again, but until then, their stuff should probably continue to be avoided

Rating: Bad


The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter

Synopsis: The Hidden Dungeon is a place of legend where rare treasures and items are hidden. Nor, the third son of an impoverished noble family who’s lost the one job offer he had, was lucky enough to hear about this dungeon. He then acquires a skill that allows him to create, bestow, and edit skills… and in order to use it, he needs to accumulate points by carrying out such tasks as eating delicious meals and doing sexual things with alluring members of the opposite sex.

First Impressions: Time for another romp through a JRPG-esque fantasy land, and similar to Dungeon Boonies, it doesn’t appear to be an isekai, but it operates a little closer to one. Our resident MC-kun dreamed of becoming a librarian but since he’s from a poor noble family and low on the social standing poll, the job got taken from him leading to him deciding to try making money as a hero. To do this he ends up exploring a dungeon where he meets a mysterious babe in chains who offers to give her incredibly overpowered skills to him. However using those skills drains his life points, and the only way he can recover them is through pleasures like obtaining money or getting intimate with the opposite sex. He ends up going for the latter option a lot of the time, and if you couldn’t guess what kind of show this is from that, then it’s probably worth noting that the only reason MC-kun finds the dungeon at all is by vividly making out with his childhood friend so he can make use of his original power. Yeah this is basically just a trashy fanservice romp, and it comes fully packaged with MC-kun’s childhood friend having giant knockers and his younger sister clearly wanting to bone him. High art this ain’t, but I’m not exactly opposed to this kind of trashiness, and if nothing else the show is at least honest about what it is, and the lady in chains didn’t end up being a slave or something so that at least puts it slightly above similarly trashy isekai premises. MC-kun here also has a bit more personality than the usual potato isekai protag, though the whole gag about him temporarily shrinking his childhood friend’s boobs felt kind of eye-rolling even for this kind of show. Anyway since this show is clearly just here for fanservice, said fanservice is also going to be the obvious criteria for whether or not to keep up with it. I at least wasn’t bored by it so despite some misgivings about the show’s “humor” I might give this one another episode but considering Fridays are pretty stacked and there are better shows, I’m not totally sure how well that’ll end up panning out.

Rating: Decent


Horimiya

Horimiya

Synopsis: Kyouko and Izumi are two classmates who each lead a double life: the popular and talented Kyouko cares for her little brother by herself while her parents are away, and the quiet, bespectacled Izumi hides his many piercings and tattoos at school. After accidentally discovering each other’s secrets the pair becomes fast friends, and together, they begin to navigate their new relationship together amongst unknowing peers and love rivals alike.

First Impressions: I know the source material for this one comes pretty highly recommended and having seen the premiere I can sorta see why. A romance staring two people who where different personas depending on whether they’re in public or in private is far from a new concept, but though Hori is a little more studious and proper than she lets on at school, and Miyamura is subsequently a lot dumber and laid-back than his nerdy school persona would imply, neither one comes off as completely different person between those settings. If anything, it just feels more representatives of the various sides of themselves everyone has that we aren’t always willing to show to others and that helps to make both the show itself feel more grounded, and the chemistry between the two leads to feel believable. While the two of them end up becoming close friends pretty quickly over the course of this premiere, the way they open up to each other feels pretty natural, and it’s a lot of fun watching the two of them bounce off of each other since they’re opposites in ways you might not expect.

Of course the romance angle here seems pretty good too, and while we see Hori get asked out by and quickly turn down one of her other classmates, Miyamura somehow hasn’t yet pieced together she’s interested in him, and he seems to be plagued by a lot of self-doubt so it’ll be interesting to see how and when he manages to piece that together, and how both of them might grow through their relationship. The show looks pretty good too, and while it’s not too wild with comedic faces there’s some good character animation here, and a lot of the visual direction helps to give it a moodier atmosphere than might otherwise be expected from something that feels pretty low-key. If there’s one potential issue I have, it’s that Hori and MIyamura’s relationship has progressed so far in just this premiere alone that it’s hard to imagine how much the story will be able to squeeze out of the two of them hooking up since it almost feels like that could happen at any moment, and I don’t know what direction the show’ll go in if they do. That also kind of makes things more exciting in a way though, so for now I’m pretty onboard with this one, and it seems like it’ll be a pretty chill romance series.

Rating: Great


SK8 the Infinity

SK8 the Infinity

Synopsis: Reki is a second-year high school student who loves skateboarding, and gets caught up in “S,” an underground and dangerous skateboard race at an abandoned mine with no rules. Ranga, who has returned to Japan from Canada and has never skateboarded before, also gets wrapped up in S along with Reki. Dirty racers, AI racers, and other unique individuals compete in the “youth skateboard race battle.”

First Impressions: For the many sports anime in existence, and the many sports represented in them, I can’t really recall one that was about skateboarding and the urban culture that surrounds it. The closest thing was Toei’s adaption of the Air Gear manga back in the day, but in addition to being about rollerblading and not skateboarding, that also turned into a weird (and very horny) battle manga with roller-skates that could grant literal superpowers so the market was certainly ripe for a skating anime that’s flashy, but at least a wee bit more grounded in reality than SK8’s first episode, I’m happy to say it feels like it’ll fill that void and then some because it was practically oozing style from the screen. The series centers around an underground skating scene called “S” and one of our main characters Reki is a regular there who ends up getting injured in a race against a Mad-Max looking skater called Shadow. Reki later ends up getting acquainted with a new transfer student to his class named Langa who gets hired onto the same part time job as him, and ends up getting dragged along to the skating grounds. When Langa ends up volunteering to race against Shadow, it seems like he’s an amateur who’s in over his head, but while he knows nothing about skateboarding, he’s an expert at ski boarding and he picks up skating pretty quickly, though the episode ends before we can get a clear picture of whether or not he wins the race (gonna guess no, if only so show has the opportunity for him, and the audience to learn about skateboarding from the ground up). It’s a fast, but very effective set-up, and it helps that the skating sequences look really, REALLY cool, and both the animation and the camera work help to make the races feel thrilling, The soundtrack’s no slouch either, and combined some sleek and bombastic character designs, pretty much everything about this premiere bleeds cool, and I had a ton of fun watching it. Honestly if none of what I just described doesn’t encourage you to check it out then I don’t know what else to tell ya, but it’s up there with Back Arrow as one of the most exciting premieres of the season, and frankly a little stronger, so if a super stylish sports anime is your jam, then you should go inject this show into your veins immediately

Rating: Excellent


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