First Impressions- Spring 2021 Anime (Part 1)

The birds are chirping, the weather’s getting warmer, and we’re finally getting closer towards escaping this dang plague. Spring is finally here folks, and with all that change of course comes new anime. Unfortunately for me, the Shaman King rebbot, which is the thing I was kinda looking forward to the most, is locked behind Netflix jail for at least a few months so I’m going into the season with slightly less enthusiasm than I’d prefer. Thankfully there’s still tons of other potentially cool shows to check out, and quite a few that I’m anticipating, so as always it’s time to dig in and see how many of these are actually worth checking out.

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 .


MARS RED

MARS RED

Synopsis: It’s 1923, and vampires have existed for quite a while. But now, the number of vampires is increasing. and a mysterious, artificial blood source called Ascra has appeared. The Japanese government, in turn, creates “Code Zero,” a unit within the army tasked with taking down the vampiric forces. And what better way to track vampires than by using vampires? Created by Lieutenant General Nakajima, this unit has historically been in the business of information war, but has been re-assigned to solve the vampire crisis. It’s up to Code Zero and the S-class vampire Deffrot to investigate this increase and put a stop to it before society crumbles.

First Impressions: While this wasn’t exactly highly anticipated for, I’ve been curious about this one since I know it’s one of Funimation’s big co-productions for the season, and the general aesthetic of it looked pretty cool. Thankfully I walked away from the premiere with a pretty good impression, and that curiosity was pretty well rewarded. The main rundown of this show is that it takes place in 1920’s Japan between WW1 and WW2 and centers around the Japanese military and their involvement with…vampires. Bit of an odd setup there, but it’s certainly got plenty of style going for it, as the visual aesthetic of the show kind of invokes the look of an old painting in a way that really blends well with it being a semi period piece, and even though I can’t quite tell where the story’s going, the direction here is confident enough that that the show evokes a mood of total confidence throughout the whole premiere as we follow a soldier named Maeda and his dealings with a turned vampire lady that the military had recently captured. He’s an interesting character so far, and while we don’t learn too much about him this premiere, we do get the sense that beneath his fairly stoic and rigid personality, he’s at least a little more sympathetic towards infected vampires than his superiors, and his interactions with the vampire are some of the most interesting and visually inventive stuff in the episode. A lot of that his aided by a strong performance from anime dubbing veteran Sean Schemmell, who you’d probably know best as Goku from everything Dragonball Z, but delivers a more grounded performance here as Maeda than anything else I’ve heard from him. and it really grabbed my attention. Between the strong visual direction, and the strong voice acting, there’s a lot to dig here, and while it’s hard to say where it’ll go, and if it’ll use it’s setting to comment on Imperial Japan in anyway, I’m totally down to see where it goes, and I’d easily recommend giving it a watch.

Rating: Great

JORAN: Princess of Snow and Blood

Jouran: The Princess of Snow and Blood

Synopsis: The year is 1931. Prince Tokugawa Yoshinobu is 94 years old and holds absolute control over Japan. Remnants of the Meiji era’s culture can be seen around the city, but scientific technology and Japanese esoteric cosmology Onmyodo are also developing, exuding a sense of modernity. Yet lurking behind the glitz is Kuchinawa, a dissident group planning the assassination of the prince, and effectively the fall of the regime. Tasked to extinguish these dissidents is Nue, the government’s secret executioner group. Sawa Yukimura, who works for this organization, suffered from an early age at the hands of the Kuchinawa boss. Her entire family was murdered and she dedicated her life to avenging their death

First Impressions: Previews for this one came up at kind of the last second, so I wasn’t exactly sure what this was gonna be beyond some kind of original action show funded by the folks at Bushiroad. Still it seemed like it could be pretty cool, and the premiere was…fine I guess. The whole crazy anchorism thing involving a kinda cyberpunk what-if Meiji era is easy enough to get behind, but the whole angle involving our main group of characters being a band of “cool” but ruthless government spies is admittedly a bit of a harder sell for me these days, given how terrible politics and policing have been these last few years. It doesn’t help that the actual animation on display in the premiere didn’t quite live up to the killer artstyle of the character designs, and while it wasn’t bad, it didn’t leave me all that enthusiastic about how well this will function even just as an action piece. Still for all those complaints, I am at least mildly curious about the histories of of the central characters, and especially in regards to the main heroine and why the little girl she’s living with apparently wants her dead. There’s also of course, the mysteries concerning why people are being turned into changeling monsters, and it’s possible/pretty likely the show could do enough with those things to end up moving away from the whole government spies angle. I can’t say I’m as enthused about this one as I was hoping to be, but the execution here was decent enough that I’m at least on board for a couple more episodes, so hopefully it’ll manage to win me over by then

Rating: Decent

SSSS. Dynazenon

SSSS.Dynazenon

Synopsis: Yomogi Asanaka is an ordinary teen who one day ends up saving the life of a mysterious boy name Gauma when he offers him food. Gauma claims to be a “kaiju user” and when kaiju suddenly appear in town, Gauma summons a powerful robot called Dynazenon, with Yomogi and some other teenagers from around town suddenly being roped into becoming his co-pilots.

First Impressions: SSSS. Gridman rose up to be superior Trigger mecha show of 2018, and frankly one of the best Trigger entries in general, so this being its spiritual successor shot it pretty high up my list of anticipated titles for the season and I’m happy to report it did not disappoint. Like Gridman before it, the show does an excellent job of blending the 3DCG of the mecha and kaiju into the 2D animation of rest of the show in such a way that they look intentionally rubbery to mimic the feel of old toku mecha shows, and it makes the fight at the end of the episode into a pretty big thrill ride. But also like Gridman, a lot of what makes this premiere work is actually how low-key it is before the robot brawls actually start, and while Garuma sticks out in all the best ways as a weird scruffy looking himbo who both deserves all the love in the world, and doesn’t seem remotely suspicious when he says he’s a kaiju user, the rest of the cast is introduced pretty naturally and I’m already eager to learn more about them. Especially Yomogi who seems to have some have some kind of issue with his estranged dad or mom’s new boyfriend (it isn’t really established which) and Minami who’s gained a reputation for breaking off promises with boys, and seems to be missing her older sister in some way. I’m a little less interested in the NEET duo who don’t seem to be as directly tied into things as the rest of the characters are until the last few minutes, but they also seem like they could be pretty fun, and there’s already a lot of potential to be had how all these characters interact. With how excellent Gridman was, I’d be lying if I said I’d be surprised/incredibly disappointed if this one didn’t deliver at least from the outset, but it’s off to a really strong start and I’m totally ramped up to see where it’s headed.

Rating: Excellent

Those Snow White Notes

Those Snow White Notes

Synopsis: When Setsu’s grandfather died, so did Setsu’s “sound”—his unique creative spark. Grieving, he goes to Tokyo to find himself…but manages to become totally, literally lost on his first day. Only a chance meeting with Yuna—aka Yuka, the hostess—saves him from being robbed. At first glance their lives seem totally different, but they’re both striving for their dreams—hers, of being an actress, and his, of developing his talent with the shamisen—and it could just be that life in the raucous, unfeeling urban sprawl of Tokyo could just be what binds their fates together…

First Impressions: I didn’t know what to expect from this going in, but I got more mileage than I was expecting out of Kono Oto Tomare a couple of years back, and while that show centered around the koto instead of the shamisen like this does, it was a pretty solid drama centered around classic Japanese instruments, and I was hoping to get something similar here. Similar to Kono Oto, this story centers around a young man named Setsu who lost his grandfather and whose connection him largely centers around their shared love for playing the shamisen. but while that show centered around high schoolers, Setsu’s an adult, and the premiere centers around his interactions with a pin-up idol named Yuki who puts him up after he wanders into Tokyo. The dynamic between the two of them was pretty interesting as both are kind of wayward souls who seem to have lost their passions, and Yuki’s side of things feels particularly real between her struggling to hold her career together without being made to do more illcit work, and putting up with her crappy boyfriend who mooches off of her and sleeps around.

However it’s made clear that the two of them are more different than Yuki thinks when she witnesses the power of Setsu’s shamisen playing, and seeing it inspires her to quit her idol job and make a new change in her life. Nothing here is too surprising early on, and while the execution isn’t exactly spectacular, it’s consistent enough that I was pretty engaged through the whole thing. The actual surprise here comes when Yuki presumably exists out the show forever after deciding to change herself, but for some reason it seems like her jerk boyfriend is going to be a major recurring character which is certainly…a choice I guess. Also it seems like Setsu has some producer and/or stalker after him who literally breaks down his door in the last 10 seconds of the episode? So…yeah suffice to say I honestly have no idea where this is going. Most of the episode gave the impression this was going to be a low key shojo romance centered around music, but one half of that potential pairing is now gone so your guess is as good as mine what the show is actually going to be about. Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious, and everything else in this premiere was done well enough that it at least seems worth a few more episodes to see what it’s new direction is gonna be. Again, not sure exactly what this is gonna be beyond some kind of drama about music, but if that sounds appealing, this seems like it’s worth a peek

Rating: Good

CARDFIGHT!! VANGUARD overDress

Vanguard overDress

Synopsis: Yu-yu is a boy living in Kanazawa, Kaga Province. He is 15 years old and in his third year of junior high school. He has the ability to sense the feeling of others, but he is troubled by the fact that he cannot say no when asked. One day, Yu-yu could no longer stand going along with his sister’s hobby, so he ran away from home. The one who saves him is Megumi Okura. Megumi invites Yu-yu to a nighttime amusement park called “Wonder Hill” where her friends hang out. At the amusement park, Yu-yu meets Megumi, Zakusa Ishikame, and Tomari Seto, members of “Team Blackout,” a group that meets to play Vanguard every night. Tonight, a serious fight for the team’s flag will take place. Blackout’s leader, Danji Momoyama, and the mysterious and powerful fighter, Tohya Ebata. As Yu-yu stares at them, the card fight is soon eroded into a world of images. This is how Yu-yu encounters Vanguard, a world he has never seen before, and is drawn by its powerful allure – making new friends along the way.

First Impressions: I used to be pretty into the Cardfight Vanguard anime when it first came out, and compared to the consistently high stakes of Yu-Gi-Oh, I appreciated how much of it’s early parts were just about folks people casually playing a card game (well that and the main character his rival switching roles as the villain for any given season). I dropped off pretty hard with Cardfight Vanguard G and the reboot since neither quite managed to recapture the magic of the original series, but I was really curious to check this one out. Mainly because it had the involvement of CLAMP of Cardcaptor Sakura, and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles among other things, and if there’s one thing to be said about CLAMP, it’s that their stuff can be pretty weird and ridiculous, and those certainly seem like things the franchise could use to get out of feeling stale. Thankfully CLAMP did not disappoint and this premiere was about as bonkers and hammy as I’d hoped for. Right off the bat we’re introduced to our main character Yu-yu who looks extremely feminine for a boy, and spends nearly the entire episode dressed like a girl (in an outfit pretty reminiscent of my vague memories of Cardcaptor Sakura) and befriends a confident girl named Megumi (who also moonlights dressing in a Cardcaptor Sakura outfit) and a cool bara boy named Denji who is almost assuredly not as straight as he pretends to be.

It’s pretty wacky, but in a way that felt a little more reminiscent of a shojo comedy than a cardgame show, and even considering how casual the original Vanguard was about things early on, I was actually pretty surprised at how of this premiere DIDN’T involve the characters playing the card game. That said, when it does finally get around to the actual game, the episode only ramps up in it’s absurdity using some pretty creative visual direction to add a little more intensity to two people just throwing cards down, and tops it off with the most ridiculously over the top sakuga fest I’ve seen in literally any card game anime ever as Denji defeats another player and introduces Yu-yu to the world of Vanguard.

Needless to say this premiere was pretty wild, and honestly a lot more wild and well…genuinely exciting than I was expecting from a card game anime that’s not Yu-Gi-Oh, even with CLAMP involved. If there’s any negatives to give it’s that the premiere maybe ran the joke with Yu-yu and Megumi getting harrased one too many times, and that show has yet to explain how the card game actually works for newcomers (I’m fairly familiar with the basics thanks to what I’ve watched of the earlier seasons but this seems like too much fun not to get new folks onboard). Since the main character’s a newbie though, I’m confident it’ll eventually address the latter at least, and beyond that I’m pretty friggin’ jazzed to watch more of this. I wasn’t quite sure if I could get excited about Vanguard ever again, but overDress has once again made me a believer, and if the rest of the show is anything like this opener, it could end up being one heck of a ride.

Rating: Great

Vivy- Flourite Eye’s Song

Vivy: Fluorite Eye's Song

Synopsis: NiaLand is an A.I. theme park that brings dreams to life with science. Vivy, the first autonomous android to work there, has hopes of making people happy with her singing. One day, an A.I. teddy bear named Matsumoto appears, claiming to have come from 100 years in the future—where a war between A.I. and humans rages. Their century-long journey starts now!

First Impressions: This is the latest anime original production from the folks at Studio WIT, and it’s being penned by the author behind RE:ZERO Starting Life in Another World. On paper that seems like a pretty winning combination, but I tried sitting through the premiere of the Re:Zero author’s last attempt at penning an original anime with Warlords of Sigrdrifa and it was frankly pretty boring so I was at least a little skeptical going into this. Luckily I can say that the first two episodes of this show were way more exciting than Sigrdrifa’s double length premiere, and I can safely get behind this one. Stories about AI’s and humans interacting, and the possibilities and/or dangers of AIs becoming more humanlike isn’t exactly fresh, but I’ve always been fond of them, and there’s a lot that can be done with them. In this case that usual tale is given a bit of a thriller spin as we learn about a future where a war between AIs and humans break out, with humanity getting totally slaughtered, and in order to prevent this, a female robot named Vivy who’s original purpose is to make humans happy with her singing, is suddenly tasked with rewriting the future to prevent this tragedy with some assistance from an AI-teddy from the future called Matsumoto. It’s a pretty interesting set up for sure, and made even more wild that the key to saving the future supposedly lies in Vivy and Matsumoto stopping the advancement of AIs at key points in history.

While there’s a lot about this premise that could be potentially messy, given that rooting out for our AI anti-heroes to make their fellow AIs less aware seems pretty screwed up, Vivy herself comes off as very endearing as she isn’t exactly great at attracting crowds with her singing, and while she struggles with her purpose as an AI versus the mission suddenly given to her, she eventually tries to find a middle ground in working to save the future, but trying to prevent as many human casualties as possible, and I’m curious to see how she grows as a character through the story. Matsumoto on the other hand, I kinda hate, both because his incredibly fast way of speaking got really annoying really quickly, and pretty much everything about the more ruthless way he operates, to the spoon-fed information he’s giving Vivy about the future makes him extremely untrustworthy, and him forcing Vivy to watch a little girl die in order to avoid changing the future too much, just ramps up how despicable he is. Honestly I’m already very much suspecting he’s lying to Vivy in some capacity about what his actual mission is, and that he’s trying to avoid AIs gaining more sentience for some other reason, but I guess we’ll have to see where later episodes go. For now though, this seems like a pretty effective set-up for a sci-fi thriller, and while there’s a ton of ways it could go wrong, it seems like it could be a pretty good time, even if goes in an edgier direction than suspected. Give it a shot.

Rating: Great

Megalo Box 2: NOMAD

Megalo Box 2: Nomad

First Impressions: It’s been my policy the last few years to avoid talking about sequels in these anime season impression things, but this is such a weird one that I’d feel weird not commenting on it. Megalobox served as a spiritual successor to Ashita no Joe, and while it went out of it’s way to make it’s overall style as retro as possible, it also had a considerable amount of heart to it and managed to be a pretty compelling drama, if not necessairly as killer of a boxing anime as it could have been. It also well…told a very complete story, and while the ending was open-ended enough that a sequel wasn’t exactly impossible, it didn’t really seem necessairy and I don’t think too many folks were seriously asking for one, so I was pretty shocked when this got officially announced to be a thing. Since this is a sequel that didn’t exactly need to exist, and there’s been plenty of examples from even the last few years of franchises making them, only to backfire spectacularly, this premiere had a lot to prove and so far, it seems to be making it’s point. Things kick off 5 years after the end of the first season, and Joe is back to being an underground boxer and has taken up the name “Nomad”. He’s also become hopelessly addicted to painkillers, and his habits have both affected his boxing and are causing him to constantly hallucinate Nanbu’s presence.

It’s a pretty depressing way to kick off a sequel, and especially considering the first season had a mostly happy ending, but the direction here certainly sells it, as it really pulls us into Joe’s weary mindset, and even though we’re not sure exactly what it is that’s broken him, it’s clear that he’s lost his sense of who he is, and that any process of regaining that is gonna be a long one. It also helps that the direction for the boxing matches themselves have improved a bit from the first season, and while they still aren’t up there with anything you’d see from Hajime no Ippo, we do finally get some extra sound effects to the punches to give them more weight, and little touches like that are very much appreciated. There’s not a whole lot else I can really say about this premiere since a lot of it hanging on the mystery of what exactly happened to make Joe strike out on his own again (at the very least, I’m guessing Nanbu’s dead) and the answers are probably gonna be what will make or break this sequel. For now though, it’s doing a pretty good job of making a case for itself, so here’s hoping it’ll stick the landing, or at the very least, not faceplant badly enough to hurt the memory of the first season.

Rating: Great

Combatants Will Be Dispatched!

Combatants Will Be Dispatched!

Synopsis: With world domination nearly in their grasp, the Supreme Leaders of the Kisaragi Corporation–an underground criminal group turned evil megacorp–have decided to try their hands at interstellar conquest. A quick dice roll nominates their chief operative, Combat Agent Six, to be the one to explore an alien planet… and the first thing he does when he gets there is change the sacred incantation for a holy ritual to the most embarrassing thing he can think of. But evil deeds are business as usual for Kisaragi operatives, so if Six wants a promotion and a raise, he’ll have to work much harder than that! For starters, he’ll have to do something about the other group of villains on the planet, who are calling themselves the “Demon Lord’s Army” or whatever. After all, this world doesn’t need two evil organizations!

First Impressions: Get ready to rewind your watches because it’s isekai time once again, but this time with a bit of a twist, as it involves a pair of characters from some kind of supervillain organization that succeeded in world domination, getting isekai’d in order to find a new planet to conquer (and secure more resources for the Earth, I guess). This comes to us from the creator of Konosuba, and that pedigree should make this a pretty easy sell on paper, but I was less impressed with the adaption of another one of his works, Kemono Michi, and Konosuba’s particular brand of mean-spirited humor was starting to wear itself a little thin for me too, so I wasn’t sure how much I was gonna get out of this. So far this seems…okay. A show about a pair of Team Rocket esque goons screwing around in an isekai world seems like it’d easily be my brand of comedy, but the pair of characters we’re given are a snarky android that looks like a little girl and “Kazuma, but dumber”. They’re fine enough, and they work pretty decently off each other in the comedy department, but neither’s particularly likeable, or even fun to hate in the same way the Konosuba characters were, and the supporting cast doesn’t seem much more promising since the primary ones we’re introduced to are not-Kazuma’s superiors who seem to just be walking boob jokes, and a female knight who pretends to be honorable but is basically just Aqua in that she wants to be praised constantly for her achievements despite losing her position thanks to our two leads. It’s amusing enough, and I did get a couple of chuckles out of it, but it does very much feel like a lot of the same jokes that were in Konosuba, and this doesn’t have quite as much punch, nor its intentionally janky looking artstyle that helped to ramp up the humor, though this does make a couple of attempts to emulate it. I can’t say I was bored or frustrated with this premiere or anything, but I wasn’t exactly wowed either so I’m kinda finding myself on the fence as to how much more of it I’ll watch. As for anyone else, if you’re in the mood for some diet-Konosuba, this seems like it’ll be perfectly adequate.

Rating: Decent

Farewell, My Dear Creamer

Farewell, My Dear Cramer

Synopsis: With no soccer accomplishments to speak of during the entirety of Sumire Suo’s junior high school years, the young wing gets an odd offer. Suo’s main rival, Midori Soshizaki, invites her to join up on the same team in high school, with a promise that she’ll never let Suo “play alone.” It’s an earnest offer, but the question is whether Suo will take her up on it. Thus the curtain opens on a story that collects an enormous cast of individual soccer-playing personalities!

First Impressions: And here we have a new anime adaption from the author of Your Lie in April, that’s about…girls’ soccer. I imagine to anyone who’s actually seen YLiA, that’s a pretty weird shift in genre, and for as heavy on the melodrama as that series was, this one is decidedly more chill. I’d actually skimmed through some of it on Crunchyroll’s manga app a couple of years ago, and it seemed okay, but didn’t really leave too big an impression on me. Having at through the anime premiere, I feel like I had roughly the same experience. The story here centers around the apparently declining popularity of women’s soccer, and a trio of girls who each feel like they might not get challenged enough playing on their new high school team. It’s a bit of a melancholy set up, but the show does a decent enough job of introducing us to the main girls, and zeroes in on the histories Suo and Midori, who have a bit of a one-sided rivalry with Suo wanting to catch up to Midori, and Midori just wanting to have a good time playing soccer with Suo. The two of them have a pretty decent dynamic so far, and while we don’t learn a whole ton about the third lead, Nozomi, I am kind of curious where she’ll end up fitting into that. Beyond that though, there’s not much to sink into to as the series doesn’t seem to have any clear direction yet aside from the stinger with the girls’ new coach, but it is kind of nice to see a show about girls’ sports that isn’t played up for fanservice in anyway, and while the animation here isn’t mindblowing, it’s at least fairly competent. This certainly doesn’t seem like it’s gonna be the next Haikyuu or anything, but a more low-key sports anime could be pretty alright, and if that sounds like it might be your speed, this seems like a decent recommendation.

Rating: Good

SEVEN KNIGHTS REVOLUTION: Hero Successor

Seven Knights Revolution: Eiyuu no Keishousha

Synopsis: There were once many heroes who saved the world from Destruction. Time has since passed, and young men and women who have the title of “Successor” awaken powers from the heroes of old, and are entrusted with the fate of the world. The “Seven Knights” are a group of top Successors. Among the Seven Knights is a young woman named Faria, who is fighting against the troops of Destruction. In the midst of this battle, she saves a young man named Nemo. Nemo then awakens the power of a Successor, but no one knows of the hero whose powers he has inherited.

First Impressions: It’s time for our first video game adaption of the season, and even without looking that up ahead of time, I could piece together it’s origins pretty easily watching the premiere. The premiere follows a boy named Nemo who watches his village get wiped out by a bunch of monsters in pretty gruesome fashion, and gets saved by a girl named Faria who happens to be attending the same hero school he’s enrolled in, On the way there they get attacked by another monster, and Nemo awakens to his likely incredibly overpowered abilities and becomes the newest addition to the titular Seven Knights of legend. That’s uh…basically it, I suppose. Like it’s pretty easy to say “nothing really happened” when watching a premiere that’s kinda boring, but legit the first 5 to 6 minutes of the episode alone are just Nemo’s village getting wiped out, and not getting any context as to anything that’s happening until he and Faria have a couple of minutes of exposition on the train before getting attacked again. Neither one really has much in the way of characterization, and Nemo especially feels like a bit of a wet noodle in a way that tells me he’s probably the insert character from whatever the original game is. Credit where it’s due, the episode at least looked pretty good, and while the production values aren’t exactly high sky, it was solidly animated and both the fight scenes and general artstyle of the show looked polished. Other than that, I can’t say anything else about the premiere really grabbed my attention. It certainly wasn’t bad, and it at least seems like an okay enough setup for a standard fantasy show, but I kinda felt like I’d get more mileage out of playing the original game than continuing on with this so I’m probably gonna pass up on watching more of it.

Rating: Decent

Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a Highschool Runaway

Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway

Synopsis: One night, a man named Yoshida meets a high school runaway named Sayu. With nowhere else to go, Yoshida lets Sayu stay with him.

First Impressions: So if you couldn’t tell from the title of the show alone, this is a that felt like it was easily setting itself up for some massive red flags from the get-go, and I was a little nervous about even checking it out. After actually sitting through an episode, I can say with the utmost confidence that I feel extremely nervous about what direction this could go in. To it’s credit the show address the most immediately yikes part of it’s premise right off the bat as when Yoshida meets Sayu, she offers to sleep with him exchange for shelter, and he immediately turns down that proposal and hammers it in repeatedly that it would be an extremely bad idea. Yoshida himself also comes off as at least fairly likeable, in that he seems like a pretty down to earth guy, and while he’s perhaps a little overly well adjusted for his age to actually feel believable (though I guess he’d arguably need to be in order to make this premise not icky) I appreciated how quickly he was able to recognize that Sayu needs to value herself more if she’s that willing to resort to seduction, and that rather than being “good” for not taking her up on, it just speaks to how crappy the guys that actually did were. Sayu herself seems fine for the most part, and while the idea that she needs to be explicitly taught by a guy how to properly value herself is a little “ehhh”, the show did enough to make me wonder exactly what her circumstances are that lead her to running away in the first place.

Right now the biggest concern, and the thing that will absolutely make more break this is whether or not it’ll keep the relationship between the two of them purely platonic, and while Yoshida has certainly made it clear he doesn’t want to bang a teenager, anime has certainly betrayed audiences before with stuff like this, and he’s already made at least one off hand remark about finding her cute even if he’s not attracted to her sexually. The fact that there’s at least a few bits of male gaze and fanservice surrounding Sayu isn’t exactly help there either, even if some of it is in the service of driving home she shouldn’t be offering to sleep with older men. Anyway I’ve rambled a lot about this show, but I honestly don’t know how to feel about it, and while it could end up being pretty good, it could just as easily end up being predatory, and I can’t say with confidence which way it’ll fall, For my end, I’ll probably give it maybe another episode to see where it goes, but I certainly couldn’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to take a chance on it. Here’s hoping it won’t be super creepy.

Rating: Good(?)

ODD TAXI

Odd Taxi

Synopsis: This town should look familiar, but suddenly, it’s not. The taxi driver Odokawa lives a very mundane life. He has no family, doesn’t really hang out with others, and he’s an oddball who is narrow-minded and doesn’t talk much. The only people he can call his friends are his doctor, Gouriki and his classmate from high school, Kakibana. All of his patrons seem to be slightly odd themselves. The college student who wants the world to notice him online, Kabasawa. A nurse with secrets named Shirakawa. A comedy duo that just can’t catch a break named the Homosapiens. A local hoodlum named Dobu. An idol group that’s just starting out named Mystery Kiss… All these mundane conversations somehow eventually lead to a girl who’s gone missing.

First Impressions: So I don’t know if it’s an indication of any kind of actual trend, but it sure does seem like we’ve been getting quite a few anime starring anthropomorphic animals lately. We’ve gotten some solid winners out of that though, so I certainly can’t complain and this seems like it has the potential to be a good time. The show stars a walrus taxi driver named Odokawa who’s well…odd. Mainly in that he’s extremely sarcastic and blunt about his opinions to a fault, and he doesn’t exactly come off as a people person. A lot of the premiere is spent getting to know his personality through his interactions with one of his passengers, and while these may be talking animals there’s something about the dialogue that feels very real (especially the jabs about caring too much about social media likes) and that extends to the rest of the cast as well as we’re slowly introduced to some of the other people in his life. It all comes off as pretty low-key in execution, but there’s also something about it that feels a little unsettling, and that pays off as we learn that there’s some big case going on concerning a missing teen who’s been kidnapped, and it turns out said teen is apparently staying with Odokawa, and while he hasn’t actually kidnapped her, she apparently refuses to leave, and the cops are onto him, though one of them seems like he might have less than noble reasons for wanting to track her down. Basically it turns out this is all some big mystery thriller and while I sure can’t say that’s what I was expecting from this show going in, it’s a pretty interesting set-up, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to learn more about what’s happening and more about the cast. Because the show has a fairly relaxed energy for a mystery, I imagine it might be a bit of a hard sell for some folks, and its execution is certainly weird, but I’m digging it, and if nothing else, I can say there really hasn’t been another premiere this season quite like this one.

Rating: Great

The Saint’s Magic is Omnipotent

The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent

Synopsis: Sei, a 20-year-old office worker, is whisked away to a whole new world. Unfortunately for Sei, the ritual that summoned her—meant to produce a “Saint” who would banish the dark magic—brought two people over instead of one. And everyone prefers the second girl over Sei?! But this is just fine by Sei, who leaves the royal palace to set up shop making potions and cosmetics with her newfound magic. Business is booming, and this might not be such a bad life, after all…as long as her supposed Sainthood doesn’t come back to haunt her.

First Impressions: Man, don’t you just hate it when you’re coming home from a long day at work, and some jerk has the nerve to isekai you to another world? Even worse, is that said jerk apparently didn’t need to bother summoning you, because the apparent chosen one was some other poor sap who got sucked into isekai land. That’s the situation our heroine Sei finds herself in, and that’s more or less the basic setup for our first isekai of the season. At this point I’ve kind of run out of jokes to crack or complaints to make about isekai, so there’s only so much to really comment on here, but I guess the main draw of this one is that it stars a female lead, and that rather than being the biggest badass in the land, her power fantasy is being able to make really good healing potions thanks to her love of botany, and her inherently high magic abilities. As you might imagine from that description, that means the show is pretty low-key even by isekai standards, but even though I’m slightly over the immediate novelty of modern female lead-isekai since the structure tends not to be all that different from ones with male leads (Ascendance of a Bookworm was pretty great though), I’m open to just about anything not starring slavers or sex criminals and Sei comes off as both likeable, and the sort of person who’s probably not going to engage in either of those activities. I can also appreciate the show’s already given her a potential male harem, and while I’m definently not rooting for the prince since he’s already proven to be a jerk, the other guys all seem nice enough, and seem like they could be potentially interesting. The production itself is also pretty pleasant to look at, and while the show doesn’t look gorgeous, it looks solidly put together, and I appreciate the shojo spin put on little things like the eyecatch cards. I’m not exactly foaming at the mouth for more of this show, but if we have to have at least one obligatory isekai this season, I’ll certainly take this over any potentially gross alternatives, and it seems chill enough to make for a relaxing afternoon watch, so I’ll probably stick with it for now

Rating: Decent

Full Dive: This Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier Than Real Life!

Full Dive: This Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier than Real Life!

Synopsis: Follows a dull high school student named Hiro Yuuki when he is tricked into joining a full-dive VR role-playing game. The game, Kiwame Quest, is promoted as “more real than reality” with mind-blowing graphics, impressive NPC behavior, and even the scent of foliage and the sensation of wind blowing against your skin. Unfortunately, the game is already a virtual ghost town, after being flooded with player complaints that the game is little too realistic for its own good. Its quests are nearly impossible to clear, since players have to be as physically fit to complete them as they would in real life. Players feel actual pain when they get hit, and puncture wounds takes days to heal. The only reward is the mere sense of accomplishment. It is the complete opposite of a casual pick-up-and-play game, but Hiro vows to beat this most realistic (and most stressful) game ever.

First Impressions: Aside from being the show with the most unfortunate localized title of the season (good luck getting that on to retail shelves Funimation) I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this aside from probably being some kind of VR JRPG comedy. Turns out the show is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. It takes place in a future where VR games have gotten more and more realistic, but got so realistic that they stopped being fun to play and developers dialed back the reality a few pegs. Unfortunately for our resident MC-kun here, he gets roped into buying one of those more realistic VR games after getting harasser by a female game store clerk who’d probably have a vibrant career at a Gamestop somewhere, and decides to give it a chance anyway. Unsurprisingly, the pain he feels in the game ends up being a lot more realistic than he’d like, and it doesn’t help that in accidentally going against the game’s tutorial, he accidentally kills the best friend NPC character, and turns the childhood friend NPC into a murderous yandere hellbent on taking his head. In other words the experience of this show can probably just be described as watching some poor smuck accidentally stumbling into the negative karma route of a Fallout 3 playthrough and watching the chaos ensue. I’m sure there might be some attempt at character stuff later down the line since we’re given the impression MC-kun’s kind of retreated into video games after something that happened with a sport he used to play, but the primary focus seems to be comedy, and while I can’t say I particularly like any of the characters so far, I am at least mildly amused by the premise. There are so many potential setups for jokes from this kind of scenario that it’s hard for me not to wonder where the show will go with it, and while it’s not the prettiest looking thing out there, it looks pretty pleasant and par the course for most light novel adaptions these days so it probably won’t melt halfway through. If watching someone screw up a video game playthrough doesn’t sound appealing, then I don’t think this show has much else to offer, but if that sounds like something you’d laugh at, this might be a good time.

Rating: Decent

Shadows House

Shadows House

Synopsis: Faceless shadow nobles living in a vast mansion, attended by living dolls who spend much of their time cleaning up the soot endlessly emitted by their mysterious masters. Follow the story of Emilyko, a young and cheerful living doll, as she learns her duties serving as the attendant for Kate Shadow-sama.

First Impressions: Went into this one completely blind, so I had no idea what the heck I was gonna get here, but even if I had tried guessing this is weirder than anything I probably could have imagined. This show centers around a family of nobles known as the Shadows, who well…look like shadows and don’t have visible faces. As such, they’ve employed and created servants called living dolls who both serve as maids, and serve as their faces since they look extremely identical to humans. One of these dolls, serves a girl named Kate, and most of the episode is centered around their interactions. While the doll, later named Emilico is extremely clumsy and airheaded, her expressive nature causes Kate to warm up to her, and the two of them start to get along. It’s an intriguing setup, and one that raises a lot of questions, the biggest ones namely being what exactly are the Shadows, and are the dolls themselves more human than their being told? When Emilico asks Kate at one point if the Shadows are human, she hesitates to answer which tells me that’s either a no, or that something happened that caused the Shadows to appear as they are now. All of that gives this show a ton of potential as a mystery, and even if it’s not particularly dedicated to following through too heavily on that angle, the mere concept of the dolls being “faces” for the shadows, could lead to some interesting exploration about emotions and empathy. It’s got a great visual aesthetic going for it to, as it gives off a kind of rosy, but potentially sinister fairy tale vibe to the backgrounds and character designs, and that sort of thing is totally my jam. I’m not sure exactly where this show is gonna end up going, but it certainly has my attention, and even in an ultra-packed season like this one, this is certainly one of the most unique premieres I’ve seen so far.

Rating: Great

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