Happy new year, everyone! Hard to believe it’s almost been five years since I set up this blog, and life since then has certainly had its share of surprises and disappointments. Of course while things may change, anime is eternal and as always, the new year means a wave of new shows to check out. Fortunently Japan had the decency to wait until the weekend for premieres which certainly worked to my benefit, so I guess it’s time to dig in.
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 .
- All series synopsis from Anime Planet ———————————————————————————————–
Boogiepop and Others
Synopsis: There is an urban legend that children tell one another about a shinigami that can release people from the pain they may be suffering. This “Angel of Death” has a name: Boogiepop. And the legends are true. Boogiepop is real. When a rash of disappearances involving female students breaks out at Shinyo Academy, the police and faculty assume they just have a bunch of runaways on their hands. But Nagi Kirima knows better. Something mysterious and foul is afoot. Is it Boogiepop, or something more sinister…?
First Impressions: So I actually do own Boogiepop Phantom since I blind bought it on impulse at a con earlier this year, but I sadly haven’t gotten any further than the first couple of episodes because the whole thing felt way too obtuse and confusing for me (the lackluster dub didn’t really help much either). Even so I was pretty determined to give this show a shot because it’s being helmed by director Shingo Natsume, and while everyone mostly associates him with One-Punch Man (and to a lesser extent Space Dandy), his work on ACCA 13 Territory Inspection Dept. proved that he’s a versatile director, and I was curious to see how he’d handle this kind of series. This show ended up premiering with two episodes, and it’s a good thing too because I would have walked away a lot more confused otherwise.
The first of these episodes involves a highschooler and his girlfriend who has apparently taken on a split-personality named Boogiepop who claims he was summoned to save the world, while the the other involves two other pairs of high schoolers, one of which is apparently the clone of an alien sent from space to judge humanity. Needless to say it’s pretty weird, and the storytelling format only pushes that further because a lot of the events are told in non-sequental order and require that you pay close attention to piece it altogether. Framing a story this way can be kind of hit or miss for me since for every Bacanno, you get other shows that just end up being a confusing mess, but so far this has me intrigued and the weirdly atmospheric nature of the presentation grabbed me even though the animation is honestly a little shakier looking that I was expecting. I’m honestly not sure exactly how much I liked this double premiere, but I’m certainly very curious to see how it’ll all fit together so if nothing else, the show seems to have accomplished it’s goal in that area.
The Price of Smiles
Synopsis: On a planet far, far away from Earth, there reigns a kingdom overflowing with smiles. Princess Yuki is twelve years old and beginning to ride the roller coaster of emotions that comes with adolescence. Each day brings with it tears, laughter, and even a little romance. The palace is full of fun, and the vassals who serve her there add color to her life. Seventeen-year-old Stella is a brilliant warrior. Even though she is cool as a cucumber, she never fails to smile. That’s because smiling is essential to life. This is a story about two girls born on a distant planet.
First Impressions: So I knew going into this that it was an anniversary project for Tatsunoko Productions, and while Tatsunoko’s produced their share of good shows, they’ve also had their share of stinkers so I wasn’t quite sure which end this would fall on. As of the episode 1 premiere however, it’s somewhere in the middle, and I mostly walked away feeling a giant shrug. The setup here seems to involve two warring nations, and I say seems because much of the premiere is spent focusing on one of these kingdoms and it’s princess. Said princess comes off as pretty likeable for the most part as do her subjects but nothing about the characters feels particular fresh and the production looks equally by the numbers from the character designs to the mecha CG. I wish I had a stronger takeway from this but this feels like the sort of thing where you kind of know exactly what you’re going to get, and even the episode’s last minute “twist” doesn’t really do much to help there. I might give this another shot if the rest of the season looks barren but right now it’s not looking like a priority
Synopsis: Inspired by house music from a young age, Yukiya spends his free time as a DJ for a crowd of one and uploads his videos online. Like any young teenager, he yearns for something greater than his current life. He wants recognition and importance, but breaking out of his comfort zone means he runs the risk of getting hurt, so the cycle continues. That is, until the day he crosses the line of no return and stumbles across a mysterious live broadcast that will change his world forever.
First Impressions: Whoo boy, where do I begin? So I have a complicated history with GoHands in that I like the K franchise (even if the second season was overly padded) but everything they’ve made outside of that has looked progressively worse, and Hand Shakers in particular was a downright baffling (if amusing) travesty. Even so, I figured their newest show was probably worth a peak for better or worse, so imagine my surprise when it of all things, it turned out to be a Hand Shakers sequel all along. Now in fairness, Hand Shakers did end on a note that threatened the possibility of another season but no one actually thought GoHands would be insane enough to follow through on it, and the fact that this show so brazenly references its predecessor makes you wonder if they learned anything from that show’s shortcomings.
I suppose the nicest thing I can say here is that this premiere doesn’t look quite as messy as Hand Shakers did (no CG chains to be had here…yet) but even thing from the camera angles to the nearly-seizure inducing color filters pile on bad decision after bad decision, and that’s not even getting into how bad the storytelling is, and the awkward attempts to create a sense of mystery regarding what the main character’s deal is. Everything I’ve said probably gives the impression I’d drop this in a heartbeat, but Hand Shakers was a gloriously fun hatewatch and I’d be lying if part of me wasn’t curious to see how this’ll follow up on that show’s sins. If you’re into watching stuff ironically then it might be worth your time, but if not, I’d suggest running for the hills while you still can
The Rising of the Shield Hero
Synopsis: Naofumi Iwatani, an uncharismatic Otaku who spends his days on games and manga, suddenly finds himself summoned to a parallel universe! He discovers he is one of four heroes equipped with legendary weapons and tasked with saving the world from its prophesied destruction. As the Shield Hero, the weakest of the heroes, all is not as it seems. Naofumi is soon alone, penniless, and betrayed. With no one to turn to, and nowhere to run, he is left with only his shield. Now, Naofumi must rise to become the legendary Shield Hero and save the world!
First impressions: So Crunchyroll has been promoting this to high heaven as the next big thing in isekai shows, but I’ve been pretty apprehensive about it for a while. This was mostly due to musings about parts of the source material being problematic, and one element in particular sounded potentially awful, but as with most things I figured I should at least see part of it for myself. This…this was a mistake. So before I get into the really big problem with this show, I’ll talk about the rest first, though there’s not really much to that. This show kicks off with the typical isekai set up of an otaku getting transported to another world with video game mechanics with the twists being that the main character isn’t the only hero, and that alongside not being a gamer, he has the weakest ability of the heroes. On paper this could have been an interesting setup for a more atypical isekai story but much of this premiere features the same bland setups from the barebones worldbuilding, to long dumps of exposition, with the only major thing of note being the other heroes, who for the most part seem like they would be way more interesting to follow than our actual main character until the “twist” happens.
And speaking of said twist *sigh* this is where everything gets rough. And by rough, I mean repulsive. So towards the end of this premiere the main character gets falsely accused of rape by his only party member who was planning to backstab him all along. This is a pretty nasty scenario in and of itself, and a cheap way to garner sympathy for the protagonist, but the specific framing that’s used here, turns the gross factor up to eleven. See, the show just happens to take place in a country that’s predominantly a matriarchy where women have more say over men, and the crime for sexually assaulting a woman is death (though in MC-kun’s case he “gets off” with having his name besmirched). To anyone who can’t quite connect the dots here, this is implying that men are falsely accused by women who just want to take advantage of them, and that women shouldn’t be blindly believed when making said accusations.
This, to pardon my french, is a load of horseshit. Roughly 98% of reported rape accusations turn out to be true, and this promotes a dangerous narrative that makes it harder for women to go public about being sexually assaulted because they don’t know if anyone will believe them. That this show is promoting this kind of shit is beyond infuriating, and to make matters worse, immediately following the rape accusation, the main character grows into an edgelord and seems willing to purchase a slave girl because “she can’t betray him”. I’ve seen a lot of bad isekai shows, some that were really, really gross, but this may well be one of the most repulsive ones I ever sat through, and even making it to the end of the episode was a challenge. Simply put: I hate this show, and while I imagine I can’t really dissuade anyone from watching, hopefully everything I’ve said here has at least given you all fair warning
Rating: SCREW THIS
How Clumsy You Are, Miss Ueno
Synopsis: Not only is Ueno the president of the science club at her junior high school, she’s a genius inventor, too! However, despite everything she has going for her, there’s one big problem she can’t seem to solve: no matter what she does, she can’t figure out how to confess to her crush, Tanaka! Can she find a way to give her heart what it truly yearns for?
First Impressions: And so we’ve arrived at our first short of the season. I haven’t reviewed one of these in a long while but’s a slow day so here we are. The basic gist of this is that the main character Ueno is a genius with a crush on her classmate who’s a bit too dense to notice her feelings, and rather than directly confessing, she uses her weird gadgets to help him get a clue. Comedies like this can be a little hit or miss for me since they ultimately have to rely on the staying power of a single joke and some get more mileage out of that than others. As far as this show goes, it was fairly charming in it’s own way, but my own personal aversion to gross out jokes meant that it kinda lost me when it decided to spend the first segment on a pee joke. The second one was a little funnier to me, but wasn’t quite able to give the impression that it would offer my kind of crass jokes. On the whole this seems harmless enough and if nothing else pops up for Sundays I might give it another go, but for now I’m kind of on the fence here.
Synopsis: Akihabara is known as a shining beacon for otaku culture everywhere. But in a not-to-distant the future, that culture is on the decline due to a mysterious affliction causing widespread memory loss. As a result, Akihabara has lost its luster. However, in one of the few remaining otaku shops, Izumi and a handful of comrades hatch a plan to restore lost memories and return “Akiba” to its former glory.
First Impressions: I didn’t really know anything about this going in, and at first glance it seemed like it was going to be a cute girls doing cute things kind of a deal. Most of this premiere involves our large group of heroines searching for an out of print manga for their cafe, and it’s about as entertaining as that description sounds. About the only thing that stood out to me here was how contrived it would be to have trouble finding manga in Akihabara of all places, but apparently that was the point because apparently this actually involves some kind of reality warping shenanigans involving a virus determined to wipe otaku culture out of existence. While that is admittedly a little more interesting, it takes to the end of the episode for that bit to drop, and even then, it wasn’t really presented well enough to hold my attention. This could be made somewhat more passable, if the girls seemed cute, but in addition to coming off as generic moe archetypes, the character designs themselves are so samey that all the girls quite literally have the same bust size, which honestly gave the impression that the people working on this didn’t care much about what they were doing either. I’m sure someone will find this entertaining enough to give a pass, and I didn’t exactly hate this, but time is short, and this was a little too boring to feel like it was worth a second glance.
Synopsis: One day, a man entered a temple that housed forty-eight statues possessed by demons and made a deal: in exchange for ultimate power, they could each take a piece of his soon-to-be born son. Soon after the child came into the world and the demons held up their end of the bargain; the man then left the crippled child in the river to die. Found by a kind doctor, the boy grew older with the help of prosthetic limbs and enhanced senses, but soon demons began to follow him, and the boy – who his new father named Hyakkimaru – left to find a way to complete himself. He searches for the forty-eight demons; each one he vanquishes returns a piece of his body. Alongside the child thief Dororo, Hyakkimaru travels from place to place, hoping to one day become whole.
First Impressions: So there wasn’t too much stuff that I was actively anticipating this season, but this was definitely one of them. Partially because it’s a studio MAPPA production and their projects are usually interesting but mainly because it’s an adaptation of a manga by the legendary Osamu Tezuka. For those unaware, Osamu Tezuka, otherwise known as the creator of Astro Boy, is by and large considered to be one of the most important creatives in the history of manga and anime as a whole, and was more or less responsible for helping to pioneer the industry into what it is today. As such, I was pretty excited for the opportunity to check out some of his non-Astro Boy work, and this show is off to a pretty interesting start. The basic gist of this premiere is that a feudal lord desperate to save his people from famine, decided to abandon the ways of Budda and make an exchange with demons for prosperity. The sacrifice was his newborn son who was cursed by the demons and was promptly abandoned and left for dead. The boy survived, and ends up having a run-in with a young thief named Dororo who’s amazed at his ability to sense demons. In many respects this feels more like something out of an old folktale than a manga, but that’s a good thing because it gives the show a dusty sense of atmosphere that helps it to stand out, and it feels appropriate for a series as old as this one. That atmosphere carries over into some of the art design choices, as the mostly painted backgrounds help to carry the old-timey feel of the story, and while the character designs are admittedly a bit more modernized than I’d like, it’s not so much so that the show looks completely indistinguishable from any other modern production. Story-wise it’s hard to say where this is headed, and from what little familiarity I have with Tezuka’s works, I know his stuff can get weird, so I’m very curious to see what we’ll end up with. For now I’m more interested in the show’s potential than anything else, but this is a solid enough premiere that if you’re a little starved for content this season, then it should more than likely be worth your time.
Wataten: An Angel Flew Down To Me
Synopsis: Miyako is a shy college student who is also an otaku. One day she happens to meet some angelic grade school kids! When Miyako sees her little sister’s new friend Hana-chan, Miyako’s heart won’t stop racing! Miyako tries to get along with them but struggles… A sketch comedy all about trying to get along with the super cute girl is about to begin!
First Impressions: *siiiggghh* Welp, it’s another one of these. At first glance this seemed like it was going to be a cute comedy, but the “joke” on display here is definitely going to be…divisive to say the least. This show is primairly about a college girl who finds herself with a crush on her younger sister’s friend. The catch here though is that both her younger sister and her friend are grade schoolers, and I’m pretty sure you can see where this is headed from here. I figured that last season’s Uzamaid was going to be the exception rather than the rule concerning well produced comedies where the gag involves paedophilic undertones, but I guess I was wrong and this show is here to darken my door once again. Unlike Uzamaid though, where the heroine was openly predatory to her intended target, the protagonist of this show hasn’t quite realized she’s in love, which is presumably meant to make her advances less creepy, but in some ways might actually be worse since it kind of feels like this series is trying to have it’s cake and eat it too. To this show’s credit, the fact that it wasn’t super brazen about its premise allowed me to actually make it through to the end of the episode, which is a lot more than I can say for Uzamaid, and it’s final gag was pretty amusing in isolation from everything else. I imagine that if the undertones of this show don’t particularly bother you than you might get some mileage out of it, but this sort of thing is my personal kryptonite so I’m gonna have to give it a hard nope.
My Roommate is a Cat
Synopsis: The story of Mikazuki Subaru, a novelist who is shy and struggles in relationships with other people, and a cat who was dumped by humans and lived a tough life on the streets. Through a twist of fate, the two of them end up living together. This heartwarming tale illustrates day-to-day life through the eyes of both man and cat. These moments seem trivial, but as they build upon themselves, the two become family and find happiness in their life together.
First Impressions: This is another series I went into blind, but with a title like this one I figured it might be a good stop for a wholesome slice-of-life show. The premiere pretty much delivered on that feeling as we’re introduced to the protagonist Subaru, who’s an introverted author that recently suffered the loss of his parents. On a whim he decides to take in a stray cat to use them as inspiration for his next work, and his interactions with the cat help in stretching out a bit beyond his shell. It’s fairly charming, but it was so by the numbers for the first few minutes that I wasn’t sure if it was going to be able to hold my attention. However things changed pretty quickly for me when the show suddenly switches to the cat’s perspective, and seeing its simple yet sensible takes on the Subaru’s shenanigans did a lot to give the episode an extra bit of life and by the end I found myself feeling like I could totally be up for more of it. This show probably isn’t going to set the world on fire or anything, and the overall tone is fairly low-key, but if you’re looking for something wholesome and relaxing for the season, this seems like a safe pick
Girly Air Force
Synopsis: Mysterious flying creatures called Zai suddenly appear and overwhelm all of mankind’s aerial combat forces. To fight them, mankind modifies existing aircraft frames to create mechanized soldiers called “Daughters,” which are operated by automated piloting mechanisms called “Anima” that have the appearance of human girls. The story begins when Narutani Kei, a boy who yearns to take to the skies, encounters a shining red aircraft and its pilot, an Anima named Gripen who has been named mankind’s trump card.
First Impressions: About all I really knew about this going in was the basic plot description, and going off of that and the character designs I figured this would be something resembling a magic high-school show (which weirdly in the endless sea of isekai every season I’ve almost found myself nostalgic for. Instead this seems to be something more akin to Arpeggio of Blue Steel (for the 10 people besides me who vaguely remember that show) as our hapless main character who wants to join the JDSF in order to take down a force known as the Xi, and doing so requires that he helps a bunch of fighter jets with AI’s that happen to resemble cute girls obtain the flying skills they need to do so. Admittedly it’s pretty different than what I was expecting but I’m not totally sure if that was for the better. Much of this premiere is spent introducing us to the protagonist and his childhood friend who are fine, but not particularly interesting, and while there’s a fair chance I’m reading too much into it, I kind of raised my eyebrows a bit at the villains apparently hailing from China of all places, given Japan’s rather complicated history with them. It doesn’t help that the technical merits of the show don’t stand out much either, and while I wasn’t super bored with this premiere, I didn’t feel all that engaged either. I might consider giving it another go if I can’t find anything else decent for Thursdays, but for right now it doesn’t feel too likely that I’ll stick with this.
The Quintessential Quintuplets
Synopsis: One day, a poor high school second-year named Futaro Uesugi comes across a private tutoring gig with good pay. But his pupils are his classmates!! And they’re quintuplets!! A-and they’re all gorgeous girls, but they’re also troublemakers who hate to study and are on the verge of flunking out! And his first task is simply gaining the sisters’ trust?! Every day is a party! The curtain is rising on the Nakano quintuplets’ quirky romantic comedy with five times the cute!!
First Impressions: So I knew going into this that it was a classic harem show, and weirdly it feels like it’s been a long time since we got one of those without any crazy gimmicks attached to it so I was kind of curious to see what we were going to get here. What we get here is pretty much par the course for mid 00’s harem comedies as our story kicks off with the protagonist Futaro being roped into tutoring rich quintuplets in order to support his poor family. It drew some pretty strong parallels to the We Never Learn manga series from Shonen Jump, which has a very similar premise and is slated for anime next season, which is a feeling that never quite left me throughout the premiere. Aside from laying down the premise, the goal of the first episode is to introduce the girls as fast as humanly possible, and each of them have their own quirks that fits pretty nicely into your standard anime harem with a tsundere, an onee-san, and an introvert among the inevitable contenders for Futaro’s affections. There was a time where this sort of thing would have felt pretty exhausting for me, but it’s been such a long time since I saw a harem show so unabashedly honest about what it is (the episode literally ends by teasing the mystery of “which girl will he marry?”) that I found myself being pretty amused with it. It helps that Futaro has enough a personality not to feel like a blatant male insert, and while none of the jokes were particularly funny, I was surprised at how restrained the fanservice was compared to some of its contemporaries. I’m probably being a little too kind here, and this season’s prospects have been so barren thus far that I’m kind of willing to settle for anything that kept me entertained, but I feel like I’m probably gonna give this another episode. Hopefully I won’t come to regret that decision
Synopsis: Natsuo is a high school boy who is experiencing the crushing despair of unrequited love. To make matters worse, the person he is in love with is his teacher, Hina. In an attempt to lift his spirits, he attends a mixer where he meets a girl named Rui. The two sleep together, expecting never to see one another again, but fate has other plans. His life suddenly becomes more complicated when his father comes home and announces he has remarried a woman with two daughters whom Natsuo has met before: Hina and Rui!
First Impressions: I recall skimming through the first couple of chapters of this a while back since it was available through Crunchyroll’s digital manga library and my impression was that it seemed pretty trashy and over the top. The first episode of the anime more or less gave me the same impression, as the core plot basically boils down to “dude bangs girl who becomes his stepsister while also harboring a crush for his other much older stepsister”. It’s about as NTR a setup as it gets and the show doesn’t waste any time in playing up all the sexual elements as being super scandalous. It’s about as silly as it sounds though I’ll at least give the episode credit in trying a little harder than it needed to in making Natsuo and Rui’s feelings seem somewhat grounded, which gave the impression that there might be something more thoughtful underneath the surface than what the premise suggests. Of course a lot of that drama is looped in with wacky rom-com hi-jinks so there’s a pretty high chance I may be giving it too much credit. Either way I can at least say I wasn’t bored with this, and like I said with some of my other impressions, the season’s looking sparse enough that “not boring” may have to work as an endorsement. If nothing else I’m not really averse to trash so long as it’s fun so I feel like there’s actually a decent chance I may stick around for another episode.
Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Synopsis: As leaders of their prestigious academy’s student council, Kaguya and Miyuki are the elite of the elite! But it’s lonely at the top… Luckily for them, they’ve fallen in love! There’s just one problem—they both have too much pride to admit it. And so begins the daily scheming to get the object of their affection to confess their romantic feelings first…Love is a war you win by losing.
First Impressions: And sounding off this round of impressions is a show I wasn’t sure I was gonna like. I’ve been hearing positive things about the manga for a good while now, and the premise certain sounded amusing, but as much as I love a good rom-com I kind of tend to get annoyed when they don’t go anywhere with the romance half of that genre, and in this case doing that would mean the end of the series so I didn’t know if it’d be my cup of tea. To my surprise though, those conflicted feelings went away after the first couple of minute because this show is a treat. While the concept of two characters refusing to admit their feelings for each other sounds like it would be pretty annoying on paper, the episode is immediately able to sell Kaguya and Miyuki as the kind of egotistical snobs who WOULD think confessing their feelings is somehow “beneath” them, and subsequently makes their attempts to dodge each other a lot funnier than I expected them to be. It helps that the show has some stylish visual direction, and while it does feel a little over the top in a couple of shots, it mostly serves to the show’s benefit in helping the jokes to land, though I can’t quite say the same for narration since that was a bit more hit or miss to me. I’m still a little concerned the joke here could get old fast, but the last of the episode’s three shorts veers in an almost completely different direction than the first two, so it seems like this will be able to branch out for its gags if it needs to. All in all I enjoyed this more than I expected, and while I wouldn’t quite peg it down as appointment viewing, if you’re in the market for a good rom-com this season, this show seems it’ll be the place to go
And that’s pretty much it for me this time around. There’s still a few more premieres left in the season, and a few shows I didn’t quite get around to checking out but if I’m being honest the general direction of this season’s premieres thus far haven’t really made me motivated to try digging through more of them. It’s not the first time where a season basically boiled down to “the stuff I liked was the stuff I figured I would like” but I’ve only had a couple of surprises here, and even then they aren’t ones that particularly blew me away. Of course not every season needs to stand out, and The Promised Neverland is here, so as long as I can gush over that every week I should be content until spring. Till’ next time, stay animated.