First Impressions- Winter 2020 Anime

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 2020’s! The 2010’s were pretty rough for a lot of the world, but it’s a new decade, with new possibilities, new things to hope for, and of course, a lot of new anime. The start of a new year for anime is always interesting to look at, but seeing how a new decade for anime kicks off is especially exciting, which means that the shows this round have that much more to live up to. Much like any other new season of anime though, I’ll be going through this by trying to cover as much as I can, and hopefully still retain my sanity by the time we reach the other end of it, so without any further ado, let’s see how anime’s gearing up for the new decade.

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 .


Somali and the Forest Spirit

Somali and the Forest Spirit

Synopsis: In a world where the ruined human species has been driven almost to extinction by the monsters that now dominate the land, a forest golem is surprised to find a human child sitting alone in the woods – dirty, barefoot, and in chains. The golem takes little Somali under his protection and the two begin a journey together, traveling through beautiful and dangerous lands where the small girl’s humanity must be kept hidden for her own safety. The golem hopes to find Somali’s parents alive somewhere, but the chances of this are slim; and besides, as far as Somali is concerned, she has already found herself a beloved father.

First Impressions: Between the good things I’ve heard about the original manga, and Crunchyroll’s heavy promotion for it, I was pretty eager to check this one out, and I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint. This series takes place in a world mostly populated by demi-humans and other creatures,and follows the unlikely pair of a golem and a young human child named Somali. The pair is unusual because in this world, golems never leave the forests they’ve been assigned to protect, and humanity was thought to be wiped out after their bigotry towards other species led to a war that resulted in their own demise. As such, the beings of this world don’t seem to take kindly to humans beyond finding them delicious, and the Golem has disguised Somali as a minotaur in order to presumably help them find their family(Somali’s gender is never specified over the course of the episode and I’m assuming that’s probably intentional). I say presumably because this premiere doesn’t actually start with the full explination of why these two are travelling together, but that’s okay because the rest of the show is so dang charming, I’m more than willing to put up with a little extra mystery. While isekai has kinda poisoned the fantasy well for a lot of anime-goers, I’m still personally a sucker for actual fully realized fantasy worlds, and this show seems to be leaning much more towards that aesthetic, right down to having its color pallete and backgrounds resemble something akin to a children’s storybook, which really helps to enhance the atmosphere.

The golem and Somali also seem like they’ll be a pretty fun pair as the golem claims to have no emotions and interacts with the world as though he’s just an observer, so watching him bounce off the much more energetic and precocious Somali was pretty entertaining, and it seems like the journey these two go on may end up teaching the golem a little bit about empathy and emotions, which is always the kind of tale I can get behind. About my only point of worry here would be the fear that this’ll go down the child-grooming route as some similar anime have, or otherwise get into some…uncomfortable territory with Somali, but I’ve been told by manga readers that this story is child-grooming free, and apart from one slightly weird gag towards the end of the episode, it seems like this show will be pretty wholesome, and there shouldn’t be be much to worry about. So far this one is off to a really strong start and if you like more traditional fantasy settings as opposed to isekai, and you’re also in the mood for some heartwarming parent-child dynamics, this one seems like it’ll be a winner.

Rating: Excellent

Darwin’s Game

Darwin's Game

Synopsis: An unpredictable battle of superpowers. Kaname Sudo, an ordinary high school student, receives an invitation email to try a mysterious app called “Darwin’s Game.” Kaname, upon launching the app, is drawn into a game where players fight one another using superpowers called Sigils. Without knowing the reason for all this, can Kaname survive furious battles against the powerful players who attack him?

First Impressions: While I didn’t know any particular details about the premise, I knew from it’s title and the way folks online were talking about it, that this was probably some kind of death game show, which meant this one had a pretty big hurdle to clear for me. There was a time where I was pretty into stuff like Future Diary and the like, but time has made me far less receptive to how mean-spirited and nilhlistic these kinds of shows tend to be, and they almost always end up telling the exact same story anyway, so my general interest comes down to not how interesting the actual game set-up is, or anything about the actual plot, but rather how stupid the whole thing is, and if it’s amusing enough to enjoy ironically. Luckily (or maybe unfortunently if things get dicey later on) this show was a riot and a half. Right off the bat this show hits pretty much every death game anime trope at full speed, with such staples as generic whitebread protagonist who gets himself sucked into the game by not taking it seriously but somehow ends up with the best power anyway, a psycho killer in a panda costume, and a psycho-yandere who goes from wanting to kill our precious hero to wanting to bone him and bear his children. It’s incredibly dumb, and starting off with an hour-long premiere certainly seemed like a gamble for something this outrageous, but over the course of that time, I went from rolling my eyes, to laughing at how much this show was trying to take all these wacky tropes as seriously as possible. I’ll admit the whole “it’s so bad, it’s good” thing is the kind of viewing experience I rarely have these days since hardly anything hits that sweet spot for me anymore, but this is the closest anything has come to that for me in a good while, and I’m in the mood for it so against my typical judgement, I’ll actually stick with this one for a while. Time will tell if it stays amusing, or gets too mean-spirited or gross to continue on, but for now I’ll give it a cautious recommendation if you’re into irony-watching.

Rating: lol

Asteroid in Love

Asteroid in Love

Synopsis: When she was little, Konohata Mira promises a boy she meets at a campsite that they can find a galaxy together. When she enters high school, she joins the astronomy club. But that year, the astronomy club happened to combine with the geology club, making it the astrogeo club?! Won’t you find all kinds of sparkles with the astrogeo girls?

First Impressions: Like always, it wouldn’t be a new season of anime without at least one show about “cute girls doing cute things” and this is a show about cute girls studying geology and asteroids. Similar to the whole death game thing with Darwin’s Game, this is a genre of show that tends not to particularly appeal to me unless it’s got some kind of good X-factor, and the X-factor I typically look for is if the main gimmick or characters feels interesting enough to overcome the usual tropes of this genre. In the case of this show it’s looking like a “maybe” because the actual gimmick here isn’t the geology angle (it’s possible later episodes might dive into that more but the premiere doesn’t seem too concered with it) but rather that the two leads are reunited childhood friends who clearly have the hots for each other. It’s far from unusual for these kinds of shows to have lesbian subtext, and half the appeal for them is that they often take place in worlds where men don’t seem to exist, but the fact that this show opens with the bait-and-switch of having one of the girls thinking that the other is a boy until they’re reunited in high school, but has her no less interested, makes me think there’s a chance this show might actually commit to a romance angle, and I’d certainly be down for a cute love story. Still, there’s plenty of room for this show to walk things back and go the more typical route of “they’re clearly gay, but won’t say it so dudes can pretend they’re straight” that lot of similar stuff falls into, so my optimism might not be entirely founded. For now though, it’s an interesting enough hook that I’m likely to at least give this one or two more episodes to see how much it’s willing to buckle down on that, so I guess it succeeded in getting my attention.

Rating: Good

Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story

Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story

Synopsis: Few people know the truth: the world is safe thanks to the Magical Girls who are forced to slay Witches. Even though these girls are putting their lives on the line for a wish, rumors say they can be saved in Kamihama City. That’s where Iroha Tamaki is headed in search of answers. She can’t remember the wish she made to Kyubey, but a shadowy figure haunts her dreams.

First Impressions: So like most folks who have kept up with anime for the past decade or so, I’m a pretty big fan of Madoka, and I think the show is a masterpiece. I’m also of a mind that it told a pretty complete story (as long as you pretend Rebellion doesn’t exist) and that we didn’t really need more of it. Of course it made simply far too much money for Aniplex to even consider letting the franchise die, so here we are with a spinoff series that’s being adapted from a mobile game. I’ll admit I wasn’t super jazzed about checking this out since again, I didn’t really need more Madoka, but I was at least kinda curious what we were gonna get and so far it’s…okay. Aesthetically this has all of the polish that made Madoka really stand out as a visual production. The backgrounds look great, and everything from the art design to the music is more or less carried over from the original show, meaning that just about everything here looks gorgeous. It also has a pretty good sense of atmosphere going for it too, as it gets the generally haunting tone that the original Madoka had gone fore pretty well, even if it’s a little less lacking in substance, and while the story so far hasn’t wowed me yet, there’s enough to lean on that I’m at least a little curious to learn about these new characters.

My problem though I guess, is that even though this looks and feels like Madoka, it obviously isn’t going to have the same level of heart since that all largely came down to the very specific story Gen Urobuchi was telling with the original, and I’m not yet convinced that simply mimicking everything I liked about it aestehtically will be enough to make up for that deficiency. Basically this feels like a thing that’s going to appeal to you if you were more interested in the world of Madoka than the story of Madoka (and I do mean that specifically because even though this is technically it’s own thing, it very much assumes you’re familar with all the terms from the original) and I’m not sure I liked that world quite enough to be on board with a version that feels more manufactured. For all my griping though, I was still engaged so I guess for better or worse I’m probably gonna watch this for at least a few more episodes. While I’m obviously not expecting this to hit anywhere near the highs that Madoka proper did, hopefully whatever it does end up ultimately going for is good enough to justify it’s existance.

Rating: Good

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Synopsis: First year high schooler Midori Asakusa loves anime so much, she insists that “concept is everything” in animation. Though she draws a variety of ideas in her sketchbook, she hasn’t taken the first step to creating anime, insisting that she can’t do it alone. The producer-type Sayaka Kanamori is the first to notice Asakusa’s genius. Then, when it becomes clear that their classmate, charismatic fashion model Tsubame Mizusaki, really wants to be an animator, they create an animation club to realize the “ultimate world” that exists in their minds.

First Impressions: I’ve been a fan of Maasaki Yuasa’s work as a director ever since I checked out The Tatami Galaxy a few years back, and after Devilman Crybaby blew up into giant phenomenon back in 2018, his perception in the west has gone from niche, to him being rightly celebrated as one of the most ambitious anime directors out there. With that in mind, there was definently a lot to be excited about with him returning to a TV anime project for the first time in a while, and boy did this premiere hit all the right marks, The basic set up here is pretty straightforward as it follows a trio of girls who are passionate about anime creation (well two of them, since one doesn’t have much interest in anime beyond it’s money-making potential) and how the chance encounter of the three of them coming together leads them to work on making their own anime project. If you checked out Shirobako way back in 2014 (and if you haven’t you should correct this gross oversight immediately) this is a pretty similar wheelhouse to that in regards to talking about the actual process behind making anime, but where as Shirobako talked about anime creation from an industry perspective, and all the cynicism that comes with it, Eizouken seems far more interested in talking about the joy of making something new, and the way animation can challenge our imaginations.

This is perhaps best expressed in one of the show’s last scenes, which features the trio imagining that they’re flying a plane through a cityscape with penciled in backgrounds, and the sheer wonder it manages to express in just a couple of minutes, brought such a huge smile to my face that I’m already sitting here wondering when the next episode is coming. If you couldn’t tell from that whole little sphiel, the show looks pretty good, and the folks at Science SARU really get a lot of mileage out of it’s simple character designs as the girls get to be pretty expressive throughout the premiere, and are all chock full of personality. The girls themselves are all very likeable so far too, and I appreciate that in addition to giving them non moe-fied designs in exchange for something a little more in line with what teen girls actually look like, the voice acting also reflects that, and it manages to make them feel immediately distinct from each other. I certainly wasn’t expecting Yuasa to disappoint, but even with that in mind, this is easily the standout premiere for the season thus far, and it’s gonna be a pretty tough one to beat. Whether you’re interested in how anime is made specifically, or just like the joy and wonder of making something new at all, this show’s got you covered, and I’m super excited to chow this one down every week

Rating: Excellent

ID: Invaded

ID:INVADED

Synopsis: Sakaido was a famous and very talented detective until the day his daughter was killed, and he committed revenge! Now in jail, he uses his skills to help the police find criminals of cold-blooded crimes through a system that allows him to invade a criminal’s “ID.” But he’ll soon find clues that bring back his daughter’s case!

First Impressions: So I guess I should preface this by saying this is technically a second impression because I actually checked out the first two episodes when Funimation offered an early preview of them on their site a few weeks back. I watched them again both to refresh myself so I could write this, and because I was curious to check out the simuldub (which sounds good, save one performance I’m a little iffy on). Anyway this show is a new original IP from Studio NAZ and director Ei Aoki of Fate/Zero fame. That last part would make this something to look for in theory since Fate/Zero’s quality basically speaks for itself, but that was an adaption, and Ei Aoki’s track record with original anime, extends from Re:Creators which was good, and Aldnoah Zero which is uh…yeah we don’t talk about that one anymore. It was hard to say exactly where this one would fall on that potential spectrum, and having sat through the first two episodes twice, I can safely tell you that I still have no idea. Conceptually there’s a lot of interesting ideas here. A procedural cop drama where the detectives can literally dive into the minds of the killers to study their psychology and hunt them down is an idea that could go in a lot of interesting directions, and I also like the idea of the protagonist apparently being some kind of special prisoner who’s being used as a tool to dive into the minds of these killers, and seems to have lost his daughter to some criminal mastermind who can make people into serial killers. Of course, there’s also plenty of room for that to turn into an overly-edgy mess, and these episodes weirdly haven’t made too strong a case for the show going in either direction. It’s impeccibly well-directed, and I like how the show opens with the mystery of Sakaido finding himself inside the world of one of the killers, and having to recollect what he’s supposed to be doing from there, but I was a little less impressed with the actual serial killer being chased after for these two episodes since the writing there felt a little barren. Still it managed to keep me engaged the whole time, and the warning signs for this turning into nonsense don’t feel like they’re blaring right now, so I’m up with sticking with this for a while. It’s hard to tell exactly what we’ll end up with, given Ei Aoki’s previous track record, but if nothing else it’ll at least grab your attention

Rating: Good

Seton Academy: Join the Pack!

Seton Academy: Join the Pack!

Synopsis: Majima Jin hates animals, and yet he finds himself at Seton Academy, a school full of animal students! Can he learn to get along with his classmates?

First Impressions: I’ve gotta say that given how big the furry community is, I’m a little shocked that that “high school harem anime, but with furries” is somehow a thing that didn’t exist until now (well I guess there’s Beastars but it has yet to hit Netflix, so I have no idea if it qualifies as a harem show), meaning there was plenty of potential for this to be at least amusing, if not actively funny. Unfortunently this show squanders pretty much all it’s potential right off the bat. Firstly the main character is pretty unlikeable, and spends a lot of the episode’s runttime being a jerk to a wolf girl and basically everyone except the sole human girl at the high school, who weirdly puts up no objections when he accidentally declaires he wants her to join his “pack”. That set off some minor warning bells in my head which got amplified later on in the episode when MC-kun exposes a zebra girl as faking her relation to horses by…literally lifting up her skirt and exposing her panties to a large crowd of students so they could see her tail. That was pretty gross, and it gets shortly followed up a group of bears attempting to rape the wolf girl and the human girl, which is not only there for the purpose of making MC-kun look better, but ultimately ends up getting played for laughs in the end. Yeeeeaaaaahhhh…this really sucks. It’s a shame this is opting for such mean-spirited and frankly gross “comedy” since again, this could have been fun on paper, and I kinda liked the whole narration about certain animal behaviors, but there’s definently no getting past everything else that’s bad about it. Hard pass.

Rating: Bad

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen

Synopsis: Orphen is a powerful sorcerer who is notoriously lazy. Everything changes when he finds a way to save his sis, who was turned into a dragon during their days at magic academy. Betrayed by friends who refused to help, Orphen will stop at nothing to track her down, even if he has to go it alone.

First Impressions: I don’t know too much about the original Sorcerous Stabber Orphen anime from way back in the late 90’s. but reboots of old classics seem to be the hip new thing with anime these days, and I was kinda curious to check this out since it’s always interesting to see old stuff get a new coat of paint. Unfortunently this uh…wasn’t very good. This show seems to take place in your standard Dungeons & Dragons fantasy world, and follows the antics of a lone sorceror named Orphan who’s on a quest to track down his lady love that got turned into a dragon. I say “seems to” because this premiere doesn’t really explain much of anything about the actual plot here or eases us into the setting. Instead we’re kinda-sorta introduced to Orphen as a character who starts off beating up a couple of kids who owe him money (well I suppose they’re technically dwarves so they might NOT be kids, but they certainly look, sound, and act like them) and doesn’t get any more likeable from there as he joins them in an attempt to scam some rich people out of their money. It’s the sort of thing that would probably be funnier under the visual direction and style of actual 90’s anime, but for the purposes of this reboot it just felt kind of obnoxious and annoying.

This kinda leads into my other grip with this show, which I guess isn’t as important, but is just kind of personally irritating: if I didn’t know this was a reboot of a 90’s thing, I would never be able to tell by the visual style of this premiere. There’s something to be said for updating the look of a show for modern audiences, and I’m usually pretty okay with that if the core of the material itself is kind timeless, but in the case of this show, the tone lives and breathes the 90’s aesthetic so having this resemble basically any isekai (albiet with slightly better character designs) feels like it’s selling the series short, and it doesn’t help that the actual production looks kinda all over the place. The background art is nice, and there’s a couple of bits of good slapstick with the character animation, but it all meshes together in a way that looks off, and it doesn’t help that there’s a few bits of 3DCG every now and then that only add to the muddied look of this production. I really wish I had liked this more than I did (or at all really), but this felt like a mess, and I found myself looking at the episode’s runttime more than once. Maybe I’ll give the dub a peek if David Matranga comes back as Orphen since I know that was his debut anime role, and I’m kinda curious to see how he’d handle it now, but on the whole this gets a pretty big thumbs-down from me.

Rating: Bad

BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense

BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.

Synopsis: She may be new to gaming, but Maple has found the secret to invincibility! Just put all your skill points into defense until you can’t even move. That works, right? She doesn’t want to experience any pain in the VRMMO game she started playing, and somehow it works better than anyone expected. Now she’s got followers??

First Impressions: It’s the most tedious time of the season again: isekai time. Or at least it would be except well…this one isn’t an isekai surprisingly! Nope, we’re back to the regular shenanigans of people just casually playing a VRMMO and it’s something I didn’t know I kinda missed until now, because considering that the general stakes in most isekai are miniscule anyway, being upfront it, gives the show opportunities to excell in other areas. Surprisingly this premiere actually does that, as in addition to not being an isekai, this particular MMO power fantasy stars a female protagonist named Kaede (or Maple in the game) who mostly just comes off as cute and charming in her strangely specific quest to avoid taking damage, and feels immediately more likeable than most whitebread isekai MC-kuns. While it’s not exactly a big secret that she ends up being pretty overpowered in that area by the end of the episode, the road to her getting there actually turns out to be kinda funny, and I got an especially good laugh out of bit where a little rabbit monster does it’s best to hurt her, only to die trying. In addition to some decent comedy, it’s also got a pretty solid looking production, and while nothing about the backgrounds or the character designs blew me away, it looks polished enough to at least have a bit more of an identity than most isekai stuff, and the visual slapstick was pretty nice. This wasn’t exactly the most impressive premiere of the season, but it was a pleasant little surprise, and one I’ll be happy to watch a little more of.

Rating: Good

Plunderer

Plunderer

Synopsis: Every human inhabiting the world of Alcia is branded by a “Count” or a number written on their body. Depending on how each person lives their life, this Count either goes up or down. For Hina’s mother, her total drops to 0 and she’s pulled into the Abyss, never to be seen again. But her mother’s last words send Hina on a quest to find a legendary hero from the Waste War—the fabled Ace!

First Impressions: While I wasn’t “excited” for this one, I was kinda curious, both because I knew Funimation had invested a pretty penny in it, and because I knew the creator was behind Heaven’s Lost Property, which I haven’t seen but I’ve heard enough weird stories about to make me wonder what this was gonna be. Boy do I regret that decision. On the one end, this show is really skeevy, even by light-novel anime standards, as it features our presumed protagonist making his introduction by sexually harassing the heroine in a way that’s clearly supposed to be played “for laughs” but just feels gross instead, and continues that with multiple extended shots of thighs which quickly cease to be sexy and just kind of feel uncomfortable, and eventually getting to the villain of the episode who tries to assault the heroine. Or at least I’m assuming that’s how it goes because it was around that point I checked out of the episode. Even if I didn’t find the content to be a bit too gross for my liking though, the show sure doesn’t have much else going for it, since the visual aesthetic isn’t much to look at, and the writing has what is hands down some of the absolute worst exposition I’ve ever seen (and I’ve sat through a LOT of bad light novel exposition) as when the heroine isn’t getting harassed by someone, she’s having people explain things about the world to her that there’s basically no way she possibly couldn’t know as someone else who lives there and it took me out of the episode almost as much as the skeevy stuff did. Between this and Seton Academy I’m not quite sure which one was the worse premiere to sit through (though I guess at least finished Seton’s first episode so there’s that) but one thing that’s for sure is that I sure won’t be watching any more of this. I’m out.

Rating: Bad

Hatena Illusion

Hatena Illusion

Synopsis: Ever since he was a boy, Makoto Shiranui dreamed of being a magician just like the famous illusionist, Mamoru Hoshisato, his hero. But after traveling to Tokyo to train under Mamoru, he’s mugged by a mysterious and beautiful female thief! To add insult to injury, his once close childhood friend, Hatena, has no time for him anymore. This is no way to start off his new apprenticeship.

First Impressions: So this appears to be one of Funimation’s new co-productions with Chinese streaming service bilibili now that the two have teamed up, and it’s…certainly something. The basic gist of this seems to center around a girl named Hatena and her younger sister who take a young boy named Makoto into their home after he becomes the apprentice of their father who’s a stage magician. The only catch is Hatena didn’t seem to be aware that Makoto was a boy until they agreed to let him move in, and she’s none too happy about. Also there maybe some actual magic going on this family, and Hatena herself seems to be a magical girl of some sort. It’s kind of odd, but for the most part this premiere is a lot more low-key than that weirdness would suggest as the potential magical girl elements don’t pop up till towards the end of the episode and we instead spend time getting to know Hatena and Makoto. The only issue there is that said time mostly involves Hatena being extremely callous towards Makoto upon finding out he’s a boy (I assumed the joke here was that maybe Hatena is gay, but that this seems to be leaning towards a romance between the two would suggest not unless she swings both ways) and Makoto doesn’t really deserve since by all accounts he generally comes off as a sweet cinnamon roll for the entierty of the episode. That was a bit of a turn-off but not enough of one to totally break my interest because if this does end up being a magical girl show of some kind I’d be totally down for that, since it seems like we rarely get those these days outside of the Precure franchise and whatever new edgy magical girl thing is trying to rip off Madoka. It’s hard to say if this will maintain my interest in the long run, but I’m just curious enough about where this is going that it’s at least worth one more episode.

Rating: Decent

Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun

Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun

Synopsis: Kamome Academy is rumored to have many mysteries, the strangest of which involves the mischievous ghost of Hanako-kun. When occult-loving high schooler Nene Yashiro accidentally becomes bonded to him, she uncovers a hidden world of supernatural beings. Now the two of them are conspiring to keep the peace between student and supernatural—that is, if they can only stay out of trouble themselves.

First impressions: While I’ve never read it, I’ve been hearing good things about the manga for a long time, so I was kinda curious what the buzz was about, and boy did this one catch my attention. I’m not super versed in Japanese folktales and superstitions, but the story of Toilet-Bound Hanako is one that’s come up in enough anime that I at least know the general gist of it, so putting a twist on it by making Hanako a boy is pretty neat one, and the show gets some good mileage out of it. A lot of this premiere centers around Hanako helping a young girl named Nene with her crush in ways that feel a lot sillier and mundane than the legend surrounding him would suggest. I’ll admit that the comedy here was kinda hit or miss for me, but the show really grabbed my attention towards the end of the episode when things take a much darker turn. It quickly becomes apparent that Nene’s one-sided crush is more of a way to fill the void in her heart than actually being interested in the guy she’s after, and her attempt to fill that void leads her to accidentally take on a curse that turns her into a fish and nearly has her taken away by a mermaid. Hanako saves her and agrees to turn her back into a human, but only in exchange for her services as an assistant. Basically the whole thing gave off the twisted vibes of old childrens’ fairy tales where wishes would be granted with some unexpected consquences, and that’s an aesthetic I’m totally down for. It helps that the visual style of the show really meshes with that vibe as both the character designs and the background art feel like they could have been ripped straight from your favorite childhood storybook, and it made the darker moments of the episode feel more surreal. Combine all that with a pretty cool opening song, and you’re looking at one of the strongest premieres of the season. I’m not sure if this is gonna opt for a twisted fairy tale of the week scenario, or a more ongoing plot from here on out, but either way I’m down for more, and I really recommend checking this out.

Rating: Great

The Case Files of Jeweler Richard

The case files of Jeweler Richard

Synopsis: One night, a college student with a strong sense of justice, Seigi Nakata, saved a gorgeous foreigner, Richard, who was being harassed by some drunks. When Seigi found out that Richard was a jeweler, he asked for an appraisal on a ring with a shady history; one which his grandmother had kept secret until she died. The appraisal had revealed her past, truth, and desire. It led Seigi to work as a part-time employee for Richard’s jewelry store, the “Jewelry Etranger” in Ginza. While solving various “mysteries” introduced to the Jewelry Etranger, the relationship between Richard and Seigi gradually changes. However, each of them has secrets they have not told anyone.

First Impressions: This is another one of CR’s co-productions for the season and while I wasn’t super interested in it, I was kinda curious what the deal was here since it’s always nice to see them invest in something that isn’t an isekai. Since this had “Case Files” in the title, I was expecting something of a mystery show, but the premiere was a much more mundane drama involving a college student named Seigi getting involved with a jeweler named Richard in order to return a ring that his grandmother once stole to it’s rightful owner. It’s about as low-key as that description sounds, but it actually manages to get a pretty decent amount of nuance out of it, as both Seigi’s grandmother and the woman she stole from both had to deal with unfair circumstances in their youth, and it makes what could have been a simple act of theft into something a little more thoughtful as we see how that incident changed their circumstances in life. I wasn’t exactly blown away by the storytelling here, but it was kinda nice, and both Seigi and Richard feel like pretty likeable leads even though we don’t really know too much about the latter yet. My only issue here I guess, is that premiere felt like a complete enough experience that I don’t really feel as though I need to see the rest of the show. It’s always possible things could take some crazy turns from here, or the writing quality at least stays as consistent as this episode did, but while I thought this was fine, it doesn’t feel like something that would be a high priority to watch unless this season ends up being really light for me, or it ends up getting a dub. If you do have room for a low-key drama in your schedule though, this seems like it might do you pretty okay.

Rating: Decent

Smile Down the Runway

Smile Down the Runway

Synopsis: Chiyuki Fujito has a dream: to become a Paris Collection model. The problem is that she hasn’t grown past 158cm. As she is too short for a model, everyone around her tells her to give up on her dream. However, no matter what anyone says, she wouldn’t give up. Her classmate, a poor student named Ikuto Tsumura, also has a dream he hasn’t been able to let go of, which is to become a fashion designer. But one day, Chiyuki tells him that it’s “probably impossible” for him, causing him to consider giving it up…?! This is the story of two individuals who wholeheartedly chase after their dreams, despite others telling them that they won’t ever come true.

First Impressions: I’ve never gotten to check it out, but I’ve been vaguely aware of the manga for a while now, and I thought it was kind of interesting to see a series published in a shonen magazine (no matter what the cowards at Kodansha USA want you to believe) tackle the subject of modeling so I’m glad the anime adaption has given me an excuse to check it out. So far this series seems to be off to a pretty solid start. As far as shonen premieres tend to go, this one is pretty by the numbers as we’re introduced to our two protagonists Chiyuki and Ikuto who dream of becoming a model, and fashion designer respectively but have rough circumstances getting in the way of their dreams, For Chiyuki, it’s her height which is considered too short to make for an appealing Paris runway model, and for Ikuto, it’s that he comes from a poor family and has to sacrifice his own dreams in order to keep food on the table. It kinda goes without saying I was a little more drawn into Ikuto’s side of the story since his circumstances feel a little more relatable but both leads come off as plenty likable, and I found myself rooting for them to suceed in going after their dreams. None too surprisingly, a chance encounter between them ends up opening the door to both of them making a step towards their goals, and while a lot of it feels pretty predictable, the payoff is still strong enough that it feels satisfying when it happens. Mostly though, I’m just curious to see how this’ll end up talking about the fashion industry, since that’s a topic I don’t really know much about, and everything here clicked enough that it seems like this’ll be an enjoyable way to learn. The only thing I’m slightly worried about is that I hear the story becomes much more about Ikuto than Chiyuki as it progresses, which I guess isn’t too big a deal considering Ikuto’s side of things was a little stronger here anyway, but it’s just kinda sad when stuff that opts for a dual-protagonist scenario doesn’t go all the way with it. Putting all that aside though, this was pretty solid, and it got enough of my attention to stick with it for awhile

Rating: Good

If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Budokan, I Would Die

If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Budokan, I Would Die

Synopsis: Passionate music-lover Eripiyo only wants to see her favorite underground pop group, ChamJam, make it to the big stage at Budokan. Because they’ve enriched her life by their very existence, Eri is willing to dedicate everything she has to see this dream fulfilled – even her health. At their last performance she got a crazy nosebleed. Hey, no one said being a super-fan was easy!

First Impressions: This is another series where I’d never read the original manga, but I’ve been vaguely aware of it for a while so it was a bit on my radar. Idol based anime are basically a dime a dozen these days and there’s countless stories about a group of ragtag girls coming together to form a popular idol group, but we’ve never really gotten anything from the perspective of actual idol fans, and the culture surrounding them, which is a void this seems happy to fill. The show primairly centers around a woman known as Eripiyo who becomes an idol fan after listening to a performance by a small idol group called Cham Jam, and is obsessed with Maina, who seems to be their least popular member. Since a lot of idol culture is centered around the worship and commoditization of actual people, it would have been extremely easy for this show to get into creepy territory right off the bat, but the antics of Eripiyo and her other otaku friends feels mostly harmless, and while I’m not personally into idols, as someone who’s stood on long lines at anime conventions for voice actor autographs and the like, I can relate to some of the antics the characters get up to in this premiere, and it helps to make a lot of the humor feel relatable for anyone into some form of nerd culture. It also helps that Eripiyo’s antics are just over the top enough that she almost always gets a laugh no matter how obsessive she’s being, and despite her enthuiasm, she’s respectful enough of Maina to avoid being too pushy around her, which is something Maina herself seems to have picked up if the end of the episode is any indication. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of this but I ended up enjoying my time with it. There’s always a chance this could get a little too uncomfortable for it’s own good later on, but for right now, it’s walking that line just well enough that it feels like another safe watch for the season

Rating: Good

Interspecies Reviewers

Interspecies Reviewers

Synopsis: In a world bursting at the seams with moe monsters and humanoids of the horned sort, which brave heroes will take it upon themselves to review the beastly babes of the red-light district? Can only one be crowned the ultimate title of best girl?

First Impressions: As a heterosexual male, I’d be lying if I said this show wasn’t one of the biggest things on my radar this season. Not necessairly because I thought it would be good, but mostly because I was really curious just how horny it was gonna be, and to what level it was commit to that. Having now actually sat through it, I can safely say this was even hornier than I expected. The show basically opens with two of our leads banging elf and human MILFS respectively before arguing about which one is hotter, and it basically maintains that same level of absurdity throughout the entire episode. At least 1/3rd of the shots in this premiere feature some variant of giant (censored) anime tiddies, and our “heroes” are none too shy about their quest to bang every monster girl under the sun, and rate how good the sex is. It’s so unapologetic about what it is, that it’s kinda hard to be mad about it, but if there’s one thing here that did kinda raise an eyebrow for me it’s that we’re eventually introduced to a third lead in the form of an angel shota who’s both extremely shy and is also is also a hermaphrodite that loses their virginity before the episode’s through. It’s a little weird, but I guess if you were gonna object to anything in this show, there’s well…the rest of the show, so it’s hard to be too prickly about it. If I were to give this show a serious review, I’d say it’s probably way too horny for it’s own good, and far from most people’s cup of tea, but it’s basically impossible for me to be serious about anything this premiere had to offer. If you’re here wondering whether or not I’m gonna keep watching this the answer is: heck yes. It’s definently not good, but it’s the sort of bizaarely horny thing that can only really exist within the realm of anime, and I’m so mystified by this show’s existance, and the fact that it actually made it onto television in any capacity that I’m practically obligated to see how much more insane it’ll get. Odds are I’ll regret this decision a few weeks from now, but for the time being. I guess I’ll be sampling this one every week.

Rating: NSWF

22/7

22/7

Synopsis: One day, Miu Takigawa suddenly receives a letter notifying her that she has been chosen as a member of a brand-new project. Half in disbelief, she heads over to the location stated on the letter. There, she finds seven other girls summoned there in the same fashion. The girls behold a giant, top-secret facility. They stand in bewilderment as they are told: “You are going to debut for a major record label as an idol group.” A new kind of idol, never-before-seen, is about to be born here.. .

First Impressions: Like I said with Budokan earlier, idol shows are basically a dime a dozen these days, and so many of them follow the exact same formula that I’ve mostly learned to ignore the genre altogether outside new iterations of Love Live. This series on the other hand, seems like it might offer a potential shakeup to the usual formula, as our usual ragtag group of plucky idols who have to gradually come together to take the industry by storm, are instead assembled under the mysterious pretense that they’ve been chosen, and half of them don’t even seem to have much interest in idol work specifically. This is especially true for the main heroine who comes off as so much of an introvert that she seems like the last person who’d get picked for idol work, and she initially rejects the offer, only for circumstances to force her into it. Between that, and the fact that the company that hired these girls features a strange device that issues out commands that must be followed, it seems that this show is definently aiming to be a lot darker than a lot of it’s competition, and might potentially have something to say about the idol industry as a whole. Given the many, err…issues that exist within idol culture, I’d certainly be down for a story like that, and I’m hoping this’ll deliver on that end. So far I like the general direction of the series so far, even if the writing is a little on the nose, but if there’s one serious thing that might end up holding it back a bit it’s that the voice acting for the girls is pretty bad all across the board, and the heroine specifically gives the most stilted performance of the bunch. This is apparently because the seiyuu in question for these characters are actual idols and not professional voice actors, which could certainly be a big problem later on if this show takes a serious turn for the dramatic. For the time being though, it’s at least got me curious, and idol anime have gotten so formulaic that I’m up for something that at least aims to be a little different

Rating: Decent

In/Spectre

In/Spectre

Synopsis: Both touched by spirits called yokai, Kotoko and Kuro have gained unique superhuman powers. But to gain her powers Kotoko has given up an eye and a leg, and Kuro’s personal life is in shambles. So when Kotoko suggests they team up to deal with renegades from the spirit world, Kuro doesn’t have many other choices, but Kotoko might just have a few ulterior motives…

First Impressions: It’s been a few years since Blast of Tempest came out, and while I only vaguely remember that show, and don’t know if I’d call it “good”, it was certainly interesting and knowing this is by the same author had my attention. The story here centers around a high school girl named Kotoko who develops a one-sided crush on a college student named Kuro and tries to ask him out. The catch here though is that Kotoko was kidnapped the supernatural as a child in order to be made into their goddess of sorts and is now revered by them, while Kuro has a mysterious power that makes his body poisonous to the supernatural, and makes them afraid of him. It’s odd to say the least, and much like what little I recall of Blast of Tempest, it’s presented in a way that feels just a bit too self-serious for it’s own good. That being said, I did at least find Kotoko to be pretty charming, and I was amused by how forward she was about her crush on Kuro, but without coming off as too comically horny which was a nice change of pace. Kuro on the other hand, I’m not quite as interested in as of yet, but the mystery concerning his power is at least interesting enough that I wanna know more about what the deal is with that. Visually speaking, the show doesn’t look super impressive so far, but the presentation in the premiere felt solid enough that it doesn’t feel like the production’s holding it back, and the yokai designs have been pretty decent thus far. I can’t say I was super impressed with this one, but I figured it would at least be interesting, and I certainly got that much out of it, so I’m up for seeing where the next couple of episodes take it

Rating: Good

A3!

A3!

Synopsis: Mankai Company is a far cry from its glory days as an all-male theater. With only one member left and debt collectors at the door, it’s no wonder Izumi Tachibana finds herself in over her head when she boldly confronts the yakuza’s loan sharks, promising to bring her father’s theater back into the spotlight. She might be able to recruit enough talent, but can they bloom into the actors she needs?

First Impressions: I suppose this technically isn’t the first otome adaption of the season, but I’ve kind of fallen behind on premieres so it’s the first one that I checked out, and I’m kinda glad I did. As I’ve said during other season impression writeups, as a hetero dude, otome game adaptions are kind of inheriently not for me, so whether or not I stick with them typically depends on if there’s some kind of hook that catches my attention. In the case of this show, the hook is that it’s about a theatre troop, and while I wouldn’t really call myself a theatre nerd by any stretch (my journey down that path pretty much ended with getting an acting award in middle school and not much else) as someone who at least masquarades as an acting critic, stories about acting do at least catch my attention. This premiere is pretty straightforward as we get a typical “save the orphanage” plot in regards to a run down theatre troup being on the verge of demolition unless our plucky heroine can recruit enough pretty boy actors to keep it alive. It’s not exactly original, but the execution was done just well enough to keep me at least a little invested the whole way through, and seeing the nearly impossible demands the troupe has to meet in order to keep the lights on, works as a pretty solid hook since I’m already kinda curious how it’s gonna be pulled off. I also really like the heroine so far, since she seems to have a bit more personality than most self-insert otome protagonists do, but I’m not quite as sold on the boys themselves since aside from main one, they haven’t shown too much of themselves beyond stock character archetypes. Still, there’s plenty of time for the show to flesh them out a little bit, and on the whole I thought this was a pretty solid premiere. I’m not totally confident that I’ll stick with this in the long run, since my history with otome game adaptions would suggest that isn’t super likely, but it’s certainly worth at least another couple of episodes.

Rating: Good


And that’s it for my seasonal impressions. Gotta say, that while I came across a couple of pretty bad stinkers, on the whole I’m actually feeling really confident about this anime season so far. There’s some really cool stuff in the mix, and plenty of stuff that at least feels solid for what they’re aiming for. More importantly, there’s a lot of variety, and enough needs are being served this time around, that I’m pretty sure you’ll find at least one thing that catches your attention unless shonen slugfests are your particular cup of tea (and even then, there’s always the new season of Haikyu, even it’s technically a sports show). Time will tell if my optimism holds up by the time Spring rolls around, but until then, stay animated.

First Impressions- Summer 2019 Anime (Part 2)

We’re onto week two of the summer season anime premieres and while it’s been off to a surprisingly strong start so far, there’s still plenty of stuff left to burn through, meaning things could get a whole lot better or having me wish for the sweet release of death. For now I’m still pretty optimistic, but let’s see what else the summer has to offer.

Ratings Scale

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

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

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

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

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Hensuki: Are you willing to fall in love with a pervert, as long a she’s a cutie?

Hensuki: Are you willing to fall in love with a pervert, as long as she’s a cutie?

Synopsis: Once upon a time, Cinderella left her panties in a boy’s locker… wait, what?! Keiki Kiryu receives a mysterious love letter, that has no name, but includes a pair of white undies. Curious to find this panty-leaving-Cinderella, his investigation leads him to discover that every candidate is… a total pervert! Surrounded by perversion he still has one important question to answer: who’s the perfect fit?

First Impressions: And we’re kicking off our second week of summer anime premieres with yet another fanservice show and one that going by the overly long title is based off a light novel, which is a combination that rarely works well for me. The basic summary here is that MC-kun is a “nice guy” who really wants a girlfriend and also happens to be surrounded by four pretty girls (one of which includes his younger sister, and I’ll at least give this show credit for shuffling her off to the side as fast as possible) who are all clearly into him, but he’s too trapped in his headspace to realize it. Things only get more complicated when one of them seemingly leaves him a love letter along with their…panties and he spends the episode trying to figure out which one is in love with him (again, the answer is all of them) and discovers one of them is closet pervert. It’s uh…something I guess and while a lot of this is pretty par the course for a typical harem set-up, something about the way MC-kun’s plight here was framed as “I’m nice therefore girls should love me” felt like a transparent incel fantasy. Granted that could describe a lot of harem shows if you read between the lines hard enough, but being this blatant about it kind of irked me, and even as someone who’s more than willing to indulge in some trashy fanservice from time to time, this feels like it might be trying to have its cake and eat it too. I guess if I had any real positives here, it would be the visual direction, and specifically how a lot of the early incidental shots in the episode convey a surprising amount of horny energy without an actual cheesecake on display, and it’s something that surprisingly few fanservice shows have really attempted. Aside from that though, this one lost me pretty fast, and while I might have been more inclined to give it a pass if it were a more basic version of the usual harem formula, I found MC-kun’s attempts to pursue his harem even more insufferable than the usual reverse scenario, and it really turned me off. Hard pass.

Rating: Bad

Kochoki

Kochoki

Synopsis: The fearsome warlord, the demonic king—Oda Nobunaga! Before he was trying to rule over Japan, he was a teenager who began his path to greatness with his younger brother and faithful followers. Through succession, betrayal, battles, and bonds between one another, the struggles these boys face promise a future where they can blossom into powerful men.

First Impressions: It’s been a good while since the last one (or at least the last one I actually watched) but it’s time for yet another obligatory Oda Nobunaga show. If you’re new to this scene and you don’t know who that is, Oda Nobunaga was a famous Japanese warlord, and an extremely prominent historical figure in Japan. So much so in fact that there’s been dozens of anime made about him, including stories where Nobunaga was a girl, stories where Nobunaga possessed a girl, and even one where Nobunaga piloted a giant robot. Given that trend, I came into this expecting some kind of crazy gimmick to distinguish it from the other Oda Nobunaga shows, so imagine my surprise when this one seems to be about well…the actual history of Oda Nobunaga! Specifically it seems like this might be about his younger years, before he became a famous warlord, and this premiere centers around a story from his early childhood where befriended a group of young thieves and got swept up in a minor political struggle for being associated with them. Admittedly I was kind of bored with the first few minutes of this, but by the end, I actually found myself a little interested in where this was all going, and the conflict here didn’t end quite the way I expected to. While it did kind of win me over a little though, going by the fact that the end of the episode jumps a few years to when Nobunaga was a teen it’s hard to say how much it’ll commit to covering those early years, and my interest will fade pretty fast if it does end up just going straight to the warlord stuff since that’s an area that’s been covered dozens of times by other shows. In the meantime, even though this premiere didn’t quite blow me away, it held my attention a bit more than I was expecting it to, so if nothing else I’m pretty willing to give it another episode. I didn’t think I’d be interested in learning anything new about Oda Nobunaga at this stage, but if this show can manage to avoid staying out of familiar territory, it might be a worthwhile history lesson.

Rating: Good

Cop Craft

Cop Craft

Synopsis: 15 years ago, a hyper-dimensional rift appeared above the Pacific Ocean linking Earth with a magical world. San-Teresa City became a melting pot of cultures and species, but despite peace on the surface, there’s always an underbelly. That’s where Detective Kei Matoba and knight Tirana come in—partners with different perceptions of life and law, working together to keep the city safe.

First Impressions: While I wouldn’t quite say this was a highly anticipated show for me, I was at least curious about it since it seemed like it could be my exact kind of thing. Buddy cop shows are usually a pretty fun time for me, and the idea of integrating that with high fantasy shenanigans sounded really cool. In execution though, this premiere left me feeling very…mixed to say the least. On the hand I do dig the general aesthetic of the show, and I like how some of the fantasy elements are contrasted against the grittier looking ones of our own world, such as the idea of turning fairies into an ingredient for drugs. On the other hand it also appears that the primary theme of this show is going to center around race relations (specifically between humans and the denizens of the fantasy world) and it…doesn’t seem particularly well equipped to handle that particular subject. While I appreciate the show highlighting some of Kei’s obvious racism regarding Tirana, and it seems pretty obvious he’ll broaden his views a bit the show progresses, it also features a scene where a black guy also acts racist towards her which is a bit, uh…problematic to say the least. It doesn’t help that this scene is immediately followed with the revelation that this dude’s boss is another black guy who’s meant to come off as comically shady and while I probably wouldn’t think much of this one on it’s own, combined with the first thing, it’s setting off potential warning signs for me, especially given that Japan doesn’t really have the best track record with depicting black people.

I will be fair in saying that I don’t think this show is gonna turn out to be ultra-racist or anything since Kei later tells Tirana not to view things in black and white despite the black guy being an obvious criminal, but it does make me feel like the original author didn’t do a ton of research on that end, which makes it’s attempts at directly addressing racism feel a little misguided if not horribly intentioned. I guess on the bright side of things, this show looks pretty solid, and while it’s not quite a stand-out production, everything here is decently animated, and show has a good visual aesthetic going for it with some pretty good character designs, and nice looking fantasy backdrops. Still, I was really hoping to like this one, so walking away from it such mixed feelings is more than a little disappointing. I think I might give this another episode and see if shows any promise of balancing things out a bit in regards to how it tackles race, but for now, I’m really on the fence with this, and I can’t quite bring myself to give it a solid recommendation.

Rating: Decent

Arifureta: From Commonplace to the World’s Strongest

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest

Synopsis: Hajime Nagumo and his high school class are suddenly summoned to a fantastical land as heroes. But while most of his classmates have powerful stats and abilities, Hajime does not. Underappreciated and unprepared, he tumbles into the depths of a monster-infested dungeon where voracity and sacrifice are his only options. To thrive in this savage world, he’ll have no choice but to welcome the abyss.

First Impressions: It’s isekai time again, but this one’s on the “dark and edgy” side of things which made this premiere extra “fun” for me. The gimmick here is that MC-kun and a group of his classmates are transported to a fantasy world (or at least that’s the implication since this episode doesn’t go into that backstory) and while they’re all busy exploring a labyrinth, MC-kun is betrayed and left for dead, causing him to turn into a vengeful edgelord bent on taking down anyone and anything in his way. If this sounds pretty familiar to you, this tone has quite a bit in common with winter’s Rising of the Shield Hero, and going by the amount of attention my opinions on that show’s premiere got me, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you that I wasn’t exactly a fan of this one (though I guess in fairness at least the first episode of this one wasn’t bogged down by Shield Hero’s…other problems). The whole “become an instant badass and take vengeance on everyone who mocked you” thing is a specific flavor of nerd fantasy that feels pretty toxic, and having come closer towards being this kind of person than I’d care to admit means I have even less patience for this show’s nonsense, and getting through this episode was a slog. It doesn’t help that even putting aside all of that, this show still suffers from the usual isekai woes concerning sub-standard world building, and some utterly horrendous looking CG monsters that feel like they’d be right at home in Berserk 2016. I guess if you were a fan of Shield Hero, or you’re just a big isekai fan, you might get something out of this, but I’m neither of those things, and this came off as more than little vile to me, so it’s safe to say I’m not touching any more of this with a ten-foot pole.

Rating: Bad

Isekai Cheat Magician

Isekai Cheat Magician

First Impressions: It’s time for isekai #3 of the season and given that the first two were both pretty awful in their own ways, I can’t say I had any particularly high hopes. Imagine my surprise then, that I actually kinda this one. That’s not to say this premiere was particularly “good” as this show seems to be operating on a partial sense of self-awareness that makes it feel a bit too smug for it’s own good, while not actually being unique enough to warrant that, but it does have a couple of things going for it. For one thing, instead of the usual set up with MC-kun being transported to a fantasy world alone to become it’s greatest savior, this time he’s transported alongside his childhood friend Rin, and while she’s not big on personality either, having the two of them bounce off each other helped in making Taichi feel a little less bland than he would have otherwise. It’s also kinda neat for this kind of power fantasy to have a girl as one of the actual leads, and while I don’t exactly have high hopes they’ll do anything interesting with her, it is unique if nothing else.

The other big thing this show has going for it is that it seems like there’s a chance this might be an actual fantasy world and not an MMORPG with a coat of paint, which could do a lot in making the show’s worldbuilding feel like less of a slog, and it helps that as of the end of the premiere, while Taichi and Rin are clearly destined to become overpowered, they aren’t quite there yet, and this show isn’t instantly jumping into being an all-out power fantasy. Admittedly I’m placing a lot of my optimism here on hopes that are likely to be dashed pretty quickly, but my expectations for isekai have been lowered so much, that I’m up for anything that seems like it’s at least trying to aim for something more than blatant pandering and this might just fill that void. Time will tell if it disappoints, but for now I’m willing to go along with this a little longer.

Rating: Decent

The Demon Girl Next Door

The Demon Girl Next Door

Synopsis: Yuko Yoshida is just an ordinary schoolgirl — until one day her dormant, devilish powers are unleashed by the demon Lilith! Yuko transforms into Shadow Mistress Yuko, a supernatural powerhouse with horns and a devil tail. Now she must defeat another mystical being named Momo Chiyoda, the shrine maiden of the Light Clan… who just so happens to go to Yuko’s school! But being a demonic magical girl isn’t as easy as it looks, and Yuko has a whole lot to learn before she’s ready to fulfill her destiny and take on the Clan of Light.

First Impressions: I walked into this one blind, and while I didn’t have any big expectations one way or the other, I found it to be a bit more enjoyable than I was expecting. Comedies parodying magical girls or demon lords have gradually become a bit more common over the years, but what made this one kinda click for me, was how deadpan a lot of the jokes were. Rather than flipping out over her transformation and lineage, Yuko’s reaction to finding out she’s descended from a demon clan, is to mostly find the whole thing to be a giant drag. It certainly doesn’t help that she doesn’t yet have any powers to go alongside the horn and tail, and I especially appreciated the gag that her horns only really serve to weigh down her head and disrupt her equilibrium. I also liked that her magical girl “nemesis” Momo carries an even bigger level of tired energy, and very clearly doesn’t want to deal with any of this, but doesn’t perceive Yuko to be anything resembling an actual threat, so her reactions to her antics come off as pity more than anything. It made for a pretty fun dynamic, and while I can’t say I burst out laughing at any of it, I definently got a few more good chuckles than I was expecting, and I was more entertained than I thought I’d be by the end of it. Production wise, this doesn’t look too different from your average “cute girl doing cute things” show, and there isn’t a whole ton of visual comedy with the animation, but it worked well enough for what this was going for so I didn’t find it to be too much of a dealbreaker. Can’t say I was expecting to latch on to this one, and it does seem like it could get stale depending on the execution in the coming weeks, but I got enough out of this premiere that I’m willing to gamble with giving it a bit more of my time.

Rating: Good

given

Given

Synopsis: Somehow, the guitar that he used to love to play and the basketball games that he found so fun just lost their appeal… That was until Ritsuka Uenoyama randomly met Mafuyu Sato. Ritsuka had started losing his passion for music in his everyday life, but then he hears Mafuyu sing for the first time. The song resonates with his heart and the distance between them starts to change.

First Impressions: This series is serving as our NotiminA show of the season, and while haven’t been following this one that much, I’m always interested in whatever that block has to offer and this seemed like it could be interesting. This premiere follows a teen named Ritsuka who enjoys music and runs in a band who has an encounter with a mysterious boy named Mafuyu who continually nags him to teach him how to play the guitar. That sentence more or less surmises the whole episode weirdly enough, and while I’ll admit I was slightly less impressed with this than I was hoping I’d be there’s a few things here I’m interested in. For one thing it’s a show about music, and while I’m not exactly the world’s biggest music fan myself, I’ve always found myself drawn to stories about musicians, and it helps that the scene we get with Ritsuka performing in front of Mafuyu is a pretty good jam. This is also apparently supposed to be a more serious boy’s love story, and while Mafuyu hasn’t yet displayed enough personality for me to say there’s a ton of chemistry between him and Ritsuka, who’s a little more interesting, I’m still at least kinda curious how that relationship will develop, and to learn a little more about what exactly Mafuyu’s deal is. On the animation front this show looks pretty solid as would generally be expected from Lerche, and there thankfully aren’t too many animation shortcuts with the guitar playing, though between it and Astra Lost in Space it’s pretty apparent which of those shows are a higher priority for them. While I don’t have as much to say about this as I expected to, this was a fairly solid premiere, and although it hasn’t totally grabbed me yet, there’s enough potential that I’m pretty willing to stick with it for a while

Rating: Good

Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two Multi-Hit Target Attacks?

Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?

Synopsis: A new kind of momcom roleplaying adventure! What would you do if you got transported into a video game…with your mom?? That’s the dilemma facing high schooler Masato Oosuki, who has been unwittingly thrown into an RPG world with his doting mother close behind as part of a secret government scheme. As an avid gamer, Masato is eager to show off his skills…but that’s hard to do when your mom is an insanely overpowered, dual-wielding, multi-target specialist!

First Impressions: And wrapping up my impressions for this season, we have our final isekai of the season, and the one everyone seemed to be looking forward to the most. The isekai genre has become such a slog that the premise of the main character getting sent to another world with his mother seemed like it could be pretty funny, and especially with the idea that she’s more powerful than he is and can therefore suck all the fun out of his power fantasy. I did have one big point of apprehension that kept me from getting too excited though: the possibility that this would all lead to incest. While mom-fetish stuff isn’t as prevalent a thing with otaku based stuff as little sister-fetish stuff is, those things still exist, and since I’ve had my own awkward encounters with at least a couple of them I was worried this might follow the same route. Fortunately the episode’s final punchline put that fear to bed (for now) since there’s a pretty strong implication that Mamako’s personally putting together and screening every member of Ma-kun’s “harem” which was a both pretty good joke, and also one that presumably wouldn’t happen if incest was the endgoal here.

Anyway with that bit of rambling out of the way I can talk about the rest of the show which was surprisingly a lot of fun. As I said with Isekai Cheat Magician, isekai parodies aren’t exactly a new concept, but almost all of the jokes here were great. From the setting literally being some kind of test beta for an as of yet-named MMO (which ironically serves as a better backdrop for this show’s world than most isekai) to the developers rewarding Ma-kun and Masako with over-powered items right off the bat because they know modern gamers want the best stuff as soon as possible, this show has some excellent meta-humor going on, and if you’re as tired of generic isekai tropes as I am, this looks like it might tear a hole into them pretty well. Of course all of that wouldn’t mean much if the titular mom wasn’t a fun character in her own right, but thankfully she is, and while she’s a little too cutesy moe at times to feel super believable as an adult, almost all of the embarrassing mom jokes surrounding her land where they need to, and a lot of her interactions with Ma-kun help in making him feel a little less bland than most isekai heroes, even if he’s a bit overly snarky. Overall I had a lot of fun with this one, and while I’m still a little cautious this might pull the incest card at some point, it seems pretty safe for the moment, and it’s got plenty of laughs to offer. If you’re looking for a good comedy this season, this seems like a solid recommendation

Rating: Great


And that’s it for my summer impressions this time around. While there were a few stinkers here and there, I have to say that on the whole this season looks really promising, and there’s a lot more interesting stuff than what I’m typical used to for this time of year. Of course there’s always the chance than more than a few of these shows will implode, but it seems like there’s a pretty good amount of variety here, and odds are pretty good everyone will have at least one thing they’re happy with by the time we hit fall. Until next time, stay animated.

<- Summer 2019 Anime Impressions (Part 1)

First Impressions- Summer 2019 Anime

I’m currently huddled up inside trying to escape the scorching heat of the sun, so I guess we’ve hit the summer season. While spring had a bevy of good but not great shows (with the exception of Sarazanmai and Fruits Basket), the summer looks to be a lot more promising as there’s an unusual amount of heavy hitters coming out of the woodwork this time around, as well as a few potential darkhorses. Since I walked away from the Spring season with a bit of a shurg, I’m pretty excited to check some of this new stuff out, so I guess we might as well get this started.

Ratings Scale

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

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

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

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

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts

To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts

Synopsis: During a protracted civil war that pitted the North against the South, the outnumbered Northerners used dark magic to create monstrous super-soldiers called Incarnates. Now that the war has ended, those Sacred Beasts must learn to make their way in a peaceful society, or face death at the hands of a Beast Hunter. Nancy Schaal Bancroft, the daughter of an Incarnate, turns to hunting the hunter herself. But once she catches up with her quarry, she discovers hard truths about the lives of these Sacred Beasts.

First Impressions: Other than that this was a MAPPA production, I didn’t know too much about this going in other than that it’s premise sounded extremely similar to last season’s Fairy Gone, and given that show ended up being a snoozefest, I was hoping this would at least be a more entertaining variation. What I definitely WASN’T expecting though, was for this show to somehow be a fantasy world X-Men fanfic. The story follows our protagonist Hank Henriette (whose character design and name being extremely similar to Henry “Hank” McCoy aka “The Beast” from the X-Men is completely coincidental I’m sure) a solider who is also one of the several muta-err…”Incarnates” created by the government in order to help win a civil war, only to find that the experiments done in order to make these super soldiers comes with the side effect of them gradually going insane. As the war comes to a close, Hank finds himself betrayed and left for dead, while his comrades have all succumb to madness and are now terrorizing the populace. Now having lost his chance at happiness, Hank now devotes himself to hunting down his former comrades and granting them a merciful death before they can cause anymore harm.

Yeeeaaaaaaahhhhh…this one’s pretty angsty and while it’s a better variant of the kind of grimdark fantasy Fairy Gone was peddling, I’d be hesitant to say this premiere was “good”. Having said that, between the protagonist basically being AU fanfic Beast, and the amount of unsubtle red flags that things were going to go bad for him throughout the episode, I was pretty entertained, and watching this guy go from cinnamon roll to angry monster hunter was certainly interesting if nothing else. It helps that the show looks pretty good, as is generally expected from a MAPPA joint, and while this feels like a production that could probably see some heavy woes later on, at least for the moment it has a decent enough visual aesthetic. With how hamfisted the setup here is, it’s hard to say exactly where the story’s gonna go, but despite the last few minutes having the subtlety of a freight train, I was invested enough for most of the premiere that I’m at least mildly curious where else this’ll go. For my sanity, I hope this doesn’t lean too much into the X-Men route since there’s only so many ways you can tell that particular tale (and only so many jokes about the similarities I can make), but at least if it does, I can look forward to not-Magneto showing up eventually. For now, this seems like it’ll be worth another episode or two.

Okay but seriously, WHY DID THEY MAKE THE BEAST LOOK REALLY HOT? I DO NOT COMPREHEND.

Rating: Decent

Magical Sempai

Magical Sempai

Synopsis: “I encountered her … a cute, but ‘weird’ sempai!” Magic-loving but stage-fright-addled, this sempai comes with a failure rate of 100%—but you can’t take your eyes off her! The off-color, magical gag manga that’s caused an uproar all over Japan is finally here! Here’s to non-athletic hobbies!

First Impressions: I knew going in from one of the previews and the general look of the heroine that this was probably going to be a fanservice heavy show and…yeah there sure is a lot of fanservice alright. The basic gist of this is that our lead heroine is a clumsy dork with hentai boobs who likes performing magic but sucks at actually doing it and performing in front of an audience. Helping her is a snarky junior who gets roped into being her assistant and watches as all her attempts to do magic end with her in extremely compromising or erotic positions. Anndd….that’s the joke. Basically the ONLY joke, as this premiere somehow goes through four shorts over the span of 12 minutes, and pretty much all of them more or less follow the same formula. As a single straight dude, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t down for some fanservice every now and then, but I at least like those shows to feel like they’re trying or otherwise offering something else besides cheesecake, but that’s pretty much all there was to this one, and while it wasn’t outright boring, it wore out it’s welcome pretty fast for me. If you want an unabashed fanservice title for this season, then this’ll probably be a perfect fit for your needs, but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna take a hard pass on this one

Rating: BOOBS

Are You Lost?

Are You Lost?

Synopsis: Because of a plane crash… starting today, we’re spending the springtime of our lives on a desert island!! There’s nothing here, so we have to make everything!! And eat everything!! (Ugh!) Check out our high school girl survival story of courage and knowledge. We’re actually doing pretty well!

First Impressions: So like Magical Sempai this is also a half-length show that seems to be largely centered around one joke. This time the joke surrounds a group of four high school girls who get stranded on an island including one who’s a survival expert and is willing to resort to factually correct but generally lewd sounding survival tips in order to help the rest of the group. While the joke here also feels like one that could get exhausting fast, I’ll at least say this one worked a little better for me since a lot of the tips here, while weird, are things that would probably be helpful in their current situation which makes this one of the horniest edutainment shows I’ve ever seen, and the tips themselves are varied enough that the jokes didn’t get too repetitive. Make no mistake though, this is still pretty heavily geared towards fanservice, and even though this one didn’t wear my patience like Magical Sempai did, I don’t know if I’m really up to the idea of watching more of it. For now though, I’ll at least say it was interesting enough that it’s at least worth a peek and you can decide for yourself if it seems like it’ll be worth your time.

Rating: Decent

How Heavy Are the Dumbells You Lift?

How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?

Synopsis: Hibiki Sakura’s love for food is starting to affect her size. In effort to slim down, she scopes out her local gym only to discover two problems—it’s a haven for intimidating body builders, and her classmate Akemi has a weirdly aggressive muscle obsession. After meeting her handsome personal trainer, Machio, Hibiki bites the bullet and starts her quest for a hot bod!

First Impressions: And here we are with yet another fanservice show, and probably the one people were looking forward to the most, based on it’s premise. I’ll admit the idea of a fanservice comedy largely centered around weight training is certainly an interesting hook if nothing else, and so far I’d say this premiere has actually capitalized on that pretty well. Hibiki is a pretty funny lead so far, and sounds properly in over her head for someone going through regular workout sessions for the first time. That allows her to play off pretty well against the much more enthusiastic Akemi who’s very much into the idea of getting swole, and maybe a little too into muscles. The visual comedy is what really sells this premiere though as everything from Hibiki’s exaggerated facial expressions to the overly detailed animation on everyone’s muscles when she sees dudes weight lifting for the first time, helps to elevate the humor, and gave me a few more good chuckles than I was expecting. Perhaps the most interesting part of this premiere though is that well…it actually seems to be pretty dedicated to the idea of getting it’s audience into exercising. While the show pokes a little fun at edutainment, it still manages to provide easy to follow explanations of how all these routines work, and even includes a segment at the end for how you can try doing some of them at home (I immediately tried doing a few sets of squats after watching this, so I guess I’m the right audience for this part of the show). So…yeah I enjoyed this quite a bit, and certainly more than the other fanservice centered shows I’ve come across so far this season. Hopefully it can maintain a good balance of cheescake and edutainment, but it certainly seems like it’s off to a good start.

Rating: Good

Demon Lord, Retry!

Demon Lord, Retry!

Synopsis: On the night of his favorite game’s shutdown, Akira Oono awakens in the body of his online character: Demon Lord Hakuto Kunai. He’s not the most confident guy ever, and he’s traveling with an injured young girl. But with powerful game mechanics and abilities on his side, this gamer turned badass plots his course through a diverse new world filled with saints, demons, and charming companions!

First Impressions: *ZZZZZZZZZZZ* Wait, what was I doing? Oh right, anime impressions. So here we have our first obligatory isekai of the season and…yeah it’s an isekai show I guess. This time around the gimmick is that MC-kun finds himself stuck in the body of the demon lord he created for a video game he designed, and said demon lord looks and speaks like a mob boss. If this sounds like it could actually be pretty entertaining to you, rest assured, this was still really boring in spite of that. Much of this premiere checks off the usual isekai tropes of clumsy worldbuilding, and the main character already feeling like he’ll have no trouble breezing past any obstacles in the world he’s found himself in. About the only other things of note here is that this makes a few attempts to poke fun at generic isekai tropes, and the main character very clearly wants out, and that he’s explicitly middle aged while our heroine…looks like she can’t be any older than 12 or 13. The first thing seems like it could maybe give this show an edge over it’s contemporaries, but it follows through on the tropes it’s mocking pretty faithfully so there’s not much chance of that, and the latter thing is uh…concerning to say the least. Granted the show could go for something resembling a father-daughter dynamic, and some of their interactions in this premiere seems to lean towards that, but I’ve done this song and dance enough times to know better than to trust light novel based media not to go for something potentially creepy (and she even gets a slightly skeevy bath scene in this premiere) so that’s already a pretty big red flag for me. Combine all that with the show’s mediocre looking production, and it’s safe to say there isn’t really anything here for me. If you’re hungry for a new isekai this season, maybe give it a shot I guess, but there’s bound to be at least a couple more of these coming, and at least one of them might be better executed, so maybe wait a second before you dive into this one.

Rating: Bad

Dr. Stone

Dr. Stone

Synopsis: Several thousand years after a mysterious phenomenon that turns all of humanity to stone, the extraordinarily intelligent, science-driven boy, Senku Ishigami, awakens. Facing a world of stone and the total collapse of civilization, Senku makes up his mind to use science to rebuild the world. Starting with his super strong childhood friend Taiju Oki, who awakened at the same time, they will begin to rebuild civilization from nothing… Depicting two million years of scientific history from the Stone Age to present day, the unprecedented crafting adventure story is about to begin!

First Impressions: And so we finally hit one of the most anticipated shows of the season, and one that I was also pretty excited for. The Dr. Stone manga has been a pretty pleasant read for me, and while I wouldn’t quit rank it among my favorites of JUMP’s current lineup, it’s been consistently entertaining, and I was curious to see what an anime adaption could bring to the table for this. So far, this looks like it’ll be pretty straightforward on that end as this premiere covers the first two chapters of the manga pretty faithfully and almost panel for panel (well aside from removing the very important scene of Donald Trump being turned to stone, you filthy cowards) and doesn’t attempt to do anything bold with the material one way or the other. Fortunately said material is pretty fun so this premiere works out pretty well regardless, and while the actual scenario of the world’s population being turned to stone is breezed through pretty quickly, it still does a good job of setting up the dynamic between the protagonists *heh* Taiju and Senku and how the former’s overly straightforward attitude plays off of Senku’s more steady and rational approach. Given what happens later on in the story, I’m a little surprised the premiere devoted so much time to Taiju, but it works pretty well in spite of that and it manages to accomplish the thing that would more or less break this adaption: making all of the science explanations look fun. All of the show’s wacky science shenanigans all feel pretty energetic, and are delivered with enough flare that it’s pretty easy to look forward to the idea of these two rebuilding civilization from scratch.

About the only serious nitpick I had here was the production looks a bit more middle of the road than I was expecting. A lot of the nature backgrounds here look gorgeous, but thick linework on the character designs causes the two to have a rough time totally blending together, and it makes some of the show’s limited animation stand out a little more. Thankfully there’s still a good amount of visual comedy here in spite of that, and being pretty familiar with the source material, I already know this isn’t something that really requires a lot of heavy animation to work effectively, so hopefully it’ll be able to maintain some level of consistency if nothing else. Those nitpicks aside though, this was a pretty fun premiere and while this adaption doesn’t exactly look like it’s aiming to outdo it’s source material, if it sticks to it, it’ll be a fun ride if nothing else, and a pretty easy recommendation for something to jump start your weekend

Rating: Great

Fire Force

Fire Force

Synopsis: Tokyo is burning, and citizens are mysteriously suffering from spontaneous human combustion throughout the city! Responsible for snuffing out this inferno is the Fire Force, and Shinra is ready to join their fight. Now, as part of Company 8, he’ll use his devil’s footprints to help keep the city from turning to ash! But his past and a burning secret behind the scenes could set everything ablaze.

First Impressions: This was another hotly (pun not totally intended) anticipated show for the summer season, but while I was curious to check it out, I can’t say I was super excited for it. I picked up the first 8 or so volumes of the manga in a cheap digital bundle deal a few months ago, and while I didn’t dislike it, it felt like pretty standard shonen fair, especially compared to the author’s previous series Soul Eater, which was brimming with energy and charm, even if it was a little too self-indulgent at times. With that, my interest in this mostly lied in seeing if the anime adaption might elevate the writing a bit, or make some slight shifts with the story to make something a little more unique, but the first episode seems to have more or less played out the same as the manga’s first chapter. Shinra’s plight of wanting to become a hero, and having a power that others feel is responsible for the death of his family is all pretty by the numbers as far as shonen intros go, and while the execution on that here isn’t terrible, it’s probably not gonna shake you much if you’ve been around the block a few times with shonen stories (and this is coming from a pretty big shonen fanatic).

What does stand out here though is the production by studio David Production of Jojo’s fame as the show’s visuals look rad as heck, and are bursting from the seams with a sense of flare that makes the look of the anime immediately stand out from a lot of it’s competition, and the animation on display here is equally stellar. It helps that a lot of the anime’s staff is carried over from studio SHAFT, who pretty much excelled at visual presentation, and the show’s been blessed with a great production schedule, meaning we can probably expect most episodes to look as good as the premiere did. Unfortunately I can’t quite say that the visuals did enough to make the story feel any less standard but I certainly give the anime staff credit for going all out on this, and it’s hard not to respect the amount of work put into this. Much as this all sounds like faint praise, like I said in the beginning while I have problems with the manga (mostly in regards to the female cast), I don’t dislike it overall, and I’ve invested a fair amount of my time into it already so I’m probably gonna stick around for this even if it’s probably not going to be priority viewing for me. For everyone else though, if you’re fine with a little substance, and a whole lot of style, this should probably do you pretty good.

Rating: Good

GRANBELM

Granbelm

Synopsis: It had been nearly 1,000 years since all the magic in the world disappeared, and most people had forgotten it ever existed. Kohinata Mangetsu is a cheerful high school student who has a pretty positive outlook on life, but she has nothing to call her own– Because she wasn’t good at academics or sports, she dreamed of having something she was good at. On a night where the full moon was shining brightly, she happens to meet another girl with the character for “moon” in her name named Shingetsu Ernesta Fukami. That was also when she encountered the mechanical dolls called “ARMANOX.”

First Impressions: And here comes our first major anime original production behind it, and one that seemed to have a lot of potential. Much of the staff involved in this show worked on Re:Zero and while I haven’t seen past the first episode of that, there’s no denying it was a pretty big hit, and I was interested to see if this could follow suit. So far it’s off to a solid, if not particularly great start. A lot of this premiere is heavy on the action and jumps into it almost immediately with little time spent introducing us to the main heroine, or giving us too many details about the story’s core conflict. What we do get works well enough for those issues not to be a total dealbreaker, and I’m a sucker for anything that can successfully mix together magic and mecha, so this seems like it’ll scratch that particular itch pretty well. The handful of details we get about the setting also did enough to make me a little curious to learn more about this show’s world, even if I don’t know if I’m totally up for another “magical girl battle royale” premise, which seems to be what this is leaning towards. Aside from that my only other big complaint here was probably the visuals which aren’t bad. and even feature some much sought after 2D mecha animation, but the mecha designs themselves are incredibly simple, and the animation used for them isn’t exactly stand-out, which kind of hurt the overall aesthetic for me a bit. Regardless I’d still say this had a fairly solid premiere, and while this one didn’t quite blow me away like I was kinda hoping it might, it left with enough that I’m curious to see how it develops

Rating: Good

O’ Maidens In Your Savage Season

O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Synopsis: When the girls in the literature club ask themselves, “What do you want to do before you die?” one of them gives a most surprising response. Now they’re all preoccupied (for better or for worse) by their friend’s unexpected answer! Soon each of these very different young women find themselves propelled along the uncertain road to adulthood, their emotional journeys taking them down paths as surprising as their friend’s unconventional wish. 

First Impressions: This was a show I was pretty eagerly anticipating, and primarily because of it’s writer. Love her or hate her, Mari Okada is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable writers in the anime industry and while I’m not always in love with her work, it’s pretty much always interesting and knowing that this an adaption of a manga she worked on boosted my curiosity even higher. Tales about hormonal teenagers and puberty are pretty much a dime a dozen, but it’s pretty rare to get them from a female perspective, and this show dives into all those awkward feelings with a pretty high level of intensity. A lot of that can be seen through the main heroine Kazusa, who seems to be the most stuck between wanting to keep her life and relationships simple, and how much the encroaching fear of having to confront both her and her childhood friend’s sexuality threatens that simplicity. It’s all pretty engaging, and while parts of this premiere were actually a little lighter in tone than I expected, given this show’s subject matter and Okada’s typical writing habits, it all balances out for the most part, and helps in driving these themes home. The production from Lay-duce certainly played a part in selling all this, as it gives the show a polished look that fits the nature of the material pretty well and the exaggerated running animation during the episode’s big climax did a lot to boost how awkward that moment was meant to feel. Since as I said before, I’m not always in love with Okada’s work, there’s a chance this could go south, but for now it has my attention, and it’s looking like a definite watch for me

Rating: Great

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note

Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note

Synopsis: Waver Velvet – The boy who fought side by side with the King of Conquerors – Iskandar – during the Fourth Holy Grail War in Fate/Zero. Time has passed, and the mature Waver has now adopted the name of Lord El-Melloi. As Lord El-Melloi II, he challenges numerous magical and mystical cases in the Clock Tower, the mecca of all mages…

First Impressions: Putting aside the absurd word salad title of this show, it was among the things I was most looking forward to for this season. I really enjoyed Fate/Zero and Waver was one of the best characters in that show, so the idea of getting an entire series dedicated to just him, is like getting something shiny that was made for me specifically and this premiere does a good of making a case for this spinoff. While dedicated Fate fans are pretty aware that Waver takes over the family of his deceased teacher Kayneth (may he be resting some place warm) this episode fills in the details of how that whole setup went down, and the idea of Waver getting blackmailed into the position is both hilarious and pretty in character for him. The extended flashback we get of his younger days also provides a pretty good idea of how he was spending his younger days after the Holy Grail War and helps to introduce us to a couple of new characters as well as providing some cool action spectacles. While I’ve talked about this as a Fate fan though, the good news is this show seems like it’s entirely newcomer friendly and gives enough of an explanation as to the Grail War and how the Clock Tower works that you could probably jump into this without getting too confused, and the premiere establishes Waver’s personality well enough for him to feel immediately likable. About the only real barrier for anyone new here is how jumbled the show’s explanation of magic can be at times, but that’s also kind of a thing with the Fate franchise in general so it’s not exactly a bug that’s specific to this show. Production wise this show looks pretty solid as would be expected from a TROYCA joint, and while nothing here really compares with some of the best action sequences from Fate/Zero proper, this looks more than good enough to fill your itch if you’re in the mood for a new action show besides Fire Force. It pretty much goes without saying I had a lot of fun with this one, and while I’m admittedly very biased here, if you’re a longtime Fate fan, or a newcomer willing to dip your toes into it because this looks interesting, it seems like an extremely solid recommendation.

Rating: Great

Ensemble Stars

Ensemble Stars!

Synopsis: The “idol-training produce game” takes place at a private boys’ idol-training school with a history of turning out many great talents in show business. The protagonist is the school’s lone female student who transfers to the school because of a special situation, and enters the school’s producer department.

First Impressions: It’s time for our first idol show of the season, and this one happens to be one of the rare few male idol shows that actually makes it over to the west. Okay I suppose that’s not being entirely fair here. A decent chunk of them actually do, but they’re usually tossed to the wayside by streaming companies without a second thought so the thought of Funimation actually going out of their way to give this an eventual simuldub certainly raised my curiosity a bit. As I’ve said multiple times in the past, idol shows that are played straight tend to put me to sleep (that goes for both male and female idol shows) so there usually has to be some kind of interesting gimmick put beside them if they want to catch my attention. The gimmick here is that the show’s setting is an all boys idol school where they hold stage competitions like tournaments and students have to climb their way to the top if they wanna make it in the idol world. It’s a decent enough concept (especially if it uses it to comment on the exploitative nature of the idol industry a bit, but this doesn’t seem like it’ll be that kind of show) but it wasn’t quite strong enough of a hook to grab my attention. What did draw me in though, was a brief moment where two of the male idols singing on the stage suddenly broke out into a brawl and whacking each other with their guitars as the rules of their competition allow them to do that…somehow. That’s the exact level of quality absurdity needed to make this kind of show work for me, and while that was unfortunately only a 2 minute sequence in a 24 minute show, it was amusing enough that if the show were to pull out similar stunts regularly, it could be a fairly fun time. As of right now though, while this was a perfectly pleasant show, I dunno if I’m gonna go any further with it. I might give the eventual dub a shot for now and see how that goes but for everyone else, I imagine your interest in this will probably depend on if you’re in the general audience for male idol shows. I’m not obviously, but I have friends who certainly are and if nothing else, I’m glad it looks like they’ll be catered to pretty well here.

Rating: Decent

Re:Stage Dream Days!

Re:Stage! Dream Days♪

Synopsis: Young Mana Shikimiya once had big dreams, but she set those dreams aside once she reached middle school in order to live a normal life. When Mana joins the Singing and Dancing Club of Homareboshi Academy to help save the group from being shut down, her dreams of stardom are rekindled. She’ll give it her all to win the Prism Stage competition and be named the top idol. With her friends beside her, there are no dreams too big!

First Impressions: We’re two-for-one on idol shows today but unfortunately between this and Ensemble Stars, I found this one to be far more of a typical idol show, and less interesting as a result. The set-up here is pretty basic as our heroine is a new transfer student who finds herself getting roped into her school’s Lyrical Dance Club aka Idol Club and seems to already possess a fair amount of the talent necessary to make it as an idol. It’s a pretty typical idol show setup and about the only thing that stands out here is that rather the heroine being an enthusastic go-getter who jumps at the chance of becoming an idol, she seems terrified at the thought of performing on stage, and it’s apparently connected to her older sister who’s already a successful idol. While this got me a little curious as to what exactly the story is there, and the idea of her having to overcome her anxiety about performing could be interesting, judging by the fact that she ends up joining the club anyway by the end of the episode, I have my doubts it’ll do anything notable with that. I can’t say there was anything particularly wrong with this premiere, and while the show doesn’t exactly look good (especially the generic character designs), the animation for the dance choreography was decent enough for this not to feel totally empty. Even so, I have but only so much time, and since this wasn’t even as amusing as Ensemble Stars was, this seems like a pass for me. As for anyone else though, if you’re really desperate for a new idol show, this might end up being decent enough to get by.

Rating: Decent

The Ones Within

The Ones Within

Synopsis: Akatsuki Iride is a popular live streamer for the free-to-play game “The Ones Within-Genome”. But what was once fantasy quickly becomes his and 7 others’ reality when they’re transported to the game world against their will. View count matters more than ever before as millions watch them try to complete various high-risk challenges. Only the best will survive in this land that’s always live!

First Impressions: So I didn’t know anything about this going in and after watching the premiere, I…honestly have no idea what it is I just watched. The basic gist (?) of this involves a group of teen Let’s Players getting roped into some kind of game where they have to reach 100,000,000 views to escape and take part in a wide variety of events. If that sounds weird, the show itself is even weirder, and while this sounds like something that might be par the course for a wacky survival game show (complete with a creepy host in a mask) the terms of the game are so vague it isn’t even established these kids are in any actual danger of losing their lives aside from potentially getting locked in a dungeon somewhere (did I mention this is weird?). All of this wackiness is further elevated by the characters being a group of oddballs themselves, particularly the main character, who seems to be little overly relaxed about this whole situation.

Honestly I’m struggling to describe this show because it’s one of those things where only the act of watching it will do it justice, but I will say that while I certainly wasn’t bored with this, I wouldn’t exactly call it “good”. In a lot of ways this reminds me of Angels of Death in terms of how it plays up a horror scenario with enough wackiness that it feels like a parody, and while I didn’t dislike that show, the magic kind of wore off after a while for me, and parts of this premiere were already testing my patience in terms of “look at how CRAAAAAAZZYYYY this is”. As it stands I’m currently lacking in Sunday shows, and this one’s been dubbed right out the gate, meaning it won’t require my full attention, so it’s possible I might end up giving this another episode or so, but I’m still feeling more than a little cautious about it. If you like absurdity, this is about as absurd as it gets, and provided you can turn your brain off for this one, it might prove to be entertaining, but uh…seriously what the heck even was this?

Rating: ???

Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga

Synopsis: Ten years ago, a strong warrior named Thors lost his life in a fight with Askeladd – a powerful and ruthless Viking. Having witnessed his demise, Thors’ son, Thorfinn, became consumed by hatred and vowed to exact revenge on his father’s killer in an honorable duel. With nowhere to go, Thorfinn was recruited onto Askeladd’s ship and began working with the crew as they pillage settlements and trick naive armies. Now, the young boy spends his days honing his battle skills while carrying out Askeladd’s bidding in order to earn his reward of a duel with the vicious captain. But despite having failed in all his bouts with the man he despises so much, will the day ever come when Thorfinn can finally defeat Askeladd and lay his father’s memory to rest?

First Impressions: I’ve been hearing great things about the Vinland Saga manga for ages, and combined with the talent at Wit Studio, this had all the makings of a prestige project, and boy this didn’t disappoint. In a rare act of benevolence on the behalf of our overlord Jeff Bezos, Amazon was kind enough to drop the first three episodes of this all at once, and it’s been a real treat so far. While I wouldn’t exactly call myself a history buff, it’s always interesting to learn about time periods that aren’t often explored in media, and despite how much those stories have endured, there isn’t nearly as much stuff about vikings as you’d expect so this was a pretty interesting experience for me, and I really appreciated how well this show drew me into the atmosphere and culture of this era in a way that felt really organic.

Of course all of that wouldn’t mean much if the story wasn’t good, but thankfully it’s off to a fantastic start. While I don’t have too many thoughts on the protagonist Thorfinn since he’s still a child at this point in the story, his father Thors has proven to be a really compelling character so far, and I’m really impressed with how fleshed out he’s been in spite of his eventual fate feeling pretty obvious, even if I wasn’t aware of the general plot of this show. His hatred of violence and war makes him stand out in stark contrast to the times he lives in, and I appreciate how effectively the show managed to silently point out some of the inherent evils of slavery (a topic isekai seems to have a lot of trouble with these days) by tying his desire to help an escaped slave into his own desire to leave behind his violent past, and this story as a whole feels a lot more emphatic so far than I would have expected from a period piece. In stark contrast to Thors though, Thorfinn seems to be much more into the idea of battle, and doesn’t seem to take his father’s attempt at teaching him pacifism to heart, so I’m curious to see how this show’s inevitable tragedy will shape him going forward, and how that’ll tie into what this story has to say regarding war.

About the only point of apprehension I had here was in regards to the production and specifically the show’s usage of CG. While the majority of this three episodes looked pretty great, and actually looked a lot livelier than I would have expected from Wit compared to their work on Attack on Titan, but the opening battle on the boats looked a little awkward in some places, and while that’s not a dealbreaker by any stretch, I hope the rest of the show’s big battles will look a little better balanced. That nitpick aside though, Vinland Saga is off to an amazing start, and even in a season that already doesn’t seem like it’ll have any shortage of exciting content, this show really stood out from the rest, and seems like it’ll be the one to beat.

Rating: Excellent

First Impressions- Winter 2019 Anime

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.

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 .

  • 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.

Rating: Good

 

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

Rating: Decent

 

W’z

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

Rating: Bad

 

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.

Rating: Decent

 

Pastel Memories

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.

Rating: Decent

 

Dororo

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.

Rating: Great

 

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.

Rating: Bad

 

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

Rating: Good

 

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.

Rating: Decent

 

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

Rating: Good

 

Domestic Girlfriend

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.

Rating: Decent

 

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

Rating: Good


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.

First Impressions- Fall 2018 Anime (Part 2)

So unfortunately my internet modem decided to start acting wonky over the weekend so I’m currently without internet for the next day or two. That’s gonna be a bit of an issue as far impressions go, so some of these are gonna come a little later than I would have wanted. Gonna do my best to go through as many of these as I can though, so bear with me

 

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 .

  • All series synopsis from Anime Planet                                                                                      ———————————————————————————————–

SSSS. Gridman

Synopsis: Yuuta Hibiki can’t remember who he is, and now he’s seeing and hearing things that others don’t! A voice from an old computer tells him to remember his calling, and he sees a massive, unmoving creature in the distance. Nothing’s making sense—until the behemoth springs to life! Suddenly, Yuuta is pulled into the digital world, reappearing in the real one as the colossal hero—Gridman!

First Impressions: While that other Trigger mecha show this year was a pretty massive disappointment, I was still relatively optimistic about this show. For one thing it’s paying homage tokasatsu (which is a level of camp I’m always down for), and it’s also being directed by Akira Amemiya, the mad man behind Inferno Cop. Thankfully that optimism seems to have been pretty well rewarded so far. While this premiere kicks off with the ye old trope of an amnesiac protagonist, we’re introduced to the important people in his life almost immediately and the mystery isn’t who he is so much as why he (seemingly) lost his memory out of nowhere. While he’s something of a blank slate so far, the rest of the cast comes off as pretty likable, and their interactions feel pretty natural. Of course if you’re just here to watch giant robots kick the crap and out of Kaiju, there’s plenty of that too, and in addition to featuring one of the most effective blends of 2D/3D mecha animation I’ve seen out of any anime, I appreciated the extra detail of the Kaiju being animated in a way that makes them intentionally look like plastic compared to everything else, which feels right at home with the tokatsu aesthetic. Tonally it’s a bit more grounded than what I’ve come to expect from Amemiya at this point, but there’s enough inherent silliness that I’m pretty sure it won’t take itself as seriously as that other Trigger mecha show and should probably be a fun time. While I wasn’t completely blown away by this premiere, I certainly had a good time with it, and there’s more than enough potential here for me to stick with it. Here’s hoping Trigger can redeem themselves.

Rating: Great

 

Release the Spryce 

Synopsis: To everyone around her, Momo lives a quiet life of solitude: going to school and keeping to herself. To the members of the private intelligence agency Tsukikage, she is their newest recruit, learning to hone her skills to help fight against a global crime organization. Under the guidance of senior member Yuki, Momo undergoes a series of dangerous, deadly and diabolical training scenarios and missions. With each victory, Momo’s confidence in her skills grows but it’ll take more than that to help keep not just her home but the world safe.

First Impressions: Based on the previews this seemed like something that could be up my alley but I wasn’t totally sure what I was gonna get. An all-girls spy show sounds like a pretty good time, but it’s being written by one Takahiro who was responsible for both Yuki Yuna is a Hero which was good, and Akame ga Kill which was…not. As such I had no clue which camp it would fall into and the premiere hasn’t cleared that up any. Much of the premiere is spent introducing us to the main heroine before she’s thrust into the world of spies, and while she didn’t come off as super interesting, the episode does a good enough job of painting her desire to help people versus her fear of getting in a fight, that I’m at least mildly curious to see how she changes. The other girls don’t stand out too much either, and mostly just feel like an assortment of moe archetypes (the character designs don’t help much here) though hopefully that’ll change before long. The actual spy show aesthetic here is pretty good though, since it manages to put some solid animation on display as well as well as a pretty kickin’ soundtrack, and while it’s hard to say exactly how seriously this will take itself in that respect, there was a consistent enough mix of action and humor to keep me entertained throughout. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still worried this could go south quickly (there were a couple of instances where Takahiro’s more problematic tendencies almost felt like they were seeping through) but for now I guess I’ll willing to be optimistic.

Rating: Good

 

Conception

Synopsis: Itsuki Yuuge is a high school student who finds out on the day of his graduation ceremony that his cousin and childhood friend Mahiru is pregnant. Immediately afterward, Itsuki and Mahiru are taken to a magical world called Granvania, which is currently being invaded by monsters. The only people who can fight and exorcise the monsters are the “star children,” and the star children can only be produced by the 12 “shrine maidens of the constellations.” In order to defeat the monsters and return to his own world, Itsuki must father the star children with the maidens.

First Impressions: So in the interest of fairness, I guess I’ll confess that I actually have played the first hour or two of the game (franchise?) this is based on before. However it was a pretty long time ago. So long in fact that I’m genuinely surprised someone decided to resurrect this from the grave for an anime adaption, but I guess if anyone was gonna do it, it would be Studio GONZO who’s been digging into the well of old video games to adapt for the last couple of years or so. In essence this show is based on a fantasy RPG involving being sent to another world where they have to defeat giant monsters. The catch, of course, is that doing so involves impregnating girls with magic babies in order to destroy them. It’s a premise so silly it feels like it’d be right at home with Darling in the FRANXX in terms of how much it wants to sell the idea that having kids is great, but weirdly this premiere is…lacking. With something so inherently over the top in nature, you’d expect the anime to completely revel in it and be as overtly horny as possible in adapting it, and while it’s not totally lacking in that area it feels a bit too conservative. A lot of the first episode just feels like the show going through the motions of watching someone else playing a video game, and although it at least has the decency to poke fun at that a bit, it doesn’t change that the direction feels blander than it should be. I suppose in fairness if this show HAD fully embraced it’s premise, it’d probably feel a little repulsive, but I’d at least be able to respect it’s commitment. I guess if you’re REALLY desperate for a fan-service show this season, it’ll work out for you, but I ended up being a lot more bored than I was expecting so I’m gonna have to give this a no.

Rating:

 

My Sister, My Writer

Synopsis: Yuu Nagami, a high school student aiming to become a light novel author has a little sister named Suzuka. Suzuka is an excellent student with good grades and great looks, but she’s very cold toward her older brother. Every year Yuu keeps failing at the preliminary rounds of the light novel contest, but one day Suzuka reveals a shocking truth. The flirty sibling romantic comedy that Suzuka wrote has won the light novel contest! To make matters worse, Suzuka doesn’t understand anything about light novels or moe so she begs Yuu to stand in for her under her pen-name, Towano Chikai!

First Impressions: It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with the eternal curse of imouto shows, but I suppose our paths were destined to cross again, and my suffering was inevitable. Ever since Oreimo pulled a bait and switch from being a fun slice of life comedy about siblings to full on incest, imoto shows have been the bane of my existence and suffice to say this didn’t really change anything for me in that area. To this show’s “credit” the premiere dispells any pretext that this won’t ultimately end in incest as despite her tsundere attitude, it’s made extremely clear she’s horny for her brother, and it’s only a matter of time before MC-kun decides he’s down with that. Putting aside my personal distaste for incest though, this was straight up boring. Every story beat of the premiere is extremely obvious, to the point where you can easily predict where it’s going well before any of the “twists” happen, and that low energy writing is only further let down by the show looking kinda ugly, with character designs and “buy the blu-ray” fanservice shots that look like something from the late 00’s. Even if imoto shows are something you’re down for, I have a hard time imagining anything about this would catch your eye since stuff like Oreimo and Eromanga Sensei at least had decent production values going for them, and while this didn’t feel quite as soulless as Conception’s premiere this felt a lot more by-the-numbers than I was expecting too. Again, if you’re desperate for a fanservice show this season I guess you could do worse, but this is another big pass for me

Rating: Bad

 

Karakuri Circus

Synopsis: Masaru Saiga is a fifth-grade boy who aims to become a puppeteer. After Sadayoshi Saiga — the CEO of the giant home telephone maker Saiga and Masaru’s father — passes away, Masaru inherits 18 billion yen. Masaru is targeted for his wealth, and is saved by two people. Narumi Katō is a man who has studied Kung-Fu and has a weird illness called “Zonapha Syndrome,” and Shirogane is a silver-haired woman who controls the puppet “Arurukan” (Harlequin). Together, Masaru, Narumi, and Shirogane get thrown into various conspiracies by those who would try to steal Masaru’s fortune.

First Impressions: While I was certainly interested in what the series had to offer going in, I was pretty surprised that Ushio & Tora  turned out to be as strong as it was, and now stands as one of my favorite shonen anime. As such, it pretty much goes without saying that I was excited for Karakuri Circus, since it’s not only based on a manga penned by the same author, but has the same staff members that helped to make Ushio & Tora such a comprehensible adaption in spite of how much material it had to cram. Sadly that excitement turned to rage when I learned this show was destined to be an Amazon Prime exclusive for streaming, and the premiere has only helped to further elevate that rage because it was pretty fantastic. Trading in fights between yokai for fights between puppets is a bit of a weird trade, but puppeteers always seemed like a concept you could probably build a decent battle shonen around, and the fight we get in the premiere makes me think we’re in for a good time on that end. The main trio is also really likable so far with Narumi in particular managing to come off as a lot more big-hearted than his brash attitude would suggest and it makes for a decent foil with the more calm and polite Shirogane, even if the premiere makes it a little too obvious they’re destined to hook up. Production wise it’s pretty much on par with the look of Ushio & Tora so if you liked how well that was able to capture the look of 90’s shonen, this will definitely please you. My only real gripe here is knowing that Amazon’s involvement is going to make the likelihood of a dub, or even a physical release in general, one heck of an uphill battle, but while we wait for that to get settled, you should absolutely give this a watch.

Rating: Great

 

Merc StoriA: The Apathetic Boy and the Girl in a Bottle

Synopsis: Yuu, a young healer with the power to heal the hearts of monsters, receives a mysterious bottle from his father as a gift. When Yuu touches the bottle, Merc, a girl made of liquid, appears from it. Merc has no memories from before she met Yuu and wants to learn more about who she is, so the two of them set out on a journey through various countries. And thus begins the comical fantasy of Yuu, an apprentice healer with a fear of monsters, and Merc, the girl in the bottle.

First Impressions: This is the second video game adaption I’ve previewed but unlike Conception which was far more boring than it’s absurd premise would suggest, I was reasonably entertained by this. One point in this show’s favor is that it does a pretty fair job of disguising it’s origins and feels like fairly genuine, if extremely low-key, fantasy show. It helps that rather than having the usual trappings of a hero fighting giant monsters, the magic in this series is instead used to heal the hearts of monsters, and prevent them from causing harm. While I wouldn’t necessarily say that this premiere makes full use of that concept, it’s an interesting enough idea that it managed to catch my attention, and I’m curious what might be done with. The other point in the show’s favor is that the leads Yuu and Merc have a pretty fun dynamic and even though none of their antics were laugh out loud funny, they came off as more charming than I was expecting going in. All that said, this looks to be a pretty low-key affair both in tone and in terms of visual presentation, so it’s hard to say how long it’ll be able to maintain my interest, but I was happily surprised enough that for now it’s worth a couple more episodes.

Rating: Good


And that basically wraps up my fall impressions. I know I missed a few things thanks to my internet being out over the weekend but I don’t really have the time to spare to do a ton of backtracking and I’m pretty content with what I managed to cover. So far this season hasn’t had many surprises in terms of what shows managed to catch my attention, but I suppose it’s fine to get that every once in a while, and fortunately there was a fair amount I was interested in, so it’s not like I won’t have anything to watch. Hopefully we’ll be able to end this year on a strong note, anime-wise, but until then, stay animated.

First Impressions- Fall 2018 Anime Season

School buses are jamming up traffic and it’s too cold to turn my A/C on so it must finally be fall again. With that comes a bunch of new anime, and as is generally the case with the fall, there’s a lot of big titles going head to head. Working through all of them to find out exactly which ones are worthwhile is certainly gonna be an interesting task, especially with how streaming is affecting how much of this stuff we get at once, but it’s basically what I’m here for so let’s hop to it

Ratings Scale

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

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

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

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

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .


Double Decker- Doug & Kirill

Synopsis: The city state of Lisvalletta. Two suns rise above this city, and the people here live peaceful lives, but in the shadows crime and illegal drugs run rampant. Among them is the dangerous, highly lethal drug “Anthem” which casts a dark shadow over the city. The SEVEN-O Special Crime Investigation Unit specializes in cracking down on Anthem. This unit operates in two man “buddy” teams in what’s called the “Double Decker System” to tackle the problem. Doug Billingham is a seasoned investigator, and joining him is Kirill Vrubel, whose abilities are mysterious and unknown

First Impressions: While there’s been a lot of anticipation from the simulcast fandom over things like SSSS. Gridman, and Goblin Slayer, this one was probably my most anticipated non-sequel of the season. I’m a huge fan of Tiger & Bunny and I’ve spent pretty much every year since 2011, praying that Sunrise would get a clue and give us another season. Those prayers were answered…sort of as a sequel is apparently in the works, and this show is a spin-off that’s meant to be part of whatever it is they’re up to. It’s a strange situation to say the least but the good news is, even if you haven’t seen Tiger & Bunny this show seems to basically be it’s own thing and it’s pretty easy to jump into.

The premise is essentially a futuristic buddy-cop comedy following a dorky rookie named Kirill who wants to become a hero and a brooding veteran named Doug along side a few female co-workers who have pairs of their own. Given that Tiger & Bunny was more or less a buddy-cop show mixed with superheroes, a literal buddy cop show is an odd direction to go in, but it certainly fits that style well enough and the show’s got some pretty solid comedic chops, and some pretty slick animation on the action side of things. It also helps that the characters all seem pretty likable so far, and it even seems like the show might have some solid gay representation going by the ED song, which was kind of Tiger & Bunny’s sole Achilles’ heel for me. I’ve watched both episodes that are currently available so it kind of goes without saying I’m all in on this one, but if you’re hesitant on it because it’s connected to another show, I recommend giving it a shot.

Rating: Great

 

RErideD- Derrida, who leaps through time

Synopsis: In 2050 engineer Derrida Yvain is famous for his contribution to “Autonomous Machine DZ,” at his father’s company, Rebuild. But when he and his colleague Nathan discover a dangerous flaw in their creation, their warnings go ignored. The next day after Nathan’s daughter Mage’s birthday party, the group barely escapes an attack by unknown forces, leading to Derrida’s unwitting captivity in cryogenic stasis. Ten years later, he emerges in a world at war with the mechanical lifeforms he helped create. Now, he fights to survive his nightmare future to make good his promise to “Take care of Mage.”

First Impressions: Alright so I know the first four episodes of this have been made available as of the time I typed this, but these ARE supposed to be first impressions and plowing through four episodes just to give my initial two-cents seems excessive so I’m just going off episode 1. Having said all that I was kind of mixed on checking this out. On the one hand it’s helmed by director Takuya Sato of Steins; Gate fame and also has Yoshitoshi ABe, the character designer for Serial Expermients Lain attached to it, which were certainly strong enough staff members to draw my attention. On the other hand I didn’t hear particularly great things about the premiere screening so I was hesitant to set myself up for disappointment. For all that though, the first episode was…okay. As far as hard sci-fi plots go, nothing in particular stands out about the story and it hasn’t introduced any clear themes yet, but it’s not boring, and the episode ends on a strong enough cliffhanger that I felt compelled to see where it goes. Similarly, none of the characters stand out so far, the lead included, but none of them were particularly unlikable so it’s pretty watchable in that respect as well.

The real issue here though is that the show is pretty bland looking. While hard sci-fi shows aren’t necessarily obligated to look good, a strong visual aesthetic usually helps in making the worlds of those settings feel believable or exciting and this show has none of that going on. To make matters worse, the character designs look pretty simplistic in animation, and to the point where you’d never be able to tell someone as talented ABe was involved with this. Obviously none of these things will be deal breakers for anyone going into it totally blind, and it’s perfectly watchable but it does kind of feel like a waste of talent. But like I said, I was left curious to see where the story was headed so I guess I’ll be sticking around for at least one more episode, I just kinda wish this looked better

Rating: Decent

 

The Girl in Twilight

Synopsis: Constantly on the lookout for her next big adventure, the cheerful and kind Asuka Tsuchimiya is always ready to try new things with her high school friends from the Crystal Radio Club. One day, the group performs a ritual from an urban myth just for fun. However, several conditions had fallen into place to put the ritual in motion, opening the door to a new world of gold and jet black. In this world, Asuka finds a different version of herself and soon finds out that some doors were never meant to be opened.

First Impressions: I was a little interested to see this one by virtue of the fact that it has a notable visual novel writer attached to it, and I’m always down for potentially neat anime originals. That interest slightly died when it seemed like this show was going to fall into the hands of PonyCan USA but somehow it ended up in Sentai’s instead, and good thing too because it’s off to a pretty solid start. Much of the episode’s first half is spent introducing us to our lead heroines as they goof around and dabble in the occult and while none of them stand out quite yet, they come off as fairly believable teens rather than moeblobs which is always a plus. Of course things take a pretty drastic turn in the second half when the girls’ antics cause them to stumble into another dimension and our lead Akane, ends up meeting an alternate version of herself with a chip on her shoulder. It certainly caught my attention to say the least and unlike DErideD, this show actually looks pretty good and seems like it could maintain a decent sci-fi aesthetic. The only downside on that department is that it seems like it’ll use 3DCG for the action scenes, but the stuff we got here looked pretty solid by anime standards so hopefully it’ll be an asset and not a distraction. Story-wise it’s hard to say where any of this is going based on the premiere but it got enough right that I’m more than happy to give it another watch. Check it out.

Rating: Good

 

That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime

Synopsis: Lonely thirty-seven-year-old Satoru Mikami is stuck in a dead-end job, unhappy with his mundane life, but after dying at the hands of a robber, he awakens to a fresh start in a fantasy realm…as a slime monster! As he acclimates to his goopy new existence, his exploits with the other monsters set off a chain of events that will change his new world forever!

First Impressions: Welp it’s time for our seasonal dose of isekai, but this is one I was at least morbidly curious about, thanks to the clearly weird premise demonstrated in the title. For the most part I’d say this curiosity was pretty well rewarded. On the surface it’s not too different from other isekai stories, the protagonist starts off as an unnamed office worker who dies and ends up reincarnated into fantasy RPG world, and he’s granted abilties that make him pretty overpowerful, but it’s got quite a few things going for it. One is obviously the concept of having the protagonist as a non-human entity, and the show plays that up for all it’s worth (though going by the OP he’ll eventually gain some kind of humanoid form so he can have his inevitable harem), but it also has a pretty solid sense of humor with much of the episode’s second half centering around the protagonist forming an odd bur endearing friendship with a dragon that looks like he’d be the final boss of a Final Fantasy game. This is all aided by some surprisingly strong visual direction that gives the show enough extra flair that it actually feels like the staff involved are having fun with it, compared to how much a lot of other isekai stuff feels like it’s running on auto-pilot. I have no idea if this show will be able the amount of goodwill the premiere provided, but I was entertained enough that I’ll certainly give it another episode or two.

Rating: Good

 

Run With the Wind

Synopsis: Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race or “Hakone Ekiden,” one of the biggest university marathon relay races in Japan. The race is held every year on January 2-3 and goes between Tokyo and Hakone and back, for a total run of of nearly 217.9 km (about 135.4 miles).

First Impressions: While I didn’t really know anything about the source material here, the staff attached to it was enough to catch my attention since there’s quite a bit of overlap with Haikyu and that’s a show I like a lot. That certainly shows in the visual presentation as the character designs ring quite a few similarities and the animation looks pretty solid so far which is definitely a plus for a sport like running which obviously requires a lot of motion. Far as the actual material goes I felt a little mixed. The episode made the weird decision shift around some  chronological events in what seemed to be a bid to introduce the show’s ensemble as fast as possible and while it didn’t totally kill my interest, there was a quite a bit of whiplash there. To it’s credit though the cast is pretty diverse as in addition to a few generic pretty boys we get a couple of gruffer looking ones, and even a black guy thrown into a mix which certainly isn’t what you’d come to expect from something clearly hoping to strike it with the fujoshi crowd.

Of course with a total of 10 dudes introduced this premiere doesn’t really have enough time to make them all stand out, but I do appreciate the diversity. Far as the story goes, nothing’s really grabbed my attention yet since the show has yet to make it’s case on why one of the leads is so driven to make it to the championships in track, but I imagine that won’t take long to get fleshed out. Right now the only thing seriously holding me to this one is the novelty of having a black guy as part of a bishie ensemble but I like sports shows, and nothing here seemed it would raise any serious red flags so at the very least I’m probably willing to give it another episode.

Rating: Decent

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Synopsis: “Puberty syndrome – Abnormal experiences rumored on the internet to be caused by sensitivity and instability during adolescence. This year, Sakuta Azusagawa, a second-year student at a high school near Enoshima, meets several girls that are experiencing this “puberty syndrome.” For instance, he meets a wild bunny girl in the library. She turns out to be an actress on hiatus, Mai Sakurajima, who is also his senior at the school. For some reason, no one else can see this enchanting girl. How did she become invisible…?

First Impression: Alongside our seasonal dose of isekai is the seasonal world salad title light novel show, and this one looks to fill that void. Didn’t really know anything about this one aside from the wacky title and going by the first episode I’m not quite sure exactly what it’s aiming for. On the surface it seems to following in the footsteps of titles like SNAFU by having a protagonist who’s kind of an apathetic jerk getting involved with a female classmate who’s quiet and socially isolated, but there also seem to be a potential mystery going on regarding the heroines and the “Adolescent Syndrome” that seems to be cursing them. While there’s plenty of set-up here for the latter, much of the time here is spent introducing us to the protagonist who frankly didn’t really come off as endearing enough to hold my attention for 20 minutes and the chemistry between him and the main heroine didn’t quite do it for me either. More than anything though, nothing here really grabbed me one way or the other, and I’m honestly not that sure what I watched. It was fairly watchable though I guess so it might be someone else’s speed but I’m not sure if I’m that interested to see where this is going.

Rating: Decent

 

Between the Sky and Sea

Synopsis: Fish suddenly disappeared on Earth. The Ministry of Fisheries has initiated the experimental program of creating ‘Aquatic Orbs’, farming fish in encapsulated bodies of water in space. Six girls are selected as candidates to become fishers who will go into space to catch new species of fish. From Onomichi City to the cosmos, this is the story of aspiring girls aiming to be Space Fishers!

First Impressions: I knew literally nothing about this one going but somewhere along the way I was able to piece together this was a mobile game adaption and sure enough I was right on the money. Aside from stuff like Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, these tend to strike out more often than not when it comes to being entertaining but I actually found this to be pretty okay. The characters are pretty much the usual assortment of moeblob archetypes with nothing to make them feel distinct or close to actual women, but the premise of fishing in space was absurd enough to catch my attention and this managed to get some decent mileage out of that. The mechanics of said space fishing are pretty clearly based on a mobile app (something it rather shamelessly doesn’t bother hiding surprisingly enough)  but they still felt kind of neat regardless and if nothing else it made me kind of want to check out the mobile game this was based on. Can’t really say if this is absolutely worth a watch since I was mainly just entertained by the premise more than anything, but if that sounds amusing to you, this might be worth a peek. As for me, I’m not totally sure if I’ll go any further but the odds are better than with most other mobile game adaptions I’ve watched so if nothing else, it’s at least accomplished that much

Rating: Decent

 

Zombieland Saga

Synopsis: A typical morning. The usual music. Their normal lives. The peace these seven girls experience will suddenly be destroyed. By the living dead… zombies. A reality that they never wanted a part of, an amazing and terrifying zombie world. They all share one wish: “We want to live.” These girls will struggle through this saga, in order to achieve a miracle.

First Impressions: I was extremely curious about this show, because like most folks, I was wonder what the heck it was gonna be. The producers waited until the last possible moment to give us a staff list and a trailer and usually when a show is that vague in terms of promotion it’s either something extremely unexpected or it’s going through some serious production hell. MAPPA’s general track record made the likelihood of the latter unlikely so I was banking on the former and having walked away from this I honestly haven’t a clue what I just watched. The first few minutes tease the start of a typical idol show, then quickly swerves into a zombie apocalypse, only to end up teasing the possibility of zombies as a idol group, before (seemingly) settling in the idea of zombie idol girls doing death metal. If that sounds absolutely absurd, rest assured the act of watching it is even more bizarre, and the show went through so many shifts over the course of 20 minutes that my jaw was stuck on the floor almost the whole way through. Weird as it was there are two things I know for certain: 1) it was pretty funny and while not everything was laugh out loud hilarious, the timing for every punchline was downright incredible, 2) I’m absolutely down for more of…whatever this is. I’m not sure if anything I’ve said will properly prepare you for the experience but if at least part of it sounded amusing to you, I’d say give it a go.

Rating: Great

 

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind

Synopsis: Jotaro asks Koichi to travel to Naples to investigate a person known as Haruno Shiobana, whose real name is later revealed as Giorno Giovanna. The story follows Giorno in his goal to rise to the top of the Passione mafia group and turn it into a band of honorable thieves.

First Impressions: It’s been a long wait, but it’s finally time for some new Jojo’s. To be honest though I wasn’t totally sure how enthusiastic I was for this. Golden Wind has generally been regarded by Jojo’s diehards as one of the weakest entries, and the 6 or 7 chapters of the manga I skimmed through back when I still read manga scanlations didn’t really do much to keep my attention after the highs of Diamond is Unbreakable. All that said, more Jojo’s is still more Jojo’s and this premiere was pretty fun. Where as Diamond is Unbreakable had the aesthetic of a horror movie set in the suburbs, this seems to be more akin to a mafia drama, and our lead Giornno has already proven himself to be a lot more amoral than Josuke, with the matter of his connection to the Joestar bloodline only further complicating matters. It’s a pretty noticeable shift but the premiere has pulled it off pretty well and in spite of the fact that this season has gone through a pretty big change in directors, the in-house “style” of David Production’s take on Jojo’s is still as strong as ever, and manages to go from funny to terrifying without skipping a beat. The only big “negative” here is that compared to last couple of entries, this one is REALLY running on the assumption you’ve seen Diamond is Unbreakable and Stardust Crusaders so it’s not quite as newbie-friendly. However for all us Jojo’s fans out there, this seems like it’ll be a pretty good time.

Rating: Great

 

Hinomaru Sumo

Synopsis: A “small” new student, Ushio Hinomaru, appears before the weak little sumo club of Oodachi High School. The words “big” and “heavy” are the rules to this sport, which does not fit this newbie one bit, but Ushio surprises everyone. Ushio and the small sumo club climbs its way to the top with a goal to reach the highest rank, Hinoshita Kaisan.

First Impressions: Hinomaru Sumo has been running in JUMP for several years now but due to the lack of an anime adaption, and the fact that sumo’s such an unpopular sport that Viz would be pretty nuts to risk licensing the manga without one, I’ve never gotten the opportunity to check it out. Now that it has though, I was finally able to give it a shot and for the most part this was a pretty fun premiere. Ushio comes off as a fairly likable protagonist and while he’s come too far along in his physical stature for his dream of becoming the best sumo wrestler to work as an underdog story, the show drops some pretty strong suggestions that there’s more driving him than just a desire to win. The general aesthetic also seems to be leaning pretty hard into how much testosterone it can give off and while it’s not a standout in that respect, it does give the impression the sumo bouts could get pretty gritty. In terms of animation it just looks serviceable so far, but given this adaption is being done by modern-day GONZO, I didn’t have any major expectations about it looking good and so long it can stay relatively consistent it hopefully won’t hurt any of the matches. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this, but I walked away pretty entertained and while it’s hard to say if this’ll end up reaching the heights of some of favorite sports shows, I’m willing to give it the opportunity to impress me.

Rating: Good

 

UzaMaid!

Synopsis: Misha is an elementary school girl who lives with her father, having lost her mother at a young age. A new maid has joined their household, and on top of being an unusually muscular woman, she also has an excessive love for young girls!

First Impressions: This is yet another show I knew literally nothing about going in and I kinda wish I had so I could have stayed far, far away. At first glance this seems like it could be an innocent comedy involving a hyperactive maid who’s ex-military and a precocious little girl. That innocence goes right out the window when it quickly becomes apparent the maid is essentially a pedophile and most of the jokes are her creeping on a little girl who is rightlyfully angry and freaked out while the girl’s dad watches on in blissful ignorance. Between my current occupation and my general disgust for this kind of material, pretty much anything that makes a joke out of pedophilia is an automatic nope for me, and I wish I anime would stop with that. If I had anything nice to say about this it’s that the few minutes of it I managed to sit through were pretty well animated and so much in fact that I was kind of angry this much effort was put into something so gross, but the whole thing was so creepy I couldn’t even last the entire episode. Screw this.

Rating: Bad

 

Radiant

Synopsis: Seth is an aspiring wizard living in a pastoral village under the watchful eye of his mentor. Like all wizards, he is an “infected”—one of the few people that has survived contact with a Nemesis, creatures that fall from the sky and contaminate all they touch. His encounter gave him powers and led him to choose a path that seemed to be perfect—to become someone who hunts and fights the Nemesis. But Seth longs for a quest that goes beyond the simple hunt for monsters. He wants to find the place they come from, Radiant, and destroy it. Along with other wizards, he travels the world in search of Radiant, under the sinister eye of the Inquisition…

First Impressions: While I can’t say I was super eager about this one, I definitely wanted to give it a shot since I knew the original manga was penned by a French creator and anime adapting foreign comics isn’t something that happens every day. From everything I had heard though, it seemed like it was going to be a pretty basic shonen, but I generally like shonen so that wasn’t a big deal breaker for me. As for what I saw…yep it sure was a shonen. We’ve got everything from a loud idiot who wants to prove he’s the best like no one ever was, to the obligatory villagers who treat him like an outcast for being a constant screwup. Pretty much everything here is something the audience has likely seen before and it doesn’t helped that the anime is being directed by one Seiji Kishi whose work is so consistently mediocre that the quality of the show literally comes down to how good the source material is.  To it’s credit though, Seth can at least use magic somewhat, so there’s at least a chance it won’t pull the “he actually has the best power” bit that helps makes Black Clover insufferable to me. The only major standout here is the art design which isn’t amazing but offers a clean enough looking fantasy aesthetic that’s pleasant to look at, which is a little surprising considering NHK shows tend to look kinda shoddy. Nothing here really excited me in any particular way but it also seems pretty harmless for the moment and the fact that it ends on a cliffhanger gives me a bit of hope it might do something a little different. In the meantime though, I could probably use a Saturday morning cartoon so I’ll give this a couple more episodes to see if it can fit the bill.

Rating: Decent

 

Goblin Slayer

Synopsis: A young priestess has formed her first adventuring party, but almost immediately they find themselves in distress. It’s the Goblin Slayer who comes to their rescue–a man who’s dedicated his life to the extermination of all goblins, by any means necessary. And when rumors of his feats begin to circulate, there’s no telling who might come calling next…

First Impressions: Here we have the other big isekai of the season, and the one I was extremely nervous about. I’ve heard folks praising the light novels for years, but that praise has typically been in regards to how violent and unrelenting it is, which I guess might have been cool to teen me, but is generally something adult me couldn’t care less about. Still I figured I might as well give it a fair shake and the premiere was quite…something. Even without the title giving away the threat of the goblins, the framing of the first few minutes is extremely unsubtle about how screwed the party of adventures we follow are, and in a span of less than ten minutes things quickly escalate towards mob beatings and gang rape. Our heroine is saved from a similar fate (but not before a really uncomfortable close-up of her peeing herself in fear) by the titular Goblin Slayer who’s primary traits so far are that he’s ruthlessly efficient and…likes to hunt goblins I guess. Needless to say none of this appealed to me, and parts of it were outright gross, but for both better and worse I can totally see how this would appeal to a lot of edgy teens out there who find this sort of stuff to be “cool” and “shocking”. Studio WHITE FOX knows that too because the visual direction here is pretty stunning, and while the partial CG on Goblin Slayer is a little jarring, the overall presentation is enough that it would very much satisfy someone looking to sink their teeth into a violent action show. As for me though, I found this to be pretty vile and while to it’s partial credit, I was at least able to get through the whole first episode to critique it properly, this is basically one giant nope for me.

Rating: Bad

First Impressions- Summer 2018 Anime (Part 2)

It’s a new week, but the wave of summer premieres scorches on. I ended up being unexpectedly busy for the last couple of days which put me a little bit be behind on premieres. As such the remainder of what I end up covering for impressions is gonna be a bit more random than usual so apologies in advance if it seems like I’m late on some of these. Anyway lets get to it!

 

Ratings Scale

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

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

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

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

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Asobi Asobase

Synopsis: Olivia is a blonde-haired beauty who was born and raised in Japan, but can’t speak any English. Despite always acting serious and as an intellectual, Kasumi is a bespectacled girl with short hair, who also can’t speak English. Finally, there’s the pig-tailed Hanako, who’s cheerful but can’t seem to become a normie. The three middle schoolers end up making a “Players’ Club”?! The ultimately cute, ultimately fun and hilarious teenage girls’ comedy is about to begin!

First Impressions: I didn’t really know much of anything about this aside from some interesting looking previews, so i wasn’t expecting to be nearly as blown away by this as I ended up being. Wacky anime comedies are a dime a dozen and crazy anime faces are also pretty common these days, but this show is practically armed to the teeth with a solid combination of both and had me laughing through the entire premiere. The basic premise involves three high school girls who spend their time trying to find new and increasingly strange ways to pass the time. It’s the kind of comedy that runs purely on how weird it can get and it has that in spades. From pencil stabbing games to putting a swimming pool in their classroom, the things these girls do are pretty bizarre but they’re always funny and it helps that the chemistry between them is pretty great and I’m especially fond of Oliva, who pretends to be a foreigner to mess with her only friend only to have it backfire when she’s threatened into having to teach English. About the only issue I had here was that the episode’s last major joke got a little uncomfortable but it had just the right level of absurdity to it that I was laughing regardless. I didn’t know I needed this show in my life until I watched it, and while I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be nearly this impressive, this one is definitely the frontrunner for the season’s best comedy.

Rating: Great

 

Music Girls

Synopsis: Haru Chitose, Eri Kumagai, Sarasa Ryuoh, Kiri Mukae, Uori Mukae, Sasame Mitsukuri, Miku Nishio, Hiyo Yukino, Shupe Gushiken, Kotoko Kintoki, and Roro Morooka are the eleven members of “Music Girls,” an idol group produced by Pine Records. However, they’re a third-rate idol group that can’t seem to sell CDs at all. But even though they’re obscure and constantly in debt, the members and their producer, Ikebashi, are all trying their hardest. Ikebashi gets the idea that Music Girls needs a new member—an idol who can light a fire under them so that they can gras

p success!

First Impressions: Well I guess it wouldn’t be a new anime season if there wasn’t at least one new idol show and well…here we are. Idol shows generally aren’t my cup of tea, but I do like Love Live the same as most everyone else, so I’m always curious if anything’ll come along that gives off the same kind of vibe. Far as this show goes it’s…pleasant I guess. These shows are usually pretty inoffensive and this was about in the same vein as what I’d expect from that. We’re very quickly introduced to our cast of idols who all seem to have their own various quirks as well as our lead heroine who seems to be unusually talented when it comes to dance choreography but turns out to be a weak singer. Much of the episode is more or less spent building up to that last punchline, but I was fairly amused by it and it’s enough of a hook that it could potentially do something interesting with that. Production wise it doesn’t look super impressive since the character designs are a little on the generic side, but the dancing animation is pretty decent and they aren’t relying on CG for it so that’s always a plus I guess. Can’t say I was blown away by anything here but I wasn’t super bored, so I suppose there’s that. I don’t see this giving Love Live a run for it’s money and I don’t know if I’ll give it another episode or not but if you’re looking for a new idol show to sink your teeth into, this should probably do you fine

Rating: Decent

 

Phantom in the Twilight

Synopsis: The reverie of a girl who fights her destiny and the “Shadow Guardians.” The stage is modern-day London, in a world where the fears and anxieties of people give birth to inhuman shadows. A foreign student gets embroiled in an outlandish incident as soon as she sets foot on English soil. Seeking help in a city where she knows no one, she wanders into a quaint cafe that has quietly remained open in the dead of night: Cafe Forbidden. It is a place where the guardians of the border between human and shadow gather.

First Impressions: At first glance this seemed like it was going to be the vampire romance show of the season and since those have pretty much never been my thing, my expectations coming in were kinda low. However what I walked away with was quite different as it turns out this is actually a bishonen action show, which is something I actually am a lot more down for when done right, and this seems to be off to a pretty decent start. Ton manages to come off as a pretty likable heroine thus far and her role throughout the episode makes it clear that she’ll get to contribute to whatever crazy supernatural shenanigans happen later on which is certainly appreciate. I’m not quite as interested in any of the actual monster boys we’ve met thus far, but they all come off as pretty okay for the most part, and none of them seem predatory so it seems like this’ll steer clear of the trashier side of shojo stuff. On the downside the show has some pretty limited production values which slightly hurts its appeal as an action show but it manages to do pretty okay with what it has, and the animation was never awkward enough to look super distracting. I wasn’t expecting to like this show at all, but I walked away entertained and curious to see where its headed. Guess it goes to show that you can’t always judge stuff by preview images.

Rating: Good

 

Seven Senses of the Re’Union

Synopsis: Asahi’s life in reality ended simultaneously, when she died playing “Union”, a world-renowned online RPG. The members of “Subaru” went separate ways when “Union” shut down due to Asahi’s death. Six years later, Haruto logs onto a renewed version of “Re’Union” and reunites with Asahi who had died. Is she an electronic ghost? The “promise” the childhood friends made will unfold within the game.

First Impressions: Tired of all those pesky isekai shows? Re’Union has you covered with a throwback to…trapped in the game shows. Well I guess in fairness this is technically more “die in the game, die in real life” than anything since it seems like they can stop playing but you get the idea. Its been quite a while since we’ve had an SAO knock-off and the last one of those I enjoyed was Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions. This seems like a pretty earnest effort to recapture the ol’ SAO magic but honestly too much of the details surrounding the premise left me scratching my head for me to get invested much.

For one thing it’s mentioned early on that the game generally functions on perma-death in that if you lose all your health you lose your game account. Even without the apparent threat of death that’s brought up when a member of the core group is killed midway through the episode, that sounds like absurdly bad game design and I have a hard time imagining anyone would play a game you can’t ever play again if you lose at it. On top of that the whole condition about players requiring some special super sense is also pretty loopy and seems like the sort of thing that would raise alarm bells in real life. It’s kind of a shame those details weren’t thought through very well because I kinda liked the base idea of a member of the group dying young and the others carrying that pain with them into their teenage years. That seems like a pretty solid recipie for a potentially meaningful character drama, and maybe it’ll follow up on that. but with a setting this shoddy I don’t feel terribly confident about those odds. Maybe I’ll give this another go if I hear enough good things about it later on, but this seems like another skip for me.

Rating: Decent

 

Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion

Synopsis: In the 13th century, the Mongolian Empire rapidly expands across the globe. Later historians who studied the prophecies of Nostradamus would say that Mongolia was the birthplace of the “Great King of Terror”, Angolmois. And at last, the force of the Mongolian Empire would turn their attention toward Japan… 1274: The Bun’ei Invasion. This story is a fresh look at the great battle that rocked all of medieval Japan: the Mongol Invasion. It shows how the people of Tsushima panicked, struggled, and eventually rose up against the overwhelming forces of their enemy.

First Impressions: About all I really knew was that this was this looked like another historical drama, and since Golden Kamuy wrapped up not too long ago, I was certainly in the mood for one of those. Even having said that, boy howdy I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this strong. Much like Golden Kamuy, it’s centered around an era of Japanese history that anime hasn’t really covered which makes for an interesting learning experience on its own, and also like Golden Kamuy our protagonist seems to be a former soldier and an expert when it comes to fighting. Unlike Golden Kamuy though, this show looks well…good. While I very much enjoyed my time with Golden Kamuy there was no denying the show kind of looked like butt on the production front and it was mostly good in spite how it was put together rather than because of it. In comparison this has some solid, if not overly stellar animation, and the art direction is fantastic with the backgrounds really helping to capture the essence of this being a period piece. The filtered camera lens featured throughout the episode also helps with that a bit, though there were moments where it got a little distracting. All in all I walked away from this quite impressed and while this show wasn’t really on my radar going into the season. I’m totally gonna be watching this one week to week

Rating: Great

 

Lord of Vermilion

Synopsis: Tokyo, 2030. A high-frequency resonance is suddenly heard in a suburban area, and at the same time, the entire town is shrouded in a red mist. All living things that hear the sounds, human and animal alike, lose consciousness. The phenomenon is assumed to be an unidentified virus, so due to fear of a spreading epidemic, Tokyo is blocked off from the rest of the country. About six months later, all the people who had lost consciousness awaken as if nothing ever happened. However, strange incidents start happening on that same day, and the city becomes engulfed by a chain of cruel destinies.

First Impressions: I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this, but this was the only show left of Funimation’s eventual simuldubs, and compared to some of the other non-sequels they’re doing, this seemed like it might be interesting. I was wrong. At first I assumed this was based off of a light novel, but it’s actually based off of a game, which makes a lot of the premiere’s choices more understandable while also elevating how frustrating they are. The show opens with an awkward flash forward about some inevitable bad stuff that’s going to go down, and while it’s pretty clearly meant to be a hook, the direction is so all over the place that I mostly just walked away from it wondering what I watched. From there we go back in time to be properly introduced to our MC-kun who’s about as interesting as a sack of bricks and aside from his relationship with his step-brother he isn’t really given much to do before the apocalypse happens and he suddenly wakes up 5 months later to Tokyo in chaos. From there MC-kun decides to check on his foster dad, gets stabbed, and gets some kind of nifty new power before the credits roll. In case you’re wondering why I’m doing so much summarizing it’s because there really wasn’t anything else to this and I was honestly pretty bored watching it. This feels like a pretty heavy case of lame video game adaption and in addition to not making me want to watch more of this show, I sure as heck don’t feel interested in checking out the game it’s based on. For what it’s worth the show doesn’t look awful, and nothing about the material really raises any alarm bells but you can probably do better for supernatural shows this season, and I’m gonna be doing the same.

Rating: Bad

 

Grand Blue Dreaming

Synopsis: After moving out on his own to a seaside town, Iori Kitahara makes a college debut he never anticipated. A new chapter of his life unfolds, full of diving with beautiful girls and shenanigans with a gaggle of lovable bastards! Idiot-expert Kenji Inoue and au naturel authority Kimitake Yoshioka bring you a glorious college tale filled with booze-fueled antics!

First Impressions: This was one of the more anticipated shows of the season in my section of the anime interwebs, and while I wasn’t super excited for it myself, I was pretty curious. Thankfully that curiosity was well rewarded as this turned out to be pretty funny. It’s rare to get shows about college age characters in anime rather than high schoolers so it’s always nice when we do, and this show’s brand of comedy is a mix of crudness and absurdity that feels very akin to something like Prison School or Osomatsu-san. Sadly this doesn’t seem to be quite as sharply directed as either of those shows, but the jokes still hit their mark more often than not, and I got enough laughs to be thoroughly entertained throughout my experience with the premiere. Aside from the production looking a bit bland outside of crazy facial expressions my only real hangup is that frankly none of the characters are particularly likeable thus far, but this is the kind of comedy where that isn’t particularly necessary in order to work and I’m sure I’ll warm up to at least one of these nutjobs eventually. In the meantime I’ll be tuning in for more.

Rating: Good

 

Revue Starlight

Synopsis: After receiving a mysterious invitation to audition for a coveted spot with, Starlight, a popular musical revue troupe, star-struck contestants begin honing their talents and competing against each other for a chance of a lifetime. Among the hopefuls are childhood friends, Karen and Hikari, who once promised each other that they would take the stage together. With each contender working tirelessly hard to win, it’s the girls’ passionate dedication to their lifelong dream that’ll truly transform their performances as the curtains rise.

First Impressions: And finishing out my impressions, is the show I was the most…curious about. At first glance this seemed like it was probably going to be some kind of idol thing, and the character designs being more or less in line with what I’ve come to expect from idol shows didn’t really help with that. On the other hand all of the previews gave the impression that it might be something a bit more ambitious than that so it was definitely on my radar of things to check out. As it turns out though, what I ended up watching was stranger than I could have possibly imagined. For the first 15 minutes or so it appears to be something of a typical idol thing with a group of girls attending a music school in the hopes of someday becoming professional actors with the only noticeable distinction being that the overall direction and framing is more in line with that of a classical shojo like say Revolutionary Girl Utena. That framing turns out to be pretty important because the last 5 minutes suddenly goes full on Kunihiko Ikuhara as our heroine finds herself transported to a stage where the other girls are duking out in the spotlight, complete with transformation sequences, heavy machinery and classic European uniforms. It pretty much goes without saying that the show had my full attention after that, and combined with some of yuri undertones sprinkled throughout the episode, gives the impression this really is going to aim for the same brand of madness as something like Utena or Yurikuma Arashi. Since Ikuhara is more or less my favorite anime director by default I’m totally down for something akin to his style, and while it’s hard to say how this’ll end up comparing to his works, I’m incredibly excited to see what else this show has up its sleeves

Rating: Great


And that’s basically it for my summer impressions. There wasn’t really a whole ton of stuff I was excited for coming into this season, but I’ve walked away with quite a few things I’m interested in keeping up with. Hard to say how many of these shows will work out in the long run, but I’m certainly willing to stay optimistic, and even if they don’t, there’s still enough holdouts from spring to keep me going for a while. Till next time: stay animated.

First Impressions- Summer 2018 Anime (Part 1)

Summer’s here, which means, ice cream, heat waves that make me pray for death, and of course a ton of new anime. To be honest I can’t say I’m particularly excited about this season’s lineup since only a couple of things have really peaked my attention, but as is generally the case when it comes to feeling that way, lower expectations means there’s hopefully plenty of room to be surprised. With that in mind it’s time to beat the heat and dive into some new shows

(Also as a quick note, I’m sorry I haven’t really posted anything since the start of the spring season. I meant to have a couple of reviews out but things kept getting in the way. Hopefully having more free time for the summer means I’ll be able to tackle a few of them)

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. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Hanebado

Synopsis: Despite her great potential, Ayano Hanesaki would rather avoid badminton than play it. But, when she meets Nagisa Aragaki, a third year who spends every waking moment perfecting her game, she’s inspired. Encouraged by their coach, Tachibana Kentarou, Ayano and Nagisa will hit the court and rally against opponents and rivals with amazing skills!

First Impressions: Since there wasn’t really too much on my radar in general this season, Hanebado didn’t really catch my attention in previews but sports are generally a pretty reliable genre in anime, and this one is off to a strong start. A lot of sports anime narratives are generally about an individual or a team overcoming obstacles on the way to becoming champions and tend to embrace the positivity of working hard towards achieving a higher goal. This is not that show. Instead it’s more a story of the kind of resentment that can be found when an athlete comes face to face with someone who outshines them in every aspect and the frustration of hitting a wall that seems impossible to overcome. This is all expressed through our heroine Nagisa, a girl who still seems to be reeling in from the shock of being defeated by a natural born talent and has been taking it out on her teammates ever since. It’s certainly heavier subject matter than most sports anime tend to start off with but the direction of the first episode captures that mood pretty well as we see how those feelings affect both her team and Nagisa herself as well as sprouting the seeds of how she might begin to bounce back from it. It helps that the show has some absolutely stellar character animation (certainly unexpected given that Linden Films has a track record for embarrassingly bad looking productions), and some of the badmitton exchanges we see throughout the episode are so fluid, it’s almost impossible to imagine the show will be able to keep it up for very long. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did but everything about this premiere feels promising, and this definitely feels like something to keep an eye on

Rating: Great

 

Island

Synopsis: Urajima, an island far from the mainland. The people who live there lead carefree lives. But five years ago, the island’s three great families suffered a series of misfortunes, and succumbed to suspicion. The people of the island cut off all contact with the mainland, and began a slow decline. The key to saving the island lies in three girls who belong to the three families. But they are bound by old traditions, and are conflicted. On that island, a lone man washes ashore. The man claims to be from the future, and he begins a solitary struggle to change the island’s fate.

First Impressions: I didn’t really know anything about this going in other than that some of it’s content might be potentially problematic, and sure enough this show opens on what looks like a sex scene involving a loli. Needless to say it didn’t get off to the best start for me, and while nothing else in the episode is mercifully as repulsive as that, what we’re left with is 20 minutes of blandness. The plot here seems to involve our MC-kun having lost his memories and ending up on a mysterious island, with only the memory that he performed some kind of time travel. This seems like it could have been a somewhat interesting setup but it’s kind of wasted on the fact that our MC-kun for the show is a bland pervert who doesn’t really stand out in any particular way and much of this premiere involves him encountering a series of prepubescent looking girls he’s likely gonna bang at some point. There’s nothing truly awful here outside of the opening scene but unless you’re really into time travel mysteries there’s also nothing here that really feels like it’ll grab your attention. It is pretty nice looking as has come to be expected from stuff produced by feel, but nothing else stands out, and the seeds of potential grossness doesn’t leave much room for optimism. Gonna give this a pass.

Rating: Bad

Mr. Tonegawa Middle Management Blues

First Impresssions: I’m a really big fan of the Kaiji anime, and it’s mix of high energy suspense thriller and social commentary about the dregs of society made going through both seasons of the series a pretty memorable experience. Since this was a spin-off staring season 1’s most compelling antagonist I was kind of interested in checking it out, though my interest wined a bit in knowing it’s a gag series rather than a more expanded look at the world of Kaiji. Those woes seem to have been pretty justified in the wake of the show’s premiere which is…passable. I appreciate that it recapped season 1 of Kaiji for any newcomers and is trying its best to be as accessible as possible, but even with that the actual comedy of the show is a bit lacking. While the show does try to maintain the overall style of the previous Kaiji anime adaptions, Kaiji’s sense of humor only really works in that you kind of have to laugh at how utterly absurd some of the reactions can get when the characters are dealing with the insane setups for some of the show’s death games. This doesn’t quite have that and opts for more standard jokes instead which honestly feels like kind of a waste. It’s not awful, and someone else might get some enjoyment out of it, but I can’t personally see much reason to give this a watch unless you’re already invested in the franchise. I’ll see how the rest of the season looks for Tuesdays but for right now this is probably a pass.

Rating: Decent

 

The Thousand Musketeers

Synopsis: The whole world was devastated by the nuclear war. Under the strong rule of the World Empire, people are all suppressed and deprived of their own lives. A resistance team secretly keeps fighting to break the suppression while everyone is forbidden to possess any force of arms. The team arms themselves with “antique guns” that were left as works of art, and the incarnations of those antique guns are called “Musketeers” appear and join the team, as if they responded to the soul of the resistence. In their battles with the incarnations of contemporary guns who represent and are dispatched from the Empire, the “Musketeers” turn their “Absolute Noble” mode to give a powerful boost to themselves, and bring hope to the world.

First Impressions: And here we are with our first fujoshi show. These are always kind of hit or miss for me since my interest tends to depend on if the setting or writing is strong enough to break past the barrier of me not really me the target audience for them. This particular series is highly reminiscent of the Touken Ranbu franchise which featured a bevy of bishonen  who were incarnations of swords wielded by famous real world swordsmen. However for this show instead of sword boys its gun boys, and where as Touken Ranbu involved time travel shenanigans, this seems to be post-apocalyptic in some fashion. While that’s all well and good I wasn’t particuarly big on the first Touken Ranbu anime, Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru, since it was pretty slice-of-life ish and I couldn’t keep track of the chatacters, and this series seems to be following the same kind of tone. The first episode introduces us to a ton of characters, none of whom felt particularly interesting to me outside of some having outrageously feminine looking character designs, and any set up in regards to world building or establishing the setting is mainly sacrificed to stuffing as many characters into this premiere as possible. As you can tell by my rambling I lost interest pretty fast, but like with previous seasons I’m willing to admit when my problem a show is mainly that I’m just not the audience for it, and this is another case of that. I’m sure it’ll find traction with the fujoshi audience and I hope they enjoy it, but as for me, this isn’t something I see myself keeping up with.

Rating: *shurg*

 

How Not to Summon A Demon Lord

Synopsis: An elite but socially-stunted gamer finds himself in another world, inhabiting the body of his character Diablo. But despite his powers, his awkwardness keeps getting in the way–so he decides to pretend to be a Demon Lord and soon finds himself with a pair of slaves: a well-endowed elf and a cat girl. Together, they struggle with everything from interpersonal relationships to diabolical beast battles!

First Impressions: It’s time for our first isekai of the season and it’s a time I’ve kind of learned to dread. Isekai LN adaptions are typically the pits with a few good exceptions, and this one in particular gave me a lot to be concerned about. I knew coming in that this one featured MC-kun enslaving the two key members of his harem as part of the hook, and while it hasn’t yet used it for anything incredibly gross it’s basically a matter of when rather than if, and the recent crop of slave girls popping up as the new fetish in anime is one I find outright repulsive in light of how it always glosses over the fact that well…slavery is awful. Putting aside that soapboxing though there isn’t really much else here to be optimistic about. The series has some of the most ridiculous boob physics I’ve seen in a while and it’s so stacked with busoms that even the big evil endgame monster has giant knockers. It’s pretty jarring to say the least and it doesn’t help that the show’s resident MC-kun is about as boring as expected from the lot, and while his demon lord persona did almost get a chuckle out of me a couple of times, it was pretty swiftly negated when he uses it to “not really” sexually harass his catgirl slave. The nicest thing I can say is that the show looks pretty fine visually if not stellar and the character designs aren’t terrible despite the ridiculous boobs but unless you’re the kind of person who chows down on horny isekai no matter what the quality, you’ll probably be better served elsewhere.

Rating: Bad

 

Banana Fish

Synopsis: Nature made Ash Lynx beautiful; nurture made him a cold ruthless killer. A runaway brought up as the adopted heir and sex toy of “Papa” Dino Golzine, Ash, now at the rebellious age of seventeen, forsakes the kingdom held out by the devil who raised him. But the hideous secret that drove Ash’s older brother mad in Vietnam has suddenly fallen into Papa’s insatiably ambitious hands–and it’s exactly the wrong time for Eiji Okamura, a pure-hearted young photographer from Japan, to make Ash Lynx’s acquaintance…

First Impressions: There weren’t too many things that immediately excited me from the summer lineup, but this was definently one of the few shows I was curious about. I know the manga is a pretty beloved classic both as a gritty crime story and as an actually well done gay romance story. Going by the first episode that reputation seems to be pretty well earned as the premiere is bursting with style and uses some slick cinematic direction to really capture the essence of the show’s urban setting and making it feel like a crime movie. Ash and Eiji also both seem like pretty interesting leads thus far and while we spend more time with the former, the episode paints a pretty good idea of their respective personalities, and helps in giving an idea of what might end up attracting them to each other. To top it all off, the animation in the premiere is stacked as heck and there’s some really good action sequences that I’m almost certain the show won’t be able to keep up. My only concern so far is that some of the material might end up feeling dated since the manga is kind of old by this point but the show does give some indication that it might modernize things a little and I’m curious to see what it does on that front too. All in all Banana Fish had a stellar premiere and while it definently seems too good to have fallen into the hands of Amazon, I’ll put up with them if it means getting more of this

Rating: Great

 

Angels of Death

Synopsis: Most girls that wake up in the home of a serial killer would panic, but not Ray. In fact, her meeting with the killer Zack is actually quite convenient because her only wish is to find a good way to die.

First Impressions: I didn’t really know too much going into this other than that it’s apparently based off of some kind of game (and said game is available in English so I may look it up later) but the trailer certainly had an interesting visual style going for it so I was pretty curious to see what this was about. This first episode is incredibly (and more than likely intentionally) vague on plot as all we know is that our heroine Rachael has ended up in a mysterious hospital after witnessing a murder and each floor of said hospital is inhabited by some kind of crazy serial killer. Yeah, this is pretty nuts, and it certainly seems to know the fact given that we spend a fairly good chunk of the time watching Rachael fleeing from a guy who literally walks around with a scythe and a hoodie. At the same time though, while it would be easy to dismiss it as overly edgy nonsense, the visual direction manages to evoke a sense of dread that actually manages to make a lot of the various scenes throughout the episode feel genuinely creepy rather than silly and I walked away from it feeling pretty curious about what else it may have in store. It’s possible it won’t be able to keep that balance up and’ll end up steering a bit too far into the edge, but it has my attention for at least the next couple of weeks

Rating: Good

 

Harukana Recieve

Synopsis: Oozora Haruka is a high school second-year who’s just moved to Okinawa. Haruka is generally cheerful and optimistic, but there’s one thing she feels insecure about: she’s taller than most other girls. Higa Kanata, her cousin of the same age who meets her at the airport, also has one hang-up: she had to quit her beloved beach volleyball in the past because she was too short. Through some twist of fate, these mismatched cousins find themselves paired up as a beach volleyball team. How will this duo play together in a sport where the presence of one’s teammate is more important than anything?!

First Impressions: Summertime means girls in bikinis and to be honest I hadn’t really looked up anything about the show outside of base level premise so I assumed it was essentially meant to be just that. However while this premiere certainly has a fair deal of “plot” it skews less towards a fanservice show disguised as a sports show and more of a moe show disguised as a sports show. As someone who enjoys more straightforward sports shows,  I can’t say either combination would have caught my attention outright, but the latter has certainly worked out for me in other shows. Far as this one goes though it’s…fine I guess. The four girls we’re introduced to all neatly fit in expected moe archetypes but aside from a pretty serious case of sameface going on, the show at least suggests that there’ll be some drama later down the line for them. Similarly while neither the direction or animation are nearly dynamic enough to make this work as an actual sports show, there’s enough effort put in that it at least feels like it’s trying. Personally though while there wasn’t anything particuarly wrong about the execution here, nothing about it really grabbed me either, and while I wasn’t outright bored, nothing really made me feel compelled to see what happens next. This certainly wasn’t an awful premiere but for right now, I’m honestly pretty sure I won’t be coming back to this.

Rating: Decent

 

Chio’s School Road

Synopsis: Miyamo Chio, a first-year at the completely ordinary high school Samejima Academy. Chio just wants to get through her school life without standing out too much, but for some reason, all kinds of obstacles await her along the path she takes to school. Her long-time friend Nonomura Manana, who’s trying to quit being an otaku; the flawless Hosokawa Yuki, who occupies the top caste in the school; and lots of nameless people about town find themselves in Chio’s path as she employs the (useless) techniques she’s acquired from her Western video games in her daily efforts to get to school.

First Impressions:  Going by the premise, I figured this show was going to end up being a short and thus not really worth the effort of typing about but turns out it’s a full length show after all so here I am. This is yet another series that centers around a core joke, the joke here being the strange things our heroine Chio does on her way to school, and how much enjoyment you’ll end up getting out of this mainly depends on how much the show can really stretch said joke. Going by the premiere though it seems like they may be able to make it work. Chio’s pretty relateable as far as introverted nerds go and the crazy things she ends up doing remind me of some of the more awkward things I pulled in high school when i wanted to avoid talking to people. Not all of the gags here land but when they do they’re pretty solid and it managed to keep a smile on my face for most of its runtime. The only negative so far is that the overall production seems a little limited for this particular brand of zany comedy, but it works pretty well with what it has, and there’s some pretty good faces sprinkled in. Hard to say how this season will end up looking as far as good comedies go but this seems like a pretty solid contender and one that I’ll keep up with.

Rating: Good

 

Planet With 

Synopsis: Souya Kuroi is a high schooler living a peaceful life despite having no memories of his past. One day, however, his town is attacked by one of the mysterious Nebula Weapons. Together with the cat-like “Sensei” and the gothic lolita Ginko, Soya gets dragged into a battle against… seven superheroes who protect the town! What is Soya’s reason to fight? The answer lies in his memories.

First Impressions: Satoshi Mizukami is perhaps one of the best manga authors you’ve likely never heard of. He has an incredibly strong knack for telling incredibly human stories through a very bizarre lens and the two of his works that have managed to make their way over to the west, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer and Spirit Circle, are both manga I consider to be masterpieces in their own right. While none of his manga have managed to make their way over to animation, I was pretty excited to learn that he was helming an anime original project and  it made this my most anticipated show of the season by far. Going by the premiere it is very much in line with what I’ve come to expect from Mizukami’s writing: our story follows the tale of an amnesic boy named Soya, living with a giant cat and a made girl when a weird looking UFO and heroes with giant robots show up. However rather than having to fight the UFO, Soya finds himself opposed to the heroes instead, and they seem to have a connection to his missing memories. It’s as weird as it sounds, but the episode more or less manages to run with it, and it’s already showing traces of Mizukami’s strength at writing characters as we briefly get the backstory of one of the heroes and manages to provide a good idea of what drives him over the course of a few minutes. The only serious negatives I have so far is that Mizukami’s general sense of pacing gets a little jumpy in terms of how it translates into animation, and the production itself is pretty conservative looking. Even with those hiccups though, I’m glad to finally see something Mizukami related get animated, and come what may, I’m totally down to see what brand of weirdness he has in store for this story.

Rating: Great

 

Cells at Work

Synopsis: Strep throat! Hay fever! Influenza! The world is a dangerous place for a red blood cell just trying to get her deliveries finished. Fortunately, she’s not alone … She’s got a whole human body’s worth of cells ready to help out! The mysterious white blood cell, the buff and brash killer T cell, the nerdy neuron, even the cute little platelets—everyone’s got to come together if they want to keep you healthy!

First Impressions: While David Productions is more or less known as the Jojo’s studio at this point, they do in fact do other projects, and this latest manga adaption happens to be one of them. Of course it might be hard to tell watching the actual premiere here though because the director of Diamond is Unbreakable is in charge of this adaption, and there’s definently quite a bit of Jojo’s level absurdity to be had here. The premise of “what if the cells in our body were actually people” certainly isn’t a new concept (we all remember Osmosis Jones for better or worse) but it’s not one I’m particularly a fan of since stuff about the inner workings of the body almost always involves a high level of gross-out humor which I despise. Fortunately instead of focusing on the weird and sometimes gross things the body does to stay healthy, this opts to bit various kinds of blood cells against diseases, and the results are pretty funny. It helps that every kind of cell we meet throughout the episode is framed as a different archetype with a red blood cell being a clumsy go-getter while one of the white blood cells could pass for Jotaro Kujo’s long-lost brother. The comedy itself also relies on the bizarre shonen-esque escalation of how these battles against diseases fare going from massive violence, to bacteria literally being shot out of a sneeze missile. It was a surreal experience to say the least but it certainly kept me amused, and it also looks good enough production-wise that there’s probably not too much room to worry on how much it may have to compromise to sell a joke. I’m generally not a fan of “inside the body” scenarios, but this was fun enough that it may prove to be the exception

Rating: Good

First Impressions- Spring 2018 Anime (Part 2)

Woo boy. The last few days have been pretty busy for me, and that’s kind of limited my time for anime, but just because I’ve slowed down doesn’t mean the premieres have, and there’s still been a hefty amount of premieres in just the last few days with plenty more to come. Going through most of these still seems like a pretty daunting task but hey, I’ve made it this far so might as well keep this train running. Let’s do this.

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. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Gurazeni: Money Pitch

Synopsis: Bonda Natsunosuke (26, single), is a left-handed relief pitcher for the professional baseball team, the Jingu Spiders. He became a pro right after high school and now in his 8th year makes 18 million yen a year, and is not what you’d call a “first rate player.” “I don’t know how many years I’ve got left to play after 30.” “Only a few can become coaches or commentators after they retire.” “Pro baseball players need to make their money while before they retire!” Despite the harsh realities, Bonda always repeats the same phrase: “There’s money buried in the grounds.”

First Impressions: This wasn’t on my radar at all and I didn’t even know it existed till CR announced having it, but I like the sports show formula a lot so I figured I might as well give a shot. However it turns out this isn’t really a sports show, or at least not a sports anime in the traditional sense. Instead the focus of this series is more on the financial aspects of being a professional athlete and the need to stand out in order to have any hopes of retiring on a decent salary. It’s a unique angle to be sure and one told through our protagonist Nanba, a relief pitcher who scrapes by on the lower end of the major leagues. Seeing this from that kind of perspective certainly helps to hammer home how unforgiving the pro sports scene can be as there’s a moment where he pretty much has to send a new player straight back to the minor leagues in order to earn his keep, and it makes for some intriguing commentary. At the same time though, the show is perhaps a little too focused on exploring that financial aspect, and as a result Nanba doesn’t feel all that interesting on his own by the time the episode is through, and slightly awkward CG for some of the in-game scenes isn’t helping this much on the visual front. This is yet another middle-of-the-road premiere for me so whether or not I go any further likely depends on how many other potential Friday shows it has to compete with. For now though, it might be worth taking a peek at.

 

Hinamatsuri

Synopsis: Nitta Yoshifumi, a young, intellectual yakuza, lived surrounded by his beloved pots in his turf in Ashigawa. But one day, a girl, Hina, arrives in a strange object, and uses her telekinetic powers to force Nitta to allow her to live with him, putting an end to his leisurely lifestyle. Hina tends to lose control of herself, wreaking havoc both at school and in Nitta’s organization. Though troubled, he finds himself taking care of her. What will become of this strange arrangement? It’s the beginning of the dangerous and lively story of a nice-guy outlaw and psychokinetic girl!

First Impressions: This was yet another thing that wasn’t particularly on my radar so I wasn’t really sure what to expect here. As it turns out, this is something of an oddball comedy involving a father-daughter dynamic between a yakuza member, and a kooky psychic girl. If that sounds weird, the show is pretty much agrees with you, as it doesn’t waste anytime in establishing that premise, and forgoes any kind of actual setup. Normally that would be to the show’s detterent and it sort of is, but even though it brings our two leads together in a mostly unexplained fashion, the dynamic between them is funny enough that it quickly becomes irrelevant and I got quite a few chuckles over how easily Hina wraps Nitta around her finger and how bizarre her reactions are to basically everything around her. Funny as it is though, this sort of thing only really works when the relationship can be equally sincere and the show works well enough on that angle too,  as Hina’s clearly some sort of bio weapon, and Nitta is the first adult she’s met who doesn’t just want to use her as a tool, which could make for something cute, albiet standard. I sure didn’t know what I’d be getting here but I walked away pretty happy with what I got so this seems like something I might keep up with for a while.

Rating: Good

 

Persona 5: The Animation

Synopsis: Ren Amamiya is about to enter his second year after transferring to Shujin Academy in Tokyo. Following a particular incident, his Persona awakens, and together with his friends they form the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts” to reform hearts of corrupt adults by stealing the source of their distorted desires. Meanwhile, bizarre and inexplicable crimes have been popping up one after another… Living an ordinary high school life in Tokyo during the day, the group maneuvers the metropolitan city as Phantom Thieves after hours. Let the curtain rise for this grand, picaresque story!

First Impressions: This was definitely the most anticipated show of the season by a long shot for most anime fans but I can’t say I was quite as excited personally. While I totally dug the Persona 5 game and its story could translate into an anime pretty easily if handled right, I was pretty skeptical about this due to how the Persona 4 anime turned out. That one also seemed like it could translate the game into a solid anime pretty easily, but it instead focused more on pandering to the game’s pre-existing audience than telling a story, and combined with some of Aniplex’s executive shenanigans resulted in something that while okay on its own, felt like a massive waste of potential. Fortunently this adaption has one thing in its favor and its a change in director as rather than being helmed by Seiji Kishi who at this point has become pretty well known for mediocre video game adaptions, this is instead being helmed by Masashi Ishihama who gave us From the New World, which was an absolutely stellar adaption of the novel it was based on. That difference makes itself pretty apparent in this premiere on the visual front as besides the obvious fact of this being a lot better animated than Persona 4’s anime was, this is a lot more sharply directed, with some solid camera work during the opening heist scene, and some really effective scene transitions that help the episode to maintain a swift flow. Unfortunately I can’t quite say I feel as confident about the execution on the storytelling front as the premiere goes through the earliest events of the game pretty robotically, and hasn’t really done much to convince me the protagonist be Rei won’t made as much of a self-insert as possible in order to pander to the fans of the game. Still its probably a bit too early to judge how it’ll fair on that front and there’s always the possibility it’ll get a little bolder with time. I’m probably gonna end up keeping up with this either way since I well…liked the game, but I really hope this adaption will do enough to stand on its own merits

Rating: Good

 

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

Synopsis: In the world of guns and steel that is Gun Gale Online, LLENN has been a devoted, female solo player. She is obsessed with two things: donning herself entirely in pink and honing her skills with consistent game play. She soon discovers her love for hunting other players (a.k.a. PK), soon to be known as the “Pink Devil.” Meanwhile, LLENN meets a beautiful yet mysterious player, Pitohui, and the two click right away. Doing as she is told by Pitohui, she enters the Squad Jam group battle.

First Impressions: So allow me to preface this with something I’m sure will shock no one who’s followed me on Twitter for more than 10 minutes: I don’t like SAO. In fact I’d go so far as to say I basically despise it as what I’ve seen of it failed to live up to the promise of the show’s premise and the climax of its first “arc” was such a gigantic slap in the face that I refused to go any further. Even so, I was actually pretty interested in checking this out, the main reason being that rather than being penned by the franchise’s author Reki Kawahara, this spinoff was instead handled by Keiichi Segawa, the mind behind Kino’s Journey. Since I actually do like Kino’s Journey, I was curious to see what Segawa’s take on the franchise would be and the result was pretty solid. Right away its easy to tell that this series is being handled by a different writer as where the game world was more of an afterthought and the focus was more on the characters (inconsistent as the handling was in that respect) this instead puts quite a bit of emphasis on the actual game world. While it doesn’t go into outright info dumping in explaining the mechanics, every bit of this opener is obsessed with making Gun Gale feel like well…a game and puts a lot of emphasis on strategizing and making use of the environment to the point where it actually does feel like you’re genuinely watching skilled players at work. Of course that means that if you aren’t particularly interested in the gaming aspect then there isn’t too much to latch onto in this premiere since it seems like the proper character introductions are being saved for next week. But even if you aren’t the execution is solid enough that I think you might at least be able to get some enjoyment out of the spectacle itself. This isn’t quite among the strongest premieres of the season, but it certainly kept my attention and while I almost never thought I’d hear myself say this again: I’m probably gonna keep watching Sword Art Online. Hopefully this time around I won’t regret it.

Rating: Great

 

Devil’s Line

Synopsis: Tsukasa, a college student, is rescued from an attack by a devil, one of many vampires that can blend in among the human population. Anzai, her savior, is a half-devil who exploits his supernatural gifts as a member of a shadowy police task force that specializes in devil-related crime in Tokyo. As Anzai continues to keep guard over Tsukasa, the two quickly forge a tentative bond—one that Anzai fears will test his iron-clad rule of never drinking human blood…

First Impressions: Well it wouldn’t be a full season of anime without a vampire show in here somewhere and well…here’s our vampire show. I’m not really the target audience for these so most of the time I skip over them unless given a compelling reason to do so, but given this was the first show that Sentai Filmworks announced would be getting a simuldu-I mean “dubcast” I figured I’d give this a peek. Given the sheer amount of vampire anime at this point, having a distinguishing gimmick is kind of essential, and in this show’s case the gimmick is that the desire to drink blood is something akin to a drug addition and vampires have to stave off said addiction to live normally. We find out about this through our heroine Tsukasa and one of her close friends who’s fallen so in love with her that he’s gone around raping and killing random women to avoid the urge to do the same to her. That as you might imagine was the point where I kind of had to shake my head at the show, and its attempt to try and make this guy sympathetic didn’t help much either. So…yeah I wasn’t really into this but I figured that’d be the case so it’s not a particularly big deal. It’s a decent enough looking show that I imagine it’s actual audience will be mostly satisfied but now that my curiosity’s been satiated I’m gonna move on.

Rating: Bad

 

Cutie Honey Universe

Synopsis: Cutey Honey is an android created by Prof. Kisaragi. Within her is the ‘Fixed System of Air Elements’, a device that can create anything out of air. The evil organization Panther Claw desires this device. While trying to steal it, they kill Prof. Kisaragi. Now furious, Honey makes a vow to get revenge, and destory the Panther Claw.

First Impressions: Cutey Honey is one of those things I’ve heard about for years but never really saw in context. Having recently been baptized in to the weird mind of Go Nagai through winter’s Devilman Crybaby and enjoying the experience, I figured a new Cutie Honey series would be a good opportunity to dip my toes into the franchise. Sadly I can’t quite say this show was particularly made for newcomers as basically everything about this premiere assumes you know the basics of Cutey Honey and forgoes any form of character or setting introductions and just assumes you already know the details about Honey and her backstory. Since Cutey Honey is basically about as iconic in Japan as most of the big superhero comics are in the states, I can sort of understand the approach but it did sort of suck as someone coming in blind. Thankfully it’s not too hard to follow regardless though what I watched was something. The horny nature of some of Go Nagai’s work is about as well known as their amount of edge, and even before watching this I knew Cutie Honey was among the hornier of Nagai’s works. Even so, I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this horny, as it features everything from aggressive lesbians, to clothing damage, and a rather odd instance of BDSM. It was pretty overwhelming to say the least and perhaps a tad uncomfortable in some places, but it certainly kept my attention, and its sort of easy (for better or worse) to see how this influenced authors of later generations. Sex aside, this is solid looking production given Production Reed is a pretty small studio and while its not quite gorgeous, it does have some pretty nice visual direction, and both theme songs are pretty catchy. I can’t really say there was too much in this premiere that appealed to me personally, but it definitely didn’t make me any less curious about Cutie Honey so if nothing else, I may keep up with this for that.

Rating: Decent

 

Golden Kamui

Synopsis: In the early twentieth century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto scratches out a meager existence during the postwar gold rush in the wilderness of Hokkaido. When he stumbles across a map to a fortune in hidden Ainu gold, he sets off on a treacherous quest to find it. But Sugimoto is not the only interested party, and everyone who knows about the gold will kill to possess it! Faced with the harsh conditions of the northern wilderness, ruthless criminals and rogue Japanese soldiers, Sugimoto will need all his skills and luck—and the help of an Ainu girl named Asirpa—to survive.

First Impressions: And here we have another highly anticipated adaption and one actually was fairly excited about. I’ve heard great things about the Golden Kamui manga over the last couple of years and very much enjoyed what I read of the first couple of chapters from a while back. Combined with a director who’s already had some experience with period pieces such as Gosick, this seemed like it would have all the makings on a really solid show. As far as the first episode goes though I’d say it…mostly lives up to that potential. The material itself is strong, and while we’re thrown into the whole gold hunt setup pretty quickly, the episode still manages to establish Sugimoto as a compelling if somewhat ruthless protagonist, and the dynamic between him and Asirpa already seems like it could be a lot of fun. The big issue here unfortunately, lies in the production itself. Given that Geno Studio is fairly new, and was more or less built off the corpse of the now defunct Manglobe (whose own productions were pretty inconsistent) I can’t say that I was expecting this to look gorgeous, but I was expecting it to look at least passable enough to get by. It mostly succeeds in that area too (albeit with quite a bit of corner-cutting), but with the unfortunate monkey’s paw of giant 3DCG bears. Like I said with Fist of the Blue Sky, 3DCG usually just gets a shrug from me in most circumstances, but the 3DCG used for the bears is too photorealistic to properly blend in with the painted looking 2D backgrounds, and combined with the thick lined character models, the result is a bizarre looking mess whenever all three elements are on screen at once. Fortunately these bears are disposed of by the end of the episode, and I can at least hope that the rest of the show’s animals won’t look that way, but it is a kind of annoying concern for what’s otherwise a perfectly fine premiere. Luckily the material here is good enough that I’m pretty sure this issue shouldn’t be a complete turnoff to most viewers, but I figured I might as well give fair warning. As for me, I’m gonna keep watching and hoping that we’ve seen the last of those monstrosities.

Rating: Good

 

Stein;s Gate 0

Synopsis

First Impressions: I’ve generally made it my business not to go over sequels anymore when doing these since it seems kind of pointless but this is a unique enough case to make an exception (and to be honest I wasn’t really sure exactly what this was before diving in). It’s been many a year since I watched Stein;s Gate (about 6 to be exact which is actually kind of terrifying) and while I found the first half of the show to be a little too self-indulgent and slow, the consistent payoff of it’s second half made it a very enjoyable watch for me, and turned it into one of 2012’s standouts, even if it wasn’t exactly my favorite show from that year. That said, I’d be lying if I said I ever really wanted more Stein;s Gate. Convoluted as the story was, it more or less wrapped up perfectly and I didn’t really see the need for it to be revisited in any capacity but it seems it made far too much money for one series to be the end so here we are. I hadn’t actually paid attention to anything surrounding this beforehand so I didn’t know if it was a spinoff or a sequel, but it seems that it’s a little bit of both.

This one starts off in the middle of a bad route where Okabe apparently fails to save Kurisu and his continual failure to save her over multiple timelines has caused him to retire from time travel shenanigans entirely. Suzuha however hasn’t given up on her quest, and with the signs of the end times approaching, it seems like Okabe won’t be able to stay out of the game for long. Needless to say anyone coming into this blind, might as well give up as this requires you to at least remember the events of the first half of the show, and since again it’s been about six years since I last watched this series, I myself had to spend about half the episode trying to remember who all these characters were. Even as a “sequel” though, going this route seems strange since well…the story wrapped up nicely the first time. I suppose this is sort of the only way they could do more of it and have it make sense but it does seem like a kind of cynical exercise. Joke’s on me though, because I’m still pretty curious where this is gonna go regardless and exactly how much mileage they’ll end up getting out of this. It seems baffling to me we’re getting another 24 episodes of this but I guess I’ll be going along for the ride.

Rating: Good

 

Last Period: the journey to the end of despair

Synopsis: “I’m never going to give up!! For that reason, I became a Period!!” Evil demons known as “Spiral” -made of souls who died in agony- threaten the people of the world. In order to stand up against Spirals, people founded the “Arc End”. Individuals whose skills are recognized are admitted to Arc End to become “Period” to fight for peace. Hal, who failed the Period admittance test 38 times, was accidentally admitted as an “Assistant Period” in Arc End 8th Squad. Forming a team along with other new members, Gazel and Liese, he is finally able to take his first step towards reaching his goal!

First Impresssions: This was another blind watch and one that turned out to be a mostly pleasant experience. From what I can gather this is based off of gatcha game, and rather than going for any kind of serious plot, this is instead more of a loving parody of fantasy games, and one that seems intent on riffing into the nature of gatcha games in general. I’ve personally never played any gatcha games (unless Xenoblade Chronicles 2 counts) and kind of refuse to so i can’t exactly say this concept really appeals to me, but I have enough passing awareness that I got a few chuckles out of those jokes. It helps that its particular brand of self-awareness is more light-hearted than an overhanded parody which makes it kind of relaxing, but the lack of edge also means that it could get pretty boring if you’re not really in the mood for it. Fortunently I mostly happened to be so this premiere hit a decent enough sweet spot for me. I’m not super pumped about watching more of this, but I could always use something simple and quiet so it might be worth a couple more goes

Rating: Decent

 

Doreiku the Animation

Synopsis: 24 people enter a survival game. Each has a device called an SCM (slave control method), which can make their opponent into their slave. Each person has their own reason for participating in the game.

First Impressions: I was a little apprehensive about checking this one out since everything about it’s premise sounded like it would be pretty gross. But like with Devil’s Line this is another one of Sentai’s picks for a dubcast and combined with my morbid sense of curiosity I felt at least a bit compelled to give this a peek. Weirdly enough I walked away from this premiere feeling pretty…okay. Much like with Kakeguri, this show combines games of chance with sexual desire, but where as Kakeguri was actually pretty chaste for how over the top it was, this leans much more into the sex related side of that deal and wants to be taken a little more seriously. That as you might imagine, makes this a considerably less fun show than Kakeguri but it’s first game has some pretty decent direction going for it, and while it’s definitely concerning that said opening game is the result of sexual assault, I suppose I can at least give the show credit for not sexualizing it since I honestly wasn’t expecting even that much. A lot of my feelings here are the result of low expectations but since I was really expecting to be repulsed by this show, the fact that I wasn’t is a reaction I’m still trying to process. It certainly wasn’t over the top enough to make for a fun trash show though, so I’m not sure if I have any desire to give it another episode. For now I can at least say it’s far from the grossest premiere of the season. Looks like Magical Girl Site will hold that crown

Rating: Decent

 

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku

Synopsis: Narumi Momose has had it rough: every boyfriend she’s had dumped her once they found out she was an otaku, so she’s gone to great lengths to hide it. When a chance meeting at her new job with childhood friend, fellow otaku, and now coworker Hirotaka Nifuji almost gets her secret outed at work, she comes up with a plan to make sure he never speaks up. But he comes up with a counter-proposal: why doesn’t she just date him instead? In love, there are no save points.

First Impressions: And finishing out my spring anime impressions we have Wotakoi. It took a while for this premiere to finally be snatched from the jaws of Amazon’s incompetence but it was well worth the wait because it is without a doubt the strongest opener for a comedy out of all this season’s offerings. A workplace comedy between a fujoshi and a game otaku sounded like something that could potentially be a good time but I still can’t say I was expecting it to be quite this well…relatable. I’ve always been a little back and forth as to how much of my nerdy tendencies I feel comfortable displaying at work so I could relate to both Narumi’s desire to keep things on the down-low and appear normal, and Hirotaka just straight up whipping out his handheld during a lunch break as that’s also become a pretty regular part of my routine. So as you can probably imagine, I got a lot of laughs out of those little moments and it helps that both of the leads come off as almost immediately likable and they have a pretty solid chemistry going to the point where their sudden hookup at the end of the episode is equal parts hilarious and completely believable. The show itself is pretty good looking too, and the opening theme in particular has some of the most bubbly character animation I’ve ever seen, and helped to set the mood before I even really got started with this. So…yeah this show’s a definite keeper. It might suck having to battle through the trenches of Amazon for this every week, but if the rest of the show is as good as this opener, it’s a battle I’m more than willing to wage.

Rating: Great


And looks like that’s it for Spring stuff. There’s certainly no shortage of shows this season, and while there aren’t a ton of must watches this time around, there’s enough variety here that you’re almost guaranteed to come across something that gels with you, there’s already quite a few things I’m probably gonna keep up to date with. Time will tell if the quantity of shows here will get to be a little too overwhelming, but till’ then: stay animated.

First Impressions- Spring 2018 Anime

It’s that time of the year again…sort of. We’re technically still a week out from the actual start of the Spring anime season, but since Crunchyroll decided to give out an early preview of one of their premieres, I figured I might as well get a head start on this. This is looking to be one of the most packed seasons of anime I’ve ever seen as just about everything and its grandma looks to be coming out in Spring, and if even half of it ends up being watchable it could most certainly destroy me. Even so I’ll do as many first impressions as I can, and I’m determined to do so even if I’ll probably regret it two weeks from now. Let the suicide tour begin!

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. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .


Magical Girl Ore

Synopsis: Saki Uno is a high school girl and rookie idol who has a crush on Mohiro, her best friend’s older brother. When Mohiro is kidnapped by demons, Saki hastily makes a shady contract to be able to transform into a magical girl, which transforms her body into that of a handsome man.

First Impressions: I feel as though I’ve been seeing the main visual for this thing floating around the internet for the last couple of years now, with no sign of when it would actually be a thing. Seems as though it’s finally here though, and it’s certainly…something. Magical girl parodies aren’t exactly new territory at this point and Cute High Defense Force Love did just about every gender bender joke with the genre that I could think of, but that series turned out to be pretty funny, and this seems like it’ll do a good job of following in its footsteps. The gimmick of having girls turn into muscular magical boys seemed like it would kind of one note, but the show gets a lot of mileage out of it by playing up to the raunchier side of magical girl shows rather than how Cute High mostly stuck to riffing Sailor Moon, leading to some pretty unexpected jokes and giving it a little more of an edge. On the downside, the animation is a little choppy (though given this was previewed before the official broadcast date it’s possible it could get touch

ed up a little before then) and the extra bit of edge means the show is a little lacking in sincerity which is kind of essential for a proper parody. It’s possible that last one could get fixed over time though, and there’s enough laughs here to make it plenty entertaining in the meantime. Hard to say how much steam this one’ll actually have in the long run but for now, it certainly has my attention.

Rating: Good

 

Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro

First Impressions: Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro is apparently a pretty big deal in Japan, and is considered something of a classic there, but it’s also something that’s never quite made it’s way to the west so I had what to expect from this (other than the hope that it would be decent, if only because Dragonball fandom is so angry over it being Super’s replacement). Having walked away from the first episode, I have to say I was pretty impressed. Horror is an aesthetic anime often struggles with and I sure wouldn’t expect a kids’ show to handle it well, but while nothing here is particularly frightening, the direction exudes a creep factor that a lot of other shows have kind of stumbled on. The yokai designs are pretty simplistic, but the framing gives them a clear sense of menace, and the unsettling feeling also extends to the protagonist Kitaro who comes off as equal parts helpful and distant in his apparent job as a yokai exterminator. Adding onto things is the fact that the actual production itself looks well…decent. Toei shows have gained an rather infamous reputation over the years for being shoddy looking, and Dragonball Super suffered a lot for the early part of its run, but this came out of the gate looking pretty respectable, and the action animation towards the end is nothing to snuff at. On the downside this seems like it could go into repetitive monster-of-the-week territory pretty fast, and that could end up wearing out its welcome, but for an introduction into an unfamiliar franchise this works pretty well, and I’ll certainly be sticking around for a while.

Rating: Great

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

Synopsis: The concept begins with Uma Musume (Horse Girls), girls endowed with excellent running capability, and who aim to become top idols and compete in the national sports entertainment show “Twinkle Series.” Players take the role of both teacher and trainer for the girls in the Nihon Uma Musume Training Center Gakuen (Japan Horse Girls Training Center Academy) and help them make their debut.

First Impressions: So this show has had something of an interesting backstory as it was announced as Cygames second anime project after the success of Rage of Bahamut a couple of years, and had been stuck in production limbo ever since. I was beginning to think we’d never actually see this weird thing, but after all that…waiting I guess, it’s finally here and its certainly strange. Idol shows, moe, and monster girl shows are all varying niches of their own in anime (even if some will tell you otherwise) and while there’s certainly been various mixing of these niches I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a show that actually had the audacity to do all three simultaneously (especially with the addition of being something of a sports show). You’ve got horse girls running late to school with carrots in their mouths instead of bread, you’ve got horse girls training for horse track races, and you’ve even got horse girls putting on extensive live shows with apparently no time to practice choreography. All of this sounds like it’d be a wonderfully wacky time in concept but in execution it’s just kind of cute and not much else. Part of the problem with trying to do so many things simultaneously is that the show runs into problem of trying to juggle too many things at once, and doesn’t get the amount of time needed to properly revel in its absurdity. Thus the end result is a monster girl show that feels a little too much like standard moe, and a sports show that seems to have idols tacked on because, why not? I can’t say anything in this premiere was a gigantic turn-off but in a season as stacked as this one, first impressions are a lot more important than usual. Perhaps I’ll give this another go if Sundays seem light, but I’m not sure if I’ll be going ahead any further with it.

Rating: Decent

 

Kakuriyo- Bed & Breakfast for Spirits

Synopsis: Aoi is a female college student who inherited the ability to see spirits from her late grandfather. She prides herself on her cooking, and one day while feeding some agricultural spirits, a god and the master of the “Tenshinya” appears and takes Aoi away. He says that due to her grandfather’s debts, she must become his bride. Aoi hates this idea and instead declares that she will pay back her grandfather’s debt by working at the Tenshinya.

First Impressions: I wasn’t really aware of anything about this going in, and just glancing at the key visual I kind of assumed this was based off of a shojo manga or an otome game. In  truth it’s based off a light novel series which is kind of neat considering those usually star blatant male inserts, so a female lead is an interesting change of pace. That however is probably the most interesting thing about the show just going off the first episode. While Aoi thankfully isn’t a total blank slate, we’re barely given time to be introduced to her before getting thrown into the show’s premise and the shows premise unfortunately happens to involve her literally being trapped into an arranged marriage she knew nothing about. Given that bit, her ability to see spirits, and her being thrown headlong into the world of ayakashi, this sort of comes off as a discount version of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, but where as the marriage scenario in that was a backdrop thing that’s tossed to the wayside pretty quickly and Chise’s emotional state beforehand help to ease the discomfort a bit, the undertones here give the impression that’s going to be a lot more in the forefront of this show. On the brightside Aoi’s at least not willing to be sold off without a fight, and the show’s already introduced another ayakashi who doesn’t seem to have any particularly creepy motives so hopefully it can at least run with that for a while. As far as the technical front goes, nothing about this stands out particular (kind of par the course for modern GONZO) but it looks decent that nothing there should be an immediate turn-off. While I’ve put a lot of emphasis on the uncomfortable setup the show otherwise seems okay and it’ll probably make the whole thing less creepy as it goes on, but as I said before with Uma Musume, first impressions are gonna be pretty important this season due to sheer volume, and on that front, this show is likely another pass for me.

Rating: Decent

 

Fist of the Blue Sky- REGENESIS

Synopsis: It is just before WWII, Kasumi Kenshiro hides as a quiet, absent-minded professor teaching literature at a small women’s college in Tokyo. Once the 62nd Grand Master of Hokuto Shinken, “God Fist of the North Star,” and known has Yan Wang, or “the King of Death,” who preserved the peace in the “City of Devils.” A fighter of thugs and drug dealers, Kasumi seeks anonymity and a quiet life until the death of his lover, and former brothers, forces him to return to Shanghai to fulfill his destiny and avenge the deaths of his associates.

First Impressions: I’m a pretty big fan of Fist of the North Star, and I’ve always been curious to check out its prequel series, Fist of the Blue Sky, so a new anime adaption seemed like as good an opportunity as any to do so. Having actually watched it through, I mostly walked away with a giant shrug. Part of what made Fist of the North Star an entertaining watch was the simplicity of its setup as Kenshiro wandered a post apocalyptic world, helping the innocent and punching bad guys into play-doh. This looks to be a little more complicated that as we’ve got some kind of conflict between Chinese mafia gangs, and another plot-line involving a mysterious little girl and her bodyguard. While nothing here was super difficult to follow, the lack of a clear focus did make it a lot less engaging than i was hoping, and it takes till the end of the episode for these threads to connect. Of course the actual issue here is the animation which is done courtesy of 3DCG anime studio, Polygon Pictures. 3DCG anime is already something that causes a lot of backlash on its own, and while I’m personally pretty neutral on it and Polygon is generally one of the better studios in that field, handing them a martial arts action show probably wasn’t a good idea. The animation is frankly clunky looking, even by their worst standards, and while that can normally be offset by how CG can benefit fight scenes, there aren’t really any to be had in this premiere so audiences are left with 20 minutes of clunky CG models mostly talking. I can’t say this is gigantic disappointment but I was hoping for a bit better and while my curiosity might compel me to give this another episode, if you aren’t already interested in Fist of the North Star, this seems like an easy skip.

Rating: Bad

 

Gundam Build Divers

Synopsis: The Gunpla Force Battle Tournament is a big event held in GBN once per year. Competing in the final round are Avalon, led by the champion Kyoya Kujo, and the elite 7th Panzer Division led by the cunning Rommel. Starting with Kyoya’s Gundam AGE II Magnum, a variety of Gunpla take to the field to determine which is the strongest force!

First Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters was actually my first real entry into the Gundam franchise (fight me) and I had a blast watching it since it turned out to be the crazy super robot show I never knew I wanted. It’s sequel, Gundam Build Fighters Try wasn’t quite as good, but I have enough love for the concept that I was more than willing to check out this new iteration. So far though this one seems to have dialed things down a bit as where the previous Build shows were a little more over the top, this seems a little more grounded which is slightly disappointing. Equally disheartening is that this seems to be a much rougher production than either of its predecessors as while they weren’t quite on the same level of quality as a full-blown mainline Gundam show, they were still pretty polished, and very pretty looking for kids shows. This in comparison has a lot more off model shots and some notable animation shortcuts, and since this is the first episode where the show is supposed to look at its best, that’s a little concerning. Having said all that I’m here for one thing: to watch giant robots punch each other. In that respect, the episode delivers as the first big fight of the series at least has enough direction going for it to make up for the shoddier animation, and even with my nitpicks, it didn’t take long for me to get swept up the atmosphere of watching these Gundams duke it out. So…yeah I’ll probably keep up with this for a while. It’s certainly no Gundam Build Fighters, and it might not even end up being a Build Fighters Try but so long it gives me the super robot fights I crave, I’ll be lining up to take a big sip of that every week.

Rating: Good

 

Legend of the Galactic Heroes- Die Neue These

Synopsis: The war between the monarchical Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance has raged ceaselessly across the galaxy for over a century, with the fleets of both powers having fought countless battles. Currently the conflict revolves around the strategic Iserlohn Corridor, one of only two passages of space through which the two forces can access each other. Here the Empire has built the nigh-impregnable Iserlohn Fortress, whose deadly weaponry has thwarted repeated efforts by the Alliance to capture her. Phezzan, a neutral mercantile state, controls the other corridor. The long war has resulted in an indecisive stalemate, but there are two men from the two worlds who will change everything: Wen-Li Yang, a gifted strategist from the Alliance who wants nothing more than to retire and be a historian; and Reinhard von Lohengramm, a man from the Empire whose ambition knows no bounds. Their loves, struggles, triumphs and failures play across an interstellar stage of intrigue, war and death.

First Impressions: Ever since I decided to pick up Viz’s release of the original Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels, I’d been really looking forward to this adaption since if handled properly, could make for a pretty good anime of the year competitor. Of course since then, I’ve burned through a decent portion of the 80’s OVA and when I learned that this version was going to start off with 12 episodes and 3 movies, I couldn’t help but feel a little apprehensive about the possibility of it being rushed. Fortunately, this first episode did a lot to dissuade those fears as it actually covered a lot less material than I was expecting, even under my ideal scenario. This premiere gives us a brief backdrop into the universe that surrounds this series, and the three major powers fighting over it before thrusting us into its first major battle and introducing us to one of our two main leads, Reinhardt. While a lot of this episode mixes between Reinhardt sitting around strategist and occasionally showing the aftermath in the battle itself, it maintains a consistent enough flow to never feel boring and it’s aided by a sturdy looking production. While CG battleships can be something of a mixed bag when it comes to visual execution, they actually blend in pretty well and it allows for the battles to have the sense of scale I had envisioned when I read the first novel. It also looks like it’ll hold up pretty well in terms of music as while competeting with the orchestral score of the 80’s OVAs was always going to be something of a losing battle, this makes a pretty solid effort, and the opening theme is something that’s probably going to be stuck in my head for a while. On the downside the other lead of this show, Yang, somehow ended up getting robbed of screentime for the entire episode, which is a little annoying on a personal level since he’s the best character, but hey I guess it just means he’ll get to steal the show next week so there’s that. I realize nothing I’ve said here is particularly helpful to newcomers so I’ll just say that if you’re in the mood for big space battles, and pretty boys (as well as some well timed political insights) you’ll be in for a good time. Go give it a watch

Rating: Great

 

Lupin the 3rd Part V

Synopsis: In the new series, Lupin III will travel to France — the home of his grandfather and namesake, Maurice Leblanc’s master thief character Arsène Lupin.

First Impressions: So in many respects, this one was actually my most anticipated show for this season. Lupin the 3rd pt 4 was my first entry into the franchise and I was blown away by how stylish and consistently fun in managed to stay over the course of its 26 episode run. Since this latest iteration has the same director, it pretty much goes without saying that I was really excited to check it out, and having the theme being centered around technology is an interesting take for a franchise that’s been around as long as this one and its off to a rip-roaring start in that respect as Lupin trying to work around the constant visibility of social media is a neat setup for his thieving shenanigans. Interestingly it does seem as though this version actually does hold some kind of connection to pt 4 as well as possibility some of the earlier incarnations, but much like the others this is pretty standalone and requires no previous knowledge to be able to jump in and have a good time. It’s a good thing too because in much like pt 4 before it, this is a really nice looking production and in addition to some slick animation, this premiere features what is quite possibly one of the coolest car chases I’ve ever seen on a TV animation production schedule. Sadly I kind of expect this to fall under the radar given the amount of bigger franchises and new series it has to compete with this season, but for what it’s worth this is hands down the best premiere I’ve seen thus far, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Rating: Excellent

 

Tokyo Ghoul: RE

Synopsis: Haise Sasaki has been tasked with teaching Qs Squad how to be outstanding investigators, but his assignment is complicated by the troublesome personalities of his students and his own uncertain grasp of his Ghoul powers. Can he pull them together as a team, or will Qs Squad first assignment be their last?

First Impressions: I really like the Tokyo Ghoul manga, and while people were pretty divided on its original anime adaption, I had a lot of respect for how it handled the material, even if the execution was murkier in Root A. Having said all that, I can’t say I was particularly excited for this. I’ve only read a little of the Tokyo Ghoul: RE manga and I’d normally be more than happy for an easy opportunity to see more of that material, there’s quite a few things holding back my optimism. For one thing, the anime diverged pretty heavily from the manga with its final episode, and while that normally wouldn’t be too big an issue for what’s just supposed to be an adaption, this is keeping in step with the manga’s continuity instead, meaning the anime’s ending is more than likely going to be retconned and it’s going to leave any anime only watchers seriously confused. My other point of contention is that for all its speedbumps the first anime series held up well on its own thanks to the efforts of its director Shuhei Morita who ended up being replaced for this iteration. For the most part the first episode hasn’t really done much to dissuade those fears. The obvious retcon is already in place, and the visual direction has been dialed back a bit from horror vibes to something a little more shonen-y. The bright spot here is that the material itself is pretty good. Whereas the first series focused on the perspective of the Ghouls, this one instead focuses on the perspective of the investigators that hunt them, with one of said investigators being Kaneki who seems to have somehow lost his memories. Its an interesting enough hook to keep things engaging and while I can’t say I’m super invested in the mystery surrounding Kaneki, I’m at least curious to see where it goes. All my groaning aside, I’m invested enough in TKG that I was probably gonna watch this even if it sucked, and while I still can’t help but feel a little irritated at how muddied the whole situation surrounding this show is, hopefully the actual material will be solid enough to ease those frustrations

Rating: Good

 

Real Girl

Synopsis: Hikari Tsutsui is a high school boy who is satisfied with the virtual girls he encounters in anime and games. He does not have many friends and he lives in his own world. One day, when he is stuck on pool cleaning duty, he is approached by Iroha, a “real girl” who is showy and popular with boys.

First Impressions: I’ve been hearing a few interesting things about the manga for a while, so I was somewhat curious about  the anime adaption for this. A romance between an otaku and a “normal” girl seems like it’d be pretty standard fare for anime at this point, but somehow or other it kind of isn’t (well at least without some kind of harem or power fantasy clause) so it makes for an interesting setup. The premiere is largely focused on getting us into the headspace of the male lead Tsutsumu who kind of strattles the line between annoying and sympathetic in his self-deprecation, with just enough of the latter to be fairly likeable. While the circumstances leading to him getting involved with Iroha are kind of contrived even by anime standards, the emotional circumstances of him coming out of his shell over the course of the episode are mostly believable enough to compensate, and the dynamic between the two of them is kind of cute. Unfortunently the show is held back by a pretty lackluster looking production as it’s noticeably ugly looking, and while its not totally devoid of direction, there isn’t quite enough of it to make up for the empty backgrounds and off model character shots. This made it a pretty uneven premiere to be sure, but I walked away with just enough interest that I kind of want to see where this is headed, so unless it gets flooded in the wave of other shows this season, I’ll probably give it another episode or two.

Rating: Decent

 

Tada-kun Never Falls in Love

Synopsis: Mitsuyoshi Tada, who has never known love, is taking pictures of the cherry blossoms in full bloom when he meets Teresa Wagner, a transfer student from Luxembourg. Upon arriving in Japan, she got lost, separated from her travel companion. Mitsuyoshi helps her and brings her to his grandfather’s coffee shop.

First Impressions: While this probably isn’t one of the more anticipated anime originals of the season it was one of the ones I was the most interested. Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun was a pretty fun shojo comedy so a series with pretty much all the same staff carrying over seemed like it’d be a good time. Although whereas Nozaki-kun was mostly a comedy and it’s romance angle was part of the punchline, this looks to be a little more sincere on the latter front while still carrying over a quick paced sense of humor. The result is mostly plesant and I got a few good laughs out of it. While none of the characters particularly standout so far, the show makes them likable enough, though between the two leads, Teresa is probably the more compelling of the two even if I kind of wish they were stalling on the obvious “twist” that she’s some kind of royalty. I can kind of do without the annoying best friend character but aside from him this seems like it could be a cute little romcom and it was certainly a plesant premiere. There’s no shortage of big shows this season but if you’re in the mood for something a little more low-key, this may do you fine.

Rating: Good

 

Megalo Box

Synopsis: A desolate land stretches out from the city of poverty. A motorcycle speeds recklessly, blowing clouds of sand and dust. The rider is the protagonist of this story – he has neither a name nor a past. All he has is his ring name, “Junk Dog” and a technique for rigging MEGALOBOX matches with his pal Gansaku Nanbu, which they use to support their hand-to-mouth lives. JD is bored, resigned, and unfulfilled. Yuri has been the reigning champion of MEGALOBOX for the past few years. He has the skills and presence of a true champion. This is a story of JD and his rival, Yuri.

First Impressions: And here’s yet another anime original that I was kind of curious about. The only thing I really knew about this going was that it’s supposed to be some kind of anniversary project for the boxing manga classic Ashita no Joe, while also apparently being it’s own thing (unless it involved robotic boxing arms and no one told me). It’s certainly a strange prospect to be sure, but the end result led to a pretty solid premiere. This seems to be continuing the recent trend of throwbacks to the grungy 90’s OVAs aesthetic as every aspect of this show oozes that sense of style, from the jazzy soundtrack to the artstyle that seems to be deliberately filtered to make the show look less modern. That 90’s vibe also applies to the show’s protagonist as well since Junk Dog is the sort of quiet tough guy who’s basically designed for folks who grew up on those kinds of anti-heroes and his struggle between trying to get by and his aspirations of becoming a real boxer seems like the perfect setup for a classic slum underdog story. Sadly it looks like it’s going to be another episode until we can see if the show has the animation and visual direction fully needed to match its boxing elements since we hardly get anything here, and while I wouldn’t expect full on Hajime no Ippo levels of action choreography, getting even a couple of intense matches could make for a fun treat. So far this show is mostly an exercise in aesthetic but it happens to be an aesthetic I’m down with so until the show gives me reason to think otherwise, it’s probably gonna be a safe watch for this season.

Rating: Great

 

Dances with the Dragons

Synopsis: Jushiki, a system for reproducing natural phenomena and paraphysical acts such as the creation of matter, allows humans to wield a power which they once feared as “magic.” Its mastery has brought advancements to all fields of life, while facilitating the extermination of the once-rampant “Dragons” and “Others.” Gaius and Gigina, two combat-type jushiki wielders, run an office in a chaotic frontier town called Eridana, and make a living using their art to solve problems and collect bounties. One day, a dragon-hunting job falls into their laps. But the job is just the start of a plot that goes far deeper…

First Impressions: So I didn’t know much about this going in other than it was apparently an LN adaption and that it has a pretty wacky title. What I walked away with was an…experience to say the least. Infodumping and light novel adaptions basically go hand in hand at this point and I normally just roll my eyes at the technobabble but this episode opens up one of the most incomprehensible pieces of exposition in recent memory and doesn’t get any easier to follow from there. By the end of the episode the only things I was really able to piece together is that our heroes are a pair of bishies who fight dragons and in addition to apparently having a hot elf girlfriend, one of them has what is hands down the most unfortunate light novel name I’ve ever seen: Gayus (the jokes almost literally write themselves). There’s also some kind of political craziness going on behind the scenes but the show doesn’t really offer any real clarity on it nor does it really do a good job of really introducing us to our leads aside from the whole hot elf GF thing. On the positive side it is quite pretty looking and the action animation is solid but I can’t say anything else about it seemed particularly appealing. It might make for a fun trash show but aside from that I’d say give this one a pass

Rating: Bad