By the way, I’m not dead

Things here are a little nutty, so I’m barely watching anything right now except One Punch Man,

No, nothing terrible in my life. Just … nutty.

Maybe in the fall I’ll start seriously posting again.

Enjoy the shows you love!

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Catching with with Slime and IndexIII

slime14-1Now that the new shows have been taken care of, it’s time to return to the follow-ons. First it’s Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken, which left us at a big confrontation between the Orc Lord and Rimuru. First, though, the show has to deal with Gelmud, who pops up and starts cursing everybody for letting him down and throws out some magic which Rimuru easily repulses, and then Geld, the orc lord, eats him. So much for that. Then we get the battle, which takes a bit longer than usual because Geld has devoured so many abilities, but Rimuru finally just eats him. After that it’s a chance to forgive Geld, who, it turns out, was simply trying to care for his fellow orcs who are starving to death and got conned by Gelmud. Also, some stuff about devouring sins, which seems to mean guilt and forgiveness, but it’s all just post battle slow breathing time to finish up the arc. Alas, Rimuru never did get the name of the guy causing all this madness, but we’re only halfway through the series.

slime15-1Episode 15 feels like a new season, with its new OP and ED, and I suppose it is. But all this time I kept wondering when Rimuru was going to get out of that village and face the true bad guys. He may not have to. His little village, now with goblins, wolves, an army of reformed and transformed orcs, and various others who have wandered in, have made it expand and become an actual country, thanks to the dwarf king Gazel Dwargo popping in to see what this slime business is all about. Gazel is shown to be a possible advisory, but after tilting swords with Rimuru and recognizing his old master Kaijin, he’s fine with making a peace treaty with a place that hadn’t considered itself a nation up to now. But call it the Jura Tempest Foundation, with the capital city of Rimuru, to Rimuru’s embarrassment. It’s getting to the point that his nation might just come up to that evil castle where Clayman is scheming.

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But not quite yet. Plenty of time in the episode.

I dreaded returning to Toaru Majutsu no Index III after three weeks, because I had forgotten who was who and who was on whose side, but then again when I watch this show I can never figure that out anyway, not 100%, so I might as well dive in. Episode 14 is almost entirely a standoff between second princess Carissa, with that magic sword, first versus a witch bombardment, and then Kaede, Touma, and Index, oh, and the third princess(?), and it’s still all a standoff with Carissa laughing evilly a lot. But then word gets out what Carissa’s strategy is, which, I think, to destroy everything and to stick herself in some mysterious tomb somewhere, so she has some warships bombard Buckingham Palace with cruise missiles. This gets Knight Leader and Acqua involved, but it’s still a standoff until …

indexiii14-2Yep, the queen shows up with a magic British flag which she uses to call the ordinary citizenry to revolution. On one hand, I loved this. One of the main themes of Index and its offshoots is that individuals wielding power for their own ends is misguided. It’s having friends and allies, not to mention common people, that wins out at the end. … Alas, when the normal people arrive they just stand there, though Touma has a great line about how there are so many heroes here now that the main characters sort of just blend in. Instead, it takes a combination, especially Acqua and Touma, to finally deliver the classic Touma punch-in-the-face. The individual is defeated. The team wins. Too bad the next story arc starts right away, with Index malfunctioning, Fiamma popping in, and Touma declaring he will go to Russia to punch HIM in the face. Well, no rest for the heroic. But next week it looks like we’ll get more Accelerator…

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Yep, it’s one of THOSE Index episodes.

After trashing another European town the show returns to Academy City in episode 15. We see the aftermath of various members of those anagram groups like ITEM, SCHOOL, and GROUP. Xochitl and Takitsubo are doing fine, and it’s calm enough that the show can mix some fanservice into the proceedings, except GROUP and Accelerator have to take out a new terrorist organization named Spark Signal, and then everyone is after the fleeing remnants, maybe because they want information about still another group, DRAGON. Accelerator is suspicious, as is Kinuhata, who was recruited for a new group of former members of other groups but walked out, possibly to give Hanazura some fanservice. Frankly, I don’t know what’s going on. However, there is a new murderous famale around, with the splendid name of “Stephanie Georgeouspalace.” and at least her motives are easy to understand: she wants to kill damn near everybody. Anyway, everyone’s rushing over to where the remaining Spark Signal folks are, and goodness knows what’s going to happen. As usual for this show, I have little idea who’s on whose side anymore …

Winter 2019 4

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An abstract start to Kaguya-sama.

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Ren’ai Zunousen, now in the lead with the longest title of the new season, stars Kaguya, daughter in a rich, powerful family, and Miyuki, a genius commoner and student council president. Kaguya is the vice president. They discover they each have feelings for the other, but neither will stoop so low as to actually confess, as that would show weakness and give the other person the position of power. So they scheme and scheme for ways to get the other one to admit their love. First it’s two tickets received by their cheerful and relatively clueless secretary, Chika. Can they even ask the other on a date? Then Kagura receives a love letter and uses it as a tool to get Miyuki to react, and then it’s a bento battle. All with a gonzo narrator going on in the background, and lots of dramatic visual effects.

kaguyasama1-1This could be fun. Both characters are world-class schemers; Kagura often uses her high breeding as a weapon, while Miyuki relies on his common stock (his bento has octopus shaped weenies, which she has never seen in real life). Chika finds the perfect moments to mess their strategies up with guileless comments and offers, introducing “chaos theory” into their highly logical verbal battles. It’s kind of like if Tsurezure Children focused on a single couple and added a dramatic narrator. On the bad side, the narrator sometimes gets too dramatic and adds commentary when it’s not needed. I don’t mind his being there but I wish he’d tone it down a bit. Also, right now it feels claustrophobic, those three kids stuck in that room. If the show can expand a little, add a couple more side characters, and keep the situations and strategies fresh, this could be a good show.

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A table, upon which cards will be tossed.

To start Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai we have what looks like a wild west saloon, except in this one it’s fighter pilots, guys at one table, our heroines in another, the former playing cards and drinking, the latter eating pancakes and stuff, like two different shows in one, plus the saloon. After one guy tries to hit on a couple girls we get a scramble, and all the planes are up in the air to protect a supply zeppelin from air pirates. This takes up almost the entire episode, starting from watching Kyrie getting her plane started, throwing switches, so we almost can understand how it’s done. The fight itself is well-done, with genuine threat (since a couple of the cocky guy pilots get shot down early), and later Kyrie runs into some trouble. But since it’s episode one none of the girls gets shot down. As for the guys, who cares?

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Er, behind you …

Obviously the show is intended first to show off vintage warplanes, both on the ground and in action. Nothing wrong with that, and the dogfight scenes are vivid–I especially liked the noises they used, the engines fighting for altitude, the winds, the sounds of bullets hitting metal. As for the characters, it’s too soon to tell. The other point of the show is of course the cute girls, but apart from Kyrie we don’t learn much this time. Kyrie prays at a grave, and notices an insignia on an air pirate’s plane which gets her livid, so there’s obviously a past to explore. This past, and the current situation, seems like a hodgepodge of 19th and 20th century history and is clearly only intended as backdrop for the planes and cute girls. This is a show I can take or leave, but it’s done well enough I’m inclined to keep it right now.

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A moody location for Endro~!, suitable for a boss battle.

Endro~! starts with four cute girls facing off against the demon lord, and with a little difficulty, defeating him. The end. Except we next turn to Yusha (hero class) getting woken up by Seira (priestess, I think) so they and two other girls can go to adventurer school. Their teacher announces he’s leaving and they will be now be taught by Mao, a demon. Everyone is more or less okay with this, because she’s so cute. For their first practicum the class has to go into some ruins and find an artifact or two. Very easy, except that Mao is actually that demon lord returned to earth, one year in the past, so that the big battle hasn’t happened yet, and she’s going to make sure that Yusha and the other three will get expelled and never fulfill their destiny. The practicum is booby-trapped. Of course, episode one doesn’t end the way Mao hopes.

endro1-1Early on I thought for sure this was going to be a setup for a darker series. Yusha’s lines about making everyone smile, and eating cake, seemed too obvious. But it looks like this show is exactly what it shows–a cute, goofy show with little adventures and plenty of time for that cake. Episode one does the job nicely, if predictably. I’m happy to say that the girls, facing danger, don’t panic too much but instead draw their weapons and get ready for battle. That saves us some dull moments while we wait for the panic to subside so the story can get moving again. We still have to get used to the girls, but there’s nothing really wrong with any of them, cheerful or gloomy according to their types. And there are some funny bits, like Mei the mage using her fortune card to tell them their fates and discovering that it will rain tomorrow. Not a world-changing show, but could be fun.

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Fai is certainly having fun.

… and that’s it? I didn’t cover a lot of shows this time. There are a number of sequels I won’t watch of course, and I’m not covering one or two of the big ones, maybe because the older I get the less I want dark, depressing shows on my menu.

Winter 2019 3

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Refugees fleeing China to begin Girly Air Force.

Now here’s Girly Air Force, and with a title like that it has to be a great anime, right? Well … Anyway, we start with some glowing fighter planes bombing the shit out of some boats taking refugees from China to Japan. One average high school boy, Kei, watches aghast as his childhood friend Minghua drags him to a lifeboat thing, where they are almost killed by a Xi (the bad guys) jet, but a glowing red jet (a Swedish craft known as a “gripon,” we are told more than once) comes out of nowhere and manages to shoot down, but it’s downed itself. Kei swims to the sinking craft, the canopy pops open to reveal an unconscious, cute, pink-haired girl who wakes up and kisses him. Later, Kei is dead-set on joining the JSDF Air Force Academy, over Minghua’s complaints. While arguing outside the base they are seized and interrogated. Turns out Kei can “settle down” the glowing red fighter, so he’s invited to help out.

girlyair1-1Yeah, it’s pretty silly. The girls flying the aircraft, known as “Daughters,” though whether that refers to the planes or the girls I’m not sure … In fact, I’m not sure what the hell is up with them. Are they human? Where do they come from? And while this all seems to be leading to a cute girl pilot harem for Kei, there’s the fully human Minghua, whose parents are still in China, so Kei is all she has, so damn it he’s not going to go to war, in other words, a solid anchor for Kei’s often crazy ambition. This realistic counterweight alone sets the show above what I expected, as does the tragic flashbacks we sometimes get from Kei. So there’s backstory to unpack. As for the girl pilots, we only meet the one and she barely speaks. I don’t know if this will be a good series, but there’s potential here.

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Go-Toubon no Hanayome starts with a flash-forward. Apparently Futaro is going to marry one of the girls …

Go-Toubon no Hanayome stars Futaro, a grumpy, poor high school student who has an unfortunate run-in with a new transfer student at lunch one day, and then learns that he could have a job tutoring her, at five times the normal rate! Just what his family needs, if he can get back on Itsuki’s good side. The episode spends too much time with him trying to do just that, when the logical thing would be to just show up to tutor and let her deal with it. He also meets four other weird girls, and then he learns why his rate is so high.

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The girls hard at work.

Another show where I just don’t like the protagonist very much. Oh, he’s in bad financial straits, has a cute imouto, etc, but he still comes off as a jerk. The girls are more interesting, though right now we just know them as the tsundere one, the flirty one, the suspicious one, the genki one, and whatever the last one is. They have no desire to study at all, but he must make them, and it might be fun to see how. On the other hand, the opening story isn’t handled well, creating false crises until he learns the girls are quintuplets. Well, it’s done fairly lightly, and I AM curious as to how he’s going to make them study, and how they will change each other. Maybe …

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An appropriate image to begin a Grimm story.

In Grimms Notes: the Animation we watch four magical people, Ex (protagonist), Reina, Tao, and Shane, as they rescue a girl from something that does not look like a Grimm character. Turns out it was a random villager transformed. His book of fate is getting screwed up, because the Story Zone they live in is getting contaminated by the Chaos Teller. In the character’s village we learn that the tale of Little Red Riding Hood is being told for the umpteenth time, because it’s what their individual books of fate say, only the tale is getting messed up. The four go off to find the lost RH, along with the hunter, but he then becomes the Wolf, and RH has been taken over by the Chaos Teller. So the good guys turn into magical characters NOT from Grimm (Alice, Robin Hood, etc), and they put things aright. BTW, Ex’s book of fate is completely blank.

grimms1-1This doesn’t look like a great series by any means, but I did like a lot of it. I enjoyed the four heroes natural banter for one. But overall I love how they really messed with the Riding Hood story. Grimms tales are already twisted, but they twist it further, making the hunter the wolf, and then considering the roles of folktale figures when they’re aware they’re in a tale, one that is endless repeating. So RH’s fear and confusion about her getting eaten (even if she’ll be rescued) and her village’s complacency over her fate makes her lash out. As she should. I wonder if the legendary Storyteller who created these tales has any compassion for their creations. And what happens when we meet a character whose fate is to actually die? Aren’t our heroes, by fixing the stories, doing an injustice to lives that didn’t ask for their fate? Will someone, like they did in the great series Princess Tutu, rise and fight against the story itself? … Probably not, but maybe worth keeping an eye on. Too bad otherwise the show is a completely mundane fantasy anime …

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Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka begins with an image of modern-day Tokyo.

The backstory of Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is that Earth was attacked by monsters that look really cute but are really nasty. A nearby dimension or galaxy or something made a treaty with earth to fight the “Disas” by creating magical girls. This ensuing fighting resembles Madoka more than Sakura, with magical girls and foot soldiers getting slaughtered as well, but no Kyuubey. And they won! Now a former MG named Asuka tries to live a postwar life while coping with PTSD. She warms up to two adorable high school classmates who befriend her, but at the same time people are trying to woo her back into combat, this time against terrorists and other sources of modern-day violence. She wants nothing of it. She fought her war already. But when a terrorist escapes violently and tries to kill one of Asuka’s new friends, the memories and reflexes kick in, and …

tokushusenasuka1-1Promising start. It works on the question of what a soldier, magical or not, do when it’s peacetime? Secret agencies? Espionage? Mercenaries? Can they return to normal life, with what they’ve seen? The show doesn’t hold back on the violence and it makes Asuka’s situation poignant. She doesn’t want to fight anymore, but she still sees everyday events as possible threats. Why they didn’t make these girls do therapy after the war I don’t know … The episode is done well, starting with a good for a change infodump and leading to normal life, where I found myself hoping Asuka could just have fun with Nozomi the jock and Sayako the bookworm. But I suppose that would be a dull anime. So the episode worked for me. I only hope they keep Asuka’s issues in mind and not just turn it into a fighting series …

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Why an underwater show like Bermuda Triangle begins with a starry sky I have no idea.

Finally we have Bermuda Triangle – Colorful Pastrale, where, after a misleading opening bit concerning idol mermaids performing a show, we turn to the sleepy undersea village of Parrel, where we meet our main characters, four mermaid girls, who arrive at a tea shop to enjoy cake. But the village chief Ardi says they can have free cake if they bring a package to her, and then the postman (a walrus–so far all of the male characters have been walruses) asks them do deliver a thing or two. It looks like it’s going to go this way, aimlessly, for a while, but then Ardi’s package opens and there’s a girl. So now the four girls show the new one, Canon, around, until they discover a huge mansion that they didn’t know existed in spite of the tiny size of the town, with interesting things in it.

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Cake!

A cute girls doing cute things show, oceanic variety, and it suffers from the same early episode blues that many such shows do. The pacing is slow and uncertain, the characters haven’t shown all their sides yet, and so it gets dull at times. Also, the animation isn’t terribly good with a lot of static faces. On the other hand, it sets up its slice-of-life format well and it is all very cute. But the mysterious mansion with its movie player suggests that there is actually going to be a plot. This is neither good nor bad. If the smelling the roses structure doesn’t pan out at least we’ll have a story to hook into. The show needs more of a chance to show us what it’s up to.

Winter 2019 2

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Clocks are a major image in Pastel Memories.

To begin my second installment we have an odd thing called Pastel Memories, set in Akihabara, and we watch a black cloud sweep over everything and remove the otaku-ness, leaving a boring business district behind. But there’s a little cafe called “Rabbit Shed Shop” where they’re still fond of anime and manga, where Izumi, Irina, and Ayaka work. Someone leaves a message in their notebook asking if they still have the manga with the same name as their shop, and the girls, accompanied by three other workers, Minami, China, and Nao, and then three more, Michi, Yuina, and Kao, run about the district to hunt down the remaining manga shops to buy copies. A lot is made, especially Izumi, about preservation precious memories. They find all but volume 1. Then the show takes a weird turn as in a blaze of light, three MORE girls show up (I didn’t bother with their names), announce there’s a virus, and there’s another one attacking the manga they’re looking for. Three of the girls decide to go to another dimension, the world of Rabbit Shed Shop, to stop the virus. Huh, wasn’t expecting that.

pastelmemories1-1Well, I’m glad the show finally, er, showed its hand at the end, because it was slow-going before that, just looking for those volumes and interacting cutely. It also helped the weirdness have a greater impact. Episode two, with its preview showing the girls shooting monsters in a world that looks like “Is the Order a Rabbit?” (VERY interesting) looks like it will have a completely different feel, though still cute. However, the show dumped a whole lot of girls on us, and none of them seem to have more than a basic stock personality … Well, you can’t flesh out nine girls in 24 minutes, I suppose. Unless the show intends to nod and wink at various manga/anime franchises, I don’t think it will amount to much. I’ll watch another episode.

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Your average town river to start Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita.

Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita! features Miyako, a shy girl who spends time at home making cosplay outfits. She has an imouto named Hinata. Hinata brings home a friend named Hana, and Miyako becomes infatuated with her. So cute! Episode one revolves around Miyako trying to spend more time with Hana, while at the same time trying not to freak out the poor girl who just wants to hang out with her friend and not be drooled on by her big sister.

watashinitenshi1-1This sounds creepy, and the show acknowledges this–little Hana is a sensible girl who is reasonably suspicious of this strange grownup fawning over her, threatening to call the police at one point. Also, the mothers, at least, are all nearby and attentive, so the show won’t get too creepy. Instead, it emphasizes the cuteness. I liked Hana’s dilemma: her best friend’s big sis is creepy, but she makes excellent sweets, and that is Hana’s weak point. And later on in episode it seems that Hana has begun to see the good points of Miyako as well as the questionable ones. Morals aside, this is another series that might die by not breaking out of the main setup. There’s another girl or two waiting in the wings, so that will complicate the situation, but will it be enough?

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Kemurikusa starts with a bleak island.

Kemurikusa starts with a girl named Rin, with a smaller girl named Rinako … it’s complicated. They’re happy because on the dark island full of ruined machinery they’ve found some fresh water, which a glowing green plant-girl named Midori sucks up and transfers to a vat, but not before a “Nushi,” or bug, or, to us, giant glowing red-black monster, fatally wounds Rinako, who fades away. But it’s all right because there are three other girls just like her, all named Rin-something, all fighting for survival against the red bugs. Then, somehow, a boy appears in the vat of water. A new bug! He’s roughed up a bit and tied up because they can’t kill him, but he gains their trust by helping them detect another Nushi and rescuing one of the Rins from it.

kemurikusa1-1Yes, this is a darker Kemono friends. The character designs and weird movement are the same. The story is completely different though, as this one is full of dark menace, not the sunlight of Kemono. It’s an odd contrast because the characters are as cute and add “nyan” to their sentences a lot, but there’s a lot less smiling, especially from the older Rin, saddled with the main responsibility of keeping them alive. Watching them eat metal is another contrast. So what we have is a possibly interesting science-fantasy series (we’re nowhere near knowing the backstory yet) with Kemono-style characters. It’s worth keeping an eye on, I suppose, if only out of curiosity about how the staff is going to handle this completely different story.

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Circlet Princess starts with a starry sky.

In Circlet Princess we have a girl named Yuuka getting a little lost in a slightly futuristic Tokyo and coming across a venue for a “circlet bout,” which she has never heard of before. She meets one of the ace circlet fighters (Chikage) by accident for an infodump, and then she’s mistaken for the fighter’s next opponent. After stumbling around a bit she proves herself to be a natural, but before the bout is over we switch to a university where Yuuka is a new student, and discovers there’s no circlet bout club there, even though there used to be a good one. But don’t worry, two other girls, fighter Miyuki and her nerdy friend Ayumu are going to make one.

circlet1-1Really nothing to this, and though the story cleverly jumps from one time to another, it isn’t very well thought out. I can’t believe bout staff mistook Yuuka for a seasoned fighter, even with their high technology (the battles are done in virtual spaces, street ads float in the air and point the way, etc). The battle we saw was adequate, not terribly exciting. The characters aren’t terribly interesting. The story is basically “let’s form a club!” coupled with the mystery of why the club was disbanded in the first place. Don’t think I’ll come back to this.

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A funeral ritual to begin Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue.

Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue stars a young man named Subaru who hates the company of other people. But since he’s a popular mystery writer he has to face a few people, like his sympathetic editor Kawase, and his annoying only friend Hiroto. While bringing offerings to his parents’ grave (the show starts with the funeral, for no reason I can see) a little kitty leaps out and attacks the tasty salmon slices. Inspired into a new book, he takes the critter home “for research” and soon we have a heartwarming tale of shut-in meets kitty kat, adding meaning to both lives.

doukyonin1-1If Subaru was more sympathetic I might like this a little more. I felt sorry for Kawase for how Subaru treats him, though Hiroto deserves all the abuse he gets. The man/cat dynamic wasn’t bad, I suppose. I like watching Subaru trying to figure out what this fierce-eyed little thing is thinking. I also liked how the show turns the tables and shows us what the cat is thinking, though we already knew most of it. “The big man is not eating! I’ll bring him food!” I might give the show another chance, to see if new side characters can improve things, but the main story doesn’t interest me much, and I like cats.

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Dimension High School starts in the “real” world.  That’s a gravel path.

Finally there’s Dimension High School, where a pack of boys are doing supplementary classes when a rock that one of the boys picked up starts floating around, calling itself “Spudio the 22nd” and talking about world destruction. The boys wisely throw it out the window but it keeps coming back, finally whisking them to a badly-done 2D world, where a giant sphinx makes them solve puzzles and eats them if they fail. They get it right the second time and get sent back, whereupon they throw the rock out the window again.

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The boys, and sensei, in the real world …
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… and in the VR world.

It’s a gimmick series, and really an excuse to give us little puzzles to solve. The trouble for us foreigners is that they sometimes expect you to know Japanese, and though the first one didn’t, I didn’t know that until it was too late, though I expect Japanese people might enjoy playing along. The animation looks like a crap VR, which I suspect is how they filmed it. On the good side, the boys have a good rapport and their dialogue in the animation world sounds more spontaneous than your average anime voices. Maybe because they’re live actors, moving around and interacting with lines memorized like they would in stage or TV show. Also, they’re all a little cynical. But I don’t think that’s enough to carry the series for me.

Winter 2019 1

Time again to look at the shows I might watch this season. The usual rules apply: I won’t watch sequels to shows I didn’t watch in the first place, and there are various genres I may ignore. I’m working with the Random Curiosity preview guide but if something else pops up I might look into it. And I like to begin each preview I like to post the first intelligible image. So here we go!

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Boogiepop starts suitably with a view of urban Tokyo.

We start with Boogiepop wa Waranaranai, where an average high school boy named Keiji is being stood up for a date. Heading home, across the Shibuya crosswalk (which attracts a lot of supernatural activity in anime), he sees a girl who looks like his would-be date Miyashita, dressed in strange clothes, helping some desperate bum who collapses, and then pulls some moves on the cops who try to arrest her. Later Keiji meets her again, on the school roof, and we learn that her current character, Boogiepop, is using Miyashita’s body to stop a monster. Days pass and a girl or two disappears, and we get quick, bloody flashes of murder, but all that happens here is that Boogiepop suddenly announces she has to go, the monster who is supposed to destroy the world has been eliminated, keep trying to ease suffering, have fun with the real Miyashita, etc. And that’s that.

boogiepop1-1The tricky thing is that Boogiepop has become an urban legend among the students, but they all think he’s the monster. The episode, wanting to set up a mood of hidden menace and secrets, doesn’t tell us anything more. In fact, apart from those quick cuts to mayhem, we get nothing violent at all. Whether that will change when Keiji finds himself deeper in the mystery I don’t know. I also don’t know if I want to watch any more. It’s not bad–it sets the mood of menace and keeps it bubbling in the background even as the characters are talking about minor things. But I don’t know if the episode really made me that interested. Maybe I’m not the target audience, which I think is angst-riddled adolescents. Well, we’ll see …

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Egao no Daika starts off with a greenish sky for some reason.

Egao no Daika starts with Princess Yuki, now twelve years old, assuming leadership of the “Special State of Harlent,” while childhood friend Joshua and stern Layla give her advice. Everything they show us suggests that the country is prospering, but there are questions on how to deal with the Empire of Grandiga, currently, or so she’s told (that’s the big point), in a non-aggression pact. We meet some other people, er Harold Miller and the twins Yuni and Lune, the latter two being a tad disrespectful to Yuki, so the show drops everything and instead we have a virtual mechanical duel for her honor. The point of it all being, I suppose, to show that Yuki’s a bit young and naive about the world but capable of strategic thinking when she has to be, oh, also to give the viewers a taste of the mecha action to come. Then most of the cast except Yuki visit the border and we learn there’s an actual war going on, and Yuki doesn’t know about it.

egaonodaika1-1All through the episode I kept waiting for something to happen. Every scene they gave us (the coronation, the meeting with dignitaries, the duel, etc) were predictable moments that help flesh out the characters a little but did little for the story. I kept waiting for a Grandiga sneak attack, or another crisis with the “chrarslapis,” the planet’s chief source of power and the cause of Yuki’s parent’s death (I forgot to mention the clumsy infodump they tossed in). It’s only at the end, when we see the battle, that anything happens, not the battle, but that everyone has been lying to Yuki. As for the characters, Yuki is an interesting genki girl but her brief flashes of intuition help her. Joshua is a bore. Harold and the twins might be more interesting because they are aware of the situation and have a goal. The visuals and animation look nice. Mecha battle scenes don’t interest me too much. I can’t really say I was impressed with this episode, but now that they’ve set up the situation and can get to work maybe things will get better.

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A sky to start W’z, but it soon gets surreal.

Next for me is W’z, which starts with garish, blinding colors in Osaka and never gets far from that. First a boy is told that if he holds hands with someone he will bring misfortune to both of them, and then we get some voice-overs about joining hands and fighting in another world. Then, ten years later, we see some pretty young boys and girls doing just that. Back in reality, the scattered teens dance stupidly to an uploaded song. Then we meet Yukiya, the DJ responsible, talking to his friend Haruna. She talks him into doing a live broadcast, he chooses a bridge in Dontonburi, and suggests they hold hands. The blinding colors return, and soon all those other kids try to kill them with their super powers, called Nimrods. Sigh.

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He accidentally brushes a girls hand, and stuff like this happens.

Worse, these pairs of kids are called “handshakers,” and that brings up that show I couldn’t bear after episode one or so. I will say the effects appear much smoother this time, but again, the colors and lights are too much. The show also tries very hard to be stylish with its DJ mixes and supposedly cool people dancing to them, but there it also falls flat. The one decent scene was Yukiya and Haruna talking in a restaurant, and that was because it was two people just talking, and nothing being forced. Well, the writing in that scene wasn’t great, either. I’ve seen enough. If you can handle and even enjoy the pretty colors, and can ignore the posing, and what looks to be in reality a routine urban fantasy anime plot, you might like this. Even then, I can’t guarantee it.

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Tate no Yuusha starts with waves breaking on a rock, but there’s no ocean in the actual story so far.

Arriving a tad early is Tate no Yuusha no Hariagari, a double-episode where your average semi-otaku named Naofumi opens the wrong light novel and is whisked into a fantasy world, where’s he and three others are set by the king on a quest to save the land from “waves.” Oddly, Naofumi’s assigned weapon, a shield, is considered second-class by the kingdom and the other adventurers, and he can only get one person to help him train, and she betrays him the very next day. Suddenly robbed of everything and accused of rape, he turns from average personality to one hell-bent on revenge, and the next thing he does is buy a slave, who are forbidden by magic to lie to their masters.

tatenoyuusha1-1This show passes a couple of tests for me. First, I actually want to know what happens next, and I want questions answered. Why are the three other adventurers so blase about the whole thing? What’s the deal with the alternate Japans they all come from? Is this kingdom worth saving? I also liked Naofumi’s switch from naive to vengeful, and that he simply didn’t crawl into an alley out of self-pity. Some other bits bugged me. I can understand Naofumi losing his head when a cute girl flirts with him, but the rest of us could see she was up to no good from the start. And that “nyehh!” face when he’s accused seemed out of character. The fantasy-game mechanics look fine and the leveling up procedures are straightforward. Finally, it flowed well; I didn’t realize I was watching a double-episode until there were only ten minutes left. I’ll keep an eye on this one.

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Ueno-san starts (and probably finishes) at a school.

Finally for this installment we visit Ueno-san wa Bokiyou, where, in school science club, an inventor-genius girl named Ueno REALLY likes calm club mate Tanaka-kun. She comes up with inventions that are actually very impressive (portable filtration device, dark matter generator), but the reason is to get closer to Tanaka. The dark matter generator is to keep boys from seeing anything under girls’ skirts, so, Tanaka, look up her skirt, okay? For science! By the way, the device works. As for the filtration device …

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Don’t worry, it’s been filtered.

Too soon to tell. Ueno’s frantic desperation to get a rise out of Tanaka is balanced by Tanaka’s amazing denseness as to her true intentions. Well, some middle school boys develop slower than others. The third club member, the laconic Yamashita, mainly watches and tosses in reasonable asides. Well and good, but it appears that this routine won’t change. Each week we’ll get another fabulous device, Ueno screaming for Tanaka to do something that in another context would be lewd, and Tanaka not getting it at all. The show will depend on the inventions and Ueno’s static relationship. Ueno screams too much but she was entertaining at times. We’ll see.

Yagate Kimi finale, Index goes ever on …

yagatekimi13-1I had some predictions for the Yagate Kimi ni Naru finale, all of them resulting in Touko’s breakdown as her determination to be the perfect person crumbles under reality. Either during the play’s performance, or when she is presented with the rewritten script. However, the finale sidesteps these possibilities by not even getting to the performance, the finished rewrites, or even summer vacation. What we get instead is couples hanging out together. First it’s Yuu and Koyomi at the cafe, working on the script, then Touko and Sayaka, the latter wanting to know how Touko’s sister appeared to Touko, then Miyako and Riko with a question about how the other feels, a shocking question, but they’re both adults. Really, all of these scenes are time-killers, with little scenes in between that suggest that Touko is closer to breaking than we expected, as it hits her that after the show, finishing her late sister’s work, she has no idea what to do next. All she can think of is Yuu.

yagatekimi13-2Yuu’s interest in Touko often seems indifferent. Indeed, it’s one of the things Touko needs, that Yuu doesn’t fall in love with a girl who doesn’t even know herself. But I think Yuu subliminally knows what Touko needs and reaches out when Touko needs her the most. Hence the invitation to hang out at the aquarium, where the episode dallies until the end. Apart from a quick rehearsal of their scene together, where Yuu casually mentions that there are rewrites going on, very little happens except that Touko has a wonderful time, and Yuu … is happy that Touko is having it. So they get splashed by dolphins, look at jellyfish and penguins, and say little meaningful things from time to time. Touko is still emotionally lost, but at this moment Yuu is guiding her along until the end, where Yuu says it’s time to switch trains, and so the episode ends with a metaphor.

yagatekimi13-3The manga, I’m told, is ongoing but there’s little left. Whether it actually gets to the school play I don’t know. Perhaps the whole story revolves around Touko’s crisis, which would be fine, but then I would wonder “What happens to them after that?” I had hoped that we would see other aspects of the two and watch their relationship develop further. No matter, it’s still a good story. It took its time and gently examined the characters’ minds from the perspective of their own heads and how others see them, which of course is the main point. I would have wanted more from Koyomi, stuck as she was in “smart, nerdy side character” mode, but I get the impression that if the show had wanted to, she would have been just as introspective as the others. Maki, on the other hand, could have become a meddling little jerk, but after the show established his character he was put on the sidelines and not allowed to interfere. All of the characters were capable of intelligent thoughts, except for the kid with the glasses, and it all was delicately and perfectly balanced. Very good work. I hope there’s more.

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One more of Touko and Yuu, sharing a happy moment with no emotional overtones.
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Carissa being evil.

As for To aru Majutsu no Index III, it’s a midseason development episode. We see that Touma and whoever that is are safe from their fall (we didn’t get to see the landing), and they’re miraculously met by Villian, still riding William Orwell’s mechanical horse. Then it’s back to William vs Blond guy (actually known as Knight Leader). KL has a cool spell based on Thororm’s ability to dull the opponent’s attack when recognized as one. But he’s freaked out by William’s sword, which can launch sneak attacks, so the battle turns out anticlimactic. Then it’s Touma vs Carissa and the Curtana Original, with Touma/Index rescued by William, who’s everywhere this week. And then a breather while plans are made and we see how Misaka is doing.

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Index being evil.

Rather than continue a plot synopsis, which I often find myself doing in a post when I don’t really have anything to say, I’ll just say that everyone’s now headed to Buckingham Palace via its underground magical subway system–of course it has one. The heroes are planning to exploit Curtana Original’s instability somehow. The weirdest part for me, apart from a pre-battle feast where a lot of the girls, including nuns, consider changing into sexy clothes, for Touma’s benefit I suppose, was William and KL, after the battle, talking strategy on the phone like they were on the same side. Jeez, with this franchise you don’t know who to root for, except Touma maybe.