Here we go! The new season! And we got a lot of ’em this spring. Like every season, I’m going to give quick reviews of every show I might watch to the end. I’m going by the Random Curiosity list and will do my best to review them in order, unless subs get delayed or whatnot. I won’t talk about shows that I don’t want to watch in the first place (very few of them) or are sequels to series I dropped before. And for no real reason, I’ll start each review with a picture of the first second or two of the show.
Because I’m a little drunk right now, I’m delighted that the first show is Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2 Sure-me, the title of which takes longer to say than the episode is to watch, if you’re a little drunk, since it’s only 3.5 minutes. It’s the same sweet, silly stuff as in season one. The normal, fanged girl wants to find her old ramen place again, so her otaku husband helps her find it.
Normal Japanese and specialized otaku jokes that I don’t understand fly by while I watch the two people, married, expecting a kid, keep innocently and gently trying to figure each other out. The same as always.
Now the next day, and altogether sober, I turn from adults being sweet to high school kids being conniving and unhappy: Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatteiru. Zoku, another long title. It took me a while to remember the characters and their tolerance for each other, but I immediately got used to Hachiman’s bitter, slanderous interior monologues again, also Yukino’s coldness and Yui’s refreshing kindness and decency.
The first story arc has them helping one of the popular clique guys in his quest to win the heart of Hina the otaku girl. And already we’re getting ready for heartbreak somewhere, as she’s oblivious to him. But they try to help anyway, because, I suppose, that’s what their club does. Actually, Hina and the guy seem to be doing all right, and the opportunities that the school trip to Kyoto present isn’t hurting, either. Dare we be optimistic? Not me. I don’t like the guy and I like Hina. Besides, in this show it’s never good to be optimistic about anything.
Next we have Shokugeki no Souma, where we meet Souma, a high school boy who works in his father’s restaurant. After losing yet another cooking battle with his dad and in the process figuratively titillating and molesting a nice girl named Mayumi, they’re visited by an over-the-top real estate lady who wants to then to sell out. That night the restaurant’s stock is vandalized and the lady returns the next day, daring Souma to make her something. So he does. Turns out this story is just a preliminary for the main events, when he’s sent to an elite cooking school and the big battles will begin. That starts next week.
Interesting that this show starts up right when Koufuku Graffiti ends because it wastes no time in laying on the erotic eating imagery … and then goes too far with it. “Meat juices,” indeed! I understand that future episodes won’t scimp on the heavy fanservice, either. I’m not sure I’m up for that. However, the cooking parts were fun to watch, and I believe even I could cook that fake pork roast that Souma came up with to ravish, er, satisfy the real estate lady. I complained that Koufuku Graffiti didn’t have enough cooking, but this show promises to have plenty. The story is the usual hero-in-training business, competently done, but not more. A bizarre sequence near the end involving a waterfall and a jukebox thoroughly confused me (well, it was meant to) until it was explained, showing me the series might have a good sense of humor as well.
Next it’s Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darouka (Danmachi, from here on), a stock fantasy world where a young adventurer named Bell nearly gets killed at the nearby dungeon by a minotaur, only to have a higher-level girl named Ais rescue him. He’s smitten, and so is she, though you have to wonder about the latter. Bell decides to keep leveling up with help of his genki, flirty goddess Hestia, and gets himself nearly killed again, but at least this time he doesn’t need rescuing. I dunno about this one.
The show keeps going back and forth between Bell’s shame of having Ais rescue him (since he’s there to pick up girls by rescuing THEM, you see), and his constant talk of getting stronger. The episode tries to make some drama out of a big decision (to get stronger), using a contrived scene with an overheard “Remember that loser guy you rescued from the minotaur the other day?” bit, but he already knew he was weak at the beginning. The domestic bits with his goddess Hestia are fun, since she’s in love with him and doesn’t like this Ais girl forming a possible triangle. On the other hand, it leads to half-naked-girl-in-my-bed scenes, even if Bell is used to it and mostly treats it as sisterly affection. The art and animation are barely passable, but when you get dungeon battles you want more than that. This one’s a maybe.
Re-Kan! is almost certainly a no. We start with Hibiki, on her first day of high school, where she gets interfered with by some spirits. Inoue, a classmate-to-be, sees this and freaks out a little. The show happily skips to the following week where we see Hibiki has picked up a small circle of friends, but Inoue, being a ghost tsundere, is not one of them. There follows a playground scene with some dead kids and a nice little speech by Hibiki which softens Inoue a bit.
Some shows use 4-Koma source material well. Re-Kan! doesn’t. I can handle the obvious gag setups and punchlines, but the original structure is laid too bare. Partly it’s that the jokes aren’t all that funny. Also, its pacing drags. You get odd gaps where we wait for a character to speak or do something that feel like production mistakes, only there are too many of them. Also, I got tired of Inoue’s tsundere act very quickly, while Hibiki is simply dull. The new friends (and kudos to the show for having them accept Hibiki even with all her oddities–she’s a weird friend, but still a friend) are more interesting, and I’ll watch another episode to see if they can get more involved in things, or to see if they can tighten up the dead pacing.