In this installment we start with Boku no Hero Academia, based on a Shonen Jump series, meaning it will probably never end. I tend to avoid shows like this, but the least I could do is give the first episode a try.
In the near future I suppose, everyone is manifesting super-powers, or quirks, and so it’s a golden age of superheroes and villains. We meet Midoriya, or “Deku,” as he’s called by his bullies, a boy with no quirk, hence the bullies. He’s obsessed with the heroes around him and we meet a few, my favorite being Mt. Lady for obvious reasons, and he’s miserable a lot because he’s powerless, and because of that one bully, Katsugi. Then he has a fateful encounter with the #1 ranked hero, All Might, but we don’t really find out what happens. All we know is that the big question has been asked: Can you be a hero if you have no powers?
There’s a reckless feel to this episode that reminded me at times of Trigger’s crazier work, though it’s obviously adapted from a comic book. In other words, there could be plenty of fun to be had here. There could be even more fun if they didn’t have to establish Midoriya’s pathetic backstory and show him near tears all the time. But you have to set up the story somehow, and now that they’ve done that I suspect things will liven up. It was good enough that in spite of these type of shows’ never-ending nature, I’m going to watch the next episode.
Frontier came relatively early in my anime-viewing, and I quickly started netflixing the original series at the same time, so I could figure out what the hell was going on. Both series far exceeded my expectations and I’m delighted that now there’s Macross Delta to watch. But also a little apprehensive. Could this new series live up to the others? Episode one seemed dedicated to reassure me, maybe too dedicated; it’s fun as hell.
Hayate is a disaffected young man getting fired from his loading dock job even though, when he bothers to work, he can make the ship-loading mecha dance. He meets Freyja, a nutty girl stowaway who wants to join Walkure, a girl group who goes out and sings and dances victims of Var Syndrome (if you get it you get all violent and things blow up) back to normal. She’s determined to make it to auditions even though she is now on the wrong planet. Meanwhile, the Walkure (Makina, Reina, Mikuna and, er, one other) are on patrol because a Vars outbreak is expected here on planet Al Shahal. What’s more, there is a fleet of bad guys, all pretty-boy pilots, who are planning an attack. So we have all the ingredients. Cue the Zentradi possessed by Vars Syndrome attack!
So some of the Zentradi in their mecha go nuts and start blowing things up. The Walkure swoop down and engage them, and we have our first big number. With their more offensive approach, the Walkure remind me a bit of AKB0048, though the transforming fighters (The Delta Platoon) covering them are definitely Macross. So things are blowing up, we have our first deculture moment, everyone’s singing and dancing or blowing up, and I’m having a great time … when the bad guys attack. I figure they’ll turn to the good side eventually, since we learn their names. They’re engaged by the fighters and it’s touch and go. We’re still waiting for the last important bits … The heart on Freyja’s hair begins to glow and she starts singing along, and then Hayate sees an abandoned fighter mecha. Bingo!
I’m an absolute sucker for music and drama together. My heart skipped a little when Hayate, carrying Freyja in his mecha hand, manages to get the mecha to fly while the Walkures sing a thumping ska tune. And I’ll leave it at that for now. There are too many references to count and I’m sure I don’t know them all anyway. I’ll just add that Makina looks a hell of a lot like Sheryl. I know the show will have to settle down and do some story eventually, and unless Mirage is it, we don’t have the third girl for the triangle yet, but that’s fine. If they can handle the the rest like they handled the opening, things will be just fine in the Macross universe.
Didn’t want to watch anything after that, but the next show, Kumamiko, promised to be different, and it certainly is. We have Machi, a shrine maiden in a rural village where they worship bears, who talk. Her best pal, Natsu, is indeed a bear, a rather sensible one. In the first story Machi wants to go to high school in the city because she’s bored of village life, and Natsu tries to talk her out of it. Not bad. The second one is more successful and a little surprising. We learn how the people and bears got to hang out together in this village. The legend has it that a bear wanted a maiden as a sacrifice once a year, and well, you know the things that old legends can imply. So this isn’t entirely a kid’s show.
Not bad. A little underwhelming. They try a bit hard for jokes, set things up with overly dramatic music, and the pacing drags a bit. No worries; weaker shows than this have pulled themselves together. Nothing wrong with Machi. She’s a bit of a brat, but come on, she’s only 14. Nothing wrong with Natsu, sometimes a voice of reason, sometimes a bear. I haven’t warmed up to the side characters yet, but apart from Yoshio we haven’t met the important ones. Worth another look.
Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu starts with Subaru, average shut-in, looking at a manga at a convenience store and having weird visions, outside the store he gets whisked to a generic fantasy world. He is surprised, but takes it fairly well considering. There follows a series of misadventures where he discovers there’s nothing powerful or magical about him, gets beaten up, rescued, and is hungry a lot. Why he doesn’t eat the bag of chips he bought I don’t know. He meets an elf girl tries to help her find a stolen item, and they both get killed, with his old visions becoming reality. Then he gets sent back to the start and goes through it again, tries to do things differently, gets killed again. The end of fifty-minute episode has him back where he started.
Part of this worries me a great deal. A season-long Endless Eight where each episode ends with a brutal murder doesn’t sound like much fun. It’s possible he’ll reach a save point, but no guarantee. And I didn’t much like watching Subaru refusing to use his head in normal situations. I understand he’s new to this world and bound to make some mistakes, but there’s no excuse for him not figuring out Satella wouldn’t know him after he comes back. On the other hand, Subaru and Satella have some nice scenes together. She’s practical but naive, trusting this strange boy even though she isn’t sure why. In a way they seem to understand each other and forgive the lapses, well, until the end. I’m borderline on this one. Another episode to see if the pattern will change.
Finally there’s Pan de Peace!, where a nice girl named Minami enters high school, hoping to make friends. She meets Yuu, who has bread baubles on her bag. Does she love bread too? She does! They are bread buddies! Actually, Yuu seems a bit surprised by this reaction, but then her childhood friend Fuyumi comes in with homoerotic overtones and little croissants, and now the three of them are bread buddies! And we haven’t even met the fourth girl yet.
It’s about time bread retook its rightful place at the top of the anime world! It’s Shining Hearts all over again! But hopefully much better than that! … Okay, it wasn’t all that great an episode, but what can you do in three minutes? Later they’ll be baking, which can’t possibly be bad. I’ll keep watching.