Koi to Uso takes us to a happy modern Japan where everyone, upon reaching age 16, is assigned a marriage partner whether they like it or not. We start with some high schoolers discussing this, both with “I don’t wanna!” and “I wonder who he/she is like?” and one boy, Yukari, railing louder than anyone. Since he’s almost sixteen he decides to confess to the girl he’s been in love with since high school, Misaki. There follows the usual nervous second-guessing and blurting out of nonsense for quite too long, until Misaki confesses right back, been in love ever since he gave her that eraser, etc. Ding ding! It’s midnight! It’s midnight and two government officials approach them (they’re in a park, not at home, but they knew where to find him anyway) and says his future wife has been chosen, and it’s not Misaki, OR IS IT? There was a strange text message right before that, you see …
That mysterious text message, which was conveniently gone from his phone when the govt people (who are given names, so I think they’re regulars) show up, was a interesting twist in an otherwise completely mundane love triangle story, or square, since there are four people on the poster. As I mentioned, the confession business could have been pulled from thousands of other high school shows and/or manga. That they’re being forced to marry other people is a complication used in stories for, I dunno, thousands of years. The hint at supernatural happenings (and that look of utter gloom on Misaki’s face near the end) is thus the only new thing here. Never mind newness, you say? Well, there was nothing about the romantic things we saw to make it stick out. Also, quite frankly, I don’t like the character designs at all. If you like classic high school romantic stories, you might like it.
In Isekai Shokudou there’s a popular western-style restaurant that, one day a week, is closed to the general public and instead open to people and creatures from another world of the generic fantasyland variety. We watch some warriors, a wizard, and a lizard thing argue over what food goes best with white rice, then later a dragon in voluptuous human form comes to visit, and then Aletta, the first regular character apart from the chef, a cute demon girl, wanders in when it’s closed and gets a job as a waitress. That’s it.
The first episode is charming. The focus is on the delicious food and the pleasure of eating as much as the strange characters, a food porn show with supernatural elements. I wonder if the characters, especially in the first scene, would be bitter enemies in their own world but put aside their differences to enjoy some curry or croquettes together, as if to make the point that dining is a civilized act and must be respected. I also wonder if the door they use to enter the restaurant moves about, appearing before those who need it the most, like Aletta. I don’t know if they can keep the concept fresh for a full season, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
Aho Girl is a short about a very stupid girl named Yoshiko, her long-suffering neighbor and classmate who they call A-kun, and other characters who occasionally get drawn into the orbit of Yoshiko’s jawdropping stupidity. Yoshiko has a thing for A-kun, and he responds to her advances (and whatever else she’s up to) with incredulity and often violence.
Yes, I laughed. Yoshiko is played by Yuuki Aoi at full power and so is almost always fun, especially when the topic gets around to Yoshiko’s one true passion: bananas. A-kun is Sugita Tomokazu, so he’s not bad to listen to either. I have a feeling I’d get warn down by the premise if the show was a full half-hour–Yoshiko is extremely intense, but it’s only half that, just right.
Another short, Tsurezure Children gives us not one but four confession scenes of varying awkwardness but consistent humor. In the first, the girl is so awkward that they both nearly freeze to death in that romantic snow, and the boy doesn’t know how to respond when she asks “Do you a crush on somebody?” because the answer is her. In the second confession the girl so straightforward that the boy doesn’t know how to react, which she thinks is cute, in the third, a hard-ass student council rep comes on to the school deliquent, and the fourth is more of a goodbye confession under the stars.
Since the episode is so short they don’t have time to dilly-dally with the confessions, a point in the show’s favor. I hate thumpity-thump moments if they go on too long, and they usually do. The emotions for both characters in each scene feel natural, and there’s often a fun little twist, someone blurts out something stupid, or the logic of the conversation leads to absurd conclusions, but once we get the idea that each confession will be a success we get to enjoy four fun couples. Or three. Not sure about the last girl yet.
I don’t know Journey to the West, except it’s a bunch of guys on a mission and one of them is a monkey, but that’s about all I needed to know to watch at least episode of Saiyuki RELOAD BLAST. In this slightly modernized version (guns and a jeep, etc), demons have broken loose and life is pretty much hell for humans, especially in the west of Shangri-la. Our heroes break up a demon attack and are taken to a secluded village where they act like bros, drop exposition, and generally annoy the neighbors until the demons reach them, and there’s more bloody fighting.
Hard to tell if it will pan out because this was a typical opening standalone episode where we meet the characters and see how they fight. The story arc starts next week. It looks good, but the fight scenes consist mostly of still shots with a shaky camera, and they’re a bit confusing unless you know who is doing what. I liked the bro aspect; the four of them have fought together for years and know, trust, and tease each other easily. But for me at least there wasn’t much more that stood out.
More bromance coming up, I think … Yep. Dive!! is the diving adventures of Ryo. When he was a young boy walking his dog on a hot summer day he sees an older boy, Yoichi, diving from a “dragon,” i.e., a diving board, and he is transfixed. Yoichi invites the lad to give it a try, and his diving days begin. Now in middle school, he’s training with two amiable buddies and pretty much ignoring the nice girl who wants to hang out with him. Meanwhile, the club is in financial trouble and there are rumors that it will be shut down. At the end, they all meet a new instructor, the sexy Kayoko, who gives them a goal, the Olympics.
It looks solid enough. The first episode scattered little plot points around while establishing Ryo’s adoration of Yoichi a little too much. The dives are done pretty realistically, only hampered by the frame rate. The problem will be that they happen so quickly, under two seconds, that all the dramatic moments will have to happen before and after them. Might be interesting to see what the creators will do with that. But while the animation is good, it’s not on the level of the last water-sports based franchise we saw–Free!, and it might need to be. And, of course, we get a ton of shots of men and boys standing around in swimsuits, if that’s your interest.
Konbini Kareshi follows some kids around as they enter high school, especially a boy named Haruki and his annoying, freeloading friend Towa. Haruki likes a girl named Miharu, whom he once knew, though she seems to have forgotten, and they often (literally) bump into each other at the convenience store near the school. Towa likes to tease a shy, reserved class rep named Mami, who supposedly hates him, but you know how that will turn out. They also visit the convenience store. We get a lot of looks of other kids who are in the credits, but we don’t learn anything about them this week. No time. I presume that they also frequent the convenience store.
Actually, considering the title, they don’t spend a lot of time in the store. Most of the scenes are at school or home. When they do use the store, they usually read a magazine while waiting for someone, or get discovered reading something surprising. Oh, and to get lunch or a popsicle. As for the show, it feels a bit leisurely to me. Did they have to have a close up of both boys swiping their subway card? Did we really need that much of Haruki running around in the flash-forward that begins the episode? The characters are all right, a little dull, but we don’t really know them yet. Except Towa’s schtick gets old very fast, and I can’t blame Mami when he treats her so disrespectfully.