Harukana Receive, the second sports anime I’m looking at this season (I normally don’t watch them at all) features Haruka, high school girl who moves to Okinawa, where her cousin and new roomie Kanata picks her up. On the way to granny’s house, they stop on the beach so that Haruka can splash about in the water a bit, and then she spots two high school girls practicing beach volleyball. One of them, Ayasa, is friendly enough, but Narumi is full of competitive fire and resentment, especially when Kanata shows up. There’s some history there but the show only teases us with it. Anyway, they have a “friendly” seven-point match where they hit to ball to Haruka every time, and she fucks it up every time but the last, when Narumi is shocked by her jumping ability (Haruka is as tall as Kanata is short). They agree to a revenge match in seven days, if Haruka can learn the rules, and then it’s revealed that Narumi and Ayasa are the high school champions. Still, that’s not going to stop Haruka.
It’s not bad, but after it became clear that Kanata and Narumi have some issues with each other everything else in the episode went out the window with me. I suspect it has to do with the shrine they have at the house to a girl who might have been Kanata’s beach volleyball partner. Everything else is straightforward sports anime first episode stuff, meaning partly that I can’t wait for Narumi to lighten up. Though I did enjoy Haruka’s reaction to everything. She’s delighted to be there in Okinawa, eager to learn beach volleyball, and she makes Narumi step back once or twice out of sheer, uncomplicated enthusiasm. She wants to have fun, and “fun” seems to be something Narumi has forgotten about. The whole show is pleasant enough, full of bright sunshine, not to mention all the fanservice we get from the girls, and let’s be honest, that’s going to be a selling point for the show. Don’t know if that’s enough to get me watching a sports anime, though.
Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro stars Chio, your average high school girl, and her misadventures walking to school every day, or at least that was what episode one was about. In the first half, she’s already late and her shortcut is cut off by construction. After some doubts, she climbs up walls and roofs, having various things happen to her along the way, especially the fear of being noticed because she wants a quiet high school life. Naturally, she IS noticed, but she doesn’t notice the noticers so I guess it’s okay. In the second half she winds up walking with the popular Yuki, who is actually being nice to her for no reason (apart from them being classmates and it’s a natural thing to do), and we get a boatload of social anxieties from Chio, who considers herself below-average. Happily, both parts turn out all right, and Yuki is going to be a regular side character.
I am seriously torn about this one. On one side, I found both parts excruciating at times, with way too many waiting moments and Chio’s endless internal monologue, like waiting for the tooth-brusher to finish, or trying to figure out what to say to Yuki-chan. That would be enough to turn me off completely, but I’m also interested in Chio-chan. She wants a normal life but, inspired by the games she plays way too much, she goes into “assassin” mode at the drop of a hat. Her wild imagination constantly interferes with her needs and desires, not to mention practicality, but she makes it all work. And there are brief moments of delight mixed in, like the balloon pulled down by the pebble. We’ll have to see what happens when enough side characters arrive for them to bounce off each other. Another episode or two.
Hataraku Saibou stars, I think a new red blood cell, named AE3803, as she goes about her daily duties of delivering oxygen, CO2, and nutrients to various parts of her world, i.e, someone’s body. In the first episode she’s menaced by a pneumococcus, gets rescued by a heroic, taciturn white blood cell, gets lost on her way to the lungs (giving us glimpses of various organ, such as the spleen, which looks like a cozy tea shop), meets some adorable little platelets, gets menaced again, but is rescued by the same white blood cell who lures it to a spot where it’s sneezed out of the body, using a rocket launching metaphor. AE3803 is smitten by the white blood cell, but there are so many of both types that they’ll probably never see each other again. Well, back to work for both of them.
It’s all very clever in how it describes various cell functions in metaphors we can understand. The red blood cells are like delivery people seen in Japanese offices nationwide, for example, but sometimes it doesn’t work and we don’t care, like a white blood cell stabbing a bacteria to death, with lots of blood(?), or both the red and white blood cells helping the platelets unload supplies–I don’t think you’d see two different cells like that cooperating in a real life body, but again, who cares? It’s cute. It’s also educational. I kept stopping to look up various cell types and organ functions–human biology wasn’t my best subject in school. On the other hand, can they make this interesting for a whole season? Well, there are lots of organs and other body bits they can explore. I’m especially looking forward to learning about that cozy little spleen.
Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria is yet another story of a modern-day person being tossed into a fantasy world. Hear it’s Yuuto, who has risen to the role of Patriarch of the Wolf Clan, and thus leads them into battle against other clans, like Horn, and Hoof. We see them in battle, well, he stays on a cliff with his sexy assistant Felicia while the men fight using a phalanx formation, which he got from his smartphone … and that’s sort of new for this sort of series. Not only can he wiki up important things, but he can also call his little sister in the real world. Anyway, the Wolf Clan wins and he goes back to the capital where he gets the defeated Horn clan leader Linnea to submit to being his sister (better than a dog, which is what Felicia and Run are), then learns of an invasion that he must fight off.
I am grateful that we skip the first two years of Yuuto’s life in, er, Yggdrasil and go straight to him being the boss. Otherwise there’s not much here. I suppose it’s too early to really develop whatever intrigues his older and jealous cabinet members may have for him. Not to mention politics with the other clans. There’s also the harem aspect. Felicia makes it quite clear that she will do whatever Yuuto wants to do with her, same with Run, in fact, they’d enjoy it. Linnea, the defeated leader, is coming around to the same idea, and there’s also Mitsuki, who knows Yuuto from our world and is the show’s tsundere. There’s also a hint that, like that other show, Yuuto needs to show himself off as a badass to people, though here it’s out of political necessity and not a social survival thing. The first episode stumbled along, setting up this and that story inter-spaced with flirty girls, which, given by the ED, is going to be the show’s main point. Mmm … Nah.
The OP of Asobi Asobase has three young girls in summer dresses looking around dreamily around while a nice song plays. Then the episode begins with a story of how Kasumi has learned to hate to have fun, and now two of the girls are playing around and irritating the hell out of her in the classroom. We also learn that Olivia the blond American has spent all her life in Japan but pretends to be a dumb foreigner to mess with Hanako, the other girl. Kasumi rather nastily tries to get Olivia to teach her English, though Olivia is bad at it too. They end up playing a lot of games to decide who will do what. Meanwhile Olivia still won’t admit she doesn’t speak English.
I’d like this better if all three of the characters weren’t so unpleasant and childish. Why Olivia won’t fess up is never explained, nor why she plays the dumb foreigner even with the teachers who know better. Hanako would probably ditch both these girls if it gave her a chance to be in with the popular girls. And Kasumi comes off as bitter, bitter, bitter. I got the impression that the games aren’t the matter for any of these girls as much as it is the chance to stick it to the other two. Meanwhile, are we presented with a variety of grotesque facial reactions from all of them. That said, some of their biting comments are genuinely funny, as well as the snarky side comments. So in the end I’m not sure. It’s probably going to be game after game in that classroom with as many ugly thoughts as the creators can dream up. Not sure I want a season of that, but we’ll see.
Planet With, so far the weirdest opening I’ve watched, has a boy named Soya have a bad dream, wake up, greet a maid-girl and a big cat thing who eats cabbage, and heads off to school like nothing’s wrong. Conversations with, er, (checks notes) Takamagahara, the kindly class rep reveal that he has lost his memories. Then they’re evacuated because a UFO, a giant cat-thing with “Peas” written on it, glides nearer the town, and a fighter jet pilot has a weird encounter. A team of heroes gather to meet it and transform. Ginko (the maid-girl) and Sensei (the cat (nyan)) tell Soya that he must defeat the heroes, not the UFO. Well, it’s too late to save the UFO but Soya’s weird mecha does steal one of the heroes’ powers later. So, um, that’s it for episode one.
In spite of the weirdness there’s a tongue-in-cheek aspect I enjoyed, such as Soya’s deadpan explanation about his memory loss, as if the creators knew what a cliche it is and so have some fun with it. I liked a little less the common thread some of the characters have. They have experienced painful things and need to find some release and closure. The giant cat (not Sensei. Nyan) seems to offer them a peace, but it’s too perfect, an illusion. Soya’s own memories begin to wake up as well, but they seem to make him angry more than anything. Meanwhile, he’s possibly fighting for the wrong side. Not sure what to make of it all, yet. It sort of reminds me of Zvesda, a show I liked a good deal. We’ll see how this holds up after another episode or two.