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.

2 thoughts on “Winter 2019 1

  1. Egao no Daika… That’s a big question mark, despite the semi-uninspired nature of the premiere there’s a good chance for some serious meat to the series. But there’s also the chance that Yuki ends up being the generic heroine princess and Savoir-of-the-Kingdom…

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