Let’s start with Ore Dake Haireru Kakushi Dungeon, where Noir Stadia, merely the third son of a Bayonet, the lowest tier of a heavily stratified European fantasy world, gets pushed aside for his job as a librarian. His best friend and possible love interest Emma suggests he use his rare Great Sage Skill for advice, though it gives him a huge headache, though apparently kisses lessens the pain, so we get a lot of kissing, not to mention boob and panty shots. Anyway, he learns of a “hidden dungeon” where he meets a trapped adventurer, Olivia, who gives him her powers and advice, since she has nothing better to do, being trapped, you see. So he uses her powers, enters the Hero Academy exams, manages to kill off a Reaper-thing, and passes.
Noir is supposed to be a pure-hearted boy, but he sure is quick to ask for hugs and affection from Emma and his doting sister once he learns it will up his Life Points. And he has this hidden dungeon at his disposal, not to mention Olivia, and he takes full advantage to cheat. Not sure I like that. On the other hand, he IS the victim of a rigid class society with no hope to better his lot if he plays by the rules, so I can’t really blame him. Well, I can for using the girls for his own purposes. Other than that everything is routine, with a little more fanservice than your average fantasy-world show. Nothing really peaked my interest. I pretty much doubt I’ll remember about this show in a week, but maybe.
Hataraku Saibou returns for season two, and it’s pretty much the same as season one. We learn about how the body handles a problem and we get a inspirational tale about a discouraged cell getting a pep talk and coming through in the clutch. Here it’s a platelet who is struggling with her duties getting the pep talk from our friend T-cell 1146 and then going through the crisis, in this case, a bump, i.e, internal bleeding, with the support of her friends and the tongue-lashings of the platelet trainer, Megakaryocyte.
The educational stuff is fun. The inspirational bits are dull and cliche, as in this case. The show often salvages the weak points by its spin on cell behavior. In this case the fearsome megakaryocyte is shown as a intimidating woman with a baby strapped to her, part drill sergeant part mom. And of course the platelets are so cute that we like watching them anyway. Still, I don’t know if I want to watch another season unless they move away from the inspirational stories with their predictable dialogue and outcomes.
Let’s see if the spinoff, Hatarku Saibou Black, can add something fresh to the story.
Our hero this time is AA2153, a novice red blood cell, only a guy, and the T-cells are buxom women, for the record. This body is under a lot of stress, no doubt from work. The body obviously works for a “black company,” and it’s made the body sort of a black company itself, with everyone overworked and overstressed, overtime, no backup, just deliver the oxygen over and over. All the other cells are rude; even the platelets are mostly unpleasant. And there’s a lot more death. One cell takes AA2153 under his wing and tells him about the old days, when the body was functioning better, but those days are gone. So AA2153 has a rough first day at work with no end in sight.
Don’t know if I want to watch it. The ED suggests that AA2153 will get his act together, and there’s more smiling, but that could be a ruse. While it’s interesting to see the body in a state of self-destruction, it’s also unpleasant and unhappy. There’s some fun to be had with the comparisons to the main series, my favorite being the narrator, not a happy woman but Kenjirou Tsuda! But that’s done now. Apart from some gender switching we can guess that every type of cell will be the same only unhappier. I might look into it later on. Maybe the body will get inspired to get healthy, but that’s only a guess, and I don’t want to watch to find out.
Horimiya is a romcom where you know who is going to end up with whom from the start, since Hori is the girl’s name and Miyamura is the boy’s. Basically, Hori is your average, popular, pretty high school student who has a secret–she rushes off to be a mom to her younger brother since their mother is wrapped up in work all the time. So while she rushes off after school to clean, cook, etc, her friends think she has a boyfriend or something. Meanwhile, the class’s quiet, moody, glasses guy, actually has tattoos and piercings and looks cool when out of uniform, so he’s got a double life, too. Anyway, they discover each other’s secrets and … have intelligent conversations about it, and he starts hanging out in her house because brother Sota (and Hori) likes him, and she needs him to buy groceries sometimes. Meanwhile classmate Toru, who likes Hori, fumes that she’s spending time with Miyamura, and so the two boys … have an intelligent conversation about it.
I already like how the show is sidestepping the obvious–the whole thing about secret lives is played down; it’s just a fact of their lives. Also–intelligent conversations! We’re not talking deeply intellectual, but ones where one character asks an earnest question and the other gives a well-considered response. You don’t often get that from high school romcoms. This show is set in something close to reality, and the kids, though still kids, are not fools. Thus there are a few slapstick humor and awkward moments, but they’re just for a quick gag and passed over as part of daily life. Which is not to say the show isn’t funny. No big laughs (yet), but sort of a constant chuckle sort of thing. Now the question is going to be how Miya and Hori are going to get past the pretend-family situation they’re in now and move to romance. My guess it that it will be rather matter-of-fact, which sounds dull but we have a few other students at the school yet to be introduced. The show has a lot of options.
Next we got Kemono Jihen, where a paranormal investigator of sorts named Inugami visits a farm where livestock is being killed, and there’s a “abandoned” kid in the mother’s care named Dorotabo. Inugami hangs out with Dorotabo for a few days until the next new moon, where first we think Dorotabo is the actual demon, and he is actually partly monstrous but the livestock-killer is something else. Long story short, Dorotabo, now Kabane, goes back with Inugami to hang out with a couple other monster-like kids and solve crimes, I guess.
I figured out where the end would be, with the kid going to Tokyo to begin a new life, but the twists in the story made it interesting, anyway, especially when Inugami whips out his gun at the kid. Also, the pacing of this episode reflected the rural scenario, like something out of Yuru Camp but with monsters–often there’s not even BGM, only ambient nature sounds. I doubt they’ll keep that up in Tokyo, but it suggests that care was taken to set the mood of the episode. That said, I’m not sure I want to watch any more. I liked the confident, clear-eyed Inugami quite a bit. The boy Kabane, by his nature and upbringing, is laconic, shy, and therefore dull. Too early to tell about the other characters. There was nothing bad about the first episode, but with competition (mainly from sequels) fighting for screentime I have to cut my list down somewhere.
Finally, Mushoku Tensei – Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu, yet another isekai, if you couldn’t tell from the title. Apparently this was one of the first to be written, so someone decided to bring it kicking and scratching to a season full of more self-aware isekais. So we have an otaku loser who gets in a car crash and dies, and wakes up as a newborn baby in your average European fantasy game world. We see him bumble around as a baby while retaining all his former memories, finding some magic books (his mom, Zenith, uses magic) and experimenting with spells. A few years pass and as a young boy he nearly takes out the house with a spell, is considered a prodigy, and so they hire an unsure, nervous tutor, Roxy, to train him. So much for episode one.
The strength here is the internal voice of the boy, Rudy. Rudy may be a small boy, but his inner voice is that of your average otaku pervert. He is born and the first thing he thinks is that his mom is hot. He sees Roxy the shy tutor and sees her as the nerd girlfriend of his dreams. Sugita Tomozaku with his dry, matter-of-fact conversational style is perfect for the voice, and it keeps the otherwise dull growing-up scenes entertaining. I hope the show doesn’t lose him entirely as Rudy gets older. In terms of the story it’s too soon to tell. Since it was written before the isekai craze it is not as self-referential as “later” shows, so it loses an edge those shows have. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to experience such a situation as new, not a trend, and Rudy played enough games in his past life to make his own comparisons about HP and the like. So to some this series, without the self-awareness, might come off as dull. As for me, I liked it, as routine as it is. I understand the original story will be hard to recreate in anime, but I’d like to watch this show try.