2021 Spring 1

As I’ve gotten even older I’ve gotten more picky in the shows that I watch. And, as I think I said before, I don’t have the time or inclination to watch, let alone write about, all the shows out there or even a majority of them. So don’t be surprised if I select shows that you might not care about, or write about very few of them for this set of preview posts. I mean, I hadn’t realized that the new season had already started until about two days ago. I don’t think I’m becoming indifferent to anime in general, just more … jaded perhaps, about what show looks good and which do not. All this talk to explain why the first show I chose (based on the order in Random Curiosity) is …

Mashiro no Oto starts with a snowy night while Setsu leaves home.

… a show about people playing the shamisen, Mashiro no Oto. We meet Setsu, the grandson of a shamisen master who died telling him never to play the instrument again, but there’s an addendum to that added later. He disobeys and finds his sound and soul empty, so wanders off to the big city Tokyo, where he stumbles around, gets roughed up by some thugs, and is rescued by a hostess club lady named Yuna who takes him in and lets him stay at her place (knowing how ridiculous this sounds, the show makes a joke about it). He meets her deadbeat boyfriend Taketo, disapproves of him, and is roughed up further. Yuna, about to leave the city possibly for good, comes to his rescue and shoves him in front of Taketo’s band performance as a warm-up act. Naturally, he mesmerizes the crowd, Yuna kisses him and leaves, he hangs out with Taketo(?), and I thought I know where the series was going, until the end, where I said “HEH?!!” very loudly. Wasn’t expecting that …

Setsu and Yuna.

Judging from the pics I had thought this was going to be a show about highschoolers forming a club and Setsu being the grumpy genius who makes friends, but even without the HEH?!! ending (which seems to be out of another show, well, so are Yuna’s martial arts moves) this show is already different. This is partly Setsu finding himself and finding friends and an audience, but the first episode is also about being young and poor and trying to make it in Tokyo. The characters are complex and unsure what they want, and also contradictory. Taketo is a jerk, but he’s astute enough to sense Setsu’s talent and realize he’s a decent person. The biggest drag on the show is Setsu himself. He’s silent, a bit priggish, and frankly a bore. As for the shamisen music, we get extended bits of it which sound good to me, a non-expert, along with a little description of what’s going on, sort of like Nodame. As for that last moment, I suspect I know what it means, and I hope it all doesn’t go completely back to my initial prediction. But a good start nonetheless.

A corridor light.

Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song is up next. We get two episodes this week but I’ve only watched the first one so far. We start with a girl, slightly bloodied up, walking down a corridor talking about making people happy with music, and then we watch while everyone in the amusement park Nialand gets brutally murdered by, er, things. Flashback, it turns out, 100 years where we learn that AIs have been designed each with one mission in mind, as they get confused otherwise, and we see the girl again, actually an AI named Vivy, or Diva, or A-035624, or 03, as the chipper floating cube from the future that invaded her system calls her, whose goal is to make everyone happy by singing. Turns out that massacre is happening in 100 years, basically the AIs will turn and kill off the humans, and only Vivy can save humanity! So she takes the first step and saves a politician from a bomb.

First off, it’s slickly-done. We get a boatload of exposition, much of it from the fast-talking cube (who later inhabits a stuffed bear), but also simply from the situations Vivy finds herself in, the conversations she has, for example. It’s too much, but it could have been much worse. Next, we get the contradictions involved. Vivy is an AI after all, so in some sense she should not care about what happens to humans, and for that matter why should cube/bear? Well, she has made connections to people, like the little girl Momoka, but can that give her a heart? And the show is already making mistakes on the time-travel aspect. The politician was to be injured in the explosion but is unscathed. So the murder plans, highly sophisticated, set for that very night, would have to be scrapped. He’s not in a hospital, after all. Finally, unless I’m getting it wrong and I might be … the legislation to give AIs names and rights is going to pass whether he’s dead or alive … As for the characters, Vivy has a lot of Violet Evergarden in her but I can’t see her acting out of her programming the way she does. Ah, I don’t know. I might watch episode 2. It looks good and the story looks interesting, but I’m afraid the creators will mishandle it and create a confusing mess.

He looks brave and professional, doesn’t he?

We come to Sentouin, Hakenshimasu!, where Kisaragi Corps has pretty much taken over the world, so the three founders, all sexy girls, send off Agent Six to another planet to start taking that one over, too. Along for the ride is a snarky loli android named Alice. They immediately run into trouble, get picked up by Snow, a scantily-clad captain of the guard for a generic fantasy kingdom, and taken to the kingdom, where Six continues to make lewd comments, ogle the girls, and piss everyone off except Princess Tillis, and god knows what she’s thinking. However, Alice fixes a rainmaking machine the kingdom desperately needs so all is forgiven. So now they’re knights of the kingdom and are going to battle monsters.

He’s actually more like this.

Done by Akatsuki Natsume, the man behind KonoSuba, and very similar. A magical(?) kingdom where all the characters are base and conniving, with plenty of insults thrown about. There’s even a KonoSuba reference thrown in. And while I didn’t really like this episode all that much, I remember that KonoSuba had a slow start before hitting its stride, so it’s worth watching to see the characters develop and bounce off each other. We also have an interesting backstory, as Six and Alice encounter a decrepit tank and hear it’s a magical item from the ancient past, not to mention the rainmaking machine the kingdom worships that only needed light repairs and a reboot. It makes me wonder how much Clarke’s third law is going to be at play here, even with generic golem things set up for next week.

Your average fantasyland opening shot.

In Dragon, Le wo Kao, we get, obviously, a dragon, but this unnamed character is something of a wimp, with lousy stats, and is kicked out by his family for letting an egg get stolen under his nose. So off he goes, whimpering all the way, to find a place to live in a world where everyone considers dragons to be food or materials for “cool gear.” So he’s captured a lot, runs a lot, and luckily, finds some people who merely pity him and give him directions to where the real estate elf Dearia comes to his aid.

I’m not going to keep watching this if all we get is the dragon wallowing in self-pity, but now that he has support maybe he’ll settle down a little. We don’t know enough about Dearia except he seems to be a decent sort. The rest are your generic goblins, harpies, dwarves, etc, and aren’t terribly interesting. The one exception is the self-proclaimed “heroes,” your average gamer-types, who threaten the dragon for no reason at all, except maybe skill points, and are so ludicrous that even the dragon finds it hard to take them seriously, the only time in the episode where the dragon wasn’t feeling sorry for himself. If we can have more bits like that, where the show mocks the premise and the dragon gets more to do than cry, then there may be some hope for this show.

I could use a drink. Too bad the town’s been destroyed.

Seven Knights Revolution starts with a girl named Faria looking over a town destroyed by flying monster things. She was too late, so she goes off to the next town, where a boy named Nemo is watching the monsters kill everyone in his town. He’s rescued by Faria and we get some exposition about how he’s a new student at Granseed Academy, where I guess magical warriors are trained, and Faria is already a student there and warrior connected somehow to a goddess or something named Eunomia. More mayhem follows, and Faria’s being threatened by death is enough to inspire his latent magic ability, one Faria doesn’t recognize. After defeating the boss monster they head off to school. How I don’t know, since their cool train was wrecked in the fight. Next episode looks to be school stuff.

Faria saves Nemo.

Nothing really new here. Magical medieval world with good and evil. It’s going to succeed or fail by execution, and episode one is not bad. Generic, yes, but they have to set things up; you have to cut them some slack. Nemo does a lot of hiding and cowering at the start, but it’s clear he’d fight if he could, and when his powers manifest he jumps right into the fray–being smitten by Faria certainly helped. Faria is almost TOO nice, but she’s dedicated to her work. We get a lot of shots of Ellen, but she hardly does anything at all and mostly lies there unconscious. The battles aren’t bad … Oh, I dunno. Too soon to make a decision on this one.

Our hero, Odokawa.

Finally, Odd Taxi. Modern-day Tokyo but everyone is an animal of one type or another. We follow a walrus named Odokawa, laconic and insulting, as he picks up a kid who takes a selfie with him that happens to have a picture of a wanted man, er, ape in the background. Also, there’s a high school girl missing. Later at home he talks to someone whom we can’t see but who apparently ran away. A cop says he’s tied in with the missing girl case and confiscates his cam footage, which he later gives to the bad ape. Later, Odokawa’s doctor (a gorilla) learns some drugs are missing and we are led to believe that his alpaca nurse is the culprit. We also get scenes of other people talking about things that might be involved in the mystery.

Our hero, on the job.

I thought this was going to be a slice-of-life series about a taxi driver and his eccentric passengers, but instead it looks to be a seedy crime story. Maybe this made it more interesting. I’m curious to know all about the things the show hints at: the person in Odokawa’s apartment, whether it’s the missing girl, the deal with the bad ape, the missing drugs. … For some reason what really nags at me is how did the kid get his phone back … But anyway, the story is strengthened by the low-key, leisurely approach of the telling. There’s a bit early on where Odokawa just drives while we listen to a song on his radio and see the passers-by. Odokawa never raises his voice, and the others stay pretty quiet too, as the mysteries burble just under the surface. Very interesting first episode. Looking forward to more.

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