We start with Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki, where a college boy named Kazuya is shunted off from his school library to a land where demons are taking over the north, and the remaining kingdoms are trying to muster up a defense. Kazuya is meant to be a “hero” and is meant to be sent to another kingdom, though no one can guarantee his safety. Nuts to that, says Kazuya, and decides to overhaul the country’s (Elfrieden, I think) financial issues in order to pay off the other kingdom in cash. Three days later the wimpy king abdicates in favor of Kazuya, who is also suddenly betrothed to the princess Liscia, who is not happy about it. Neither is Kazuya, but they come to some peace by discussing the country’s financial state of affairs. And so, “Our hero is a civil servant” begins.
The first episode is dry. The trouble is, Kazuya makes this decision and that, or talks about policy, but we don’t see the effects. The closest thing we get are occasional reaction shots from other heads of state. Log Horizon could get dry and talky too, but we get to go around the kingdom a bit. Maybe this will change in later episodes. Kazuya is a fun character in that he’s utterly pragmatic, doing what he can to pull the country up from poverty–which he is doing only to keep his head. Liscia has a good temper and seems quite capable–she’s an army officer–but this episode so far, apart from the inevitable confrontation with her parents about the betrothal, acts as a foil so that Kazuya can talk. So, if the show can travel around a bit, maybe toss in a battle or two, and Liscia can get more to do (and the two are connected), this might be a show worth watching.
In Tanei wa Mou, Shindeiru we get middle-schooler (who looks like a college student) Kimihiko, a guy who keeps running into dangerous situations against his wishes, getting into another one as he’s abducted and tossed on a plane with a mysterious briefcase. The plane is hijacked but the hijacker says he’ll relent if a detective can tell him why he’s doing this. Up steps cute little “Siesta,” (codename), who forces Kimi to be her sidekick as she talks the hijacker out of it, but there’s more to the situation, what with android implants coming out of the hijacker’s ear and slashing things. Turns out he works for SPES, an evil android manufacturing organization. This and that happens, but because Siesta had planned everything out beforehand, including Kimi’s abduction, the day is saved. Naturally Siesta makes herself comfortable at the reluctant Kimi’s apartment, and they next go after some drug dealers at the school who are using the Hanako urban legend as a cover. They solve the case. Flash forward and we learn that Siesta has died.
A double-length episode that could have been single length, or close, if they’d prune all the talking. Siesta and Kimi talk before the crises, during the crises when they should be doing something like chasing a guy or avoiding death, and, naturally, afterwards. Much of the talk goes in circles. Siesta wants Kimi to be her Watson, Kimi wants a quiet life, round and round they go with a bit of teasing and sexual tension livening things up. But I admit that the mysteries are intriguing. Siesta seems to be working alone, but she obviously has connections. There’s the whole SPES business. Not to mention Kimi’s trouble-prone life and the disappearance of his parents. And obviously, Siesta’s death, referred to in the title and the story but so far unexplained. Without these questions I don’t think I’d watch any more. The mysteries are too absurd, and in the second one, overly cute. And apart from one dazzling moment of animation it isn’t much to look at. But I am intrigued by the mysteries. If they can tighten up the storytelling a bit I might keep watching.
Shinigami Bocchan to Kuro Maid has an unnamed young duke, I think, who was cursed when he was five, so that everything he touches dies. He’s shunted off to a spare mansion in the woods with a butler who we haven’t seen yet and a young maid and childhood friend Alice for company. Alice spends her time teasing and flirting with the duke, and of course he can’t act on her advances because of the curse. She finds his embarrassment and frustration cute. And so it goes, complicated slightly by Philip, another old friend who comes to check up on him and, terrified, leaves in a hurry. The question is, how to break the curse?
A low-key first episode that is mostly to establish the duke’s loneliness and quiet desperation, and the sexual come-ons by Alice, who, for all her teasing, is obviously quite devoted to him. Little more to say about that. Much of it has a soft, hand-painted look that is occasionally marred by the bad CGI, but not enough to put me off completely. If the story is going to be standalones (next week it’s something about a lost cat) I’ll probably lose interest, but if it delves more into the nature of the duke’s curse and ways to remove it, that is, give the series a goal, I wouldn’t mind watching more. Oh, more side characters would be nice too, but who’s not afraid to visit the Duke of Death’s villa?
Next it’s Uramichi Onii-san, with the titular character playing one of those smiling, energetic leads in a kid show, leading them in exercises, drawing, etc., except in reality he’s an increasingly bitter young man who feels the struggles of daily living are beginning to crush him. This sneaks out during taping, as he’ll say, with a bright, genki face, bitter and snarky comments to the bewildered children in front of him. The director and staff seem fine with it. We also meet his co-stars, each unhappy or messed up in their own way. And I wonder if the show is going to go anywhere …
It’s a sketch comedy. Either we get a happy scene with kids that turns bitter (fortunately, as I said, the kids are too young to understand, which, now that I think of it, a funny contrast, as is the producers not seeming to care that he’s talking on TV about being crushed by life), or it’s bitter behind-the-scenes action. The setup is amusing but I don’t know how they can keep going this way for an entire season. Everyone seems static in their situations, all of them missing something, and I doubt anything promising is going to happen to them. If something does happen I will assume it will only be for sake of a single episode’s story, and the character will wind up disappointed again. A season of this? I dunno …
Seirei Gensouki starts with a young boy who makes a childhood proposal to his best friend before he moves away, and upon coming back his bus is clobbered by a train and he wakes up as Rio, a slum orphan in the kingdom of Beltrum, who’s wondering where these weird memories of a country called Japan come from. Some brusque (except for nice Celia) rich girls ask him if he’s seen a purple-haired girl, he says no but later discovers her in a sack with his worthless masters all dead. He rescues her, goes to the palace to explain himself, and is beaten to a pulp by the guards until Celia and Vanessa (the brusque woman) interferes. Next thing you know he has an audience with the king, oh, he also has amazing magical powers! Well, it’s complicated.
A lot happened that I didn’t explain, but all we really need to know is that it’s another isekai series. What makes it a little more interesting is that they throw a lot of stuff at us (not to mention Rio). There’s the abduction of the princess, the guy who tried to kill everyone, the man who killed HIM, the pink-haired deity woman who awakens Rio’s magical powers, the corruption and violence of the knights, Rio’s plan to avenge his dead mother, and that’s ignoring Rio, or Haruto’s story about the girl who proposed to who might have found someone else, and the hints that Rio/Haruto might not be the only one brought to this world. Also, with the corrupt people and the murders and beatings, it’s a little darker than some other series. But with the latent magical powers revealed and Rio’s future in the magic academy, it’s also a very routine isekai. I’m a little interested in how this will play out, but I’m not expecting great things.
And finally Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken 2nd Season Part 2, a show that I would probably miss if it would take a rest. After all, we just got through a dull daily life series. Well, a return to the regular series means more of a plot than raising vegetables, having festivals, and watching seasons pass. In this one, Veldora is restored and Rimuru introduces him to the townspeople, Shion’s cooking levels up in that it actually tastes good, and Rimuru plans to take out Clayman after he’s taken over Falmuth and rescued some demon I’ve forgotten about. To that end, bigwigs from a couple of other nations show up to talk strategy, the new one being Elalude, overprotective father of Eren, whom I don’t remember at all. Expect a lot of demon lord and monster bickering next episode.
I don’t have much to say about this now. It’s the same characters we liked from before, doing their usual things, with the usual confusing intrigue and endless characters. It’s the second cours of season two, so you know what to expect by now.