Let’s start with Takt Op. Destiny, where we learn that a meteor or two brought evil bug-things to terrorize the earth. We move to a small town somewhere in the American west, where kids ask what music is, and there’s a upright piano that everyone’s afraid to play, until a skinny guy does just that–Beethoven symphony five, fourth movement, and a bug (called a D2) comes out of the ground to tell him to shut the hell up. Instead, Takt conjures a fighting girl out of his arm, who tosses him a baton, and the fight starts, the girl, Destiny, making short work of the bug. We learn that music is the D2’s only weakness, though in this episode it only gets them angry. Anyway, Takt, Destiny, and Destiny’s big sis (or something) Anna are headed to New York so Destiny can get tuned and maybe Takt can play a grand piano, but the road is fraught with D2 danger. They manage to destroy a nest before the episode ends.
It’s a good first episode, but too early to tell about the series. I like the trio of Takt, Destiny, and Anna, the latter trying to keep the other two out of trouble while Takt stares languidly out the window (really, he reminds me of the always listless Tanaka-kun), and Destiny eats and talks robotically about nourishment. That said, I’ll get tired of them unless some others show up, and judging from the ED the show plans to do that. I am curious as to whether this is going to be a road story or they’ll actually get to their goal. Also, are we going to hear anything besides Beethoven? Maybe it will be a composer of the week deal, or they’ll mix in some other music, you know, jazz or EDM. Since Takt brandishes a baton, probably not. I guess we’ll learn more next week.
Shinka no Mi: Shiranai Uchi ni Kachigumi Jinsei starts with a boy named Seiichi getting come on to by a naked girl, then jumps back to his last day at school, a smelly tub of lard bullied by everyone. God, via the school PA system, informs everyone that they’ll be transported to a new world, with stats levels and the like. Isekai series are so common now that the kids are more or less fine with it. Seichii winds up in the wilderness and struggles to survive, eating the “fruit of evolution,” getting drops by killing a “clever monkey” with his BO, and transforming (painfully) into a handsome lad. A powerful pink gorilla fights him, falls in love with him, and it looks like he’s going to be a gorilla husband. Meanwhile the other kids are all together, not sure of their status, and we learn that not every person in the school disliked Seiichi. I think the naked girl will be explained next week.
The setup is a male Kumo Desu ga except it’s in a jungle, not a cave. Okay, it also has a lot more slapstick and a lot fewer gross scenes. Also it doesn’t have Yuuki Aoi, though seiyuu Shimono Hiro does a good job, though most of the time he’s just reacting in shock to whatever danger he finds himself in. Where the story is going I have no idea. Like Kumo Desu ga, we have the more privileged kids who will probably have to do brave things and Seiichi, on his own, apart from Saria the gorilla, roughing it. Since this seems to be a straight-up comedy the story won’t get too dark. That’s fine, if they can keep up the laughs, and they did all right for an introductory episode.
After a break of a few days I turn to Shin no Nakama, where a guy named Gideon is booted out of his adventuring clan because he’s reached the limit of his leveling up abilities and has become a hindrance to them, which is rather unkindly told to him by a jerk named Ares. So he departs, leaving behind his sister, Ruti, who is an official “Hero,” so kicks ass, so doesn’t need his help (Ruti and the others aren’t told why Gideon left). So he moves to remote village and starts gathering herbs to be an apothecary, troubled by his past but surrounded by nice people who appreciate his medicinal skills, especially when a boy named Kanta develops a nasty disease and Gideon, now called “Red,” rushes into a forbidden forest and procures an important ingredient in spite of a big monster and the rampant destruction by some adventurers trying to kill it. In the end he opens his new apothecary shop and his quiet new life can begin, maybe.
I stopped watching the last fantasy apothecary show because it was dull. This one isn’t action-packed, either, but I enjoyed the edge it has in Red. True, he was kicked out of adventuring life, but he’s made up his mind to turn his back on it anyway. There’s a nice scene where some adventurers tracking the monster demand he be their guide in the mountains, and he refuses, even with the raise in status. People can go about their murdering, warlike ways all they want, but he won’t be a part of it. Indeed, there are a couple of scenes of his peaceful life which cut away to a battlefield full of flames and torches. Which life is preferable? But the other question is, if Red found more abilities and could help the fight against monsters like his sister, would he do so? It’s a moot subject now, but it might come up in the future, not to mention the adventurers his apothecary might attract. Hopefully the series can keep these points bubbling while we watch quiet, sick-people-being-cured stories every week.
Next we have Sakugan, where we watch a small girl on the run from a threatening adult, turns out it’s her dad. Both live in an underground city and work doing mining with mecha. Memempu is only 9, but a child-genius, and wants to explore the parts underground that no one’s charted yet, in search of a tower she keeps dreaming about (that’s right, an underground tower). But her dad, Gagumber, refuses because she’s only nine, and some tragedy in her past. Meanwhile a father-daughter team encourage the girl and tries to convince Gagumber to let her go. Than, maybe because of a crystal/map mailed to Memempu by the legendary Urorop, monstrous kaijum smash up the city, kill a lot of people, including some we’ve met, and Gagumber decides it’s a good time to let Memempu go, only he’s coming with her. So off they go!
Yeah, that’s a lot to swallow, but the show gives it to us in dollops of action, not just the fighting kind. This show is full of energy, even down to the little eyebrow raises and side glances. It’s not the same intensity as a Trigger show, the characters and actions are more realistic (well, Memempu has some distorted moments), but it tries hard to keep every scene as vivid as it can. It helps that it uses a solid father-daughter relationship that is easy to relate to. We understand the motives of both, that they’re at odds but trying to understand each other. That said, the shocking event near the end prompted some self-examination from both that seemed forced, or at least too fast, but a show like this can’t stay in pathos for too long or it’s dead. One other point: three of the seiyuu have been on a online radio show promoting this thing for six months (I don’t know what they’re saying, but they have a great time), showing clips and using some of the BGM all the while. So my positive reaction to the show might have partly been a shock of delighted recognition. But only a little.
Next, Taishou Otome Otogibanashi, set in 1920, where a rich kid named Tamahiko gets in a car accident which kills his mother and renders his right arm useless. Now a pariah to his family, he is sent off to a house in the mountains of Chiba, figuring his life is over and he may as well die. Then the door opens and he meets his arranged bride, Yuzuki, sold by her family to pay debts to HIS family. Geez, life in early 20s Japan was pretty mean to some people. Anyway, Yuzu is dedicated to her new role of fiancee-housekeeper and her attentions drive bitter Tamahiko crazy. But he senses a similarity–both of them were cast aside by their families, so in spite of himself, maybe Tamahiko will lighten up a bit. Besides, when she undoes her hair it’s big and floofy.
In spite of the lack of action in this first episode this show has promise. Partially because of the setting. Off in the woods in early 20th century Japan, with an almost painted look to everything, it’s austere yet lovely to look at. It might be just as much a look at an earlier, simpler time as it is a love story, which I wouldn’t mind at all. As for the characters, Tamahiko has every right to be bitter about things, but his constant foul moods get tiresome. If only he’s shout “I’m in despair!” or something, though, to be fair, his reactions to Yuzu’s kindness can be sort of funny. However, I feel far more sorry for Yuzu, who had to leave her friends at school to be a bride to a grumpy stranger in the middle of nowhere, well, Chiba. How she keeps up her cheerful attitude I don’t know, and I hope she doesn’t exhaust it, that Tamahiko finds ways to replenish it. Good episode overall, though I’m looking at it as much as a history lesson as a love story.