New Fall 2021 #3

He’s talking about his previous, miserable life.

Saihate no Paladin is an isekai story where the despondent adult is awakened as a baby and is being raised by three undead people, Gus the ghost, Blood the skeleton, and Mary the, er, well, she’s very nice. In fact, they’re all very nice, even if the two men look like villains. They’re raising the boy and keeping a lot of secrets, like where the hell is everybody else? This goes on for a while until the boy, Will, gets too curious and sneaks in to Mary’s worship area, where she’s on fire. Turns out she does it every day because she worships “Mater,” but her choice of undead-ness means she gets roasted by the god’s purity, or something. Anyway, the boy survives and grows up a little more.

Will walks with a threatening skeleton guy who’s actually pretty cool.

Typical episode of a boy growing up. It also gets dull, because we get large infodumps about the nature of the gods and monsters of this world, all of it we’ve heard before. We’ll have to be patient and watch the boy start on his inevitable journey before we get anything more than cryptic hints. That said, all three of the undead are enjoyable. Gus is a wizened old geezer Gandalf-style, but he loves and worships money, which he can’t have anymore. Blood looks scary but he’s a friendly dad figure. Mary is a mom. I suspect we won’t see much of them once Will goes traveling, but their interactions kept what could be a dull first episode bearable. That said, it all looks pretty routine, so I’m not sure I’ll watch any more.

Futaba’s cute bedroom.

Senpai ga Uzai Kouhai no Hanashi starts with Futaba Igarashi, a young woman who looks younger, preparing for her day at work where she’s working hard to be a full-fledged salesperson. It’s the usual office routine stuff until her senpai, Takeda-san shows up, loud and boisterous, and tossles Futaba’s hair to her great annoyance. They go off to a presentation where Takeda offers to let her do the presenting, which of course leads to her nervousness and Takeda’s reassuring introduction. She does fine. Then he tossles her hair again. We meet coworkers, including one who drinks water out of a vodka bottle for some reason. Later we learn Futaba made a mistake with an order. Futaba goes beyond the necessary apologizing and everyone’s happy except Futaba, furious at herself for screwing up. But Takeda is reassuring and tossles her hair. Then they go to an izakaya where she gets drunk. End of a mostly happy first episode.

Tossle tossle.

When I read about the show I thought that Takeda-san would be a big, insulting, demeaning lout, but in the anime, Takeda, while he’s loud and laughs at her a lot, he goes to great lengths to train, encourage, and reassure Futaba. Okay, he tossles her hair a lot, but frankly that’s about the only thing dislikable about him. Most office workers would be happy to have a senpai like him. There’s a key line in the drunken izakaya scene where he says he looks at her as the daughter he doesn’t have, and there’s a lot to that. Futaba is short and diligent in an adorable way that makes everyone in the office kind of go “aww …” The episode itself is well-done. No wasted moments. Scenes like the presentation are shown for just enough time to make their point, then we move on. The only thing that dragged was Futaba’s anger at herself for that mistake. Good first episode.

Looks pretty, but a big armored suit battle is happening around there and stuff’s about to blow up.

Shikizakura begins with a nightmare where Kakeru, a boy in his pajamas, is running away from a duel between two powered suits while cherry blossoms fall. He sees a shrine maiden doing a dance, smiling at him, and reaching out her hand, and everything blows up. Cut to now, where the now teenage Kakeru and his buddy Kippei rush to their school’s field trip, but a girl in loli clothes is lost, so Kakeru goes off to help her. The trip is a visit to a museum exhibit about the “Obara incident,” where everything blew up. Kakeru, running late, stumbles into the same museum but with a sinister red look, and soon Oni (monsters we saw at the beginning) are telling him he shouldn’t have survived, and to join them instead. He’s rescued by two girls and a boy in powered suits, he falls into a hole, and there’s another powered suit down there, only an oni is inside. Out of the hole the suits (and Ouka, the lost girl) are threatened by more oni until Kakeru shows up and beats up anything he can get his hands on, including the good guys. Then Kakeru, inside the suit regains control, and back in human form he’s dragged off by the good guys because he’s dangerous.

She knows Kakeru’s in there, you see.

Interesting start. Not often we see the hero have to fight for control of his own suit with the bad guy, Strangelove style, and I like how the good guys don’t trust him. I wouldn’t, either. It’s a nice mess that the show will get sorted out for a couple episodes or two, probably, and the threat that the oni might overwhelm Kakeru’s will hopefully won’t go away. On the other hand, well, much of the time the CGI interferes. As usual, the battle scenes look good, but the characters don’t. Some of the time it’s like the show pauses a beat, or the characters stop moving, and it slows down the action. But not always. There are scenes where I do forget it’s CGI. Maybe they’re getting better. All in all, the premise, a twisted version of boy-becomes-hero, is interesting enough that I might endure the visuals. Not sure yet.

Don’t know why Gyakuten Sekai starts with a circuit pattern …

Speaking of interesting starts, Gyakuten Sekai no Denchi Shoujo throws a lot of weirdness at us in episode one. We got a Japan that has a “True” section that has subjugated the “Fantasy Country,” which apparently means no anime, games, doujin, etc, though things like host clubs are still all right, since our hero of sorts Hosomichi is working in one, flashing his smile at various woman and being despondent about the world when off-duty. Something sinister (“but it’s all-ages!”) is confiscated and Akatsuki, the head bad guy, decides to stomp that part of Tokyo flat in mecha that look like cute dogs. Hosomichi is rescued by an opposing mecha, he finds the cockpit empty but a cute moeblob is in their via VR, depressed. Long story short, Moso cons her into inspiration, the mecha powers up, and he beats up the dog mecha and some ninja girl in a more sophisticated one. I’m cutting a lot out of this intro.

“Boy jumps into empty mecha cockpit” is nothing new, but when the boy is a cynical host who just wants to get the hell out of there, it’s a little more fun. In fact, a lot of it is fun, like when the leader of the heroes, Balzac, calls him up to give an inspirational speech, Hoso just hangs up on him. Who is this guy? He bickers with the moeblob avatar, and with the loan shark he owes money to and is also in the cockpit with him. It’s a brave mecha battle but full of jokes. It’s a bit too much color and frenzy at times, but Hoso’s combination of cynicism and hatred of the oppressors helps keep us focused. What the hell the backstory is I have no idea; I hope there won’t be a lot of infodumps in the future, but the first episode was fun, tiring but fun.

Yep, that’s an eyelid about to open.

And then, Deep Insanity – the Lost Child. Some big pit opened up in Antarctica, and nasty things are coming out and infecting humans, and turning THEM into more nasty things. To combat this, and get to the bottom of the problem, so to speak, a lad named Kai, who wants to be a hero, signs up to be a “sleeper,” and on his first trip down with his jaded teammates gets his first taste of battle. The squad leader, Leslie, and his squadmates are bemused by the boy’s intentions, further when they pull a surprise at his welcome party and his heart stops beating. But in the battle something inside him kicks in and he performs decently. We don’t know what caused it, but Leslie is a little more respectful of the recruit’s abilities.

Kai on his first mission. Guess which one he is.

There’s a lot of stuff in this show yet to explain. It’s a “new-recruit is tested under fire” episode on the surface, but that’s an oversimplification. First, the pit, which reminds me a lot of the Abyss, has a lot of potential; anything could come out of it, or the sleepers might encounter them underground. Another aspect is the jaded, realist attitude of the experienced sleepers. Okay, the fact that they’re trained combat soldiers has a lot to do with it, but there seems to be more. The rules in the battle zone come down to basically “Don’t be killed,” “Don’t freak out when others are,” and “Fear is useful.” Well, I suppose those are rules for any soldier, but the sleepers here joined up for more pragmatic reasons, for instance, Reika joined up to get a prosthetic leg. There is a element of practicality in this batch of people which makes Kai’s “I want to be a hero” line surprising to them. Finally, does Kai have any sort of extra power or not? The way he jumped into the second battle suggests there’s more to him than we’ve seen. Well, we’ll see. It’s a good start. Let’s see what the show can deliver from here.

A big king.

Finally for this season, unless a show or two pops up later, I watched Ousama Ranking, taking place in some kingdom somewhere with the first prince, Bojji, being unable to hear or speak. Everyone thinks he’s an idiot and worries about the future of the kingdom. One day he meets a sort of two-eyed pool of black named Kage, who orders the boy to give him his clothes. The boy somehow understands this (and Kage is surprised he can somehow understand Bojji) and does so. This happens two more times until Kage gets curious and follows the boy into his castle, where he sees the boy’s emotionally sad life. Things happen and we see that Bojji can do one or two things better than anyone, like dodging a bunch of snakes and his asshole brother, the second prince Baiden.

Bojji meets Kage.

So not a regular anime type of story, and one with some potential as we don’t know how Bojji is going to be king, and was it that one guard who set the snakes on him? It has a soft, watercolor feel to the art, like a children’s book. But frankly I am not really interested in seeing more. Maybe it’s the thought of going through a series with the main character only able to make incoherent noises, or that nothing in the story really interested me. It seems to be more of a fable than a show, and I dislike fables. Anyway, there was nothing really wrong with it; as I said, the setup is intriguing, but not enough that I want to see more. … This is a kind of show that makes me feel like a heartless villain for saying it, but there you go.

Anyway, enjoy the season!

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