We start the second installment with Dolls’ Frontline, in a future world where we got another world war, but this one was fought by girl androids. After the war, the “dolls” from the Sangvis Ferri manufacturer malfunctioned and kept fighting, so the dolls from the Griffin company are trying to take them out. We watch a squad of Griffin dolls on a mission to grab important data (something about Lyco, whatever that is) from a Sangvis database while a lot of shooting goes on. Then they have to fight their way out against some fearsome, high-end “Agent” models, who dress like maids. The leader, er, M4A1, is reluctant but backed up by the dependable and experienced M16. In the end we meet a human named Gentiane, who I think is going to be their new commander if they get out their predicament alive.
Considering that this is a bunch of cosplay characters with guns, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. The episode focuses on the mission, the strategies and methods Team-AR uses to succeed, and at this point we don’t even know which characters are expendable, which added tension to the situation. Some of the battling isn’t clear, but that’s because we don’t really know who’s on whose side yet, especially when the hack some other dolls and use them in the battle, too. There is also M4A1’s personal issues, the fact that she’s sending some of these units to their death, etc. She seems more human than the other dolls. So yeah, it’s android cosplayers with guns, but the first episode was done well.
Next we have Cue!, which begins with a longish fantasy sequence which turns out to be a dubbing exercise, which Haruna, probably our main character, screws up. Then she is off somewhere, and we switch to several other girls who are suddenly off somewhere. “Somewhere” turns out to be a first meeting at AirBlue, a new voice acting school. A bewildering number of girls of different types show up and are quickly introduced. Then, to their surprise, they get a special first lesson where they read a scene from that classic Japanese text … Hamlet. So we get girls pairing up and doing “To be or not to be,” and the bit with Ophelia and the nunnery. Nervous Haruna manages to bond with another student, Maika. Then another surprise–they’re going to their first audition–right now!
Cute girls doing voice acting, okay, more like Idolmaster except the manager is female. There are too many scenes of Haruna being nervous, but apart from that the first episode did the best it could establishing things. There are nice bits where we are transported to Denmark to see the girls do the scene, while the other girls watch from castle windows. Thankfully, we don’t see all the readings, only moments, the funniest being little Yuuki doing a genki Hamlet (none of the girls have read the play). Woven all through the episode is the concept of hopes and dreams, which is to be expected. Haruna, alas, might be the dullest of the girls, since she doesn’t have a type, but I’m sure the series will shift its focus. It had better; they introduced so many characters …
Shikkaku Mon no Saikyou Kenja starts with a magic guy killing a dragon and then deciding to reincarnate to hope he has a different Crest (magic birthmark). We jump to 12 year-old Matthias on his way to enroll at the Second Academy. He has the “Crest of failure,” yet wows his first two harem members Alma and Lurie with his enchantment abilities, and then the academy in the entrance practicums. He uses “wordless spells,” a technique forgotten by everyone, but much more useful in battle. Why have they been forgotten. He is asked to teach the students wordless spells, which they quickly catch on to, and then at a battle-match with the FIRST academy, defeats their top guy and reveals him to be a demon. The demons have infiltrated the academy to discourage wordless spells so they would have an advantage. Well, the secret’s out now.
Well, that was awfully fast-paced. You’d expect an episode or two of Matthias getting used to his new surroundings, one for the entrance exam, and one or two for the tournament. In fact I was sort of dreading it. But they do it in one episode! I wonder if they just wanted to get the introduction episodes out of the way as quickly as possible. The big problem so far is that Matthias has no serious weakness. He takes a moment to think and then does more than anyone expects of him. You can partially use his reincarnated status as a reason, but it still means we have another overpowered hero and hence a dull series. The only times he’s flustered is when he sees the lovely Lurie, who returns the blushes but seems too old for him. So, as powered as he is, is Matthias is, is he going to stay and dominate the school? Who will prove a serious threat to him? Or will he go off and have adventures? I guess we’ll find out.
In Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi o Suru we meet Wakana, a boy whose family runs a hina doll shop, and he’s almost disgustingly enamored of them. He sews clothes and works on getting the heads just right (the hard part) with his grandfather. He considers his infatuation with the dolls as a natural barrier to making friends in high school, but he accidentally meets a blunt blonde beauty named Marin, super-social, the opposite end of the spectrum from him. Out of his league, but he then learns that Marin is desperate to cosplay as “Shizuku-tan” (think a buxom Rory Mercury), and when she discovers him sewing in the arts and crafts room, begs him to help her improve her costume. He is both infatuated with this beautiful girl and disgusted by her poor sewing, so he agrees to help.
And so, the world will open up for Wakana as he enters the exciting cosplay world! Fine, but that’s not the issue. It’s how well the show is going to present it. The intro episode has the usual stuff, a comic first meeting, etc. Nothing beyond the normal. It’s not bad, but nothing exceptional. However, the show did develop a nice tension before Wakana agrees to help. He’s not used to other people and could have been overwhelmed by the beautiful Marin’s high-energy behavior. The episode set that up well enough that I let out a breath when he said “I’ll do it.” Indeed, the episode did a good job at establishing Wakana’s character. With Marin, not as much. Right now she’s just a generic beautiful, sexy, outgoing girl, though kudos for her bluntness in expressing what she really feels and how Wakana should do the same, and not being afraid of doing what you love. There are potential dirty bits ahead, and in fact the show does have Marin showing a little skin (mainly to show Wakana’s reaction), so what will happen when they get to it and, like, take measurements.
Speaking of clothes, now it’s Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku, where Konichi, a girl in the country is gearing up for her first year in high school. Her mother went to the same school and so is making a new school uniform just like she used to wear. Much time is spent with its making, choosing the fabric, doing a fitting, rather a little too long, but this is a slow-paced show. At the entrance ceremony both Konichi and Mom are startled to learn that the school has switched to blazers … So Konichi, a nervous country girl, is going to stand out wearing her sailor fuku among all the more sophisticated types! However, a pep talk or two from her adorable little sister makes her decide to at least try wearing the handmade outfit, and when she arrives she strikes up a conversation with a lovely girl Erika, who has some weird traits involving toenails and feet. They hit it off, so maybe this will work after all.
Gentle tinkly piano music throughout. You can tell this is going to be a slow, slice-of-life show, and an optimistic one. You know already that there will probably be few mean girls, and that everyone will get along. Every episode will be a heartwarming adventure. It’s lovely to look at, the characters, the art, and the animation all look very good. Special attention is paid to the various moods that Konichi goes through. Her eyes alone probably used up much of the budget. However, I’m a little worried about how much attention the show is paying to other parts of Konichi. The show tends to ogle this fifteen year-old girl a bit too much, bathtub scenes, others where she’s just in her underwear, closeups of her (clothed) chest. I hope the show doesn’t stray too far in that direction. But if you can ignore that aspect, this looks to be a happy, warm weekly event.