As you probably guessed, last season was so dire for me that I stopped watching everything, except for Bisque Doll, which was charming to the end. I regret none of my actions.
So it’s time for the new season. The usual rules apply: I choose what I want to watch, unless someone out there has a good suggestion. The first image for each show I cover is a screenshot of the first clear image of the first episode, unless it tries to be moody and do a slow fade-in. As usual, I use Random Curiosity’s preview page as a resource. Here we go:
First on my list we have Shokei no Virgin Road, which starts with a dream of a Japanese classroom and someone’s best friend. Then we move to your average isekai summoning ceremony the summonee being average loser kid Mitsuki, who, after summoning, is found to have no powers and is kicked out of the castle. He’s befriended by Menou, a priestess of sorts who’s job is to take in other “Lost Ones,” i.e., summonees. She tells him he indeed has powers, and manages to use it to destroy an alter, whereupon Menou kills him. Lost ones are a menace to society. Attention turns to the other new summonee, who’s being locked up in the castle, and it’s pretty clear by now that this is the friend in the dream that Menou keeps having. She’s supposed to kill her, too, but can she? Well, the episode ends before any recognition can happen. Also, some moronic royal guards are killed, and Menou’s aide Momo goes from savage killing to ogling her boss in a maid outfit. Oh, there’s also Flare, the nasty woman who trained Menou, who we’ll see plenty of later.
That was a nice little twist at the beginning, introducing the boy and killing him off as a menace halfway through, as if to say, “This isekai show is different from the rest!” But the rest of the story is a mess. They keep up some interest by jumping around in time to Menou’s childhood and the dispatch of another hapless kid from our world who didn’t mean any harm to anyone, suggesting that we from this world are a menace to their world, though their world, with the stratified society and the casual treatment of death, doesn’t seem to be any better. The scenes between Menou and Momo are annoying comic bits that seem to be there to cater to a different audience. And there are head-scratchers like those guards who go after Menou with hardly any weaponry I can see except for a magic sword, and the fact that the capital village, in spite of the Lost Ones being weeded out, has a large Japanese population. That one is so blatant that I’m sure there’s a good explanation, but I won’t be watching it. Unpleasant, mishandled stuff.
After that I needed something cheerful, and luckily that meant Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei Shite Mita. Heart, season 2 of our scientists in love series. To start with it turns out that Himuro and Yukimura couldn’t get good Oxytocin level results from their kiss on the shore last episode, so they go off (with Kanade in tow, natch) to the biology labs and meet Fujimura and Chris, experts in Oxytocin analysis because they have good equipment and are also dating, so they have a lot of samples. The two of them, courtesan-like Fujiwara and man-boy Chris, nearly turn this into a much more ecchi show than we’ve had before. It helps that we get a lot of information about Oxytocin, quite a remarkable hormone, and even Rikekuma the Science Bear’s discussion of centrifugal lab equipment has a slightly erotic, er, spin on it. In the end, the biology lab couple’s oxytocin levels are far higher than the Ikeda lab couple. So, are they in love, and what is love?
Great to see everyone back, and welcome to our new characters! However, the show got a little lost in this competition between the couples that shouldn’t have been a competition in the first place. As Himuro points out, oxytocin levels vary from person to person, and as Chris points out, even if they manage to quantify “love,” if their relationship doesn’t match the figures, are they just going to walk away from each other? I hope this competition angle gets dropped quickly. On the other hand, while Himuro and Yukimura are slightly out of their element, taken aback by the love force emanating from Fujiwara and Chris, Kanade is at full strength. We don’t get much of Ibarada and the lolicon guy this episode, alas, but you can’t do everything in one episode. It also has plenty of funny, well-timed gags along with the interesting science jargon. Oh, and Himuro’s adorable hair-wag is back! … A slightly flawed show, but capable of producing big laughs. Glad to see it back.
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai is told via Raido, a guy who was quiet and ignored in middle school but wants to break out of that in high school, and so he introduces himself to the small girl on his left. She looks at him but doesn’t respond. He tries a few friendly lines, no response. He picks up her eraser but she takes it and says nothing, or does she? After two days of this she is more responsive, sitting with him at lunch, leading him to an arcade … Eventually he makes out a few words and figures out that Aharen fears she gets too forward with people. That’s because when she gets enough confidence she nearly smothers Raido with attention, like offering him a bento by shoving it in his face. She’s grateful for the attention he’s giving her but hasn’t figured out a way to acknowledge it. And he still can barely hear her at all …
This first episode dragged a lot. It was all Raido doing something and Aharen either not responding or over-responding, and no one else. Which is not to say the episode is a total bore, some of it is cute and clever. It needed to establish the basic premise first, and now it can introduce new characters, which it will do next week with the seething redhead we see at the end. I have no doubt the show will liven up. That said, some of it was absurd, especially Raido’s different approaches to understand what Aharen is saying. Did he really bring arrows and a carrier pigeon to school? Raido’s strength so far is his patient, sensible nature. He can’t really believe that bone conduction will help (and it doesn’t, with one of the episode’s funniest bits). The whole thing is cute, and it’s illustrated almost like a watercolor to emphasize it’s dreamy mood, or Aharen’s dreamy mood, I don’t know. Let’s have patience for this show and see what the side characters bring.
In Otomege Sekai wa Mob ni Kibishii Sekai Desu, a guy named Leon is blackmailed by his sister into playing an Otome game he despises. Guess what? He falls down the stairs and wakes up in the very same game! Wow! What an original idea! In this world he is simply a “Mob” or NPC, he’s quite happy to live a quiet mob-life and avoid the annoying characters, male and female, in the game, but after he is ordered to marry an old hag because his family is poor, he runs off, does a side quest he remembers from the game, and returns rich enough to enter the academy and hopefully woo the game girls.
This episode is all preamble to get Leon to the academy where the adventures start. It rushes some things and barely explains others, like how did the women in this world obtain all the power? And why is Leon set on entering the academy when he wanted to avoid it, well, okay, it’s so he won’t be married off to some hag. Leon is a problem. He is all bitterness and spite. He hated the game when he played it and hates it now. On the other hand, since he doesn’t give a shit, he has the inclination to do things not expected, like that weird side-quest where he picks up a helpful space ship and a friendly AI. That part of him will be to his advantage as he meets the various girls at the academy, but, given his knowledge of the game, why does he even bother? And I won’t think too much about the fact that the game had him do heroic things, but it’s a reverse harem game … I don’t get it. Still, I enjoyed Leon’s fuck-it attitude towards the game and his new life, so I’ll watch another episode, I think, and hope he doesn’t spend too much time competing with the handsome boys at the school. That would get dull fast.
Healer Girl has a world where singing is an established medical field, with demonstrable results. This is demonstrated to us by apprentice Kana, your average genki prodigy, who sings and heals a boy’s skinned knee, which gets him in a little trouble with Karasama, her teacher, since she’s just an apprentice and all. We also meet Reimi and Hibiki, and so we have our trio of ambitious trainees. They help at the nearby clinic, do exhausting training, and occasionally break into song for little reason. Oh, and there’s a staff member Shoko, who enjoys pickled reptile alcohol, making her my favorite. And a nice cat. At one point a nice old lady falls ill and Kana has to help her, though she’s forbidden to heal, and we learn just what a prodigy she is.
Cute and happy with overtones of mortality to it. It’s not very exciting, and the thought of them singing shmaltzy songs every five minutes doesn’t thrill me. Fortunately, the songs are often cut short by an interruption or gag, and at one point Reimi, singing of her adoration for Karasama, turns to rock and roll. In other words the show is self-aware and doesn’t mind having fun with the premise. Also, Kana’s seiyuu, Karin Isobe, has a pretty voice. We’ll have to see what the show has in store, but I suspect it will be Kana and the others’ development with a patient-of-the-week.