New Spring 2022 3

Estab-life begins with a funeral which isn’t.

Estab-life – Great Escape starts with a funeral attended partly by three girls. They all drive off in a hearse and attempt to pass a checkpoint, but the corpse sneezes, and soon they’re on the run from drones and things. Turns out the girls (and a wolf-guy and a robot) are “extractors,” bent on getting people sent from one walled city to another, which is apparently against the law. After that prelim it was back to school for the girls, one of them, Equa, concluding that one of their teachers is tired of his life and wants to get extracted somewhere. So we get another escape caper.

It’s a shame that the CGI distracted me from what might be a fun series. The concept is good, at least, even though we’re not told why Japan has been converted into separate forbidden cities, or why Equa and the others are so devoted to helping people escape. However, the writing isn’t all that good (Why did Equa taser that teacher, anyway?), and the characters are pretty much cliches, again, though, I wonder if the uncanny valley of the cgi makes the other stuff stand out. As for the CGI, the action scenes look good, but they still haven’t figured out how to make the people look and move naturally. This makes the standing around scenes difficult to watch. It’s like we’re watching a live-action film acted by stiff amateurs. Again, this doesn’t help the story as a whole. A shame because this might have been fun to watch.

Late night in Shachiku-san’s world.

Shachiku-san wa Youjo Yuurei ni Iyasaretai starts with an overworked Fushihara doing yet another all-nighter to make a deadline and to not be appreciated by her boss. She’s close to despair at this point, 2:30AM, when a scary voice orders her to leave. She looks around and finds the scary voice is actually an adorable little ghost with a trick megaphone. The little ghost earnestly tries to get Fushihara to leave, then, when that obviously won’t work, brings her tea and a blanket and does a lot of cute little helping things, which Fushihara finds cute as hell, and indeed gives her strength to finish. Then, for some reason, we go back in time to see the events leading up to what we’ve scene.

Yesh yesh …

Now, I figure that once the show settles in it might be all right, but episode one goes from slow to draggy to “Why the hell are they showing stuff we’ve already seen? And in the same slow and draggy style!?” And the pauses and reactions as each cute little thing is presented to either Fushihara or us the audience. Yes, it’s cute, yes, please move on now. The show seems to think we won’t get it otherwise. Also, the scenes are next to silent, just keys tapping and the occasional voice, which did nothing to get the energy up. Now that they’ve got the basic setup going maybe things will get more interesting, but this episode I wanted to skip through the cute doldrums and wait either for Fushihara to make the deadline or just go home already.

A lovely seaside shot for Heroine Taru Mono.

Heroine Taru Mono! Kiraware Heroine to Naisho no Oshigoto stars Hiyori, a plucky girl from the countryside who goes to Tokyo for high school. It’s the usual “Ittekimasu!” opening bit, with her supportive family on the phone, getting lost in the high school building, getting helped by nice people, classroom introductions, the only dampener being flanked by two handsome boys who don’t like each other, but the girls love. There are evil glares and sad looks among other class members, and we figure the show is going to be full of high school intrigue. She joins the track team, has lunch with two girl classmates of different types, discovers that the two warring boys are actually the popular idol duet LipxLip (where they always smile). Then she learns she should get a job, and what job is it but to be a manager-trainee for LipxLip. The boys are appalled. So is Hiyori. She doesn’t care for idols …

That won’t be easy.

Busy first episode, but it’s balanced nicely between youthful exuberance and teen drama. We follow Hiyori almost throughout, and fortunately so far she seems to be able to carry the load. She is genki and determined to succeed, but she’s not an idiot. While the other girls scream over the two boys, she’s seen enough to tread warily around them, even as she’s stuck between them in class, commenting “Am I the only one to think those smiles are scary?” Meanwhile, the show busily sets up things for later, like upperclassmen eyeing the newbies and muttering about the track team (the reason why Hiyori joined this school in the first place), not to mention Chizuru (shy, bespectacled) and Juri (beautiful and fashionable), who are likely set up as Hitori’s best pals in her class. Yeah, a lot of stuff going on here, but the episode didn’t rush or mishandle any of it. Very promising.

Indeed.

Gaikotsu Kishi-sama, Tadaima Isekai e Odekake-chuu starts with murder and an attempted rape, which turned me off. However, when the show actually starts it’s not a bad isekai. After Arc, our hero, rescues the girls we get a crazy-silly (think One Punch Man, but not quite as engaging) and the bit where Arc wakes up in full armor and discovers he’s in the game he was playing etc etc. The only drawback is that under his magnificent armor he’s a skeleton. He plays with his skills by damaging the forestry, then heads to a town where, being no fool, learns he has to bag some nasties to get a license, goes off, rescues those girls, and, with the bandits’ cash, finally buys some food and is able to eat something. He’s been hungry the whole time. So much for day one of his new life. Oh, there’s an elf girl who will come into play soon.

In terms of isekai shows there’s nothing new here, but, apart from the opening bit, I enjoyed watching. Sure, Arc accepts his new situation too quickly, but so do most of the isekai shows. He’s overpowered, but he’s having so much fun discovering his strengths that I didn’t mind. He plays by the rules of the world, determined to earn his keep and being decent, the one exception being the sexual assault bit, where he wonders if the assailants are PvPs and is it worth it to fight them, but his better nature wins out in the end. In other words, he hasn’t quite realized that this is no longer just a game. Another interesting point is that this world has magic but it’s a lot less common than in the game, which makes me wonder if this is a point the show will work on later.

Saybil about to be taken to an academy he almost flunks out of.

Arc might be overpowered, but Saybil, the protagonist of Mahou Tsukai Reimeiki, is way under-powered. So much so that he’s close to being expelled by the magic academy, which is the only place he can remember, having lost his memories. He’s summoned to the headmistress’s office, oh oh, expulsion time, but meets a feisty witch named Loux, or Los, demanding to get in. Turns out Sayb isn’t getting expelled, but rather will go to a southern outpost where anti-witch sentiment is still rampant. Los invites herself along, and the #1 student, Hort, who obviously has a thing for Sayb, also joins the party. There’s also Kudo, a grouchy lizard-guy who insists on going alone, or rather with two guys he immediately ditches. There’s lots of exposition talk and the threat of witch hunters to spice up their journey.

Hort, Los, and Saybil.

It’s handled a bit clumsily, exposition forced in at odd moments, but there’s stuff to like here. Sayb is a bit dull, having few memories and all, not to mention his lifeless eyes, but of course he will have some fundamental power that will awaken when they most need it, possibly next episode. Los is a lot of fun, both a silly loli and a shrewd reader of people and situations. I just wish the show didn’t focus on her crotch so much. Kudo is a jerk, but honest. The story has mysteries to unravel, not only Sayb’s past, but Los’s desire to read a forbidden book. No idea what’s within Hort, but there’s got to be a reason for her tagging along beyond her interest in Sayb. It has me wondering what’s going to happen next episode. That’s a good sign.

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