First off we have Eiyuu Ou, Bu o Kiwameru Tame Tenseisu: Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai, and we meet Inglis, a great ruler, brave, noble, beloved by all, on his deathbed. He’s visited by the deity Alistia, who congratulates him on a life well-lived and asks what he wants to do next. He says he wants to be reincarnated but this time to battle more. So you shall, etc. He reincarnates as a girl, which dismays him for maybe a minute. This world is slightly different, but he remembers his previous life and the next thing you know he’s using his aether power to wipe out a nasty dragon. He, sorry, she’s still an infant. Jump five years where an asshole challenges the royal guard to fights and keeps winning because he’s using magic and they’ve forgotten it existed. So the five year old Inglis, but everyone knows her as Chris, takes him on, dispels his magic, fine, but then defeats him using straight-up swordplay. Wow, a prodigy.
I think the reason I enjoyed this opener was because Chris is so formidable but still a cute little thing. When she fires the aether shot that destroys the dragon she makes a little baby noise. And at five, an adorable little girl, she sometimes gives an evil smile much like Anya does, except Chris knows exactly what’s going on. It’s a funny contrast in an otherwise pedestrian setting. When she grows up more will I still enjoy it that much? Well, the show certainly showed what it can do to entertain with what it has, so while I don’t have high hopes for this show I’m curious to see what they’ll do next.
Kubo-san wa Boku o Yurusanai stars Shiraishi, a high school boy who is so unremarkable that people don’t realize he’s around. In fact, though he never misses a day of school people think he plays hooky. It’s partly his fault. He does nothing to assert himself or make his presence known, and doesn’t want to, deciding he’ll be a side-character in his high school life. But one girl, Kubo, always sees him, and what’s more, always goes out of her way to talk to him, much to his bewilderment and consternation. She tries to get him to stand out more, whether that means standing on his chair (no one notices except the teacher) or volunteering to answer a question, and she needles, flirts, and pouts until he does what she wants. She even gets him to share his Line, sorry, Pine contact info with her! She’s obviously smitten with him, and he doesn’t know what the hell she’s about. And through a series of sketches, we have the story.
It’s cute enough, and I’m sure there’s plenty of shy boys in school who would like to have a Kubo-san paying attention to them. It’s also sluggish. It rolls slowly along, each scene taking a second or two too long and the dreamy, sappy music never stops. I know they’re establishing a mood, but I’d appreciate it if they’d pick up the pace just a little. Part of the problem is that the opener only features two characters, and while Shiraishi’s internal asides are sometmes good, you just can’t have a whole show with a girl flirting with a guy. A lot of shows have this problem in their first episodes. Some of them, like Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge, make up for it by introducing great side characters (“Miyano desu!!”), so there’s always hope. Kubo has too friends who might liven things up. So this might be fun when we meet more people.
Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi is another isekai series, where a guy named Mukouda is taken to a kingdom to defend against demon monsters along with some other ordinary people. But turns out he’s one too many, a mistake was made, and the only skill he has is ordering food from an online grocery. Since he’s not wanted in the country of Reijseger, a suspicious country to begin with, he hires an escort to go to another country. The escorts are the usual adventurer types. He amazes them with his cooking since he can order things like ginger sauce from the store, and the escorts are happy to have him. Then a giant wolf-thing, Fenrir, orders him to make him food, and is so impressed he forces Mukouda to form a contract with him. Cooking for a magical giant wolf is going to put a strain on his food supplies and budget …
You can probably imagine every scene, and you’d be right. So we’ll look for good touches. First, Mukouda is slightly older, a salaryman probably, and he has a good eye for his situation, such as when appraising the royalty of Reijseger and suspecting they are corrupt, which is verified when they close the borders to keep soldiers from fleeing the country. He’s also keen on keeping his abilities a secret, though that must be hard with the pile of sauce bottles he used up while feeding Fenrir. Which leads to the money situation. He knows he has to make a living, but how exactly? Also, while he can cook, he’s not a gourmet chef, but he’s feeding rustics who rarely eat like this before. In other words, Mukouda is a better-than-average isekai transfer. As for everything else, just a bland fantasy world with possible politics to muddle things up in the future.
Now that I’m a week behind I’d better hurry with the last two shows. Next we have an original story, Ooyuki Umi no Kaina. where, let’s see … There are a handful of people in a small village on the “canopy” which is made of ice. Our hero, Kaina, goes around hunting for giant bugs that go around repairing the holes that show the Snow Sea below, where no one lives that they know of. But the canopy is getting more holes and there are no other villages left … So some bug hunting and exposition to start off. But there are people in the snow sea, including a pack of people and their princess, Ririha, riding, er, snow-dolphins maybe, trying to catch a floating bag of gas, but they’re waylaid by the evil Valghians, and only Ririha escapes by attaching a basket to the floater. It floats up to the canopy, where an astonished Kaina rescues her from floating even farther up.
Okay, first this is all in CGI, but I’ll say they’re getting better at it. The were no Uncanny Valley moments in the episode for me, just the clean, precise, maybe too vivid angles and edges to everything. But since this takes place in a snowy, frigid world, it doesn’t hurt the ambiance. The fantasy world is interesting, confusing at first until you realize what they mean by “canopy.” The story might not be terribly original. I figure eventually Kaina will lead his elderly village-mates down to the snow sea before the canopy melts completely. Ririha’s clan and the Valghians’ in conflict is just good guys vs. scary guys who look like fish, that’s more straightforward. So I suppose Kaina will help out Ririha’s group somehow. There are also mysterious glowy floating things around to add to the mystery. My main beef is they’re airing this cold show in winter, and I’m cold enough these days. So the story might not be terribly new, but the artwork is gorgeous. If I keep watching, and right now it’s 50/50, I look forward to more of that.
FINALLY we get to the end of the show I might watch. In Hikari no Ou we watch a man dying after killing a giant wolf-thing, while a small girl, Touka watches, shocked. The hunter, in his dying breath, gives her the dog’s name: Kanata. Later we learn that Touko was taken in by a nearby house after her family, and a lot of others, died in a fire. But we learn that “natural” fire, like we know, is much more dangerous to humans. To be in the presence of it causes you to ignite inside, hence the graves around the place–they can’t cremate anymore. Touko is told by the stern mother that she must go to the city and return the hunter’s sickle, and the dog. It’s a very traditional village. So off she goes on the twice-yearly land ships that come buy to swap supplies. There’s a city story too, but we don’t see much of it, only learn from the helpful but sometimes obtrusive old-lady narration, that people die easily because they don’t know how to protect themselves from old dangers, like toxic chemicals.
So from ice to fire. My big question is what the hell is that liquid they use to heat things now? I suppose the old lady will tell us eventually. As for the story, while the old lady says it’s not a folk tale, it’s real, it’s told and displayed as one. I’ve heard this called “Ghibli-esque,” and there’s some truth to that, particularily in the art and the earnest storytelling. It’s told slowly, letting expressions and side glances tell us all we need to know in any scene. There’s plenty of dialogue, but it feels almost silent, at times, maybe calm is a better word. As for the story, it looks to be pretty big. We have Touko’s trip to the capital and the guy with his sister in the city, each with their own concerns (the sister appears to be dying for one), and there’s also the overriding story which is I guess how things got this way and is there any way to fix it. I’m not sure I’m up for all the heaviness, but this, like ooyuki, is NOT an isekai show, and that bumps it a peg or two for this season.
Looks like I’m going to drop a lot of shows right off the bat this season, but there are some decent-looking ones out there. Hope you enjoyed these posts.