Basilisk -Ouka Ninpouchou- … don’t follow the franchise, so next is Gdgd Men’s Party, but I can’t find it, Yowamushi Pedal Glory Line … not following that, either, so it’s Overlord 2, and while I hear Overlord 1 was pretty good, I didn’t watch it, and I have no intention of watching DamexPrince … Ah!
Kyoto Animation has been pushing Violet Evergarden for a while now. It starts with Violet, who we quickly learn is a robot used for combat in a bloody war which is now over, is recuperating and having her letters fly out the window and travel great distances, when former Lieutenant Hodgins comes to pick her up. She keeps asking about Gilbert, her former commander, and Hodgins keeps distracting her. He takes her to a household where she doesn’t fit, and so goes to work at Hodgin’s letter-writing and delivery service. In the meantime she tries to figure out what she ought to do now that her main purpose is fulfilled and her commander gone. and in the end tries to focus on what the hell “love” is. Good luck with that.
The episode is more coherent than my description. It’s just that it’s a long story we’re embarking on, and KyoAni is too sophisticated to settle for a simple narrative. Also, they fill the episode with detail, both visually (yes, this show is amazing to look at. Did you expect anything less?) and in the narrative. There’s too much to simply retell here; I’m amazed it all fit into 25 minutes. Which is not to say this is a perfect episode. For one thing, why on earth don’t they just TELL Violet that Gilbert is dead? Of if he really isn’t and there’s a dark secret here, at least give us a hint of it, because I spent much of the time muttering “Just TELL her!” and getting distracted from the dazzling visuals and lovely character designs KyoAni was so obviously desperate to show off to us. Well, she and we will figure out what’s going on eventually. In the meantime, I have no idea what episode 2 has in store for us. That’s neither a good or bad thing, but how many times can you say that about a show after episode one?
Next it’s Marchen Madchen, where a shy girl named Hazuki suffers from what she calls “story syndrome,” which we would call escaping into a book whenever her stressful real life (mother died, father remarried) gets to be too much for her. She’s reading one when a girl in a robe bumps into her and runs off, leaving her bag behind her. Hazuki, for reasons I can’t figure out, follows her and sees the stranger do actual magic stuff! She follows some more, finds she has a book in her own bag she didn’t know about, gets transported to a new, magical land, and, because this is an anime fantasy story, is soon naked and running for her life. And it turns out she’s a marchen, or maybe it’s madchen, which impresses some of the girls there. Apparently there are no men.
Judging from what I saw, this show is going to have a lot more fanservice. Yumelia, the girl chasing Hazuki around, switches to a string bikini for no reason at all, and the OP and ED are full of cute girls in various … attractive outfits. Which may not be a deal-breaker for you, so I’ll talk about the story. Basic fantasy stuff about books, and how wonderful reading is, which is fine, we need more reading in the world, but I have a feeling the stories are going to be precious fairy stories that young girls are supposed to like, and I don’t know if I can handle too much of that. Too soon to tell, though. I’ll think about it next week … oh hell, it IS next week.
Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku stars Suzuki, I think, game debugger guy working on the third day or so of his latest “death march” at work, who finally gets a little shut-eye and wakes up in a fantasy world that looks like two of the games he’s working on slammed together. Okay, he thinks. Dream. I’ll play along. Some lizardmen shoot arrows at him so he brings down a meteor storm which not only wipes them out but raises all his levels (Log Horizon style, he gets all the windows and notices a player would get) life points, and cash to extreme levels. He plays around with all this for awhile, sometimes wondering why he hasn’t woken up yet, when he sees a dragon attack a group of soldiers and rescues a warrior maiden of sorts, who will probably be pissed off and slap him next episode.
Another “modern-day guy stuck in a video game or generic fantasy world” story, which isn’t necessarily bad, just that it will be harder for it to find variations on the theme. Well, for starters, he’s the only modern-day person there, and I doubt there will be more. Yes, he has a cell phone, but he can’t call god, though he’s so powerful he probably wouldn’t have to. But judging from the ED we’ve potentially got a harem series in the making. Almost all girls except for Satou, Suzuki’s player-name. There’s a lot of cgi-heavy action that doesn’t quite look realistic, but it’s not nearly as bad as some other shows, and in fact the art looks very good. I might watch next week, if only to see if the girls slaps him.
In Koi wa Ameagari no You ni we have a high school girl named Tachibana who, apparently was a member of the track team, but sustained an injury bad enough that she had to be operated on. Now she seems to mope about (maybe she always did) and work her part time job, where she’s got a serious crush on the manager, a hapless fellow named Kondou, constantly apologizing to customers, writing little notes to himself, who was nice to her just after the injury, and has become vaguely aware that this lovely young girl has a thing for him. The EP suggests that it’s going to be more than a thing, but watching these two not stupid people go through the day I’m not so sure. Also there’s an idiot boy chasing Tachibana who I want to kill.
The age difference might be worrisome, but the show shows no indication that it’s going to get tawdry on us. Though shown as largely a fool, Kondou obviously knows the situation and while he’s lonely and plays with the thought, he’s not getting his hopes up, and maybe hopes rather that Tachibana will find a boy closer to her age. Tachibana, meanwhile, is an extremely serious girl, and is absolutely certain but unsure how to go about it, which makes her unsmiling demeanor and bullheaded actions kind of adorable, and her gaze can pierce steel (“Is she glaring at me?” Kondou asks himself more than once). Not sure how this one is going to work out, or if it SHOULD work out, but I think we’ll get a sincere, believable story either way.
Next it’s Miira no Kaikata, where a high school boy living at home, named Sora, gets a strange package from his traveling father. Other packages have contained dangerous, cursed things, so Sora is a little surprised to find it’s a tiny little mummy that was sent in a coffin with a cross on it, go figure. The little critter is eager to please but isn’t much use except for swelling up in disgusting ways when it gets wet, barking like a dog when it has to, and making squick sounds when it walks. Sora calls it Mii-kun; there’s also Pochi the dog (the critters in this show have unimaginative names), and presumably Sora’s sister, Kaede, who sadly spends the episode locked in her room on a deadline. Oh, and Sora’s friend Tazuki, who wants to “try things out” on Mii-kun; I approve.
That was about the lamest, most uninspired first episodes I’ve seen in a while, and I say that while acknowledging that it had to set up the premise and we (and Sora) have to learn what it eats, how to wash it, etc. But I spent most of the episode wondering when the episode would end. Mii-kun didn’t strike me as being cute. Sora was in the position of voicing his inner monologue because there was nothing else to do, and that gets dull very fast. Maybe if we had seen more of Kaede, or Tazuki had gotten his with it would have been a better episode. Also, I was somewhat reminded of the baby from Eraserhead …
Happily, next comes a perfect palate cleanser, the return of Dagashi Kashi! First we get …
Later it’s …
We’re only getting half episodes this time, but in the first episode at least they squeezed in three or four dagashi, though only the two above are featured. We start with a strange Winter(!) scene where Saya asks Kokonotsu why his shop is so run down these days, and we learn the dad has run off, but after that it’s back to hot summer days, and the great Hotaru being summoned to satisfy Kononotsu’s and later Saya’s hankerings. Hotaru is at full force, posing, gesturing, bravely shouting inane things (“Your father is a Youtuber!”–I mean, yeah, there was a Youtube thing first season, but why shout it now?). Saya has less to do, but she gets her share of crazy faces and adorable blushing, so it’s okay. The question is, will this once again be the most educational show of the season? This time it’s going against a ramen show plus one about camping and another about exploring. Well, I already know those two won’t be as funny.