Winter 2019 4

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An abstract start to Kaguya-sama.

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Ren’ai Zunousen, now in the lead with the longest title of the new season, stars Kaguya, daughter in a rich, powerful family, and Miyuki, a genius commoner and student council president. Kaguya is the vice president. They discover they each have feelings for the other, but neither will stoop so low as to actually confess, as that would show weakness and give the other person the position of power. So they scheme and scheme for ways to get the other one to admit their love. First it’s two tickets received by their cheerful and relatively clueless secretary, Chika. Can they even ask the other on a date? Then Kagura receives a love letter and uses it as a tool to get Miyuki to react, and then it’s a bento battle. All with a gonzo narrator going on in the background, and lots of dramatic visual effects.

kaguyasama1-1This could be fun. Both characters are world-class schemers; Kagura often uses her high breeding as a weapon, while Miyuki relies on his common stock (his bento has octopus shaped weenies, which she has never seen in real life). Chika finds the perfect moments to mess their strategies up with guileless comments and offers, introducing “chaos theory” into their highly logical verbal battles. It’s kind of like if Tsurezure Children focused on a single couple and added a dramatic narrator. On the bad side, the narrator sometimes gets too dramatic and adds commentary when it’s not needed. I don’t mind his being there but I wish he’d tone it down a bit. Also, right now it feels claustrophobic, those three kids stuck in that room. If the show can expand a little, add a couple more side characters, and keep the situations and strategies fresh, this could be a good show.

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A table, upon which cards will be tossed.

To start Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai we have what looks like a wild west saloon, except in this one it’s fighter pilots, guys at one table, our heroines in another, the former playing cards and drinking, the latter eating pancakes and stuff, like two different shows in one, plus the saloon. After one guy tries to hit on a couple girls we get a scramble, and all the planes are up in the air to protect a supply zeppelin from air pirates. This takes up almost the entire episode, starting from watching Kyrie getting her plane started, throwing switches, so we almost can understand how it’s done. The fight itself is well-done, with genuine threat (since a couple of the cocky guy pilots get shot down early), and later Kyrie runs into some trouble. But since it’s episode one none of the girls gets shot down. As for the guys, who cares?

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Er, behind you …

Obviously the show is intended first to show off vintage warplanes, both on the ground and in action. Nothing wrong with that, and the dogfight scenes are vivid–I especially liked the noises they used, the engines fighting for altitude, the winds, the sounds of bullets hitting metal. As for the characters, it’s too soon to tell. The other point of the show is of course the cute girls, but apart from Kyrie we don’t learn much this time. Kyrie prays at a grave, and notices an insignia on an air pirate’s plane which gets her livid, so there’s obviously a past to explore. This past, and the current situation, seems like a hodgepodge of 19th and 20th century history and is clearly only intended as backdrop for the planes and cute girls. This is a show I can take or leave, but it’s done well enough I’m inclined to keep it right now.

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A moody location for Endro~!, suitable for a boss battle.

Endro~! starts with four cute girls facing off against the demon lord, and with a little difficulty, defeating him. The end. Except we next turn to Yusha (hero class) getting woken up by Seira (priestess, I think) so they and two other girls can go to adventurer school. Their teacher announces he’s leaving and they will be now be taught by Mao, a demon. Everyone is more or less okay with this, because she’s so cute. For their first practicum the class has to go into some ruins and find an artifact or two. Very easy, except that Mao is actually that demon lord returned to earth, one year in the past, so that the big battle hasn’t happened yet, and she’s going to make sure that Yusha and the other three will get expelled and never fulfill their destiny. The practicum is booby-trapped. Of course, episode one doesn’t end the way Mao hopes.

endro1-1Early on I thought for sure this was going to be a setup for a darker series. Yusha’s lines about making everyone smile, and eating cake, seemed too obvious. But it looks like this show is exactly what it shows–a cute, goofy show with little adventures and plenty of time for that cake. Episode one does the job nicely, if predictably. I’m happy to say that the girls, facing danger, don’t panic too much but instead draw their weapons and get ready for battle. That saves us some dull moments while we wait for the panic to subside so the story can get moving again. We still have to get used to the girls, but there’s nothing really wrong with any of them, cheerful or gloomy according to their types. And there are some funny bits, like Mei the mage using her fortune card to tell them their fates and discovering that it will rain tomorrow. Not a world-changing show, but could be fun.

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Fai is certainly having fun.

… and that’s it? I didn’t cover a lot of shows this time. There are a number of sequels I won’t watch of course, and I’m not covering one or two of the big ones, maybe because the older I get the less I want dark, depressing shows on my menu.

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Winter 2019 3

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Refugees fleeing China to begin Girly Air Force.

Now here’s Girly Air Force, and with a title like that it has to be a great anime, right? Well … Anyway, we start with some glowing fighter planes bombing the shit out of some boats taking refugees from China to Japan. One average high school boy, Kei, watches aghast as his childhood friend Minghua drags him to a lifeboat thing, where they are almost killed by a Xi (the bad guys) jet, but a glowing red jet (a Swedish craft known as a “gripon,” we are told more than once) comes out of nowhere and manages to shoot down, but it’s downed itself. Kei swims to the sinking craft, the canopy pops open to reveal an unconscious, cute, pink-haired girl who wakes up and kisses him. Later, Kei is dead-set on joining the JSDF Air Force Academy, over Minghua’s complaints. While arguing outside the base they are seized and interrogated. Turns out Kei can “settle down” the glowing red fighter, so he’s invited to help out.

girlyair1-1Yeah, it’s pretty silly. The girls flying the aircraft, known as “Daughters,” though whether that refers to the planes or the girls I’m not sure … In fact, I’m not sure what the hell is up with them. Are they human? Where do they come from? And while this all seems to be leading to a cute girl pilot harem for Kei, there’s the fully human Minghua, whose parents are still in China, so Kei is all she has, so damn it he’s not going to go to war, in other words, a solid anchor for Kei’s often crazy ambition. This realistic counterweight alone sets the show above what I expected, as does the tragic flashbacks we sometimes get from Kei. So there’s backstory to unpack. As for the girl pilots, we only meet the one and she barely speaks. I don’t know if this will be a good series, but there’s potential here.

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Go-Toubon no Hanayome starts with a flash-forward. Apparently Futaro is going to marry one of the girls …

Go-Toubon no Hanayome stars Futaro, a grumpy, poor high school student who has an unfortunate run-in with a new transfer student at lunch one day, and then learns that he could have a job tutoring her, at five times the normal rate! Just what his family needs, if he can get back on Itsuki’s good side. The episode spends too much time with him trying to do just that, when the logical thing would be to just show up to tutor and let her deal with it. He also meets four other weird girls, and then he learns why his rate is so high.

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The girls hard at work.

Another show where I just don’t like the protagonist very much. Oh, he’s in bad financial straits, has a cute imouto, etc, but he still comes off as a jerk. The girls are more interesting, though right now we just know them as the tsundere one, the flirty one, the suspicious one, the genki one, and whatever the last one is. They have no desire to study at all, but he must make them, and it might be fun to see how. On the other hand, the opening story isn’t handled well, creating false crises until he learns the girls are quintuplets. Well, it’s done fairly lightly, and I AM curious as to how he’s going to make them study, and how they will change each other. Maybe …

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An appropriate image to begin a Grimm story.

In Grimms Notes: the Animation we watch four magical people, Ex (protagonist), Reina, Tao, and Shane, as they rescue a girl from something that does not look like a Grimm character. Turns out it was a random villager transformed. His book of fate is getting screwed up, because the Story Zone they live in is getting contaminated by the Chaos Teller. In the character’s village we learn that the tale of Little Red Riding Hood is being told for the umpteenth time, because it’s what their individual books of fate say, only the tale is getting messed up. The four go off to find the lost RH, along with the hunter, but he then becomes the Wolf, and RH has been taken over by the Chaos Teller. So the good guys turn into magical characters NOT from Grimm (Alice, Robin Hood, etc), and they put things aright. BTW, Ex’s book of fate is completely blank.

grimms1-1This doesn’t look like a great series by any means, but I did like a lot of it. I enjoyed the four heroes natural banter for one. But overall I love how they really messed with the Riding Hood story. Grimms tales are already twisted, but they twist it further, making the hunter the wolf, and then considering the roles of folktale figures when they’re aware they’re in a tale, one that is endless repeating. So RH’s fear and confusion about her getting eaten (even if she’ll be rescued) and her village’s complacency over her fate makes her lash out. As she should. I wonder if the legendary Storyteller who created these tales has any compassion for their creations. And what happens when we meet a character whose fate is to actually die? Aren’t our heroes, by fixing the stories, doing an injustice to lives that didn’t ask for their fate? Will someone, like they did in the great series Princess Tutu, rise and fight against the story itself? … Probably not, but maybe worth keeping an eye on. Too bad otherwise the show is a completely mundane fantasy anime …

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Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka begins with an image of modern-day Tokyo.

The backstory of Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is that Earth was attacked by monsters that look really cute but are really nasty. A nearby dimension or galaxy or something made a treaty with earth to fight the “Disas” by creating magical girls. This ensuing fighting resembles Madoka more than Sakura, with magical girls and foot soldiers getting slaughtered as well, but no Kyuubey. And they won! Now a former MG named Asuka tries to live a postwar life while coping with PTSD. She warms up to two adorable high school classmates who befriend her, but at the same time people are trying to woo her back into combat, this time against terrorists and other sources of modern-day violence. She wants nothing of it. She fought her war already. But when a terrorist escapes violently and tries to kill one of Asuka’s new friends, the memories and reflexes kick in, and …

tokushusenasuka1-1Promising start. It works on the question of what a soldier, magical or not, do when it’s peacetime? Secret agencies? Espionage? Mercenaries? Can they return to normal life, with what they’ve seen? The show doesn’t hold back on the violence and it makes Asuka’s situation poignant. She doesn’t want to fight anymore, but she still sees everyday events as possible threats. Why they didn’t make these girls do therapy after the war I don’t know … The episode is done well, starting with a good for a change infodump and leading to normal life, where I found myself hoping Asuka could just have fun with Nozomi the jock and Sayako the bookworm. But I suppose that would be a dull anime. So the episode worked for me. I only hope they keep Asuka’s issues in mind and not just turn it into a fighting series …

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Why an underwater show like Bermuda Triangle begins with a starry sky I have no idea.

Finally we have Bermuda Triangle – Colorful Pastrale, where, after a misleading opening bit concerning idol mermaids performing a show, we turn to the sleepy undersea village of Parrel, where we meet our main characters, four mermaid girls, who arrive at a tea shop to enjoy cake. But the village chief Ardi says they can have free cake if they bring a package to her, and then the postman (a walrus–so far all of the male characters have been walruses) asks them do deliver a thing or two. It looks like it’s going to go this way, aimlessly, for a while, but then Ardi’s package opens and there’s a girl. So now the four girls show the new one, Canon, around, until they discover a huge mansion that they didn’t know existed in spite of the tiny size of the town, with interesting things in it.

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Cake!

A cute girls doing cute things show, oceanic variety, and it suffers from the same early episode blues that many such shows do. The pacing is slow and uncertain, the characters haven’t shown all their sides yet, and so it gets dull at times. Also, the animation isn’t terribly good with a lot of static faces. On the other hand, it sets up its slice-of-life format well and it is all very cute. But the mysterious mansion with its movie player suggests that there is actually going to be a plot. This is neither good nor bad. If the smelling the roses structure doesn’t pan out at least we’ll have a story to hook into. The show needs more of a chance to show us what it’s up to.

Winter 2019 2

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Clocks are a major image in Pastel Memories.

To begin my second installment we have an odd thing called Pastel Memories, set in Akihabara, and we watch a black cloud sweep over everything and remove the otaku-ness, leaving a boring business district behind. But there’s a little cafe called “Rabbit Shed Shop” where they’re still fond of anime and manga, where Izumi, Irina, and Ayaka work. Someone leaves a message in their notebook asking if they still have the manga with the same name as their shop, and the girls, accompanied by three other workers, Minami, China, and Nao, and then three more, Michi, Yuina, and Kao, run about the district to hunt down the remaining manga shops to buy copies. A lot is made, especially Izumi, about preservation precious memories. They find all but volume 1. Then the show takes a weird turn as in a blaze of light, three MORE girls show up (I didn’t bother with their names), announce there’s a virus, and there’s another one attacking the manga they’re looking for. Three of the girls decide to go to another dimension, the world of Rabbit Shed Shop, to stop the virus. Huh, wasn’t expecting that.

pastelmemories1-1Well, I’m glad the show finally, er, showed its hand at the end, because it was slow-going before that, just looking for those volumes and interacting cutely. It also helped the weirdness have a greater impact. Episode two, with its preview showing the girls shooting monsters in a world that looks like “Is the Order a Rabbit?” (VERY interesting) looks like it will have a completely different feel, though still cute. However, the show dumped a whole lot of girls on us, and none of them seem to have more than a basic stock personality … Well, you can’t flesh out nine girls in 24 minutes, I suppose. Unless the show intends to nod and wink at various manga/anime franchises, I don’t think it will amount to much. I’ll watch another episode.

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Your average town river to start Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita.

Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita! features Miyako, a shy girl who spends time at home making cosplay outfits. She has an imouto named Hinata. Hinata brings home a friend named Hana, and Miyako becomes infatuated with her. So cute! Episode one revolves around Miyako trying to spend more time with Hana, while at the same time trying not to freak out the poor girl who just wants to hang out with her friend and not be drooled on by her big sister.

watashinitenshi1-1This sounds creepy, and the show acknowledges this–little Hana is a sensible girl who is reasonably suspicious of this strange grownup fawning over her, threatening to call the police at one point. Also, the mothers, at least, are all nearby and attentive, so the show won’t get too creepy. Instead, it emphasizes the cuteness. I liked Hana’s dilemma: her best friend’s big sis is creepy, but she makes excellent sweets, and that is Hana’s weak point. And later on in episode it seems that Hana has begun to see the good points of Miyako as well as the questionable ones. Morals aside, this is another series that might die by not breaking out of the main setup. There’s another girl or two waiting in the wings, so that will complicate the situation, but will it be enough?

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Kemurikusa starts with a bleak island.

Kemurikusa starts with a girl named Rin, with a smaller girl named Rinako … it’s complicated. They’re happy because on the dark island full of ruined machinery they’ve found some fresh water, which a glowing green plant-girl named Midori sucks up and transfers to a vat, but not before a “Nushi,” or bug, or, to us, giant glowing red-black monster, fatally wounds Rinako, who fades away. But it’s all right because there are three other girls just like her, all named Rin-something, all fighting for survival against the red bugs. Then, somehow, a boy appears in the vat of water. A new bug! He’s roughed up a bit and tied up because they can’t kill him, but he gains their trust by helping them detect another Nushi and rescuing one of the Rins from it.

kemurikusa1-1Yes, this is a darker Kemono friends. The character designs and weird movement are the same. The story is completely different though, as this one is full of dark menace, not the sunlight of Kemono. It’s an odd contrast because the characters are as cute and add “nyan” to their sentences a lot, but there’s a lot less smiling, especially from the older Rin, saddled with the main responsibility of keeping them alive. Watching them eat metal is another contrast. So what we have is a possibly interesting science-fantasy series (we’re nowhere near knowing the backstory yet) with Kemono-style characters. It’s worth keeping an eye on, I suppose, if only out of curiosity about how the staff is going to handle this completely different story.

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Circlet Princess starts with a starry sky.

In Circlet Princess we have a girl named Yuuka getting a little lost in a slightly futuristic Tokyo and coming across a venue for a “circlet bout,” which she has never heard of before. She meets one of the ace circlet fighters (Chikage) by accident for an infodump, and then she’s mistaken for the fighter’s next opponent. After stumbling around a bit she proves herself to be a natural, but before the bout is over we switch to a university where Yuuka is a new student, and discovers there’s no circlet bout club there, even though there used to be a good one. But don’t worry, two other girls, fighter Miyuki and her nerdy friend Ayumu are going to make one.

circlet1-1Really nothing to this, and though the story cleverly jumps from one time to another, it isn’t very well thought out. I can’t believe bout staff mistook Yuuka for a seasoned fighter, even with their high technology (the battles are done in virtual spaces, street ads float in the air and point the way, etc). The battle we saw was adequate, not terribly exciting. The characters aren’t terribly interesting. The story is basically “let’s form a club!” coupled with the mystery of why the club was disbanded in the first place. Don’t think I’ll come back to this.

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A funeral ritual to begin Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue.

Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue stars a young man named Subaru who hates the company of other people. But since he’s a popular mystery writer he has to face a few people, like his sympathetic editor Kawase, and his annoying only friend Hiroto. While bringing offerings to his parents’ grave (the show starts with the funeral, for no reason I can see) a little kitty leaps out and attacks the tasty salmon slices. Inspired into a new book, he takes the critter home “for research” and soon we have a heartwarming tale of shut-in meets kitty kat, adding meaning to both lives.

doukyonin1-1If Subaru was more sympathetic I might like this a little more. I felt sorry for Kawase for how Subaru treats him, though Hiroto deserves all the abuse he gets. The man/cat dynamic wasn’t bad, I suppose. I like watching Subaru trying to figure out what this fierce-eyed little thing is thinking. I also liked how the show turns the tables and shows us what the cat is thinking, though we already knew most of it. “The big man is not eating! I’ll bring him food!” I might give the show another chance, to see if new side characters can improve things, but the main story doesn’t interest me much, and I like cats.

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Dimension High School starts in the “real” world.  That’s a gravel path.

Finally there’s Dimension High School, where a pack of boys are doing supplementary classes when a rock that one of the boys picked up starts floating around, calling itself “Spudio the 22nd” and talking about world destruction. The boys wisely throw it out the window but it keeps coming back, finally whisking them to a badly-done 2D world, where a giant sphinx makes them solve puzzles and eats them if they fail. They get it right the second time and get sent back, whereupon they throw the rock out the window again.

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The boys, and sensei, in the real world …
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… and in the VR world.

It’s a gimmick series, and really an excuse to give us little puzzles to solve. The trouble for us foreigners is that they sometimes expect you to know Japanese, and though the first one didn’t, I didn’t know that until it was too late, though I expect Japanese people might enjoy playing along. The animation looks like a crap VR, which I suspect is how they filmed it. On the good side, the boys have a good rapport and their dialogue in the animation world sounds more spontaneous than your average anime voices. Maybe because they’re live actors, moving around and interacting with lines memorized like they would in stage or TV show. Also, they’re all a little cynical. But I don’t think that’s enough to carry the series for me.

Winter 2019 1

Time again to look at the shows I might watch this season. The usual rules apply: I won’t watch sequels to shows I didn’t watch in the first place, and there are various genres I may ignore. I’m working with the Random Curiosity preview guide but if something else pops up I might look into it. And I like to begin each preview I like to post the first intelligible image. So here we go!

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Boogiepop starts suitably with a view of urban Tokyo.

We start with Boogiepop wa Waranaranai, where an average high school boy named Keiji is being stood up for a date. Heading home, across the Shibuya crosswalk (which attracts a lot of supernatural activity in anime), he sees a girl who looks like his would-be date Miyashita, dressed in strange clothes, helping some desperate bum who collapses, and then pulls some moves on the cops who try to arrest her. Later Keiji meets her again, on the school roof, and we learn that her current character, Boogiepop, is using Miyashita’s body to stop a monster. Days pass and a girl or two disappears, and we get quick, bloody flashes of murder, but all that happens here is that Boogiepop suddenly announces she has to go, the monster who is supposed to destroy the world has been eliminated, keep trying to ease suffering, have fun with the real Miyashita, etc. And that’s that.

boogiepop1-1The tricky thing is that Boogiepop has become an urban legend among the students, but they all think he’s the monster. The episode, wanting to set up a mood of hidden menace and secrets, doesn’t tell us anything more. In fact, apart from those quick cuts to mayhem, we get nothing violent at all. Whether that will change when Keiji finds himself deeper in the mystery I don’t know. I also don’t know if I want to watch any more. It’s not bad–it sets the mood of menace and keeps it bubbling in the background even as the characters are talking about minor things. But I don’t know if the episode really made me that interested. Maybe I’m not the target audience, which I think is angst-riddled adolescents. Well, we’ll see …

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Egao no Daika starts off with a greenish sky for some reason.

Egao no Daika starts with Princess Yuki, now twelve years old, assuming leadership of the “Special State of Harlent,” while childhood friend Joshua and stern Layla give her advice. Everything they show us suggests that the country is prospering, but there are questions on how to deal with the Empire of Grandiga, currently, or so she’s told (that’s the big point), in a non-aggression pact. We meet some other people, er Harold Miller and the twins Yuni and Lune, the latter two being a tad disrespectful to Yuki, so the show drops everything and instead we have a virtual mechanical duel for her honor. The point of it all being, I suppose, to show that Yuki’s a bit young and naive about the world but capable of strategic thinking when she has to be, oh, also to give the viewers a taste of the mecha action to come. Then most of the cast except Yuki visit the border and we learn there’s an actual war going on, and Yuki doesn’t know about it.

egaonodaika1-1All through the episode I kept waiting for something to happen. Every scene they gave us (the coronation, the meeting with dignitaries, the duel, etc) were predictable moments that help flesh out the characters a little but did little for the story. I kept waiting for a Grandiga sneak attack, or another crisis with the “chrarslapis,” the planet’s chief source of power and the cause of Yuki’s parent’s death (I forgot to mention the clumsy infodump they tossed in). It’s only at the end, when we see the battle, that anything happens, not the battle, but that everyone has been lying to Yuki. As for the characters, Yuki is an interesting genki girl but her brief flashes of intuition help her. Joshua is a bore. Harold and the twins might be more interesting because they are aware of the situation and have a goal. The visuals and animation look nice. Mecha battle scenes don’t interest me too much. I can’t really say I was impressed with this episode, but now that they’ve set up the situation and can get to work maybe things will get better.

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A sky to start W’z, but it soon gets surreal.

Next for me is W’z, which starts with garish, blinding colors in Osaka and never gets far from that. First a boy is told that if he holds hands with someone he will bring misfortune to both of them, and then we get some voice-overs about joining hands and fighting in another world. Then, ten years later, we see some pretty young boys and girls doing just that. Back in reality, the scattered teens dance stupidly to an uploaded song. Then we meet Yukiya, the DJ responsible, talking to his friend Haruna. She talks him into doing a live broadcast, he chooses a bridge in Dontonburi, and suggests they hold hands. The blinding colors return, and soon all those other kids try to kill them with their super powers, called Nimrods. Sigh.

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He accidentally brushes a girls hand, and stuff like this happens.

Worse, these pairs of kids are called “handshakers,” and that brings up that show I couldn’t bear after episode one or so. I will say the effects appear much smoother this time, but again, the colors and lights are too much. The show also tries very hard to be stylish with its DJ mixes and supposedly cool people dancing to them, but there it also falls flat. The one decent scene was Yukiya and Haruna talking in a restaurant, and that was because it was two people just talking, and nothing being forced. Well, the writing in that scene wasn’t great, either. I’ve seen enough. If you can handle and even enjoy the pretty colors, and can ignore the posing, and what looks to be in reality a routine urban fantasy anime plot, you might like this. Even then, I can’t guarantee it.

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Tate no Yuusha starts with waves breaking on a rock, but there’s no ocean in the actual story so far.

Arriving a tad early is Tate no Yuusha no Hariagari, a double-episode where your average semi-otaku named Naofumi opens the wrong light novel and is whisked into a fantasy world, where’s he and three others are set by the king on a quest to save the land from “waves.” Oddly, Naofumi’s assigned weapon, a shield, is considered second-class by the kingdom and the other adventurers, and he can only get one person to help him train, and she betrays him the very next day. Suddenly robbed of everything and accused of rape, he turns from average personality to one hell-bent on revenge, and the next thing he does is buy a slave, who are forbidden by magic to lie to their masters.

tatenoyuusha1-1This show passes a couple of tests for me. First, I actually want to know what happens next, and I want questions answered. Why are the three other adventurers so blase about the whole thing? What’s the deal with the alternate Japans they all come from? Is this kingdom worth saving? I also liked Naofumi’s switch from naive to vengeful, and that he simply didn’t crawl into an alley out of self-pity. Some other bits bugged me. I can understand Naofumi losing his head when a cute girl flirts with him, but the rest of us could see she was up to no good from the start. And that “nyehh!” face when he’s accused seemed out of character. The fantasy-game mechanics look fine and the leveling up procedures are straightforward. Finally, it flowed well; I didn’t realize I was watching a double-episode until there were only ten minutes left. I’ll keep an eye on this one.

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Ueno-san starts (and probably finishes) at a school.

Finally for this installment we visit Ueno-san wa Bokiyou, where, in school science club, an inventor-genius girl named Ueno REALLY likes calm club mate Tanaka-kun. She comes up with inventions that are actually very impressive (portable filtration device, dark matter generator), but the reason is to get closer to Tanaka. The dark matter generator is to keep boys from seeing anything under girls’ skirts, so, Tanaka, look up her skirt, okay? For science! By the way, the device works. As for the filtration device …

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Don’t worry, it’s been filtered.

Too soon to tell. Ueno’s frantic desperation to get a rise out of Tanaka is balanced by Tanaka’s amazing denseness as to her true intentions. Well, some middle school boys develop slower than others. The third club member, the laconic Yamashita, mainly watches and tosses in reasonable asides. Well and good, but it appears that this routine won’t change. Each week we’ll get another fabulous device, Ueno screaming for Tanaka to do something that in another context would be lewd, and Tanaka not getting it at all. The show will depend on the inventions and Ueno’s static relationship. Ueno screams too much but she was entertaining at times. We’ll see.

One more new show, then a couple ep2-3s

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Nice blue sky to begin Merc Storia, though I don’t really know why someone’s saying that. The show just started.

Merc Storia: Mukiryoku Shounen to Bin no Naka no Shoujo stars Yuu, the son of a man who heals monsters (makes them less nasty) and is gone most of the time. One time when he returns he brings Yuu a jar of liquid, and one day a cute little fairy thing called Merc pops out of it. The rest is fairly straightforward–Yuu has to use his healing powers for the first time to protect a monster from attacking the village. And he and Merc set out on a journey, though for what reason I forget, accompanied by a fluffy friendly little monster thing that’s very fond of Yuu, though Yuu actually has a fear of monsters.

mercstoria1-1Another voyage of discovery for a young hero tale, maybe cuter than most. Not great, not bad. Yuu is an inoffensive lad who seems to take his healing powers seriously and doesn’t brag about it, like some young heroes. The animation is adequate, some nice light shows. Argh, I have nothing more to say about it. Sorry.

akanesasu2-1So I’ll move on and see how the episode two shows I want to watch are faring. For Akanesasu Shoujo, I was worried that the show was going to be all about Asuka and the other Asuka, stuck in our world, manage to hide the latter, bond, and make for a boring series. I was wrong. This time around, after a misleading opening bit with some other girls, Nana gets a new frequency number from a “fortune teller” (actually that possibly evil girl from last episode), the get whisked off to 696.9, which turns out to be one where all girls have to get married when they’re 17. Nana finds herself stuck with this world’s set of girls, freaks out, etc, while our set of girls learn what’s going on from the other Asuka, who just happens to be there. It also allows Nana to blow up in front of her otherworld parents about her second father, something she’d like to do in her own world.

akanesasu2-2But just to make the episode fun, Nana is to be married to a handsome celebrity heartthrob who actually seems to like her … maybe this world isn’t so bad after all! … So it looks like every girl in the batch is going to get a world to get confused by, and while I’m relieved that it won’t simply be Asuka/Seriouska’s story, I’m worried that the show will get too insipid with its now-obvious “reveal each girl’s problems and sort of fix them” structure. But the surprise later on leaves me optimistic.

akanesasu3-1I’m even more optimistic after episode 3, a great load of nutty fun. While the girls figure out what to do, Nana decides she doesn’t want to get married because her name will sound like “Choco-banana.” But the marriage enforcement department comes in, looking like special forces, and drag her off. There’s a nice scene between her and her second father, who tries to make amends by returning something she threw away, which leads to memories of her original father, and the concept of crystals separating darkness from brightness, or something, it’s ridiculous. So Nana’s head’s on straight. Meanwhile the other girls get another Asuseriouska infodump about bunnies (bad), clutters (worse), and “King of Twilight” (world-destroying bad), we learn that the wedding’s been pushed up, and Asuka meets another herself, who is shocked in an Asuka way.

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The blushing bride.

Which leads us to a classic story bit, the rush to break up a wedding. It starts in the usual way, switching from the vows to the pandemonium outside, back and forth. Nana does the right thing, “I refuse to get married!” and all hell breaks loose. Aseriouska breaks in, and we discover an interesting fact about the groom. Now we got a superpower-battle in that yellow universe, and just when it looks like it can’t get any weirder, Nana finds the power to transform, more lightshows (the day-by-day events animation isn’t very good, but the battles are excellent), etc. What makes me so happy about this episode is that they dealt with the personal issues Nana’s experiencing, as expected, but the story went insane doing it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch this series, but if they keep up this balance then I’m on board.

slime2-1Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken 2 is more development. He swaps names with Veldora and becomes Rimuru, he “eats” Veldora and wanders around the cave for way too long a time acquiring more powers until he finds a door, which conveniently opens when some adventurers we’ll probably get to know later come in. After s switch to some humans talking politics we switch back and Rimuru encounters a bunch of terrified goblins and finds himself helping them out against a pack of direwolves. Really, this all took way too long–we didn’t even get to the battle. Maybe next episode things will pick up.

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At least he’s out of the cave and the goblin village.

Things pick up in episode 3, though it still dallies a bit, like in the name-giving section. And I’m getting an idea that this is going to be a long series.Rimuru hangs out with the goblins, defeats and makes peace with the wolves, and sets out to find the dwarves, which sounds like a busy episode but completely left out of this episode were the political angles they teased us with last time, and the adventurers. Mostly it’s because the show, while generous with the infodumps, still has Rimuru learn everything through experience, such as the business with running low on magicules. And then he has to respond and experiment with every new thing. While it’s kind of fun to see him gain all these new powers, I’d like to move forward with the plot a little more. Is he going to hang out with the goblins and wolves the whole time?

Fall 2018 4

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Um, that’s a night sky, I think.

Release the Spyce starts with a bunch of cute girls leaping about and making a raid on a factory, and we’re introduced to them too fast. Meanwhile another girl, our hero Momo, spots them escaping from a great distance. She’s spotted back. Jump to next day at school where Momo, trying to make friends, is befriended by two of the raider girls, though she doesn’t know it yet. We learn that Momo has an unnatural talent of sense. She can taste physical and emotional states and, and can smell the spices in the curry, though that’s not all that strange when you think about it. Anyway, her dad was a cop, killed in the line of duty, and now she sees another cop about to be killed by more bad guys. She overcomes her fear, is about to be killed, but the Tsukikage (the, er, Spyce Girls) show up, big chase scene, and she winds up joining them.

spyce1-1I want to like this show, but I was a little underwhelmed by the first episode. I don’t mind the opening-episode clumsiness where they have to set things up, introduce characters, and no story arc is visible yet, but I thought the action was going to be a bit wilder and more stylish. This episode, while certainly not bad, was mundane. Just an action-adventure series involving cute girls doing SF-ninja type things. The characters seem all right, mostly recognizable types–the quiet girl, the jealous girl, etc. I like how they all befriend Momo from the start–sure, they’re recruiting her, but you get the idea that they like her anyway. I’m also curious as to how they’re going to fit Momo’s abilities in with the rest, since they mostly do combat. Well, in spite of my mild disappointment this is good enough for me to watch episode two.

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Anima Yell! opens with a nice springtime sky.

Next it’s Anima Yell!, where an overly genki and helpful girl named Kohase is entranced by a bunch of cheerleaders practicing by the river and decides to join the cheer club at her high school when she enters, only to find there isn’t one. Yes! She will make one of her own. Coincidentally, one of the cheerleaders is the new class rep, Hizume, but she’s one of those “talented at something but won’t do it for some dark reason” characters, mainly, she was forced out of her middle school squad for being too good. Most of the episode is Kohase pestering Hizume and conquering her own fear of heights to show how serious she is, and finally Hizume is overcome. Now they only need three more members!

animayell1-1Yeah, a pretty basic setup, which is to be expected, so the question here is execution: how well did they do the expected stuff? It’s a mixed bag. Kosase is TOO genki for my tastes, and I can’t blame Hizume for lashing out at her, even without her dark past. However, I did like the main thrust of the episode, that while Hizume was forced out of a club for being too good, that’s the very reason why Kohase wants to be with her. I thought Kohase’s helpful side was used well, and the running gag of mispronouncing “cheer” as “chair” was a good gag, because it was fun to see the type of chair each character imagined–it gave us a quick clue of the character’s nature. It’s all cute and harmless, so I might keep it on my list.

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This first shot ought to tell you what Conception is about.

Next we got something called Conception, where Itsuki meets his best friend Mahiru on the school roof and learns that she’s pregnant. Than a weird light appears and sucks them both up and to to a wonderful magical land called Granvania, where Itsuki has to fight a demon that comes out of Mahiru (she’s expelling an impurity, you see) with a sword that magically appears in his hand. Then we got a floating raccoon lech who introduces them to the kindom’s something-or-other and they go to meet the king, who tells them they’re both here to save the world. Itsuki finds himself tied down and a sexy nurse named Reone tells him the whole story. There are twelve girls representing constellations, and he has to have sex with each one of them in order to drive away the impurities that threaten the land. Guess what? Mahiru’s one of the twelve (Virgo, of course), so the episode ends with them having sex. Eleven to go.

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This normally doesn’t happen when you tell someone you’re pregnant.

Yes, it’s terrible, everything about it, the script, the art, the animation. The camera angles are set to display as little movement as possible. When the king moved his mouth to speak I was surprised. Itsuki and Mahiru seems hardly surprised at all by any of this, the magical land or what they have to do to get back. The show’s setup is so weird that the raccoon urges the viewer to visit the website for more information. There’s no reason for you to watch it, but I might keep doing so, because I haven’t watched a really awful show in a while, and FOR NO OTHER REASON.

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Actually, I don’t know what the significance of this is …

Ore ga Suki nano wa Imouto Dakedo Imouto ja Nai is the story of Nagami, average high school boy who wants to write light novels but can’t make the shortlist in competitions. He has a little sister, Suzuka, who is absolutely perfect and a tad bossy about it. Turns out that the latest competition that he failed at, Suzuka won, with a one-off novel about a girl who loves her old brother. But she’d get in trouble with her school and her dad if they found out, so Nagami reluctantly acts as her stand-in. He goes to the award ceremony and meets his/her editor and illustrator, both of whom force him to fondle them. Oh, and there’s his ecchi coworker at the bookstore, who’s my favorite character so far.

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Nagami lets this all sink in.

Another predictable story that will live or die by execution. It’s done pretty well. Nagami is a decent fellow, an unashamed nerd who is still quite normal. I can’t believe he took the news that his kid sister won a competition that he couldn’t without a trace of jealousy or self-loathing, but otherwise he’s okay. Suzuka crosses nicely from perfect and disapproving to “onii-chan wo daisuki!” And, as I said, the coworker is a lot of fun. I hope we see more of her. And the mentioned but not developed side characters look interesting too. I’ll probably keep my eye on this one.

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We open with Beelzebub’s adorable feet.

Beelzebub-jou no Oki ni Mesu Mama is the story(?) of Mullin, at his new job in Pandemonium, there the fallen angels hang out. He’s eager to be the assistant for the legendary Beelzebub, but turns out she’s an extreme fluffy-fluffy thing and not fearsome at all. The episode consists of Beelzebub going around being distracted by cuteness and occasionally going about naked while Mullin plays the sensible assistant and occasional tsundere and closes his eyes in embarrassment a lot. I should point out that Beelzebub is good at her job, sort of the interim head while Satan is away (where?), even if she is constantly distracted by cute things. Hell itself looks like a nice Tokyo suburb, full of friendly townspeople, well, except for the hostess club district. And there’s a hint of romance between Beelz and Mullin …

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Pat pat pat …

I didn’t expect a show taking place in Hell to be this light and fluffy, but never mind. This being a first episode of a comedy where not much is going to happen, probably, it’s hard to tell if it will be any good. It is extremely cute, and in fact that tends to slow situations down a little as we have to watch Beelz pat or stroke every cute thing she sees. That could be a problem with her in that she’s one-track. Mullin has more depth, as he deals with her proclivities while trying to do his job efficiently and fight off whatever urges he might get watching her. We don’t see much of any regular side characters this episode, maybe those other two attendants, and those girls that Beelz has a slumber party with during the ED. Don’t know about this one, yet.

Fall 2018 3

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Yagate Kimi ni naru starts with some credits.

To start part three we have Yagate Kimi ni Naru, which starts out with solo piano, so we already know it’s a love story. It stars Yuu, first year girl, who dreams about the heart-skipping, tingly feelings of love but hasn’t encountere it yet and wonders if there’s something wrong with her (to which I shout “NO!”). She encounters a girl named Namami being confessed to and politely turning the poor lad down. Apparently it’s the 10th time, not the same guy though. Nanami is a popular senpai and in the student council, so Yuu joins, maybe because she thinks Nanami is cool. Imagine Yuu’s surprise when Nanami confesses to HER! Ah, so it’s THAT kind of love story! Meanwhile, the solo piano has been joined by small ensemble. However, Yuu still isn’t feeling the heartbeat or tingles …

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Nanami throws Yuu a meaningful side glance.

I haven’t watched a lot of Yuri, but this looks like a standard-issue one. It kept me watching. The characters all have a stock anime-girl appearance but there will be quick closeups of eyes narrowing, or odd angles showing a face full of shock or tension that set me back. Yuu is stuck with reacting to people most of the time, except when she has to make a decision about a boy who confessed to her a while back. But relationships, especially yuri ones, are new to her, so I can cut her some slack. While it’s told through Yuu’s POV, we can see things she perhaps can’t, that maybe Nanami’s pulling back after her confession was that she’s just as confused and embarrassed as Yuu is, but part of Yuu’s goal right now is trying to figure out this alluring senpai and what she’s thinking, so I think together they’ll figure things out. Will I want to watch as they do? It was a good first episode, so I’ll probably watch a second. Besides, I want to see what makes Nanami tick, too.

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Academy City, at night!

I did not expect another season of To Aru Majutsu no Index, but I am delighted! Now, if I can only remember all the characters and relationships … As I expected, episode 1 starts silly, re-introducing various characters (Hi Uiharu! Look, it’s Maika the rotating maid!), showing Touma’s misfortune in various ways, Mikoto’s tsundere routine, etc, while a little story begins to bubble up. It seems there are tensions betwen Academy City and the Roman Catholic Church (when is there not?), and later a nice old lady who buys Index a crepe takes Touma away at gunpoint and says Academy City is behind it, and only he can stop it. She is then shot by Tsuchimikado, and Touma is whisked away–to Paris, jumping out of a jet, in order to steal the Document of Constantine. One episode in and the story is already ridiculous. Yep! It’s Index all right.

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Touma again runs into trouble from you-know-who.

I’ve said that this franchise has everything good and bad to be found in Anime. Bizarre plots, too much talk, panty shots (except Mikoto and her sensible shorts, of course), but fun, odd characters, great action and thumping music to go with it. I don’t mind any of it because that’s Raildex’s style. By now you’re on board with it or you’re not. I certainly am. The show looks the same, maybe a little crisper than before. All the characters are in fine form. I’m already scratching my head at the story. Nothing much has changed. But please tell me that they didn’t just leave that old lady there to die. She’s Oyafune-sensei’s grandma! I hadn’t seen a series this season that I felt I have to watch, but this one I do.

I skiped a few, then I TRIED watching Uchi no Maid ga Uzasugiru!, but the first ten minutes got on my nerves so much that I stopped. I’m not sure why–it’s no different from a lot of other shows. Maybe that’s the reason.

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You can pretty much figure out the situation from Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet’s first shot.

So we move on to Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet, where we are immediately brought to a fight between rival clans at a posh high school, the White Cats, led by Juliet, and the Black Dogs, led, I think, by Romio. From the fighting and the names you can already tell where this is going. We follow Romio around for awhile as he laments that he loves Juliet though she’s an enemy. Juliet, on the other hand, does not want to be thought as weak. She’s a noble but won’t get any power because she’s a girl, unless she can change the world. She’s abducted by DOgs, gets rescued by Romio, and later in the cutest duel I’ve seen in a while, gets over his fear and confesses. And so a beautiful but secret romance is born! Yay.

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This is a confession scene.

An odd show, because the animosity is real and you get the idea that someone could really get hurt, but at the same time it’s built around rom-com slapstick. Two of the abductors are too stupid to put eyeholes in their masks, but a third one has pepper spray and a box cutter … Well, even so, maybe no one is really going to get hurt here. It feels too much like a romcom, with some fighting added. I didn’t enjoy the violent parts too much, apart from the duel at the end, and that was because it was actually a confession scene. The romcom bits worked well, maybe because of the contrast, but also because the timing and also the voice actors are very good. This is another “wait and see” show.

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Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara starts with fireworks reflected in the water.

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara has a girl named Hitomi living in Hiroshima, in a world where magic is commonplace and can be purchased at little new-agey shops. Hitomi’s depressed because she apparently can’t see colors, so her nice grandmother sends her 80 years into the past, to our time, to try to get it back. There’s some difficulty because she materialized in a boy’s room and is spotted sneaking out, but the observers are nice enough only to giggle for the boy. Meanwhile, Hitomi meets her grandma’s grandma at the magic shop and is taken in. And then she sees the boy drawing on a pad and we get a lovely, colorful sequence like out of a painting.

irozukusekai1-1The show’s art is just amazing. There are bright colors everywhere, in the fireworks, the bright-red candy apples in the festival stall, and then there’s the moving painting scene at the end, and they contrast harshly to the monochrome view that Hitomi sees (and we do from time to time). It almost overwhelms everything else in the show, which looks to be a typical PA Works affair, maybe more subdued than usual. That’s what worries me. The actual story could turn out to be another Glasslip or Nagi no Asu kara, mundane stories with dull characters with a magical frosting. However, this one looks so good that I’ll probably watch it anyway.

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This line is the most interesting thing in the show.

Next we have a run-of-the-mill kid fantasy called Radiant, starring Seth, a boy who wants to grow up to be a sorcerer like his guardian Alma. But he’s crap at magic at the moment and causes more problems than he prevents. Worse, the local village are suspicious of sorcerers because they’ve been tainted by “nemesis,” monsters that fall out of the sky and cause ruin, mayhem, etc. That only sorcerers can fight nemesis isn’t something they can understand. Anyway, a nemesis egg falls into the village, Alma’s not around, and so Seth tries to fight the monster alone, and nearly dies except for the sudden appearance of the “Bravery Quartet,” a team of sorcerers. End of episode.

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This bit went on forever.

There’s nothing new or remarkable about this show at all, but I’m not the target audience. They want to attract kids who haven’t already seen all the other shows. However, that doesn’t make ME want to watch it. Also, while I understand the show has to set up the characters and the situation, the episode seemed to drag. Things take a little too long to happen, conversations, action bits, etc. Add that to the predictable humor, and the traditional story, and I was drumming my fingers and checking the time a lot. But some kids ought to like it.