New shows Fall 2017 #4, the last for this season

BBB starts with Leo’s sis, far from the craziness.

Kekkai Sensen returns and this time it’s Beyond! The first season was so crazy I don’t know if there IS a “beyond” for it, but ep1 certain tries. We start, after a “Dear Sis” moment, with Leo calmly driving through the city’s usual explosions but then he’s free-falling with a bug thing on his head toward certain death. His allies show up and do their bits, and it’s fun and crazy, just like the original. After that a “calmer” story where a US envoy gets his head stolen and Leo has to return it, while going through several different armies, militias, and cults, and more things blow up. And he loses his Playstation or whatever they called it, the bastards.

Leo’s getting used to the big city.

I think the creators wanted to remind us just how wild a BBB episode could get, so they threw everything they could into the first part, and I for one did not mind at all. I was happy to see they are still capable of delivering the silly grins when they want to. What the big story will be this time I don’t know. This was a standalone to reintroduce everybody. And that’s about all I have to say about the show this time; there’s so much going on that I get worn down.

Animegataris begins with the heroine as a young girl.

In Animegataris, there’s a girl named Minoa, your typical clumsy high school girl heroine, who doesn’t know if she wants to join a club. While talking about an old anime series to someone at school, the class’s haughty rich girl, Arisu, overhears and calls her out. Turns out the rich girl is an anime fanatic who thought she had found a kindred spirit, only Minoa knows next to nothing about it. But she encourages Arisu to form a club. Arisu, delighted by the idea enlists Minoa to be the second member. Let’s go recruiting! … Oh, there’s a mysterious beret, Minoa going into a trance for no reason, and a talking cat. That all happens in the last three minutes.

I realize that the show was deliberately making the most generic comedy show it could (no Minoa running out the door with toast in her mouth, though) before starting up the more insidious part of the storyline, and the generic part, while a little familiar and dull, wasn’t bad. I enjoyed Arisu ratting off shows she liked, she reminds me of me when I get started on anime. But I’m confused on where the show will go next. Will it keep playing up the mundane parts, apart from the cat (who himself is kind of mundane, like a magical girl show mascot), or will it now jump into the mystery of the beret and forget the first 20 minutes of the episode didn’t matter much? If the former I’m not sure I want to watch. If the latter, maybe it will get interesting. Too soon to tell.

We begin with a very unpleasant little story (That’s the naked imouto talking).

Imouto sae Ireba Ii starts with a rather disgusting scene involving a little sister waking the hero up, gets weirder and more disgusting, until we learn it’s actually a manuscript by our real hero, Istuki, which is thankfully rejected with extreme prejudice by his editor. Then his little brother, I think, comes over, along with some friends and novelist colleagues, and they have a nice dinner and go home, except for Nayuta, who keeps coming on to him. Then she leaves too. Er, that’s really it.

I almost stopped watching this two minutes in, and I still have worries that they’re going to show more of Itsuki’s siscon fantasies, and since little sisters are all he thinks about, there’s potential for that. But I rather enjoyed the rest of it. No overriding story arc apart from deadlines, potentially interesting characters, just people joking around. Oh sure, there’s Nayu’s nearly pathological obsession for Itsuki, and his refusal, though he rather likes her work, and I’m sure the others have issues we’ll learn about, but overall the tone is light and playful. I’m running out of room for shows this season, but I might look at this one again.

Lovely blue sky to begin Kujira.

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau brings us to a fantasy world where our hero, Chakuro, lives aboard a ship-thing everyone calls the Mud Whale, which sails on an endless ocean of sand. We follow him around for a bit, getting accustomed to the society and culture there (no crying!), the short-lived people with magic powers and the long-lived people who have no power but run things. They discover a drifting island and discover the first human they’ve ever scene beyond the Mud Whale. Things get mysterious as it becomes clear that the ship’s ruling class is hiding something. Anyway, Lykos the mystery girl gets abducted (again) by a Mud Whale rogue who things her world is probably more interesting than the Mud Whale, and Chakuro is dragged along.

And almost the last.

The rogue is probably right. Life aboard the Mud Whale, in spite of the open skies and great views, feels closed off and restrictive. There’s more adventure off of it, and that’s where Chakuro, Lykos, and that rogue are heading now. Overall, this was a solid first episode if you can get past the strangeness of sailing over sand. There are some infodumps but they’re usually slipped neatly into the action or handled with efficient Chakuro voice-overs. They do nice job of setting up the society and its beliefs in 24 minutes, as well as introduce a number of characters and make them interesting. It also looks very good, with much of it seemingly painted or drawn, giving it perhaps too much of a folk-tale quality. But let’s see if the story keeps it on an even keel.

Crude drawings, moving.

In Netojuu no Susume we meet a brand new NEET, Moriko, as she comes home with flowers obviously from her farewell party at work. She briefly casts about looking for a MMORPG, develops a stupid-looking male character named Hayashi, and quickly meets a cute girl named Lily, who of course is a man in real life, though Moriko doesn’t know that yet and probably wouldn’t care, and vice versa. They get very close online and give each other Christmas gifts, and in real life they go to the same conbini, though of course they don’t know that yet, either. So I guess it’s further adventures of a NEET next week.

Possibly because I’m not a NEET, I don’t know why anyone would want to become one. Those flowers suggest she was appreciated a little at work, so Moriko’s decision to chuck that life in the trash, like the flowers, confuses me. But she jumps wholeheartedly into the MMORG, so she’s at least happy, though first thing that happens is that she gets into a relationship with another character in the game suggest she still needs other people. Maybe that will be one of the show’s themes. And in spite of what I said, I like Moriko a lot. I like watching her play the game more than I do the game characters or any of the quests, well, partly because those scenes are kind of lame. Too soon to tell on this one. If they concentrate more on Moriko and the real world rather than the game, I might enjoy this show.

Some leaves to the left, in a deceptively romantic looking opening.

Finally, for the Fall previews (because I’m going to take the season off from writing about shows and may only watch a couple, so I’m worn out doing this) we have (takes a breath) Boku no Kanojo ga Majime Sugiru Shobitch na Ken, let’s just call it Shobitch. It stars a bland high school boy named Haruka who has a crush on the lovely and perfect Akiho, and so confesses. She says yes, then in the scenes following, tries to get as much info out of him about his sexual proclivities, not to mention what sort of positions she ought to learn, etc. Hayashi just wanted a girlfriend, so he winds up doing a lot of straight-man work, and then there is his old friend Shizuku, who nearly wrecks the whole relationship by interfering.

Not crazy about this one at all. It’s like a lesser Seitokai Yakuindomo, and THAT show wasn’t exactly great, either. I will say that this one has an actual romance in it, but I don’t care for either kid, even if Yuuki Aoi is playing Akiho. The character’s trying too hard got on my nerves after awhile, and Haruka is a boring lead male. Shizuku annoyed the hell out of me. I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to see what the other girls in the harem are going to be like. It also doesn’t look very good. I don’t like Akiho’s character design at all. The others aren’t much better.

So that wraps up the previews. As I’ve said a couple of times, I will write very little this season, if at all. Real life is sneaking up on me again. A shame because there are a handful of series here with potential and I only watched a fraction. I hope you enjoyed this and if one of my recommendations here leads you astray, well, tough.

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New shows Fall 2017 #3

 

The Yuuki Yuuna prequel starts with a “Boy, if I only knew before!” monologue.

You may remember the original Yuuki Yuuna series from a few years back. Young girls appointed by Shinjyu-sama turn into magical girls to fight off threats to the great tree, but at a slow and eventually nasty cost to them. Not a great series, but a surprisingly good one. This new series, Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru -Washio Sumi no Shou-, is a prequel, where three girls–Washio, Nogi, and Mino are the appointed girls and in this episode go off on their first battle, with no training whatsoever. They fight the weird thing, get roughed up a lot, figure out some teamwork, win the battle, and finally do some preadolescent bonding at an ice cream place. Meanwhile, we watching at home are waiting for the inevitable.

Which will come soon. This series is only six episodes, with a sequel to the original following. I don’t remember the details of the original series, but I don’t think any of the girls comes to a good end. I forget which one was wasting away in bed. But there’s no sign of damage at the end of ep1, unless that bandage is foreshadowing. Some things I remember vividly. The world they battle is a colorful and vivid place, and the battles are beautiful to watch. That hasn’t changed. There is also, alas, transformation scenes intended to titillate, that hasn’t changed either. Still, the original series worked up some good themes about duty and sacrifice, and I don’t doubt the prequel will have them, too.

Some steampunky London interior.

Code:Realize ~Sousei no Himegimi~ starts with an evil guy singing “London Bridge” amid giant steampunk gears, then switches to a British Army contingent trying to catch a “monster” in an old manor house, only it’s a beautiful girl named Cardia (appropriate name, as you will see). Two robbers, Lupin (not that one) and Impey, steal the girl from the army and whisk her away to another manor house, where she meets Frankenstein and we get some details. The girl has corrosive skin that burns what it touches, and a weird “heart,” or “Horologium,” implanted by her father, Isaac Beckford. And people are after the heart (which Lupin wants to steal, get it?), and the girl’s real heart begins to stir, surrounded as she is by charming rogue bishies. Oh, there’s a dog too.

It didn’t do much for me. Dark pasts are hinted at. There’s the mystery of that heart and the poison skin to deal with, and what’s going on with Beckford, but it didn’t add up to much. Might be a nice romance going on, and since none of the bishie boys are terribly annoying, yet, I’m happy for the girl, who, unfortunately, is pretty dull. Losing your memories will do that to a person. But I didn’t find anything that particularily interested me. Some of the backdrops are pretty, but the animation and character designs are just average.

I wonder if the moon’s color is trying to tell us something.

Next it’s Houseki no Kuni, where some girls in a grassy land notice sunspot activity and go off to fight what turns out to be things out of an Eastern religion. The girls tell one lazy, clumsy girl, the green-haired Phos, to go back to their big palace. She does, and after an infodump by Kongo, their leader, they discover the fighting girls broken into pieces and being harvested by the aliens. Because every character is actually a humanoid manifestation of a gem, and the aliens, like us humans, like precious minerals. More stuff happens leading to the first steps of friendship between useless Phos and dangerous, lonely Cinnabar. All with the worst computer graphic animation since Kemono Friends, though it’s not THAT bad.

A shame, too, because this show has some things going for it. The idea of living gems, that get broken and chipped and have to be repaired and polished, who cannot die but can be broken up and harvested, is one of the better concepts I’ve heard for a while. Cinnabar, patrolling at night though there’s no enemy threat then, poisonous to everyone around her, WANTS to be harvested–maybe she’ll be useful for a change. Her and Phos, who seems to be good for nothing, would make a good frienship if only they’d get over their issues, well, Cinnabar’s at least. The CGI is tolerable during the battle scenes, and there are actually some well-directed moments there and elsewhere. The question is will you be able to overcome something that looks so unnatural? Up to you. For me, no.

Two Car is one of those shows that boldly begins its season with the opening credits!

Two Car is set on the island of Miyakejima, a place that is the motorcycle/sidecar racing capital of the world, unless it’s really the Isle of Man. I looked it up. Sadly this is not true. Anyway, a pre-preseason race of the seven top high school girls racing teams is set to start, including the hometown or home-island heroes Yuri and Megumi. The episode then jumps from the race (the competition includes a couple goth-lolis and a masochist/sadist couple, but the rest seem pretty normal) to flashbacks of our girls growing up, learning to race, falling for their instructor, discovering the other one fell for their instructor, so now they don’t know whether they like or hate one another. A little of both. So they’re a bickering team that will come to blows, as we find out.

That’s one way to describe it.

The girls’ relationship is an interesting one, but all the observers talk about them being their normal selves so much I got tired of it. On the other hand, they’re a team that is incomplete with the other and they both know it and try to work around their differences, which, apart from that instructor thing, and he left for the Isle of Man long ago, aren’t many. If you like racing you might enjoy the races and the commentary about strategies (though frankly there were a few too many butt-shots for me), or you might want to learn about the different rival teams, and needless to say they’re all cute. Overall the tone feels light-hearted. No blood-feuds here, not yet, anyway.

Blend S starts with the gate where Maika lives.

Blend S starts with our girl Maika getting turned down for part-time jobs because she has scary eyes, which she doesn’t really have except in certain circumstances. After another bad interview she is sort of accosted by the manager of a maid cafe that needs a sadistic waitress to go with their tsundere and imouto ones. So we watch the not-sadistic-at-all Maika learning how to be nasty. The other girls we meet have their own struggles, but they manage to get through and it’s all done for laughs.

The sadist, the imouto, and the tsundere psych up for the day.

Don’t know if I’ll keep watching, but the first episode was pleasant. It was fun watching Maika try hard to be sadistic, especially when they already have a genuinely sadistic girl who does the imouto duties. Not sure how that worked out. The episode had the usual introductions and scene-setting to do, but it was done with a minimum of fuss. However, the show began to drag when the shifts were over and the girls went to the arcade, so I’m not sure it can hold up when not in the cafe environment. Also, Dino, the manager, constantly got on my nerves for hitting on Maika, though to be sure he’s usually brutally punished by the Mafuyu and Koyo when he does. But overall it’s a happy, light show.

That doesn’t look like Hell to me …

Houzuki no Reitetsu returns! We go back to hell to watch more hellish punishments with bureaucratic jokes thrown in. To start with we learn how Houzuki died and became a demon, though they don’t explain how he became such a cooly efficient one. We also learn a lot about Hell’s early years, and the woman who preceded Houzuki as bureau chief–she was quite good at her job but kept inventing hells for such obscure sins that they eased her out of the position. Then we turn toward one of Houzuki’s only grudges–against the people who offered him up on a sacrifice, and the old bureaucrat’s request to refurbish her mansion. The boys Kaoauri and Nasubi are back, and I’m happy to say so is Shiro the dog.

Houzuki designed it himself!

I don’t notice any difference between this one and the old season. Houzuki is his usual deadpan self, the show still mixes traditional art with modern cartoonish drawing. It has the same easygoing, meandering pace. But there are two problems: first, it tries too hard to throw stuff at you that it become dull. It’s usually right before they cut to another angle, and it’s meant to be sort of a punchline or a topper, but it gets repetitive. Also, to get some of the jokes you need to understand the references, which I don’t. The resolution of what to do with those burning people at the palace bewildered me. No idea of what happened there. But that’s okay, I’ll probably watch this season. Hard to believe a show about Hell can be such a cheerful one.

Chise, before her sale.

Finally, Mahoutsukai no Yome, the new show with perhaps the most buzz this season. We start with Chise selling herself into slavery for reasons not clear except she doesn’t have much else going on, and is quickly bought up by a tall guy with a dinosaur skull face named Elias, and whisked to his country house in England to be his apprentice. It isn’t until the end of the episode that he announces his other motive. Chise is too surprised by the fact that she’s not going to be kept in chains or made to do anything disgusting to worry too much. She also encounters some fairies, and you know what fairies are like. Elias rescues her, then mentions the “bride” bit.

He’s known her for about an hour.

The first episode is paced with calm dignity and everything in it feels a little restrained, as if they don’t want to give anything away so early, like what the hell a “sleigh beggy” is. The dynamic between Eiias and Chise is of course just getting started, but I’m relieved so far that Elias doesn’t seem like a total creep, though the fact that he bought her in the first place and hugs her a lot bothers me a little. As I mentioned, Chise is too surprised that everyone she meets is actually nice to her to actually care about this … actually, it’s too soon to make a decision about Chise, either. Is she going to obey orders all the time and get put in danger, or is she going to get personal decisions to make? There’s potential in this show.

New shows Fall 2017 #1

While I might not write any more regular posts until December, it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least look at the new anime season. As usual, I will follow the Random Curiosity preview page unless something else comes up. I will probably not watch any sequels or spinoffs unless I watched the first series. I tend not to watch sports shows, though I know I’m probably missing out. I also will not watch anything I don’t want to watch. So there. I will start each review with the first intelligible image I can screencapture. So here we go!

I start the season with a big tree.

Ignoring Gintama (a sequel) we come to UQ HOLDER! ~Mahou Sensei Negima! 2, which, as I quickly realized, is also a sequel. But it switches from Negima sneezing girls’ clothes off quickly enough to Evangeline A. K. McDowell, apparently a former student and current middle school teacher, and she also helps to raise a boy named Tota, who, along with his buddies, keep trying to defeat her to no avail. Another teacher steps in and gives them some rudimentary magic to use, and it turns out he’s actually a nasty bounty hunter, and soon most of the characters are chopped into little pieces until .., well, now Tota and Evangeline are off to the capital to climb a space tower and meet what might be an adult Negima.

That’s nice, but maybe you should concentrate on your rally?

Well, the characters are new, mostly, but there still enough background lore here for me to lose interest. I don’t know much about the original Negima and don’t want to have to study up on it. What’s more, it was a fairly uninteresting first episode–young boy with a goal gains a big power and passes his first big test, and not terribly well done. The infodump Evangeline gives Tota while they’re both chopped up and bleeding to death went on far too long. I’m all for the willing suspension of disbelief but Tachibana would have polished off all those kids while she was still talking. There are limits. Negima fans might like the show, sneezing and all, but I’m going to pass.

Black Clover begins with a statue on an enormous skull.

Next on my list is Black Clover, where we see a country village and a priest who adopts two infants, Yuno and Asta. Fifteen years later we meet the two again. We learn that everyone can use magic, but it also has nuns and that priest–I don’t know how magic works with biblical teachings, but whatever. Yuno is excellent at magic and Asta, strangely, has no magic whatsoever, which is unheard of, but both want to join the Magic Knights and become the Wizard King. There’s a grimoire presentation, Asta doesn’t get one but Yuno gets a four-leaf clover one, which later is almost stolen by a former knight turned rogue. Remember what I said about Asta having no magical powers? Guess what happens next?

Asta, left, and Yuno, in characteristic poses.

Not bad overall. Nothing really interesting to it apart from the magical light shows and the brothers’ rivalry. Some scenes go on way too long, like Asta’s proposing to a nun, and the rogue trying to rub it in Asta’s face before the latter gets demonic. Mainly what bothered me is Asta himself. Not only is he a fool (which I can forgive) who shouts most of his lines, but the inflection of the shouting bugged the hell out of me. I don’t want to watch an entire season of that shouting.

Sengoku Night Blood opens with a rather garish moon.

In Sengoku Night Blood we get a bunch of old armies fighting, then switch to modern times and a girl whose name I’ve completely forgotten takes out her cell phone, time stops, then it starts but she’s now in a variant of the warring states period watching bishie men fight with super powers. After the battle, one of them (Hideyoshi) spots her and drags her along with his army. There follows a bewildering and poorly-animated series of scenes with the various army’s bishies laugh, fight, and generally act jolly before the next day’s battle. The girl talks to a rodent who gives her some background, then there’s the battle, and, oh, Hideyoshi’s army are all vampires.

What’s causing those shadows?

You will not be surprised to learn that this is based on a game. The creators of such shows usually feel that all they need to do is bring along the characters and their voices and the other parts of the series, you know, story, etc, can go to hell. Thus, fans of the game can have fun name-checking the characters, I suppose, but everything else in this episode was terrible. Confusing, poorly written, ugly purplish colors all over the place. Let’s move on.

A train station in deserted Tokyo. Lots of murdering going on, you see.

Juuni Taisen, at least this episode, follows, er, I’ll call her “Boar” because I didn’t catch her real name. What is it with me and names today? Anyway, she shows up, with weapons, at a deserted tall building where she and eleven others, representing other members of the Chinese Zodiac, will try to kill each other. It’s a fun event held every twelve years. We also flash back to her family, her abusive father picking her younger sister to be the Boar next time, and older sis getting her revenge by driving her little sister homicidally insane. Anyway, back in the present day, the battle begins, and we soon learn that the Boar isn’t really our protagonist after all. Heh. Should have seen that coming.

This is one of those gore-fests where everyone is twisted and trying to double-cross each other. And they will probably die, one by one, each episode, unless they’re resurrected by that one guy. The animation is inconsistent. Most of the talk scenes have only mouths moving, while some of the battle bits, especially Boar’s training scenes, look natural and fluid, and are genuinely fun to watch. So there’s potential here. As for me, watching nasty, murderous people covered in blood and laughing insanely isn’t what I like to do, but if you like these sort of gore-fests, you might get a kick out of it.

A pinkish city scene to start Osake.

Next is Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara, where we see Chisato, office lady, help out a coworker who gratefully invites her out drinking, but instead she goes home where her husband Sora makes her a new drink (we get the recipe) and she gets drunk. She “gets weird” when she drinks, she says, but it looks to me like she just gets drunk like everybody else. But apparently Sora thinks she’s cute when she’s drunk. And there you have it, in three minutes.

Trying to figure out the point of this show. Is it the drink recipes? Not enough time for them to expand on the taste like the characters in Isekai Shokudou can go on about food. Is it the cuteness? Again, Chisato didn’t look very much cuter when she got drunk. Maybe it’s the domestic life the two have, though if the whole thing is about the husband getting the wife drunk I’m not that interested. However, it’s a short, we learn about new drinks, and after all the fighting show’s I’ve watched before this, it comes as a relief.

A Japanese city hundreds of years ago, complete with foxes, tanuka, and bird people, of course.

Finally, Konohana Kitan, where in a fantasy old Japan, Yuzu, a cute little fox girl, comes to the big city and starts working at a big inn. We meet the other workers, supervisor Kiri, but especially the tsundere Satsuki and the weird little Sakura. She gets dragged around, is shown the ropes, and gets yelled at a lot by Satsuki, usually with reason. In contrast to Satsuki’s general grouchiness, Sakura likes to slack off to look at frogs and jump on pave-stones. We don’t really get to know the others but this is only episode one. And every now and then the show stops to show us a nice image. I don’t think anything more than that will happen for the entire season.

Satsuki stares down Yuzu while Kiri gets out of their way.

But that’s all right. This is a stop and smell the roses show with a bit of business about running a hotel and treating guests thrown in. I just hope Yuzu learns her job quickly because I don’t like episodes where the newbie screws up and gets scolded a lot. That’s all right, I don’t think it will last. The series obviously wants to soften Satsuki up as much as it does train Yuzu. As for the episode itself, there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with it. Typical first episode with lots of character introductions and pretty scenes, not on the soothing level of Aria or Tamayura because the characters are more comical and there’s magic about. They hit us on the head with the “One staffer represents the entire staff” a few too many times, but these are minor complaints. While nothing stood out on the good side, I might keep this one.

2017 6, the last

Hajimete no Gal is off to a bad start.

In Hajimete no Gal we meet Junichi, a typical high school second year who wants to get laid, though efforts are made to demonstrate that he has a decent side. He might get farther in his quest if he didn’t hang out, and actually listen to, his three loser buddies, who tempt him with a dirty mag right when Yukana, who looks like an easy slut, notices and humiliates him. Naturally the friends then force Junichi to confess his love/lust to Yukana. After humiliating him some more (at least no one’s around this time), she says yes, and so our story begins.

The big mystery is why Yukana said yes, and no doubt we’re going to find out she’s a bit of a romantic underneath, or something like that, and/or Junichi will rise above his lusts and become a decent boyfriend, and so this will be a more sensitive show than we think, but it’s hard to imagine that with the boob and panty shots, not to mention Junichi’s fantasies, that the show tosses at us at every moment possible. It got so annoying that I skipped ahead a few times and found they were STILL at it. Plus, Junichi’s internal monologues, almost all of them about sex, got old really fast. There might be a good story underneath all that, but I don’t have the patience to find out.

Gamers! is another show that starts with an airplane for no reason at all.

Gamers! features a nerdy but decent high school boy named Keita, who, while looking at a sexy dating sim with blonde girls at the store, is approached by Karen, the beautiful school idol, who, by the way, is blonde. Turns out she’s a gaming freak too, and tries to recruit him for her school club. Sounds perfect, but the club is hardcore and they play games to win. It’s a bit much for Keita, who just likes to play games for fun, so he very reluctantly bows out, leading to a public scene where Karen acts like he’s just broken her heart.

The usual embarrassed boy scenes and the usual set-up-the-story scenes aside, this was a good first episode. I was actually surprised that Keita turned down the club, but I admired how he did not succumb to Karen’s attraction, and stated good reasons for not joining. There’s also that Momo character he plays online who we know next to nothing about, so his reasons for gaming might be more complex than he states in the show. Too soon to say anything about the other characters, apart from another couple we meet, who manage to be funny with their own story. What I liked most, however, is that the direction often tells the jokes in a variety of ways, often through foreshadowing subtitles for instance (so we’re not just getting Keita’s POV but the creators’, too) as well as the mundane ones like witty internal monologues or good timing. In other words, the creators are actually working to make scenes good and not just tossing them out at us.

This is a TV show countdown.

Finally for this season’s previews, one I missed, Action Heroine Cheer Fruits (a coworker recommended it because she thinks all I care about are cute girls, and while I certainly like them, well …), where, er, I didn’t get her name, and her sister are excited about a live show featuring TV action heroine Kamidaio, that will take place at Hinano City (“city” is exaggerating a little) festival, only someone screwed up and it got cancelled. Kise (I looked it up)’s sister is devastated, so Kise promises to have Kamidaio appear next week, bringing her super-genki friend Akagi in to help try to recreate something they cannot possibly recreate. There follows a lot of dull scenes of them practicing, and then it’s performed to some youngsters, who see through it but appreciate the cool moves. And then the tower collapses …

There goes the tower.

There’s lots of other girls around, too. We meet a few of them early on, in side scenes, but all that did for this episode is distract us from the main story, which, admittedly, wasn’t much. When the side characters weren’t getting in the way, the pacing interfered; it was often lazy. On the good side, I did not expect that tower to collapse, and the episode had a couple of other clever bits that surprised me, or, in the case of Kamidaio’s product placement bits, allowed the creators to wink at us. Doubt I’m going to watch it though, since this cute girl show had its share of ogling, and a panty shot. They didn’t need to put that in.

That’s all for the previews. I could watch a couple more, but I don’t care, and I have more-or-less chosen the ones I will watch, plus catching up with the holdovers from last season … Thank you for reading, and I hope to catch up soon!

2017 Summer 5

Centaur no Nayami starts out sexy.

Centaur no Nayami seems to be a high school comedy where everyone is a mythical creature. We start with rehearsals for the school play, where Hime, a centaur and our heroine, rehearses the class play where she has to kiss her good friend Nozomi, a demon, I suppose, and there’s an incident during the performance … centaurs are pretty heavy, you know. Then a bewildering lecture about all the different races there are now and how amphibians all have six legs, plus a stern warning about discrimination. Then the girls run a marathon, but Kyoko lags behind, and midterm test results. Slice of life stuff.

Nozomi’s face is red because she’s thinking back to the kiss.

I was most interested in not only the teacher’s lecture, how it’s almost shouted at the students, how unity is more important than personal freedom (with two shadowy authorities listening from the door), and Kyoko’s comment later how even talking about this sort of stuff is illegal. Seems a bit extreme to me, and it makes this seemingly benign high school less so. As for the other things, none of the characters interested me very much, the jokes were unfunny and dragged out. The episode dragged as much as Kyoko in the marathon. I will cut it some slack for being a first episode–they have to explain the world to us, of course, but I can’t see myself watching too much more.

Princess Principal has a flashback to start us off.

Princess Principal sounds like the story of royalty running a school, but while the girls do attend school, they are actually spies for the British Commonwealth, as opposed to the British Kingdom, who they’re cold-warring with (the wall runs through London). For starters, they help a would-be defector escape from, I don’t know, police or something, and sneak him into their exclusive boarding school until they can get him across the wall. They’re aided by their spynetwork of course, but also the mysterious glowing substance called cavorite, which can lift cars and dump them and presumably other things as well, but then there’s the defector’s sister, suffering from cavorite poisoning and needs an expensive operation, and thus the plot gets complicated.

Cavorite at work.  Love this image.
Two of our girls blending in.

I’m not sure if the intrigue stuff is going to live up to expectations, too soon to tell, but I’m going to keep watching for now because so far it does. It’s a smart script that, at least in this episode, plays around with the concept of lying, since spies do that a lot. One character, Ange, lies so often that even her teammates often don’t know when she’s telling the truth. Also, the show looks great. There’s a nice steampunk feel to it with the foggy London streets and the odd machinery they use. Finally, it’s directed well. The chase scene at the beginning is one of the best moments of the new season so far. Let’s see if the refugees of the Black Lizard Planet can keep it up.

Kyo playing guitar to start off Tenshi no 3p!.

Tenshi no 3P! has Kyo, rapidly become a NEET who does little but upload music, uploading some more while at school a blond girl defends him. This goes on for about half the episode, until Kyo gets an email from an admirer who wants to meet him. Kyo is afraid at first but finally agrees because he wants to talk music. You probably already know who the mysterious Goto Jun really is. And we get a song at the end that I could do without, but if I keep watching this show, I better get used to it.

Not that I’m going to keep watching. The premise is vaguely disgusting, and, EVEN WORSE, the show lags so much that I thought about skipping ahead, especially when the girls show up. Every conversation is done in slow-motion, and it gets worse when the quiet, sleepy Sora has to say something. Also, I can’t get over the fact that they have rare valuable instruments and amplifiers hidden away in a secret room under a statue, not to mention that the ten year-old girls can play them so well, or that Kyo is only mildly surprised by the fact. I could wave it away except that the first half of the story seemed devoted to showing Kyo as a boy who needs help, and what that means to his friends and classmates, and had a far more serious feel about it.

Starting out with a conversation with God.

Next, Isekai no Smartphone to Tomo ni, which starts with God apologizing to a boy named Touya over killing him way too early in life. To make up for it he sends the boy to a magical land with augmented physical and magical abilities, also his smartphone, which can do everything it used to do except call home. It can call God, however. Touya wakes up in the magical world and things fall his way immediately, with a man offering to buy his clothes for too much money. He rescues/befriends/adds to his harem the twins Elze and Linze, finds he’s good at everything, and invents ice cream as a favor to another girl, who will no doubt be another harem addition.

The twins are as amazed by Touya’s abilities as we are, well, we’re not amazed at all.

There are many out there who will object to Touya finding everything so easy, but I don’t really mind it. This is basically a harem series in a magical world, so the important things will be the girls. Also, this looks to be a nice, brainless series I can watch without having to think too much. Mind you, I might change my mind. Touya is bland and the twins aren’t much better, but we’re just getting started with the harem building. We’ll see how it goes, and if I get bored.

2017 Summer 4

Made in Abyss gets off to a lovely start.

We start this session with Made in Abyss, and a young girl named Riko, who with her friend Nat is excavating for old artifacts, and, in spite of the area being pretty much picked clean (this is a training session for apprentices), she finds quite a few, but then a dragon, about to eat an knocked-out Nat. She distracts it with her red whistle (whistle color signifies status) and before it can eat HER something blasts it. Turns out to be an unconscious robot boy. The rest of the show follows Riko, Nat, and their Shiggy as they try to hide the robot from their mean orphanage director, etc, getting in more trouble as they go, until the robot wakes up and wonders what the hell is going on and who he is, the usual philosophical questions when you’ve been overzapped with electricity.

I’ll say right out that this is worth at least one more episode. The early scenes are wonderful. The later ones are marred by the situation, kids getting into trouble and hiding from their teachers, but even then we get to discover more about the strange world they live in. If you don’t count Riko’s explanations to Reg (robot-kun) there is only one infodump, it comes at the very end of the episode, and it only makes me want to learn more about the world, the mysterious hole, and its artifacts and monsters. There’s a certain amount of preciousness about it, the show obviously intended for young viewers, but not enough to keep me from watching more. Finally, the art is fantastic. The childish character designs clash with it a bit, but not enough for me to care.

One more. I can’t resist.
18if’s gaudy opening.

Next it’s 18if, where after we watch a purplish opening bit, we get someone who calls herself the Witch of Thunder who cavorts with her minions, and convert two not-cute strangers into more minions, then a boy named Haruto, who wakes up in a dream world, and then that witch is popping out of his cell phone. He’s rescued by a girl in white named Lily, but wakes up in the same dreamland, more adventures with that witch, and a cat-guy who is a scientist investigating this world, until Lily shows up and there’s a big confrontation with the witch, who apparently is a real girl who went into a self-induced coma after some classmates were awful to her. Next week, Haruto, Cat-guy and Lily will presumably rescue another stuck person.

Bleh. It tries to look modern but look too closely and you can see how cheap this show is with poor background art and character designs, and its stumbling narrative. Since it’s a dream world, anything goes, however, a lack of rules doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have internal consistency. Every character (except maybe the cat-guy) is a bore. Nobunaga Shimazaki (Haruto) is wasted in this show and sounds bored, like he’s simply waiting to say his next line. I’m a little curious about who Lily really is but not enough to keep watching.

We’ll probably see a lot of candles in Vatican Kiseki.

Vatican Kiseki Chousakan stars Roberto and Joseph, two young priests and apprentices to the Vatican group that goes around verifying miracles. After an opening bit where a nightwatchman chases off some demon-summoning kids and then sees a crucified blond guy floating in the air, we get our heroes being sent to South America to check on a virgin birth story, but they’re really there to gather info on this suspicious church and a tile that fits into another with a Satanic saying on it, which, really, one of those kids could have dropped. They wander around the enormous church/school/hospital grounds and gather information, while some of the folks there act weird, especially the one who bites the sausage. Dolores, the pregnant girl, has stigmata too, but Roberto and Joseph just wave it off as common. And a priest is then murdered, a statue of the virgin cries, etc etc.

Hey look! I got a stigmata!

No standalone story here. I guess they presume we already know all this Catholic stuff already. They spend more time introducing everybody. Really, does anyone who speaks a word in the show need his name put up there for us to note? On the good side, they set up the overly heavy atmosphere of big churches and rituals quite well, which is good because the animation doesn’t look that impressive. They take their time with the story, I think a good thing in this case, laying out clues here and there, and they scatter the scary stuff around almost like a spice. There’s a sober mood to the whole thing. Not bad, but not really what I’m after these days.

Altair starts with ruins.

In Shoukoku no Altair is set in the sort-of fictional land of what the translators call Turkiye, where Mahmut, young genius kid, is becoming the youngest person to achieve the rank of Pasha. He’s motivated by seeing firsthand the horrors of the last war with, er, (checks notes) the Balt-Rhein Empire. He begins his tenure as Pasha by kicking a hot dancing girl out of his bed and learning that a Balt-Rheim guy was murdered at the border, they say, by Turkiye assassins. He races off to uncover the conspiracy and save his mentor, who’s name I didn’t catch.

What we got her is intrigue, possible war, conspiracies, with lots of pseudo-Ottoman and pseudo-European trappings. It worked well as an introductory episode, a standalone story that also introduced the problems Mahmut and Turkiye are going to face in the future. I especially liked Mahmut’s elderly mentor, who feels responsible for that old war and will do anything, even give away his life, to prevent a new one. Hope it doesn’t come to that. I, however, didn’t much like the superficial treatment of the two empires, and the capture of the baddies was a trifle silly. Still, silliness has rarely hurt an anime before. I understand that the story is quite long, and I don’t know if I want to get involved with a two-cours (at least) series of this nature at the moment, so I’ll pass.

I don’t know why Ballroom no Youkoso starts with a plane, but whatever …

Ballroom no Youkoso, if you couldn’t figure out already, is about ballroom dancing. Basically we have an aimless middle-schooler named Fujita who wants to love something, “so I can change!” Through events not worth mentioning here, he winds up in a new ballroom studio run by the charismatic Sengoku and has a nervous trial lesson. That wasn’t enough to make him sign up (way too expensive anyway) but watching the dvd another teacher slipped into his case (the show’s most vivid moment–“Look at me!”), gets him interested indeed. So he goes back and begs for lessons. Fujita immediately develops a ridiculous work ethic, a lot of blisters, and grudging admiration from Sengoku and the cute classmate who’s already training there.

I think we all know what’s going on here. Determined kid works his butt off to achieve what looks to be an absurd goal while meeting friends and rivals. I wasn’t crazy about how quickly Fujita became a fanatic, and even if you can buy that, dancing all night is ridiculous. However, Sengoku is a lot of fun, both supportive and a tad egoistical. Too soon to tell about the girl yet, and we have yet to meet any other dancers. The dancing itself is nice to look at. Though the necks and limbs seem absurdly stretched, it feels consistent with the show’s aesthetics. I guess it boils down to if you want to watch ballroom dancing.

2017 Summer 3

Appropriately, wedding bells begin Koi to Uso.

Koi to Uso takes us to a happy modern Japan where everyone, upon reaching age 16, is assigned a marriage partner whether they like it or not. We start with some high schoolers discussing this, both with “I don’t wanna!” and “I wonder who he/she is like?” and one boy, Yukari, railing louder than anyone. Since he’s almost sixteen he decides to confess to the girl he’s been in love with since high school, Misaki. There follows the usual nervous second-guessing and blurting out of nonsense for quite too long, until Misaki confesses right back, been in love ever since he gave her that eraser, etc. Ding ding! It’s midnight! It’s midnight and two government officials approach them (they’re in a park, not at home, but they knew where to find him anyway) and says his future wife has been chosen, and it’s not Misaki, OR IS IT? There was a strange text message right before that, you see …

I forget, she’s either crying with joy or she’s upset because he got his notice.

That mysterious text message, which was conveniently gone from his phone when the govt people (who are given names, so I think they’re regulars) show up, was a interesting twist in an otherwise completely mundane love triangle story, or square, since there are four people on the poster. As I mentioned, the confession business could have been pulled from thousands of other high school shows and/or manga. That they’re being forced to marry other people is a complication used in stories for, I dunno, thousands of years. The hint at supernatural happenings (and that look of utter gloom on Misaki’s face near the end) is thus the only new thing here. Never mind newness, you say? Well, there was nothing about the romantic things we saw to make it stick out. Also, quite frankly, I don’t like the character designs at all. If you like classic high school romantic stories, you might like it.

This modern city scene is quite unlike the mood of the series.

In Isekai Shokudou there’s a popular western-style restaurant that, one day a week, is closed to the general public and instead open to people and creatures from another world of the generic fantasyland variety. We watch some warriors, a wizard, and a lizard thing argue over what food goes best with white rice, then later a dragon in voluptuous human form comes to visit, and then Aletta, the first regular character apart from the chef, a cute demon girl, wanders in when it’s closed and gets a job as a waitress. That’s it.

The first episode is charming. The focus is on the delicious food and the pleasure of eating as much as the strange characters, a food porn show with supernatural elements. I wonder if the characters, especially in the first scene, would be bitter enemies in their own world but put aside their differences to enjoy some curry or croquettes together, as if to make the point that dining is a civilized act and must be respected. I also wonder if the door they use to enter the restaurant moves about, appearing before those who need it the most, like Aletta. I don’t know if they can keep the concept fresh for a full season, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Aho girl actually begins with opening credits. That’s pretty rare these days.

Aho Girl is a short about a very stupid girl named Yoshiko, her long-suffering neighbor and classmate who they call A-kun, and other characters who occasionally get drawn into the orbit of Yoshiko’s jawdropping stupidity. Yoshiko has a thing for A-kun, and he responds to her advances (and whatever else she’s up to) with incredulity and often violence.

Pretty much everything boils down to this for Yoshiko.

Yes, I laughed. Yoshiko is played by Yuuki Aoi at full power and so is almost always fun, especially when the topic gets around to Yoshiko’s one true passion: bananas. A-kun is Sugita Tomokazu, so he’s not bad to listen to either. I have a feeling I’d get warn down by the premise if the show was a full half-hour–Yoshiko is extremely intense, but it’s only half that, just right.

A school desk to open Tsurezure Children

Another short, Tsurezure Children gives us not one but four confession scenes of varying awkwardness but consistent humor. In the first, the girl is so awkward that they both nearly freeze to death in that romantic snow, and the boy doesn’t know how to respond when she asks “Do you a crush on somebody?” because the answer is her. In the second confession the girl so straightforward that the boy doesn’t know how to react, which she thinks is cute, in the third, a hard-ass student council rep comes on to the school deliquent, and the fourth is more of a goodbye confession under the stars.

Since the episode is so short they don’t have time to dilly-dally with the confessions, a point in the show’s favor. I hate thumpity-thump moments if they go on too long, and they usually do. The emotions for both characters in each scene feel natural, and there’s often a fun little twist, someone blurts out something stupid, or the logic of the conversation leads to absurd conclusions, but once we get the idea that each confession will be a success we get to enjoy four fun couples. Or three. Not sure about the last girl yet.

Shangri-la, I think.

I don’t know Journey to the West, except it’s a bunch of guys on a mission and one of them is a monkey, but that’s about all I needed to know to watch at least episode of Saiyuki RELOAD BLAST. In this slightly modernized version (guns and a jeep, etc), demons have broken loose and life is pretty much hell for humans, especially in the west of Shangri-la. Our heroes break up a demon attack and are taken to a secluded village where they act like bros, drop exposition, and generally annoy the neighbors until the demons reach them, and there’s more bloody fighting.

Hard to tell if it will pan out because this was a typical opening standalone episode where we meet the characters and see how they fight. The story arc starts next week. It looks good, but the fight scenes consist mostly of still shots with a shaky camera, and they’re a bit confusing unless you know who is doing what. I liked the bro aspect; the four of them have fought together for years and know, trust, and tease each other easily. But for me at least there wasn’t much more that stood out.

A show that tells you everything from the start.

More bromance coming up, I think … Yep. Dive!! is the diving adventures of Ryo. When he was a young boy walking his dog on a hot summer day he sees an older boy, Yoichi, diving from a “dragon,” i.e., a diving board, and he is transfixed. Yoichi invites the lad to give it a try, and his diving days begin. Now in middle school, he’s training with two amiable buddies and pretty much ignoring the nice girl who wants to hang out with him. Meanwhile, the club is in financial trouble and there are rumors that it will be shut down. At the end, they all meet a new instructor, the sexy Kayoko, who gives them a goal, the Olympics.

Destiny, or something.

It looks solid enough. The first episode scattered little plot points around while establishing Ryo’s adoration of Yoichi a little too much. The dives are done pretty realistically, only hampered by the frame rate. The problem will be that they happen so quickly, under two seconds, that all the dramatic moments will have to happen before and after them. Might be interesting to see what the creators will do with that. But while the animation is good, it’s not on the level of the last water-sports based franchise we saw–Free!, and it might need to be. And, of course, we get a ton of shots of men and boys standing around in swimsuits, if that’s your interest.

We watch him run for way too long.

Konbini Kareshi follows some kids around as they enter high school, especially a boy named Haruki and his annoying, freeloading friend Towa. Haruki likes a girl named Miharu, whom he once knew, though she seems to have forgotten, and they often (literally) bump into each other at the convenience store near the school. Towa likes to tease a shy, reserved class rep named Mami, who supposedly hates him, but you know how that will turn out. They also visit the convenience store. We get a lot of looks of other kids who are in the credits, but we don’t learn anything about them this week. No time. I presume that they also frequent the convenience store.

Actually, considering the title, they don’t spend a lot of time in the store. Most of the scenes are at school or home. When they do use the store, they usually read a magazine while waiting for someone, or get discovered reading something surprising. Oh, and to get lunch or a popsicle. As for the show, it feels a bit leisurely to me. Did they have to have a close up of both boys swiping their subway card? Did we really need that much of Haruki running around in the flash-forward that begins the episode? The characters are all right, a little dull, but we don’t really know them yet. Except Towa’s schtick gets old very fast, and I can’t blame Mami when he treats her so disrespectfully.