Winter 2018 #5

Takunomi opens with Tokyo Station, which is a place for transferring, so many people don’t know it looks like this outside.

Sharing the half hour with Dagashi Kashi is Takunomi, where a young woman named Michiru comes to Tokyo for the first time, runs into trouble, gets freaked out, falls asleep on the train, freaks out some more, but is finally taken to her new home by Kae, the motherly one of the all-woman hostel. The then meets Nao, drunk already, and we learn how to pour Yebisu beer, and a secret about its label. Also, good food is prepared, but they didn’t have brand names. Looked delicious, though. And that’s about it.

I suppose as Dagashi Kashi is for snack food, Takunomi is supposed to be for drinks. Not sure we need it, but why not?  Did we need Dagashi?  Only with hindsight do we say “hell, yes!”  It’s too early to tell how good this show will get yet, but I noticed that I really didn’t get interested until drunken Kae talked about how she got her lost hopes and dreams back thanks to a special Yebisu beer label, and all I can figure is that her life wasn’t turning out the way she wanted so she turned to drink, but presented in a more surreal way.  So maybe it’s a show about adult failures, and why not?  At least the other women at the hostel think Kae drinks too much, though they can all put it away. Not sure about this one.

Fairy-tale opening placard for Hakume to Mikochi.  Yes, they are tiny.

Hakumei to Mikochi is about the titular, diminutive women, as they live and work in a forest somewhere. It’s a good life. Mikochi cooks minestrone, they both ride beetles when they get tired, and they make friends with enormous (for them) birds who you think would just eat them. In the second half they visit a busy market and Mikochi (the sensible one) loses her wallet, but since she’s good friends with all the shop people it just means she and Hakumei get lots of freebies. They find the wallet, anyway, and they eat and drink a lot.

Mikochi and Hakume, in the enormous grass.

Hadn’t seen this one coming. A quite nice episode where nothing really bad happens to anyone, and I don’t think anything will in the future. So it’s a stop and smell the roses show, perhaps, with bright and colorful artwork that looks like it comes out of a children’s picture book. The main characters have the same dynamic we’ve seen elsewhere, Mikochi is sensible, Hakumei less so, but practical and caring. You wonder just how the two met up and how they became so close. You’ll also wonder about the world they’re in, but I think the show will be more than happy to show us more in future episodes.

Think I’ll skip Hakyuu Houshin Engi because I seriously doubt I’ll watch more than one episode even if I like it, and I’m behind again …

I’m so sorry, apparently I didn’t take screenshots of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens!  Anyway, takes place in Hakata, Fukuoka, where we are told that maybe up to three percent of the population are professional hitmen. With all the dead bodies we see in episode one, the place lives up to its reputation, We follow a few of the killers around, a crossdresser who keeps getting sent off to kill more people and is really tired of it, also some shady people hanging around the mayor, his son, I believe, who just kills for the fun of it, and some other guy who’s never killed anyone before and really isn’t up to the job. We got detectives, too, namely Banba, who is looking into the death of another detective until the crossdresser shows up to kill him, or not.

It’s all very confusing; it’s one of those shows where the creators just toss you right in without telling you much of anything. When the show loops back to the opening scene of the crossdresser watching TV in Banba’s office I gave a sigh of relief–something I recognized. I suspect it will stay hard to follow because they introduce a lot of characters and give us very little information about them, and the intrigue will probably get more convoluted by the minute. These aren’t bad things, and I don’t mean to suggest that the show is handing the material badly, but viewers will probably have to do a little guessing and remembering to figure things out, at least early on.

Beatless starts with words slowly forming about loving souless beings.

Beatless takes place in a future world where there are a lot of servant androids about, known as hIEs, and it stars a high school boy named Arato who knows they’re not real and are trying to mimic human emotions for usually business reasons. Also, there’s been some sort of event at a nearby facility and several highly-modded hIEs are going about causing destruction and smirking as they do it. Who taught them that? It’s boring.  Anyway Arato meets a nice hIE he knows in a parking lot but she goes crazy and tries to kill him, until he’s rescued by another hIE, of the, er, Lacia class. They do a formal contract thing, mostly because of the crazy cars that are now trying to kill him, and now he owns her, and must accept all responsibility for whatever mayhem he tells her to do. I think that last bit is going to be very important later on.

Having a super android girl who can stop insane cars is useful.

No reason to like it especially, it boils down to sexy android girl who obey whatever command you give her, but I did anyway. I wonder why the hell Lacia showed up to save him all of a sudden, and if she was one of the renegade hIEs, and if so why Arato? Except there was this brief flashback where Arato as a boy watches a surgery/tuneup of another android explode. We also don’t know what the evil grinning hIEs want, except the one who produces nanobots like flower petals from her dress suggests that Arato is implicated somehow. He’s a nice chap, overly kind, perhaps, but he has a goofy sister and some nice friends to ground him. Right now, just the right balance between domesticity and weird violence.

Killing Bites, ha ha, no … Gin no Guardian, another season 2 of an unwatched season 1 …

Not sure if those are petals or bits of bird feathers …

So the last show I’m going to watch this season is Darling in the FranXX, with its hero actually named Hiro, except he’s actually called 016 because he’s a subject in a facility that raises pistils (pilots) to command giant mecha in female form (at least the one we see this week) and fight monsters of various kinds. The twist of this very generic setup is that you need a male and female pilot to bond, become the two wings of the franXX. Hiro has bombed out of the program, unfortunately taking a nice girl named Naomi down with him, and while he has special permission to stay (for unknown reasons, heh) he elects to leave the facility, but before he does he catches sight of a naked, strange, feral pistil named, er, 002, who takes a liking to him as she catches a fish in her mouth and he stares at her body. The inevitable happens: monsters attack the facility, 002’s darling (partner) is killed, and Hiro’s powers are awakened as he takes his place, well, that and a sexy kiss.

Now gimmie a kiss.

So we got a mish-mosh of many different mecha shows, going back a decade or two, and I’m not a big mecha fan anyway … Yet I’m going to keep watching this for a while. I don’t know why. I watched it this morning then went to work, and from time to time I tried to figure out what about it appealed to me. Maybe it’s the unspoken situation of the students there, that if they fail there’s no going back home, though no one knows where they go. I figure in a place like that there is a strict limit on resources, and if they can’t pull their weight, so government/society issues … Or maybe it was 002 and 016’s self-perceived status as lonely people who can’t get along who find someone that just might accept them for what they are. That’s hardly new either, but it seems to resonate here, and again, I don’t know why it does. Maybe it’s Trigger’s contribution to the animation, making everything seem more like a drawing exploding out of reality at times. … I don’t know what it is, but the episode appealed to me and I will watch the next episode at least.

Speaking of which, now’s the time I have to decide which shows to keep and which to drop. But THIS season I’ll hang around and write about a few!  Thank you for reading.  Agreements, disagreements, let me know!


Winter 2018 #4

Basilisk -Ouka Ninpouchou- … don’t follow the franchise, so next is Gdgd Men’s Party, but I can’t find it, Yowamushi Pedal Glory Line … not following that, either, so it’s Overlord 2, and while I hear Overlord 1 was pretty good, I didn’t watch it, and I have no intention of watching DamexPrince … Ah!

Not sure, but I think it’s someone’s back.

Kyoto Animation has been pushing Violet Evergarden for a while now. It starts with Violet, who we quickly learn is a robot used for combat in a bloody war which is now over, is recuperating and having her letters fly out the window and travel great distances, when former Lieutenant Hodgins comes to pick her up. She keeps asking about Gilbert, her former commander, and Hodgins keeps distracting her. He takes her to a household where she doesn’t fit, and so goes to work at Hodgin’s letter-writing and delivery service. In the meantime she tries to figure out what she ought to do now that her main purpose is fulfilled and her commander gone. and in the end tries to focus on what the hell “love” is. Good luck with that.

The episode is more coherent than my description. It’s just that it’s a long story we’re embarking on, and KyoAni is too sophisticated to settle for a simple narrative. Also, they fill the episode with detail, both visually (yes, this show is amazing to look at. Did you expect anything less?) and in the narrative. There’s too much to simply retell here; I’m amazed it all fit into 25 minutes. Which is not to say this is a perfect episode. For one thing, why on earth don’t they just TELL Violet that Gilbert is dead? Of if he really isn’t and there’s a dark secret here, at least give us a hint of it, because I spent much of the time muttering “Just TELL her!” and getting distracted from the dazzling visuals and lovely character designs KyoAni was so obviously desperate to show off to us. Well, she and we will figure out what’s going on eventually. In the meantime, I have no idea what episode 2 has in store for us. That’s neither a good or bad thing, but how many times can you say that about a show after episode one?

You can just make out a book about to open.

Next it’s Marchen Madchen, where a shy girl named Hazuki suffers from what she calls “story syndrome,” which we would call escaping into a book whenever her stressful real life (mother died, father remarried) gets to be too much for her. She’s reading one when a girl in a robe bumps into her and runs off, leaving her bag behind her. Hazuki, for reasons I can’t figure out, follows her and sees the stranger do actual magic stuff! She follows some more, finds she has a book in her own bag she didn’t know about, gets transported to a new, magical land, and, because this is an anime fantasy story, is soon naked and running for her life. And it turns out she’s a marchen, or maybe it’s madchen, which impresses some of the girls there. Apparently there are no men.

Judging from what I saw, this show is going to have a lot more fanservice. Yumelia, the girl chasing Hazuki around, switches to a string bikini for no reason at all, and the OP and ED are full of cute girls in various … attractive outfits. Which may not be a deal-breaker for you, so I’ll talk about the story. Basic fantasy stuff about books, and how wonderful reading is, which is fine, we need more reading in the world, but I have a feeling the stories are going to be precious fairy stories that young girls are supposed to like, and I don’t know if I can handle too much of that. Too soon to tell, though. I’ll think about it next week … oh hell, it IS next week.

Modern-day Tokyo, but the series won’t be there long.

Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku stars Suzuki, I think, game debugger guy working on the third day or so of his latest “death march” at work, who finally gets a little shut-eye and wakes up in a fantasy world that looks like two of the games he’s working on slammed together. Okay, he thinks. Dream. I’ll play along. Some lizardmen shoot arrows at him so he brings down a meteor storm which not only wipes them out but raises all his levels (Log Horizon style, he gets all the windows and notices a player would get) life points, and cash to extreme levels. He plays around with all this for awhile, sometimes wondering why he hasn’t woken up yet, when he sees a dragon attack a group of soldiers and rescues a warrior maiden of sorts, who will probably be pissed off and slap him next episode.

Another “modern-day guy stuck in a video game or generic fantasy world” story, which isn’t necessarily bad, just that it will be harder for it to find variations on the theme. Well, for starters, he’s the only modern-day person there, and I doubt there will be more. Yes, he has a cell phone, but he can’t call god, though he’s so powerful he probably wouldn’t have to. But judging from the ED we’ve potentially got a harem series in the making. Almost all girls except for Satou, Suzuki’s player-name. There’s a lot of cgi-heavy action that doesn’t quite look realistic, but it’s not nearly as bad as some other shows, and in fact the art looks very good. I might watch next week, if only to see if the girls slaps him.

Yet another blue anime sky …

In Koi wa Ameagari no You ni we have a high school girl named Tachibana who, apparently was a member of the track team, but sustained an injury bad enough that she had to be operated on. Now she seems to mope about (maybe she always did) and work her part time job, where she’s got a serious crush on the manager, a hapless fellow named Kondou, constantly apologizing to customers, writing little notes to himself, who was nice to her just after the injury, and has become vaguely aware that this lovely young girl has a thing for him. The EP suggests that it’s going to be more than a thing, but watching these two not stupid people go through the day I’m not so sure. Also there’s an idiot boy chasing Tachibana who I want to kill.

Believe me, that’s the last thing she wants to do to you.

The age difference might be worrisome, but the show shows no indication that it’s going to get tawdry on us. Though shown as largely a fool, Kondou obviously knows the situation and while he’s lonely and plays with the thought, he’s not getting his hopes up, and maybe hopes rather that Tachibana will find a boy closer to her age. Tachibana, meanwhile, is an extremely serious girl, and is absolutely certain but unsure how to go about it, which makes her unsmiling demeanor and bullheaded actions kind of adorable, and her gaze can pierce steel (“Is she glaring at me?” Kondou asks himself more than once). Not sure how this one is going to work out, or if it SHOULD work out, but I think we’ll get a sincere, believable story either way.

A mummy show that starts in the desert.

Next it’s Miira no Kaikata, where a high school boy living at home, named Sora, gets a strange package from his traveling father. Other packages have contained dangerous, cursed things, so Sora is a little surprised to find it’s a tiny little mummy that was sent in a coffin with a cross on it, go figure. The little critter is eager to please but isn’t much use except for swelling up in disgusting ways when it gets wet, barking like a dog when it has to, and making squick sounds when it walks. Sora calls it Mii-kun; there’s also Pochi the dog (the critters in this show have unimaginative names), and presumably Sora’s sister, Kaede, who sadly spends the episode locked in her room on a deadline. Oh, and Sora’s friend Tazuki, who wants to “try things out” on Mii-kun; I approve.

That was about the lamest, most uninspired first episodes I’ve seen in a while, and I say that while acknowledging that it had to set up the premise and we (and Sora) have to learn what it eats, how to wash it, etc. But I spent most of the episode wondering when the episode would end. Mii-kun didn’t strike me as being cute. Sora was in the position of voicing his inner monologue because there was nothing else to do, and that gets dull very fast. Maybe if we had seen more of Kaede, or Tazuki had gotten his with it would have been a better episode. Also, I was somewhat reminded of the baby from Eraserhead …

Dagashi returns with Saya’s mouth.

Happily, next comes a perfect palate cleanser, the return of Dagashi Kashi! First we get …

Hotaru is in fine form.

Later it’s …

So is Saya.

We’re only getting half episodes this time, but in the first episode at least they squeezed in three or four dagashi, though only the two above are featured. We start with a strange Winter(!) scene where Saya asks Kokonotsu why his shop is so run down these days, and we learn the dad has run off, but after that it’s back to hot summer days, and the great Hotaru being summoned to satisfy Kononotsu’s and later Saya’s hankerings. Hotaru is at full force, posing, gesturing, bravely shouting inane things (“Your father is a Youtuber!”–I mean, yeah, there was a Youtube thing first season, but why shout it now?). Saya has less to do, but she gets her share of crazy faces and adorable blushing, so it’s okay. The question is, will this once again be the most educational show of the season? This time it’s going against a ramen show plus one about camping and another about exploring. Well, I already know those two won’t be as funny.

Winter 2018 #3

Mitsuboshi begins with a girl running to headquarters to report a panda cat.

To begin our third installment we have Mitsuboshi Colors, where we meet three cute girls, Yui (the nice one), Kotoha (the quiet, smart one who says disturbing things), and Sacchan, the genki one with a poop fetish. They do adorable things like run around Ueno park trying to keep their city safe for the people, and animals, and in doing so get into numerous minor scrapes and surprisingly succeed in just about everything they do, especially exasperating and assaulting the long-suffering police guard, Saitou, who sort of looks after them. Also around is Pops, who has a store of cool weird stuff.

I can’t say it did much for me. First of all, it’s the premise. I can’t believe those girls would be allowed to run amok in one of the biggest tourist areas in Tokyo, and have a hideout there to boot. But even accepting that, I found very little of what they did entertaining, bothersome would be a better word. I have much more sympathy for Saitou the guard than any of the girls, and the fact that he puts up with their antics nominates him up for sainthood. “Pops,” as the translation called him, the store owner, has some good points, both encouraging and messing with the girls a little. On the other hand, you could say that both he and Pops are doing what little they can to keep an eye on the girls, but in the end, I want to see more side characters if I’m going to keep watching this.

A generic anime sky to open Gakuen Babysitters.

Gakuen Babysitters is about Ryuichi, middleschooler, and Kotaro, is very young brother, who enter a new school together after their parents die in a plane crash. The headmaster is this old bag whose motive for letting the kids into the school was to have Ryuichi run the school daycare center, which is fine with Ryuichi. Naturally, the kids are all unbearably cute and run roughshod over poor Ryuichi, with plenty of heartwarming moments. Even the old bag headmaster shows a softer side–actually I’m a little disappointed about that.

Meet the kids.

So it’s Hanamaru Kindergarten with personal tragedy mixed in. Also some possibly inappropriate parenting behavior when Hayato, another middle schooler, hits one of the kids (it’s his younger brother, but still …). I hope they follow up on that. The big theme, at least for the first episode, and which is stated perhaps too clearly, is that no one is truly alone, and while you think you can handle crises by yourself it’s okay to lean on other people, which is something both Ryuichi and 2 year-old Kotaro both need to learn to do. The kid won’t even let on he’s got a fever for fear of troubling his big brother. Overall it’s a happy, mostly positive world with cute kids. Kirin is probably my favorite right now. If they can keep the maudlin parts to a minimum and not beat us on the head with the week’s theme this show might be a lot of fun to watch.

Juri goes home after another failed interview.

Let’s see … Zoku Touken Ranbnu -Hanamaru- … not interested in the franchise, so next it’s Kokkoku, where a young woman named Juri returns to a screwed-up family after failing yet another job interview. A NEET brother, fired father, single-mom sister, only ojiisan and the kid Makoto are worth much. For some weird reason some thugs decide to kidnap Makoto as the brother walks him home, and before we can figure out why anyone would want to try this, the grandfather is having everyone touch a stone and dripping blood into it. And time stops. But before they can haul the captives out of the kidnappers’ lair, additional thugs who CAN move show up and start beating the good guys up, ojiisan starts teleporting–badly, some bored-looking guys also show up to watch and mutter stuff, and finally a big monster who is about to kill one of the bad guys, and they run out of time.

You aren’t supposed to teleport UP, you know. You’ll just come back down.

Stylistically it’s the best-looking show so far this season–while the character designs aren’t anything great the background and weirdo effects are great to look at, that goes especially for the OP. The story is full of surprise moments–I hadn’t counted on more thugs showing up–and there’s a good, naturalistic feel to Juri’s family that made me feel like this would be a gritty slice-of-life story rather than a horror-fantasy, had it not been for an opening bit. But I don’t know if the story is going to live up to the good job they did setting up the family, but future episodes will tell. However, I don’t much like the unpleasant tone of the whole thing. Everyone aside from Juri and the boy Makoto is unpleasant and screwed up. But again, so far I haven’t seen anything like this episode this season. Dunno.

Ryuuou begins with a big Ryuou.

Next it’s Ryuuou no Oshigoto where we meet Yaichi, Japan’s newest shougi champion, and the youngest. Now two months later, he is trying to overcome both the backlash and the slump he’s been in since his grueling, health-threatening final where a nice little girl helped him out by bringing him water. And guess who shows up at his apartment? It seems he sort of agreed to make the girl, Ai, a disciple. Turns out she’s a prodigy, and she’s adorable, and has a girly crush on Yaichi. The rest of it is all fluff and shougi shop talk, and sadistic “sisters” showing up right when there’s a naked elementary school girl running around the apartment.

Apart from that last bit I found myself enjoying this show quite a bit. Mind you, there’s absolutely nothing new to it, but there’s a warmth and good humor to everything. And while the Yaichi/Ai relationship borders on creepy (Yaichi isn’t the type to take advantage, but Ai has a twisted, jealous side), I had fun watching Ai square off against the scary Ginko, and her ridiculous exchange of threats with another player–you could tell they were both having fun. Yaichi is kind of a bore, but since he is a champion he’s shown he has some inner strength. I might watch another episode.

Takagi-san begins with nishikata plotting.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is about a middle school boy named Nishikata, whose one goal in life is to “get” Takagi, the cute girl who sits next to him in the back of the classroom. He comes up with all these schemes–pop-ups in pencil boxes, erasers with secrets, weird faces, only to discover that she’s miles ahead and the joke is on him. And naturally, there’s the implication that they actually LIKE each other and, being middle-schoolers, this is how they act it out. Right now, that’s about it.

Nishikata is still plotting. Takagi seems amused.

On its own there’s not much to it. We get the idea the moment Takagi asks Nishikata to open her pencil case, and nothing much changes after that. It’s also slowly-paced, full of Nishikata lines like “hehe, this time I’ll get her for sure!” that aren’t needed, especially when we see how it will turn out. There’s a little fun to be had with HOW Takagi nails him–the eraser bit was clever. But it all gets repetitive and you begin to wonder why Nishikata is trying so hard and why Takagi is being so cruel to him. However, I’ve tried to read some of the manga, and the stories in there are longer form, not in the classroom, and the point was NOT Nishikata trying to get Takagi (I believe it had something to do with Takagi playing matchmaker for two other friends), so it’s possible they’ll break the routine.

I had trouble looking for Ashita wa Doyoubi until I realized I had already watched it. It was those three girls at the end of Takagi-san. Two shows in one! Alas, they did very little for me; their best bits came in the Takagi section with their stunned reactions to the teacher punishing Nishikata.

Winter 2018 #2

I believe that’s a piece of glass.

To start this second post we have Itou Junji: Collection, only we don’t because I don’t care much for horror. So let’s turn to Grancrest Senki, set in a fantasy world where a royal wedding will put aside years of fighting between the Fantasy Alliance and the Factory Federation. Well, we can’t have peace and harmony, can we, so a demon lord interrupts and kills a number of people. The bride turns her back on the would-be groom (why?), the brief alliance is shattered, and the world is plunged into war again. A couple years later we meed Siluca, a mage who’s contracted to a lord who doesn’t sound very pleasant, but the carriage is halted by people from another country or dukedom or something, and Siluca is just about to kick their ass when this handsome, somewhat stupid lad named Theo rides in, HE fights the baddies, and barely wins. So Siluca makes him fight two-headed monster just for kicks, and after he barely beats that (and gains experience points), she decides to run off with him instead of that duke. So they take over another dukedom in about five minutes and now Theo’s a duke too.

Siluca knows what she wants.

Theo is overwhelmed by this, as you can imagine, while Siluca is having a great time manipulating him. Also, he knows she’s manipulating him, but he doesn’t seem to have the gumption to stand up to her. For one episode, this is entertaining to watch, especially Siluca, who I believe has ideals to save and heal their troubled world but is so practical and full of guile that it’s easy to forget that. Theo is more of a tool, but he’s supposed to be the brave, heroic, and boring one. As for the world, I can’t figure it out. There’s chaos power about, which sounds bad, but people use it for good, too. There are the warring factions but also nasty monsters and spiders around too. Where do you start saving this world? Well, I expect this show will run for at least 100 episodes so I’m sure it has a plan. As for me, apart from Siluca’s guile there wasn’t much to enjoy, just another fantasy story, with the usual character designs and not great animation. Besides, I avoid long series.

Don’t see Devilman Crybaby yet, and I’m not following Nanatsu no Taizai, so …

Sanrio’s misleading opening shot.

Last time we had multiple episodes of girls who find exciting new things to do which will make their lives shine, and now it’s the boys’ turn. After watching Sanrio Danshi, I think the girls got the better deal. But it starts well, with a sword-duel which is tragically broken up by one character who dies, only, alas, it’s just a school play and instead we get the story of Kouta, who loved Pompompurin figures as a boy, especially the big stuffed one his beloved grandma gave him. An unpleasant bullying incident turns him against both Pompompurin and his grandma, and you can pretty much guess what happens next. Thus his high school life doesn’t shine until he unwittingly encounters three other high school bishies who all love other Sanrio figures, and so our story begins! … I’d rather go to Antarctica.

I knew pretty much the setup going in, and there are a few things going for it–the school play bit was clever, and the bullying and the granny dying before Kouta can apologize was effective, predictable as it was. But it can’t mask the fact that this is a show about cute boys loving things only cute little girls are supposed to like, no matter how much they’ll obscure it with male bonding and friendship. There could be a chance if the show manages to use the Sanrio characters as ironic counterpoints to bishie-bonding, threats to Hello Kitty that the boys must unite to fight, but it looks a trifle too realistic for that. Besides, why didn’t Kouta just hand the My Melody keychain back to Mizuno the moment they got out earshot of the girls? Why the absurd chase? The creators aren’t thinking through this enough.

An ordinary city street to begin Citris.

Citris is yet another show this year where a high school girl starts on a fascinating journey of discovery, trouble is, most of it they can’t show on TV. It stars Yuzu, sluttish high school girl who secretly isn’t, whose mom gets remarried, so they move to a new place and an ultra-conservative all-girls school, where Yuzu immediately and accidentally breaks most of the rules, is disciplined for it in an interesting way by the school disciplinary president Mei, has more troubles, spots Mei making out with Yuzu’s homeroom teacher, goes home and discovers Mei is her new stepsister! Desperate for some acknowledgment from this seeming ice princess, Yuzu antagonizes Mei into kissing the hell out of her, rather to Yuzu’s surprise. It’s an interesting first day in school for Yuzu!

Hi Yuzu! How was your day?

I frankly don’t really want to watch a yuri show, and I still might not watch this one. The premise is absurd, with Yuzu’s mom marrying a man who just vanishes, leaving Yuzu and the husband’s daughter, who, by the way, is an heir to the rich expensive school they both attend, and which Yuzu attends without anyone telling her anything about how the place works until a side character gives her an infodump. But the first episode is done very well, primarily because of Yuzu. They do a nice job setting her up as a scary delinquent girl while at the same time showing her as a human being, a normal girl who just wants to make friends and get along in a new place, while her life gets more complicated by the hour. And while her sluttish attitude might be fake there is a toughness to her. Wonder how she’ll react to the kiss, well, we KNOW how she’ll react because the girls make out in the opening credits. We haven’t learned enough about Mei yet, but I wonder what attracts her to Yuzu, maybe the fact that she’s completely different from the other people in her life, or she was basically abandoned. Anyway, there’s a lot to chew on in this episode. Again, I don’t know if I’ll keep watching …

First day of school, so they have to do the cherry blossom thing.

Slow Start features Hana, a girl about to enter high school and is worried about making friends, and at first her fears are justified when she sees all the other first-years already seem to know each other from middle or elementary school. Then everyone discovers that it’s Hana’s birthday, and three girls whom Hana had been envious of before come up to congratulate her. Next thing you know they’re all BFF–see Hana? That wasn’t too hard! Now we can settle back and watch a nice Cute Girls Doing Cute Things show.

Eiko, Kamuri, and Tama befriend Hana.

Most CGDCT shows get off to a slow start because characters have to be introduced and their personalities and quirks revealed, but ironically Slow Start starts off pretty quickly, maybe due to Tama’s genki loquaciousness, in fact she goes on too much for my tastes, but it wasn’t a major issue, and it did help drive the episode. Eiko is the tall, possibly mature one, but there is something intimidating about her that I can’t figure out. She seems to be the magnet that draws everyone together. Possibly my favorite is Kamuri, one of those tiny types who talks about food when she says anything at all. So far it’s a good mix. Their conversations have some energy to them, which is good because they talk about nothing at all. A better start than average for this kind of show.

Don’t trust anything you see in Pop Team Epic.

Pop Team Epic starts as a typical, bland high school rom-com concerning idols, while I double-checked my information. However, it shows its true colors just after the OP and we wind up with a surreal series of short sketches involving two weird girls with male voice actors. It stops midway through (with a preview of the rom-com’s next episode) … and starts all over again, with female voice actors this time. Nothing else changes, I assume, because I just skimmed the second half.

Well, my coworker who described the show (while shaking her head in confusion) told me it was weird, and it certainly is. Whether the surreal, sometimes grotesque humor works for you or not is up to you. For me it worked some of the time but not all, and that is all that can be expected for a show like this. One thing that bothered me was the length. There is too much going on for a half-hour show; I was burning out at about the fifteen-minute mark, which is where the show sort of ended anyway. Are all the episodes going to be like this, repeated with different seiyuus, or is it really fifteen minutes and this was a tricky first episode ploy, or is it really going to be fresh material for 24 minutes? I guess we’ll find out next week, but they really ought to make it shorter.

Hey Kero! Good to see you! How you doing?

After that it’s time for some normalcy, so here’s Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Hen, a sequel to one of the most charming anime series ever made. Sakura’s just entered middle school and the show takes about half its time settling us into her routine. Kind father, meanie big brother, Kero hasn’t changed, etc. Tomoyo, the world’s most adorable stalker, sits next to her at school. Eriol’s in England, Syaoran’s still in Hong Kong but he comes back midway through, Yuki’s fine, so are the other kids, everything is happy … until she puts a pin Yuki bought her in the same box as her old pendant. After that it’s mysterious things in dreams, Clow Cards turning clear, mystifying everybody, until a nasty wind scattering the cherry blossoms (really this show has the thickest storm of cherry blossoms I’ve ever seen in an anime) forces her back into old role, but with an upgraded pendant and wand.

I doubt that this sequel can live up to sequel, but that’s hardly the sequel’s fault, and it tries hard. It knows it has to tell us how everyone from the original is doing before it can get to business, and when the story kicks in it’s almost like we never left. The mystical aesthetic this time is clear crystals and shards, but there are still plenty of bright colors around. Most importantly, it manages to make things a little scary for its young audience while keeping the overall happy vibe going. I don’t think fans of the original will find much to gripe about.

Winter 2018 #1

Happy New Year!  It’s good to be back. Time to start a new season. As usual I will use the Random Curiosity preview list to organize these posts. Also as usual I will only write about shows that I might want to watch anyway. That means no sequels to shows I didn’t watch before, and I might ignore certain genres, good as the shows might be. Finally, fanservice and stupidity are not deal breakers. Oh, and I start each review with the show’s first image. Here we go!

Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho starts with a nice view of … somewhere. Antarctica maybe.

Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho stars Mari, an unmotivated second-year who realizes she isn’t doing much with her youth, and it bugs her to the point that she decides to hop on a train to Tokyo, I think, but chickens out and feels worse. Then she see a fellow student drop a packet with a million yen in it, and in returning it learns that the girl, Shirase, is saving up to go to Antarctica, where her mother disappeared years ago. In other words, a girl with no direction in her life, and looking for one, meets a girl who is so focused on a seemingly unattainable goal that the rest of the school think she’s a weirdo. Love at first sight, at least for Mari. Shirase seems pretty happy about it too. And we will learn a lot about Antarctica as we watch.

Girl with no focus …

Good basic first episode, a bit dreamy and romantic but nothing wrong with that, and of course since it’s a prelude to adventure they are nowhere near Antarctica yet. Mari is your basic high school ditz, nothing special there, but we’ll see how sharing and chasing a dream changes her. Shirase comes off as unfriendly at first–perhaps it’s the constant disdain people have for her dream that’s turning her sour, because when Mari gives her encouragement she gets all, er, girly, surprisingly quickly, too. The other two girls haven’t been formally introduced to us yet. The background art is highly realistic and it’s a little jarring to see the less realistic characters acting in front of it, especially when all the characters have a strange white outline around them. This isn’t always a problem–in fact the show often looks great.

… meets a girl with too much focus.

A couple things that bug me: is Shirase named after the Icebreaker, or is that just poetic invention? Who the hell carries a million yen around with them, and if you have to, wouldn’t you store it in your back more carefully? Finally? Mari wrote that she wants to take a “trip without a plan,” but Antarctica is going to take a lot of planning.

Ramen Daisuke Koizumi-San also has a pretty view to start.

Now to a show about a girl who would go to Antarctica if they had ramen to try there. I trying to remember one of my resolutions this year is to drop a couple of kilos, also eat more vegetables. But then I watch Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san and now I’m hungry for food that won’t be good for me. Anyway, the heroine of this show is not Koizumi but a girl named Yuu, who’s developed a big crush on Koizumi, the beautiful transfer student who doesn’t have a word for anyone. After endless rebuffs Yuu spots Koizumi waiting in line at a new ramen place. Girls don’t go into ramen places alone (she tells us)–chance! Koizumi still doesn’t have much of a word for her, but will on occasion tell Yuu how wrong she is about various types of ramen and give her (and, of course, us) lectures on the various, bewildering and seemingly endless takes on ramen found all over Japan.

If you want to learn about ramen, and I sort of do, you will love this show. The only problem is that the lectures are so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Not only about ingredients and cooking styles, but different ways to eat the stuff, which type to allow the broth to permeate the noodles and the like. If you like to watch cute girls eating erotically, you will probably like this show. So far the only girl to eat sexy is Koizumi, and I frankly don’t find her that cute. But there are side characters that will probably join in on the eating, so this situation might improve. If you’re looking for a story with a plot with more than what I’ve described here, the show is probably not for you, but I admit to having admiration for Koizumi’s passion, while Yuu’s optimistic stalking was maybe my favorite thing in the episode–she just refuses to take no for an answer. I also like the side character Misa, who gets grumpy when she’s not the cutest girl in the room. Episode one deserves a chance if you like any one of these things.

Yuru Camp starts with a cozy campfire.

Next, it’s yet another show where girls get together to do things girls aren’t expected to do. Yuru Camp starts with some girls around a campfire, having a good time for a bit too long, then flashes back to one of them, the laconic Rin, as she rides her bike (for too long) to a camping spot and sets up, at which point I decided the show wants do to things slowly, so I stopped mentally complaining, besides we get tips on making a campfire, so it’s educational. Her blissful solitude is interrupted by the appearance of Nakeshiko, just moved to the area, who fell asleep after riding her bike and is afraid to go back in the dark. So it’s camping-bonding for the both of them. And we learn that Rin, for all her experience, never camps with other people, until now.

Nadeshiko is amazed by Rin’s fire-making skills.

I don’t believe that. Someone must have taught Rin how to do all this camping stuff, and she goes to a school with an outdoor activities club where the other characters in the preview are seen hanging out. And unlike Koizumi in the ramen show she isn’t unfriendly to her classmates … Well, maybe there’s a little mystery to solve there, or maybe it won’t matter. This is a stop and smell the roses show where you learn about camping. Whether or not you’ll like it will boil down to the characters. Rin is fine, taciturn but not unpleasant; Nakeshiko reminds me of Yui from K-ON. From what we get of the other girls this episode, which is not a lot, they tend to chatter. Like the other shows in this post so far, it can’t hurt to try this. Just don’t expect things to move quickly.

Not sure what that is, but it’s probably in some Tokyo ruins somewhere.

Toji no Miko starts with an evil giant glowing red centipede running amok in Tokyo, leaping over confused riot police, etc, until it is interrupted and taken down by some shrine maidens, especially one with an extra super-power. After that prelude and a brief intro which explains stuff we have already figured out, we jump to the Minoseki Academy Special Religious Military Unit katana finals, where best buds Kanami and Mai square off in the finals. They both to to the grand championship, held in a very prestigious place and to be attended by very prestigious people, where the only real standout is Kanami and a scary green uniformed girl named Hiyori. In the championship bout we get something totally unexpected, by me, anyway, and no, it has nothing to do with those centipede things earlier. Actually, two unexpected things occur, and now Kanami’s on the run, too.

Kanami, Mai, and Hiyori share an odd and unexplained moment early on when they hear a mysterious tone.

Yes, I didn’t see that happening at all, but I have to say it didn’t matter to me too much, it instead makes me unsure where this show is going to go. Are we going to have superpowered shrine maidens going after monsters or each other? One, the other, both, still doesn’t matter. I didn’t really like anything in the show too much. The girls are all types, genki Kanami, grumpy Hiyori, though there was something to be said for Mai’s split between being devoted to her friend and frustrated at always losing to her. Also, it looks a little weird. The character designs are fine but the buildings all look sort of bloated, puffed full of air. Interesting style choice. Also, the aradama (monsters), at least the one we saw, wasn’t enough to keep me interested either.

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.

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.