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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Twos: Snafu, Euphonium, Kekkai Sensen, Pleiades, Teekyuu4

romcomsnafu2-1Ooh, ouch.  Why is everyone in My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU so unhappy and messed up?  It makes my brain ache to see the mental gymnastics everyone does to be miserable and keep a straight face or just find reasons to be miserable.  Hachiman is the main misery-man, to be sure, and this week he found yet another opportunity to throw himself on the grenade to help out people he doesn’t know or doesn’t like too much, at the cost of his own pride or reputation.  And once again he’s surprised to find out the people who genuinely like him are hurt because he hurt himself.  Sooner or later you figure he might spare himself some pain and let others take the hit for things they deserve and know it, but Yukino, Yui and Hayato all get on his case for it this week and he just shrugs it off.

Another Hachiman fan.
Another Hachiman fan.

The motivations for Hina and Hayato could be considered selfish, but, apart from the dangers of falling into a rut, there’s nothing wrong with wanting things to stay the way they are for a while.  Hayato offers no reason why he wants this, but why should he?  Hina’s motives are harder to read after she said, about the status quo she enjoys now, that she hates herself.  Hate herself for wanting to keep things as they are for now?  Or because the way things are mean she is kept at a distance from boys, so she can safely fantasize about them with no danger to herself?  Or maybe she just hates herself and that’s why she wants the distance?  Well, better that than getting involved like the emotional martyr-suicide routine Hachiman performs every other episode, I suppose.
euphonium2-1Hibike! Euphonium has some troubled kids in it too, but they’re much cuter and the troubles are less painful.  They’re more like everyday worries about people who haven’t found their goals yet and are caught in the goals of others.  This is played out nicely in the band club meeting where they’re asked to choose their instruments.  Kumiko, who learned the euphonium because no one else was willing to play it, thinks maybe she’d like to switch to trombone, but Suichi is there (and we still don’t learn why Kumiko dislikes him, or acts like she does), and an old friend who’s there, Aoi, lets Kumiko’s past musical proclivities slip to the eager Asuka, and it’s bye bye for the trombone.  Kumiko’s caught in the flow of others’ desires again.

Aoi bucks the trend.
Aoi bucks the trend.

Then there’s the band’s goal.  The new advisor, Taki, asks what what it is: aim for nationals or just have a good time?  Let’s vote!  A rather unfair thing to put on the kids, who vote for nationals maybe because it’s what’s expected of them (some comment that they’ll just fuck off in practice anyway), with Kumiko abstaining.  Meanwhile, the scary (to Kubiki anyway.  To the rest of us she seems like a perfectly nice and polite person) Reina, one of the few characters in the show who knows what she wants, votes for nationals, but we know she means it.  So the girls start on their quest to find their own desires and goals, while playing as a music unit with people who may or may not care.

Kekkai Sensen 2, with its stand-alone story intended to introduce more characters, is as fun as episode one.

I didn't say it made sense.
I didn’t say it made sense.

Some traditional overall character-building elements pop up, such as the reason Zapp kept attacking Leo on his delivery job and eating the pizzas, but it’s almost an afterthought in what is basically a abduction, chase, and rescue story, which is itself traditional, but told with a lot of style.  Basically Leo spots a dry-cleaning truck which is actually something more.  The demons or whatever they are are actually running a cannibal racket, and they spot Leo spotting them, nab him and take him to the Alterworld, I believe, for dissection.

I have no idea what Leo was trying to do here, but it looks cool.
I have no idea what Leo was trying to do here, but it looks cool.

And I spent a lot of the time wondering what the hell Libra was talking about half the time, with the igniting, and what Leo was doing to fight back.  I still don’t quite get what he did with his eyes.  That’s the trouble with shows that try to dazzle you with style: you can lose track of the plot.  But it comes together beautifully.  When the blood trail is ignited and Chain (a werewolf) follows the flame, it was silly-grin time for me.  And they manage to bring up a couple of points.  Leo has a great power but he can’t fight much, and when word gets around that he’s got these eyes of god, a lot of people are going to go after him.  I suspect the show’s going to use that a lot.  That, and the blonde ghost girl we meet at the end.  Also, both the OP and the ED might be the season’s best.
pleiades2-1Houkago no Pleiades 2 works the Suburu/Aoi friendship angle, and it’s confusing because their estrangement is a mystery.  Actually, the first section had me bewildered, and the girls too.  Suburu goes to school and finds that all of her magical-girl pals are now attending; Suburu and Aoi even have the same shoe locker and desk.  They didn’t transfer in the mundane way, either.  They’re just all … there.  The president talks (well, squeaks) about it being their strings of fate entwining.  Okay, whatever.  Pretty handy way to get them in the same place, however.  Just ignore reality.
pleiades2-2But it does throw a wrench into the friendship reparations.  They really had never ceased being friends, and, according to Minato, Suburu’s life adviser and arch enemy, whatever distance they feel is that they haven’t accepted that the other has changed, or themselves.  So they grab a couple of fragments together using perfect timing, and everyone’s happy, well, until Minato shows up again and snatches one.  What’s with this guy, anyway?  Never mind, it’s cute and pretty, though I hope they’ll go somewhere besides Aoi for the next few stories.  And why do I think they need more characters, especially on Minato’s side?  In spite of the five-girl team, the story feels a little empty.  Maybe it’s all that big sky they keep showing us.

This show has everything!
This show has everything!

Finally, Teekyuu 4 2 (or 38) has the girls visit an aquarium, a devilquarium, and post a gag every 3.1 seconds!  That might be the record, but I’ll be damned if I’ll go back and find out.

New shows: Spring 2015 #3

Gunslinger Stratos opens with a bewildering quote which maybe helps explain the story a little.
Gunslinger Stratos opens with a bewildering quote which maybe helps explain the story a little.

Gunslinger Stratos has Tohru, an average kid in a future where Japan has been divided into corporate zones, and depending on your abilities and training, you will be shipped off to do some preordained job.  Tohru just wants to have a quiet life.  He has a rich girl, Kyoka, after him, and her jealous brother doesn’t like it at all, and there’s a jealous smaller girl who doesn’t like his oneesan complex.  They play futuristic paintball at school to help establish the relationships.  Meanwhile, Tohru has weird dreams about a little girl, and when he sees her in real life (his real life, as we can see she’s a hologram), he chases after her, the structure collapses, and WAAAAAH!

Like I said:  WAAAAH!
Like I said: WAAAAH!

I was not expecting to be suddenly tossed into our world, where people obviously from Tohru’s world occasional try to kill each other.  In fact, the episode had me interested and guessing much of the time.  If they can keep us guessing like that, this could be a fun ride.  On the other hand, people spend a lot of time fighting each other, and that doesn’t interest me that much.  Also, they tried to discombobulate us a little too hard.  When we see our world and that little kid and the huge guy fight I didn’t know who was who and what was up, so I got a little bored.  And when we get some backstory it might kill off some of the fun mystery.  Still, not a bad first episode.

Plastic Memories begins with a puddle, begging to be stepped in.
Plastic Memories begins with a puddle, begging to be stepped in.

Plastic Memories had a weepy episode one, and since I don’t like to weep that much I’m worried about future episodes.  We have Tsukasa on his first day of the job–retrieving android companions that are near their expiration date, sort of a android repo-man, I guess.  He meets his unpleasant coworkers and gets teamed up with a “giftia” (android) named Isla for his retrievals.  We learn early and often that Isla fears her own expiration, notably the loss of her memories, and her eccentric behavior makes me wonder if she’s not past her own due date, or maybe it’s job burnout.

Isla goes beyond her job responsiblities.
If you’ve only got nine years to live, why not jump off balconies?

As I said, I don’t know if I want to watch a weepy goodbye scene every episode.  Also, I was distracted by side thoughts.  The memories are erased (the owners are even present at the termination for fear of lawsuits), but surely there are people, governments, and corporations that would want to keep them for themselves.  If nothing else, think of the experiential data trove they’re just destroying!  Or perhaps the owners would want the memories as a keepsake.  Also, is the 81,920 hours of lifetime arbitrary?  Isn’t SAI Corp working to increase that limit?  Or is it not profitable for them?  A lot of ethical dilemmas to deal with here.  It’s to see how the show decides to deal with these kind of issues that makes me watch another episode or two.  But if it’s turns out to be a tearjerker of the week I’ll drop it quickly no matter what.

Er, a random place where girls I don't know reintroduce themselves.
Er, a random place where girls I don’t know reintroduce themselves.

Next, it’s Tesagure! Bukatsumono Spin-off Purupurun Sharumu to Asobou, apparently the third season, odd because I don’t remember hearing about the first two.  I had been warned that it was going to be more-or-less plotless and have lots of adlibbing, like Gdgd Fairies, so I was patient through the first part, where the girls reintroduce themselves and then bring in a completely different pack of girls to help them with a spin-off.  We watch the second pack, playing goddesses in training, in a classroom, and there’s some ad-libbing after that’s over.

GIrls from the earlier series I don't recognize meet new characters, which, surprisingly, I do.
GIrls from the earlier series I don’t recognize (right) meet new characters, (left) which, surprisingly, I do.

I didn’t make the connection until one of the girls whipped out a manga panel with a blank word balloon, but the “new” characters are played by the Lady Go! girls, and the characters they’re playing are from their daily “Submit your own dialogue” corner.  This is a plus, since it means Mikako Komatsu and Sumire Uesaka (should have guessed, since her character is Russian) are involved, and personally I like that corner.  Also, though the character designs are a little crude, I didn’t dislike them, and the adlibbing felt more natural than the scripted dialogue.  I might watch it again, though I probably won’t write about it.

We start with a letter in progress.  Was it ever sent?
We start with a letter in progress. Was it ever sent?

Kekkai Sensen starts with a girl in a wheelchair reading a letter from her brother about his exciting life in New York.  Turns out NYC is more exciting than usual these days as it got partly destroyed and sort of invaded by demons, nothing the city can’t handle of course.  So now it sits, shrouded in fog, and supernatural and mundane forces all go there to do the things you’d go to New York to do anyway.  So it’s humans hanging out with demons, and threats about portals or something opening up thanks to an asshole demon called Femt, I think.  As for our hero, Leonardo Watch (the American names here are good, but not Baccano! level), he’s looking for a group called Libra, who try to keep the peace, and thanks to a monkey and a bank robbery and whatnot, help save the city from a demon, or a portal, or both at once, thanks to his magic “Eyes of the Gods,” and a flea.

kekkaisansen1-1
A typical day in NYC.

And it’s fun as hell, though they throw fights, explosions, light shows, and backstory at you so hard it gets hard to focus after a while.  Leo isn’t a terribly interesting main character yet, though he has a sense of personal shame that the show can work with (just what happened to his sister when the demon showed up, anyway?).  Femt is a leering, ridiculous villain, but for some reason I actually thought he was fun and not irritating.  How did they do that?  The Libra characters, we’ll wait and see.  The episode was full of entertaining twists of plot, but I wonder how much of that will remain when they start with the story arcs?  And it looks great.  I’ll keep my eye on this one for a few more episodes.

Show by Rock has sakura in the real world, but we won't stay there long.
Show by Rock has sakura in the real world, but we won’t stay there long.

What we’ve got with Show by Rock! is a shy guitar-playing high school girl who is afraid ask the light music club if she can join.  While procrastinating with her application form she plays a music game, wins a pink heart guitar and is whisked away to a terrible, frightening world of CG animals, where she sees a boy band performance get disrupted by a giant music-power-sucking skeleton.  But that pink guitar starts talking, she turns into a goth-loli catgirl, and the battle is on, while I watch with a quizzical but amused expression on my face.

One look at Cyan ...
One look at Cyan …
... and a minute later.  Which do you prefer?
… and a minute later. Which do you prefer?

This might be the weirdest show I’ve seen this season, not because of the story; that’s a basic character with dreams goes to a fantasy world where she must fight battles, and the characters, good guys, villains, are all predictable.  No, it’s weird because it can’t decide what form of animation to use at any moment.  At first it’s our earth and normal-looking anime.  Then it’s Sound World and their CG effects, and Cyan becomes a guitar-playing Hello-Kitty, then it shifts again and she’s still a cat-girl, but the animation has returned to “normal.”  It’s actually disconcerting to have it jump from one to the other so quickly.  I guess the CG will be used for the concerts and music battles, a shame because it’s the look I like the least.  But the story is cute and funny enough that I’ll keep watching for now.  Also, I was rather taken by Cyan’s voice, and have learned that her seiyuu, Eri Inagawa, is debuting.  I find it hard to believe.