Categories: seasonal thin slicing
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11,000 words, 33 anime, way too many sports anime. It’s a damn fine time to be an anime fan.
The granddaddy of gimmick posts is once again upon us. That’s right– thin slicing has returned!
Thin slicing is based off of Malcom Gladwell’s Blink, a book about– OH FUCK IT. YOU’VE READ THIS SAME BOILERPLATE FOR
EIGHT NINE TEN ELEVEN YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, I’ve been writing thin slicing posts since 2005 where I ranked Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome. Updates on thin slicing are always on my Twitter account.
For people who want to know how this ranking is done, I suggest reading the archived explanation. If you’re like, “This show is ranked too high!” or “Too low!” then, well, you obviously don’t know how this works. For every show high, there has to be a low. Deal with it. And, again, for the sake of time, I don’t rank sequels if I never finished watching the original or if there’s nothing interesting about the sequel. It’s a sequel! If you watched the first season, you should know if you should watch the second as well. You don’t need me to validate your watching of Working (for the nth time), Natsume Book of Friends (for like the fifth time?), Uta no Price-sama, or Bubuki Buranki.
A twist for this season: return of the modern laws of anime! And also for this season, I only watched one episode of all the shows before writing.
There’s a lot of sports anime this season. And I mean a lot. It surpasses any of the moe blob or magic high schools of years past. Oh my Oharuhi-sama, sports anime has become magic high school anime. The progression is now moe anime to magic high school anime to sports anime. And there are also a lot of shows geared to girls with better and better budgets. It’s like anime studios finally figured out that young women have just as much disposable income to waste on plastic toys as young men. Hallelujah!
Also, there’s no ridiculously named anime that describes the anime. Hallelujah!
Quick recap from last season: We hit 110% with Mob Psycho 100, spent 12 days in 91 Days, learned to cook in Sweetness and Lightning, lost a war in Alderamin on the Sky, and Sunrised the hell out of Takeru in Orange.
Quick note: Funo wo Amu doesn’t air until October 14th. Rather than hold the post for just that one show, I decided to go ahead and publish. In the past, I might have held the post, but I am quite busy at the end of the week, so there might be extra delays if I waited. I may or may not do a retroactive post for that show– have not decided yet.
#MR. IRRELEVANT. Cheating Craft
Emon Animation Company
“Children that tries to meet their parent’s expectations.”
Having somehow survived through the terrible, terrible magic battle high school phase of anime (which sadly even both Kyoto and Trigger have entries for), we are now in a much scarier future: the rise of Chinese animation and Chinese original works. Keep in mind that to be published in China, you have to obey the party’s wishes. This severely limits the possible philosophies and doctrines presented in the work, and, generally, it is all very heavy-handed. Take Cheating Craft: it is an anime about an exam-based society, which is an extreme take on the concept. The show spells out that people who do good on the test are awarded with riches beyond desire, and people who do poorly are fucked. The people inside and outside of the system know it is bad and wrong. Instead of trying to correct the system or amend the system or even start a revolution, the people try to cheat the system. That is China. This anime is about cheating the system.
Besides just how heavy handed the show is, it is absolutely boring, awfully directed, and poorly animated. The entire first episode is just a narrator droning on about the setting. It feels like someone is reading a Wikipedia article to me. It takes the worst aspects of anime that do the, “Hey, she’s the student council president and is great at sports!” thing from harem anime and ramps it up to its ultimate form. We don’t even see the main characters of the show until the very last scene, and they do not speak. Just absolutely lazy writing and directing to do an exposition dump instead of using the characters and story to build the world.
A lot of the plot, surprisingly, makes no sense. Why is the test center in the middle of floating island? Why do cheaters get to take the test again? Why aren’t there armed guards and security cameras at a “secure” location? I could go on and on about the issues with this show, but let’s just move on…
Emon Animation Company / Creators in Pack / Tencent
“I hardly have any authority.”
… to the next terrible Chinese-produced anime. Bloodivores is a Chinese-Japanese collaboration, mostly sponsored by sweet, sweet League of Legends money. And it is a mess. The story is based off of a Chinese webcomic about vampires, and somehow a drug meant to cure a disease turned people into vampires, or the more trademarkable “Bloodivores.” That’s great, except the story starts with a heist– probably the least realistic heist in fiction. One, the characters are all too cavalier about taking off their masks. Wouldn’t banks be filled with cameras? Two, the entrance to the bank is a long corridor that is approximately three kilometers long. They manage to have a long conversation as they run from the bank teller location to the door. Has any of these animators been in a bank before? Three, the main character uses techno mumble jumbo that would make CSI cringe and hacks the bank in two seconds. For Oharuhi-sama’s sake, they hack the bank using an iPad. Four, the sexy female character wears a mini-skirt to rob the bank. Five, in the getaway portion of the height, they show the car hitting 300kph. Except looking at the scene, the cars look like they are going at 30kph, not 300kph. There’s no sense of speed. They definitely do not feel the need for speed. Six, the bank heist leads to a trials that is more lopsided than any in Phoenix Wright. There’s no defense attorneys, and there’s zero camera footage shown of the bank. It’s a bank!!!
All of that is more or less moot because the cliffhanger of the episode is that a sinister, mysterious governmental agency goes and kills the bank robbers, who have already been sentenced to death anyway. The plot is just a mess. Of course, the direction by Chan Ye is also amateur hour because the next episode preview totally spoils what happens next.
Other than boring characters, a mangled plot, and poor direction, the show also has sub-par animation going for it. It is Wake Up, Girls! levels of bad– and that’s the first episode.
#31. Touken Ranbu – Hanamaru
“Listen, we are all swords.”
Touken Ranbu is a slice-of-life slash action otome anime based off of a collectible card f2p mobile game. I would rather watch more moe blob anime based off of manga than more collectible card f2p mobile game adaptations. The show has men who are actually historical Japanese swords travel through time to fight demons (the same premise as Time Bokan). Poor writing, poor animation, and poor character design. Most of the dialogue are about being swords. Seriously, can these people find something other to talk about? Also, the way the way these sword samurai things talk about their Master seems like how a dog would talk. “Yes, Master fed me today! Master is good! Master said I was a good puppy! I love Master!” The show is a third slice-of-life, a third battling demons, and a third shilling f2p mechanics. The battling aspect is weird as they are swords wielding swords. How does that work? Do those swords have their own f2p mobile game as well? How deep does this rabbit hole go?
Here, they take the f2p aspect pretty seriously. The characters talk about how their Master hasn’t upgraded their repair room, so they can’t repair more than two swords at once. They mention how they only have six slots to go battle the demons. I suspect both limitations can be overcome with a premium currency. Do they talk about energy needed to start the battle? You betcha. They also talk about how a new type of sword just arrived, as if he/it were fresh from a gachapon capsule.
(Invokes the Ninth Modern Law of Anime: heterochromia is a sign that the character designer has run out of ideas. For this show, I don’t blame him or her because the cast is huge. Making so many pretty boys who more or less look the same look different must be hard.)
(Mitigating Factor: How is this franchise not named “Katanamonogatari”? They should have totally bought the name.)
#30. Dream Festival
Bandai Namco Pictures
“Catch your cheers!”
As soon as I started watching Dream Festival, I regretted it immediately. It is an anime that takes its source material, a f2p gatchapon trading card mobile game based on a boys idol group, literally. The boys get tossed cards, literally, from the mobile phones of the audience. These cards then cause the boys to change into various outfits with various power ups leading to some shockingly hilarious moments like, “VAMPIRE LORD SUIT COMPLETE!” blazing out during a concert with a Street Fighter announcer voice. The boys are then encouraged to get more fans so they can get more cards to fuel this meth-like addiction. My gosh. I miss the days when otome anime were based off of poor Vita games.
To top off the ridiculousness, the main character gets his chance to audition because a scout creeps on him for hours at a park as he hands out balloons. Apparently, being able to make kids smile with balloons is a sign someone can be a good idol. He gets one single day of training and prep (and almost gets raped by the scout) to prepare for the audition. The audition, of course, is a live concert in front of thousands of fans. The stadium makes an USC/UCLA football game seem puny.
The singing and dancing are terrible as par with typical boys band otome shows. You’d think that if the anime’s focus is on singing and dancing, they could come up with better music. Also, the outfits are horrendous. They look like rejects from Craig Sagar’s closet. What teenaged girl in 2016 finds those outfits appealing?
(With more and more f2p mobile games being turned into anime, I think both Mystic Messenger and Granblue Fantasy will get an anime adaptation. Question is when. I’m guessing late next year.)
#29. Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On
“It’ll be fine. He’s my Monstie!”
From what I understand, Monster Hunter is a fairly popular video game franchise. It’s about hunting giant monsters for parts that craft into better equipment to hunt gianter monsters. But Monster Hunter Stories is more like Pokemon where plucky kid boy lead has to bond with an egg, and the “Monstie” that he bonds with will help him capture more Monstie. Just with zero of the charm and cuteness of Pokemon. I guess the whole point of the show is to sell the Monster Hunter Stories series of Amiibos. The main asset of this show is that it is so boring and dull that I don’t have much negative things to say about it because I can’t remember any of it other than how awful the cat-like creature is.
(There’s a solid three minute chunk of the first episode that I am convinced is taken straight from a crafting tutorial. Like they just took all the dialogue and action from a crafting tutorial from the game and turned it into anime.)
(Good news! Funimation has already licensed this show already.)
“Having a particular condition to drugs doesn’t explain that.”
Oh man, I hated watching Nanbaka. It is a mess of a show. The whole premise where these inmates are stuck in a maximum security prison in the middle of nowhere could be interesting, but not with such generic, one-note, and boring characters. So instead of providing plot or comedy or personality, the show tries to compensate by having the most ridiculous and garish costume designs of the season. If there was ever an argument against buying an HDR TV, this show would be it. I would not want to watch an HDR version of this mess. None of the outfits make any sense. Why does one character have his prisoner number tattooed on his cheek while another prisoner has it embroidered on his hat? Hardly seems fair. The setting also does not make any sense. One, why does Japan need a maximum security prison in international waters? Two, why is there an elaborate cave system underneath a man-made prison in the middle of the ocean? The interior of the prison is more Indiana Jones than Prison Break. Three, why does this maximum security prison look like Disneyland from the outside? The Impel Down from One Piece or The Raft from the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes a lot more sense for a maximum security prison. Heck, even the prison that’s the first dungeon in Wind Waker makes more sense.
I was really hoping that this anime would be an otome anime, and it is about the over-designed and garish prisoners trying to woo the 15 year old mousy girl who is also the warden of the prison. I think that would work better as a premise than whatever this pile of puppy vomit show is trying to accomplish.
(One character with heterochromia. Ugh, such a lazy character design trick. Ninth Modern Law of Anime: heterochromia is a sign that the character designer has run out of ideas.)
(Fashion Czar: “They can try, but they are never going to make a guy who dresses like the Hamburgler hot.”)
(How is this show licensed already– and Nichijou still isn’t– baffles me. I am completely baffled other than “American anime companies still make terrible, ADV-class decisions.”)
#27. Time Bokan 24
“You’re definitely going to feel the Time Bokan!”
Time Bokan 24 is yet another attempt by Tatsunoko to revive one of their classic children franchises. At least the reccent Yatterman Nights show tries to do something new, maybe it wasn’t successful, but at least it tried. And Gatchaman Crowds was both hit and miss at the same time in trying to appeal to an older demographic than kids. Time Bokan 24 is straight up the same. It is also quite similar to other Tatsunoko shows like Gatchaman and Yatterman in that it’s basically kids foiling Team Rocket with mecha. The twist to Time Bokan is that our plucky high school heroes travel through time to find hilarious history. I’m not kidding. They discover that Cleopatra wasn’t a sexy queen but rather a typical Japanese manzai act. They also discover that they need to help the act to keep history on track because Japanese comedy sure appeals to ancient Egyptians. This Time Bokan organization has never heard of the temporal prime directive I take it. The villains are trying to stop them because the villains don’t want history changed because they don’t want to write new textbooks. I’m not kidding. The whole conflict is about whether or not to republish textbooks. The show takes place in the 24th century, and someone books are still printed in the 24th century. You’d think that any proper 24th century space-faring civilization would be using iPads or Wikipedia instead of textbooks.
(Mitigating Factor: The female lead is an anime cutie from the 24th century. The male lead is a random middle schooler from 2016. He had the choice of staying in 2016 or going to the 24th century with a cute space lady. He made the right call.)
#26. ViVid Strike!
Seven Arcs Pictures
“Your firsts are a wonderful gift.”
I totally do not understand ViVid Strike!. When I first saw the name, I thought it would be a continuation of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, as it has the same characters (with two over-embellished with heterochromia thus invoking the Ninth Modern Law of Anime) and stylization as the magical girl show. But this show is about… MMA fighting? In modern Earth-like setting? Wait, what? I guess it is some sort of prequel to StrikerS where Vivio will eventually become Nanoha’s and Fate’s adopted daughter. But until then, she is a street urchin who is told to fight for money. It’s Creed shoehorned into a prequel story for a magical girl show but with no magical girl stuff. You know what moe magical girl fans really like? MMA. Jiu-jitsu. They cannot get enough of that.
The Nanoha franchise has fallen on hard times since the days of Shinbo, with animation going from Shaft to A-1 to now Seven Arcs. It’s like the same downward spiral a meth addict might get stuck into. I just want a good magical girl show about magical girls being magical girls. Do we really need hand-to-hand MMA-styled combat? Does it add anything to the mythos? I don’t think so.
(The gym where the girls train at specializes in training girls under 15. What kind of business is this, exactly? Reminds me of the time when we went to the farmer’s market, and they had a pen outside the market with a “Free dog sitting!” sign on the sign. No thanks. This is a common Team Rocket ploy.)
(Fashion Czar: “What the fuck is that hair? Her hair makes absolutely no sense. Actually, none of their hair makes any sense.”)
#25. Kiss Him, Not Me
“The Prince with another Prince! Priceless! Absolutely priceless!”
Kiss Him, Not Me (Watashi ga Motete Dousunda) is an awful anime about awful people. The basic premise is that a fat, ugly fujioshi girl who is dead on the inside is treated horribly by the boys in her class. She goes seven days without eating and turns into the hottest girl in the class. Her voice and hair color also changes because she didn’t eat. Suddenly, all the boys in the class want to fuck her, and they put up with all her fujioshi shit to do so. Absolutely awful human beings all the way around. Does it mean it is a bad anime? No, Guilty Crown, Onizuka, and other shows also feature some awful human beings. But this show doesn’t seem to understand how awful and vapid the characters are. There is no glimmer of redemption that is in the other WataMote. It is like all the characters are perfectly fine being awful as long as it satisfies their immediate carnal desires.
The show also constantly reinforces the belief that you are trash unless you are attractive. People are objects. The main girl only cares about hot guys, and she accepts that she will be unpopular because she is unattractive before. The guys, who aren’t anime fans, go along with her and openly compete for her attention. These were the same guys who were kicking her while she was down. One guy even resorts to a, “Hey, I’ve seen Eva before, that’s an anime right?” line. I get it. This show is like a pool in Vegas. It is full of awful, attractive people trying to score with each other without any sense of self-awareness. The pool is also full of STDs that have somehow mutated to avoid being killed by chlorine.
The show tries to be funny with the whole otaku life thrusted upon a non-otaku, but I feel no sympathy or anything towards these empty carcasses of characters. Of course, all these empty carcasses have Android phones. They try to make the humor more extreme by going the extreme yaoi boys love fujioshi route, but it goes so deep there, the main girl just becomes a sad one note mouthpiece: HOT GUYS HUGGING OTHER HOT GUYS I CAN’T STAND IT. A much better example of otaku life thrusted upon non-otaku is Genshiken, which, coincidentally, is directed by the same director as this show, Michiko Yokote. A much better example of a fujioshi coming to terms with reality would be WataMote.
(I fully consider this show a “paying the bills” anime. It is disappointing that Michiko Yokote, who previously said directing Prison School is the reason we can’t have Shirobako season two, is directing this show. Brain’s Base is also in a lull these days, so, yeah, get that fujioshi money.)
#24. All Out!!
Madhouse / TMS / Telecom Animation Films
“A scamp like you should do just fine.”
All Out!! is a rubgy-based sports anime with all the similar beats of a traditional sports anime. There’s a central bromance at the core, there’s some past trauma that prevents a star from being a star, there’s a newbie who has all the potential to be a star, and there’s a bunch of muscle. So much muscle I thought that the chief character designer is Rob Liefeld. Besides the main character’s eyebrows that look like seaweed, there’s nothing memorable or noteworthy about this 26 episode anime. I think you are better off watching the Hall of Fame Fumoffu! episode about Sagara and the rugby team than this bland, pale, boring, Soylent of an anime.
(This show invokes the Fourth Modern Law of Anime: all episode one’s must take place in a time period that allow for sakura pedals to rain as much as possible.)
#23. Long Riders!
“Riding on this bike seems like fun!”
Long Riders! is yet another low calorie, slice-of-life bike worship anime. If the big drama plot point of the first episode is that the main character forgets to eat breakfast, whelp, don’t expect a lot of competition-based drama. (She also forgets to bring a water bottle.) I like the cute iconography for the show, including the Alpaca Bicycle store as well as the diary farm’s cow-based iconography. The general premise of cute girls doing cute things on bikes isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but the show’s pacing is brutally slow. The CG work is also quite poor, and Actas relies on CG a lot for backgrounds, so at times it looks like they are biking through a PlayStation 2-era game. The bikes themselves are pretty well-drawn, so it seems like this anime is for people who like moe shows and are also bike otaku: basically anyone who has an itachari.
The main character also goes against the grain (and advice of her friend) and bought a foldable bike. Who buys a foldable bike to do long road rides? They are very practical for commuting, but the extra weight and smaller wheels of a foldable bike makes them less suited for long road rides.
(This show invokes the Third Modern Law of Anime: the character with the most ample melonpan will be paired off with the character with the most DFC. This show also invokes the Fourth Modern Law of Anime: all episode one’s must take place in a time period that allow for sakura pedals to rain as much as possible. In this case, it’s first day of college.)
#22. Tiger Mask W
“I will end you.”
I scribbled down, “Why does Tiger Mask W look like a 1990 anime?” in my notebook. Because it is a series that originally aired in 1960 but is animated by Toei in 2016, it probably turns it into a 1990 anime. That’s what the anime calculus tells me. The animation, the styling, the character designs, and the production quality screams “B-tier anime from 1994.” Maybe that’s the aesthetic Toei is going for. Nonetheless, the show has just as B-tier of a premise. There’s rival wrestling organizations that are apparently serious business and totally not stage actors. They are battling to the death. I don’t understand any of it. For example, one organization forces their new rookies to scale a huge ice mountain that is taller than the wall in Game of Thrones. In their wrestling underwear. They reach the top, and they find a fully functional evil lair-styled building in the middle of this mountain range with TV and fast internet. I can’t even get faster than 50mbs, and I live in Silicon Valley. The kicker is that later on it’s revealed that this secret HQ on top of a snowy mountain is located in Seattle. Yes, Seattle. Seattle is known for their vast mountain ranges and copious amounts of snow, right? Andohbytheway, this evil wrestling organization located on a snow-topped mountain in Seattle (right next to the Din Tai Fung in University Square) is run by a lady with boobs overflowing her spandex.
On the flip side, there’s the good guys, who train in old fashioned ways like fighting bears (Kogarashi would approve) and ride motorcycles. Their main lady character is a high school girl with DFC. It is like watching the montage in Rocky IV where Rocky is training but running up mountains and pulling farm equipment while Drago has a bunch of computers hooked up to him as drugs are injected into his arm. Also, the plot is centered around the premise that the good guy wants to get revenge for his mentor– his Creed– getting demolished by the bad guy. It’s like a homeless man’s version of Rocky IV. That would be an insult to Rocky IV.
(Mitigating Factor: There’s a creepy nurse involved in this show too. I can’t tell if she wants to ride the main character or kill him. If she goes bat-shit crazy and drinks the blood of the high school girl, maybe there’s some saving this show. This show might be good for a Mystery Science Theater 3K-type viewing.)
#21. TO BE HERO
Emon / Haoliners Animation League
“Now, think, think! How should I explain this?!”
TO BE HERO is a half-slot show by Haoliners, a Chinese-financed studio established in 2013. The show is actually passable compared to Bloodivores and Cheating Craft. The plot is quite simplistic as it is mainly a potty mouth comedy anime, and I stress the potty mouth. There are a lot of toilets in this show. The Chinese audience must love toilets. I kind of enjoyed the ridiculous humor and the cheap cultural rip-offs and imitators. There is a Mario rip-off (BoxMaker?!?), and a villain best described as Iron Man with a raging hard on. Cheap, dumb, but the right kind of cheap and dumb.
(Always a good sign when there’s no Wikipedia page for a show at the time when I write about it. These shows always turn into memorable anime that people will talk about for generations, much like Asura Cryin’ and Maico 2010.)
#20. Scorching Ping Pong Girls
“You make it sound as if she were a puppy.”
Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume is a b-tier moe girl table tennis anime in a world that doesn’t need a b-tier moe girl table tennis anime. The show is noteworthy for all the sweat and sweaty clothes drawn. If you like seeing moe girls in sweat-soaked T-shirts, this anime is for you. The plot is generic with the old ace feeling pushed out by the plucky new ace. The character designs are uninspired with the girls being distinguished from each other by their hair accessories. They all have some sort of hair accessory that reflects something they like other than ping pong. For example, the main lead has a dog bone because she loves puppies as much as ping pong. There’s a character with a carrot hair accessory because she likes rabbits. The character names are just as inspired as the girl with large melonpan is named “Mune” as “mune” could also mean breasts. Furthermore, the show just feels archaic with magazines printing the rankings of high school girl ping pong players. Seriously? There’s a magazine for that in 2016? Why not a website?
Production is handled by Kinema Citrus looks like it was done by their “we need cash fast!” team instead of their much better efforts on Under the Dog and Barakamon. Scorching Ping Pong Girls just feels like a dud when the vastly superior ping pong anime Ping Pong is still fairly recent.
(If you want to watch some ping pong action, I recommend Top Spin, which is available on Netflix. It’s a documentary following various American table tennis players, and it is interesting to compare it to Valve’s Free To Play. The kids and their families sacrifice a lot in Top Spin to get a shot at the Olympics where they will be meat for the Chinese players. There’s no substantial monetary reward at the end awaiting them. They work from morning to night, and they might pocket $200 from winning a tournament. It’s a sharp contrast to Dota 2 where Clinton Loomis, Fear, retired after winning more than $2.3 million. Both the ping pong players and Dota 2 players put in a lot of effort, but the financial differences between the two games is so vast.)
#19. Magic-Kyun! Renaissance
“I don’t think I needed you until I met you.”
I didn’t know I needed Mob Psycho 100 in my life until I watched it. After watching Magic-Kyun! Renaissance, I can safely say that I don’t need any more Magic-Kyun! Renaissance in my life. I’m fine. Thanks. It is a typical PS Vita otome game turned anime with two major twists. One, the production values are very good. It’s like Sunrise decided, “Okay, for Fall 2016, we’re going to make two anime. One will be a sequel to a well-established and well-received money cow. Even if we make a turd, people will eat it up, and we’ll sell shit loads of gunpla. The second will be based on an otome game from a dead video game platform. Let’s make the budgets equal.” Sounds insane, right? Well, this show does look good. The CG is a bit off, and the music– well, we’ll get to that later– but the animation is smooth, and the backgrounds are pretty. The second is that despite being a PS Vita otome game, no one has tried to rape the mousy high school transfer student. That’s a bold design move for an otome game.
The plot is that there’s this impossibly large and beautiful European high school in the middle of Tokyo that caters to genius artists– Artistas– who apparently can out-Mozart Mozart. They have various skills, but the main character sings in English. Poor English. And not that great of singing either. Make him sing in Japanese or Latin because every time he sings, it tosses me out of my PS Vita otome game fantasy. I cannot believe he is a musical genius when he cannot pronounce any words properly. The heroine, who is a typical mousy high school transfer student, is also an Artista. Except she specializes in flower arrangement. Yes, flower arranging. She goes into SEED mode when arranging flowers properly. I’m sure flowering arranging is an art form, but the other students are there for singing, playing the piano, painting, and writing. Flower arrangement is such a Japanese thing compared to everyone else’s international arts. Doesn’t seem fair. Also, since she is a new transfer student, she gets picked to join the student council on her very first day. What are the fucking odds?! And she discovers that the main male lead hates her because of a flower arrangement her mom did or something. Only in otome anime could a flower arranger develop blood rivals that span generations. On the positive side, if the Artista thing doesn’t work out for the cast, they can all become Gundam pilots. They look like candidates to join Celestial Being.
(The dorm rooms are impossibly large too. Everyone has their own King-sized bed. This show is over-indulgent.)
(This show also confirms the Fifth Modern Law of Anime: if they show a framed photo of a parent, that parent is dead. D-E-A-D.)
TMS / Shin-El
“I promise to kill you.”
Trickster is a 24 episode (plus 2 OVAs!) re-imagining of Edogawa Rampo’s Boys Detective Club and The Fiend with Twenty Faces into a modern, magical world. Ugh. I hated writing those words. The show by TMS and Shin-El (the same collaborative team behind last season’s Sweetness and Lightning) has turned Adechi and the Boys Detective Club into Bungou Stray Dogs. Yep, there’s a mysterious orphan with supernatural powers. Yep, there’s an elite detective agency strapped for cash. Yep, there’s a sinister criminal organization that the normal police are powerless to stop yet can be stopped by plucky teenaged detectives. Yep, there’s a lot of uncomfortable bromance.
Aside from the Rampo license, the show is fairly flat and boring. The story isn’t interesting, and I don’t understand how this elite detective cannot catch a stray dog, which leads to the death of said stray dog. He manages to catch a superhuman trying to evade him, but a puppy? Nope. Bungou Stray Dogs, which is airing its second cours this season, is the superior of the two shows. I actually wouldn’t mind a decent re-imaging of the Boys Detective Club, but I have maybe too much sympathy for Twenty Faces after as Daughter of Twenty Faces was my first exposure to him. Maybe a good Lupin vs. Twenty Faces thief vs. thief anime would be a good idea. Mmm.
(Mitigating factor: This show might be the first time I have heard “pilates” mentioned in anime.)
(Fashion Czar: “You can’t make a character look cool in cargo shorts.”)
#17. Magical Girl Raising Project
“Why would a magical girl fight against the Triad?”
If there were a Sixth Modern Law of Anime, it has to be every magical girl show made after Madoka has to have some sort of sinister underbelly. Or it’s a sequel to Precure, which can also be considered a sinister underbelly. Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku is no exception. There is a sinister underbelly awaiting us. I’m going to guess the girls have to fight each other to the death, and only the two best friends will live at the end and be forced to finish each other off. It will be magical girl hunger games. The only question is if they will all be revived by some miracle at the end a la Mai Hime, which is also a magical girl hunger game anime. Except Mai Hime is actually good. Shinbo made two fantastic and very different magical girl shows, and it is a bit disappointing to see no one try and make one that does magical girl battles better than Nanoha. Almost a decade later, that anime and A’s still hold up as some of the best anime magic battles.
The most disturbing thing about Magical Girl Raising Project isn’t the piles of dead magical girls (we’ve seen plenty by now, thanks), but some of the deeper society issues the show completely glosses over. The Kyubey-ish sinister mascot character is a phone app that has been taking photos and recording little girls all around Japan to evaluate them for being magical girls. There’s something deeply– and very deeply– troubling about that, especially when it is portrayed as a good thing with absolutely no downsides. The magical girls are also competing to do good deeds to earn magic candy, which is a currency in a f2p mobile game. Why do they need this candy? Are they addicted to it? Is it like Ketracel-white from DS9?
(Fashion Czar: “The magical phones given to the girls look like birth control pill boxes.”)
(One of the characters is a middle school boy who can transform into a busty magical girl. He even notes that he becomes “fully female” after he does his magical girl sequence. Exactly what percentage of middle school boys, if given the opportunity to transform into a sexy lady, would leave their bunker? Let alone go outside and do magical girl things? After all these years, Tower of Druaga is still the only anime that gets the male reception to genderswapping right.)
(I really do not like the chat room segments. Chat room segments are never interesting in anime and are such a lazy cop out.
(It’s kind of amazingly how quickly mobile phone apps have taken center stage as main plot points in anime. Still, when are we going to get that first “Hey, what is ‘hot sexy meido’ in your Google search history?!?” gag that finally puts a nail in the coffin of the ero hon under the mattress gag?)
#16. Matoi, The Sacred Slayer
“The hectic days faded into quiet ones, and my life became boring pretty quickly.”
There reason that the Sixth Modern Law of Anime is not about magical girl shows having a sinister underbelly is that I watched Matoi, The Sacred Slayer. The show should really be called, “Dad, You’re Embarrassing Me!” The show is pretty much a straight up magical girl show with the main character, the titular Matoi, having moved from Tokyo to the boonies after the death of her mom. Of course, there are evil demon spirits running around, and she becomes a magical girl during all that commotion.
The best moment of this show is when the detective dad of Matoi, who is a lot like the uncle in Persona 4, introduces his junior detective partner, named “Poochi.” “He’s Poochi ‘cuz he is a helpless little bitch.” I totally did not expect that from a magical girl show featuring 13 year old kids. I also did not expect to see a throwaway scene about a naked 13 year old kid alone in the forest.
What could be sinister about this show? Well, the demons are apparently so strong that they wiped out a British special forces unit. This anime even made a point of pointing out that they are British and not American by having a character exclaim in English, “At her Majesty’s pleasure!” There is a lot of horrible English in the first five minutes. Maybe the demons are actually dead magical girls? Also sinister is how Matoi transforms into her mom. She might be wearing the skin of her mom a la Shinji Ikari piloting his mom. That’s not that sinister, but her dad seems to lose control of himself when he sees his dead wife. He goes up to his daughter and fondles her breasts because he thinks she is her mom. If the whole incestuous theme continues, maybe that is the sinister underbelly. What else can be sinister? There is some strangely depressing lines dropped occasionally, like Matoi’s friend talking about bracing for a life of being forever alone. She’s a 13 year old girl! It’s a bit depressing to hear that. If Matoi’s friend commits suicide because she sees Matoi turn into an awesome magical girl while she is still a boring, forever alone, shinto priestess, then that’s a possible sinister underbelly. If a sinister underbelly does materialize for Matoi, then the Sixth Modern Law of Anime goes into effect.
(This show also confirms the Fifth Modern Law of Anime: if they show a framed photo of a parent, that parent is dead.)
#15. Brave Witches
“It’s proof you’re doing well as a witch.”
Brave Witches is not a sequel to Strike Witches but rather a spin-off, focusing on the 502nd Flying Pantsu Little Girls division instead of the 501st Flying Pantsu Little Girls division. Silver Link has taken the reins from Gonzo. Things I like include the main character being somewhat of a fan of water, the state she delivers her dad’s bento (hint: not good), the general feeling of family (like mom and her onigiri), and the whole ridiculous concept of little girls as propeller planes. Things I don’t like include the really dumb excuse of a plot to have these girls fight in Europe, the alien invaders (always been the most boring part of Strike Witches), and the ridiculous outfits the girls wear. I kind of understand naval uniforms and swimsuits for KanColle, which is about boats. But planes? Come on. Otherwise, the show is perfectly serviceable and average, and I’m sure fans of Strike Witches and its many actual sequels would enjoy it. Animation and CG work could be better, but we are so spoiled this season by the plethora of beautiful anime. Have I mentioned it’s a good time to be an anime fan? It’s a damn good time to be an anime fan.
(The main character is clumsy and discombobulated but has stamina for days. She is pretty much the main character from DAYS.)
(I think Strike Witches vs. Sky Girls is the anime equivalent of Blu-Ray and more or less happened around that time too. Mmm.)
(Whelp, anime has made a scar ecchi.)
#14. Stella no Mahou
“These kittens are enthralled by my scenarios.”
I thought Magic of Stella would be a magical girl anime. Nope. It is a high school girl’s version of New Game. Pretty much yet another low calorie, moe, slice-of-life school club show. There’s been quite a few every year, but the one noteworthy thing about Magic of Stella is that the main character used to have a wide set of interests from art to manga to collecting bugs to card games. I’m sure all of those will come back and help her in making new doujin game. If not, that’s just a wasted opportunity. This show also really, really likes the OTL pose. Get ready to see some despair. The pixel art of the OP and ED are also cute.
One perplexing thing to me is that the main character and her friend stumbled across the doujin game club and tried out their new game. They both played together. It’s a puzzle game. How many split screen cooperative puzzle games are there? And they are now making a visual novel spin-off of a puzzle game? Is that like making a visual novel about Tetris or Puzzle Quest? What the club should do is make a Picross 3D type of game. It’s a shame there’s no good 3D on for iOS yet.
(Also, if you want to make your anime seem dated, distribute your doujin game via CDs in jewel cases. They also don’t have a head of eSports developments or a Twitch deal. I would imagine game clubs are now making mobile games nowadays.)
(Fashion Czar: “She has a manga closet? I want a manga closet.”)
Hoods / Hoods Drifters Studio
“It’s now time to do a warrior’s work.”
Drifters is a long running manga about various warriors tossed together into an RPG-esque world. It’s like if Overlord/GATE weren’t about normal people but famous people. So, yes, there’s going to be Nobunaga, Sargent Slaughter, Jeanne d’Arc, Steve Jobs, Mace Windu, and Hitler as well. The show intrigues me a bit with the premise of dead warriors saved from death at the last moment (very similar to Millennium) and forced to fight in this other world. The art style is pretty visceral and leads to some brutal action sequences. To balance that, there are lighter moments, like when they had to pluck the chickens. The art style changes depending on the mood too. I like when the characters inform each other of what has happened on earth in the years since they have died on earth, as it feels like a comedy act. I hope someone tells Steve Jobs about what a horrible teeny mess iMessages has become.
The pacing is okay, but some of the fighting is a bit too ridiculous. The fighting also feels light and fluffy as it seems like the characters are dancing and stabbing people has no weight or impact. I have no clue how the main character, Shimazu Toyohisa, manages to stay alive with such wounds. I spent more time trying to analyze how much blood he has lost. This anime also features probably the healthiest dad/son relationship this season. The dad even had a glimmer in his eye seeing how proud he was of his son. And, of course, the son “dies” immediately afterwards.
#12. Flip Flappers
“Let’s go adventuring again some time.”
I don’t know what Flip Flappers is. There’s a mysterious girl, Paprika, who breaks out of a sinister prison. There’s a robot that is a cross between Johnny 5, BB-8, and Doraemon with an actual human brain acting as the CPU. There’s the main girl, Cocona, who has secret magical girl powers as well as an Android phone. There’s an alternate world named, “Pure Illusion,” where snow isn’t cold but is tasty and there’s no smartphone coverage. There are monsters that seemed to be rejects from a Ghibli movie. There’s an organization more secret and sinister than the CIA trying to capture the girls and control his illusion world. There’s a lot of intrigue. I kind of like anime that do not expose or explain everything in the first ten minutes. The show does a good job of setting up more interesting scenarios down the road, and I’m interested to see where it leads.
The animation style is striking, as it is quite cartoony with vivid colors and angular character designs. The eyes are extra large, dark, and haunting. The animation for some sequences, like trying to retrieve Cocona’s glasses, is quite beautiful and fluid. The scene with Paprika and the robot running through the snow looks like it could have been in a recent anime movie. Studio 3Hz did a good job with the animation here, but I suspect the art style might not suit some anime fans. Kind of looks like an anime version of Calvin and Hobbes. The star of this show is the robot, TT-392, who encapsulates the weird dynamic dichotomies between technology and magic and good and evil and whimsy and practicality that the show is trying to capture.
(Mitigating Factor: the ED shows the characters acting out Hanzel and Gretel in continuous illustration. Probably my favorite ED of the season. The story of the first episode also has some callbacks to Hanzel and Gretel.)
“I simply gave into my overflowing emotions!”
I have no idea what I just watched. There’s Beethoven, there’s Tchaikovsky as a DFC, there’s gyoza– so much gyoza, there’s ghosts, there’s an organ that transforms into a giant robot that dances with other giant robots, there’s Mozart rollershoeing around, there’s J.S. Bach looking as if he were a 60’s blaxploitation character… I have no clue. I don’t even know if I liked what I saw, but I do know that I need more. Classicaloid seems to be Punch Line with less ecchi and a lot of classical music references, because we all know that kids in 2016 love classical music. The characters are all very boisterous, except the mousy female lead who is stuck in this hurricane of chaos, and they feature very bombastic versions of classical composers.
Concerning the music, while I am glad Sunrise (SUNRISE!!!) decided to use classical compositions for the OP, ED, and BGM, they decided to do so with modern arrangements, like with synths and guitars, so the anime sounds like Boom Boom Rocket. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as I really like Boom Boom Rocket, and I much prefer this than random j-pop. I still, years later, have to complain about how Nodame Cantible used fucking jpop instead of classical music for both of its OPs and EDs.
The animation is not on par with the music. It is quite lackluster, except for Beethoven and Mozart. The rest of the cast is as background character-ish as one could get (including the main female and male characters), and the backgrounds are bland and boring. If Sunrise had their A1 and A2 teams working on their other two anime of this season, this would be their C9 team.
The opening sequence of Beethoven trying to make gyoza is probably the best one of the season. It is fantastic, especially with Ode to Joy playing as he cooks. If the show can transition into being something more than having one note composers, it could be something special. As entertaining as it is seeing Beethoven cook gyoza for fifteen minutes, I’m not sure I want this gag to continue for another twelve episodes. I also don’t know how long can they string together this magical girl historical composer mish-mash without it becoming too repetitive. But I am intrigued. It is the dark horse of the season.
(The male lead of the show has a “Pad-kun” which can be best described as an even more privacy-invading, in-your-face version of Siri/Cortana/Alexa. The female lead, though, has a normal Android-ish phone.)
(Mamiko Noto is voicing Lizst, and I want to at least see this character being introduced. LIZSTOMANIA!!!)
“It’s true that I’m an otaku and a virgin, but I’m not creepy at all.”
I have no idea what Occultic;Nine is about except it is originally conceived by Chiyomaru Shikura, the writer of Steins;Gate, and that the hero, Gamon, is a blogger trying to get more page views. If it means saving the world along the way, he’ll do it. The story starts off slowly and full of intrigue, which I like. Steins;Gate took over six episodes before the exposition started heating up like a banana in a microwave. The animation is pretty with some really beautiful settings. All the rooms and architecture feels warm, cozy, lived-in, and real. What bothers me though is noses. It’s like a very 80s way of drawing noses, yet its applied to modern character design. I don’t think it works. It is also weird that not all characters have their noses drawn that way, primarily just Gamon and Narusawa. Normally, I might overlook that, but holy melonpan Batman, Narusawa looks like a porn star gunning for a largest breasts video. They just look ridiculous and unnatural. I really hope there’s an explanation of how oversized she is. I’m willing to accept “possessed by Dimple,” but I just want some exposition to why she looks like an 80s porn star who had seven too many breast augmentations. Then there’s Gamon… my gosh… he sounds like the MicroMachines man. I’m not sure if I can handle that for twelve more episodes.
Also, the director, Kyouhei Ishiguro, is fairly new with only the awful Lance n’ Masques under his belt. It shows in that he uses a very long and boring panel discussion to do an exposition dump. A good creative crew would have found other ways to present that information rather than a fucking panel discussion. I am guarded concerning this show. It could be great. It could be bad. And then I remembered all the works Jun Maeda did post Clannad. I do like the visual style, as it is Persona-ish. The mechanisms shown are also interesting looking, from a basic Android phone to an iPad to the Skysensor.
(I don’t understand how Gamon is considered a NEET if he goes to school and has a job and is outgoing enough to talk somewhat coherently to strange women. Isn’t, by definition, a NEET someone who isn’t in education or employment?)
(Also Gamon makes one of the dumbest mistakes possible. Hey, if you trespass, maybe not instantly pick up any knife you see and play with it. Maybe, just maybe, make sure there’s no blood on it, and there’s no dead bodies around.)
#9. Poco’s Udon World
“I’m not going to run an Udon restaurant.”
Udon no Kuno no Kiniro Kemari (Poco’s Udon World) is adapted from a seinen manga. I really hate the phrase, but the show is in the “healing” genre. I’m not sure if this genre is in vogue now because as anime watchers and manga readers get older, this genre appeals to them more, or just a reflection of the times. Typically, the healing genre is about an older character with some regret in his life. He then erases the regret by moving out to rural Japan and connecting with his past. The best example is Barakamon: the incredible Handa Sei hits a midlife crisis at 22 (?!) and moves to a rural island to rediscover his calligraphy. There, he finds friendship with a bunch of little kids who greatly influence and improve his calligraphy and outlook on life. Apparently, his dad, an ultra famous calligrapher, went through a similar ordeal in his youth. Handa Sei is so successful, it spawns a comedy manga and anime documenting his troubled high school years. Sweetness and Lighting from last season is similar. Udon is quite similar. The main character, Souta, comes back to his hometown after his dad’s funeral to take care of his estate before it is sold. He is 30, making him one of the older male protagonists in recent history, and he has an iPhone. He finds a loveable scamp tanunki who takes the appearance of a little child. I’m going to guess Souta will reconnect with the Udon past that he rejected and form a closer bond to his roots. He might even reopen Tawara Noodles.
Other things to note about Poco’s Udon World is that the animation is a bit sparse, and there’s a lot of white highlights. Kind of makes the show look more like a manga and more grown-up-ish. There are also a lot of grumbling stomachs– Linden could have named this “Poco’s Grumbling Stomach Emporium.” There is also an office lady thirsty for udon to the point where I think Udon Tinder might be a good idea. There is also a hipster foodie tourist couple who are possibly the worst people in Japan. Hey, the dude’s dad just died, stop pestering him for fucking udon. Nothing worse than people who want food just so they can Instagram it.
(Food is a big part of Japanese culture, and the amount of food-focused plot in anime is stunning compared to how little of it is in American television. Just a huge difference in culture. Before even watching this show, I had to go out and eat a bowl of udon or else my tummy would rumble during the show. Anime is sometimes just too delicious.)
(The episode ends with a two minute short about the fake kid’s anime featured in the episode. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it’s an abrupt change of pace and style from the main show. I’m not sure who the audience is too, would a two minute short geared at little kids have the same audience as a seinen anime? I rather have two more minutes of the main story.)
(I really enjoyed this show, and it’s #7 this season. That’s how damn fine of a time it is to be an anime fan. Just need to overlook all the horrible f2p collectible card mobile games turned into anime.)
(This show confirms the Fifth Modern Law of Anime: if they show a framed photo of a parent, that parent is dead. Dad died to trigger the events of the anime, and mom seemed to have died over twenty years ago. The flashbacks where Souta remembers him playing with his sister and parents is a bit heartbreaking. This show also confirms the Eighth Modern Law of Anime: the director of the show you are watching thinks you are dumb hence why they need to put flashbacks of the scene you just saw previously in the episode.)
“BUST TO BUST ATTACK!!!!!!!!”
Keijo!!!!!!!! (with 8! exclamation marks) or Hip Whip Girl is a well-executed fanservice sports anime about butt bouncing. The show knows what it is, and it celebrates just how ridiculous the whole premise is. In the future, it’s not League of Legends or football or ping pong that dominates the sports world but Keijo, a sport where two ladies trying to knock each other out of a floating platform in a pool by only using their butts or their boobs. It’s like sumo wrestling crossed with Dead or Alive Xtreme, though I’m pretty sure this is an actual event in Dead or Alive Xtreme. What’s to like? Besides the massive amounts of fanservice? All that jiggling? The show is perfectly aware of how dumb it is and goes all the way. There are butt uppercuts. There are fart dragons. There are boob shields. “WHAT AIR PRESSURE! THOSE BUTT MUSCLES ARE INCREDIBLE!” XEBEC then coats all of that in pretty kinetic animation. They waste no effort in making sure every scene with a butt or boobs show some bounce to it. All the attacks feel like they have weight and impact, which is the opposite of how I felt about the combat in Drifters. The costume design is also great with many, many varieties of swimsuits as well as probably my favorite school uniform of the season with the flight attendant look. What I don’t like? I don’t like some of the sub-characters, as they are quite one-note and boring compared to the main two ladies. Hey, it’s a quite shy girl (who seems really out of place for this competition) and a country hick. I would be happy if the show had less school life elements and more hip whip battles.
What is funny is how divisive the community seems about this show. I see an equal number of perfect 10s as well as low 1 rankings on a few sites. Hey, at least Keijo!!!!!!!! is fun and self-aware. The characters are all college-aged and older, and there are female characters who aren’t in the sexy perfect figure archetype. To make a fanservice show have substance and be enjoyable without being overly gross is really difficult. Not a lot of anime can pull it off. Keijo!!!!!!!!! seems like it can pull it off. It’s a good time to be a symmetrical docking fan.
(Mitigating Factor: It’s one of those anime where the OP reveals all the plot. The OP also shows the main character flying into space and plummeting down with her ass to crush another competitor. It also features someone ripping off Gilgamesh’s Gate of Babylon attack. This show is the right kind of dumb.)
(This show invokes the Fourth Modern Law of Anime: all episode one’s must take place in a time period that allow for sakura pedals to rain as much as possible. They even use flashbacks just so the anime can start with motherfucking sakura pedals raining down on melonpan. Well done, XEBEC, well done.)
#7. Haikyuu!! S3
Haikyuu!! returns for its third season, a straight continuation of the last one. You’re either still in or out on the ragtag volleyball club now, and I am still in. This season is subtitled “Karasuno High School vs Shiratorizawa Academy” and is only ten episodes long, so I suspect all ten episodes will focus on the much anticipated match-up between Hinata and Kageyama vs. Ushijima. I hope the match can be as exciting as the Kenshin‘s Kyoto arc as not a lot of anime will devote ten episodes to a single match-up anymore.
Without even reading the manga, I’m going to guess at what happens: Karasuno and Shiratorizawa will go to a fifth and final deciding game. Kageyama will setup Hinata for either the game-winning or game-losing spike. Most likely Karasuno will win (and then lose at the Nationals) so Production IG can keep pocketing the sweet, sweet Haikyuu!! money.
(Mitigating Factor: The ace for Shiratorizawa sounds like he is 26 years old. Can we get a copy of his birth certificate?)
(Fashion Czar: “This show is the only thing that can get me through the election season. It is a shining beacon of hope. I might be a little buzzed. I love this show.”)
#6. Izetta: The Last Witch
Ajia-do Animation Works
“She’s every bit the tomboy that they say she is.”
So when we were watching Brave Witches, Fashion Czar kept complaining that the girls weren’t witches because they were using man-made guns and not brooms. She was adamant that guns do not count and didn’t want to acknowledge the 502nd division as witches. I find that weird because the previous night, we watched Shuumatsu no Izetta, which is about a witch who rides an anti-tank gun, and she voiced no such complaints during Izetta. To be fair, Izetta is a much better anime. This show has some charm and intrigue in its alternate WWII setting. The main characters of Izette and Fine are also strong and interesting. Fine is quite the opposite of a typical useless Gundam princess. The plot seems to be about a princess and witch fighting a Third Reich-like German-ish country that is powered by the occult. Valkyria Chronicles meets Heidi of the Alps? One thing I don’t get is why they don’t just call the country “Germany” instead of “Germania” and the main dude “Hitler” instead of “Nobugana”. They use the European map, and a few other countries are referred to by their actual names. I just hope that in episode eight, “Area 11” sends Lizette a rollerblading mecha to fight off the Germania invaders.
I do like the pacing and some of the set pieces, like the plane getting blown up and the sequence outside of the train. I also like the random fanservice slipped in, like Fine’s sexy dress when she goes to visit the diplomat from Britannia.
The last thing I remember Ajia-do involved in was Genshiken. That was around when the first iPhone came out. That’s a long time ago. Music is a weird mix of Mozart and May’n, but it works. Animation is pretty good and would have been considered great last season. Unfortunately, this season is chock full of beautiful shows, which we’ll get to shortly. Have I mentioned that it’s a damn good time to be an anime fan?
(Fashion Czar: “Oh no! She lost her fancy hat! I liked that hat!”)
(Puppywatch: Corgi! With a bandana!)
#5. Hibike! Euphonium 2
“Someday, I’ll part with the friends I love.”
Sound! Euphonium returns for a second cours, and it feels pretty much the same. Kyoto kicks off with a double length episode that kind of re-introduces all the old characters. Kumiko, Reina, Sapphire, and the fourth girl who is really unimportant at this point all return. Taki-sensei and Tubracabrara return as well, with Tubracabrara featuring a bit too prominently in the ED. They also introduce some new characters, like Hashimoto-sensei, and the new drama girl, Masami, who is trying to get back into the plot. I hoped that the second years quitting the club storyline was concluded last season, but it seems to be the main focus of this season. Ugh. I find that storyline completely unappetizing because it is boring and doesn’t feature the best characters of the show enough: Kumiko, Reina, Taki-sensei, and grandpa’s coin wall. Oh, wait, grandpa’s coin wall wasn’t this show? Huh. Nonetheless, I expect Hibike! Euphonium to continue to deliver a sports anime-type story wrapped around brass band with light girl’s love elements. That’s all I really want.
Kyoto’s animation prowess continues to amaze. I think there are some other shows this season that do some great character animation, but Kyoto has the background animation awards locked down. I was really impressed by the train sequence when you could clearly see different houses and buildings outside the window as the train rode by. I was also impressed by all the people and movement during the festival. They put a lot of effort into the show. It is sort of amazing that this story is a story that could be easily told without anime, yet Kyoto puts so much effort into animating it. It isn’t giant robots like Gundam or mystical worlds like Drifters. It’s Japan. The backgrounds and proper pacing of the show makes it feel more like a drama and a story than typical “he’s the hot student council president who is also on the soccer team, and she’s the art student from a wealthy family” type of exposition way too common in anime.
(Mitigating Factor: Kumiko’s phone is clearly an Android.)
#4. Gi(a)rlish Number
“This industry is fucked up.”
Girlish Number got an overflow post.
#3. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
“We got no choice. We don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Wow, has it been a full year since Iron-Blooded Orphans first aired? A year ago, there was no Happy Lemon, Meet Fresh, or Din Tai Fung in the Bay Area. You’re either in or out on IBO at this point, and I’m certainly in. Even some of Okada’s weaker works like Koufuku Graffiti and The Lost Village have still be entertaining. I do like that this season does address some of the ramifications of the previous season. Because Tekkadan so overwhelmingly destroyed Gjallarhorn, other organizations have been stocking up on child soldiers and mobile suits. It’s like baseball. If a team finds success because of market inefficiencies with defense and relievers, other teams will copy it. Right now in the IBO universe, the market inefficiencies had been child soldiers and giant robots. You’d think that people would have realized giant robots are pretty damn good at killing people. Also, the other factions probably don’t know that Gjallarhorn was betrayed from within and also Mika’s fighting ability isn’t because he’s a kid: it’s because he has that rare triple Alaya-Vijnana that further enhances his natural combat abilities.
There’s a bunch of tropetastic new characters introduced. There’s a new dude in Tekkadan who complains. He whines more than Luke Skywalker in episode four. There’s someone who I assume is an ace pilot for Gjallarhorn who is crazy because all crazy Gundam characters are are pilots. They show she is crazy because she ate a butterfly. How crazy is that? She eats butterflies! CRAZY! We can surely build her up to be a threat to Mika.
In the end, IBO is still Gundam. How Gundam is it? Here’s the Wikipedia summary of what happens to Lafter Frankland, “She was brutally beaten by Ein in the final battle but somehow survives.” And here’s the summary of Azee Gurumin, “She was brutally beaten by Ein in the final battle but miraculously survives.” Yep, this is a Sunrise anime. Oh, have I mentioned that there’s a mysterious character with a mask who totally isn’t Carta?
(I like how Atra gets to be a driver. Must be because she impressed so much driving Kudelia around at the end of last season. A nice gesture, I guess.)
(Is Orga inspired by Akiyuki Shinbo? Shinbo was a genius director and artist slaving away on low tier work. Orga is a genius tactician and soldier slaving away on low tier work. Shinbo got a break because Shaft was desperate. Orga gets a break because of a desperate situation. Shinbo still directed, but as Shaft became larger and larger, he became more of a manager and business person. Orga is just standing there with Kudelia while everyone else were shouting orders. Shinbo eventually had to wear a suit (I’m guessing). Orga is wearing a suit now. Shinbo eventually had to hire artists and directors who didn’t get Shaft. Orga hires newbies into Tekkadan who don’t get Tekkadan.)
(Because of his new suit, Orga is 40% closer to becoming Akio from Utena. I do like how Orga just wears his green Tekkadan jacket over his purple suit. If Akio hasn’t banged Merribit yet, what the fuck has he been doing all this time?!)
#2. March Comes In Like a Lion
“He’s just a 17 year old with issues like everyone else.”
I had a lot to write about for 3-gatsu no Lion, so I had an overflow post for it.
#1. Yuri on Ice
“But all the skater otaku will love it.”
Just skater otaku? Huh. I’m as excited about our pretty boy ice skaters as anyone. Beautifully animated story about ice staking bromance? It’s a damn good time to be an anime fan.
(Puppywatch: Poodle-like substance!)