9,100 words, 24 anime, and not enough maid dragons.
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 Ao No Exorcist, Rewrite, KonoSuba, Yowamushi Pedal Season 15,532, or Super Lovers, even with how terrible Super Lovers is.
A twist for this season: hanami!
There’s a lot less sports anime and a lot less otome anime this season compared to the past few. What has replaced them? Anime spawned from f2p mobile phone games. And I thought we hit rock bottom with all the battle magic high school anime– nope! We have reached a new low. Thanks, Tencent, Nexon, Cygames, and all the other terrible f2p mobile phone game providers.
Quick recap from last season: Yuri on Ice wins Anime of the Year, The Great Passage sets sail, Flip Flappers‘s love triangle turned out to be Twilight’s, Keijo!!!!!!!! hip whipped us, Poco’s Udon World is a lie, Mikazuki Augus Is a Hero, Kitauji bombs at nationals, and Karasuno advances to the nationals.
#MR. IRRELEVANT. ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
“Few can understand what is going on in his mind.”
I don’t understand what is going on in the very confusingly named ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department. I guess ACCA/Douwa is supposed to some sort of modern version of the 13 American colonies? And the country looks like a chicken? I guess the premise is that it’s about corruption in government? I guess? Because I couldn’t figure it out by watching the show. The plot is filled with jargon, there are some serious leaps of deduction that would even befuddle Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, and the story jumps around a bit too fast. The anti-corruption unit is about to be closed? But then they find corruption? So they are immediately not closed? The plot jumps around more than JJ during his skating routine. There are also way too many characters tossed at us in the first episode. Maybe not as bad as K: Return of Kings, but just a lot of characters who have little differentiating them. A discombobulated plot isn’t the worst sin an anime can commit… nor is lackluster character design with uniforms that look like Nazi Germany uniforms… or poor production visuals… but an anime that glamorizes smoking? Nope, nope, nope. Smoking is portrayed as an elite activity that people are jealous of.
The main character, along with other characters in power, constantly smoke. It is jarring to see smoking so heavily featured (along with being a plot point) of any TV show nowadays. The only way another anime could wrest Mr. Irrelevant from a show that tries to popularize smoking is if an anime that encourages parents not to vaccinate their kids also aired this season. But, alas, It’s Not My Fault My Kids Have Polio Because I Didn’t Vaccinate Them airs next season.
(I don’t know what I used so many rhetorical questions during that last paragraph.)
(ACCA also has some serious Americana imagery too. It’s not done as nicely or carefully as Final Fantasy XV, and a lot of the iconography looks like someone badly copied the iconography of New York City.)
Emon Animation Company / Tencent
“I’m an adult but don’t have a house, wife, or horse.”
Oh gosh, yet another Chinese web manhua about zombies turned anime by desperate Japanese animators. It is about as good as Bloodivores or Cheating Craft. Sigh. As one can expect from Chinese web manhua, the story has the same beats of every other Chinese web manhua story: (1) Not having a house, wife, or horse is a bad thing and sign that a man isn’t successful.
(2) Only antagonists allowed are zombies and vampires because that’s what the Chinese government allows. No skeletons and definitely no government officials for bad guys.
(3) The classical belief that cheating is perfectly okay as long as you don’t get caught.
(4) The very classical belief that if someone screws up, they will blame everyone but themselves. It is a point your finger at the next dude. Any dude will do.
(5) Pedestrians dying to traffic accidents are at fault. Never the driver. Andohbytheway, there’s more car crash deaths in the first episode of this first episode than a speed run of Grand Theft Auto Vice City.
(6) No homosexuality. Even though the two protagonists are men who exchange rings with each other in the first episode, I’m almost positive one of them turned to the camera and said, “We are totally not gay. This is not that filthy Yuri on Ice. Please do not send the author, who is totally not at fault, to a ‘re-education’ camp.”
(7) We are shown how poor one character is because he melts down computer and electronics scraps for gold.
All the values and tropes this anime shows are all the ones that they are allowed to show. Once upon a time, I looked at Chinese state-controlled media like this one and didn’t think too much about it. Now, I think about what American media might be like ten years from now, and it all seems too real. I’ll just surround myself with magic high school anime while I still can.
#22. Kemono Friends
“Sorry, I just love playing hunter and prey.”
I watched Kemono Friends on 1.8X speed. It is yet another f2p Nexon mobile phone game turned anime by studio Yaoyorozu, which I have never heard before. I’m not really sure what I watched. I guess it is like the Jungle Book where there’s a very confused human child abandoned in the middle of the savanna, but instead of being befriended by talking animals, she is befriended by talking animal personifications of animals (read: furries). They trek to the legendary library and battle the Cerulean until they get tired, at which point they use premium currency to re-energize themselves.
I guess this is a kid’s anime aimed at getting kids more hooked on the f2p mobile game, but some of the character designs are quite sexy. Hippo-chan looks nothing like a hippo and instead looks like a sexy Soviet spy whom James Bond would try to bed in Moonraker. Animation production is the pits with some horrible CG work. Backgrounds are bland and repetitive, and the characters movements are a bit rough. At one point, the cat girl was supposed to be panting, but it looked like she were humping the ground instead. I think, if anything, shows like Kemono Friends would just cause me to drop all f2p mobile phone games from future thin slicing posts. Thankfully I don’t have to thin slice either GranBlue or Fate Grand Order this season as they technically aren’t airing this season. Whew! Talk about more piles of f2p shovelware anime.
#21. Hand Shakers
“What is a Hand Shaker?”
Hand Shakers is probably the anime that I’ve seen the most discussed on social media thus far, and for all the wrong reasons. On Project Runaway, one thing Tim Gunn is excellent at is telling designers not to over-embellish and to edit their looks. While you might have seven ideas for a dress, it’s not a good ideas to have all seven ideas used for one dress. That is the importance of editing: understanding that sometimes less is more. Well, GoHands’ approach to Hand Shakers is “We fired all of our editors and used the money to hire more fx artists.” Oharuhi-sama save us. This anime is a diarrhea of special effects, colors, and lens flares. Holy fuck the lens flares. Almost every other scenes features a lens flare that moves. It is distracting and unnecessary and feels like someone just discovered Adobe After Effects and wants to put in all the effects. In a five minute span, I counted over twenty uses of a lens flare.
The special effects include, but not limited to, fish eye lenses (which should never be used for fast movement scenes yet they were), jerky camera sequences, and some of the worst CG chains and gears I have seen. The CG chains weren’t even self-consistent, with them seemingly the diameter of an arm or leg in one scene, yet in the next they look as thick as a small car. Each scene is also packed full of movement and random characters just because they can thanks to CG, but there’s no direction or special camera work done to help the flow of storytelling. If the background characters are emphasized as much as the foreground ones, it gets confusing. There’s a difference between putting more shit into the scene just because you can and filling the scene with smart background objects.
The boobs in this anime… my gosh… every female character has back-breaking breasts. To show off how much motion is possible in an all-CG anime, the boobs are always moving. But not necessarily moving in normal ways. It’s like the design and art of this anime were directed by a middle schooler. You know what is awesome to middle schoolers? Ridiculously large boobs, lens flares, and jerky cameras. I think that explains it. The art director on this anime is a twelve year old.
Well, besides the once-in-a-lifetime quality anime production, can the plot save the show? Can we push through all the bad and gimmick production to unearth a decent story? Nope. Definitely not. The story is as generic battle magic high school that we can get. Oh, bland male lead. Oh, mysterious girl. Oh, once he holds her hands (thus Hand Shakers), he can summon magical powers. One antagonist character just appears out of nowhere and starts attacking because the first episode needs to show some action, needs to show off CG battles, and needs to show off a girl who gets her power by getting her groin stepped on. No, I’m serious, she can use her magic if someone is pounding her pussy with his boot as if it were a gas pedal.
The jargon is also terrible with “Nimrod,” “Ziggurat,” and “Revelation of Babel” tossed around as if I should know what any of that nonsense already means. Not only do I think the art director is twelve years old, maybe the director and script writer are too. Who else could come up with this mess other than the fever madness of someone inflicted by chuunibyou disease? If there’s any key thread for this anime, it is that there’s no editing. It is an anime that tries to show off by doing everything possible and ends up showing exactly why you shouldn’t do everything just because you can.
(Mitigating factor: At least this anime might be so bad, it’s good. But I got a headache from all the bad framing and movement of the first episode that I think I’ll just enjoy future episodes on Tumblr and on Twitter.)
(Wow, this show is so bad, I expected Sentai Filmworks to have already licensed this show. Nope. Funimation got it. I would have loved to see the bidding war for this show. Meanwhile, it only took half a decade or so for Nichijou to get licensed. And still no Hyouka. At this point, maybe I should start a Kickstater campaign to license Hyouka.)
“You’re the worst kind of pervert. Please die and leave nothing left of you.”
Calling ēlDLIVE a homeless man’s Space Patrol Luluco is both giving ēlDLIVE too much credit and giving Space Patrol Luluco too little credit. I need a new term beyond “homeless man’s.” Awkward middle school boy gets recruited by the space police to safeguard earth much like he’s a new recruit into the space version of Men in Black. Unfortunately, this space police organization has no on-boarding process. They literally teleported him, all confused, into their fancy spaceship and then told him to hunt down a dangerous alien immediately. They don’t even give him a weapon or a communicator or any intel on the alien. Did I mention he’s a middle schooler? He can barely buy lunch let alone fight dangerous aliens. The poor boy manages to defeat the alien because, in the past, a swan-like alien merged with him and now is his cock. Well, I’m not 100% positive that it is a space swan cock, but it sure looks like that he has a talking swan head for a dick now.
The story never makes any sense in this show, and there’s even weirder story inconsistencies. For example, after the space police beam the boy up, no one is there to greet him. They just let him wander around a spaceship and randomly touch stuff. That’s great if you’re planning a surprise birthday party for him, but this on-boarding process is lunacy (and bad writing). There’s also a subplot where the boy’s mom is angry at him because he ruined a dish rag, and the family is too poor to buy a new dish rag, so he has to sew and fix the old one. Meanwhile, the mom is watching a 65 inch OLED TV. They can afford a huge, fancy TV and cable yet they can’t afford to buy a new dish rag? I mean, at the very worst, just use an old T-shirt if they are desperate enough for a dish rag.
(Mitigating factor: I wished I watched this anime at 1.5X speed. It is really badly paced.)
#19. Schoolgirl Strikers
“I won’t get anywhere by feeling disheartened.”
Schoolgirl Strikers is yet another f2p mobile phone game turned anime. The show starts by introducing a huge cast of characters in brief “Look at me! I’m doing cool battle things!” montage in what I call the “K Return of Kings Gauntlet” as that show is still the worst example of this “narrative” technique. After the battle montage, the second scene of this anime is a shower scene. Well, okay. So the premise is that female students at this high school go into another world to hunt monsters, and they are assigned into teams based on their magical girl outfits. No, seriously, outfits. For example, there’s Team High-Cut Bikini, Team Meido, and Team Idol. They are also all named after food, so instead of Team High-Cut Bikini, it’s really Team Pudding or something like that. The food names do not improve things. The teams work together and compete against each other much like teams in Myriad Colors Phantom World, and we all know how well that concept worked for that show.
You can probably guess what I am going to write next: this show is an unwatchable mess. There’s too many characters, too many concepts going on, and piss poor writing and animation. The backgrounds are mostly done in CG, and they look like they came from a Nintendo 3DS game. The characters are all generic, “I gotta be happy and save the world!” idol types, and, for a show that threw fifteen characters at us in the first episode, you’d think that they would try their best to come up with more unique personalities. There is also some disturbing characterization and expections: one girl is good at cooking, so that, of course, makes her an ideal candidate to become a Schoolgirl Striker. The cute mascot character is not even as cute as a Roomba. The battle sequences are all yawn-inducing and show zero flashes of creativity to the action. The battles don’t even go for maximum fanservice shots, which is what I would expect from this show. The plot outside of battles is even worse with a solid six minutes devoted to a girl arguing with her sexy teacher why she can’t bring a sword to class.
#18. Urara Meirocho
“Your face says that you don’t understand any of this at all.”
Yep, we’re squarely in the middle of the “JC Staff Throw Shit On the Wall And See If It Sticks” section of thin slicing. Urara Labyrinth City is a 4-koma manga turned anime about four girls trying to become fortune tellers. That description alone should have you fleeing for the hills. There’s very little comedy, some fanservice, and a lot of moments of girls trying to be cute. Sigh. Each of the girls are also broken in some way, but their interactions always seemed forced and unoriginal. Oh, this girl is the shy one. Oh, this girl is an idiot. Let’s put them into situations and see how each one feels about the situation through their the lens of their trope. It’s almost like a Japanese panel talk show turned into cute anime girls.
The main character was interesting for about five minutes. Her best trait is that she commands an army of forest creatures, and a Jungle Book or Squirrel Girl interpretation would have been interesting. Nope. Within five minutes, her animal friends are banished from the show, and she becomes a walking trope that whenever she senses conflict, she lies on her back and exposes her belly. Not even a puppy is this submissive. Also, her entire backstory is given as, “Her mom abandoned her in the woods,” and they leave it like that.
(Fashion Czar: “Each new character that this show introduces gets duller and duller.”)
(Mitigating factor: Do I even need to say it? This anime is already licensed by Sentai Filmworks. Also, neither Netflix, Amazon, Crunchyroll, nor Funimation are streaming this show. I hope Sentai Filmworks puts, “We got this show dirt cheap because no one else wanted it!” on the back of the BD release.)
(Hanami: Mild amount of cherry trees blooming in distance background shots. No CG pedals flying around nilly-willy.)
#17. Marginal#4 Kiss kara Tsukuru Big Bang
“One kiss to the ends of the galaxy.”
Marginal#4 Kiss kara Tsukuru Big Bang is one of the worst names for an anime this season. Was Ident#5 already taken? Or Footnote#3? Lagrange Point#6 (oh wait that one is taken). Of course, the show mashes up everyone’s two favorite genres: slice-of-life do-nothing after school club plus male idol group. None of the elements work together, and the show is a just a pure slobbering fanservice mess for people who enjoy the otome game that this anime is based off of. The idol portion is okay with the same beats as any other male idol group show (by which there’s like 15,532 of now) where it’s a new boy band trying to get fans, and there’s an older, more experienced boy band who may or may not be helping them. The school life part is about the boys trying to start a delivery service because that’s exactly what boy band members should do… I mean… why not do a singing or dancing club? Or not go to school and just use tutors provided by your agency? This is why Japan pop groups are leagues behind Korean ones presently– Korean performers spend their whole day with singing lessons, language lessons, dance lessons, and endurance training. These boys just go out on deliveries as glorified Amazon Prime part-timers. They also chose a horrible name for their club: S-O-L. Yes, these boys are indeed shit out of luck if their pop star careers fizzle out. I would like to see a male idol group show that shows the brutal man meat grinder that is the k-pop industry. I feel like it is time. Marginal#4, of course, isn’t it.
(Are male idol groups even that popular in Japan? Are any of them even fractionally as popular as AKB48? Do any of them have the same selling power as SMAP or Bump of Chicken or Glay? Last time I walked through Akihabara, I don’t recall seeing even one ad for a male idol group.)
(Of course, what kind of app phone is featured in a cookie-cutter, mass-produced idol show? Android. Everyone here uses an Android phone.)
#16. Interviews with Monster Girls
“Sucking blood is a sign of sexual desire.”
The underlying premise of Demi-chan wa Kataritai is where the show falls apart for me. Okay, there’s a world filled with demi-humans like vampires, dullahans, and succubuses. There’s so many of them, and they are persecuted by the majority that the Japanese government steps in and tries to help them welfare programs and state protection. Yet, the main character, the biology teacher in a high school, knows nothing about such demi-humans and decides to interview them to learn more about them. You would think that if the demi-humans are prevalent enough to have state-sponsored programs centered around them, there would be basic information like how much blood a vampire has to drink and how does a dullahan hear without its head available either online or in a book or in a research journal already. I would be shocked if Wikipedia didn’t already have this information. So I was disappointed to find out that Interviews with Monster Girls is a boring TV show about a high school teacher asking very pedestrian questions to these oddities. It is supposed to be a comedy with harem elements, but it fails on all of those notes. I was hoping the show would be some sort of harem fanservice comedy romp where the high school teacher would have sex with the monster girls and then give an interview about what it is like humping each and every one of them. “Vampire-chan really likes to bite, but you know who really likes to cuddle? Lamia-chan.”
The male teacher protagonist also goes on and on in the first ten minutes about how he always wanted to meet a demi-human, but he hasn’t so far in life. Turns out the easiest way to meet them is to star in his own anime. Also, it is a bit sketchy that the teacher meets with all these nubile, female haremable demi-human students in a dark room, by themselves, in private. It seems a bit sketchy. Again, if the premise is that the teacher has to have sex with them and then get interviewed by Buzzfeed about it, it would be fine.
Another issue is that the show changes established monster norms a bit too much. The show neuters the whole concept of a vampire that it’s not really a vampire anymore. So she sweats a bit more in the sun? (I do that too.) She doesn’t drink blood. (I also don’t drink blood.) She eats garlic. (I just had some garlic noodles for dinner.) How is she a vampire? Are we sure she isn’t a normal person with a mild cause of vampire chuuninibyou syndrome?
#15. Idol Jihen
“Please make a woman out of me too!”
Idol Incidents is yet another idol anime, except this time the idols are also Japanese diet (senate) members. The idols perform and enrapture their audience to vote for them, kind of like some sort of twisted take on Macross. This show sends a lot of bad messages. The people “voting” for the idols are all mostly old men ogling them. Idols are chosen strictly on their physical appearance and their “stamina.” The main person in charge of the idol party even remarks, “An idol’s main asset is her body.” The main character is chosen as an idol-dietwoman candidate because she’s peppy and cute, and all of her qualifications were visible from a car driving past. That’s how deep her political policies are.
The idol-dietwomen candidates are further weeded out by seeing who can run up a hill the fastest– exactly how is this going to prepare her for writing tax code or make trade deals let alone debate about changes to the Japanese constitution to allow for a larger self-defense force? Another idol-dietwoman is slightly shunned by others because her “aura” is a bit too aggressive. Great. Basically this show is saying that a woman’s worth is strictly her looks and her passivity and how she can be objectified by men. At least she isn’t forced to chain smoke cigarettes.
All of the idol’s political opponents are men because Oharuhi-sama forbid we have effective dietwomen who don’t dress up in skimpy costumes, and all the men are all caricatures of corruption such that I hoped that the pigs from Animal Farm would make a cameo. One of them literally dies while he is taking a bribe. Another announces that only he can “protect your way of life!” with the “from these sexy women!” being unsaid.
(The main character is also way too over-designed. She has both onigiri hair clips as well as weird a yellow-colored band of her just on her long side bangs… with only that yellow portion being braided. How does that hair even happen?)
(Totally not a gang bang.)
(Always a good sign when Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for an anime at the time of writing the thin slicing about it.)
Studio Gokumi and AXsiZ
“Boys sure love their horned beetles.”
Seiren is a template harem anime directed by Tomoki Kobayashi (Sola, Tears to Tiara) that tries to copy Amagami SS with the omnibus format where each heroine gets her own arc. The character designs are also reminiscent of Amagami, and there was also a crossover comic between Seiren and Amagami heroines. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarities between the two series ended. One, Seiren has some god awful character designs and animation. The heroines all share similar faces and body types, so it is very difficult to tell them apart. The poor animation and lack of detail contribute to to this issue. The animation is so poor and regressive that if someone were shown Amagami (a 2012 anime) and this show for the first time back to back, they would have thought Amagami was the show that came five years later. To call this show a homeless man’s Amagami is a serious insult to Amagami.
Two, none of the characters of Seiren are as interesting as the Amagami cast. They are all bland, background characters forced to play leading roles. Three, the plots are excruciatingly bad. One focus of the first heroine is that the guy thinks she is dating an older man just because she was alone with an older man at her place of work. That is some mental gymnastics going on there. Also, it is not everyday (maybe every other season) we get an anime where teachers get horny after highschool girls playing basketball. I always felt anime has done well not to have teachers be perverted monsters, but not this show.
I like a good harem anime, and I could go for a halfway decent template harem anime, but this show is not it.
(Mitigating factor: There was a short discussion but mushroom chocolate. The eternal debate rages: what is the best chocolate? Mushroom? Bamboo? Tree stump? I vote Every Burger. The black version is excellent, but I don’t see that in stores around here anymore.)
(Hanami: I really expected sakura in this show as it is a low-rent harem anime, but it didn’t have any pedals falling.)
#13. BanG Dream!
Issen and Xebec
“What is this? Girl Band Mecca?”
BanG Dream! is yet another clone of K-On!, right down to the OP. Cute girls forming a band! Cute girls doing cute things! Cute girls being friends! I guess there’s two slight changes to the K-On! formula. Here, the little sister isn’t a hyper-competent little sister who idolizes her older sister. Instead, the little sister more or less doesn’t want to follow in her older sister’s footsteps. The second twist is that one of the girls, the keyboardist, is as salty as a typical Dota 2 player and says things like, “I’m going to cut you!” and “Shut the fuck up, I’m trying to Google it.”
The plot is as low calorie and nonsensical as these shows typically are. The main character finds her guitar by following a trail of stickers to am abandoned pawn shop. Instead of turning around and running away, she goes into the store, which may or may not also double as a meth den. She then feels such a connection to a 1980s guitar that looks kinda like a star if you squint hard enough that she tries to steal it. They kinda hand wave off the theft by saying that it’s just a junk room. But I’m sure a functional electric guitar in great shape would fetch at least a few hundred dollars. The opening scene of the anime is also the last scene of the anime, as if the show doesn’t lead off with a cute girl band scene, it would instantly turn off 50% of the viewers. I can just imagine the director going, “We gotta bring that last scene of the girl band to the first scene!” Certainly, if the director has faith in the audience, then they wouldn’t have to resort to this weird narrative structure just to show girls banding it up at the start. It’s almost a prerequisite at this point that every idol or band anime must show a performance as the first scene.
I wonder if this show would do better if it aired in 2012 rather than in 2017. I think right now most people are past K-On!, past battle magic high schools, and at the peak of sports anime with harem anime threatening a resurgence. While there will always be a die-hard audience for the cute girls doing cute things genre, K-On! was able to bridge and bring other genre watches (like shoujo, comedy, and KyoAni fans) into the fold. BanG Dream! is a sad attempt to mimic the K-On! magic without understand what the K-On! magic was.
(Fashion Czar: “I think this is the first time I’ve seen a pawn shop in an anime.”)
(Hanami: Sakura is blooming on the way to class.)
#12. Chain Chronicle ~Light of Haecceitas~
Telecomm Animation Film
“Don’t tell me… the kid lost?”
Anytime you can make an anime based off of a failed, closed f2p mobile phone game, you gotta do it. At least Rage of Bahamut (which had a good anime adaptation) aired before that game got shuttered. Chain Chronicles got shut down almost a year ago. The show starts by introducing a huge cast of characters in brief “Look at me! I’m doing cool battle things!” montage. It doesn’t work well. It never works well. If you are an aspiring anime director and want to start off a new show with a battle montage featuring twenty different characters, stop, no, don’t do it. In a fantasy world where there’s elves, humans, and other humanoid creatures who look all jazzed up in level 80 armor, the main character and savior of the human race looks like he is wearing a potato sack. No wonder he lost to the dark lord and doomed the world to a hellish nightmare. The story did not make sense to me as the dark lord’s goal was to kill this fairy creature and destroy some mythical book, so the hero decides to bring both the fairy and the book to the lair. Does he entrust the fairy and book to the leader of the Holy Knights who just bought some armor polish off of Amazon? Does he entrust them to the tough samurai-ish warrior who could be in Samurai Warriors? Does he entrust them to the powerful elf mage? Or the sexy genderswapped Robin Hood who has an eagle eye? Or the thief who looks like an Assassin’s Creed character? No, no, and fuck no. He entrusts the fairy creature and the book to the helpless little girl who just so happens to be the dark lord’s daughter. So when she sees him, she goes into shock because he used to abuse him, freezes up, and, whelp, things start going bad from there. I guess there’s only so much plot that can be derived from a f2p tower defense game.
#11. Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club
“Hopefully, you’ll experience that joy with friends.”
For some reason, it seems like there has been a surge in anime about cute high school girls riding road bikes. Maybe Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club is part of that nostalgic desire to combine rural countrysides with high school girls doing cute things. There’s also an uptick in the popularity of bicycling in Japan, and I wonder how big is the overlap between anime fans and bicycling fans. For one, one possible appeal of these low calorie, slice of life shows is the tourism aspect. I do enjoys seeing beautiful imagery that makes me want to check Kayak for deals on flights to Japan. This show has that in spades. Tons of sakura pedals falling, lots of great hand-drawn backgrounds, a shot of Fuji-san, and some great rural scenes. Last season’s Long Riders missed that mark with some horrible CG backgrounds. Minami Kamakura‘s backgrounds and scenery are much improved, but has a similar issue to Long Riders: can we get one of these bicycling anime where the main character isn’t a total idiot? Here, the main character cannot ride a bike and decides to go down a steep hill to try out her skills. Um, great. At least it leads to meeting Tomoe, who is the goddess of winter 2017. She’s not a goddess like Belldandy or even Gabriel, but in that she is the most patient and nicest character ever. She takes time and effort to teach the main girl how to ride a bike before their entrance ceremony and comforts her when she has a breakdown over not having friends at a new high school.
The anime takes place in Kamakura, Japan, which I didn’t know much about prior to Terrace House. Kamakura is the beach that Armen keeps trying to take girls on dates to. All I know about Kamakura is that it has beaches, places to get tacos, and is really more of a far suburb of Tokyo than some sort of idyllic rural countryside.
(The teacher gets lost on the way to the high school. Wait, she has never been to school before? Seems odd. You’d think she has been to the school to at least interview and prepare some lesson plans. She also doesn’t have a cell phone?)
(Hanami: Full bloom.)
#10. Youjo Senki: Saga of Tanya the Evil
What the hell is this show? Youjo Senki: Saga of Tanya the Evil is the first anime from new Studio NuT. Normally, an anime about an alternate history World War 1 featuring flying mages would be enough. That’s already the premise of last season’s excellent Izetta, the Last Witch, which was a flying mage in alternate history World War 2. While Izetta was portraying the fight against Germany, Youjo Senki is about fighting for Germany. The jarring thing is that the title character, Tanya, is a child. So this show becomes little girl ruthlessly slaughtering all who oppose her, both friend and foe. If that premise wasn’t enough, there’s an added layer that Tanya is a Japanese salaryman who “wrongfully” died, reincarnated into a different alternate history as Tanya, and still retains his Japanese salaryman memories. Okay. Anime. Much anime. I was really confused during the start of this show because Tanya kept making modern Japanese references, and her past life as a salaryman wasn’t revealed yet.
Production-wise, there’s not much noteworthy other than the atrocious character designs. I don’t understand why every male character looks like a normal human being. They could be random characters out of any wartime anime. Yet every female character is drawn different. They all look like Bratz dolls. Explain to me how a species featuring males with normal-looking eyes and females with catfish eyes can reproduce. The lack of consistency with character designs bothers me quite a bit. I feel like if the character designs were more consistent with a real-life look to all the female characters instead of their Bratz doll look, the story would be more impactful. My other issue with this show is that the battle strategy doesn’t really make a lot of sense. We get a scene of German generals talking about having to play defense and stall for time, and then in the next scene, we have them order a suicidal charge that decimates everyone who charged.
(You know what I never expect to see in 1924 magical flying witch World War 1 anime? Sad puppers.)
(Scenes like this one are always funny. I like how only the guy to the right is wondering, “What the fuck is this freak show that I signed up for?”)
(Fashion Czar: “She’s wearing pants. I’m really happy for that.”)
#9. Akiba’s Trip
“Mysterious girl! Mysterious boy! UNDRESS!”
Happy 25th anniversary, Gonzo! Akiba’s Trip is an interesting way to celebrate– I guess a party filled with sexy meido, stripping, and purple explosions is as good of a party as I can think of. On the surface, an anime adapted from a B-tier PS Vita game that is centered around stripping ladies might not make for the best anime, but somehow Gonzo pulled it off. I think, gasp, I cannot believe I am writing this, that Gonzo’s writing is witty and self-aware and adds a lot to the story. I like that the main protagonist isn’t a classic loser male but actually a competent male. He has a lot of snappy lines like, “You have the same name as a mayonnaise review blog” and “Who would have thought that my middle school novel would be useful?”. I also like how when he encounters a sexy meido who is also an otaku, he strikes up a normal conversation with her and gets to know her that way. No collisions, no perverted groping– just talking about a common shared interest. It is amazing how starved anime is for competent male leads. The animation is colorful and crisp and reminds me a bit of Gonzo from the early 2000s, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The show goes by fast with good action sequences.
The show also acknowledges the oodles and oodles of stripping that occurs. For the most part, it takes it matter-of-factly as if the stripping is any old RPG-styled attack. But there are also cases where there are oodles and oodles of naked ladies strewn across Akihabara that looks like the aftermath of an Eyes Wide Shut orgy with a character commenting, “Those poor girls” because of the dozens of greasy men recording the scene with their app phones.
(Akiba’s Trip is simulcast dubbed by Funimation on the same day as the Japanese release. The logistics of getting an anime dubbed must be incredible, and I applaud Funimation for attempting it. Amazing to be an anime fan in 2017.)
#8. Gabriel DropOut
“The real me is a slothful good-for-nothing.”
Gabriel DropOut is a prodigal story about the evils of f2p online games. The show is about the descent of an ideal angel who helps weed the nearby park and plays with little kids into a slovenly hikikomori who only wants to play online games. There’s actually quite a bit of good comedy stemming from how evil and petty the angels behave and how good and nice the demons behave and their juxtaposed personalities. The show makes you feel a bit sorry for the demons. One demon is trying to redeem Gabriel and get her to stop playing video games. Another demon is trying to show how evil and ruthless she is, but she ends up being bullied by the angels. Another angel enjoys toying with others. I’m not sure if the overall premise has legs for an entire season, but there are some great moments. In one scene, Gabriel is too lazy to walk to school, but she is too lazy to walk, so she decides to teleport. Unfortunately, she hasn’t used angelic powers in a while so she ends up teleporting just her panties to school. Once the panties arrive at school, they are revered as the holy panties. Another great moment is when a demon gets bullied by a neighborhood dog over some melon-shaped bread. Spoiler: puppy victory.
For people who miss the Himouto, this show is the spiritual successor of the Himouto. In fact, is “Himouto” itself an anime genre at this point?
(Mitigating Factor: There’s a few things that I don’t understand, like why do the angels need to attend high school? They graduated high school in heaven to be assigned to earth as high school students?)
(Hanami: Sakura season on both heaven and earth.)
“Maybe another bizarre murder will occur in Shibuya today.”
Chaos;Child is the sequel to Chaos;Head and is the fourth Science Adventure that spans Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, and Robotics;Notes. Strangely, last season’s Occultic;Nine isn’t included in the science semicolon party. This show gets off to a messy start as it tries to summarize the events of 2008’s Chaos;Head and randomly insert a child version of the new protagonist into that series, but it’s not jogging any of my memory except for the part where that protagonist lived in a storage container on a roof. Here, Takuru (who has the same name as the protagonist of the previous show) lives in a Winnebago in Shibuya. It’s uncanny the amount of forced coincidences between the two series that it cheapens the similarities. The murders from Chaos;Head have started happening again with a twist that they are targeting people who stream on Twitch IRL channel, and it is up to our plucky newspaper club to stop them. Of course, this is weird to me as they are a high school newspaper club. Breaking into crime scenes, withholding evidence from police, taking videos of a murder in progress instead of GTFO, and getting into dangerous situations do not seem like good ideas. Also doesn’t seem like a good idea to take gruesome photos of dead people and then print out the photos and then decorate the club room with murder photos. I am with the blue-haired girl who acts like a toddler: just stay in the corner and play Empire Sweeper 2 and grind for that +2 axe.
Typical 5pb character designs are in full force with characters wearing either school uniforms or lab coats or both. They also have really skinny legs. There is also typical 5pb fetish for Pepsi drinks with “Mountain View” represented here. I feel like to make it seem like 2016, it should have been the special edition mango-flavored Mountain Dew or the Mountain Dew Code Black.
(Fashion Czar: “How can he live in a trailer in the middle of Shibuya? We tried to get trailers for our photo shoot in Shibuya, and we had our request rejected by the government. How can he do it?”)
#6. Masamune-kun’s Revenge
“If you aren’t a hot man, you are not human.”
Remember how I mentioned that I wanted a good template harem anime a few shows ago? Well, we’re getting closer. Almost there! Masamune-kun’s Revenge reminds me of anime JC Staff would put out in the late 00s. There’s a pathetic male protagonist who is trying to be more than yet another loser male lead (and rarely succeeds), and there’s a vindictive wrathful little girl who likes to go, “Urashi! Urashi! Urashi!” This show is about beautiful people who are ugly inside. The male lead was once a chubby kid who was teased a lot, and because of that childhood, he has motivated himself to be a hot dude with a killer body with the personality of a valley girl. He might be beautiful on the outside, but he has a lot of issues on the inside still. The female lead is the “Cruel Princess.” She is supposedly the most beautiful girl at school, but she has the personality of dirt. She enjoys making others suffer by exposing their secrets and doxxing them. Yep, anime has created the sexy schoolgirl version of alt-right Twitter users. So as the name of this series implies, it is about the male lead getting dirt on the female lead and turning the tables on her. Except it is really a template harem anime with low calorie plots and walking tropes for characters. Hey, at least there’s a busty meido.
The first episode featured a plot point where a guy that the Cruel Princess publicly humiliated tried to get revenge on her. Well, duh. He grabs her, pulls her hair, and tries to assault her with a pair of scissors. The male lead interferes and gets stabbed instead. They all laugh it off and pretend it didn’t happen. Wait? That’s assault! That’s some serious crimes being committed! And the plot just hand-waves it. It reminds me of Friday Night Lights when murder was committed on that show and promptly forgotten in the next episode.
(As to why the male lead was chubby, his loli mom cooks for him curry, chicken karage, and multiple donuts for breakfast.)
(Fashion Czar: “I want that cat donut. That is the donut that I tried to buy in Japan but didn’t have time. They put almonds in it, frost them, and turn them into cat ears.”)
#5. Kuzu no Honkai
“We are each others replacements.”
Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Wish) is a seinen manga turned anime for Noitamina. It is about a girl, Hanabi, who is in love with an older brother figure, who so happens to be her homeroom teacher. He is, unfortunately for her, in love with another teacher at the school. That teacher was the tutor for a boy named Mugi who is in love her with. Because Hanabi cannot have her brother and Mugi cannot have his tutor, the two agree to physically satisfy their unrequited love with each other. This leads to Hanabi and Mugi getting involved into a lot of sexual situations all while pretending that their partners are someone else. This is Unrequired Love, The Anime. There is also quite a bit of sexual imagery typically not depicted in anime. Kisses are moist. Breasts are fondled in a real-world way. And things get more intense from there. Hanabi and Mugi eventually agree to continue their sexual experimentation until they can land their desired mate. I’m sure there will be complications and other members in the Unrequited Love Club to join in the future.
I do like the premise of the show and also the depiction of sexual acts in a more erotic way than how anime typically portrays them, but there’s a few things that bug me. One, the art has moments when it decides to be manga-ish and draw frames and look like a kinetic comic book rather than anime. I don’t really care for that style as it might have worked in 1992 but not in 2017. Two, the narrative jumps around a bit too much in time and wants to skip to “shocking” scenes before the proper build up. The narrative structure even feels like a horny teenager. I think that is the issue with a lot of anime where the show feels immense pressure to show the good stuff (i.e. a Gundam battle or in this case some sexing) in the first episode, and the narrative suffers a bit for it. Hopefully, future episodes will have a more consistent flow of time as we don’t need the pacing to reflect the sexual libido of the leads, unless Woody is involved.
But I have to give the show a lot of credit for trying something different in the ecchi romance genre. This show isn’t just showing groping and kissing but also the emotional turmoil that goes on in those teenage heads.
(The ED features some very creative effects to symbolize, uh, female genitalia.)
(Fashion Czar: “They are just sad fucking each other– finally a realistic teen romance!”)
“You sure are chatty on Twitter.”
I knew nothing about Fuuka prior to watching it, but the style and the character designs reminded me of something. Sword Art Online? Ramune? Jubei-chan and the Lovely Eyepatch? No, no, no. Not quite. I should have known by the time the male lead and the titular Fuuka (which is another clue) went to see Half-and-Half on their date. I definitely should have known once another character mention’s Fuuka’s dad’s name as well as how Fuuka “is a track thoroughbred,” which is a strange way to describe anyone. Fuuka is the daughter of Yamato Akitsuki and Suzuka Asahina, the titular female lead of Suzuka. Fuuka is the sequel to Suzuka much like Girl Meets World and Fuller House. In the final volume of Suzuka‘s manga, she gives birth to Fuuka, and then there’s a time skip to show them all as a happy family.
I would guess this series follows similar beats as the predecessor, except with music instead of track and field. There’s all the typical items one would expect from a traditional template harem anime: there’s the transfer student, there’s the mom and dad heading off to America to work for Tesla’s battery factory, there’s the collision, there’s the panty shot, there’s the “Pervert!” and slap that follows said panty shot, there’s the “Oh no I got an extra movie ticket, what should I do with it?” scenario, and there’s the very silly reason why the girl and the boy need to hold hands and pretend they are dating. There’s even flashes– a dashing– a tasting– a teasing of a harem forming in the backgrounds including tsunderes and childhood friends.
Fuuka, though, is the rarest of the rare: a Japanese high school girl who shuns social media and mobile phones to the point where she exclaims, “CDs are the best!” Sorry, girl, no one agrees with you. Spotify, Amazon Music, and even Tidal are much better options than spending $20 on a CD (yes, they are still very expensive in Japan). Does anyone even make portable CD players anymore? The episode even has as a plot point where she loses a CD because she carries around so many of them. Just buy an iPod Touch off of Yahoo Japan for like $50. The male protagonist, Yuu, is the opposite of her in that he cannot live without his mobile phone. He is also constantly posting to Twitter, and he’s exactly one of those people whom you think would be cool to follow, but then you realize he posts like 15,532 times a day and clogs your timeline with emo teenager shit.
(Finally, a traditional template harem anime that isn’t horrible. More so, it is based on a manga rather than a light novel or f2p mobile game or a visual novel. Is 2017 the comeback year for harem anime? Have we gone full circle back to 2000? What next? The Girl Meets World version of Love Hina? The return of Vandread?)
(I liked the bit where Yuu and Fuuka were waiting for each other near Hachiko, yet couldn’t see each other because Yuu was too buried in his phone, and Fuuka was too buried in her portable CD player. I’m just happy to see Hachiko in any anime. Though Hachiko isn’t exactly a large statue that you can’t see a person standing behind it.)
(Would I love to see a Girl Meets World version of Nodame Cantible that is about the broken children of Chiaki and Nodame? Yes, yes I would.)
#3. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Futatabi-hen
“No one wants to sit through rakugo anymore.”
Descending Stories: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu continues with its second cours. I very much enjoyed the first, and the second picks up first where the first left off. Part of the charm of the first season was that it took place in the historical post-WWII era and had two great characters, Yakumo 8 and Sukeroku 2. Will Sukeroku 3 be able to step up and save rakugo in a modern era dominated by Granblue, Terrace House, and Pen Pineapple Apple Pen? I am glad that the rakugo tradition (even the recap of the first season was done in rakugo) and expressive faces carry over. It is not a stretch to say that we can expect Yakumo’s death this season, but I will be sad to see the butler Matsuda, who might be 15,532 years old at this point, pass. After all, Matsuda just got that shiba puppy.
If you enjoyed the first series, it is a no-brainer to continue watching. If you haven’t watched the original and are in the mood for a creative, satisfying meal after eating so much fast food junk magic battle highschool time loop template anime, start watching the first season of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.
(For a moment, when Sukeroku 3 and his friend were discussing the demise of rakugo, I thought it would lead to a time loop moment where he travels back and convinces either Yakumo 7 or Yakumo 8 to take on more apprentices to save the dying art. That’s how prevalent time loop is now in anime: I’m even expecting it this show. Also, they could save Megumi Hayashibara’s character, Miyo. What is also interesting is that the OP for the second season, Death In His Final Moments, is sung by Megumi Hayashibara– who really shouldn’t be in this season at all. It is also rare that a seiyuu sings the OP, but, then again, it is Megumin.)
#2. Little Witch Academia
“Never forget. A believing heart is magic.”
Trigger’s least violent and most family-appropriate property returns! In
pog form a twenty-five episode TV anime funded by Netflix money form! Little Witch Academia starts again from the beginning, and I don’t have much to say about it besides it feels exactly like the two OVAs. The animation production is not as great as the OVAs, and there are some pacing issues to work out, but it feels like yet more of Trigger’s LWA. That’s not a bad thing. There’s still a lot of the whimsical charm, a lot of typical Trigger touches, character growth, and good humor. It is a show you can watch and just smile for twenty minutes. Also, I’m convinced Sucy is going to grow up and become the mushroom lady in Let It Die.
I also feel like all’s right with the anime world if any season features a competition between Trigger, Kyoto Animation, and Studio Deen (STUDIO DEEN!?!) for the top stop of a thin slicing.
(Mitigating factor: Well, it is a magic high school…)
(Fashion Czar: “Shoujo as fuck.”)
#1. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
“Bring more liquor and maids!”