thin slicing the new season, spring 2017 edition

11,400 words, 28 anime, and too many fantasy settings.

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. You don’t need me to validate your taste in anime. 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 tell you if you should watch Saekano, Boku no Hero Academia, StarMyu, Monster Strike, or Uchouten Kazoku. If you really don’t know if you should watch Natsume Yuujinchou Roku by now, then may Oharuhi-sama have mercy on your soul.

A twist for this season: hanami! One big reason why thin slicing is so late is that I spent the first two weeks of the new season in Japan. I went during prime sakura season, and I got to enjoy hanami. Since it is the spring season, let’s see if anime characters are also enjoying some hanami. I thought about doing an abridged for shortened post for this season… but… nah.

The sports anime boom seems to be dead and over. The otome game boom also seems to be have subsided for this season. Magic high schools, moe blobs, sci-fi, giant robots, and harem are also rare. This season fantasy is king. It has been for a while. I haven’t quite remembered a season when one genre dominated so heavily and for so long.

Quick recap from last season: Dragon Maids, Little Witches, Old Rakugo, Horny Teenagers, and Musical Love Triangles.


#MR. IRRELEVANT. Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism
Silver Link

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“This will be an interesting homeroom.”

Loser male lead gets tossed into a school full of angry women? Check. He immediately gropes someone by accident? Check. A girl pulls out a sword and tries to kill him? Check. Bad animation? Check. Licensed by Sentai Filmworks? Check. Animated by Haoliners? Sadly, no. Just those things alone wouldn’t guarantee a Mr. Irrelevant award for Armed Girls Machiavellianism, but it seals the deal by how transphobic the show’s premise is. There’s an elite all-girls school that for whatever strange reason decided to take on delinquent male students. The girls use swords and bears (yes bears) to “reform” the delinquent male students by forcing them to wear make-up and pretend that they are women. At one point, a crossdressing character implores the male lead to give up, “Throw away your pride and live as a woman.” Exactly how does that reform someone? It also doesn’t make any sense because the most violent people at this school are the girls armed with swords and bears. This premise also confuses crossdressing with being transgendered and assuming people who crossdress automatically are transgendered. There’s a variety of reasons to crossdress, but this implication that crossdressing is needed to tame the males is a gross misunderstanding of why people would crossdress. Maybe this plot would have worked in 1988, but it feels very outdated and just plain sad today.

Also this show carries the powerful student council fantasy a bit too far. The girls are murdering people. Before the male protagonist shows up, the student council calls an emergency session to discuss how they can persecute him. Nothing like some student council-endorsed bullying. If the author wanted to write a light novel about girls with swords beating up men, why not write about a kendo club? This show feels like it was written by a 12 year old for fellow 12 year olds. I can understand anime with ridiculous premise and weird fantasies that 12 year olds might indulge in, but this one is barely disguised as a story and is so poorly written/directed/animated that it goes straight to the bargain bin. Even then, I’d be ashamed to have this Blu-Ray on my shelf.

(Yep, licensed by Sentai Filmworks.)

(Hanami: No sakura.)


#27. Gin no Guardian
Haoliners Animation League

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“There’s someone fighting to protect these peaceful days.”

Haoliners? Check. Tencent? Check. Original Chinese story revolving around zombies? Check. Passes Chinese government censors? Check. No thanks. I’m good. I’ll skip this one.

(Hanami: Don’t know! Would guess no.)


#26. Clockwork Planet
Xebec

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“That was a very low class sentence indicative of your education.”

I hate the setting of Clockwork Planet. Okay, I can believe that the earth blew up. Okay, I can believe there’s a master clocksmith out there who managed to reassemble the planet using the power of gears. Okay, I can even stretch my imagination to believe that this master clocksmith can create living creatures from just gears (No switches! Switches are bad!). But I can’t believe that this master clocksmith will go to all this trouble and recreate love hotels. There’s gear-themed love hotels in this dystopian future world made of giant gears. The girl made of gears even makes a pervert joke at this point, which– I don’t know– she’s made of gears! They couldn’t think of better dialogue than typical, “HENTAI!” for a girl made of gears? It reminds me of Seraph of the End where in the middle of this dystopic human settlement, there’s a near perfect recreation of a 2015 Japanese high school complete with a cafeteria that serves soft-serve ice cream. Clockwork Planet also presents gears as some sort of savior to mandkind, yet I don’t see one CVT gearing system. How can these gears be the savior of mankind if they don’t even use the most advanced gearing systems that we have today? All the gears and bad CG are overly complicated and do not serve to advance the story or make the story any more interesting. The clockpunk motif is just a bad cop-out for not having actual plot-like substance.

The character designs are not great. The male lead looks like a character from Gad Guard. The mysterious girl made of gears is a cheap knock-off of Suigintou. The super clock hacker girl looks like she should be in a moe blob show. And her bodyguard, who is an old man, looks like a typical 2017 Japanese salaryman. They all have inconsistent styles that look like they came from four different artists who hate each other.

(Hanami: No sakura in this world, yet there are manga cafes. The clocksmith decided recreating manga cafes was more important than creating farmland.)


#25. Warau Salesman NEW
Shin-Ei Animation

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“All people in the world– old, young, man, and woman– are lonely at heart. I will fill that emptiness in their hearts.”

The Laughing Salesman NEW is a remake of an anime/manga series that originally started in the 1960s. While Shin-Ei tries to modernize the animation, the character designs and themes are still from that time period. The show tries to be a morality play, but I can’t see how it is a morality play. Generally, in modern morality plays, there’s a lesson to be learned by someone who overindulges. The narrator/main character (much like Jigoku Shoujo, Shigofumi, Mushishi, or Kino no Tabi) either tries to talk the subject out of what they are doing or sits on the sidelines waiting for the subject to self-destruct. But for Warau Salesman NEW, most of the subjects start to realize what they are doing isn’t necessarily healthy or good, but the Fat Joker Salesman shows up and pushes them keep doing the wrong thing. The Fat Joker Salesman then ushers them to hell, much like the Hell Girl, except it feels like some major entrapment. There is something very unsettling about a show that is about pressuring someone who is about to turn his/her life around into making a bad choice. It’s like, “Hey, I see you have been nine months sober. Now let’s lock you in a room with nothing to drink but beer and whiskey. And you can’t leave until you drink it all.”

(There is also something really disturbing about the character design of the Fat Joker Salesman as he looks like a Joker fish from an episode of Batman The Animated Series. I also dislike his “BANG!” catchphrase as it just feels dumb in the context of the show. He’s a salesman! Wouldn’t “Here’s the receipt!” or “BILLED!” be more appropriate?)

(Hanami: Some at the very end, when he is taking his victory lap.)


#24. Frame Arms Girls
Zexcs

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“You have three talking robots in front of you. How does this not interest you?”

Frame Arms Girls, which is yet another model kit to life anime much like the vastly superior Gundam Build series and Angelic Layer, and it tries to set itself apart with a lot of loli and DFC-based fanservice. If all the characters in Sin: The Seven Mortal Sins have oversized melonpan, this show features the exact opposite side of the spectrum. The dolls are kind of like a weird mix of Gundam Build and KanColle in that they fight on platforms like Gundam Build but attach random ass military parts to themselves for power like KanColle. There is no explanation of how plastic modeled model parts suddenly turn into weapons and explosives. Frame Arms Girls is nothing but pandering fanservice drivel with the girls acting cute with each other but also antagonistic enough to fight. They also make moaning sounds when new pieces are attached to them, or when they get connected to USB power.

The protagonist is supposed to be a normal girl roped into the world of plastic models, but she seems like the saddest and naivest girl in Tokyo. Her parents– surprise surprise– are overseas and left her behind and alone. She doesn’t even google the name of a weird package left at her door before opening it. She then gets berated by a little plastic toy to make bad plastic weapons for her. I feel bad for her.

This anime also features a weird mix of CG elements and hand drawn. The real world portions of this show are hand drawn, but the plastic dolls are not, which causes some weird mixing of the two styles. The dolls all look very similar, and some of the CG animation is a bit rough and low budget. The dolls also have some of the worst names possible for cute killing machines… Baselard? Stylet?

(Mitigating Factor: I do like the drone delivery service in this show, and I like how the drone does battle with neighborhood crows. I would watch an anime about drone-kun over more Frame Arms Girls.)

(Yep, of course, Sentai Filmworks has already licensed this show.)

(Hanami: No sakura. The characters don’t even leave the house in the first episode.)


#23. Sin: Nanastu no Taizai
Artland

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“I wanna be a mortal sin already.”

Sin: The Seven Mortal Sins is either an extreme ecchi series or a very lame and non-penetrating hentai series. From the makers of Queen’s Blade comes a fairly high-budget tale plot, character development, and more plot. For the most part, the fanservice is gratuitous to the point it isn’t titillating anymore. It is just cheap and makes me feel sad that Artland put so much effort into the show. The character designs are also atrocious with the characters too ridiculously underdressed to be sexy… it’s almost as if the anime got inspiration from People of Walmart for some of the outfit choices. Breast sizes are either comically oversized or DFC planks. There is no in-between. Something has gone very wrong if the classiest, most normal outfit is the nun who wears bloomers and a six-inch length miniskirt. There are a lot of “Buy the BD release!” circles.

The actual story is an incomprehensible mess about Lucifer trying to conquer hell from Satan. There are also breaks in the story so the girls can take time to feel each other up and/or finger each other. It is almost like a TV time-out in an NBA game. Oh, ten minutes have passed since Lucifer or Maria have been fondled? Well, let’s grope them for a minute before resuming the story. The writing is also similarly atrocious: at one point, a character says, “Just who do you think I am?” to everyone as a greeting. I think I heard it more in a single episode here than the entirety of Gurren Lagann. On the plus side, it is at least better than the first episode of Queen’s Blade, which featured a girl lactating on a monster to defeat it. Sure, there’s a core target audience for this type of show, but I’m positive one could do better on both the fanservice and the story fronts.

(Fashion Czar: “I don’t like how that one girl is dressed like Hot Topic.”)

(Hanami: No.)


#22. Sagrada Reset
David Productions

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“Everything about the normal rules is sad.”

Time rewind anime! Everyone loves time rewind anime– Erased! Madoka! Steins;Gate! Re:Zero! Orange! Charlotte! Sagrada Reset joins a more and more crowded field of anime where drama is built via the time rewind mechanic. Typically the person who rewinds time is the person who has memory of such an event; however, in this anime, it adds a twist that the person who rewinds time doesn’t remember, so she has to depend on someone else who can remember. This scenario brings up a lot of interesting ethical questions like, “How can she be sure he isn’t just exploiting her?” The answer is that he responds, “You can trust me.” Great. The main issue I have with this show, beyond the flimsy premise, is that the characters are just boring. I think a core tenet of any time rewind show is that you make the characters as sympathetic and charismatic as possible, so when you kill them, it has the maximum effect. Then you’ll get even more effect when you do the rewind and bring them back to life. Here, the male lead, Kei, is boring. He has about the same amount of personality as a typical background character like the friend of the protagonist who really likes basketball. The female lead, Misora, isn’t any better. The show tries to portray her as a kind and affectionate girl, but she also doesn’t seem any more developed than a background character like a random classmate in a moe blob anime. (If we switch both of them with the leads of Kuzu no Honkai…) Besides the boring characters, the dialogue in this show is uninspired. They feel like they are reading bullet points from a PowerPoint presentation, and there’s little natural flow in the dialogue. It almost feels like a psych 101 lecture or a 2009 era anime blog. (“Summer is always much sooner than you think.” “Well then, let’s spend time here while summer’s on its way.”)

Compounding the issue is the budget animation and the poor character designs. It doesn’t help that the main characters, who have the personality of background characters, to look like background characters too.

(Also I feel like if you need to have four other rules associated with the rewind ability, the plot has serious issues to require those extra rules. The rules should be simple. If there has to be a geographical rule for the rewind, then we know we have gone too far. Also the show’s explanation that it isn’t time rewind but reset because she literally places brain cells back to where they were is silly. If she is moving everything, including brain cells and the sun back to where they were, then it is a time rewind. How else do we measure time?)

(Hanami: No sakura. Show could use some considering how bland and boring the backgrounds are.)


#21. Twin Angel BREAK
JC Staff

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“I want to be a hero and make everyone smile.”

Twin Angel BREAK is the next installment of the Twin Angel series, which originated as a slot machine. The show is the most generic and boring magical girl show in the double mahou shoujo formula. It is a coloring book that has never been colored in. The two main characters can be summarized as “a girl who wants to be a hero” and the opposite of that. There is a character who dresses up as a sheep and goes “Baa!” The magical girl familiar (a hedgehog with wings) seems to be collecting energy from the magical girls as they battle. The villains are so lame and powerless, I feel more threatened by a clogged drain. The action and battle sequences are some of the worst that I have ever seen in anime. The CG is also terrible, with the trains being a sad rectangular box moving sadly. The show looks like it is done by JC Staff’s C team. It’s a quick cash grab hoping to ensnare some poor teenaged/young adult men into buying into the sexy but pure magical girl slot machine concept. For Oharuhi-sama’s sake, the girls even do a butt wiggle during their transformation sequences. I predict Twin Angel BREAK will be Sentai Filmwork’s big announcement either at Fanime or AX.

On the plus side, Twin Angel BREAK gets its shots of Tokyo right, even down to Hello Kitty visitor area in Shibuya, even if the art isn’t high quality. Mmmm, seems familiar. I guess the other redeeming aspect is that one of the girls is thirsty for puppy cuddles, but the tsundere puppy refuses to cuddle with her.

(Haruka is 15 years old.)

(Hanami: Nope.)


#20. The Royal Tutor
Bridge

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“I am already used to being treated as a kid.”

Wikipedia lists The Royal Tutor as a shounen anime. Sure. “Shounen.” Does a premise of a shouta boy assigned to teach four sexy princes sound like shounen? I’ve already nicknamed the four princes “Asshole,” “Browbeater,” “Childish,” and “Glaresalot,” so one can probably guess that it is the job of the royal tutor to reform these princes into sparkly Aryan kings. Every royal character has perfect blonde hair, blue eyes, and pearl white skin while very commoner has dark hair and dark eyes. The tutor, supposedly short but really an excuse to indulge in shouta fantasies, wears an awful hat that I don’t understand how it stays on his hair without the help of glue. Sometimes the royal tutor will change into his self-deformed self, but everyone else is still at their high royal art style. The dialogue is as uninspired as the characters and animation and a lot of it feels like a bad Twitter argument. It felt like an assignment to get through an episode.

(I would rather watch anime called “The Royal Tooter” that is about Finland’s first dog, Lennu. As a Boston Terrier owner, I can vouch for both their ability to stink up a place and their ability to get all the girls.)

(Hanami: I don’t think there’s a tree inside the royal city let alone sakura.)


#19. Kabukibu!
Studio Deen

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“That’s a voice that can curdle milk.”

Studio Deen managed to really surprise me with the excellent Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, and can they strike gold twice with Kabukibu! and kabuki much like they did with rakugo? Nope. The main charm of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is the excellent storytelling and how human the characters are. They are each complex characters with their own motivations and agendas and personalities. They feel like real people rather than anime tropes. Here, for Kakukibu!, it’s trope city. It doesn’t help that this anime takes place in high school, so we have all the requisite players. There’s the one kid who is infatuated with kabuki to the point, so he ropes in others to join his kabuki club. Why couldn’t he just find an old rakugo star and apprentice under him is beyond me. So we have the typical “this kid was in another club but really has a hankering for kabuki” and “this kid’s parent was a kabuki star so let’s get him to join to” stories. It might as well be Free! with no manservice or K-On! without moe moe kyun. Besides the non-existent story and the tropes instead of characters, I feel like I am being lectured about kabuki at every turn. I want a story. I don’t want just random kabuki facts tossed at me.

Furthermore, the animation is disappointing considering the effort and care put into Rakugo. The characters for Kabukibu! are devoid of facial expressions. I was also surprised that CLAMP did the character designs considering how generic and uninspired the cast looks.

(Hanami: Sakura!)


#18. Atom: The Beginning
OLM

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But robots aren’t human. Robots don’t have hearts.

Atom: The Beginning is supposed to be the Smallville to Astro Boy‘s Superman. This show feels like a fairly simple Saturday morning cartoon. Good robot smashes bad robots. The typical plot isn’t that much more complex than an episode of Pokemon Sun and Moon or the thought process of Taishi from Terrace House. There are some elements to the story that perplex me, for example after a robot malfunctions and endangers people, wouldn’t the logical response be to cordon off the area and inspect the robot? Nope. They just leave the mess there presumably for the robot janitors to dispose of. Welcome to our nightmare tech trash dystopia. Also this show doesn’t do a great job of making me care about Atom. That’s something Star Trek: TNG did well– Data seems just human and just charming enough so questions about whether or not he’s alive and has sentience become compelling. It would be interesting to see Atom tackle such issues, but I kind of feel like it’s just going to be Atom punching Team Rocket every week.

(One hilarious part is that A106’s inventor brags that he installed a 1,000 hp motor inside Atom’s arm. That’s the best he can do? Wasn’t Dom’s Charger in Fate of the Furious over 800 hp? Now we’re in a futuristic world with robots that can lift skyscrapers, and we’re barely doing better than a muscle head from LA?)

(Oh man, don’t even get me started on Dom’s family picnic in New York at the end of Fate of the Furious. The guy is from LA! I’m supposed to suddenly believe he’s turned into New York Dom? Because New York is known for its fast car culture? That to me is a betrayal of his character. Then there’s the fact he suddenly buddies up with Deckard Shaw because Deckard saves his baby? Deckard killed Han! Apparently, La Familia only applies to blood relatives. “You saved my real baby, so it’s cool now that you murdered that Korean dude in cold blood. Plus Deckard’s brother got Gisele killed. I can believe The Rock accepting Deckard so quickly, but if I were anyone else in Dom’s La Familia, I’d be worried as I am a lot more expendable than his baby.)

(Fashion Czar’s Take on the Nose Pinching: “Can you guys keep your weird sex games to yourself?”)


#17. Hinako Note
Passione

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“There is no internet out in the country. I just bought a cell phone yesterday.”

Cute girls doing cute things! What will the cute girls of Hinako Note do? Mmm… robotics club? Light music club? Art club? Rakugo club? Zombie survival club? Nope! Theater troupe. We’re at the point with cute girls doing cute things that I won’t be surprised at a cute girls doing cute things to recover from meth addiction club anime. Hinako Note is about a girl with anxiety and stage fright issues who want to be a stage performer, but she tenses up and turns into a scarecrow at the slightest bit of human interaction. She also came from the country and approaches Tokyo as if she were Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. As someone who was just in rural parts of Japan, they still get better cell phone coverage there than I get in Silicon Valley. I was in a small town in Japan that had five restaurants in the town yet they had a giant Tetsuya electronics store that was about the size of a Fry’s Electronic and had excellent phone coverage. The other girls include the tomboy, the sleepy/clumsy one, and the girl with a maid fetish– basically this cast is a homeless man’s version of Maid Dragon‘s secondary cast. Also in this bizarro Japan, the girls live in a house in the heart of Tokyo (they stress this to emphasize how much of a country bumpkin she is) yet the house opens up to a giant green space with trees. Where in Tokyo is this? Not even in Setagaya is there such green scenery.

These are dry times for fans of the moe blob slash cute girls doing cute things genre, and Hinako Note is really the only offering in that department this season. It’s a very basic show that might appeal to people who hardcore like that genre, but it isn’t different or interesting enough to pull in general anime fans.

(Mitigating Factor: Best part of the show is the stealth bomber bath toy.)

(Hanami: Yes!)


#16. Granblue Fantasy
A-1

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“What a waste.”

Compared to another mobile f2p gatcha game this season, Granblue Fantasy plays it a bit too safe. There is something too basic and too slow with the show for me to not fall asleep while watching it. I think the main issue is that the cast has zero personality. Hey, it’s generic rural boy who will become a great warrior. Hey, it’s generic girl pursued by those who wish to use her. Hey, it’s an annoying mascot flying thing. Hey, it’s a scruffy man who might appear to be a child abductionist but really has a heart of gold and a spare airship. It is painfully paint by the numbers. You’d think Cygames and A-1 would take bigger risk like Rage of Bahamut, but, then again, the first Granblue Fantasy BD has apparently been selling well, so maybe just name recognition, okay animation, and a popular voice cast is enough to rake in the cash.

But I rather have Granblue Fantasy slowly lull me to sleep than watch another episode of Kabukibu! or Twin Angel BREAK!)

(Hanami: No.)


#15. Fukumenkei Noise
Brain’s Base

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“She’s a caged canary let out and gone beserk.”

Anonymous Noise is a low budget shoujo love triangle manga turned anime involving music. Basically, the shoujo version of last season’s Fuuka. A mousy high school girl, possibly fifteen years old, starts at a new high school, and you wouldn’t believe it– a boy she crushed on six years ago is also attending the high school. What are the odds?! Then she also discovers that another boy that she also crushed on six years ago is also attending this school. What are the fucking odds?! She loves the first boy enough that she memorized and sings the last message he wrote for her and has done nothing but that for six years, and then she ruins his concert and tackles him. But once she sees boy number two, she goes into nuclear meltdown and forgets boy number one even exists, ruining another concert. I don’t really get a sense of her character except crazed stalker lady who can’t get over old relationships.

Generic plot aside, the character designs bother me a bit. All the necks are a bit too long, and they dark black and grey eyes that the main characters have make them look like zombies from a Haoliners-produced anime.

(Hanami: Sakura briefly spotted.)


#14. Love Tyrant
EMT Squared

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“I guess this is what you’d call a love triangle.”

The biggest revelation for me about Renai Boukun is that Wake Up, Girls! not only sings the OP but has as second season coming later this year. I remember when I went to Japan in 2014, Wake Up, Girls! was everywhere only to be surpassed by Attack on Titan. If you were an alien dropped into Tokyo then, you’d suspect Wake Up, Girls! to be larger than 2014’s KILL la KILL. Does this mean that BanG Dream! will get a second season in three years because my recent trip to Japan was dominated by BanG Dream!? I think I saw it on TV every night, and it even aired after Attack on Titan S2.

Love Tyrant itself is a hit-or-miss harem comedy revolving around the “Love Note,” which is a Death Note-styled notebook where if two names are written in the book, those two people will fall in love and kiss. While it does lead to a lot of harem hijinks and kissing in this show, it feels less satisfying than the kissing and harem hijinks in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. For every good idea this show has, like how the cupid angel character turns into a low-poly version of Saitama sometimes, it has an equal bad idea, like this cat monstrosity. My main issue with Love Tyrant is that some of the gags get old fast. Yes, I get the blonde loli wants to be in an yuri relationship with her older sister. Yes, I get that the red-haired girl wants to gut the male lead. Yes, I get that the well-endowed lady has large melonpan. The gags never evolve, and they basically pigeonhole two of the four main characters into being very one dimensional characters. When Dokuro-chan has better overall character development and growth, it’s an issue. I think Love Tyrant could have been a great five minute short form anime.

(Mitigating Factor: There is a lot of boob jiggle in this show. It’s good for a joke or two when the character stops moving yet her bosom is continuing their journey to Istanbul, but when they do it four times an episode, it is a bit much. I felt like Sin: The 7 Mortal Sins would be the most jiggly– err jiggliest?– anime of this season. Nope. It’s Love Tyrant.)

(Fashion Czar: “Whomever did color for this show is terrible.”)

(Hanami: Nai.)


#13. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Pierrot

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“No matter what path I choose, it has nothing to do with dad.”

Of course it has everything to do with your dad! His fucking name is in the title of your anime! Do you think Boruto: Carne Asade Mission Style will sell better than Boruto: Naruto Next Generations? Plus, if you had no idea Boruto is Naruto’s son, they only allude to it like six times in the OP. Subtle. I don’t know much about the Naruto cinematic universe, and I’d like to keep it that way, but I know Boruto is Naruto’s son. Though this show seems like a perfectly acceptable substitute for people who desire more Naruto with low cost animation, ninja nonsense, and plucky child heroes. I have come across “anime fans” who only watch Naruto and Bleach. Isn’t that like saying that liking Taco Bell is the same as liking Mexican food? Totally ignoring the breadth and depth of not just Mexican food but South American cuisine in whole? I would assume if you are reading my blog, a simple bean burrito from Taco Bell won’t cut it. You want the homemade pupusas with a side of plantains and an order of arepas with beef tongue. Of course, I feel like Pierrot missed a golden opportunity of having Boruto’s favorite food to be burritos instead of hamburgers.

(Fashion Czar: “Sousuke has a terrible beard. And he is wearing an one piece jumper? God luck trying to pee in that.”)

(I do like the ninja Mount Rushmore, but because they couldn’t decide on just four people to put on it, they just kept adding more. Must be weird having a Mount Rushmore where the people on the mountain aren’t dead yet too. If I had to make a Mount Rushmore for winter 2017, it would be Kobayashi, Touhru, Sucy, and Yakumo 8. If I had to make a Mount Rushmore for Japanese food, it would be fatty tuna nigiri, tonkotsu broth ramen, karage and wagyu beef bento, and a bottle of Ito En tea.)

(Hanami: None. Ninja School apparently starts in the middle of summer? Or there’s no sakura in the Narutoverse? But then why would there be a character named Sakura? Insert deep thought emoji here.)


#12. Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor
Linden Films

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“I have lost all hope for humanity.”

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records is my second favorite anime title of this season and is also the name of my favorite record store in Brooklyn. Let’s see… magic! Fantasy! High school! Battles! Imperial academy! Feel the excitement! Ugh. I’m rolling my eyes already. Yep, it’s another one of those. The first episode featured everything that we can dream of and more of a magic fantasy battle high school light novel turned anime: the heroine gets peeped on by the male protagonist in her undies, she gets pissed at the male lead because he isn’t at the same life standards that she is at, challenges him to a duel, and he somehow manages to– whoa! I can’t believe he didn’t get a grope off during the duel. So it isn’t exactly the same as every other one of these. The plot is what you’d expect in that the male lead is a lazy, powerless teacher, unless you realize he has the power to nullify magic (which is just cribbing from Toaru from Index at this point). The only redeeming quality of the show is that the loser male protagonist is named “Glenn Radars.” It’s a delightful name that has brought me joy.

Besides the awful, generic plot that we’ve seen before many times, this show has an inexplicable, over-designed wardrobe for the girls. They have no less than three hair accessories (two Hidamari Sketch-class X’s plus a ribbon or cat ears), a mini cape, suspenders, contrast piping on all garments, stockings and garters (that confusingly attach to the bottom of panties rather to garter belts), bare midriffs, a single glove, a choker and a ribbon that goes over the choker, and a bow on the skirt. The uniforms are horrendous and must be a pain for the animators to draw. The complicated outfits are neither cute nor sexy but just plain sad. The outfits are what fourteen year old boys thinks is sexy but have no bearing on actual sexiness or actual ladies clothing or reality. The men have slightly better outfits that are boring and not as depressing. The clothes for both the male and female students are just confusing as the non-students are drawn with normal looking clothes. In no universe, light novel or not, would these outfits seem remotely normal in a world with normal clothing.

(Fashion Czar’s Take on the Girl’s Uniforms: “Is this a porn school?”)

(Hanami: Nope.)


#11. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Sword Oratoria
JC Staff

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“I do wish that they would stick with boob jokes.”

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Sword Oratoria is the most disappointing show of the season. I ended up really enjoying the parent DanMachi story, but at no point did I think, “You know who is an interesting character that I want to know more of? Aiz.” Nope. She’s the discount Saber– actually more like the “Sears going out of business” sale Saber. I don’t really need her to star in her own series (unlike Railgun who is fantastic and could really go for another season of Railgun and friends). To make the show even more disappointing, she’s not even the real protagonist. It’s a new character who can best described as a female elf mage who can’t cast spells and gets molested a lot. She is about as interesting as a background NPC, and she has to talk a lot to compensate for Aiz’s lack of dialogue. There’s an entire episode where she stresses about buying gifts and swimsuits for Aiz as if this were Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Rounding out the cast is the rest of Loki Familia, which can’t stop making boob jokes. Every joke they make is either about someone’s boobs being too small or too large. It’s like a middle school locker room. The most interesting characters in this franchise, Bell and Hestia, only make brief cameos as the plot of Sword Oratoria is just their version of the events of DanMachi— and DanMachi did it much better. Do we really need to see Bell-kun piss in his pants in front of the Minotaur again? Nope.

The animation is pretty bad with the characters going off model fairly regularly. The action sequences are also quite budget. This is budget JC Staff. If the series wants to rely on fanservice and melonpan, at least give me good fanservice and well-drawn melonpan.

(At one point, Loki tells Aiz to not show her back to anyone so enemies cannot peep on her skills. But Aiz only wears back-less dresses. OTL.)

(Hanami: No.)


#10. Tsugumono
Zero-G

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“Every orifice of you will be violated unit its lust is sated.”

Tsugumono feels like a throwback action romantic harem comedy from the late 90s early 00s with an OP that looks like it came from that time period as well. If I this show aired in spring 2000, I might have written, “Tsugumono is the homeless man’s Tenchi Muyo,” and then proceeded to give Love Hina the #1 spot. There’s something oddly disturbing yet familiar with the premise of the show, which is adapted from a manga that originally started in 2007. Typical harem male protagonist, Kazuya, carries around his mom’s kimono sash because he has been missing her since she passed away. He also occasionally sniffs the kimono sash. Instead of getting counseling help for the poor kid, his dad leaves for business overseas leaving Kazuya to be cared for by his little sister, who has a major oniichama complex. He insists that the kimono sash, which he takes everywhere even school, smells like his mom, i.e. sakura pedals. Sure, boy, sure. Because of his strong emotional attachment to the sash, the sash comes to life in the form of a nubile haremette, Kiriha. Does he have an Oedipus complex? Is Kiriha the spirit of his dead mom? Is there potential three way incest with this little sister and his mom’s spirit fabric? I vote “yes” to all those questions.

At one point, because Tsugumono is such a derivative harem anime, Kazuya enters the bath to discover– to his surprise!– that Kiriha was already taking a bath. She mentions that Kazuya should still enter because, “We’ve done this before.” Does this mean he took a bath with the sash? Or does it mean she has memories of his mom? Either way, it’s a bit strange. The show hits all the major harem checklist items: Kazuya manages to grab a boob in the first five minutes, there’s a panty joke by the seventh minute, and there’s a classic, “What’s this hawt girl doing in my bed?!” scene as well. The only thing missing was the discovery of an erohon.

Animation is average for the season, but I did enjoy the first major battle of this anime. It reminded me of the classic Guilty Gear XX match up of Zato-1 vs. Milla Rage.

(Wait, a Power Glove?)

(Hanami: Sakura in flashbacks.)


#9. Kado: The Right Answer
Toei

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“He’s pretty strange for a bureaucrat, eh?”

Seikaisuru Kado is yet another bad CG anime from Toei, and it is only marginally better animation than Sailor Moon Crystal. I dislike how the CG is used so poorly– the characters barely move more than a typical drawn anime. If there is one good thing about Hand Shakers, it is that it tried to have constant movement and make good use of the CG models. Here, for Kado, CG is hardly the right answer. That is kind of a shame as the story has potential. I really like the introductory zero episode, and I think an anime about a government negotiator solving little personal conflicts would be an interesting anime series (kind of like a rich man’s ACCA though it’s probably not a good sign that I’m referencing two of last season’s worst anime).

The first episode throws a huge monkey wrench in that an alien cube lands on Haneda airport and captures Japan’s top negotiator. The show quickly becomes a story of sci-fi intrigue and first contact… which I would also be interested in except Toei had to anime it up. The show had a chance to be the anime version of Arrival, but instead of introducing a serious scientist to lead the first contact effort, the show introduces a young girl with an Etch-a-Sketch. She is also rude to both the Prime Minister of Japan plus the Japanese SDF with no one calling her out on her bullshit. She stands out among a cast of relatively normal bureaucrats. It is even stranger as she is a student of Japan’s leading physicist, yet he just stands there and let’s her interrupt the Prime Minister. There is also the hilarious part of the Japanese government using a RealVideo Player knock-off (“World Live Chat”) as their video chat solution. They also never maximize any of the windows either. Don’t they have better technology or video conferencing equipment? Seriously? Not even Polycomm or Skype?

I don’t have high hopes for the show because it is Toei, but Kado does have an interesting premise. I just hope it doesn’t gum up too much of the story with forced anime elements because Toei executives feel uncomfortable with a series that isn’t rife with easy-to-disgest anime tropes. I think if the show had traditional animation and a normal studio like Bones or Production IG, the show might crack my top five.

(Hanami: Nope.)


#8. as the moon, so beautiful
Feel

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“Dad, stop embarrassing me!”

Probably my favorite scene from any episode ones this season is Akane’s and Kotarou’s families bumping into each other at a family restaurant while the two poor teenagers stare grimly into their fountain drink in Tsuki ga Kirei. Ah, youth! This anime tries to realistically (?!) depict middle school romance between two awkward teenagers. Kotarou’s parents just invite themselves to Akane’s parents’ table as two kids froth with rage and embarrassment. I do like how both Akane and Kotarou have parents who embarrass them plus have speaking roles. Amazing they weren’t killed or off working overseas. I don’t recall the last anime I watched where an entire family went out an enjoyed an evening out. Besides having actual parents, this show does a fairly decent job at conveying the hell that is the last year of middle school. There’s a lot of hormones to work out of one’s system, and there’s a real feeling of shame, embarrassment, and awkwardness. But this show also does show the small triumphs and moments that make young love worth suffering through. I do like it whenever Kotarou gets excited and starts punching the pull-down light switch.

I also do enjoy some of the subplots, like Kotarou trying to become a writer and befriending the bookstore guy to the point where bookstore guy gives him a free gravure magazine. There’s also the subplot of the guy who is in love with his teacher. Only in anime are teachers either lolis, psychopaths, psychopathic lolis, or attractive twenty-six year old single ladies. Not a single Eikichi Onizuka to be seen anymore.

The animation style is different and heavy on pastels but relaxing and pleasing. Even though most of the characters have similar realistic hair colors, the character designs are different enough that they can be easily differentiated. Some days you feel like having wagyu steak for dinner, other days you feel like curry katsu., and other days a bowl of udon soup would really hit the spot… as the moon, so beautiful would be a bowl of homemade udon soup.

(Hanami: A ridiculous amount of sakura descends in the OP.)


#7. Eromanga-sensei
Wit Studio

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Onii-san no baka! Dunce! Idiot! Light novel protagonist!”

I’m glad we’re finally in an era where “light novel protagonist” is a serious insult. Eromanga-sensei is the next masterpiece of fiction from Tsukasa Fushimi after Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai?. It has the same beats. There’s a bunch of dysfunctional people in the anime/manga/light novel industry, there’s a protagonist who maybe loves his little sister a bit too much, and there’s a little sister who maybe loves her older brother a bit too much. It’s a bit too much. Unlike Oreimo, which had a normal family structure, the Izumi family here a train wreck. The show takes great pains to explain to us that Masamune the onii-san and Sagiri the imouto aren’t blood-related, yet they are brother and sister because of their parent’s marriage. Apparently, neither kid were invited to the marriage, so they met afterward. Andohbytheway, the mom is now dead, and the dad has taken a job overseas, so the two non-blood-related horny teens can live together in a giant house in Tokyo. But there’s a twist! Sagiri is a major hikikomori and hasn’t left her room in quite some time. You’d think that the Japanese government or social services would be more concerned about a middle school girl who is locked up in her room all the time. And there’s a second twist! Masamune is a struggling light novel author trying to keep his hobby/career secret from others. As I have suspected that most light novels are written by high school students, this anime only further confirms it.

Because Masamune is a light novel author, expect a lot of meta-commentary on the state of the light novel industry in Japan (hint: it’s a train wreck filled with copycat fantasy worlds). You’d think we’re out of twists by now, but we’re not. Not only is Sagiri trapped in her room, she’s trapped in there streaming herself drawing erotic images– erotic images for Masamune’s light novel. She is the titular “Eromanga-sensei” who is a much sought after artist for light novels.

There are times when the siscon stuff becomes a bit overwhelming, and Eromanga-sensei herself isn’t as interesting or compelling of a character as Kirino. The brother is a poor man’s Kyosuke without the snark or sarcasm– in fact the brother for Eromanga is a little too eager to please his little sister and maybe takes a little too much joy in washing her panties. Plus, I’ve seen Oreimo already, so it feels like Seraph of the End to Attack on Titan. What really made Oreimo shine for me is the supporting cast of that show, with Kuroneko, Vageena, and Ayase being standouts. For this show, I’m wondering if Class Rep, Bookstore Girl, Rival Female Light Novel Author (nope), and Light Novel Business Lady (my current favorite) can form into that strong supporting cast.

(Sagiri owns both a PS4 Pro and an Xbox One, making her the only person in Japan who owns an Xbox One.)

(Hanami: Yes!)


#6. Re:Creators
Troyca

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“It’s the best show of the season!”

I’m watching Re:Creators, and I just have, “Fate/Zero” written in my notebook. Troyca and Ei Aoki went back to the well: Troyca and Ei Aoki making Re:Creators is much like Studio Wit making Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Wit took the Attack on Titan concept of people living inside of walled cities in fear of horrendous monsters, and then applied a modern twist to it: trains. Wit also got an established writer (Code Geass‘s!) to write it. Troyca has been really known for two series: Fate/Zero and Aldnoah.Zero. Aldnoah.Zero became a huge disaster, in part, because it seems like Ei Aoki and Troyca got cold feet for not having enough anime tropes in the show, so they decided to cram every anime trope into the second cours. The only thing that show lacked was a little girl calling Inaho “Onii-sama!” So Troyca takes the Fate/Zero concept of summoning heroes from distant times and applies it to summoning heroes from different anime, manga, light novels, and games. This way, they are assured to have enough anime tropes as all their heroic spirits are walking anime tropes. Hey, it’s a red-headed, sword-wielding character from a fantasy light novel! Hey, it’s a mage from yet another light novel! Hey, it’s a child soldier piloting a mecha from an anime! Hey, it’s a raid boss from a videogame! Hey, it’s a magical girl from an anime! It’s the weird dude from Kiznaiver! It goes on. They all then have to battle for one reason or another. Maybe for a giant, magical cup.

My main issue with Re:Creators is that it doesn’t do enough with the concept. The show is written by Rei Hiroe, famous for Black Lagoon, yet doesn’t feature any of the over-the-top hysterical action that is the trademark of Black Lagoon. It is animated by Troyca, which can do amazing action sequences if the mood fits them. Instead, we get short bursts of cool action followed by episodes of talking. The show is well-animated, except there’s only so much one can do for long periods of talking if they don’t want to indulge the setting (Stand Alone Complex) or go full Shaft (Bakemonogatari not Monogatari S2).

I’m also disappointed at the lack of fish out of water scenes, as they are the best part– bar none– of this show. I want to see more of the red-headed girl realizing every single one of her thoughts is out in the open in this world. I want to see the mage try to use an iPhone. I want to see the magical girl eat more magical girl curry. I feel like there is even more they can do with the show and that the exposition dumps can be handled better. I really enjoyed Waver teaching Iskanbro more about our world. Do I really need a philosophical or logical reason why anime characters are battling? No. Even Kuromukuro does the long exposition dumps and the fish out of water scenes better. Laundry! Let’s turn laundry into a comedic moment. Wouldn’t you want to see Re:Creator’s Saber/Lancer hybrid try to use a washing machine? Wouldn’t you want to see how mage and the red head discover the magic of Japanese combini stores? Wouldn’t you want the magical girl to be reading shoujo manga?

(One interesting bit I noticed is that the early “good” characters as in the red head, the mage, and the Iron Blooded Orphan are all voiced by seiyuu from Aldnoah.Zero. The early “bad” characters did not work on Aldnoah.Zero.)

(Hanami: No, not even in the fantasy world… how can you make an anime about walking anime tropes and not feature a sakura falling montage?!)


#5. Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka?
Satelite

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“It’s sadder to kill characters who want to live.”

終末なにしてますか? 忙しいですか? 救ってもらっていいですか? is probably the most ridiculous name for an anime… period. The Japanese shortens “Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka” to “Sukasuka,” and the English shortens “What are you doing at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?” to “WorldEnd”. Ridiculous name aside, the story is yet another apocalyptical fantasy universe where bad monsters are winning and only a small group of gifted individuals can fight them. The twist here is that the main character, Willem, becomes a father figure slash potential lover to the group of girls who battle the monsters. He then becomes the one who has to wait for their return to battle, much like how he once went to battle and left loved ones behind. To further complicate Willem’s life, the girls are actually trained from birth to be the equivalent of kamikaze pilots. They are to give their life in a heroic sacrifice to take down one major enemy. As I mentioned for Maid Dragon, anime is growing up. It is almost unheard of for an anime to be about main characters acting like parents, but that’s what Maid Dragon and SukaSuka try to do. They are shows about family and what it takes to stay as a family. It is an interesting development a large chunk of anime fandom gets older.

I did enjoy the Scarborough Fair montage in the first episode. I think it set the mood for the show quite well. I also like the racism between furries and non-furries as that reflects real life. I also kind of like how there are anthropomorphic cats yet normal cats, which remind me of Night in the Woods where you’re part of a cat family that has a cat.

(Chtholly is 15 years old.)

(The excellent Gundam Thunderbolt has recently returned for its second season, and it not naked at all about its suicidal pilots. They even call them their “kamikaze”. Much like how Matthew Perry ingrained him and his fleet into the Japanese consciousness of the nineteenth century, the American aircraft carriers of WWII still weigh on Japan today. In both Sukasuka and Thunderbolt, the kamkikaze pilots are used to sink major enemy force that wouldn’t even be approachable under normal conditions, much like how the pilots of WWII were to try to breech the American carrier defenses.)

(Hanami: No flowers at the end of the world.)


#4. Attack on Titan S2
Wit Studio

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“As long as we continue to fight, we are not beaten.”

Concerning the most successful new anime franchise of the 2010s, you should know if you are in or out of the Attack on Titan franchise by now. I think four years is about right to get me back into the mood to see more giant men-eating naked men. The animation is vastly improved, and the show has some of the best movement and action sequences of any recent show. The characters are still their hopeless selves. I probably wouldn’t have included it in thin slicing except… giant animals?! Where the fuck is this show taking me?! But also I feel like I could enjoy this show more if I just waited and marathoned it, much like Terrace House.

(Terrace House update! Aloha State has finally kicked into gear Taishi and Guy moved into the house. Guy is just overall fantastic and could be a surfing mobile suit pilot for all I know, and now I hope that the next guy who moves into the house is a Dota 2 pro. Taishi’s best moment is when he still had a bit of a crush on Lauren, and Lauren joins him to watch _the episode_ of Boys and Girls in the City… and they both looked at each other and went, “Maybe not…”)

(So far everyone whom I have introduced Boys and Girls in the City to have told me the same thing. “Hey, it’s a bit boring.” “Whoa, Armen’s okay, but Handa-kun emoji heart eyes emoji heart eyes emoji heart eyes.” “OMFG WHAT DID I JUST WATCH!? AAAAAAH!?!” “NETFLIX WHY ISN’T ALOHA STATE SO BEHIND IN THE US?!?”)

(Hanami: No sakura. No mercy.)


#3. Alice & Zouroku
JC Staff

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“I hate crooked things!”

Usually, I only watch an episode of an anime for thin slicing since only one episode would have been released by the time I write about it, but because this thin slicing is so late, I had the option of watching more than one episode. For Alice & Zouroku, that is a good thing. This series has a very weak initial episode that seems like yet more magic battling nonsense. But then I started to watch the next, and I couldn’t stop. It isn’t often that a main protagonist of an anime is a 72 year old cranky florist who has a catchphrase of, “I don’t like crooked things!” He then pairs up with Sana, someone who can use magical powers. Much like Laura and Old Man Logan or Kitty Pride and Wolverine or Time-Displaced Jean Gray and Old Man Logan or Armor and Wolverine or 1992 Jubilee and Wolverine, it’s pretty much young girl with extraordinary talent learns how to be human via an old man who doesn’t seem human. It’s weird. It worked for Logan over and over again. It’s working for Alice and Zouroku. I’m interested to see where the story goes for the second arc.

The cast is overall entertaining. Both Sana and Zouroku are interesting characters who represent their age groups well. At one point, Sana gets kidnapped by another ability user, and Zouroku goes into old man lecture mode to admonish the kidnapper. I was cheering as Zouroku went into disappointed grandpa mode. Zouroku has a granddaughter, Sanae, who has trauma from her past as both her parents (and Zouroku’s daughter) died when she was little. She is the most patient girl in the world. The other ability users in this world have interesting abilities, including the ability to summon a dead husband’s arms, like a creepier version of One Piece‘s Robin. One can summon wrecking balls, much like Miley Cyrus and Ludacris in Fate of the Furious. One gets her powers from watching anime. All of the characters have the same rumination as Darker Than Black‘s Hei: they must eat after using their powers. The government officials part of a secret government branch that oversees these ability users seem to be in a faction war between those who follow Professor X and those who follow Senator Trask. At least Professor X’s faction seems nice and treat the ability users as humans. The Senator Trask faction– surprise surprise– is supported by the Americans and don’t treat the ability users as humans.

Animation is done by JC Staff’s A team, and aside from some bad CG car sequences (one sequence they were clearly stopped inside car but the background was still moving– oops!), it is pretty good. The characters are vivid, the animation is crisp, and the piggies are cute. One interesting thing about the show is that it has a lot of product placement. I didn’t really notice it in the first episode. That episode had made up knockoffs for Google and Family Mart, but it also had a very clear logo for Little Sheep Hot Pot. I didn’t think much of it at the time. But then later on, Carl’s Jr plays a large role in this show– maybe not as much as Pizza-kun, but still quite prominent. And then Snickers shows up to the party later. Because the show does have fake logos for a lot of brands, the real logos for real brands– look at the detail they put into the Carl’s Jr wrapper– we can assume that these brands paid to be included in this anime. At least Little Sheep Hot Pot, Carl’s Jr, and Snickers showing up in an anime set in modern Harajuku is better than Pizza Hut being the official pizza of Britannia.

(There’s a shiny new Carl’s Jr in the middle of Akihabara. I guess it would make sense to cross-promote it with an anime.)

(Doesn’t Ludacris know that hitting a car with a wrecking ball at full speed would destroy the car and kill the people inside the car? Yet he has no qualms about using this technique to kill German police officers? Those weren’t terrorists or bad guys chasing him. They were normal German cops. He probably killed a dozen German officers with his wrecking ball stunt. La Familia is important… nevermind those police officers that he murdered had families of their own.)

(Hanami: No sakura.)


#2. Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul
MAPPA

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“It’s no wonder that the conflict doesn’t end.”

I really enjoyed the original Rage of Bahamut: Genesis in no small part to MAPPA’s gorgeous animation, Favaro being Favaro, and Rita being just plain awesome. It is still the best f2p collectible card mobile game turned anime. I do like the balance of mystery and familiarity to the start of the season season, with dangling questions as to what happened to previous cast and what is their relation to the new characters. I do like the slow reveals and the twists as is just better storytelling than Charlize Theron going up to Vin Diesel and saying that will happen in Fate of the Furious or any anime that does the classic, “She’s the student council president! She’s beautiful, smart, and all the guys and some non-traditional girls jack off thinking about her.” The second season takes place ten years past the first, and it is interesting to see Kaiser, who wanted nothing but to be a knight of justice in the first season, becoming a knight of justice, but asked to do a lot of scummy shit in that position. Other characters from the first season appear in various context, from Azazel, who was kind of a side character to now being a main character for this season, to Bacchus, who is still Bacchus. And, if you are wondering, yes, Nina and Rocky are back too. But the most interesting character– really how can you top Favaro?– is the newcomer Nina, who is a thirsty teenage girl. I mean thirsty as that she can drink an extra large matcha latte with boba and still have room left to drink a Yakult lemon slushy.

The setup is that a ruthless emperor has become leader of mankind after the destruction at the end of the first season, and he has defeated both demons and gods alike to enslave them. With his power, he has made the capital city prosperous, but he has neglected humans outside of the capitol, so there is still severe inequality among the humans. So gods, demons, and humans alike want to take him down, and he has a sneering “Come at me bro!” attitude. The most interesting question is “Where is Favaro?” He was the heart of the first season, and he survived (spoiler I guess for a three year old anime) the events of the first season. There’s another major character from the first season who I wondered about but eventually appeared, so I am assuming Favaro will show up around episode twelve and pull a Kira Yamato.

It is also good to see MAPPA’s top tier animation back at work. Nina’s facial animation and movement, in particular, are fantastic and make her character seem more vivid. The backgrounds are pretty, the food looks delicious (with Nina’s corn eating a highlight), and the CG is acceptable. Seems to have improved over the previous season.

(Rage of Bahamut aired fall 2014. What else aired fall 2014? Shirobako. Does it take 3-4 years to plan out a new anime? Mmm. Why do I bring this tidbit up? Mmm.)

(Fashion Czar’s Take on New Azazel: “This guy is like a middle school girl’s fantasy.”)

(Hanami: No sakura.)


#1. Sakura Quest
PA Works

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“They asked me to be their Queen.”

Come on. Don’t be surprised. The twist for this season is “hanami.”

When I started watching No Game No Life, I expected fantasy harem romp. I guess we got that, but it was secondary in that it ushered in a new type of anime I haven’t really seen before: the just win baby genre where the protagonists just keep winning and winning and winning. And they are confident that they will win. It’s like watching a Tom Vu infomercial. Most shows follow a curve where the protagonists win a little, lose a little, have some setback, but they keep storming on. But not for Blank and No Game No Life. There are shows that are the opposite of that where there’s constant misery and losing, much like Basilisk, but they tend to revolve around plot point that forces characters to die every so many episodes. The constant losing doesn’t really happen in the slice-of-life (or working life?) genre– until Sakura Quest.

I think people watch Sakura Quest and think it’s boring because there’s no giant robot battles, there’s no fantasy world with dragons and demons, there’s no harem of pretty boy vampires, there’s no plucky sports team, there’s no moe blobs, there’s no meta commentary on the anime industry like Shirobako, and there’s no fanservice crotch shots or boob grabs. I think Sakura Quest is delightful because it is a commentary on Gen Y life and the state of global economics through the lens of anime. It is a topic that I never expect anime to tackle because I’m sure these issues affect a lot of people who watch anime and rather not be reminded of them. And PA Works managed to pull off something very different yet very refreshing in a season full of fantasy escapes.

Sakura Quest is not an escape. This show is about the crushing realities of life today. The main character, Yoshino, is a typical sad sack millennial who graduated from college but cannot find a job. She goes so broke from job hunting in Tokyo that she ends up eating toast with mayonnaise and a few goji berries. Even Matt Damon ate better on Mars. She ends up taking a job as “Queen” for a small rural town because she really has no other choice, and she only got the job because their first choice died. There, she discovers a sad town that had seen better days. Most of the shops on Main Street are shuttered. The main tourist attraction is a rundown castle that might have a meth lab on the second floor. There’s so few good local jobs that the granddaughter of the Business Association’s president can’t even find work. The last person to move into the village got a job as a bus driver. It’s a stark depiction of rural towns and villages all over the world and makes one want to escape back into a magic battle high school or even a dystopic world overrun by titans. Sakura Quest is where one pauses in their early twenties and wonder, “What the fuck life? What the fucking fuck?”

And that’s what Sakura Quest is. It is a look at the uncomfortable realities of life today (poor careers for millennials; poor economic opportunities for rural regions) all through the optimistic lens of anime. As the world globalizes, these isolated places with only a few trains each day where people cannot interconnect become irreverent to the global economy. They have to re-invent themselves, or they perish. The town brings in Yoshino, and she has to find a way to turn the town’s fortune around. That is her quest. She has friends. She has government support. She has a town with glimmers of salvation either through their crops, their manju, or their woodworking. But she fails. She fails a lot. She fails at her town projects, she fails at resurrecting her career, and she fails at helping her friends when they go through their life crises. It isn’t easy to turn around a dying town or a life, and it might take Yoshino and her ministers twenty-four episodes to do it. And I think I’ll enjoy each and every one of those episodes.

(I visited the art islands of Naoshima and Teshima on my trip to Japan. For decades, heavy industry dominated the islands, but as the industry declined, the islands suffered. In the early 00s, the islands started building art exhibits in an attempt to revitalize the area through tourism. As more and more art installations were built, more tourists came. Now the typical ferry to Naoshima might carry more tourists than residents. All the newer businesses are related to tourism– electric bike rentals, cafes and soft serve ice cream shops, and lodging. Naoshima has done a good job at remaking itself, and it was lucky to have outside investment willing to build the museums and art. The small towns that will prosper in the future are those that are willing to remake themselves and embrace something new. I kind of feel that way about anime. It’s time to move on from fantasy worlds and find new stories for anime to tell.)

(Hanami: Actual hanami! Actual anime featuring women who are old enough to drink!)

8 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, spring 2017 edition”

  1. As some one who lives in Brooklyn i can’t recommend Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records for your record needs any more passionately.

  2. Hanami total: 8/28. Spring season not very seasonal.

  3. no Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho? It is another fantasy entry, but I’d guess at it landing somewhere in the top 10 or 15.

    I ended up liking Kado more than I initially thought I would, though I may have enjoyed thought experiments around it more than the actual show itself. I think the big mystery is still around why is Space Merlin‘s motivation in all of this.

  4. As usual, it’s easy to agree with some of these items, and not so with others.

    Yes, for some reason Dokuro-chan popped into my mind when watching Renai Bokun. Both shows are repetitious and feature over-the-board violence that is supposed to be amusing, but actually is boring after 1 episode.

    No, the stock critique of Eromanga-sensei does not fly. Masamune does not have the sarcasm power, you say? That’s actually excellent. Stupid asshole characters ruined Oreimo, and Eromanga-sensei is a gigantic improvement in this department.

  5. Well, Tsugumomo (witch it appears, is misspelled in this thin slicing) is a very special case. As you said it’s setup is of a typical harem, and sure enough, a harem the MC gets, but later in the series there’s a lot of battle scenes of such quality you rarely see in a harem manga. Also, before doing this series, the autor used to draw loli hentai mangas, so things in this manga get very spicey, to not say bordering hentai (I think the term is borderline hentai). And, I’m not kidding, the author seems to have a compulsion of drawing ecchi scenes. You often see in the afterwords of the manga volumes him expressing his sadness when he cannot insert a lot of ecchi scenes in the manga. He even said that his objetive was to have every female character appear at least one time naked in the manga (and as far as I know, he is achieving it).

    Now, what I don’t know is how the anime will handle these kind of scenes. Probably lots of light beams (see the 3 first pages of ch. 93, if you wanna have a taste of the level of ecchiness of this manga).

  6. Actually, I think Eromanga Sensei plays sideways to the tropes fairly well. Elf Sensei could have been the horrible drill girl with the evil laugh, but she becomes friendly and vulnerable – and plays against the usual “success” template by being lazy and talented. The protagonist would typically be cynical and detached, or a full lolicon, but here he shows hope and restraint, despite the obvious pull toward his sister. And Eromanga herself shows huge conflicts in her attraction to the world outside, but vulnerability to hurt and dedication to the shut-in lifestyle. None of the mains are typical.

    Having said that, there are still many ways things could go pear-shaped. I hope the series will avoid them, but it may be a vain hope.

  7. ‘Danmachi’, ‘Atom’, ‘Granblue’, and ‘Frame Arms Girls’ are all actually much better than you’ve ranked them, while Alice to Zoroku swerves very much domestic after the four episodes you saw. Danmachi has gotten into it’s actual *arc* now, and A106 is….*not* Atom. He’s the early prototype for Atom. Atom is at least ten years away in the timeline, possibly much more, considering Ochanomizu is unlikely to get so bald and fat in just ten years.

    As for Granblue, that’s weird that you say it’s too slow, the other reviewer I’ve read says it’s going *too fast*, just banging out these plot points bam bam bam.

  8. Oh, damn, I forgot about Frame Arms Girls; It’s a fun, funny little series! Ao being the *not* target is part of the charm. Most of what she cares about is the money she’s getting, but the little robots are slowly growing on her. You kind of have to just ACCEPT some things. This is Busou Shinki Mark 2. It doesn’t aspire to be much more than a product placement little 12 minute story comedy series, and I think it does quite well at that.

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