thin slicing the new season, fall 2017 edition

10,000+ words, 27 anime, and 1 wish-granting, grail-like substance.

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 TWELVE YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, it’s the twelfth anniversary of thin slicing since it began with ranking Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome. There’s been enough thin slicings for two zodiac wars, multiple Holy Grail Wars, Strike Freedom to give way to 00 to give way to Barbatos, and roughly 15,532 light novels written by Nisio Isin.

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 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 recognize your choice of anime in 3-gatsu, lifestyle in Himouto, husbando in Osomatsu-san, or fanservice in Dream Festival. I also might not rank all shows from Chinese studios or shows that are mostly in CG.

A twist for this season: Body Horror! This season really likes tearing limbs off of characters.

Quick recap from last season: So recently a lot of people have been tweeting about what five anime series that their significant other should watch to understand them better. Most people just respond with their five favorite anime series, which really doesn’t say much except, “I really like these five anime.” What do Kakegurui, Fate/Apocrypha, Made in Abyss, Princess Principal, and Restaurant to Another World tell your significant other about you? You fell into a pit of despair after failing to roll for Astolfo in Fate Grand/Order, so you are drowning your sorrows with peach chu-hai and curry at Demiya.


#MR. IRRELEVANT. Dynamic Chord
Pierrot

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“You know what a diva he can be.”

Dynamic Chord is a very non-dynamic otome game turned anime about boy bands. I think a solid 75% of otome games are about boy bands, school bands, or music in some way. The rest are about vampires. This anime has the worst animation of all the shows this season. The animation reminds me of iPhone games (a la Mystic Messanger or Fire Emblem Heroes) where there’s interlocking joints on the characters, and the joints swing around to approximate movement. There’s not even an attempt at animation for most of the scenes, just hands moving back and forth or a hand bobbing up and down. One a scale from 1 to God Knows, the music scenes are maybe a -25. They are so atrocious that they make Fuuka‘s band scenes look good. Also, inexplicably, there’s a ten minute portion of the first episode that is just four songs done back-to-back. The show tries to make the songs feel edgy, but I get more of a low cost karaoke background video vibe from them. One song featured mostly static shots of the band (panned of course as a cheap way to imitate movement) and shots of a traffic signal. Traffic signals are edgy! There is also one song that clearly features an acoustic guitar, but it keeps showing a guy playing an electric guitar during the song’s montage.

Terrible animation aside, the character designs are equally atrocious. The main character has heterochromia, or as I like to call it, “I’ve run out of ideas for a character design.” There’s also too many characters who have multiple hair colors, except they are so poorly drawn, it makes them look more comical than Shibuya style. One character in particular looks like he’s wearing Pharaoh Yugi’s scalp over his own hair. The characters don’t stand out in a good way.

There are some head-scratching logic to this show. The recording studio they use look like a post-apocalyptic greenhouse. You know what’s great for recording music? An large area with holes in the walls and ceiling with plenty of windows. Also, the characters and the audience find out that a plot twist occurred because of a magazine article. What is this? 1998? News doesn’t break via Twitter, Facebook, or even the newspaper… news breaks with a magazine article.

My favorite part of this show is the brooding pretty boy who just sadly sits in his Corvette. He’s a bad boy, yet sad boy, yet tamable boy if done by the right girl, amirite? It’s like he waited outside Animate for a limited edition Kakegurui figure, but it sold out, and now he’s sulking inside his forty thousand dollar car. Andohbytheway, why is he running his wipers in the rain when he has the top down on the car? What is the point of wipers at that point? He doesn’t care that his car’s interior is being ruined, but he wants maximum visibility as he sits there sadly parked?

(When I wrote this entry, Dynamic Chord has a 5.1 on MAL. It was the lowest ranked standard length show, as of 10/7, for Fall 2017 on MAL. As I am getting ready to post on 10/15, the show has flipped to 4.76 on MAL. Good golly.)

(Fashion Czar: “Anime is not always trash… oh God… two colored eyes… mmm… okay. Everything’s okay. I’ll quell my distaste– oh God another pretty boy with mismatched hair.”)

(I do find it refreshing and odd that there’s not many isekai light novels or magic battle high school light novel adaptions this season. You know what lives on forever? PS Vita otome games turned anime. They don’t see to die, despite the Vita being dead.)


#26. Tsukipro
Pierrot

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“CRAZY BABY SHOW! Hey, why don’t you know? Wake me up, let me go! Hey, what don’t you want? CRAZY BABY SHOW!”

Anytime you can start an anime with a boring five minute committee meeting, you gotta do it. Tsukipro is a mess of an anime about a bunch of bands doing band things, like attending committee meetings and congratulating each other on how awesome they are. Do 14 year old girls really find badly animated, poor CG boy bands to be appealing? With some of the worst music outside of Dynamic Chord? And these aren’t young men– some of the band members are in their late twenties. Is a 29 year old man acting like a high schooler is somehow appealing? In typical otome boy band fashion, we get a lot tossed at us at once. There’s like a dozen characters introduced within two minutes without any context of any of the characters. They all look like they were created from the same otome game character creator. It’s like the director had a mandate to include every pretty boy from the Tsukipro franchise in the first episode because Oharuhi-sama forbid someone’s favorite 29 year old boy band member gets left out of the first episode. The plot seems to revolve around the bands getting ready for a major concert at Budokan, yet only one band has a manager to actually manage things? And the bands want to support each other yet have a quasi competition with each other? Why not just go full yaoi at this point?

Because of the sheer quantity of characters, there isn’t an opportunity to get to know any of them through plot or even normal dialogue. Every character greets another with a formula that is basically, “Hey, dude, you’re awesome because you do blank plus sing!” Blank could be karate, magic, or getting a PhD thesis. The response every time is, “I’m not that great because I do blank.” We can combine Tsukipro, Dynamic Chord, Dream Festival, and all the other otome boy band anime into one big slurry mess and not miss a beat. They are the Soylent of anime.

(Mitigating Factor: At one point, the boy band does a commercial for Docomo. It’s probably the most blatant product placement in anime and even grosser than Alice and Zokouru‘s. You know what 14 year old girls love the most? 29 year old men who shill for brands.)


#25. My Girlfriend is Shobitch
Diomedéa

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“His first girlfriend is a… strange person.”

My Girlfriend is Shobitch (Boku no Kanojo ga Majimesugiru Sho-bitch na Ken) is one of those special anime that makes me embarrassed to be an anime fan. You can use that for your back of the BD quote, Sentai Filmworks, “My Girlfriend is Shobitch makes blog好き embarrassed to be an anime fan.” Male lead, Shino, is a typical loser male protagonist. There’s absolutely nothing interesting or unique about him. He is the Wonder bread of protagonists. He is the saltine cracker of protagonists. He is the Siegfried of sabers. By a stroke of anime/manga power romance fantasy, he gets tangled up with the female protagonist, Kousaka. She gets introduced with a typical “She’s smart, good at sports, popular, has big boobs, etc.” montage. Yet somehow she’s also a bit cold and comically not self-aware. Once Shino and Kousaka start dating, which happens in the first five minutes thanks to anime/manga power romance fantasy, all she can think of is sex. And not in a sexy way. Like an alien pretending to be human to study awkward sex in a way, and, of course, since Shino is a typical male protagonist, he wants none of that. Sexy girlfriend who wants sex? Ewwwwww.

I get the feeling that the author of the original manga watched Bakemonogatari and decided he wanted a heroine like Senjougahara, except he took out all the spite and self-awareness and uniqueness and just decided to copy the speech patterns. The other heroines rounding out the cast are the childhood friend, the literal imouto, and the older sister type. How do I know this? Because all of them decide to introduce themselves as their tropes within moments of each other. Nothing is more natural dialogue between two childhood friends than, “Hey, it’s me, your childhood friend! Want to walk home with your childhood friend?” At least each of the haremettes got to speak a little, which is barely a step up from the clusterfuck character intro montage in Dynamic Chord.

The animation is not great, and the pacing feels like they literally adapted a 4-koma with each scene awkwardly resetting into the next. The background characters are drawn with a green tint, so they look more like ghosts than background characters. That was a bad animation decision. Also this manga started running in 2015 yet manages to work in an erohon joke because of how devoid of ideas it is.

(Fashion Czar: “I don’t think a show called ‘My Girlfriend Is the Bitch’ is going to be empowering to women.”)

(Mitigating Factor: There’s a scene where Kousaka tries to seduce Shino by inviting him to an empty room in school with an assortment of vibrators and sex toys laid out. He just looks at them like a very, very disappointed parent. Also WTF is with that elephant in the back?)


#24. URAHARA
Shirogumi

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“I wonder what people who live in Harajuku do on weekends?”

If I were to finance an anime, would I pick:

A. A mildly popular manga.
B. An isekai light novel.
C. An original story written by an established screenwriter.
D. A virtually unknown and random doujinshi artist at Comikat.

Crunchyroll decided to with (D) for their first anime production, and URAHARA is the result. I’m just not sure if turning illustrations of Harajuku mascots into anime is a good idea. There’s just no story, no characterization, and no life to this show. The three main girls act cute yet seem even more lifeless than the typical girls acting cute genre. The character designs are also overly embellished and complicated to the point that they detract from the characters. The magical girl transformation sequence is a disgrace to magical girls everywhere. The story is just haphazard and tossed together. Oh, aliens are invading by stealing landmarks. Oh, some other alien from America is here to save them by giving girls magical girl powers. Oh, the girls will fight to protect the smiles of everyone. Yippee. The plot almost feels like a parody waiting to happen because of just how shallow it is and how much it cribs from TVTropes.com.

The directing, though, is probably the worst part of this show. The show has way too many cuts, and it makes even simple conversations really hard to handle. It makes Hand Shakers‘ direction seem passable. There’s a lot of split screens, and the character styles go from typical anime to chibi to the look Mugi Tanaka originally used for her doujinshi. It is a hot, unedited mess. The editing and directing takes an already boring anime and makes it hard to follow.

There’s also the questionable plot choices. One character wishes for an alien invasion because that would be cute and certainly not lead to massive death and destruction. There’s a character who hasn’t talked to either parent since they divorced, though to be fair I’m not sure if the parents divorced each other or if they divorced her. Also the aliens are invading to steal our culture because they cannot make their own– cultural appropriation the anime!

What is disappointing is that one would expect Crunchyroll to sit on a mountain of user data. They already publish what shows different regions like to watch. They should know what anime would appeal to their core audience, and I’m not sure if the cute girls doing nothing genre really caught on here. Maybe they pursued this show because the creator costs would be low, and they wouldn’t have to negotiate with a larger company like Kadokawa… but URAHARA is the best that they could come up with? Dear Crunchyroll, I can help you pick out an anime to make next. Gay figure skaters pilot giant robots that fight Nazis. There. Done.

(Fashion Czar: “Those are cargo pants as a hoop shirt with suspenders attached. Too much.”)


#23. Sengoku Night Blood
TYPHOON GRAPHICS

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“Your blood… looks delicious.”

Sengoku Night Blood is the second anime from TYPHOON GRAPHICS (after One Room), and this show is also quite terrible. It is trying to be too many things and over-embellishes… wait… that’s just par for otome anime. Okay, we have a typical mousy female lead who gets warped from modern Japan to warring states Japan because she turned on her iPhone. There’s no more exposition to explain why or how she got tossed into feudal Japan other than “She wanted to check the time.” At least toss in something like, “She just installed this weird app.” If we’re going to be this lazy with a character, why bother even having the fantasy stand-in character at all? As for the man-harem, they’re the typical suspects from warring states Japan. Hey, it’s boy band Yukimura! Hey, it’s boy band Hideyoshi! Hey, it’s boy band Nobunaga! They’re all here and fabulous. The characters are beyond overly bedazzled. I think the Fashion Czar is still in shock over the designs.

Do we need yet another re-imagining of feudal Japan as pretty boy band members? Of course not, so Sengoku Night Blood tosses in an additional twist: they are also vampires. We have warring states feudal lords who look and act like members of Dream Festival yet are also immortal vampires. How we get from this version of feudal Japan to a seemingly normal one with Shibuya 101 and iPhones, I don’t know. Maybe Commodore Perry shows up with first mate Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course, the first five minutes are devoted to random shots of every feudal lord slash boy band slash vampire because Oharuhi-sama forbid someone shows up in episode two instead of episode one.

The animation quality is passable, but the colors are really off. There’s something to the color scheme that makes me think the monitor the director was using wasn’t properly calibrated or something. The music sounds like they were eavesdropping on a Guilty Gear recording session and tried to recreate it from memory.

(With like 15,532 variations of feudal Japanese lords, why not instead make an otome game about hot American founding fathers? Hamilton already gave us a script: Tsundere Burr, Pretty Boy Jefferson, Cool Washington, Hot Head Hamilton, Shota Ben Franklin, and Bottom John Adams. There, done. Crunchyroll, fund me.)


#22. Ousama Game
Seven

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“I can’t even make friends. How can she smile so brightly?”

If this season’s slate of grimdark anime isn’t grimdark for you enough, we have Ousama Game (King’s Game) which is basically about watching a class of highschool students slowly die in the worst ways possible. The kids receive mysterious texts telling them what to do, and, if they don’t do it, they die. There’s really no backstory to where or why the texts are happening except that it has happened to the main character before, and he’s the last survivor of the previous King’s Game. This begs the question: Why should we care? If the winner gets to live just to go through the trauma again, what’s the point of resisting? To live another week? Why not toss them a bone like a lifetime’s supply of Pilot FriXion™ erasable pens? Why doesn’t the main character just kill himself so he doesn’t curse another class? Moreso, there’s no rule against seeking help. Why doesn’t he try to get help? His whole class is dead! His parents just sends him to another school instead of sending him for treatment? No police detective thinks its weird an entire class died? The concept would be interesting if the students could fight back or at least find a way out of the predicament, but it seems as if the supernatural powers that orders is an unassailable plot device. The show just wants to kill people for the sake of killing people.

Ousama Game also suffers from poor animation and wonky directing. There’s a bit too many time skips and flashbacks to events that happened four minutes ago in the episode, and the show feels like a sequel to an anime that only happened in a timeline where the Einzbern family summoned a Moon Cancer instead of an Avenger. The English signs are generally misspelled, which is always a sign of a quality production in 2017. Also, the character designs are super boring. The main character looks even less interesting than any boy from Tsukipro, and the heroine looks like a background character from Da Capo. Also, the characters are barely given any characterization before they are gleefully killed off. Why does this guy hate main character so much? Why does the smartest, hottest, and nicest girl in school suddenly take an interest in main character to the point he has to fight her off with anti-cootie spray? There’s just a plethora of bad storytelling– there’s just enough story to connect vicious death of a student with the horrible death of another student– but I’m not told why I should care about any of this mess.

(Kiss Shot: Anti-cootie spray didn’t work. Next time, buy the name brand version instead of the store brand version.)

(Body Horror: Dismemberment and ebola.)


#21. Black Clover
Pierrot

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“I’m going to be the Wizard-King!”

Shounen action seems to be strong this season, and Black Clover as as generic as shounen action gets. Hey, it’s two boys competing but also bromancing! Hey, one boy is a gallant, and the other is a doofus! Hey, they both want some goal that can’t be reached within 200 chapters of manga! Black Clover is kind of like Little Witch Academia with more penises and more screaming with zero of the charm. Two boys abandoned at a church turn out to have super attributes to being mages, and they go off on wizarding adventures. It begs the question who would abandon these superbabies?

The animation is okay, and the action sequences are passable, but I cannot stand Asta’s voice. He is constantly screeching, and it hurts my eardrums. I get he is supposed to be hyper, but, man, that voice is tough to digest, even after a beer or two. Also both him and Yuno are not really likeable characters. We’re basically told to like them because they’re orphans, but they both seem like little shitheads. It seems like a lot of characterization was skimmed over just so we could fit a battle at the end of the first episode. Oharuhi-sama forbid we have a shounen action show without forced action in the first episode.

(Mitigating Factor: There’s a huge ass monster corpse overlooking the town. That’s probably the most interesting part of this show.)

(Body Horror: Not counting my ears bleeding from all the screeching, someone getting impaled.)


#20. Dies Irae
A.C.G.T

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“I’ll scatter you like garbage!”

You know what is the exact opposite of what I’m looking for in an anime in 2017? Let’s see… 2004-styled action sequences that mimic Chrono Crusade, 1984-styled guitar riffs, 2004-styled character designs that make me miss Bleach, and sexy supernatural Nazis gleefully slaughtering allied soldiers. I’m not really feeling any of those concepts in 2017 and am not feeling Dies Irae. I don’t care if the Nazis board Semiramis’ Garden of Babylon and travel to 2004 Japan so they can meet their match in a Japanese high school boy fighting for the Greater Grail. I am disappointed that the show doesn’t go all Nazi as it only goes about 75% there with its usage of Nazi icongraphy and lexicon. It’s like “Well, we can show the blue-eyed, blonde-haired uber Nazi getting a hard-on while decapitating soldiers, but let’s not put an actual swastika on his red armband because that crosses the line.”

Dies Irae is based on a visual novel featuring scantily clad buxom Nazi ladies from 2007. Yep, it about as as old as Grandma Haruhi Suzumiya. It is revitalized for 2017 thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that broke its goal so we’re not getting just one cours but one and half cours of pretty boy and sexy lady Nazi action. The animation seems right out of 2004, the dialogue is quite heavy-handed, and the characters seem to be one trick ponies in a very classic case that everyone must nicely fit into their trope. I feel like I’m watching X or Basilisk or Speed Grapher. Nonetheless, the only way this show could interest me is if the Japanese high school boy starts slaughtering Nazis and doesn’t stop for all 18 episodes.

(Body Horror: Some eyes being gouged out.)


#19. Konohana Kitan
Lerche

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“It’s called ‘being playful.’ You showed me a good time.”

Konohana Kitan is a homeless man’s Hanasaku Iroha, and that even feels a bit too generous for Konohana Kitan. A girls’ life show set in a world of furries that follows a poor young girl as she gets sold into service at a major hotel. It’s supposed to be cute girls doing cute things in a cute hotel, but I see exploitation of child labor. For the most part, this show is really standard and average. The characters feel like I’ve seen them before many times over in previous anime, and the plot points have all been hit before (and better). There’s nothing new. If you desperately want to see cute girls doing cute things in a hotel, maybe this show will satisfy that itch, but that’s also a very particular itch. I don’t find any of the characters to be memorable, and the show feels like a mild chore to sit through. There aren’t a lot of twists to the formula, and I feel like a twist or two would have benefited this show greatly.

Animation is fairly good for this show with good movement on the characters, good use of characters, and very pretty backgrounds. There are also a few scenes in town where the background characters are all drawn instead of being CG as in most shows nowadays.


#18. Code Realize: Sousei no Himegimi
MSC

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“We’re about to steal the treasure of a lifetime.”

The best thing about Code:Realize is the steampunk corgi with a top hat, bowtie, steampunk leg, and a heart-shaped birthmark. Everything else about this show is typical PS Vita otome game turned anime. Yes, it’s that weak of a season that all it takes is a cute corgi to rocket up thin slicing. The heart of this otome romance fantasy is that the heroine (I believe this is the only PS Vita otome game turned anime this season that adapts it heroine) can’t touch anyone, and there’s a masterful thief smitten with her– reductively, Rogue and Gambit in steampunk anime form. The rest of the man-harem consists of fictional characters covering From the Earth to the Moon, Frankenstein, Lupin, Saint-Germain, and other literally works that are also part of Universal Picture’s Dark Universe.

The animation is surprisingly good for an otome game turned anime; however, I can’t say the same about the character designs. Lupin looks like a cross between Willy Wonka and Tuxedo Mask. Frankenstein wears a vest over a sweater along with a skinny tie to complete the look. Also, because this is a steampunk anime, it has to follow the rule that gears are everywhere. The girl has gears as hair ornaments. Lupin has a gear in his top hat. Gears, everywhere!

The plot though is full of conveniences. Lupin and his team of Dark Universe man-boys save the girl, and he claims he and this pals can save her from “half the world.” He also claims that he isn’t confining her as he locks her into a bedroom. Yet a few minutes later, somehow the steampunk corgi not only breaks into the bedroom, the corgi also manages to escape outside the mansion with the girl. Of course, right outside the mansion is a pack of wild dogs waiting to attack the corgi and girl.

(Body Horror: Girl dissolves the hand of a British soldier.)


#17. UQ Holder!
JC Staff

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“One who is blind to his shortcomings and complains about how unfair their lives are.”

I was a bit caught off guard to see Negi Springfield again. Probably my favorite scene of UQ Holder! is the first one where we get a typical Negi being Negi scene along with typical Ken Akamatsu nipple-less fanservice moment. Weird that Negi manages to destroy the clothing of all the girls except for Asuna’s bra and panties. Oh, Akamatsu-sensei. Anyway, UQ Holder! seems like yet another 2004 anime trying to fit into 2017… you know what’s hot for fall 2017? Dismemberment and vampires. This anime has both.

Set about seventy years past the events of Negima!— and we all this is the future thanks to flying cars– poor Touta gets adopted by vampire Evangeline A.K. McDowell in a homeless man’s version of Arararararagi’s and Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade’s story. Why are blonde loli vampires with buxom adult forms so popular in anime? The story tries to be an action shounen type of a show, but it leans a bit too hard into Negima!. For one, Touta visits Negi-sensei’s grave not once but twice during the first episode. The grave site doesn’t just feature Negima but has three graves arranged together, implying Negi had two wives? And neither were from Class 2-A? (Which is a kick in the balls for readers of Negima!) And why are the graves of the 2-A students arranged via their class seat? Isn’t that really weird? “Hey, I really loved those two years in middle school. I want to be buried exactly where I sat in that class.” Two, a lot of that time spent reminiscing about Negima doesn’t really give me insight into who Touta is and why McDowell is hiding or any of the relevant backstory.

As for UQ Holder! itself… the plot isn’t impressive as it seems like generic shounen action. Touta is yet another typical plucky male teen lead. McDowell seems less interesting than her previous self. Animation by JC Staff is passable… but I do kind miss the Shaft openings.

(Spoilers: Touta is apparently the result of an experiment to combine the DNA of Negima and Asuna. There’s an easier way to combine the DNA of two people, Akamatsu-sensei.)

(Fashion Czar: “Does being a bounty hunter mean that you can kill children? Does he get a bounty for murdering multiple humans?”

(Body Horror: Dismemberment. A lot of it.)


#16. Two Car
Sliver Link

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“It’s a cross-counter. [Pause] It went as badly as expected.”

We haven’t seen serious sidecar racing in anime since the Aa! Megami-sma Movie back in 2000. Is 17 years enough of a gap for us to desire more sidecar racing? Nope. Sorry, Two Car. This anime is an original story from Silver Link about high school girls competing in sidecar races around a fictional tropical island (that resembles Hawaii). There’s seven (?) major teams that compete, and each team is a trope. Hey, it’s Team Loli Goth. It’s Team S&M. It’s Team Cool. My favorite is Team Sidetail, with one girl having a takoyaki hair band and the other having an octopus hair band. The main characters are Team Rival Inn Owners. I’m not kidding. That’s their hook. I have a lot of questions. One, what high school has the resources to maintain these sidecar racers? Two, how many high schools are on this island competing? Three, why don’t they wear helmets when they are driving the sidecars outside of competitions? Four, is it normal to wear a miniskirt while riding on a sidecar? Five, are there men in this world?

At least question five gets answered. Pretty much every character who speaks in this show is a girl, except for the coach of the two main characters. His face is never shown, a la Home Improvement’s Wilson. Most of the enjoyment that I got from the episode is imagining that the coach has been banging the two girls separately. I mean, he is literally all over them as he shows them how to race. The girls even try to confess to him, only to be foiled by each other. The coach, at the end of the first episode, inexplicably decides to go to The Isle of Man before the first major race of the season. I think it’s because he knocked up both girls and just needs to get the fuck out of the country.

(Again, if I were to fund an anime, do I go with a mildly popular manga, an isekai light novel, a random doujinshi, or an original story by an establish writer? The obvious solution is to hire the guy who wrote Aldnoah.Zero S2, right? Two Car is written by Katsuhiko Takayama, who did writing and series composition for S2.)

(Okay, time to watch the original Aa! Megami-sama OVA opening again…)


#15. Yuki Yuna Is a Hero: Washio Sumi Chapter
Studio Gokumi

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“For a hero with the power of God, it’s easy to drink up all the water. I feel sick…”

I really enjoyed the original Yuki Yuna Is a Hero, and much like other grimdark magical girl anime, I don’t really need a sequel. Or prequel. Or really anything except a musical stage play with lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Yet, Yuki Yuna has both a prequel (Washio Sumi) and a sequel (Hero) that combine to form one cours of anime. I think if you haven’t seen Yuki Yuna Is a Hero— start there. The big reveal during that show that exposes the grimdark nature of that magical girl world is Yuki Yuna meeting the protagonist of Washio Sumi. I also think that I’ve said too much by revealing it is indeed a grimdark magical girl show. Maybe there’s time looping? Maybe there’s a gigantic wall keeping out titans? Maybe there’s monsters who will harass them on Twitter? Maybe there’s a battle royale where 100 magical girls are dropped onto an island?

Despite having Amazon money now instead of Netflix money, the show looks noticeably worse than the first season. The character designs are also off too with the girls supposedly being sixth graders yet they have the melonpan of high school students. The transformation sequences (except the cat x chicken one) are also worse than the original season’s. Since I know how Washio Sumi has to turn out (and there’s no cool Saber in a suit), I might sit the first half the season out and wait for the sequel.

(Mitigating Factor: I do like how all the girls go all-in on their tropes. The prudish girl eats an ice cream cone with a spoon. What a monster.)

(Fashion Czar: “This is why you don’t send sixth graders as soldiers. They should use Destiny raids as training.)

(Body Horror: None in the first episode, but don’t worry it won’t stay that way for long… after all, this is Yuki Yuna Is a Hero…)


#14. Just Because!
Pine Jam

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“Delete that picture of me!”

Just Because! is not only the worst anime name of this season, but it’s a rare original slice-of-life story. There’s no vampires (yet), no isekai (yet), and no cute girls doing cute things in a do nothing afterschool club (yet). The setup is about how a bunch of high school students are going to spend their last few months in high school, and it seems like a throwback to shows from the mid 00s. For the most part, the show is quite bland, with some very basic interactions and friction between the characters. The very generic character designs and muted color palate doesn’t help either. It makes Terrace House seem like the Fast and Furious franchise.

Canon is a sponsor of this show, so of course one of the characters is a photography junkie. I’m surprised she hasn’t just flat out and said, “Cell phone cameras are for filthy casuals.” There’s another character who takes pictures like a normal human: he uses his iPhone and Tweets or iMessages his photos to his friends back at this old city. I’m sure Canon ain’t too happy about that. The only “supernatural” thing about this show is that all the trains run on a suspended rail. It’s like they wanted to be as close to real life as possible but toss in impractical and futuristic trains.

The best part of the show is the terrible name. When I was watching, I kept saying things like, “Why is he hitting home runs? JUST BECAUSE!” “Why is she taking pictures of a drinking fountain? JUST BECAUSE!” “Why are you applying for college? JUST BECAUSE!” “Why am I watching this show?” “JUST BECAUSE!”

(Mitigating Factor: JUST BECAUSE!)


#13. Blood Blockade Battlefront and Beyond
Bones

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“One for nonsense; all for nothing!”

I guess this spot feels right for Blood Blockade Battlefront Bed Bath and Beyond (Kekkai Sensen & Beyond). There’s still too much nonsense going on in the show, the plot only makes sense if we assume everyone is just out to troll each other, and now we have Futurama heads. This show does make me miss Nujabes.

X-STATION! DOUBLE-X! DOUBLE-X!

(Body Horror: “Unbreakable Cross Shield.”)


#12. Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter
Millepensee

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“Minna-san, konnichi-WUG-GU!”

I remember when I went to Japan in 2014. Strolling around Akihabara and turning on the TV at night, one would think that the biggest show of the year was Wake Up, Girls!. They had ads everywhere, the anime was constantly airing, and they had plenty of merch to sell. Meanwhile, KILL la KILL had barely any visibility, and I found only a sad key chain gatchapon machine for merch. So it’s 2017, and Wake Up, Girls! has had three– THREE!– movies since. Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter (Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou) is the new TV series picking up after those movies. My gosh. I think this franchise just proves you don’t need a good story or even a good anime to produce a money-making franchise, just a lot of perseverance and some idol panty shots.

The strange charm of the first series is just how bad it was. The animation quality was one of the worst of any recent anime TV series, and the music wasn’t any better. But it had its weird moments, and it showed both how shitty and how sketchy the idol industry is (like the episode where the girls have to wear bikinis and waitress at a bar). It also had the charm of watching the very different girls trying to form a group for every different reasons, including getting the fuck out of their loser town, Sendai. For this season, the animation is better. They have the budget and animation of a below average to average anime for 2017. But I feel like all the charm is gone. The girls are now an established group, sort of, and the plot has been reduced into “Hey, a misplaced scrunchie causing friction between two idol groups!” WUG has turned into typical idol fare with maybe light commentary of the upcoming idol economy crash, but it isn’t the same stark show that it once was.

Being a normal idol show is not what Wake Up, Girls! does well. The music still hasn’t improved, and they added more cast members that 7 Girls’ War doesn’t seem relevant anymore. I’m also confused that despite the group being around for three years, they haven’t released an album yet. There is also a lot more cutesy interjection of “WUG” into their speech. The CG idol dancing sequences took a step back when compared to the much better dancing that was in the OVA that proceeded season one. The CG models of the girls are all off. They all have the same base body shape and the same height, which is just laziness slash bad CG modeling. If you’re going to do all of the idol moments in CG, don’t half ass the character designs.

(Mitigating Factor: This season the ED is a montage of hot spots in Sendai, and the show starts with a montage of people happily living in Sendai. I’m sure Sendai isn’t a bad place to live, but none of the scenes makes me want to visit. It only seems marginally more interesting than Kalamazoo, Michigan. They really need to hire Yoshino and make over their tourism department.)


#11. Blend S
A-1

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“What are you talking about? Those are fabulous eyes!”

I thought Blend S would be about cute girls doing cute things in a coffee shop. Nope. Blend S is instead about how an Italian man hires a girl so he can sexually harass her on the job. We might as well call this show, “I Can’t Believe My Cafe Is So Broken.” The premise of the cafe is that, one, the manager gets to sexually harass the wait staff, and, two, each of the wait staff adopts an anime trope to act out as their cafe persona (except that they may actually be the trope and might not be doing much acting). For example, the main heroine, Maika, is the “S” in that she is supposed to treat guests like rubbish and call them filthy mongrels. What if that’s her personality all along? The other wait staff have their own tropes, like one is a tsundere and another is the classic imouto. None of them are very interesting, and the gags quickly degrade from cute girls doing cute things to cute girls beating up their manager for sexually harassing them. To show the void of creativity in this show, the last five minutes of the first episode are spent at an arcade because why the hell not. Who has a better idea? What else can these girls reduced to a single trope do?

Besides how generic both the characters and concepts are, the show suffers from some weird logic gaps. Maika gets hired and tossed into the waitress job without even having anyone introduce themselves yet. Not even the waitress in Restaurant to Another World get tossed into the fire like this. Also, is it normal to apply for a job and start immediately in Japan? And how does a teenage girl in Japan not know about photo booths or DDR?

A-1’s animation continues to astound me with their slide into mediocrity, but at least we get some good shots of “S” Maika. The OP and ED are both very anime– coordinated jumps, title cards that spell out everyone’s names and tropes, the girls riding on Kirby-esque stars, etc. it’s all there. It’s an anime-ass OP and ED.

(Mitigating Factor: We get a close up of cat balls.)

(Fashion Czar: “Well, at least there’s men in this world.” Five minutes later. “Men are the worst: the anime.”)


#10. Children of the Whales
JC Staff

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“Every time I see a dear friend off, it makes me want to record.”

The world of Children of the Whales (Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau) is the main draw and mystery of the show. Why are these people traveling on sand whales? Why are they afraid of other people, even though they rarely if ever see any? Why do the magic users live such a short lifespan? There’s a lot of questions waiting to be explored in this shoujo manga turned anime by way of JC Staff. This series seems to be similar to Gargantia, which also had an outsider disrupt the society of a nomadic tribe of humans in a presumably post-apocalyptic world. Like Gargantia, the world is quite beautiful with JC Staff doing a good job on both character designs and the background art.

One thing I dislike about the show is that almost all of the early conflict can be solved if people just listened to each other. Why did the main character’s partner go wandering off when the previous scene had people reminding both of them to stick together? Why did the town chief decide to pardon the town criminals right when an unexpected visitor arrived? And why would the town council member tell the criminals, “Hey, a VIP arrived on our island!” before telling anyone else? I feel like it leans a bit too much into plot points only occurring because people are idiots.

(Mitigating Factor: Cutest pet-like substance of the season.)


#9. Imouto sae Ireba Ii
Silver Link

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“That manuscript is such a slut!”

Anime continues to enjoy being meta with Imouto sae Ireba Ii (A Little Sister’s All You Need), which is a light novel about a post-high school light novel author who really, really enjoys the imouto genre. I guess it’s too much to expect light novel authors to write protagonists as anything else than high school students, light novel authors, or game designers. For the most part, the main character’s imouto delusions are the core of the series, and almost all of the comedy centers around his sexual fantasies involving an imouto. If the focus were just on the terrible human being that is the main character, I think Imouto sae Ireba Ii would be boring.

Fortunately, the supporting characters are interesting and provide some much needed balance. There’s the older author who has to adopt a bisexual social media persona, there’s the younger author who desperately want to bone the main character, there’s the college student who I have no clue why she would hang out with him after what he did to her, and the little “brother” who is a paella slave. They are more well-rounded characters and have their own interconnected backstories, and, really, I’m just happy to watch an anime with boob fondling that doesn’t involve underaged girls. The supporting cast highlights just how singularly focused the main siscon character is. That makes me suspect that there’s a twist yet to be revealed to explain his character.

The show feels a bit like the anime version of Friends, if no sex ever occurred and if Ross was really, really disappointed that Oreimo didn’t go “far” enough.

(Mitigating Factor: The eyecatch is a description of a regional beer brand.)

(Body Horror: “It’s so creamy and rich. The taste of my little sister spreads inside my mouth. My little sister’s freshly hatched eggs and freshly squeezed milk… おいしいです!”)


#8. Girls’ Last Tour
White Fox

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“Hey, do you think a tank tastes good?”

I thought Girls’ Last Tour (Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou) was about a girl band trying one last time to get to Budokan. Nope. Instead, what if we took the typical characters, character designs, and “story” from a moe blob girls doing cute things slice-of-life anime and grafted it onto a post-apocalyptic war scenario. And what if we don’t address any of that horrible backstory except for a brief twenty second flashback? And what if we can make deary loneliness, starvation, and gun violence seem cute? That’s Girls’ Last Tour. It’s almost like Kino’s Journey with two girls and a Kettenkrad. There is a weird juxtaposition of how carefree the girls generally are vs. the reality of the situation that they are in. They are concerned about running out of food, but they aren’t concerned about running into enemies. They don’t know what chocolate tastes like, but they know how to rig up explosives. They prioritize taking a hot bath during a major snowstorm, yet they have no way of drying off and preventing hypothermia.

At first, I did not like the Hidamari Sketch x Funko Pop character designs, but they grew on me as there is an intriguing dichotomy of how the characters look painted against how bleak the landscape is around them. Why is the world the way it is? Why are these two girls alone? Do they have a quest? Or do they just survive? Girls’ Last Tour is an unique blend of two very different genres, and it does make me want to learn more about this world. The only issue is that I think it will dole that knowledge out in slow, painful increments.

(Body Horror: Saliva. A lot of saliva.)


#7. Animegataris
Wao World

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“What are you watching this season? Maybe we don’t have taste overlap?”

Anytime we can turn an animated short telling movie goers to buy popcorn and silence our cell phones, we gotta do it. Animegataris (Anime Chat) is yet another low calorie meta anime about anime. It’s a homeless man’s Genshiken. I think this series has potential if it takes more of a critical look at the anime industry a la Shirobako, but it seems content to go on a cutesy low calorie slice-of-life route and make jokes about recent anime. The characters are twists on typical tropes: the anime newbie is willing to speak up for herself, the anime veteran is a friendly and welcoming ojou-sama, the original source purist has no twist, the chuu2 dude is actually the spawn of the devil, the cool onee-sama who seems too cool for anime but owns the every Fate/Apocrypha servant in Nendroid from, the cool onii-sama who seems too cool for anime but has an itasha bag plus has been to every Ayana Taketatsu live event. They’re just lacking the anime blogger social media baron who can’t stop retweeting Pixiv art but is secretly a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins.

Some things that I liked: The boy with a serious case of chuunibyou who goes, “PASTA LA VISTA!” The anime dream that is one part Gundam, one part Nadia, one part Macross, one part RahXephon, one part Pokemon, and one part M. Night Shyamalan. The title of the light novel, “A Report on the Irresponsible and Depressing Chronicles of Me and a Certain Eccentric Childhood Friend.” The ojou-sama character who commands a small butler/meido army plus has access to all anime every made; she also thinks that there’s too many high school battle anime. The main character has an actual family with a mom, dad, and a well-stocked fridge. The final montage in the first episode that is kind of like an “Assemble Anime Avengers!” The various ways that the cat tries to eat the goldfish.

Some things that I didn’t like: The extraneous talking cat, the random and bad CG idol dance in the ED, the poor background art, and the really bad fake anime titles. Isn’t it hard to be an anime about people who talk about anime when you can only make vague references to actual anime? Grow some balls and actually critique some anime. The imouto show of this season mentions a few shows by name. Strangely, for an anime about people who like to talk about anime, no one talks about the five anime that they want their significant other to watch to get to understand them better. Isn’t that a standard icebreaker for anime fans? Mmm, what’s the worst five anime to suggest to a significant other to watch to get to know you better? Let’s see… Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi (2009), Rizelmine, Aho Girl, Hand Shakers, and Avatar the Last Airbender.

(blog好き exclusive: This is one of two shows this season that has a space elevator in it.)

(Did I mention there’s a talking cat? There’s a talking cat.)

(Andohbytheway, there’s a torture room attached to the anime club room. So far, the show hasn’t explained it other than the talking cat has been trapped in it for months if not years plus there’s a mysterious beret inside. I like to think that it’s Gen Urubouchi’s beret.)


#6. Inuyashiki
MAPPA

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“If I told them, would they even cry?”

Inuyashiki is about teens. More specifically, about how teens are the worst. As a man who is closer in age to Inuyashiki-san than to teens, I can sympathize: teens are indeed the worst. Which teen is worse? His kids who don’t even give him an ear when he learns that he has less than three months to live? The teens on the train who are loud and obnoxious? The teens who tried to kill a homeless man because the Player Unknown Battlegrounds servers were down? The teen that will become his nemesis and be a horror to mankind? Or his daughter who didn’t want a puppy? What kid wouldn’t be excited about their dad bringing home a puppy? Especially a cute shibe? Teens. Are. The. Worst.

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, one thing I noticed immediately is that the protagonist is a 58 year old man, surpassing the protagonist of The Great Passage for oldest recent anime protagonist. And he isn’t drawn. He’s CG. At first, I wondered why MAPPA would chose to animate him in CG while characters around him are drawn. It’s a bit weird, and MAPPA integrates the two styles fairly well– then the reveal happens when he goes full Gundam. That scene’s animation is excellent. It’s amazing that in basically two seasons, MAPPA has worked on Altair, Virgin Soul, Kakegurui, and Garo and has done a good job at animation in all of them. Keep in mind all of these anime have aired since the last Kyoto Animation show, Maid Dragon. You can say that Kyoto is busy with all those Free! movies, but MAPPA is also working on the secret Kunihiko Ikuhara project. That’s impressive. To put it into further perspective, Bones, which has 5 separate animation teams, only has two anime so far this year.

Animation, old man, and teens aside, Inuyashiki is a fairly engrossing drama that has maybe one too many coincidences. The plot relies on the “this has to happen at this specific time in order to get the most emotional impact” formula. The teens didn’t just have to kill the homeless person. They have to kill him right after he gets a job after looking for a job for so long. Inuyashiki-san didn’t just get bad news that he is about to die, his shibe, Hanako, also pooped in the house. This kind of cheap coincidences just to serve up emotions makes me afraid we’ll get a John Wick moment with poor Hanako.

(I’m listening to the Inukami soundtrack as I write about Inuyashiki. I feel like you should know these things.)

(Body Horror: I guess the old man now poops through his arms, and Hanako licks it up.)


#5. Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Signal

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“I chose the NEET life. I’m an elite NEET!”

What if what if we made an anime with a thirty-something woman? Instead of a typical high school girl or a rare college lady protagonist? What if what if she were a salarywoman who throws away her career to play MMORPGs all day? What if what if MMORPGS are still relevant today like they were eight years ago? What if what if she turns into a NEET but befriends a cute guildmate? What if what if the cute guildmate lives near her and shops at the same convenience store? What if what if their guild leader works at the convenience store? What if what if? What if what if that anime were actually good?

Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Net-juu no Susume) is an interesting anime. One vein of drama that anime has yet to mine is the mindset of Japanese women as they approach thirty years old. This anime tries to tangentially capture that along with the general shame of being a NEET. Her diet consists of convenience store food to the point she gets embarrassed to go there. She doesn’t groom herself. She cleans her apartment by running a lint roller on her carpet. But I feel like it doesn’t glop on the despair enough– at least with respect to the empress of this genre, Tokyo Tarebata Girls. Recovery of an MMO Junkie is kindergarten level of despair compared to Tarebata. I’m also disappointed that the hot, younger blonde guy (who do 30 something lady protagonists all seemingly have 19 year old blonde guys on their radars?) is much, much nicer than the one in Tarebata. Moriko’s career is also glossed over– no one is concerned that a thirty-something year old just decided to quit to play MMORPGs? Her parents don’t call? Where is she getting the money from? Is she at least considering the job offer to be Queen of Manoyama?

The animation quality is low but acceptable. At the least the characters stay on model, there’s no annoying use of Adobe After Effects, and the monsters all look like Chinese knock-off Pokemon. I liked how the show contrasts Moriko’s in-game emotional state with her actual emotional state. I also like the how the OP is a character creator. I feel like that’s an idea that hasn’t been mined enough, much like Yuri on Ice‘s Instagram ED. I also like how the MMO has fishing– of course a Japanese MMO would have fishing in it.

(Why are the fish wearing santa hats? How do the hats stay on the fish? Why do fish need hats in the first place?)


#4. The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Wit Studio

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“I just want a home to return to.”

It’s a post-apocalyptic world where humans live in cities guarded with giant walls. Their only hope is a plucky young– wait, what? It’s not that kind of anime? Err… mmm… I mean… it’s Wit. There has to be a motherfucking wall. Ah! I got it! The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Mahoutsukai no Yome) is about the walls we keep around our hearts and how love is the man-eating titan that will break down those walls.

The start of this show is a bit lackluster. The heroine feels like she is defined by just her suffering, which is because she can see the supernatural. It’s a bit forced as other anime protagonists have the same power, like Ginko from Mushishi, book of friends bro, and the yeast boy in Moyashimon. I get it. She said some weird stuff as a kid because she can see spirits, and that has led he to the life of a lonely and neglected anime protagonist. She’s shunned by her family, but so are a lot of other people in other ways. Is she that different that someone whose family disowned them because they are gay? Because they married someone of a different ethnicity or religion? How many people think the only way out of those messes is to sell themselves into slavery? I’m reminded of Kumail in The Big Sick when he just told his family, “You’re not kicking me out of the family because I refuse to be kicked out.” The heroine here felt a lot less powerful than similar protagonists in similar situations.

The hero is also a bit one dimensional. He seems like a pervert at best and a pedophile at worst. But, there’s just something there (and absent from oh Aho Girl or My Girlfriend Is Snobitch) to suggest that this fantasy drama is about these two growing as characters and that the thin slicing of them is wrong. She’s not just a lancer. He’s not just a light novel author. As they start to break down the walls around their hearts, a story will develop with happiness and sadness. If the story reaches that potential, it would be an anime worth watching and discussing. If not, we can toss it back onto the heap of shows like Heroic Age, Gangsta, The Pilots Love Song, and Robotics;Notes of anime that started with potential but couldn’t deliver. I think The Ancient Magus’ Bride will be a story that anime typically does not tell.

Besides some spectacular music, some interesting visuals, and yet another powerful mage named “Ains-kun,” The Ancient Magus’ Bride takes place near London. It joins Harry Potter and Fate/Zero/Stay Night/Apocrypha in believing that England is the center of the magical universe. Why not Paris? Or Shanghai? Or Rome? Why England?

(Ainsworth keeps referring to Chise as, “Boku no PUPPY,” which I think was last used as an insult by Clubber Lang to Rocky Balboa. It’s one thing to refer to another person as your “puppy” if it’s a natural relationship, but right after you paid five million yen for her?)

(Body Horror: Some self-puncture wounds.)


#3. Garo Vanishing Line
MAPPA

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“Steak or tacos?”

The first scene of Garo Vanishing Line has Sword battling a boob monster. In episode three of Space Dandy, Dandy and the gang also battle a monster made of boobs. That sequence in Space Dandy was animated by Park Seong Ho, and he is now the director of Garo Vanishing Line. Park Seong Ho is one of MAPPA’s top animators (Yuri on Ice‘s OP for example), and this series is his first shot at direction. And it shows. Garo is even flashier with more, um, WWE-styled attitude. Even the setting seems to have been picked so he can make even flashier action sequences. This incarnation of Garo doesn’t take place a Spanish setting like Garo the Animation or Garo Guren no Tsuki‘s Heian period Japan but rather modern day New York (okay Russell City). Explosions? Motorcycles? Guns? ‘Murica.

Zaruba’s partner this time around is Saber Sword, who is what I imagine foreigners to think as the classical American superhero. He’s like a version of All Might who had one too many Four Locos. He stabs first, he rides Zaruba, who is now a kick-ass motorcycle, and he enjoys both steaks and bimbos. ‘Murica. I’m just disappointed MAPPA didn’t license some 80s rock for the soundtrack.

He’s paired with a teenaged girl who has a cracked iPhone as they fight horrors and unravel the mystery of “Eldorado.” So basically typical Garo fare. The story is an original work written by Kiyoko Yoshimura, who is best known as the writer of Happy Lesson and Night Wizard. So far, the story is serviceable, and it is interesting to see Garo set in the modern day. The main attraction is the action. It’s kinetic and feels like it has weight. I can picture Park Seong Ho focusing most of his time on the fight sequences. They are spectacular while other sequences that focus on exposition could be better. For example, there’s one scene early on with Sword and the girl talking while riding his bike, and you can tell that the background repeats. A lot. That is juxtaposed on the meticulous CG and hand drawn style of the Horrors against a much better CG animation of the Garo armor.

(Fashion Czar: “She went with the steak. Good choi– what? Tacos? Oh, [Sword] got the steak. He got butter on his steak?!”)

(Between this show and BBB S2, we have two shows this season set in a fictionalized version of New York. Both versions of New York has the city as a pseudo-portal to hell. Russell City though feels like what people who never been to New York think is New York. There is a lot of police brutality and a lot of crime– in Times Square. Also there’s no traffic in New York, and there’s no garbage piled up on the side of the roads. Also the “outskirts” of New York City look more like Stockholm’s Gamla Stan than either New Jersey or Brooklyn/Queens. I do give this show credit for having a classic New York-styled diner as a base of operation for the Makai Knights.)

(Body Horror: I mean, there’s a monster created from boobs.)


#2. Kino’s Journey
Lerche

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“Sometimes I wonder… am I a hopeless, foolish, petty person?”

After 14 years since her last TV series, Kino returns in the simplistically named, Kino’s Journey. The show does a good job at reacquainting us to the world of Kino: she speaks like a boy, she is a dead-eye with her persuaders, she has a talking motorrad that no one thinks twice of, and she never stays in a country more than three days. There’s also other Kino tropes like how the immigration station of every new country is more or less the same, as if the countries are all vastly different yet they managed to adopt some sort of standardized port of entry. Most cities are also surrounded by Attack on Titan-class walls. This new season looks and sounds great, except for some scenes where Hermes is animated in CG and look like they are Hot Wheels commercials. The series makes me nostalgic as Kino was an anime that I really enjoyed even before I seriously started anime blogging. It is one of the shows that made me think of the concept of the dispassionate observer watching a morality play. Kino is also interesting because she isn’t out there to necessarily help others.

Since I last watched Kino, I read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. I wonder if that’s where the idea for this light novel originally came from. Marco Polo… visiting different cities… not staying too long in each… and each city has its own “quirk” to say the least.

I think for people who haven’t seen the original series, I would recommend watching that first. There’s episodes that explain most of the Kino lore and backstory. Why Kino is named Kino. How did Kino meet Hermes. Who trained Kino to use a persuader. Maybe they will revisit some of those stories again, but judging that the first episode is a story that was published after the original TV series aired, I’m not sure. Hopefully, with the new anime series, a new publisher (I’ll even settle for Yen Press) will pick up where Tokyopop left off (volume one… sigh…).

(Did I mention there’s a talking dog? There’s a talking dog.)

(Kino’s VA changed from Ai Maeda to Aoi Yuki probably because Ai Maeda doesn’t do a lot of anime roles anymore.)

(Body Horror: Just a person getting slowly shot with a crossbow.)


#1. Juuni Taisen
Graphinica

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“Everybody… clap your hands!”

Juuni Taisen (Twelve Wars) is Nisio Isin’s take on zodiac animals, battle royale, and Fate/Stay Night. The show feels like it is hitting at a perfect time: Monogatari just closed out its main story line, Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds re-popularized the battle royale concept, and Fate/Apocrypha isn’t doing a traditional battle royale. Twelve animal-based families fight every twelve years for a wish much like the seven families vying for the Holy Grail, and there’s even a priest judge whom I suspect will betray everyone in episode ten.

Each of the twelve participants aren’t just accomplished fighters but also have a supernatural-ish power. It is almost like each one has a Noble Phantasm trump card, but unlike in Fate where you know a servant is most likely going to die soon after blowing his/her Noble Phantasm, not everyone in this war even gets to showcase their special powers before they die. The rules of the game seem to change as well, as it seems like the previous wars did not have a time limit, but this time around, it has a strict time limit with each participant being poisoned and will die in a day if they do not win. They also have to extract the poisonous substance from each other’s stomachs when they defeat each other, thus leading to some mild corpse mutilation.

So far, Juuni Taisen is impressive. Animation and action sequences are great, Nisio Isin tosses in his typical screwballs, and there’s a disturbing half-naked rabbit man thing. You can really tell it is a Nisio Isin story from his trademarks: He really likes “12,” he really likes characters dying in ways that feel cheap, he subverts anime storytelling norms, and he really likes symmetry. I like how in the first episode, the first zodiac animal dies in the same way that the zodiac animal made another character die earlier in the episode. It is very Nisio Isin. He has a very distinct style that Juuni Taisen drips with. My first fear is that we get another “slicing the shark in half” fake out that we had in Kataganagatari. My second fear is that with only twelve episodes, I kind of expect each episode to feature the character that dies that episode (i.e. the standard reality TV editing job), but I fully expect Nisio Ishin to subvert that expectation soon. Nonetheless, Juuni Taisen is an intriguing show combining both unexpected exposition and sharp animation.

(Kiss Shot: Tongue and saliva. Woohoo~)

(Body Horror: Dismemberment! Decapitation! Swallowing a giant pill!)

6 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, fall 2017 edition”

  1. How is it that you managed to watch like six otome boy band shows, but somehow missed Houseki no Kuni?

  2. >> I also might not rank all shows from Chinese studios or shows that are mostly in CG.

  3. “Weird that Negi manages to destroy the clothing of all the girls except for Asuna’s bra and panties. Oh, Akamatsu-sensei.”

    Asuna’s anti-magic sort of prevents the worst effects of Negi’s magic from affecting her, although not fully since she hasn’t reached her full potential yet.

    As for why her and Negi’s DNA wasn’t combined ‘the other way’, other than the fact Negi loved another 3-A girl, Negi just couldn’t have children the normal fashion after becoming an immortal.

    I don’t blame you if you haven’t read the last few chapters of Negima and UQ Holder’s manga so far, Akamatsu has lost a lot of steam as a storyteller and worldbuilder, but pretty much all of your posed questions are answered there.

  4. The first episode of BBB actually was two different stories put together for a single episode. Plus Chaos is the natural state of Hellsalems Lot, so its not being all over the place and more showing the daily life of living in a New York that got breached by Hell and now demons hang out there.

    Juuni Taisen is Nisio doing what he does best: making countless anticlimaxes that leaves you feeling blueballed so hard they freeze.

  5. Body horror: My ahegao face upon noticing there’s a new thin slice.

    Beta horror: Morimori’s shorter hair.

  6. The suspended train thing actually exists in Japan. It’s in Kamakura.

    Train was last seen in Midori no Hibi.

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