thin slicing the new season, winter 2018 edition

15,000 words, 33 anime, 1 family to feed, and 1 wish-granting, grail-like substance (again).

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 validate your choice of anime in Yowamushi Pedal, Saiki Kusuo, or the generally awful Gin no Guardian at this point. I also might not rank all shows from Chinese studios or shows that are mostly in CG.

A twist for this season: ROME IS BURNING UMU

Quick recap from last season: Which is the hornier couple? Morimori-san and Sakurai, Chise and Ainsworth, Steak and Tacos, Nisio Isin and a Japanese dictionary, or Sieg and Ruler?

#MR IRRELEVANT. Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou
Seven Arcs


“You would have a brother bed his sister?!”

Our long thirteen year wait is finally over. Basilisk, a franchise that I thought couldn’t continue because everyone was dead at the end, continues with Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou, a two cours anime that no one (especially me) asked for. Basilisk, if one remembers, was originally a Gonzo series about two ninja families battling to the death much like a Greater Grail War. Each ninja has their own special power– a Noble Phantasm if you will. It’s basically Fate/Apocrypha except Sieg was in love with the other Ruler. And you got to see Semiramis’ breasts whenever episode viewership would drop.

Now for the sequel… yikes… where to begin? Instead of giving us a recap or any sort of orientation to where we are in the plot, Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou just shows us Oboro committing seppuku in front of Gennosuke in its OP. There’s little indication in the first episode where we are now in the setting except we’re after the events of Basilisk. Also, we’re tossed into many story vignettes without any reason to care about any of them. The characters act and behave like characters in the middle of a 24 episode series, except it’s the first episode. Also since most of the characters (really everyone) from Basilisk is dead, who are these people? What happened to the world in the past few years? What is their connection to the original cast? The only plot-like substance we are tossed is that one random lord is rushing to save his sick mom, like what is he going to do? He isn’t a doctor? And also that there’s two kids, Neo Gennosuke and Neo Oboro, who apparently have to bed each other despite being brother and sister, in order to save the ninja race.

We all know where this is leading: a time skip so all the kid ninjas can grow up and then have them recreate Romeo and Juliet yet again. Can we please get this series to cop another Shakespearean work instead? Maybe Taming of the Shrew? Maybe Hamlet? Maybe Richard III? What is going to be different enough for me to care about Romeo and Juliet again? Is the twist this time Neo Gennosuke commits seppuku first?

Besides a lack of plot-like substance and also character introductions, the show has been a low quality production. There are many scenes that seem frozen that I started to get up and whack my TV as if it got stuck. Nope. Seven Arcs just failed to get that animation sequence done in time. There’s also a lot of dark shadows over people’s faces, as if the animators didn’t have time to draw in the faces or something. There’s a lot of bad cuts, wonky camera angles, and the dreaded RPG-like rectangular inserts of people talking. It’s like the show is being directed by a fourteen year old. I’m just really confused why anyone would think it is a good idea to continue Basilisk.

(Somehow, inexplicably, Basilisk led to one of blog most viewed posts ever. The last comment on that post was from 2013– a solid 8 years after Basilisk went into the bargain bin at Best Buy. And it amazes me people still try to defend that show as anything other than pulp action nonsense.)

#32. Citrus


“What’s the point of being a high school girl if everyone dresses so drab?”

Citrus is the most tropetastic anime of this season, and this show should be studied as a case study in how not oversaturate a story with tropes. There are just so many lazy tropes and lazy dialogue that I can only imagine that this show was birthed by committee much like Poochie on The Simpsons. How this show managed not to have a scene where the characters walk down a sakura-lined path seems like a grievous oversight. Oh where to start with my criticism of this show. Maybe with the dialogue that might have come out of a 1970s speak and say Barbie like, “A high school girl only needs friends and fashion!” Or maybe with the nonsensical character designs– the main characters are the only ones who deviate from the dress code of this all-girls school where everyone else look like generic Lego minifigs.

Or maybe with the highly contrived plot– hey the main protagonist transferred into an all-girls school where she sticks out like a sore thumb and she meets the student council president who molests her then we get a two minute explanation of how great and powerful the student council president is then protagonist catches the student council president smooching the hottie teacher and then protagonist goes home to meet her new step-dad but surprise step-dad when to America leaving her to live with his daughter who surprise is the student council president and now main protagonist has to share a room with the student council president who immediately sexually assaults her. My gosh. The only way the plot can be more contrived is if the protagonist discovers that she has an illness, and she can only recover by drinking the student council president’s saliva.

I just have a bunch of questions. The protagonist’s mom uprooted her family to live with her new husband, but he immediately leaves for America before even meeting the protagonist. This seems beyond weird. If he were leaving anyway, why have move at all? At what point did the mom think it was the right time for her new husband and her daughter to finally meet? At her funeral? Okay, so the mom moved everyone to be with the step-dad who now disappeared, and she has to take in his daughter. The daughter has been living with her dad, and she casually drops that she hasn’t seen him for five years. Five fucking years he hasn’t seen his own daughter! Who lives with him! If he can’t take thirty seconds to say “Good morning” to his own daughter, when did he have time to woo and seduce protagonist’s mom? Even Kiritsugu spoke to Saber more often! Let alone have time for a wedding? Then his daughter just shows up and moves in with the protagonist and her mom. Wait, what? Why would she do that? She has been living by herself just fine for the past five years. Also, since she got her boxes delivered to the new house, why didn’t the mom warn the protagonist about having to live with a new step-sister as well? The house is also seemingly gigantic except these two high school girls have to share a room together. The whole plot is just really poorly contrived to get two closet lesbians to sleep in the same room together.

Even though Citrus is riddled with tropes and contrivances, the worst part of the show is probably how dumb it assumes the viewer to be. Everything is spelled out. Nothing is subtle. Characters have to explain with dialogue what they are doing and feeling even if it feels really out of place. Also, in case the viewer doesn’t realize this is a yuri ai anime, let’s put in multiple kissing scenes into the OP. Let there be no question that the appeal of this show is two female characters making out with each other.

(Honestly if you just want to see sad kissing in anime, let me redirect you to Scum’s Wish or Devilman Crybaby.)

(The main protagonist somehow justifies staying at the all-girls school because she thinks a teacher is hot. Isn’t that the setup for another shoujo manga series? Or at least 34.875% of all shoujo manga series?)

(Fashion Czar: “Garish. Her accessories don’t even match her outfit.”)

(Trope Tags: #transferstudent #expositionnotexplanation #studentcouncilpowerfantasy #absentparent #surpriselivingconditions)

#31. Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens


“Good, good. You’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”

One good thing about Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens? One of the main protagonists is from Taiwan. That’s it. Everything else is terrible. Call this show a heroin junkie’s Bungo Stray Dogs severely undervalues Bungo Stray Dogs, and it’s not like that was a good show either. Funimation, you can use that as your back of the BD quote. You’re welcome. If Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens was done as a parody anime, maybe it would be better, but it tries so damn hard to be edgy, cool, yet also “fun” in a Stray Dogs or DRRR! kind of way. Let’s start with the premise that there’s a district of Japan, one of the safest countries in the world, that has a population that consists of 3% hitmen. That’s a lot for a very specialized occupation. There’s also professional hitmen who special in killing other hitmen. How do they keep this 3% number? The hitmen also kill each other with such wonton that seems past comical.

There’s also a company that can best be described as the Uber of hitmen called “Redrum.” Yep. That’s how creatively bankrupt this show is. They couldn’t come up with a better name for the Uber of hitmen other than spelling “murder” backwards? It was cute on Twin Peaks a generation ago but man seems so lame today. So when someone joins this company, the company doesn’t train them to be hitmen or anything. They give the new hire a contract to kill plus some business cards. That’s it. Admitted, it’s not much different than signing up to be an Uber driver, but I assume murdering people is a bit harder than driving someone to the airport. The poor new hire has to go out and buy murder tools and figure out how to murder by themselves. He is then forced to go to Family Mart and buy gloves, string, masking tape, and a mask. I’m just thinking, “Is this secretly Pop Team Epic?” No. Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens plays it all very seriously.

The main characters consist of a crossdressing guy from Taiwan, who never really explains why he crossdresses or why being from Taiwan is significant. It’s like the author couldn’t think of any other way of making an otherwise bland and uninteresting character interesting. “I don’t know. Taiwan? Maybe a third rate anime blog in California will pick up on it.” The other main character is just as dull and uninteresting except he wears a lot of wide-necked sweaters. He looks like a high school girl wearing wide-necked sweaters on 90210 trying to seduce Luke Perry. There’s also a character who loves to choke women to death while having sex, and he asks his mom to dispose of the dead corpses. He reminded me a lot of the kid in The Simpsons Christmas episode who orders his mom to buy two copies of Bonestorm because he ain’t sharing, and Bart calls him the happiest kid ever. There is no character that I even find remotely interesting or worth following in this show. It has a worse character batting average than reverse harem anime about hot men being personifications of famous Japanese swords.

As expected, animation production feels like it is a low budget show from 2004 let alone 2018. Action sequences, for a show about murdering, aren’t done well, and the soundtrack can only be described as “inspired by elevator music.” Backgrounds are drab and boring and make Japan seem uninteresting, which anime should never, ever do.

(The only funny part of this show is that there’s a scene of the mayor going, “Crime is down in our city!” sandwiched between scenes of people getting murdered. I mean, is crime down because there was so much murdering last year that there’s fewer people around this year to murder? Maybe he’s technically right.)

#30. Junji Ito Collection
Studio Deen


“A curse upon you! Now you’ll see some true horror!”

Junji Ito Collection is all the random c-tier Junji Ito short stories that we can mash together into a show. It is definitely not an all-stars collection like Fumoffu (with the rugby episode still one of the best examples of horror anime still). My main issue with this show is that nothing of merit really happens. It feels like someone is running through a PowerPoint presentation rather than telling me a story. It also tries really hard to force irony to the point that I can predict what happens next just based on what would be the most ironic. Okay, in this next scene, it’ll be rain on their wedding day. There’s a lot of things that should be shocking or grotesque, but they are presented in such a sterile and matter-of-factly way that they lose all impact. Again, this anime has a weird PowerPoint vibe to it, which Junji Ito stories shouldn’t have. What happened to the Studio Deen that gave us killer lolis? Maybe it’s that the stories are too short or that not enough characterization has gone into the characters for us to care about them or maybe it’s just the low tier Junji Ito stories that are finally making their way into anime form.

The show has typical Junji Ito depraved people doing depraved things, but I feel like it is missing something. For the most part, the show feels like a bad Hell Girl episode. Deen’s production is also not great with some wonky character proportions and sparse animation. The production feels like a few steps back from the excellent work on Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju.

#29. Killing Bites
Linden Films


“As you’ve witnessed, that is my greatest creation.”

If you just go by anime, and, specifically, GTO, DRRR!, and Killing Bites, you’d think Japan is filled with vans of teenaged virgins kidnapping high school girls. Sigh. Do I need to write something about Killing Bites? There’s not much to this show. It is yet another fanservice-laden battle anime feature half-naked high school girls battling each other. The twist this time is that they are furries, which, uh, doesn’t make things better. All of the fighters have animal DNA injected into them so they can turn into their respective source animals. Oddly enough, the men all pretty much fully turn into a lion or a bear, but the girls keep almost all of their human features except they gain fluffy ears and a tail. I wasn’t 15,312% sure that this was a titillation anime until we saw nipples in the first episode. Maybe the author is too into internet memes because the female protagonist’s source animal is a honey badger. Yep. Anime has given us a sexy honey badger furry.

There’s not much of a plot except four shadowy organizations bet on these battles for fun, and they watch the battles unfold via a giant orbiting telescope. I’m not kidding. They went into orbit to pursue their hobby of watching sexy furry ladies battle each other. They couldn’t use ground-based cameras. The male protagonist is yet another user-insertable everyman. He seems really out of place, and the show puts up the flimsiest excuse why he needs to start living with sexy honey badger girl. He is an unnecessary cheap knock-off version of Ryouta from Kakegurui.

The music is almost all bad 80s guitar strums, and not in a good Guilty Gear type of way. I guess it fits into the show? The costume design is atrocious and hideous. The female honey badger lead runs around in a ripped tank top and white panties, even walking down major streets. She doesn’t even put pants on to go to the family restaurant. I find it amazing that in every battle all of her clothes gets ripped off the same way leaving the same underwear. I can see the Fashion Czar’s veins pulse when she was watching this show.

(Fashion Czar: “They should have just named this show, ‘Sexy Honey Badger.'”)

(Trope Tags: #surpriselivingconditions)



If I had to rename my blog again, I would definitely name it “Gáe Blog Alternative.”

#28. Dame x Prince Anime Caravan
Studio Flad


“Burn the awesomeness of my image in your mind!”

I’ll go with the Fashion Czar’s summary of Dame x Prince Anime Caravan: It’s an anime about a young girl discovering that men are idiots. It’s better than my summary: Sentai Filmworks once again licenses an anime based off of a smartphone game with no US following or release, English Wikipedia page, or even from an established studio. For the most part, Dame x Prince is inoffensive and forgettable. There’s a princess who has to resolve issues, but there’s a lot of pretty boy slash idiot princes who make things difficult. The princes also cannot decide if they want to bone the princess or each other or themselves. The plot is pretty disposable. It’s all about prince abs and the shouta prince. And is there some sort of anime law that if there’s a shouta character in an otome game turned anime, they must wear shorts all the time? If not, that might be the new 75th Modern Law of Anime.

I’d like to think that the backstory of the show is that the princesses’ mom and dad just want to bone all day long, so they send her out on these meaningless tasks to get her out of the house. Also, their kingdom is just a fancy farmhouse. They have no staff, no laborers, no followers… are we sure she’s really a princess? How does one family control land equal in size to two major kingdoms with thousands of knights and stuff? Are these princes idiots because the audience demands ditzy, airhead hunky males? We couldn’t just wait for the next season of Free?

(Is the otome anime boom flatlining? I feel like this season had the least otome anime premier in a while.)

(The “clever?” part of the show is that the female lead’s name is “Ani” and she’s a princess so she’s “Ani-hime” but that can be abbreviated to “Anime” somehow?)

(Trope Tags: #shoutashorts)

#27. Marchen Madchen
Hoods Entertainment


“I don’t mean she has few friends, or even very few friends, or she has some people she knows, but she’s not sure if she can call them ‘friends.'”

The more I watched of Marchen Madchen (Fairy Tale Girls), the more I got bored of it. It’s yet another light novel about a girl who gets sucked into another world to enroll at a battle high school where cute girls do cute things in a harem setting. This show felt like the author couldn’t decide on a trope, so he or she just smashed all of them together. That always works well. The main protagonist is quite boring, and her “woe is me because I like reading and am so damn lonely” shtick becomes very repetitive. The show tries to make us feel extra sad for her by killing off her mom, forcing her to hold her dead mom’s picture at the funeral, and then instantly have the dad remarry a sexy professional office lady. I guess that’s a lot for her to absorb? The rest of the characters are just poorly written. There’s a Fang-tan that threatens physical violence on the poor heroine for no apparent reason. There’s the only adult at the magic high school who likes stealing girls clothing or something. The characters feel like caricatures.

The hook is supposed to be that these magical books are the familiars that the girls use to change into magical battle girls or something. It sounds good in theory, but aside from the main protagonist going “woe is me thus I read,” the books might as well be magical crystals or charms. No one actually reads a book in this show apparently. They may flip through it, but no actual reading of words is performed. There’s also a hilarious scene where the main character goes to buy a bunch of books at the bookstore, sits down at a fast food place, and then complains that she has nothing to read. She just bought a bunch of books! She’s treating her books as if they were a Steam game library.

Also Marchen Madchen‘s animation felt unfinished. It’s not as bad as Basilisk, but it felt like scenes were rushed or not animated to full competency. The first scene is just reused footage from about halfway through the first episode, and the OP is just recycled scenes from just the first episode. I can only imagine how quality this show will become a few episodes in.

(Fashion Czar: “She’s wearing high heels on a tatami floor.”)

(Puppy Watch: A shibe borked at a ghost.)

(Trope Tags: #surpriselivingconditions #absentparents #isekai #battlehighschool)

#26. Toji no Miko
Studio Gokumi


“I want to win!”

Toji no Miko (Katana Maidens) is about virgin girls battling each other and also bad CG monsters with spiritual katanas. It is a bad 1990s anime that makes me long for Bamboo Blade. One, the name is bad. Katana Maidens sounds like a 1990 hentai with tentacles monsters. Two, the girls are vastly underequipped and prepared for what they have to do. They have to fight off monsters, but they only get to wear their school uniforms? Why would the JSDF send them out like that? We know armor exists in this world because one girl has some armor plus all the male soldiers are there in full army gear. Three, the girls have to prove themselves in a tournament that reminds me of Two Car, which is never a good thing. Four, we have a girl try to assassinate the chief katana maiden, and the protagonist, instead of apprehending her when she has the chance, decides to help her. The plot is a mess, the characters are just cheap fanservice, and the premise feels really out of place today in 2018. Five, the show is just boring. It has the pacing and development of a girls being cute anime except its trying to be an action anime at the same time.

I guess one good thing about this show is that the animation feels finished. Production is below average to average, but at least it is done, which I can’t say about some of the previous shows on this list. This show is basically an ad for the upcoming mobile game for this franchise.

(Fashion Czar: “You know that girl is important and powerful. She gets to wear pants.”)

#25. Pop Team Epic
Kamikaze Douga



Pop Team Epic is the Millennial divide anime. Seems like the more Millennial you are, the more you’ll like this show while the more Gen X you are, the more you’ll scoff as this being a homeless man’s Excel Saga. There’s just a lot of rapid fire gags of Family Guy quality being tossed about in short skits a la Robot Chicken, and, for me, they just fall flat. Mad Magazine would be embarrassed to run some of the gags. None of them are inventive or do anything new. Do we need yet another parody of Totoro and Mei waiting for the catbus? Do we need yet another parody of Final Fantasy, Gundam, and Skyrim? Are we still doing arrow to the knee jokes in 2018? Maybe we can look for erohon under mattresses while we’re at it. But give Pop Team Epic credit for having the first Your Name parody that isn’t much of a parody but rather a quick summation of the plot in ten seconds. Also, since it is 2018, what the fuck are you even doing if you don’t include a Fate parody? Why even have a parody show if we’re not going to tackle the 800lb hippopotamus franchise of 2018?

I have seen people extol Pop Team Epic as a genius and transcendent level anime because it makes fun of anime tropes. If pointing out tropes and writing cheap digs at them is all it takes, please adapt blogsuki as an anime. (Licensing rates are very affordable. Contact my lawyer for details.) Pop Team Epic reminds me of an episode of The Office where Michael Scott arranges for a roast of himself. You can probably guess how it goes. Everyone scorches him. No mercy, not even from Dwight. Pam even roasts him with a small penis joke. So the day after the roast, Michael goes into the Dunder Mifflin office and just says shit like, “Stanley, you’re fat. Boom! Roasted! Dwight, you’re a suck up! Boom! Roasted! Oscar, you’re gay! Boom! Roasted!” That’s Pop Team Epic. It’s just twenty-four minutes of that Michael Scott gag going, “Harem anime, you’re lewd! Boom! Roasted! Isekai anime, you’re not creative! Boom! Roasted! Totoro, you’re waiting for a cat bus! Boom! Roasted!”

(“Pop Team Epic, where’s your Tide pods and Doki Doki Literature Club hot takes? Nowhere! Boom! Roasted!”)

Needless to say, I think this show would work better if it had some actual commentary on the anime tropes it tries to parody. It feels like it is content to list tropes– BOOM! ROASTED!– rather than comment on them in an insightful way. Excel Saga just did it better.

(Good news though: Pop Team Epic does animate the first fidget spinner in anime. Or is that a sign for how creatively bankrupt the show is? Rather than include it in an actual funny gag, it kind of just tosses a fidget spinner out there in a “Hey fellow Millennials” way. We ran out of ideas! I don’t know! Fidget spinners!)

(Fashion Czar: “Robot Chicken has more subtlety than this show.”)

#24. Gakuen Babysitters
Brain’s Base


Words aren’t enough to convince him.

Gakuen Babysitters (School Babysitters) is straight up about child indentured servitude. Main protagonist’s parents die a plane crash, thus making him the sole caretaker of his toddler little brother. (If we go by just anime statistics, plane travel would be riskier than storming the beaches of Normandy.) So instead of finding any family who would take them or have them become wards of the state, a random old lady decides to adopt them. Why? Because she also lost her son and his wife on the same plane. Okay, I’m rolling my eyes a bit. The old lady is granted immediate custody of the kids because why the hell not, and she promptly puts them at work at the school where she is the headmistress. First thing she does when the two boys arrive? Show them to their room? Give them a snack? Ask how they are feeling? Nope. She instantly tosses the older brother, who is a middle schooler by the way, into the school’s daycare center to work as a babysitter.

Yep, she adopted these two boys because she’s too cheap to pay someone to do the job. She wanted indentured servants. Even if we look past the whole indentured servitude part of the story, there’s just a lot of questions I’d like to ask. For instance, when she meets the main character, she asks him if he knows how to change a diaper. He replies, “Yes,” to which she replies that he’s more than qualified to be a babysitter. Wait, what? It’s one thing to be a babysitter for parents who want a night out. It’s another thing to be a babysitter at an established business that has many kids. Shouldn’t he be licensed or something? Maybe go through basic training and learn, at the very least, how to get medical help if needed? You know how harem anime sometimes rushes really fast to show the whole harem in the first episode or how battle anime has to have a battle in the first episode? Who would trust a room full of babies with a stranger? It’s like they had to rush to show the babies and toddlers in this first episode. I feel like a lot of exposition was glossed over. Furthermore, you’d think that if she were the headmistress of the school, she would have a new school uniform ready for the main character when he arrived. Nope. He has to endure the shame of wearing his old one.

More importantly, who is the target audience of this show? I feel like it has to be a very specific audience, like young girls who thinks being a babysitter is the bees knees but haven’t fully discovered how wonderful Kylo Ren’s abs are. So please make a guess: how long do you think the manga for Gakuen Babysitters have been running for? A few months? A few years? Give a guess. It’s been running for nine years. Nine years. Holy moley.

Animation production is budget, and it’s sad to see a studio like Brain’s Base devolve into budget anime status. The character designs are a bit wonky with the headmistress looking like a villain from One Piece, and the toddlers being ridiculously small. One of the toddlers was barely the size of his mom’s boot. Also half the toddlers sound like actual toddlers while the other half sound like old men.

(Most of the kids, save one, are about the same age. Did all of the mom teachers at this school decide to get pregnant at the same time so they can coordinate their child births? Why aren’t the mom teachers mad that the school is basically using middle school students to look after their kids instead of hiring actual qualified staff? Is untrained high school boys actually considered good daycare workers in Japan as in “Well, it was between a meth addict, a golden retriever, and this high school boy.” There’s a lot of unanswered questions in this show that can only have creepy answers if one ponders upon the questions long enough.)

(Trope Tags: #absentparents #surpriselivingconditions)

#23. Beatless


“I did not have an owner, so he graciously adopted me.”

My first thought when I saw the scene where the sexy booby lady is lying in a capsule was, “She’s going to end up living with a sad sack high school protagonist, isn’t she?” Whelp, I’m right. Beatless is about a boy who magically stumbles across a battle droid and instantly solves his girl issues. Is Beatless a homeless man’s version of Chobits? No. Not even close. For a show about an artificial intelligence (that somehow has the body and personality of a high school girl), it feels very unnatural. The dialogue is very awkward. There’s a scene early on where the main protagonist talks to his friends about how androids live among them. It felt really unnatural as if the boys were reading a review of an iPhone line by line to each other. It’s a good example of how not to do an exposition dump. Later on, when the boy meets the battle android slash haremette, she basically goes through an EULA before she makes a contract with him. Nothing quite like signing an EULA for romance.

The show tries to do some sort of social commentary about androids in society and about them trying to be human, but it’s done in a very hamfisted, unsubtle way. It is no Eve of Jikan. The plot is also typical anime delusional self-insertion, wish-fulfillment fantasy nonsense. The show doesn’t even make an attempt to pair the loser male lead and the sexy robot android up. She literally just shows up when he gets randomly attacked, and she tells him that the scared and terrified look he gave as he was being attacked told her that he was going to be a good master. Either make a half-hearted attempt on an exposition level to justify why these two met rather or just don’t even bother and say, “It was just by chance! It’s just dumb luck! Who cares? You’re just here to see sexy androids.”

(The protagonist’s sister is probably my favorite character of this show. She seems to have a wardrobe that consists of nothing but T-shirts with food images on them.)

(Fashion Czar: “Is this how you dress a battle droid? It’s strapless! At least give it straps. Y’all got no support. Oh, now she’s in a sexy pose. Doesn’t seem like the right time for it but okay.”)

(Trope Tags: #expositionnotexplanation #sakurawalk #surpriselivingconditions)

#22. Slow Start


“If this were a visual novel, this would be a dialogue choice.”

Slow Start is a very slow starter. *groan* Slow Start is yet another cute girls doing cute things do-nothing anime. *groan* Slow Start has not much going for it in its blandless and inoffensiveness thus will be promptly forgotten in five years. None of the characters are memorable. The “conflicts” are so vanilla that I can take one character’s insecurity about her name and the main character’s worry about making friends and put them into a cake that I’m baking. But, hey, that’s par for the course for a modern cute girls doing cute things anime. Unfortunately, there’s no weird hook like being part of a rakugo club or art club or something to break up the nauseating sweet dialogue.

One thing that confuses me about this show is that the absent parent trope goes so far that the main character, Hana, doesn’t live her parents, but she calls them regularly. She also lives with her landlady, who takes care of her as if she were her mom plot substitute. You know what would work as an older, motherly character who lives with her? Her mom. The show goes out of its way to show Hana living away from her parents but ends up with someone who mothers her anyway. Oh anime.

Another thing that confuses me about Slow Start is what does the title refer to? The fact that they are slow starters? That the girls don’t have ample melonpan yet? That they become fast friends thus an ironic title? What does it mean? What does “Citrus” mean? What does “Charlotte” have to do with time traveling X-Men? How does a title like “Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel: Presage Flower” seem like a good idea to anybody? Oh anime.

A-1’s production is okay, but it almost seemed like Aldnoah.Zero broke the company. They have been a shell of their former selves, and if they have to resort to making Slow Start to pay the pays, maybe there is some truth to the curse of Slaine Troyard.

(I couldn’t get Fashion Czar’s take on this show because she fell asleep right after the OP. Good luck selling $60 BDs of this show, Aniplex of America.)

(Mitigating Factor: One plot hole in the first episode is that when Hana tells her landlady slash mom replacement that there’s beautiful sakura trees near the station, the landlady says that she should go take a look and hasn’t been around the station lately. Two minutes later, she gives Hana a safety charm that she picked up from near the station. Lady, get your story straight. You were definitely at the cat cafe near the station for two hours.)

(Trope Tags: #absentparents #sakurawalk #transferstudent)

#21. Sanrio Boys


“I guess you could say that we’re the Sanrio Boys.”

Sanrio Boys is, I guess, an attempt by the Sanrio Corporation to retain their iron grip on girls who would normally age out of Sanrio merch. Now instead of just growing too old for Hello Kitty plushies, they can now envelope themselves in the Sanrio Boys mega franchise which spans manga, smartphone games, this new anime, and– you guessed it– plenty of merch. This show is typical otome game fare featuring a new boy being indoctrinated into a drama group filled with Sanrio lovers. One interesting quality of this show is how unabashedly wholesome it is. A bunch of guys get together for a Sunday date– what do they do? Get out of their train seats for old people, eat pork buns, get puppy kisses, and help a lost girl find her mom. They even manage to make friends with the lost girl because of their shared love of Sanrio characters. It’s so sappy and wholesome. But I think it’s the only way that the story could go or else the boys just seem really creepy otherwise.

(I did find it funny that the show depicts numerous ladies passing this random crying girl, but somehow all of them ignored her so the boys had to jump into action. Let me tell you something I have noticed about Japan: it has a lot of really nice old ladies.)

Most of the first episode deals how the main character’s love for Sanrio started because his grandma bought him a Pompompurin plushie. He loved the plushie and his grandma until some bullies made fun of it for liking a Sanrio toy. He tells off grandma (“I hate Pompompurin, and I hate you!”) and literally never speaks to her. We then get a sad montage of grandma getting sick. We then cut to the funeral where he regrets not speaking to his grandma. This is some serious manipulation: love your grandma even if she buys you girly Sanrio merch because if you don’t like it, grandma will die. Also, right after the funeral scene, we transition into this glorious shot. Oh anime. We barely even had time to mourn grandma.

For a Sanrio product, I think the character designs of the Sanrio Boys themselves are really lackluster. They all seem more like generic minor characters rather than avatars for Pompompurin, My Melody, and Hello Kitty. I’m not saying that the characters need to be as garish as the cast of Dynamic Chord, but it’s disappointing that Sanrio couldn’t come up with better character designs.

(Puppy Watch: Wholesome kisses.)

(There’s a Nijiya Japanese grocery store near me that has Hello Kitty carts for kids to push around. There’s a space specifically reserved for them with a sign asking people to please put them back after using. You would see toddlers very carefully putting their carts back, and sometimes the kids would adjust the carts so they are all looking nice and orderly. It’s very cute and very Japanese.)



Fate/Grand Order (2015-)

#20. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody


“Live long enough to be thirty, and this is what life is now like. Go ahead and laugh at me for being a corporate slave.”

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku) is yet another isekai anime where a random Japanese man gets teleported into a game world filled with lizard men, orcs, and hot, nubile elf haremettes. There’s really no rhyme or reason for the setup either. The main protagonist is a 29 programmer who is forced to do a “death march” for a mobile MMORPG, which seems like the most depressing thing to work on. He’s a programmer, but he also has to solve game balance issues as well as customer service? He falls asleep while programming, and he wakes up in this other world. That’s it. It’s not clear if there’s magic involved, if he’s dead, or if it is just a dream. It’s a lazy premise. At least Youjo Senki, Isekai Smartphone, and Knight’s and Magic had the guy die. It makes Sword Art Online‘s plot justification for going into SAO seem like a literary masterpiece and Recovery of an MMO Junkie seem like Game of Thrones. Maybe the guy is dead? Maybe he isn’t? Who cares?! He’s just now a superpowerful RPG dude living in a fantasy world. The show should just have done the Overlord method and not given any explanation than a bad one. Does giving the guy a backstory that he was worked to death make the show any better? Does it give his character any extra charm? Also, to complete the escapist fantasy, he is not only reborn in this RPG world, he’s reborn as his teenaged self. His 29 year self is apparently too old for RPGs.

Animation is kind of crude, and the animation staff really should have been put on a stricter death march to improve things. I can tell they were taking breaks for peeing and breathing instead of fixing some of the lackluster battle sequences. Peeing in a bottle is good enough for this staff! Seriously, though, this show is cribbing almost completely from Sword Art Online. The main protagonist’s outfit is like a Kohl’s version of Kirito’s, and there’s plenty of UI popups to remind us that he’s stuck in a mobile MMORPG. At least Kirito got stuck in an actual MMORPG instead of a sad mobile version. The backgrounds are really dreary and lackluster, and the character designs of the characters are all very basic and boring. They seem like mobile MMORPG quality.

Also, inexplicably, Wake Up, Girls! is prominently involved in Death Mark Isekai with the idol slash anime group singing both the OP and ED. The cast of WUG also provides voices for all of the female characters except the main female protagonist, who is voiced by Rie Takahashi, our beloved shielder-class kouhei.

(Trope Tags: #isekai #mmorpg)

#19. Grancrest Senki
A-1 Pictures


“Why do I have to serve a lewd count?”

Grancrest Senki (Record of Grancrest War) is like someone watched Fate, Highlander, Sword Art Online, and Underwater Ray Romano and couldn’t decide on which concept to copy so he copied all of them. Grancrest is a clusterfuck of ideas. There’s mages who can make contracts with ser– err– knights. There’s magic crests that mages steal from each other by defeating each other as if there can only be one. There’s a fantasy setting that screams “Hey, I was made well after Sword Art Online was popular!” There is a whole empire building thing where the protagonists are building an empire to stop an evil much like Utawarerumono. I’m okay with all of it, and it’s not any dumber than typical modern fantasy anime… except… my goodness, it has some of the worst outfits in anime.

The male lead, Theo, has only armor on his left arm. There’s even a plot point where he gets injured because someone stabs him in his right, unarmored arm. You’d think he would ask for a full coat of armor like other knights in this show, but, nah, dude is happy with just one protected arm. Siluca, the female protagonist, has probably the most confusing outfit in a recent fantasy anime. One, her original school clothes look okay, but then she gets contracted by an evil count (we know he’s evil by how he swirls his wine) and the count insists that she wears a sexy mage getup. What is with the floating cape? Or the various layers of boots? How can a skirt be that tiny and low and not show off pubes? Or why is there a door on her skirt? Why does she have different lengths of gloves? Why does the jewel of her choker seem to float? The kicker is that she eventually defeats the count the contracts with Theo instead, but she decides to keep on wearing the slutty mage clothes. I made sure to watch the credits carefully to see if Hot Topic was on the production committee… sadly, they weren’t.

(Fashion Czar: “She said she had a dumb outfit. If the main character thinks that the outfit is dumb, maybe rethink the outfit.”)

#18. Mitsuboshi Colors
Silver Link


“You’ve gotten too corrupt.”

Based on the previews, I thought Mitsuboushi Colors (Three Star Colors) was going to be yet another low calorie cute girls doing cute things show. It kind of is. It kind of isn’t. It’s more of quick slice-of-life vignettes of bored grown men entertaining themselves by trolling three little girls but getting trolled back in return. It’s like a moe take on Dennis the Menace. The show follows three color-coded girl– red, violet, and blue– who formed a club called “Colors,” and they have fun with the adults around Ueno Park. It’s like an elementary school version of Durarara!!! with less supernatural and more rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Stuff I like: The show is upbeat and cheerful with vibrant colors. The backgrounds of Ueno Park and its surroundings are well done. The girls are animated well, and they even have regular outfit changes. It’s almost like people wear different clothes each day. Some of the gags are well done, like the one where the girl enters a bakery screaming, “POOP!” I like the girl who keeps going, “GAME CLEAR!” whenever she solves a mystery. “Colonel Monochrome” is a great name for a cat.

What I didn’t like: I’m not sure if the show’s premise can hold up for an entire cours, and there has to be some major suspension of disbelief that three elementary-aged girls can setup a secret base in Ueno Park. I visited Ueno Park last year, and I don’t recall large wooded areas where girls can build a shack and not be discovered by park personnel. Batou, I guess moonlighting from GitS, is one of the old men who interacts with the girls, and he wears pretty bad glasses each time. Colonel Monochrome has no pupils and might be the spawn of Devilman and the headmistress of Gakuen Babysitters.

(Fashion Czar: “These girls are my heroes.”)

#17. Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san
Studio Gokumi & AXsiZ


“I will surely eat ramen again today.”

Do you want to see high school girls serving up hot ramen-slurping money shots? Maybe Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san (Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles) is for you. I originally watched the live action drama version of this show, and the drama and anime version have very different tones. The premise is the same. There’s a high school student, Koizumi, who loves eating ramen and has a food orgasm after enjoying a bowl. She is also very knowledgeable about ramen plus is actually very considerate of the restaurants that she visits. However, one thing to note is that ramen is typically seen as a male food item (though that has changing) as explained in the movie, Tampopo. So the drama version really plays up the fact that this little high school girl shouldn’t be capable of eating so much ramen– it almost becomes some sort of Man vs. Food atmosphere. For this anime version, though, we see the action through the viewpoint of a girl, Yuu, who wants to be Koizumi’s friend. It turns into a weird stalker atmosphere. Yuu constantly follows Koizumi around and ordering what she orders. It is a bit creepy to the point Koizumi even asks Yuu, “Can you please stop stalking me?”

I think both versions have their charms. The anime one does a better job of presenting and explaining the types of ramen. It is definitely more of an instructional food anime vibe. The live action version has more comical reactions from the crowd plus less stalking. I would rank Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san higher except it has a fatal flaw: it makes me want to eat ramen after watching it.

(Mitigating Factor: The ED features a progression of TVs through time. The last TV it features? An iPhone.)

(Trope Tags: #sakurawalk #transferstudent)

#16. How to Keep a Mummy


“It’s even more terrifying because it’s unexpected.”

As the owner of a needy puppy, How to Keep a Mummy (Miira no Kaikata) hits a bit too close to home. I can see my puppy’s eyes right now glaring into me wondering why am I making these weird clickity-clack noises with my fingers rather than tossing her a ball. (I have a mechanical keyboard because I type so damn much.) This show is a lot more charming and entertaining than I expected it to be. Basic premise is that the protagonist receives a gift from his deadbeat dad, whom instead of visiting his son or sending him money, just sends him a weird present every three months. This weird present just so happens to be a mummy casket with a tiny adorable mummy inside. I have so many questions. How did the dad smuggle an artifact like this out of Egypt? How does the casket have a Christian cross on it? Why does the casket have to be so big if the mummy is so small? How does an Egyptian mummy know traditional Japanese bowing techniques? Why doesn’t the kid who has a computer in the house look up “mummy” on Wikipedia instead of an encyclopedia? And what is the mummy so damn small? Was it a fetus that got mummied?

Simple and shoddy premise aside, the show reminded me of when my puppy was so little. It was already scary for me to try to figure out how to care for her so I can only imagine how terrified she was of moving into a new home away from her puppy mom and dad. I remember she was so afraid to drink water and eat kibble that she didn’t do either until I mixed in a little chicken broth to both, then she quickly ate and drank and then passed out laying next to my leg. She then woke up and ran into the other room to pee… oh boy. Puppy life.

Animation and production for this show is low budget at best. The backgrounds are simple, plain, and look like they were done over the lunch break of some poor overworked first-year animator. The characters are simple and boring, and really the only compliment that I can give it is that the cabbage didn’t become quality cabbage. The animation feels like something from the early 00s.

(Another puppy story. Once upon a time, the Fashion Czar and I took our puppy with us when we visited her parents. My in-laws had a lap dog in their house at the time. My puppy hates laps. She might grace you by sleeping next to your leg, but she will never in any situation sit in your lap for more than a minute. My in-law’s dog loves laps. So one day, I was the only person sitting down while everyone else was busy making dinner or something. Out of desperation, my in-law’s dog decides to sit in my lap. Well, that made my puppy intensely jealous. My puppy came with a stuffed animal in her mouth and whacked my in-law’s dog with the stuffed animal. When that didn’t dislodge my in-law’s dog from my lap, my puppy decided to growl and tried to forcibly chase the dog off. Puppy jealousy is a thing.)

(Puppy Watch: I believe this is the anime in a while where the protagonist lives with a puppy.)

(Trope Tags: #absentparents #surpriselivingconditions)

#15. Kokkoku
Geno Studio


“Don’t that make you crazy wow”

2018 is off to a great start if we can get an anime with incomprehensible Engrish singing. Kokkoku delivers! This anime features a 22 year old female protagonist who is basically the most responsible person in her very irresponsible family. She is trying to keep her family from ruin while trying to get a job in Tokyo at the same time. Her life becomes immeasurably more complex when her little nephew gets kidnapped. You’re led to believe that the kidnappers want money. No. In a very nice twist, it’s revealed that they are after this family’s secret that no one other than the grandpa knew about: they can freeze time.

I like the suspense and overall mystery of the show, but Kokkoku is held back some by the anime production. Visually, the show is very bland and offers the most generic of characters and backgrounds. The also the director of the show seems to not treat the audience with any subtlety. When it is first revealed that the grandpa has stopped time, the show goes on a three minute long montage to show various objects and scenes frozen around the family with time stopped. We get it. It’s more effective to just show the characters discovering it naturally than to have a long montage point it out. Also, the main protagonist is a strong character that the audience builds respect for as the show goes on. However, the ED features really out of place fanservice shots. It’s like “I don’t know. The show is brutal and dark so boobs.” It seems tonally out of place for this type of show. I’m also not a fan of the “We need to end every episode on a cliffhanger” storytelling method. My gosh. 1996 called. They want their storytelling techniques back.

There are also a few minor plot contrivances, like I’m supposed to believe that this lady is unemployable because the employers care about what job her dad has? I’m supposed to believe that this family portrayed as destitute can suddenly come up with a significant sum of money? I’m supposed to believe that the family doesn’t contact the police at all? “We’ll just walk into the abandoned building holding moneybags. Nothing will go wrong! Let’s not get the police involved.”

(Geno Studio has no entry on either Wikipedia or ANN as of this writing. I have a theory on this studio…)



It’s interesting that in the past twenty years, the seiyuu for Sakura Kinomoto or Sakura Avalon for Fox Kids watchers (CARD CAPTORS FEVER CATCH IT!), Sakura Tange, hasn’t done many major roles. Maybe a handful. Her last major role in the past four years is Jack the Ripper from Fate/Apocrypha. And now this season she’s the female lead for both Cardcaptor Sakura and also Fate/Extra.

#14. Takunomi
Production IMS


“Oh my! It’s like something out of a commerical.”

My first thought about Takunomi is, “Wait, Lawson’s is on the production committee?” It’s as half-length episode anime about grown ladies in Tokyo who like to drink alcohol. The show some low production values except when it comes to the alcohol, which is usually drawn disturbingly well. (I have this beer in my fridge oddly enough.) It takes time and craft to make Ebisu beer seem that appealing. I could not have guessed when I first started writing this blog that anime would go from Love Hina and Aa! Megami-sama to young women getting drunk in their house over beers. Anime, finally, is growing up.

The subplot to this show is that some country bumpkin moves to Tokyo and is overwhelmed. But because beer and beer brands are so homogenized across Japan, she finds solace in the comforting brands of beer.

Takunomi is paired with Dagashi Kashi S2 to fill a full half hour slot. Wholesome anime about candy leads into an anime about women getting shitfaced in the afternoon. And toss in Emiya-san… why are all the food anime half-episodes? Is there some conspiracy this season against food anime?

#13. Hakumei and Mikochi


“It feels strange since it got quiet all of a sudden.”

Let’s take Made in Abyss and only keep the cute and elements. Add in the banter from Girls’ Last Tour and just make all the characters miniatures. That’s Hakumei and Mikochi. It is a very adorable, friendly, happy, and feel good slice of life show. The anime follows the two title characters, who are Arrietty-sized, as they go through their everyday lives in a charming miniature world. If you need a cute slice-of-life anime to escape the horrors that have become Facebook and Twitter, then this show is it.

I don’t really have much to say about this show because it’s both straightforward and isn’t about the story but more about the experience of watching it. One scene I enjoyed is when both characters went fabric shopping, and they acted as if they were country bumpkin cosplayers finally stepping foot into Mood’s.

(Fashion Czar: “Look at the hedgehog with glasses! He’s enjoying a drink with a tanuki! This is the best anime about a lesbian gnome couple.”)

#12. Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san
Shin-Ei Animation


“Nothing good happens when Takagi-san gets my heart racing.”

Here’s a quick 11 second summary of Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Skilled Teaser Takagi-san). The fundamental premise of this show is that the boy, Nishikata, likes the girl, Takagi, and how do school boys express their romantic feelings? They tease. So Nishikata tries to prank and tease Takagi, but she always foils him. She either sidesteps him, stops him, or gloriously counter-troll him. The battle between the two is so one-sided, it makes No Game No Life and the 1992 men’s basketball Dream Team look like drag out close battle. It’s like Nishikata is a Guncannon while Takagi is Wing Zero, 00, Barbatos, and Strike Freedom combined into one. There is a charm to this series as both Nishikata and Takagi are mutually interested in each other but have a typical middle schooler’s inability to express it. It’s entertaining to watch them flail against the most straightforward way of obtaining happiness: just being damn honest with each other.

The show is funny, and the production by Shin-Ei is competent. I like how the characters look different enough without resulting to typical anime gimmicks, and the animation of the two main characters are done well. I’m just not sure if the gimmick is going to carry the entire season. Then again, I was dead wrong about Sakamoto-san, and that show had just about the perfect length and the perfect amount of dumbness to it. At some point, is Takagi going to reconsider whether or not she wants to be with Nishikata. He hasn’t picked up on any of her numerous hints, and he seems more interested in revenge than romance. She got up super early to counter prank his morning prank attempt– he doesn’t think, “Wait, she’s willing to get up at like 5am just to prank me? Why? OHHHHH….”

(Sigh. Boys.)

(Is 2018 the year of Rie Takahashi? She’s voicing three main characters in the same season.)

(Trope Tags: #protagonistseat)

#11. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni
Wit Studio


“You can do it, Middle-Aged Man!”

Anime has finally caught up to its core audience. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (After the Rain) is about the romance between a forty-five year old man and a high school girl. Finally, not since we established that there was no need for Tenchi, has there an anime romance protagonist older than me. I feel old. Not forty-five years old. But still damn old. One, it’s unusual for a fantasy romance story about a 45 year old dating a 17 year old, even for seinen. Two, it’s Wit Studios, which has another anime airing about an old man and high school girl romance right now. Apparently Wit specializes in either old man romance or post-apocalyptic walled worlds.

So far, I can’t say I hate this show. There is a certain cute charm and awkwardness to it, and I think it’s mainly because the story is told from her angle. The poor old man is just roped along for the ride, and he’s not the one looking for love, at least initially. The characters feel like real people with real issues, like how she can’t help herself on smelling old man sweat stains or how her recent injury affected her school life. You kinda want to see where their hopeless relationship is going and how others react to it. Though where is this relationship heading? Maybe nowhere? Maybe to Kosuke Fujishima land? Maybe to a post-apocalyptic world filled with walled cities? Anime has featured disturbing romances before (I’m looking at you Usagi Drops), but has also managed to avoid some pitfalls too (hopefully not speaking too soon, Sweetness and Lightning).

Animation is good, and the backgrounds and settings make me want to visit Tokyo again. There’s an excellent cafe montage in the first episode too. Anime should always make me want to visit Japan again, and Koi wa Ameagari does just that. Drink buffet? Yes, please.

(Fashion Czar: “He’s not just 45. He’s 100% dad type. He’s lame. He’s not cool.”)

(Kabaneri S2 and Attack on Titan S3 is currently going to air together. What is going on at Wit? Are they just so flush with money right now? Why did they pick up such a niche show in addition to their normal blockbusters? Koi wa Ameagari feels like if PUBG Corp decided to make a dating sim as their next game.)

(Trope Tags: #protagonistseat)

#10. Overlord II


“I plan on drawing as little attention as possible.”

While I enjoyed the original Overlord, it had an unfortunate side effect of putting the Fashion Czar to sleep every episode. She asked me what we were watching and then immediately fell asleep for Overlord II, so I guess it’s the same old Overlord. There’s equal parts clan management, sim empire, geography lessons, fantasy world nonsense, and adventuring. I think I like Overlord most when it’s doing clan management and like Overlord least when it’s trying to make me care for the random kingdoms in this fictional world. I also like it whenever Ainz Ooal Gown uses a cash shop item thus confirming that even our fantasies prefer p2w games.

I guess the twist this season is that the new big bad wants to have Ainz’s baby or something. I think for people who enjoyed the first season, this is nice continuation of Ainz’s adventures, but there’s nothing really here to draw in new fans. Unless you really like the penguin butler.

(Trope Tags: #isekai #mmorpg)

#9. Darling in the FranXX
Trigger & A-1 Pictures


“In a relationship, there’s a gardener and a flower. Which one are you? I am a flower who wants to be a gardener. How fucked is that? So, have you two fucked yet?**”

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not brave enough to hand off two of anime’s best animation teams to someone who never wrote an anime scenario before plus a staff writer from MAGES (visual novel company famous for titles with semicolons in them like Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes)… but that’s exactly what Trigger and A-1 decided to do with Darling in the FranXX. And somehow the mecha designer from Star Driver got tossed in. Oh boy. Darling in the FranXX is not unapologetic in how late 90s it is. It has the setup of Vandread, Parallel Universe Dual, RahXephon, Gasaraki, and Evangelion where there’s an established way to pilot a world-saving mecha, but the protagonist comes along and upends how the mecha are supposed to be piloted.

This anime revels in all the tropes of a late 20th century mecha show. Post-apocalyptic future that can only be saved with kids piloting mechas? Check. Shadowy organization running things behind the scenes? Check. Form-fitting plug suits? Check. Sexy caretaker who seems like she can drink a bottle of whiskey and not get drunk? Check. Bland as a Ritz cracker male protagonist lead so the viewer can easily superimpose himself as the male lead instead? Check. Aggressive female lead with red as a primary color and could possibly be half-German? Check. Mousy secondary female lead with blue hair? Check. Jargon for the sake of jargon? Plantation? Parasites? FranXX? Kissing? Cities can kiss?

Darling in the FranXX is visually impressive, but the main issue is how unlikable and bland the characters are. The main protagonist in particular felt like if the writers couldn’t decide between Kirito or Shinji and decided to combine the worst parts of both. The rest of the cast feels like they came out of Mayoiga, The Lost Village. There’s a fat kid who is constantly eating bread rolls all the time much like the potato chip man in Mayoiga. Hey, humanity is about to be wiped out, and all this kid can think about is stealing bread rolls so he can hide them in his locker. He doesn’t even put butter or honey on his bread rolls. He just sits in every scene eating plain bread rolls. Hopefully we get better character development as this show continues.

Also, like most post-apocalyptic scenarios, the setting doesn’t make a lot of sense. Humanity is reduced to living in these tiny walled mobile fortresses, yet they have the funds and space to create a small forest and put a tiny, rustic European house in the middle of it for the army cadets. This just seems crazy by today’s standards and ridiculously insane by post-apocalyptic standards.

I do like the mecha design. It’s like Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters had sex with Dr Wily’s robot masters and presto! The wacky mechs, the flashy animation, and just really blind hope that the story goes somewhere keeps me interested, but, unfortunately, this season is filled with good anime that this show might not be as darling as it thinks it is.

(** quote not from Darling in the FranXX but as I was watching the movie from where the quote came from, I kept thinking of Darling in the FranXX for whatever reason. Maybe because it takes place in the 90s. Maybe it involves a female competitor whacking another competitor. I don’t know.)

(As expected, this show drips in sex. The way the Franxx are piloted might as well be the mecha piloting version of daggering. There are plenty of innuendo. Heck, Strelizia defeats her first opponent by jamming a rigid spear into the klaxosaur’s opening and then pumping it full of an orange liquid. Oh Trigger. Never change.)

(Fashion Czar: “How did someone fuck a klaxosaur?”)

(Trope Tags: #sakurawalk #suddenkiss)

#8. Dagashi Kashi 2
Tezuka Productions


“For some reason, I thought I said something that would summon Hotaru.”

The transition from Feel to Tezuka for Dagashi Kashi 2 reminds me of the change from Minami-ke to Minami-ke Okawari. The change to the art style is a bit jarring mostly because of how simplified Hotaru’s eyes have become. Maybe they were too onerous to draw. The other change to happen is that the show is now a half-length show with each episode clocking in at twelve minutes. I think that’s the perfect length for our band of cheap, processed sugar addicts. The first season’s main issue was that it had quite a bit of dead time to fill, which isn’t a problem now as the show still tries to tackle two manga chapters but in half the time. Another positive change is that Hotaru now has entrance music?! A matador theme plays whenever she enters a scene.

Besides that, much like a 1990s sitcom, nothing has changed. Coconuts is still avoiding on becoming a dagashi heir. His dad is still YouTubing. Tou is still an idiot. Saya still has no chance with Coconuts. And Hotaru is still Hotaru. Fill me up with trashy Japanese candy.

(Mitigating Factor: It is always dangerous to watch this show before visiting the Japanese supermarket.)

#7. A Place Further Than the Universe


“I’ll go, and then I’ll rub it in all their faces who said that I couldn’t.”

Cute girls doing cute things in an after school club about going to Antartica? I get A Place Further Than the Universe (Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho) confused in my head with the cute girls doing cute things in an after school club about camping show. Much like Made in Abyss, the journey is inspired by one girl’s search for her mom in the Antarctic, so she gathers a ragtag club of girls who are crazy enough to join her for the trip. It does feel weird for a typical do nothing high school club anime that have not just a goal but an active pursuit of that goal. It feels a lot like K-On! if K-On! were powered by Red Bull and vodka. The four main girls just seem like a peppier, more energetic, and more enthusiastic version of Mio, Yui, Ritsu, and Mugilicious. I think that’s what I like most about this show: the high-energy interactions of the girls. There’s rarely a down moment, and they complement each other really well.

It also feels like Antarctica is secondary. It’s like the girls will discover and advance their friendships with each other, and that becomes their raison d’être more so than visiting Antarctica. Their friendship is also what helps them overcome their own issues and grow in the world. A Place Further is a happy, optimistic show and revels in how blindingly upbeat it is.

This anime is well-animated by Madhouse and has some excellent backgrounds. Forget Antarctica, this show makes Japan look beautiful. The real star of this show is Madhouse’s animation talent and background work and does make it look like their B team is on Overlord. I also like how the episode titles are done via an Instagram parody.

(Fashion Czar: “Desperate girl for self-identity latches onto another desperate girl.”)

(Trope Tags: #absentparents)

#6. Yuru Camp


“I bet a heated tent would really sell. Equipped with a 1,200-watt halogen tube heater. Rigid, self-framing construction for vastly improved durability and habitability. A sturdy roof to keep you safe even in a hail storm. Plus a handy remote to control the temperature!”

“That’s just a kotetsu.”

Yuru Camp (Laid-Back Camp) is a very cozy anime about cute girls doing cute camping things. There’s a certain idyllic and rustic charm to it that makes the show seem part low calorie NHK educational TV plus a poor man’s K-On!. I do like the camping aspect of the show. The show even has a narrator come in and explain what the girls are doing for their camp. Watching the characters relax and lounge around their campsite relaxes me too. What I like less is the character interaction. I’m not sure if it needs to be a school club where of girls making small talk around the fire. I like the quiet moments. We don’t need to fill all the dead time with chatter just to have chatter.

I think maybe the show would have been better if the characters were in college rather than in high school. I understand high school girls is the bedrock of the cute girls doing cute things genre, but if they were in college, it would be more believable that they would camp alone plus be able to afford expensive camping equipment plus be able to drive to more locations.

The first episode might as well been a stealth ad for Cup Noodles Curry… and… I’m in. I really haven’t been a fan of any of the American Cup Noodle varieties, but last year when I visited Osaka, I went to the Cup Noodles Museum and tried some of the “wackier” flavors (as well as made my own). My gosh. They were delicious. I think the Cup Noodles Curry Cheese variety was the best, and, sadly, I haven’t found it available at H-Mart, Nijiya, Marukai, or Mitsuwa, but at least they all carry Cup Noodle Curry now. One weird thing about the first episode is that the two girls never bothered to introduce themselves when they met or when they were eating Cup Noodles together. They didn’t know each others name until one of them scribbled her name on a piece of paper. That just seems odd to me.

This anime is C-Station’s first production since they broke off of Bee Train (Noir, Madlax, hack/sign). The production seems competent with proper emphasis on the backgrounds and on cute girls doing cute things, but the OP is really bad with a lot of quick cuts to zoomed in objects. I also got cross-eyed from viewing it. You can probably guess I ranked this show higher than Antarctica anime because of puppies.

(One aspect of Japan that Yuru Camp highlights is just how much relatively safer Japan is than in America. I can believe that a high school girl would vacation by herself in an empty campground in Japan. I don’t believe it for America.)

(One thing about anime is that it is a land devoid of Kindles and ebooks. I understand the romanticism of reading an actual book, but last time I was in Japan, Kindles were everywhere. They were very popular on the train. I understand books for something like Slow Start, but I’m to believe that this camping enthusiast girl who has expensive lightweight equipment and counts her pack weight decided to lug up books instead of a Kindle? Really?)

(Puppy Watch: Pommy! Shibe!)

#5. Fate/Extra Last Encore


“A digital hell created in the guise of heaven.”

Fate/Extra Last Encore might be the purest of all Fate stories. It is a light novel originally written by Kinoko Nasu with the intention of turning it into a blockbuster anime. Nasu is also helping with the anime adaptation. It is pure Nasu with Shaft along for the ride. I can only imagine Nasu being quarantined away from ufotable’s offices. What is Last Encore? It is a very confusing story built upon layers and layers of Fate lore. But think of it as the Holy Grail War mixed with PUBG with a sprinkle of The Matrix and a lot of Utena. An overflow of Utena. Both Shinbo and Nasu have Utena boners and, well, it shows, from the long-winding staircases, to the ornate gates, to Nero’s rose imagery, to the repetitive nature of the world, and to the futile struggle against something more powerful.

Now in terms of Nasuverse nonsense… Fate/Extra takes place in yet another timeline, diverging from both FSN‘s and Apocrypha‘s timelines. In this timeline, mana has left the earth, and all servant battles are conducted via an ultrapowerful computer left behind by an advanced civilization. I mean, it’s bonkers, even by Fate standards. Hey, at least we have a setup where we can see some of our favorite masters and servants again… and I’m just wondering if they’ll keep the same Berserker as Fate/Extra (no, I’m not referring to Lu Bu).

One thing though is that Fate knows its silly. The first scene is Nero battling against Buddha, which I’m sure is what caused the fall of the Roman Empire. The protagonist wonders, “Why does our school have that building? Why does the school exist at all?” It’s all dumb, the protagonist knows, and he goes along with it. Even Kotomine begs us to put him out of his misery, and he refers to the extraneous characters as “NPCs.” He’s not even pretending it is not a game. Is Kotomine going to talk about rate-ups, chicken dinners, and “is that going to be coming to the Nintendo Switch?” next? I think you get the most of Fate by just going along with it instead of shaking your fist going, “IT’S NOT FATE/ZERO!”

(You should read Nasu’s blog entry for Fate/Extra Last Encore. “This is the first time working on something big with SHAFT, but they were very patient with this troublesome project, sometimes surpassing my imagination with how wonderful they were.” They surpassed the imagination of someone who came up with penis worms, turned Attila the Hun into an alien from Mars with a rainbow sword, and gave us three slightly different variations of UBW depending on the version of Emiya saying it?)

(Trope Tags: #protagonistseat #expositionnotexplanation)

(Fashion Czar: “Why does she have an ass cut out? Fate is trash.”)

#4. Devilman Crybaby
Science Saru



Is it really a good idea to give Masaaki Yuasa and Science Saru a large budget, no production committee supervision, an iconic old franchise, and a script written by someone whose last original stories were Kabenari of the Iron Fortress, Guilty Crown, and Code Geass? Yes. Yes, it is. Devilman Crybaby is just a raw orgy of sex, violence, depravity, emotion, and fun. Please, Netflix, use that for your back of the box review. I hope this type of collaboration is scene more in the future of anime as it seems like a win for the content creators, a win for Netflix, and a win for the watcher.

To start with, Devilman Crybaby is filled with violence and sex that makes Elfen Lied seem like Aa! Megami-sama and makes the early seasons of Game of Thrones seem like Young Sheldon. Nipple monsters ripping limbs off in a drug-fueled orgy? Check. Gratuitous sex scenes featuring donkey noises? Check. Bodies exploding into flesh mounds? Check. I can’t think of two shows more polar opposite each other than Sanrio Danshi and Devilman Crybaby. The only thing this show is missing is Yuasa’s signature Woody. All of this raw, visceral, guttural imagery? It works. It highlights the depraved world Yuasa wants us to visualize around Devilman, and this dark, fucked up world becomes a major cast member.

I’m not looking at Devilman Crybaby as a study philosophy 101 topics anime bloggers like to make out of it, but rather as a true vision of Code Geass. We have Okouchi-san finally unleashed– he can finally have as much female masturbation sequences as he wants (if you thought Table-kun was something…). We have a Lelouch equivalent in Akira/Amon. We have a Suzaku equivalent in Ryo. We have a bunch of girls pining desperately for Akira, yet all he wants is Ryo, so you know exactly how it is going to turn out. We all know where this show will end: Ryo overlooking Akira’s dead body in a rollerblading mecha while a Britannia flag unfurls behind him.

The production of Devilman Crybaby is typical Science Saru and their, uh, unique Flash techniques. If you’ve seen the excellent The Night Is Short Walk On Girl, a lot of the backgrounds, effects, and movements are similar between the two productions. The way Devilman runs reminds me of the sophist dance from Walk on Girl. The best part of the production is the music. The soundtrack has been excellent. There’s plenty of modern tracks of music that fits the story, and there’s even occasional recaps done in rap form. Wonderful job by relative newcomer Kensuke Ushio, who also did music for A Silent Voice, Space Dandy, and Ping Pong.

(I think by 2025, all anime will be funded by either gatcha mobile games, the Chinese, or Netflix. If you told me in 2008 that Netflix would be a potential savior of anime… I might have believed you.)

#3. Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card


“It’s the triumphant return of Cardcaptor Sakura!”

The original run of Cardcaptor Sakura started in April 1998. 1998. Twenty years ago. A generation ago. Murphy Brown and The X-Files were still on their original runs. Yet, Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card picks up right where the original ended. Gone are landlines and rollerblades. In are smartphones and PS4s. It’s like some weird updated nostalgia. Part of me wonders why it took twenty years to get a continuation sequel to Cardcaptor Sakura. CLAMP already made one bullshit reason for her to recapture the cards again, so why not do it again for a third time? (Or if CLAMP really wanted to rake in some money, change it so it becomes an Yu-Gi-Oh!-styled card battling game and simultaneously release a mobile game based on it.) And… that’s where we are. Sakura has to capture all the cards again for yet another bullshit reason. We have CLAMP basically acknowledging the time that has passed numerous ways, including a “I was thinking it wasn’t too long ago that you were wearing an elementary school uniform” remark from Sakura’s dad to her. Certainly he wasn’t implying it was twenty years. There is also a scene with Sakura remarking that she hasn’t used her old wand in a while, and she promptly has to use it in the next scene after saying that.

Still, it feels familiar. The show still starts out with Sakura paying respects to her dead mom like in the original run. Kero is still both a glutton and addicted to gaming. Sakura and Syaoran still have their matching teddy bears and can’t wait to challenge Keiichi and Belldandy for the slowest relationship award. The show basically writes off unnecessary character Meiling by going, “Whelp, she’s stuck in China now. I don’t know.”

Madhouse continues to do some great character movement, and the show still has charm it had twenty years ago. I know Madhouse can do more beautiful work, but I feel like they updated the visuals without ruining the original style, which is important. The show is definitely targeted straight at the original fans of the series, just now many of them probably are old enough to watch it with their own kids. Maybe that’s why it took twenty years for a sequel. It’s a generational show. Maybe in another twenty years, we’ll get the high school story. Then twenty years after that, we’ll get the the college story. And then twenty years after that, we’ll get Sakura as an office lady. And all through those years, Tomoyo will still use a 1998 camcorder, and my readers will still mistake “what show I want to watch next” for “shows in order of quality”.

(Mitigating Factor: You’d think that Tomoyo would want to capture Sakura’s blushing in the highest quality format available. Back in 1998, small digital camcorders were the rage replacing cassette camcorders. But since then, wow, we’ve gone through Flip Cameras to smartphone cameras. You’d think Tomoyo would have switched to a smartphone, a GoPro, a mirrorless SLR, or a small fleet of drones by now.)

(I mean, it is only the twelfth year of thin slicing. One would have realized by now that the shows are ranked by order in which I would watch them if I had access to one episode of each show at the same time every week. It has never been about hey this show is more quality than that show. It’s not a ranking like “these are the best point guards in the NBA” or Buzzfeed’s top ten cute things my dog did this week.)

(Trope Tags: #sakurawalk #protagonistseat)

#2. Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan


“Oh, Shirou, welcome back!”

Right now, I have Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan penciled in as the best Fate series of all time. It has all the characters I like doing happy things with zero of the bad Nasuverse bullshit (“People die when they are killed.”) yet all of the good Nasuverse bullshit (Saber’s secret love of junk food). It has gorgeously animated food. It has the best OP song this season and of any Fate series with “Apron Boy.” Go on. Name me a song better. Okay, I guess “Super Affection” is pretty good too. Emiya-san‘s a great show and would normally be number one for most seasons.

(Andohbytheway, right now, in addition to Emiya-san and Fate/Extra, Carnival Phantasm is also re-airing in case you don’t have enough Type Moon in your life right now. The interesting part about Carnival Phantasm is that it is rerun with all new endcards that feature characters from Grand Order. Though parts of Grand Order feel like Carnival Phantasm— NORMIES EXPLODE! ALL OF AMERICA WAS SHOOK! 2018 is the year of Fate.)

(It’s weird seeing Rin, Shinji, and Sakura in three separate shows with very different tones and very different art styles at the same time. Is this unprecedented in anime history?)



As an avid FGO player (until I fail to roll for someone I like and toss my phone into the toilet), I see a lot of people in FGO groups talking about how Kyoto Animation should remake Fate/Stay Night because of how pretty Violet Evergarden is. Fuck. No. The pursuit of a “better” FSN is never going to be solved with better animation. How much “better” is a Kyoto version of UBW going to be over ufotable’s? Saber got 25% more detailed hair solves the anime adaptation of FSN‘s fundamental issue?

The only legitimate reason to remake FSN is to add in all the steamy horny teenage sex. We can improve animation. We can make it three cours. We can have Kotomine do a segment about making mapo tofu. None of it matters without what makes FSN really FSN. Would the franchise be where it is today if it were just any old eroge with vanilla sex scenes? It’s not enough to just add in softcore lewdness. We need to see Rin shout “PUT IT IN!” at Emiya. We need to see a horny Sakura ride Emiya hard enough that Parasviel becomes a rider class servant. We need to see the true desires of the Nasuverse. Anything else will just be fated to feel hollow again in a few years and the ordering for yet another grand remake by yet another studio will happen again.

(Ranking all the studios who have worked on Fate… let’s see… ufotable, Lerche, whomever does the Grand Order PVs, Shaft, A-1, Silver Link, Lay-duce, and lastly Studio Deen. I’m probably forgetting a studio or two.)

(One of my favorite scenes from Fate/Apocrypha is when Shakespeare dies. It’s just such a stupid death. And, technically, he was the last servant of red to die.)

#1. Violet Evergarden
Kyoto Animation


“There’s two sides to word. What’s spoken isn’t necessarily all there is to it. It’s a human weakness. We tend to test others to reaffirm our worth. How contrary, hun?”

It’s a story. It’s an honest to goodness story. Violet Evergarden feels like a literary novel. It isn’t a light novel. It isn’t an isekai story. It isn’t a magic battle high school. It isn’t sad horny teens in love. It isn’t a do-nothing after school club. It’s an actual story. Characters and story are revealed through actions and dialogue. The characters feel dynamic, flawed, interesting, but most importantly human, and the characters propel the story. It’s one thing to have an honest literary story. It’s another to pair it with Kyoto’s exceptional animation.

I think my favorite thing about Violet Evergarden is that Kyoto’s animation lets it tell a story with subtle gestures. When Hodgins first visits Violet, you can tell he is lying by how he fidgets with his hands. It is a small thing that anime doesn’t do enough of. Characters convey their emotions and feelings by not just their dialogue but their movements and gestures and facial expressions in an non-exaggerated way. Anime typically relies on extremely overexpression or fake expressions (like a red octothrope behind their forehead to indicate anger) to express emotions. The animation of Violet Evergarden is consistently good and detailed enough that it can consistently use natural movements and expressions to convey what the character is really thinking.

And that’s important because it seems like the core theme of Violet Evergarden is exposing what we have locked in ourselves. How do we express what we really are without expressions and words? And that’s my next favorite thing about Violet Evergarden– the show gives hints and foreshadowing of where it wants to go without bludgeoning the viewer with it. I think the way Gilbert is handled is the most direct and least interesting of the characters. But early in part of episode two, Cattleya gently tries to explain to Violet how words can have different meanings, and humans tend not to really want what they actually say. It’s implied she’s saying this to Violet because Violet screwed up earlier in the episode. But by the time the episode is over, you realize that everything she said is true of another character who was also part of the screw up. The story is a complex web thanks to the entanglement of words.

Also it is important to note that it isn’t just wordplay. The characters aren’t just cutely intertwined because their names are puns for numbers or whatever typical light novel tricks are out there. The characters feel human. Even Violet, a typical Mahoro-class war drone, feels human. She doesn’t run around going, “What is human? Am I human?” She’s trying to figure out her humanity by figuring out why someone loves her. There’s a natural feeling to the story and characters that typically anime lacks.

At another point, Hodgins gives Violet a choice of stuffed animals. The conversation between them feels natural yet awkward yet sad. After using words to convince Violet that picking a toy is what the Major would want, he asks her, “Why a puppy?” And she matter-of-factly explains, “The Major’s older brother once said I was ‘Gilbert’s dog.'” I can see why this novel became Kyoto’s first grand prize winner, and it is definitely on a different level than Chu2, Myriad Colors, Beyond the Boundary, or Sound! Euphorium. It’s like watching nothing but Love Hina and Tenchi Muyo and then getting smacked in the face by a bunny costumed Haruhi Suzumiya.

Of course, Kyoto is a studio that can pull this show off. The animation of this TV series rivals some recent anime movies– the Violet WWI flashbacks and the typing sequences rival Lancer vs. Assassin in Heaven’s Feel except Kyoto hand drew these sequences when ufotable needed to go CG for the truck fight. Okay, Lancer vs. Assassin is also longer, but it’s a goddamn movie. Animation, background work, character movement, and production of Violet Evergarden is just another league above anything else I’ve seen in TV anime. If this is what is possible because Kyoto pays their animation staff an actual a living wage, then why isn’t the rest of the industry taking note?

(I like small touches in anime. I like how Hodgins eats with chopsticks while everyone else eats with forks.)

(At first, I wondered how Hodgins doesn’t have girls just tossing themselves at him. He seems like a stable, handsome man in a country that went through a four-year war. He also owns his own business in a giant mansion. He should be the Matthew Grantham meets Entourage. Then we realize later on that the most womenly of women has already dug in on that. Okay. Plot point resolved!)

(The opening scene to Violet Evergarden feels like the Dunder Mifflin Michael Scott director’s cut ad Limitless paper in a paperless world.)




6 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, winter 2018 edition”

  1. Well, Violet Evergarden isn’t MY idea of a “literary novel.”

    It’s more like every anime ever made about a robot discovering emotions and “learning to love,” except this time with a bigger animation budget.

    I hope I’m proven wrong and the show rights itself, but to this point, I have to completely disagree with you. Violet Evergarden is poorly written, with shallow characterization, and wallowing in cheap melodrama. Frankly, despite the pretty visuals, it’s even largely lacking in the kind of imaginative animation that KyoAni’s best shows usually have.

  2. I don’t recall Suzaku being gay for Lelouch like Ryo is fir Akira but it could always happen in R3!

  3. Im liking the interludes

  4. When Manglobe went bankrupt before finishing the Genocidal Organ movie, most of the staff including the director (who also directed Gangsta.) moved on to create a new studio – calling it Geno Studio – to finish the movie.

  5. I didn’t even notice there were doors on the Grancrest Senki heroine’s skirt, I was too busy wondering why they’d installed a shower curtain on her back…

  6. I feel like you fanwank a little too hard on Kyoani.

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