thin slicing the new season, spring 2019 edition

9,000 words, 23 anime, and welcome to the Reiwa era of thin slicing.

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 THIRTEEN YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, it’s the thirteenth anniversary of thin slicing since it began with ranking Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome. There’s been enough thin slicings for two adaptions of Fruits Baskets, multiple Holy Grail Wars, two Japanese eras, and eighteen seasons of Tenchi Muyo.

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. If you don’t know if you should watch Attack on Titan or not by now… nothing I write for season three other than “The humans finally defeat the titans by deploying the Minmay Defense. Turns out Eren can sing and crossdress– in his titan form no less– quite well.” can add anything new to Attack on Titan discourse. I generally will skip CG shows and Chinese shows as well. I also can’t believe Bakamatsu Crisis got another series or that the Bungou Stray Dogs train has no brakes or people actually still like isekai shows. I just want to banish Isekai Quartet to the shadow realm.

A twist for this season: I’m traveling like 20,000 miles in three weeks and battling a cold and dealing with a crawling infant. Fun times! Also Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a great show. I will also do my best to not rant about Game of Thrones.

Quick recap from last season: Hi Score Girl and Quintessential Quintuplets/5Toubun are two of the best harem shows that I have seen in a long time. Meanwhile, character development shines in Mob Psycho 100 as ONE puts up a clinic on how to tell a very shounen-esque story with excellent pacing and story progression (except for Mob’s love life).

(5Toubun has been great just for all the Twitter and forum threads that descend into shit like “#TEAMYOTSUBA FIGHT ME!”)


#MR. IRRELEVANT. King of Prism Shiny Seven Stars
Tatsunoko Production

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“It’s mating season for me, you idiots!”

Normally, I wouldn’t cover King of Prism Shiny Seven Stars since it is a remake of the King of Prism movie of the same name, but I ended up watching it in a jet lag-induced haze, so why the heck not? First, it has been about three weeks since the show first aired. It still did not have a mention on the main King of Prism Wikipedia page, and its MAL page has 0 score, 0 popularity, 0 information, and somehow 4 people have already favorited it. I rarely see a MAL page so lacking. Second, the exposition and characters jump around so much, I felt like I was watching an episode of SNL or another skit show instead of a cohesive story. There’s no rhyme or reason to how the episode is put together. I have seen better editing in high school film classes. There are numerous exposition dumps where characters are narrating a flashback sequence that reminds me of the “Last time on Deep Space Nine” recaps. The direction reminds me of the awful direction in the B anime and the Hand Shakers franchise. Three, the production is a train wreck. Standard objects do not look drawn correctly (like beds that look way too small for the characters), and the characters go off-model enough that I thought one character was actually two characters. Four, the “pick-up” scenarios where there’s a random guy hitting on a random girl (who has her face darkened to the point that I thought it was a drama re-enactment of a crime on TruTV) are oddly inserted too, which contribute to the SNL-like feeling of the show. These sequences also feel really out of place.

Andohbytheway, it’s 2019– who thinks it is a good idea to lead off an anime with a bad CG idol concert? It is such a tired opening, much like the protagonist making a bland, empty, “philosophical” statement. Those two tropes and the isekai car accident scene makes me want to turn off the show and go back watching more Rilakkuma and Kaoru. Shiny Seven Stars is a horrible show, and I have no idea who would have paid cash money to see this in a movie theater originally.

(Fashion Czar: “Someone fire that graphic designer. What fabric is that supposed to be? I don’t understand the texture of that jacket.” She said this one minute into the show and then left the room.)


#22. Amazing Stranger
Studio A-Cat

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“I often hear that once you start with figures, there’s no going back.”

Amazing Stranger is yet another anime about an otaku boy who finds a tiny, sexy alien figure who makes his life “better.” The first joke of the show features the otaku boy trying to remove the pants off of his new sexy figure. Oh boy. Everything about this show is bad: The premise is uninspired, the animation is poor with a visual disconnect between how the figures (more sexy figures will appear) are CG and everything else are drawn, the music is bottom tier idol group level, and the character designs feel like they are from a 1977 sci-fi magazine cover featuring some sort of sexy future bikini lady. The dialogue is basically Madarame from Genshiken if he didn’t have any self-restraint or comedic timing as the otaku boy keeps shouting stuff like, “I have zero interest in actual living women! None! Not a drop! Zilch!” and “Don’t assume your values are normal and force them onto others.” Basically, he just shouts half the comments that I get on this blog.


#21. Namu Amida Butsu!: Rendai Utena
Asashi Productions

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“Why is one earthy vice taking you so long?”

Namu Amida Butsu!: Rendai Utena is yet another gatchapon mobile phone game turned anime. The show starts with one salaryman disparaging another salaryman, and, somehow, the bullying victim turns into a monster. A guy in tight pants and a very, very over designed outfit shows up and tries to save the day with a lightsaber, but he fails in stopping the monster, so another guy in tight pants show up and defeats the monster with a mop. They then lecture the dude on how it is wrong to get bullied or something. A familiar bird thing who is no way inspired by Kyubey then eats the carcass of the defeated monster. After that action sequence, we are tossed into a four minute montage introducing two dozen pretty boys. I could not remember one of them after the episode is over. It’s the classic mobage turned anime “we gotta show all the characters in our game or else someone might feel left out/offended” strategy. What are the pretty boys doing in their montage? Cleaning. Yep. Not only do these guys fight monsters, they also clean and do domestic chores. To show just how they can spoil a lucky girl (or non-traditional guy), one of the boys even microwaves some taiyaki.

After enjoying some microwaved taiyaki, one of the boys is tasked with shopping for milk and gets overwhelmed because there are like dozens of choices. He ends up buying the most expensive one, which happens to be heavy cream and not actually milk. Thirsty ladies with iTunes gift cards, he’s single and ready to mingle assuming you can roll him on his rate up! I feel like I am watching some sort of anime Beverly Hillbillies at this point. Somehow, another boy procures and cake, and the gang is trying to eat the cake. This show feels like a 4-koma gag manga about an alien trying to live amongst humans. If this show is trying to get me to play this mobage with this level of plot, uh, I’ll just stick to Picross. The first episode ends with over a dozen pretty boys dining at a family restaurant while they make fun of each other’s eating habits. Nothing is quite as gay as two grown-ass men stealing strawberries from each other’s parfaits while giggling like schoolgirls, which I’m sure also happened in last season’s Queer Eye at some point.

(After reading up on this mobage, the guys are supposed to be monks stamping out worldly desires? Isn’t the game and the anime presenting the monks as objects of worldly desires? Isn’t that just a bit, teeny, eeny bit hypocritical? And the outfits aren’t subtle– if I had to visualize worldly desires, it would be these gaudy outfits. It’s like the outfits are trying way too hard to overcompensate for how dull and boring the characters are by being even flashier than the Met Gala.)

(One of the characters has a familiar who looks like a giant eel wearing blackface.)


#20. Why the Hell are You Here, Teacher!?
Tear Studio

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“I’m in pain here, hurry up and stick it in.”

Why the Hell are You Here, Teacher!? (Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!?) is pure smut. The flimsiest of plot exists to put nubile sexy teachers into compromising positions with their not horny enough high school students. In the first episode alone, because of reasons, the sexy teacher has to use the boy’s bathroom. Also because of reasons, her student gets trapped in the stall with her. Somehow the lock breaks such that he’s able to enter his teacher’s locked stall and then it breaks in such a way that he can’t open it again. Reasons, I guess. This leads to plenty of softcore smut culminating with a joke where the student seems like he’s ejaculating but actually he’s just peeing on himself and the teacher. Good times for all. Now how does one top that?

The second plot involves the same student going to play hookie by hiding in the infirmary. Well, the same sexy teacher is there with a fever. She sees him and begs him to jam a suppository into her ass. Of course that would happen. She takes off her pants and underwear and then sticks her naked ass in front of him begging for the suppository as if the suppository is a substitute for something else. Even for the ecchi genre, this show is fairly bad. The male characters have zero personality and seem to fumble their way to groping boobs or smelling crotches the same way Sentai Filmworks (who secured worldwide rights to this show) fumbles to licensing anime. We can replace the male cast with cucumbers and nothing of value will be lost. The teachers solely exist to act as fanservice topiary and have less fanservice than the students. Maybe if I were 14 and didn’t have internet access, this anime would be the best thing ever. A softcore ecchi anime just feels outdated as an erohon hiding under a mattress in 2019.

(Judging from the OP, each arc is going to be a separate high school student getting into softcore shenanigans with a different teacher. It is the Amagami omnibus format put to bad use.)

(Fashion Czar: “If the first episode starts with peeing and a suppository, where does it go from here? How does it escalate?”)


#19. Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai
Silver Studio

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“They don’t understand their allotment of status points.”

Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (We Can’t Study, which is an awful title) is about a poor male lead who gets a job tutoring a bunch of girls who each excel in a different specific subject but fail everything else. The setup is eerily similar to 5Toubun, but the gulf between the quintulets and this show is wider than the gulf between GN-0000+GNR-010 00 Raiser and a RB-79 Ball. Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai lacks charm, compelling characters, and a story. The “plot” is just setup for the male lead to spend alone time with each girl (conveniently color-coded) and get ecchi thoughts about them and get flustered about it. Maybe there is a nugget or two tossed in about dreams or goals, but they all seem secondary behind typical harem interactions between an over-matched, boring loser male lead and tropetastic haremettes. The characters also seem to have as much romantic chemistry as Jon and Daenerys. The show lacks anything to set it apart from yet another harem anime– it is the I Died And Reincarnated As A Gazebo In Another World of isekai anime.

(I’m still confused why the girls cannot teach each other in the subjects that they are good at. Wouldn’t that be a better solution than having a mediocre guy trying to teach them all at once? And why does the school insist on hiring the most medicore guy possible? Wouldn’t picking someone who has actual tutoring experience be better if it is so important for the school reputation? And why does he have to tutor them outside? If it were so important to the school, why wouldn’t they let him stay longer instead of making the poor kids study outside in the dark of night?)

(Fashion Czar: “Sigh, his horniness is ruining his game.”)


#18. Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO
Feel

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“What does dreams of my dead parents mean?”

By the time I watched Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO (YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World), four episodes have already aired, and the rating on Anidb for it was 2.3. Well then. YU-NO was originally an eroge game from 1998, which is old. Tsukihime was 2000, and FSN and Clannad were 2004. Right after its release, it was adapted into a hentai series and somehow twenty years later Genco, Mages, and Feel decided to do a non-hentai adaptation greenlit for 26 episodes with Funimation doing a simultdub. Did I mention this show is sitting at a 2.3 rating right now?

Nothing about this production of YU-NO seems even moderately average. The production is bad with poor animation and bland backgrounds. The main character looks like any other background character, and all the haremettes seem better suited for a hostess club than being students/teachers at a school. One of the antagonists looks exactly like the betrayer from Full Metal Panic. The story also does not make any sense. For instance, I can accept there’s a jewel that allows the main character to travel across worlds. Okay, I can accept that. I can’t accept why a major construction project is debating construction plans and having meetings inside a random room in this high school. The story obviously uses this scenario so the main character, a gasp high school student with the libido of post-anime Tenchi Muyo, can stumble into the construction project, but, really, the writers could not think of a better scenario to tell the story? The writing is also really stiff and dull with some awful sexual innuendo jokes. Like I’m supposed to be believe this high school brat is making sexual jokes to his teacher and getting smiles from it. From Wikipedia, “Hirakawa [the director] said the anime would outdo the game in dirty jokes, that Mio would be even more tsundere, and that Kanna would be even more mysterious.” Great. Let’s not work on the plot or animation, but let’s add in more bad dirty jokes and make a character more tsundere because that’s what the real fans want. #otakuriseup


#17. RobiHachi
Studio Comet

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“Why do I have such bad luck in life?”

Right after the initial scene for RobiHachi where we see a purse being snatched in a futuristic city that has floating districts, I wrote, “I don’t like this show already.” There was just something that bothers me about a show that is set in the future but stuck with tropes from 1990. Meanwhile, Fashion Czar is rocking back and forth muttering, “The color palette choice is so bad” over and over again. I don’t like either of the two main characters in this mismatched buddy space opera slash adventure. The pink-haired guy reminds me of the vegan who can’t stop talking about being a vegan. The way he repeatedly brags about skipping grades and graduating early does not make him very endearing. The Carrot Top guy reminds me of someone who is at the bottom run of a pyramid scheme trying desperately to get anyone else to join. “Hey, look at these single dollar bills I have! You can be this rich too if you got in on the ground floor selling avocado trees like me!” Carrot Tops’ personality is basically he loves hamburgers, scheming for easy money, and his bad luck.

Also, if he is constantly in debt and needs money, why doesn’t he just sell his spaceship? That would probably bring in some cash. There are just a lot of small logical incongruities in this show that make it a chore to watch. And RobiHachi has so many ideas, it does not let any of them breathe. The best character of the show, the robot rabbit, is never introduced while both the pink-haired guy and Carrot Top got the full narrator treatment. Not only does Carrot Top own a spaceship, he can deploy single-seat fighters from his spaceship that interlock and transform into a robot. At that point, I just wrote down, “What genre is this show trying to be?” The story elements just do not seem to gell.

(My favorite scene was probably when the robot rabbit chastises Carrot Top for investing in a click fraud scheme. I am glad to know sci-fi writers still think click fraud exists in a society capable of interstellar travel. Ah, it finally makes sense. So this is how the First Order funded Starkiller Base… そうです…)


#16. Sewayaki Kisune no Senko-san
Doga Kobo

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“I’m going to pamper him to his heart’s content!”

Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san kicks off with a salaryman in a depressing job working unreasonable overtime. Is this going to be an isekai anime where he gets run over by a car? Instead of getting run over and getting reincarnated as a gazebo, the loser male lead becomes the object of pity and receives a fox waifu to help him cope. The setup is the classic Belldandy scenario, which I guess would be the late 90s and early 00s way of overworked Japanese men to fantasize about better lives– Aa! Megami-sama to Mahoromatic to Happy Lesson to Mamotte Shugogetten to Chobits all captured aspects of this desire. Nowadays, isekai fills this gap.

The poor male lead is just completely beaten down and says things like, “The last train home again. And I missed dinner.” and “How many years has it been since I came home to a hot meal and ate with another person?” Well, lucky for him, a fox waifu– err– loli fox waifu shows up and takes care of his as both his mom and also his loli play object. And so begins the harem comedy hi-jinks, except this show is not funny. I find the show to be depressing and sad that the solution to the awful lives of these salaryman isn’t to demand change from their employers or society but to just hope one day they either meet a loli fox waifu or get run over by a car. There is no other recourse for these salaryman to improve their lives other than to be reincarnated as a gazebo. Shame on anyone who calls this “healing” anime. This is anime that reinforces the belief that it is better not to stir the pot and demand change and just accept your fate– the anime equivalent of Mr. Burns hanging up the “DON’T FORGET: YOU’RE HERE FOREVER” sign on Homer’s workstation except there’s no pictures of Maggie to cover it up.

Besides the awful social connotations of Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san, the show is just plain boring. I am really not interested in yet another scene where the salaryman is sad but somehow the magical loli fox waifu comes up with a way to make him happy by cooking or cleaning for him or drawing him a bath or letting him molest her tail. The pacing is slow, and the comedy is virtually non-existent. The characters have zero personality.

(Aggretsuko— created by motherfucking Sanrio– is about an office lady so beaten down, her only escape is death metal. Rilakkuma and Kaoru has an office lady so beaten down, she quits her job the moment she gets married. The most unrealistic fantasy anime idea would be a story about a group of people starting an union and demanding better wages and work/life balance. “Wages and work/life balance? What’s that?” says every animator in the anime industry.)

(Why is tail-touching such a part of kitsune culture? Is the only reason to make a character a kitsune is for tail-touching? Who do you think has the fluffiest tail? Haru? Naruto? Kyubey? Garfield?)

(We can tell it is a harem anime because, of course, the fox waifu and the loser male lead have met before when he was a child. We can’t have a harem series withouth some sort of destined meeting during childhood.)


#15. Shoumetsu Toshi
Madhouse

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“The unending ordinary days. The existence known as ‘self’”.

Oh gosh, yet another anime that starts off with a pretentious “philosophical” statement by the protagonist. Oh gosh, yet another anime made on a very, very lean budget. Oh gosh, yet another anime based on a mobile gatchapon game. Oh gosh, blogsuki is trashing another show I enjoy. Shoumetsu Toshi (Afterlost) took three quick strikes, but I still have to make it through an entire episode. Sigh. You know what happens right after the pretentious statement? A CG idol concert. I was hoping for an isekai car accident next just so we can have one anime with all three cliched openings, but alas no isekai car accident.

I’m not sure what the story is except Shibuya seems to have been deleted from the earth, and now people with psychokinetic powers are fighting to find the truth (chem trails I tell you chem trails). The first episode has an eight minute sequence where a Jason Strathom-type transporter has to transport a girl. Okay. Except his ride isn’t a tricked out Benz but a Vespa. Yes, a motherfucking Vespa. And he is being chased by an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Not only does the Apache fail to destroy the Vespa with its superior 30mm cannons or Hellfire missiles, somehow the Apache gets blown up in a way more ridiculous than Black Lagoon‘s helicopter take down. Keep in mind I have seen Tommy Lee Jones and Nicolas Cages’ Fire Birds about three dozen times so I am somewhat of an Apache expert. Okay, these helicopters are the first attack helicopters with the revolutionary IHADSS targetting system where you basically look at something to blow it up, but because Nicolas Cage was left-eye dominant and the system was built for right-eyes or something like that, he needed Tommy Lee Jones to help him adapt. If Nicolas Cage can hunt down drug mules while blindfolded by Sean Young’s panties, why couldn’t this anime Apache blow up a Vespa? (Okay, I am disappointed to find out Fire Birds is not available for streaming on HBO, Netflix, or Amazon. What the fuck am I paying you people for? Oh yeah Rilakkuma and Kaoru.)

So the transporter eventually loses the Apache and his pursurers and decides to continue his delivery. He does not change clothes or vehicles. He gets into the same damn yellow Vespa and continues on. Whoever made this show has such a hard-on for yellow Vespas. The ESPers on this show all seem to be able to summon objects. One guys tosses rocks, which just klink off of the Vespa as if the Vespa has deflector shields. Also the Vespa can jump. One guy tosses swords, and the swords also just klink off the Vespa– doesn’t even scratch the scooter. Look, we’ve seen Gilgamesh toss swords around. Swords tossed from summoning portals are quite strong. For Shoumetsu Toshi, it feels like my daughter tossing her spoon rather than a powerful ESPer.

(The biggest plot hole in both Fire Birds and Fast and Furious– the fourth not the first movie– is that both movies assume drug mules use suped up helicopters or cars to run their drugs across the border into the US. Wouldn’t drug mules want to attact the least amount of attention? Wouldn’t flying a pack of helicopters armed with missiles draw the attention of, well, everyone in a fifty mile radius? Wouldn’t racing muscle cars through the desert also be quite noticeable? And gotta love the military’s response in Fire Birds. Okay, the drug cartels are using helicopters to ferry in drugs. Let’s spend six months training Nicolas Cage so he can go in alone and stop them in helicopter-to-helicopter combat. You know what’s a hard counter to attack helicopters? F-15 Eagles. Instead of just sending in a few F-15s to stop the operation immediately, let them bring in drugs for a few more months so Nicolas Cage can have a moment of redemption. The funny part is that at one point the drug cartel does sends a jet to attack Nicolas Cage.)

(Wow, even though the mobile game is not available outside of Japan, this series is not just licensed by Funimation but they are going to dub it too. At least it wasn’t like that anime where the mobile game already folded its server before it even aired.)

(The OP is really, really terrible. Does anyone other than MAPPA and Kyoto nowadays know how to make OPs anymore?)


#14. Kono Oto Tomare!
Platinum Vision

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“How I look like the bad guy.”

Are you looking for a generic, paint-by-the-numbers slice-of-life show where all conflicts are started because people jump to conclusions about others based solely on appearances? Well, look no further because Kono Oto Tomare! has you covered. The opening sequence of this show is a tour de force going from an assault/beating/attempted murder into a happy-go-lucky “Let’s be K-On!” OP where characters are constantly jumping up together into a bullying montage that rivals A Silent Voice. The tone of the show gave me whiplash.

The two main lead characters feel like caricatures as neither of them seem to be developed past Powerpoint bullet points. Okay, he’s the rebellious delinquent with a heart of gold. Maybe he can be the top in some slash fic. Okay, he’s the mousy, Shinji Ikari-type because people love Shinji Ikari, and he immediately feuds but eventually gets into an uncomfortable bromance with the other male lead. The actions the characters take just seem rash and arbitrary at times. Like how the rebel saves the mousy guy from bullies, and he yells at chases away the rebel because he has a bad history or something. Great. The show also cops a scene from Persona 5 where the rebel transfers into a new high school, and the staff summons him into the principle office and basically got the same “Hey, we know you’re a troublemaker so don’t make trouble in our school or else. You should be glad we let you here, you fucking troublemaker” speech that Joker got.

Production values are budget at best, and the music sequences are almost entirely still images. Character designs are both garish and boring and predictable. Oh, we know he’s the rebel because he doesn’t wear his necktie up all the way. Oh, we know he’s drawn like a thirty-five year old in high school. I think an anime about a koto club could be interesting done as a sports anime (or even a do nothing club), but aside from some bullies destroying a few instruments, kotos seems far removed from what the show was trying to push. If you want to fantasize about a yaoi pairing between the two male leads, well, Kono Oto Tomare! will be glad to indulge that though.

(Fashion Czar: “I hate this main character. He’s way, way worse than Shinji Ikari.”)

(When did we collectively as a fandom stop getting mad at Western anime localizers for renaming anime from their original Japanese names to English names that don’t mean much except they might be more pleasing to someone browsing Best Buy, as if Best Buy still carried anime. I remember all the hate ADV got for Samurai X and Shadow Warrior Chronicles. Now Funimation decides to rename Kono Oto Tomare! into “Sounds of Life.” “Kono Oto Tomare!” translates into “STOP THIS SOUND!” I don’t like this Funimationing of names. Sure, “Stop This Sound!” doesn’t seem as poetic as “Sounds of Life,” but at least it sounds like a bad anime instad of a bad kdrama on Netflix.)


#13. Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin
Liden Films

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“Don’t make me deal with your fall out with bad women!”

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin (Midnight Occult Civil Servants / Mayonnaise Oden Kumin) is a boring, unexciting, bland, vigorously uninspiring, low calorie light novel turned about anime civil servants who help the Japanese government regulate occult monsters who live in Shinjuku Park. They are basically ghost cops crossed with Men in Black but even less interesting. The cops, aside from their widely varying eye sizes, are as forgettable as they come. The occult creatures are also boring. Their big reveal for the first episode? Boring sexy angels and boring Japanese fish seller tengu. The plot? Mayonaka no Occult Koumin couldn’t even properly cop the plot to Romeo and Juliet. Having a version of Romeo and Juliet where there’s a happy ending and no one dies because a rookie Japanese cop tripped and fell into a conversation is just lazy and bad writing.

Also, what exactly does the ghost cops do? They just surround trees with police tape so occult creatures will stay away from that area, and, if they do come into the area, they beat them with batons or toss grenades at them. This show celebrates over use of force by the police. Shinjuku Park is supposedly empty of people at night so this is okay. (It’s not empty at night.) Why is there this clearly defined Japanese government bureaucracy yet seems completely unprepared for the tasks assigned to it? The main protagonist gets randomly placed into this agency, yet no one knows why, including him. No one even told him when to show up to work. The occult creatures only live in the park and not the rest of the city because they love forests. Okay, why are they in the park then? I’ve been to Shinjuku Park. It is as much of a forest as my backyard that has three trees is, and there are actual forests outside of Tokyo. The whole concept of this show just seems poorly planned out to me.


#12. Senryuu Shoujo
Connect

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“For more details, check out my blog!”

Senryuu Shoujo is just an aggressively mediocre and inoffensive anime about a blossoming romance between a girl who communicates via haikus written out in banners and a misunderstood guy who looks and seems like a delinquent but has a heart of gold. It is based off of a 4koma of the same name, and, frankly, I did not chuckle even once during the first episode. The pacing is glacially slow, and a lot of gags involve being able to understand the nuances of the haikus the title character writes, which are unfortunately lost in translation. The delinquent also doesn’t have much of a personality except that if he’s around anyone but the title girl, he is a delinquent who will kick puppies. If he is alone with the title girl, he is a saint who loves everything especially his little sister. It got old by the eight minute mark. Unlike Kaguya: Love Is War where there’s dancing to distract from the one note, basic premise, there’s nothing here to take our mind away from how Qyburn’s ballasitas are more powerful than WW2-era artillery bare the premise and characters are. Animation is passable and not bad for this type of show. The character designs are inoffensive except for the cheek bandage and the blonde hair on the male lead. Can anime do anything other than cheek bandages and blonde hair to indicate that someone is a delinquent? Blonde hair on a girl? Ojou-sama. Blonde hair on a guy? Murders baby lambs.

(Sakura Watch: Senryuu Shoujo starts off with a walk to school amidst flowering sakura.)


#11. Mix
OLM

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“This seems random, why?”

At first I thought Mix would be a remake of Touch, which would be incredible as there would be two full blown remakes this season (instead of a re-imagining like Megalo Box). It turns out to be a pseudo-sequel in the vein of Fuuka or Fuller House or Boruto or 90210 or Dragon Ball Super or Girl Meets World or UQ Holder or Cobra Kai where a generational time skip occurs and the story takes place in the future with a new cast that barely connects to the old cast. But like every single Adachi manga, Mix is the same. It’s about baseball. The two main characters are the premier hitter and pitcher. The third wheel is almost always a girl and almost never the poor third baseman. For this show, the narrator even goes, “Think of her as character number three.”

(Speaking of the narrator, the narrator doesn’t add anything to the show. He merely states what is going on in the scene reads the text that pops up. I get that the show is aimed at a younger audience, but I don’t remember this amount of hand-holding for Cross Game.)

Less than ten minutes into Mix, the Fashion Czar and I were arguing about what is the true Tenchi Muyo isekai? Is it El Hazard? Dual? War on Geminar? Daughter of Darkness? I think chronologically, Dual maybe the first one, and, if that is the case, the “positive” Dual world is the isekai from Tenchi Universe (but not Tenchi OVA or Tenchi in Tokyo), and that world has its own isekai. And Dual was supposed to be a rip-off of Evangelion complete with a dollar store Rei Ayanami. Is there any anime lore more convoluted and badly plotted out as Tenchi Muyo lore? Tenchi‘s lore makes Fate lore seem straightforward. Okay, which Fate path has Cavall II being the puppet master to Silent Hill? Which scenario did Kotomine summon Chen Kenichi to be his personal mapo tofu chef?

(Notable: This show was the first show that I watched this season that had both parents alive and present.)


#10. Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine
TMS Entertainment

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“It’s a perfect day for baseball!”

Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine (Cinderella Nine in August) is, sigh, yet another gatchapon mobile game turned anime. This anime is a poorly written and poorly directed take on a women’s baseball team (not softball interestingly enough). My main issue is mostly the direction. The show barely disguises its attempt low to non-existant budget with long shots of little to no animation. One third of the OP is dedicated to a poorly CG’ed sunflower field and a long, inexplicable shot of a trashcan. Animation is sparse, and there are a lot of shots of feet and legs instead of animating the whole body moving. I feel like this show could be something more interesting with better production. The character designs are also fairly poor with over-ornamentation being a substitute for interesting character designs. One character has two different sets of hair ornaments in mismatched colors plus a cat-eared button up hoodie. There are just a lot of ideas that are just thrown together instead of thoughtfully designed. The way this show colors eyelashes is also strange with thick eyelashes that aren’t defined well. It makes the girls look like they were shot by a makeup shotgun set to Bozo the Clown. Even more confounding is that half the girls have super long hair but no one wears their hair different (i.e. up or in a ponytail) during baseball than in class.

The story is about a plucky group of high school girls playing baseball in skirts instead of shorts as if this were a Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna vehicle. The two start girls have to recruit other girls and get them interested in baseball when the high school doesn’t even have a boy’s team, and their first match is against the neighborhood elementary school kids. Yep, we get an awful 90s style montage where random, poorly-drawn screenshots whiz by at high speed over a boring scoreboard background as these high school girls beat the shit out of little elementary school kids. I can almost imagine the gatchapon game now where the early levels are against little elementary school kids and can be easily be beaten with two and three stars. But the top event levels are against fucking MLB historical dream teams that need plenty of five stars to beat.

(Fashion Czar: “On one hand, they have face scruffies. On the other hand, they are badly drawn.”)

(Sakura Watch: We go from lens flare to start the anime to a sweeping sakura scene into a flash-forward baseball montage. I can’t think of a more anime opening except if a narrator was trying to make an philosophical quote during this time.)


#9. Wise Man’s Grandchild
Silver Link

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“How utterly cliched.”

Wise Man’s Grandchild (Kenja no Mago/The Sage’s Grandson) is pretty much the most standard run-of-the mill isekai possible. How is this typical Japanese office worker going to die? Overwork? Run over by a car? Heart failure? Random stabbing? Okay! Getting run over it is! And now he’s reincarnated into a fantasy world with some kick-ass powers yet his knowledge of his previous Japanese office worker life doesn’t really affect the plot at all so what the fuck was the point of the two minutes worth of plot framing that make this show an isekai?

I guess isekai genre satisfies this longing to escape Japanese office worker life because, if there is anything I have learned from Kentaro’s Sweet Life, Wakako-zake, Channel wa sono mama!, Restaurant from the Sky, and now Rilakkuma and Kaoru, it is that no one wants to be a Japanese office drone. It sucks. So the fantasy isn’t to quit and run away to a milk farm in Hokkaido as in Restaurant from the Sky or to skip work to eat sweets in Kentaro or to dream up two plush bear friends in Rilakkuma, but to die and hope for a better life in the next life. There are some societal issues and cultural issues at play here that I’m sure will make a great college paper. But back to our isekai power fantasy– hey guys Kenja no Mago is an isekai anime that is so paint-by-the-numbers that of course there is a scene where a nubile haremette is getting sexually assaulted and the main character has to save her. It turns out that she is his future classmate.

Other things I enjoyed from this most bland of isekai power fantasies: The main character is the only person wearing a suit, there is an eight minute long segment where Uncle Dis explains the political structure of his fantasy world, and the carriages in this world all look like Jeeps and other SUVs to the point there the center rear tail brake light is for whatever anime reason is on these carriages. The names in this show are also incredible with Uncle Dis, Shin Wolford, Merlin Wolford (I feel like giving Merlin a last name cheapens him… Merlin Shoemaker anyone?), Michael Colling, and my new favorite name, Tom Haag, who looks like Buu from Dragon Ball.

(Fashion Czar: “I hated being an office worker so much that I decided to dress up like one in this fantasy afterlife world.”)

(You’re probably thinking, “If this show is so bad, why is it ranked here?” Because this season is pretty bad, okay? You think I actually want to see another episode of Wise Man’s Grandchild at any point in the future? Okay maybe I do want to see what happens to Uncle Dis.)


#8. Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu
C2C

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“Get rid of school! New school? New life? I am forever alone.”

I’m struggling to figure out who would pay $60 for a BD of Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu (besides the management of Sentai Filmworks). The show is about a girl’s quest to make friends at a new high school and could qualify for the cute girls being cute genre, but there is just something off. One, the backgrounds and animation are below average. The main girl, cleverly named “Forever Alone”, might as well be a background classmate in any other anime, and the rest of the class is typical tropetastic anime fare. Two, the story is just plain boring. There are long stretches where the girl just talks to herself, and it is always about her shyness. I get it. Shyness is her personality trait; it shouldn’t be the plot. When she does interact with other humans, the comedy is uninspired and as low calorie as one can get. I watched all of Hidamari Sketch. I have some tolerance for low calorie anime. Three, if this show is supposed to be cute girls doing cute things, the girls aren’t cute and they aren’t doing cute things. Again, who is the target audience for this show? The twelve people in Japan who will build a shrine to Forever Alone and declare her their waifu? Do you think twelve is too high or too low of a number?

I guess while this show is boring, there is nothing that bad about it. I can complain it doesn’t match Mob Psycho in character development or Devil Is a Part-Timer in comedy or Gundam in story, Hitori Bocchi is a serviceable but ultimately forgettable anime. It is the Pan Am of anime.

(Forever Alone has a strap charm that resembles a naked cherub version of the Monopoly Man. It’s no Tubacabrara, but I kinda want that for my backpack too. The naked cherub also kinda looks like the dad from the next anime on this thin slicing…)


#7. Ao-chan Can’t Study!
Silver Link

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“My dad’s an idiot! My holes are going to be poked!”

Two best things about raunchy comedy Ao-chan Can’t Study! (Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai!) are, one, the chihuahua-sized dad who is a renowned erotic novelist nicknamed “The Pleasure Master.” The Pleasure Master is just such a better name than “Merlin Wolford.” And, two, the fact this show is only twelve minutes long means the gags aren’t stretched out unnecessarily. It is a nice twist to see actual characters and plot-like substance in a raunchy comedy, but the key draw is to see a dad who just constantly fucks everything up for his daughter. But as much as she tries to escape her dad’s celebrity, the more it seems like she is the actual pervert in the family. The gags are a bit repetitive already, but thankfully the show is short, and the dad is hilariously animated.

Production values are slightly below mediocre for Silver Link. The backgrounds and animation are budget at best, and the character designs feel a bit off. The male cast except the dad are drawn fairly normally, but the high school girls look like elementary school heads attached to large, skinny bodies. It is almost like two different character designers worked on creating the two sexes. The main guy seems unnaturally nice and patient and never flinches despite the best interventions of pervert dad, which seems creepy in itself, as if he were from an anime horror universe created by Jordan Peele.

(Of course Sentai Filmworks has secured worldwide rights to this show. Probably one of their better recent decisions to be honest.)


#6. Fairy Gone
PA Works

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“You joined the mafia just to find me?”

Fairy Gone is an original work by PA Works and the creator of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, Ao Jumonji. This show is a very different anime than typical PA Works productions and really lacks any of the charm and fun of Uma Musume Pretty Derby, Red Data Girl, and Sirius the Jaeger Haruchika, Iroduku, and Angel Beats. The basic premise is that there was a long war with a WWI vibe where “fairy soldiers” fought, and these people are able to control basically Personas from the Persona franchise. These fairy soldiers summon their Personas and have them fight alongside them. At the end of the war, someone named “Lay Dawn,” which is my new favorite anime name, executes Order 66 and razes the fairy town. Somehow, the mafia is also involved in the story. My issue with Fairy Gone is that it feels like the story just has a bunch of stuff cobbled together and none of the elements seem to mesh well together or are interesting enough on its own. It is the anime equivalent of starring into a flair wall at Cracker Barrel.

Animation and production values feel a step down from standard PA Works with some aggressively bland CG Personas and some bland generic “We’re trying to be edgy” music throughout the show. The various themes of the show also do not seem to work together aesthetically as the show doesn’t know if it wants to be fantasy, Victorian, or 1928 Chicago. The same identify crisis the storytelling has also carries over to the art. We also get three separate flashbacks in the first episode to show the fairy town burning to the ground.

(Lay Dawn was my favorite anime name until “Free Underbar” showed up roughly five minutes later. “Free Underbar” is going to be the name of my isekai anime where the main character dies and gets reincarnated as a gazebo in a fantasy world. Characters then come together at the gazebo to organize into a labor union and finally get a dental plan.)

(Oh gosh, how is this show number six? I feel like the anime industry has let me down somehow.)


#5. Fruits Basket
TMS/8PAN

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“The math never left room for the Cat to begin with.”

Are we so devoid of shoujo that we have dragged back Fruits Basket? Anime TV series that get full TV remakes (movie remakes are common) are still quite rare with this show, Kanon, Sailor Moon, and Full Metal Alchemist being the notable exceptions. Even ufotable’s Fate/Stay Night is technically a different story path than Studio Deen’s adaptation, and Megalo Box is a slightly different retelling. If remakes of shows post-1990 fever hits the anime world, I would like to see Great Teacher Onizuka and Aa! Megami-sama Gundam Wing go to the front of the line. In terms of timing, though, this gap is quite large (the original Fruits Basket aired back in 2001, eighteen years ago) and approaching the same gap as Eva 3.0 to 4.0. The original Studio Deen adaptation was not received well by the mangaka and had its story and characters deviate from the manga, which I feel is yet more of an indictment of Studio Deen than anything else.

Overall, it is still Fruits Basket, so we still have the traditional shoujo harem lead being mousy and worth our pity hence justifying the hot men tossing themselves at her. We still have to see Tohru go through and solve the problems of the zodiac family not unlike Arararararagi. The character designs have been updated, but I’m really concerned about the bad CG smoke effects that happen when she hugs any of the zodiac boys. Those effects are Sailor Moon Crystal level bad.

(Speaking of rat boys, I wonder if the sequel to Nisio Isin’s Juuni Taisen is going to be adapted into an anime. The sequel sounds a lot like Fate Apocrypha and got me wondering if Nisio Isin would be a good choice to write a Fate story… and then I realized Gen Urubouchi would probably be an excellent writer for a Star Wars story.)


#4. One-Punch Man
JC Staff

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“The first sequel in three and a half years. I can feel the hype!”

This entry probably suffers the most from “thin slicing watches one episode but you probably already seen seven by now”. Some quick thoughts:

  • Going from Madhouse to JC Staff is a downgrade. I feel like the two Saitama art styles aren’t distinct enough with his derpy version not derpy enough and his heroic version is too similar to the derpy one. Also, the lack of Madhouse’s awesome action sequences is a bummer. If the original season was an act of love, this season feels a bit more corporate. One Punch Man got JC Staff’ed.
  • Of course the first thing the guy who gets random powers does is use his powers to sexually assault women.
  • The plot seems like the same plot to Pacific Rim except we have Saitama and fewer walls.
  • Genos is slowly morphing into old Arnold T-800.
  • Saitama’s bald spot doesn’t feel shiny enough.
  • Seeing the Genos/Saitama Padawan/Master relationship again, I feel it is a little lacking compared to Mob/Reigen, but that’s like saying Super Mario Bros. 3 is a bit lacking compared to Super Mario World.


#3. Kimetsu no Yaiba
ufotable

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“We don’t have an easy life, but we are happy.”

As I started watching Kimetsu no Yaiba, I was struck by how pretty the snow-covered landscapes were. The animation was fluid and facial expressions are used to convey emotions. It wasn’t until Giyu showed up when I realized, “Oh, he has the same eyes Kiritsugu has after he adopts Shirou,” and knew the show was produced by ufotable. Production values are excellent, storytelling and direction is good (hey I give credit to a show when it actually shows you story elements instead of a narrator going, “She is the smartest girl in the school but also the prettiest and also is the student council president and also has a massive case of hemorrhoids”), and the action sequences are top notch, as I would expect from ufotable. However, I feel like I have seen this story already in some form since it is typical shounen jump affair. A plucky little boy’s life gets upended, and he has to become a more and more powerful demon slayer to avenge the fallen and save his sister. He will use his endless optimism and creative battle techniques to do it. My biggest praise for this setup is that the show isn’t an isekai. It could so easily have been an isekai, but it is not. Yaiba is a solid production in an otherwise lackluster season.

One thing that bothers me about this show is the character design. Giyu’s mismatched sweater is an eyesore, and not even Terrace House’s Yama-chan can pull off that mismatched sweater look and he is a professional panelist whose job it is to wear outlandish clothing. The main character’s scalp and earrings also look out of place too, especially compared to how simple yet effective the rest of his family look. Why does he have these giant earrings when not even his mom or sisters wear large earrings? Andohbytheway, the seiyuu for the little sister just has to grunt a lot. I wonder what auditions for the part were like? You get to speak three lines normally, and for the next twenty-four episodes, you’ll just be grunting.


#2. Carole & Tuesday
Bones

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“Let’s go look for what’s missing.”

I hopped onboard the Carole & Tuesday train once Cyndi Fucking Lauper was brought up. I did a double take. Wait, did an anime just reference Cyndi Lauper? Yep. Not only that, one character quotes her lyrics and talks fondly of the classic rock star. Again, wait, what is going on? Carole & Tuesday takes place on future Mars. It is a shinier, more Elon Musk-ish, and more optimistic Mars than seed in Iron Blooded Orphans and Aldnoah.Zero and maybe more on par with the versions from Mahoromatic and Cowboy Bebop. And, somehow, the plot centers around a girl who runs away because she was inspired by Cyndi Lauper. Is Cyndi Lauper even relevant in 2019 let alone decades into the future? This anime feels like Shinichirou Watanabe’s love letter to modern (read: Adele) music as Kids on the Slope and Bebop were love letters to jazz. This anime nails all the key points: The characters are interesting and have sensible yet stylish character designs, the story tells itself with decent pacing, the animation is excellent (the instrument playing animation just schools Kono Oto Tomare like Scotty Pippen in the Nike commercial where he travels back in time), a Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago-esque “nature” vs. “man” conflict, and the music is great too. Carole & Tuesday is a solid, enjoyable anime.

I do want to point out the food in this show is mostly classic Americana. If Rilakkuma and Kaoru made the viewer hungry for dangos, this show makes the viewer hungry for burgers and doughnuts. Oddly, though, while most of the food is classic diner fare, the drink of choice is durian soda. It’s just a nifty non-sequitor, even more so than Miku’s love for warm matcha soda in 5Toubun.

My nitpick about the show is that it doesn’t really need to be Mars. Mars of the future sure looks a lot like the Brooklyn of 2019. There are robots (and robotic bartenders but sadly you can’t woo these) taking over jobs, there are those self-balancing unicycle scooters that I’ve seen in both SF and Brooklyn, Timberland and Gibsons are brands that have survived the brand wars, and there is the omniprescent Instagram which looks exactly like Instagram from today. They didn’t even come up with a future Instragram design or even change the name of the app. The photo app UI also looks the same. Where is my cool future mobile phone with cool future UI? Mars is basically Brooklyn (complete with something that looks like the Brooklyn bridge) plus some future trains and durian soda. The plot also seems to revolve around AIs and robots taking our jobs, and, well, haven’t they seen Macross Plus? Never let an AI hold a giant concert. Just begging for trouble.

(All the episodes are named after classic Rock songs so I am hoping all bands get mentioned in their episodes. How are the two main heroines going to relate to the Police or Bruce Springsteen? And there are twenty-four episodes planned– will this be the second anime to immortalize Savage Garden?)

(The fact that this show uses woolongs as its currency and takes place on Mars without referencing the earth… I mean… imagine if there is a post-credits scene at the end of the final episode where it shows the moon blown up and scattered around the earth and confirms that Carole & Tuesday is in the same connected universe as Cowboy Bebop. I would do a slow clap for Watanabe in that case.)

(One of my favorite scenes from this show is where a character talks about how his AI uses algorithms based on previous hits to make new hits. I’m here thinking, “Huh, that’s exactly how Netflix makes shows and movies. Wait, Carole & Tuesday is a Netflix production. Mmm…”)

(DJ Ertegun, a fantastic name too, feels like he should be in Ramona Flower’s league of disgruntled ex-boyfriends.)

(Fashion Czar: “Men are the worst, even in future Mars.”)


#1. Sarazanmai
MAPPA

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“SARA! SARA! SARA!”

In the four years since Yurikuma Arashi, what has Kunihiko Ikuhara been up to? Ah, he has a new anime out. What is it about? It’s about kappa who extract anus balls from people? And they share each others’ secrets after eating and purifying the anus balls? And it’s an extremely high budget production from MAPPA? Okay, straight to the top of thin slicing. I don’t really need to know more about Sarazamai. I’m still trying to figure out what happened in Penguindrum.

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  • Animation is incredibly good. There’s even little poses the kappa strike whenever they land.
  • Art direction is incredibly good too. Great, how I want an anime that combines Ikuhara’s art sensibilities with Watanabe’s music sensibilities.
  • The traumatic expressions the boys have after they get pooped out is 15/10.
  • Despite being Ikuhara’s most male-centric work… of course there’s a crossdresser and plenty of yaoi tropes.
  • Is Team Otter just the student council from Utena?
  • I don’t think kappazon.co.jp is going to license this show for streaming.
  • Ikuhara omitted the anus balls from his original pitch of this anime, and he just snuck them in. How did this anime get approved without the anus balls?!
  • The animation must be good because at least six minutes each episode is recycled footage.
  • Anus balls.

3 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, spring 2019 edition”

  1. Every season I come back to see how far your tastes have fallen and I am not disappointed.

  2. Small point of contention:

    In no way, shape, or form is Hi Score Girl a harem. I suppose you could safely call it a love triangle, though even that is open to dispute, as the male lead never even slightly reciprocates the feelings of the second female, whose affection is utterly unrequited. Personally, I think HSG is a coming-of-age story about discovering your passions…and it’s very much become a personal favorite of mine.

    Which is why I can definitively say that it ain’t a harem!

  3. Y’know, if nothing else, I will totally give you Saranzanmai having the most impact for one episode, and it hasn’t let up at all.

    Completely independently of your results, I do love that the two best shows this season are “girls do pop music on Mars” and “kappas steal anal balls in search of truth and love”

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