thin slicing the new season, winter 2020 edition

9,000 words, 21 anime, and a pandemic.

(Easy Breezy Source)

It’s been a journey. Nothing quite prepares you for the first winter where you send your kid to daycare or school, and the whole family ends up constantly sick. Then a major global pandemic hits so you have to pull your kid out of the infectious environment and still be able to function as an adult. “Functioning as an adult” should really be the final boss of all shounen manga protagonists. I would like to see Luffy do taxes, Dr. Stone attend daycare interviews, and Ichigo and Orihime sigh in resignation as Kazui’s diarrhea won’t stop but he still has to take his antibiotics to combat his ear infection.

So I finished this thin slicing a while ago, but I decided to hang on to it because hey it’s 2020 and nothing is normal. What could be more abnormal than a thin slicing that happens after a season? It’s even funny for me to read it because even I would move stuff around, but basing one’s opinion on an entirety of a show rather than the first ten minutes goes against everything thin slicing stands for.

I figure you are either reading this while practicing physical distancing at home (but don’t all anime fans do this yukyukyuk) or in linecon at Costco waiting to buy toilet paper. But let us just put that aside for now and focus on what’s important: Isekai Family. Namely, brothers. The Fast Saga loves its surprise brothers almost as much as anime loves reincarnating Nobunaga.

Once upon a time Dom was racing illegal street cars and stealing DVD players. That’s how old the franchise is. It started when DVD players were actually worth something. He loves family, and we get a lot of shots of his house and his sister Mia’s house. Pictures of him? Check. Pictures of Mia? Check. Pictures of John Cena? Nope. When did John Cena break up with Dom? When did they get rid of all his pictures? Was Cena already a master assassin before Paul Walker shows up? I’m more confused than when Oscar meets Jeb and Fannie Schrute.

So Dom never tells his wife or brother-in-law, whom he loves as an actual brother, that he has an actual biological brother on the loose who commands a shadow cartel and owns a vape shop. Never comes up. It’s all about family— except his surprise brother.

A few movies later, Dom defeats master assassin Owen Shaw and saves the world. Turns out Owen Shaw has a surprise brother named Deckard Shaw who is an even more bad ass assassin. Deckard proves how metal he is by killing Han much like Lord Zed flicking away Rita Repulsa. Meanwhile, Han’s body gets delivered to Exegol on a modified 1997 Suburu WRX.

Then it turns out Owen and Deckard have a sister, Hattie, who is a MI-6 agent. Their mom is a master criminal and both brothers are assassins. Of course, Hattie passes her background check and becomes an MI6 agent no questions asked. So to save Hattie, Deckard needs help. Does he call his brother who is an assassin? No, he calls a sexy Russian mafia boss. It’s all about forgetting about family when there’s a sexy Russian arms dealer around.

While Hattie and The Rock are planning their schedules around her ovulation cycle, Deckard says that Brixton killed his brother. Wait, what? Are they referring to Owen, who is alive? Or a surprise brother? How does Hattie not know she had a dead brother? Amazon Video’s X-ray feature was absolutely no help in figuring this plot point out.

So Hobbs The Rock Johnson needs to find help. Earlier in the movie, his daughter was the focus of the saddest scene where she draws a family tree that just had her name, Hobbs, and “???”. She didn’t even know her mom’s name? She immediately qualifies to be an anime protagonist with an absentee dad and a no-name mom. We don’t even get a shot of the three of them in a photo frame but a reflection obscures the face of the mom.

Who does Hobbs turn to for help? He needs muscle to help fight Brixton, and he needs shit repaired. Of course it’s Dom and his crew, right? They’re family. Dom has defeated both Shaw brothers, and he built this GPS receiver slash transmitter with unlimited range and battery power into a holy cross. Nope. Hobbs turns to his surprise brother who works hard on set and doesn’t bug him to play D&D. Did Hobbs do this because he knows no matter who he picks, he’ll win, and he just wanted to end the movie with a Haka dance instead of a joke about American muscle?

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised at more surprise siblings. Maybe we can get Steven Yuen as Han’s surprise brother and bad guy for Fast 10? Maybe The New Day will be Tyrese’s surprise brothers in a Fast Saga isekai anime spinoff? Maybe Awkafina can play a reincarnated Hideyoshi as Dom realizes he’s a reincarnated Nobugana in Fast 15?

Anyway, welcome to thin slicing.

#MR. IRRELEVANT. A Destructive God Sits Next To Me
EMT Squared
MAL 6.20 (3,198)


I got so sick of the chuunibyou antics of Bokuhaka that I couldn’t watch more than ten minutes. Look, I watched an entire episode of the furry anime last season that was nothing but mouth on crotch jokes yet couldn’t make it through this show. Everything about this show is depressing and watching this anime makes me feel like I am devaluing my own life. The setting looks like it was recycled from a budget hentai from 1995. The character designs are middle school quality, to match the chuunibyou mindset. The jokes are so lame, poorly written, and lifelessly delivered that I am very confused how this show got an anime before Old Man and Cat. The first story is also awful with the plot revolving around abandoning a little puppy out in the rain. I feel sorry for all the poor animators who had to work on this show and hate the production committee that brought this abomination to life.

(Also, I skipped a bunch of shows this season for various reasons, but mostly time. But a few I also skipped because I ended up watching too much of them and didn’t take notes so they’re not really thin slicings anymore. So, anyway, if you’re looking for Haikyuu, BanG Dream! S3, Oshi ga Budoukan, Nekopara, Murenase, Dorohedoro, Magia Record, and Orphen, they won’t be covered here. And, really, at this point, I rather try to watch more spring 2020 shows than circle back to winter.)

(And, if you have noticed, there are MAL scores for the shows so you can see what the community thinks of each show now that they are over.)

#25. Uchi Tama
MAL 6.47 (1,565)


“This is my Waiha.”

Uchi Tama?! Uchi no Tama Shirimasen ka? (Have You Seen My Tama?) was originally a mascot-type franchise (like Hello Kitty or Rilakkuma) back in the 60s. Can it be worse than the Sanrio-attempted anthropomorphized mascot pretty boy show? Yes, yes it can. This show is so weird. It flips back between the cute mascot characters and the not-so-cute and very bland human forms without any rhyme or reason. One moment we see a dog leashed up, and the next he’s turned into a boy still leashed up. Who is this show for? The humans that the mascots can turn into run the gamut from little boys all the way up to yakuza-ish caricatures, but there’s no way to tell from their original mascot forms which human they would become. It’s like the character designs were not properly thought out. The humans all feature similar color palettes with most of them having either white or brown as their primary color, and if there is any anime that should have used the late 90s scratchy face aesthetic, it is this one.

The plot is as boring and uninspired as the character design. The first arc is pretty much the first arc of Azure Lane’s anime where a cat gets lost, and the huge cast gets quickly introduced as the characters hunt for the cat. The second arc is just a major misundering of what “Waiha” means. There is nothing to hold interest. I just hope that the title of this anime isn’t indicative of future plots where Tama gets lost every other episode.

(One of the dogs in this show just gets left out four slices of cake. Who feeds their dog cake? You know what happens after you feed your dog four slices of cake? Diarrhea. Massive diarrhea.)

(Fashion Czar: “I don’t want to see cat-boys laying underneath a truck. That’s not moe.”)

#24. Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga
Studio Signpost
MAL 6.10 (1,674)


“It’s the tsundere nature that makes shiba inus so great!”

Who says that? People who have never owned a shiba inu. It’s like saying “You know what makes Boston Terriers great? Their farts. I love how they hot box under blankets.”

Poor Nobunaga. He becomes the most famous emperor of Japan only to be turned into a high school girl, a loli, ikemen otome fodder, the worst Fate/Grand Order SSR, and now a shiba inu in Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga. The whole premise of Nobunaga reincarnating into a dog is interesting for about two minutes. It would be an okay two minute anime. But, nope, somehow this show is a full 24 minute show with a full cours. The gag wears out its welcome by the third minute since it is just cute dog stuff with an old man superimposed on it, and it is not funny. The old man bits actively detract from the cute dog antics. From a scale of 1 to Look Whose Talking Now, Oda is a generous 1.05. How did this show get turned into an anime? The comedy is just so basic, the dogs not cute enough, and the superficial warring states aspect feels more subtractive than additive to the show.

Most disturbingly, Nobunaga doesn’t start out as a puppy. He just takes over a poor adult dog, Cinnamon. It’s just like Ascendance of a Bookworm from last season where the girl was so thirsty to be reincarnated in another world that she kills an innocent little girl and steals her body and family. Here, Nobunaga kills the original Cinnamon and takes over. I am so not okay with this.

(Fashion Czar: “Please tell me that this is a five minute show.”)

#23. Pet
Geno Studio
MAL 6.22 (7,260)


“Nothing but the same anime day in and day out.”

The bad attempt at a knock-off Doraemon should have been a sign that Pet would be a Dollar store anime. Nothing really grabs me about this one: The art design is as exciting as cigarette smoke, the memory manipulation angle is done much better in another show this season, the action is terribly drawn, and all the characters seem like smug assholes. The pacing is a bit slow, and the plot is too mysterious without giving the viewer any reason to stick around. It’s also full of convoluted rules (you can mind control someone, but you have to pass specific criteria to do it) that make icing in Hockey seem self-explanatory. I started to doze off during the episode, and Fashion Czar was shopping for a toddler table and chair set.

#22. Toilet-Bound Hanako-san
MAL 7.78 (19,768)


“I’m not into fat daikon legs.”

I feel like I am watching a mobile game cinematic when I watch Hanako-san of the Bathroom (Toilet-Bound Hanako-san). There are few shots of the whole body actually moving with any detail or really at all. There are a lot of stylized shots using composition and long pans to hide action to the point that this anime might as well been a PS2 JRPG. The first episode featured a pivotal knife fight that was pretty much all still shots, speedlines, and swipe glows. This show has the biggest gap I think between myself and MAL, and I think it is because I just hate this art style.

This show tries to be both a yokai anime and a morality play centered around a spirit “stuck” in a bathroom, and it is most uninteresting when it tries to be serious. The jokes are okay with some riffs on anime tropes, and I like how someone finally understands that mermaids can have the top of a fish and bottom of a human. The show is just hard to recommend based on the poor, lifeless animation and the overdone morality aspects– the real treasure is the friends that you make on the way.

#21. Infinite Dendrogram
MAL 6.04 (14,164)


Oh good another VRMMO anime that’s totally not a poor man’s version of Sword Art Online. Will Infinite Dendrogram pander to China and conveniently sidestep topics that China might find offensive like what Sword Art Online does too? More importantly, why do people in anime put on VR helmets and then go lie down in bed? Here in 2020, VR is mostly done room scale. How do you play Half Life: Alyx lying down and half-asleep? Japan’s vision for VR and America’s vision for VR seem quite different, almost as much as the two countries’ stances on mayo on pizza. Also, why would anyone play an VRMMO when they can’t have a browser window open to alt-tab and look at guides or watch YouTube or listen to Spotify on the side?

So the main prokai (protagonist-isekai), Ray Starling, who has as much charisma as a Kirito body pillow can create any avatar, and he just decides to make himself with blonde hair. Even Kirito put in more effort into his original avatar. If his imagination parallels the author’s imagination, wow, I’m going to need a high ball. The twist for this VRMMO is that the human characters can die and get resurrected but the NPCs can’t so the humans try to save the life of the NPCs because I don’t know (wait isn’t this the Aliciazation arc?). The human players also get an embryo implanted in them (does this author know what this means?) that can hatch into anything from monsters to a castle (?!?) to a sexy witch, which is of course what the prokai’s hatches into. The sexy witch can also transform into an overly complicated sword as if Kylo Ren’s lightsaber had a baby with Aquaman’s trident. Infinite Dendrogram is a lackluster SAO clone that would have been a bad anime in 2009 but is downright sad and depressing in 2020.

Other thoughts:

  1. Ray Starling has a brother who also plays, Shu Starling, and he’s a furry mascot with a minigun that would make The Rock blush. Ray, of course, is equipped with a pocket knife.
  2. The boss just waits for the prokai to give a speech instead of finishing him off. Sigh.
  3. There’s a fetch quest to start our hero’s journey. While the light novel is written in 2015, it feels like it is from 2005.

#20. Plunderer
MAL 6.04 (14,164)


“Find the legendary Ace!”

You know what anime I would like to see? My Food Truck In Another World. I think that could be a winning concept especially if it were a fried chicken sandwich food truck. You know what anime I don’t want to see? An anime where a 14 year old girl gets sexually assaulted and taken advantage of multiple times in the first episode with this weird implication that’s okay since its a fantasy world.

The plot for Plunderer is paper thin, the characters all look like they have chuubyuni, the world is delightfully dystopic with both a social score number and a commoner vs. noble social stratisfication that mirrors 2020 China and 2024 America, and the humor is almost all in bad taste. There is a six minute segment that is just about the a pervert touching a girl inappropriately and then getting punched. The gag is repeated for six minutes. Six as in its MAL score, which is lower than Sister Princess RE:PURE‘s score.

The world in Plunderer revolves around a number that everyone gets, and the higher the number the “better” you are or something. If it gets to 0, hands raise from the ground and take you to hell, which might be better than living in this crappy fantasy world. Some people have really easy ways to increase their number like by walking and some people have really niche ways like getting people to say their food is delicious. Some people are blessed with numbers that just go up while others can have numbers go up and down. It is a ridiculous overcomplication for an already silly anime. The number is tattooed on the body. For most of the male characters, the number is on their arms, hands, or even weapons. The poor girls of the show seem to have their numbers on their boobs, their inner thighs, or their lower backs. Of course, none of the characters except for one male character covers up their number with clothing. “Oh, I have my number as a tramp stamp? I guess I’m only wearing clothes that expose it from now on.”

My quickly dwindling hope as I watched Plunderer is that someone has a number that can only be increased by a ridiculous sex act. “Ah, Bill, long time no see! Wow! You’re at 15,532? You were an one when you graduated from the academy! That’s amazing you got it so high.” “That’s the most Skittles that I can fit up my ass at one time.”

(Fashion Czar: “This rattled cape is way too chuubyuni.”)

#19. Runway de Waratte
MAL 7.65 (6,492)


“Runway models don’t model themselves. They model the clothes.”

Runway de Waratte (Smile Down the Runway) put me to sleep. It’s somehow Project Runway meets America’s Next Top Model made by people who have seen neither show. Runway does not make it work. The main heroine wants to be a runway model, and, despite her dad owning a modeling agency, just whines, mopes, and complains. She does very little to advance her career except act like an asshole during modeling interviewers. The hero wants to be a fashion designer, and somehow the heroine’s dad’s modeling agency also makes clothes because why the fuck not. If we can have a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut combo store, why not a modeling agency slash fast fashion design house?

The animation is awful with the same hallway and running animation repeated multiple times in the first episode. The movements are clunky, and the pivotal, “She’s walking like a boss!” scene is just stills which really saps any potential impact. What is confusing to me is how did this manga get into Weekly Shonen Magazine, home of The Quintessential Quintuplets and Rent-a-Girlfriend? It’s like if you opened up a vegan cookbook, and there’s a recipe for pork xiao long bao in the middle of it.

(Fashion Czar: “Tyra Banks would slap this girl but then maybe hug her. Do you need any recommendations for Tyra Banks gifs for your blog?”)

#18. Hatena Illusion
Children’s Playground Entertainment
MAL 5.59 (3,311)


“Makoto turned into a boy!”

Hatena Illusion has the worst opening song of the year. I have a high tolerance for bullshit anime OP/ED that built up over the decades, but Magic Words is hardly magical. What is worse than the OP are the character designs– the character designers have to keep embellishing and embellishing to the point there is more outfit than character. I find it amazing that Japan, the land that gave us Uniqlo, can also give us all of these overly complicated and embellished character designs.

Other than that, the show starts off with a heroine who mistakenly thought her friend was a girl (but surprise penis), and it turns out that the boy has to move in with her because of some bullshit grifting scheme the family maid came up with. I’m not kidding. She basically pushed him into a vase, and was like, “Whelp, you have to live here and work for minimum wage until it’s paid off, never mind that you’re middle schoolers.” The heroine’s dad is no help, more like anti-help, in that the heroine lost her mom while little and has mom abandonment issues. The dad, without warning, just tells her that he is going to work overseas and literally flies away and goes, “ADIOS!” Andohbytheway, the boy originally visited the heroine because he wanted to learn under her dad, and now he’s a slave and the dad’s gone. I wish I were making this plot up.

Hatena Illusion has no redeeming qualities: The show is just full of tropes. Peaking during a bath? Check. Crashing into a grope? Check. Bad magical girl transformation sequence? Check. The characters have personalities of door knobs, and the character designs go off-model so much, I didn’t even know what the characters should look like under all of their outfit embellishments.

(Fashion Czar: “He’s just copping Tuxedo Mask… the mask, the dramatic entrance, the name, the cape… and there’s no artistic direction for this show. Let’s just throw harlequin patterns on everything.”)

#17. number24
MAL 6.16 (1,739)


“Everyone, don’t forget to stretch and ice down.”

Number 24 starts off with a traffic accident. Is this show going to be an isekai? Nope. It’s about a poor boy who has to quit being an idol after getting run over by a car and now has to play rugby. From the lack of rugby action and the weird idol backstory, I would say this show is a small, tiny, miniscule sports anime and giant, huge, big otome game. Also, a female character does not show up until the thirteenth minute.

The characters are far from likeable. The main character doesn’t seem to have a personality and is defined by what happens to him rather than what he is. The teammates range from assholes like the guy who hates being called his name but loves eating hot dogs to walking tropes like the fat guy who constantly eats. It’s like in The Lost Village where it wasn’t enough to have a fat character, but he needs to be eating all the time. We get it. But what is more striking is the missing characters. There is no staff for this college rugby team– no coach, no physician, no nothing– so when one character gets injured, another teammate takes him to the hospital. This college is supposed to be so rugby crazy that they watch rugby on YouTube before classes yet there’s no coaching staff. Also, there are no parents. When the main character gets injured, he only had rugby to lean on because his parents probably got hit by a car and got isekaied when he was a kid.

The character designs need a pass. Most of the characters have the same saturated hair color with matching eye colors that look a bit uncanny. At times, they look like zombies, but they rarely look like a cohesive rugby team. The animation is budget with almost no actual rugby being shown despite rugby going on.

(Somehow, I feel like a Japanese class that is rugby crazy is more far-fetched than someone dying and waking up in another world.)

(The OP features the rugby guys shirtless. One of them is shirtless in church. Speaking of OPs, Hyadin’s doing the music for Rent-a-Girlfriend. I don’t think he has done any anime since the original Gundam Build Fighters. I’m looking forward to it because anime OP is all too samey now and not enough bad Engrish. Where’s my 2020 Red Fraction or Euphoric Field?)

(The rugby episode of Full Metal Panic Fumoffu still has not been surpassed. That episode is a work of art and should be a first ballot inductee into the Anime Hall of Fame.)

#16. The Case Files of Jeweler Richard
MAL 7.11 (6,239)


“That was how I met Richard.”

I enjoyed The Holmes of Kyoto and kind of wish those light novels would get translated. The Case Files of Jeweler El Mello II Richard-san reminds me a little of that show, expect with tons more homoerotic overtones, way less interesting stories, and somehow even lower budget animation. The stories revolve around a jeweler, Richard Ranashinha de Vulpian (who is definitely going to move into Terrace House at some point), and his partner, Nakata, and they solve mysteries involving jewels. The mysteries more or less setup morality plays rather than being a detective show: Richard-san looks at a jewel and then comes up with the outline of the story a la Mad Libs that Nakata fills in. I think the concept is interesting, but the two leads are as boring as an actual jewelry appraisal. Both characters lack any charisma, and the stale dialogue doesn’t help. Nakata announcing that he’s a hero of justice over and over again… well… is this Unlimited Blade Works again? I think the show would be better served with some flirting between the two and some sexual tension.

Backgrounds, character designs, and animation are fairly bottom of the bucket. For whatever reason, Nakata changes outfits, but Richard-san wears the same suit. The suit is also always in pristine condition, even when he gets beaten up. The plot also requires stretches of the imagination, like why does he keep jewelry in the fridge? Why are they both paying for shinkansen trips to return something that could be mailed? How does he know the jewel was stolen by looking at it? The only thing I thought was clever was the name of Richard-san’s company, Tfantasy and Co. That could also pass as a title of an isekai where the prokai was once a jeweler but got ran over by an armored car and now lives in another world appraising magical jewels.

(Fashion Czar: “I think Richard-san is the most boring person I have ever been introduced to. He has zero personality. He can’t carry the show alone. Richard might as well be a Real Doll.”)

#15. 22/7
MAL 6.56 (2,732)


“I’m telling you it’s fine. We need to find new idols.”

I’m not sure if 22/7 is an actual anime or a plot to traffic little girls into another country. The whole show is sketchy: Okay, the girls get mysterious letters from a mysterious organization that wants them to be idols. Instead of auditioning, they just meet at a zoo to discover a NERV-type facility under the zoo that specializes in training idols. This is exactly how I picture those kpop talent factories. The standby room where the idol candidates gather looks suspiciously like a room where a cult would sacrifice a lamb or a virgin. And no one actually talks meaningfully with the girls as they just get instructions from a bottle that is spit out of a hole in the room.

There is some production budget thrown at this show by A-1 with some detailed hair movements and animation, but the character designs are generic. There is also a lack of outfit changes as at one point a few girls meet a week apart, yet they are all wearing the exact same street clothes outfits. There is a bit too much CG to coverup the lack of animation, but I guess that’s just par for the course for idol anime these days.

#14. Asteroid in Love
Doga Kobo
MAL 6.95 (11,000)


“Wow, you have a galactic perspective!”

Every night I conclude storytime with my daughter by reading Brown Bear Brown Bear, and it puts her to sleep. She starts yawning when she sees the cover now. Watching Koisuru Asteroid puts me to sleep the same way, except I don’t need an anime to put me to sleep since I am already exhausted from chasing around a toddler all day during shelter-in-place. Please put that quote on the back of your BD release, Funimation.

I think if this show were an after school discovery club like A Place Further Than the Universe or Yuru Camp, it would be an average show. Instead, Koisuru Asteroid is a mindless yuri vehicle where most of the cast look like lolis that pretty much caters to a specific anime fan type. Nothing about the show is good. The animation is bare bones. The character designs look like they just did a bad trace of Flip Flappers. The jokes are all cutesy non-jokes to the point I thought I hallucinated when they made an actual semi-sexual bunny girl joke. The science aspect is just the girls saying random facts and using jargon. They aren’t really discovering anything like in APFTTU. The plot is… well… if you started a club in 2020 and had to advertise it, what’s the best option? A poster? A YouTube ad? A TikTok or Instagram story? Google AdSense targeted ad? A Facebook post? No, it’s a pamphlet.

(The best joke was an unintentional joke. The club creates a “man/heaven/earth” triangle, and that’s the hidden damage triangle from Fate Grand/Order. See, even if the anime is terrible, I still pay attention to it. Sheesh. I wait until the credits before actually falling asleep.)

#13. Somali to Mori no Kamisama
MAL 7.89 (32,474)


“Why are humans so hard to please?”

Do you like The Mandalorian? Do you like Baby Yoda? Somali to Mori no Kamisama is no The Mandalorian. Not even close. While the story also features an aged, lone protector father figure of a little child who could be the last of their species, there is a lack of empathy with Somali to Mori. The father figure sometimes feels like he’s Mando-kun, but other times, he feels like Kiritsugu, and there is no sense of why he is doing what he does. I guess neither are great dads, but Mando-kun has a whole character arc around wanting to protect Baby Yoda, and Kiritsugu’s raising of Emiya is a result of his failures with Ilya. Here, the father figure does what is required to advance the plot and not anything more. The child also has very limited charisma and seems like any generic toddler. I already get enough toddler mischief in my life that I don’t need to watch it in anime form.

The world is the most interesting part of the show. Technology that we have is just replicated in the fantasy world with an animal or monster kind of like how Dinosaurs or The Flintstones handled such things. It’s kinda fun seeing the analogues. Humanity got wiped out because of their inherent racism. They decided to wage a war because the monsters didn’t look like humans, and it just ended up with the monsters realizing how delicious human meat is. Nonetheless, I don’t really believe that all humans are gone, after all, if you stumbled across a delicious meat, wouldn’t you want to raise it as livestock for slaughter (as in The Promised Neverland)?

The production is below average to average with some bland backgrounds and sparse animation work. The father figure golem also has a giant black shape on his front that looks like a giant cock. The plot relies too much on exposition dumps. At one point, a monster girl asks her mom, “Refresh my memory mom, what happened to the humans?” leading into a montage of humans being savagely eaten. What were the other choices for getting the viewer this information? A narrator cut away? The writing feels lazy and rushed. It’s like if Mando-kun and Baby Yoda went into a bar, and someone in the bar asked, “Hey, doesn’t that kid look like a Jedi Master? What happened to the Jedi, mom?” I think I would have enjoyed Somali to Mori no Kamisama a lot more if the world-building was more shown than explained.

(I think this show has the biggest difference in opinion between me and MAL community, and I think it’s because this is a very different show for someone who has a toddler and for someone without one. The exact opposite case is Mirai, a film that hits people who have kids and don’t have kids differently. And, you know what? It’s perfectly okay this way. Turns out, we’re not all the same people, and we all have gone through different life experiences, so what we enjoy may not match up to someone else’s. And that’s perfectly okay. It doesn’t make anyone else’s opinion any less valid or better or worse than yours.)

#12. Darwin’s Game
MAL: 7.30 (6,663)


I am generally not into the death game slash weird penalty game genre. Most of these shows are just too convoluted– even Kakegurui loses me sometimes with its rules. Darwin’s Game is a mobile game where a snake comes out and bites you leaving a tattoo and giving you a random superpower. Even this death game has gatchapon mechanic. The protag even rolls an one star handgun instead of an SSR anti-tank rifle.

My main issue with the show is that the protag is yet another one of those. He is a very typical “Hey, I just wanted to roll for waifus on my mobage!” high school teen tossed into an unfortunate situation beyond his control and has zero personality. The plot is thrown at him rather than him being a participant in the story. The plot is also moved along solely on the conceit that he doesn’t know what he is doing is stubbornly refuses to learn. He has no sense as an individual but only exists so we can see how horrible death game is. I just go back to Escaflowne. Hitomi wasn’t whisked away to Gaia in the first episode. The entire first episode, cut by Fox for the original American release, was about establishing her as a character and showing what she wants and her challenges in her life (before the giant mecha enter the picture). All we know from this protag is that he likes to roll SSR waifus. Who doesn’t?!

The character designs are uninspired and the first episode has random scenes to a blonde girl just to show it isn’t a complete sausagefest. The background color saturation is also quite off and makes the show feel really muddy and unattractive. Even the main character’s superpower is uninspired— he can copy objects that he has seen before. I mean… come the fucking on. Who doesn’t know I am the bone of my sword by now? We’re going to find out that he’s an amazing cook, the blonde girl has an invisible sword, and the Japanese girl can fire lasers from finger guns next. What were the rejected superpower ideas? He can block magic of other users with his right hand? He can set a volleyball with extreme precision and timing? He can build tiny GPS receiver/transmitters with unlimited range and battery life into necklaces?

(The Wang guy looks like he is a reject from a vampire anime. Also, we want this anime to be edgy but also Japanese so they’re going to pickle human fingers and eat them.)


#11. Ishuzoku Reviewers
Brain’s Base
MAL: 7.59 (92,492)


“God, men are the worst.”

Finally, Ishuzoku Reviewers (Horny Monster Sex Worker Yelp) blesses us with a proper fantasy genre name: Stunk. I’m sure it will be a name that will live on forever like Drizzt, Jon Snow, Uncle Dis, and Gandalf. This show activated a trap card: Anytime a show gets pulled from Funimation and broadcast Japanese TV before its fifth episode in 2020, I have to write about it. At first I was thinking “Wow, this show is going to be fodder for Mr. Irrelevant,” but, as I watched it, I started to think, “It’s kinda clever how they did this show.” I’m not sure if I want to watch anymore, but it’s clever.

The base premise is that horny men decide to make a review system for prostitutes and grade them on the Famitsu scale. That is also pretty much the origin story of Yelp. “Man, there aren’t enough strippers and hookers in the Bay Area, but we have a lot of great restaurants. Maybe we should change our focus.” And you just know there’s a guy sulking in that meeting because he really wanted to focus on prostitutes and not on chutneys and boba tea.

This show has some, um, production values and some eyecatches. Horny Monster Sex Worker Yelp anime is well-animated for a show trying to skate by without being full H. There are also some unexpected elements like questions about morality and religion that I did not expect. The show also tosses in an odd action battle sequence every so often because why the fuck not? I somehow expected this show to be an isekai, but it isn’t, like it would have been great if a Famitsu or GameSpot reviewer got isekai’ed, and this is their new career. Of course, there are things that I expected from this show that do show up: Sexual harassment, zero mention of STDs, brothels located at the end of a dungeon (I always said there should be a Jamba Juice at the top of Half Dome, so I guess a brothel at the end of a dungeon would be logical), 1 boob joke/minute, and shoutas.

(Is “Stunk” named “Stunk” because he smells like he has every STD known to man and beast? And is the elf boy named “Zel” because he has zel the STDs?)

(Is there something like a reverse review bomb? This show has almost more #1 rankings from viewers than all the other shows this season combined on MAL.)

(Fashion Czar: “God, men are the worst.”)

#6-10. EMPTY


Originally, I had a 2,000 word Terrace House rant here, but I think I’ll hold off on it because it inspired me to write about Nasu’s favorite trick in writing Fate. (Of course, this doesn’t apply to Fate stories where a different primary author is writing like Fate/Zero because we all are familiar with The Urobutcher’s writing style). One of the best parts of Tokyo 2019-2020 is Ryo’s heel turn where all the girls are going gaga for him at first but even Vivi gives up on him. It is always fun when a babyface gets exposed (not changed but exposed) as a heel. He is what he always was. That’s what Nasu’s great at, only the exact opposite.

Fate at its core is always about lewding genderbent historical figures, but, if we can look past that, it’s about how Nasu creates redemption arcs. Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia isn’t an one-off story. It’s a satisfying chapter within Fate/Grand Order Part 1, but it is also fills in gaps in Fate‘s lore, namely Gilgamesh’s. Gilgamesh is a wine-twirling asshole who needs to win at all costs. He killed Iskander in front of Waver, killed Rin’s dad, tried to kill Rin, rigged a grocery lotto, tried to seduce Santa, and really likes to pal around with Kotomine. He’s a major antongist in most early Fate stories, and only in Heaven’s Feel does something else really replace him as a final servant to fight. Babylonia fills in that gap by offering an older Gilgamesh than his archer self, but it circles around and uses his arrogent archer self to save the day and be the firepower Chaldea needs. So not only do we see the wiser, older Gilgamesh saving his people and culture because that’s what older Gilgamesh is about, but we also see that even his younger self has the same, but dormant, trait.

(Yes, it’s a lot of weird Fate magic in that Gilgamesh dies in the Underworld but thanks to that loophole he’s allowed to respawn as his Golden Boy self or something. Oh wait, Golden Boy is a different Fate character…)

Fate Grand/Order is litered with this type of redemption story, and most of them occur in the Nasu chapters. The Russian Lostbelt (which is Part 2) kicks off with the redemption arc of Avicebron. Yes, the asshole golem maniac who turned his kid master from Apocryhpa into a golem gets a whole story built around his redemption to the point he’s nicknamed “Avicebro” now, which culiminates in a giant kaiju battle. Even though Apocryhpa is a completely different timeline than Grand/Order, Nasu weaves in enough to suggest Avicebron knows the events of Apocryhpa to make it seems like Avicebron is repentent and that his actions in a non-existant timeline influences his final decision in Russia. Also, Enkidu starts a babyface turn at the end of Babylonia, and that turn continues in Strange Fake (which Nasu doesn’t write but eh).

Nasu does the standard babyface into heel turn, but I feel like not as well. Two of the three Fate/Stay Night arcs involve Saber going evil– that’s just 1 game! If we are keeping count, F/SN, Heaven’s Feel, London, and Camelot all have evil King Arthurs (and possibly Lostbelt 6). But Nasu isn’t satisfied with that, so even the evil Sabers can go back to good. In Shinjuku, one of the evil Sabers becomes good because she adopts a dog. A character like Eresh who is pretty much the babyfaces of babyfaces in Babylonia gets an “evil” arc eventually. There is rarely a story in Fate that doesn’t involve a heel or babyface turn, except the bad ones like Rome and Fate/Extra Last Encore.

I guess my point is that Fate is wrestling, except with lewd genderbent historical figures.

#5. Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu.
Silver Link
MAL: 7.72 (58,430)


“Wicked monsters are simply no match for my wits and bravery!”

The Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai Memorial Name Award is now the Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu. Memorial Name Award. Wow. That’s a lot to unpack, including an actual period in the name. Even BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense. is a mouthful.

Probably the best part of BOFURI is the heroine just mindlessly dumping all of her stat and skill points into tanking and getting addicted to it as if defense points were hits of cocaine for her. The rest of the show is just typical MMO VR RPG SAO-wannabe nonsense. The heroine looks like Yuuki from SAO, and Klein shows up too. She also puts on the VR googles and then lies down in bed. The show is fun, and it’s hard not to smile along with main prokai’s defensing delight. In terms of overpowered isekai anime that try to be comedies, she is a vast improvement over the lead of The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious. But at this point, I’m pretty tired of overpowered isekai power fantasies. Can we get a story about a team five teenagers who pilot overpowered mecha and fight in a war betweeen space colonists and earthlings?

Also, it is a fantasy MMORPG. It’s not an actual fantasy world. Why hasn’t the developer nerfed her ultrastrong build that is so easy to do, she goes from noob to end game in 2 days? That to me breaks any immersion because it’s just so utterly ridiculous to not have live game balancing. If the game isn’t balanced, there should be 15,532 other players with her exact same build because someone on Twitch is promoting it as a way to break the game.

(Fashion Czar: “Is this vore?”)

#4. Kyokou Suiri
Brain’s Base
MAL: 7.43 (21,673)


“Can you look towards dating me with a goal of marriage in mind?”

Kyokou Suiri (In/Spectre) starts with a girl introducing herself to a random guy with how to write her name and age. She might as well toss in her favorite band and movie and make it an online dating profile. At this point, I had no idea what the genre this show is heading to. Romance? Thriller? Magic battle high school? After school do nothing club? It wasn’t until the halfway point when the overly buff kappa shows up when I realized, “Oh, it’s another silly yokai live amongst us anime.” Now I’m just disappointed whenever the kappa do not try to ram itself into someone’s asshole. But this show does something very few other shows this season managed to do: Keep me guessing and keep me interesting in what is going to happen next.

My notes:

  • Bland character designs are saved by outfit changes. Not a good sign if the main girl asks the main guy if he only recognizes girls from their hats.
  • The backgrounds and animation are poor. The action for the climax is mostly obscured, and I never get a sense of danger from the action because of how lifeless it is drawn.
  • “The yokai in the library are violent and dangerous”– just like the library in Pawnee, Indiana.
  • Fashion Czar: “Personality-wise, she is a pretty refreshing protagonist for this type of show.”
  • ED feels like something THREE1989 would sing but SPiCYSOL wouldn’t touch it with a two-meter pole.

#3. A Certain Scientific Railgun T
MAL: 8.18 (6,663)


“Mmmm, the standards never go out of style.”

We’re so deep into the Index franchise that you should know if you’re in or not by now. I was going to skip writing about it, but it significant that it was the first anime production to have been set back due to COVID19. I’ve watched most of the Index shows, and I have a lot of trouble remembering what is going on. It’s like if you haven’t played a mobile gatcha game in a while then return and wonder what the fuck are all the new systems. Just some quick hits:

  • The OP sounds like yet another cheap knockoff of Only My Railgun.
  • I get that JC Staff needs to change songs every season, but at least have the first or last episode play some Only My Railgun. It’s a classic modern masterpiece that also needs to be in all rhythm games.
  • Can we please have a Railgun story that isn’t about the convoluted ranking system?
  • Save your cheer battles for idol groups not high school athletics, you creeps.
  • The food trucks in this show look good. I would definitely watch a Railgun spin-off where Uiharu and Saten start their own food truck. I think they should go with mochi churros.
  • Railgun can do PCB repairs? Maybe Hobbs should have asked her for help.
  • There is something extra evil about a middle schooler who wears gloves to school.

MAL: 7.86 (15,439)


Ei Aoki of Fate/Zero, Aldnoah.Zero, and Girls Bravo fame is back with another high budget project. He has done plenty of great work without Gen Urubouchi helping him like Girls Bravo, Re:Creators, and Aldnoah.Zero S2. Mmm…

ID:INVADED is… not bad. It gets points for being an anime where exposition is handled through plot and discovery rather than a “Oh she’s the prettiest, smartest girl and also the student council president” dump. The show has characters with their own wants and agendas. And it has some fancy animation. The scene where the detective reassembles the world was slick. The bad parts of this show are the copious amounts of pseudo-science and hobgoblin particles that make the premise work. Okay, so murderers before they murder emit particles. We can use these particles to find the murderers before they murder but also to inject ourselves into their subconscious. But there are strange rules like the mind divers lose most but not all of their memories crossing over, only people who have murdered can cross over, this random girl is murdered in each one, and John Walker (who looks like Parker’s grandpa from Gold Rush) is a mystical boggieman in each of them too. It’s a solid Jim Halpert on a scale of 1 to Rise of Skywalker in terms of nonsense.

I also don’t like the trappings of a typical Japanese detective drama overlaid on his sci-fi adventure. This department has the budget to build this underground command center and this particle dream machine yet does not have the budget to get better guns or bulletproof vests? They send a rookie agent to capture a serial killer with no weapons? We’re just missing the scene where the female detective brings tea to her male coworkers. There is a secret, highly important piece of police equipment, and they don’t GPS tag it because GPS tagging it makes it easier to find? ID:INVADED is an interesting show with wonky police tropes that hold it back. I’m interested to see where it goes hopefully not into full “JOHN WALKER/SLAINE TROYARD!!!” mode.


#1. Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
Science Saru
MAL: 8.24 (20,721)


“Watch some anime and wait for me.”

Easy breezy Febreezy? Easy breezy Arteezy? Easy breezy Mabeline she’s born with it? Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is the standout anime of this season. Science Saru has created an anime where the characters are enjoying themselves, and their joy makes it hard for the viewer to not enjoy it with them. There is a genuine sense of wonder and fun following Midori, Sayaka, and Tsubame.

What stands out to me is that every aspect of the show overflows with personality. Most anime protagonists are boring blank slates (hiya Darwin’s Game), but, for Eizouken, not only do the three main girls exude personality, so does the world around them. It’s not just a pretty world— Gargantia, Violet Evergarden, and Fate Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia have pretty worlds— but the world itself has its own personality. There are always interesting tidbits and charming details in the background. The music, the way objects move, the sneaker backpacks, the river that runs through everything, and the color palette shifts all combine to imprint a distinct point of view. And everything then combines together in a way parallel to the story. It’s a engrossing combination of characters, story, and setting that few anime does well.

If Shirobako is a celebration of the mechanical process of making an anime, Eizouken is a celebration of the heart. Why do animators slave long hours for low wages? Why do artists add details that most people will miss? What inspires them? What kind of world do they want to build! Where does the passion to create something that may or may not delight others come from?

Eizouken is Yuasa’s vision, and what is refreshing is that it is different from his vision in Tatami Galaxy or Devilman Crybaby or Lu Over the Wall. He can adapt to the work and pull even more from it, something few very directors can do.

This show also has some great one-liners:

  • “Some underpaid sap made this anime.”
  • “It’s a public building that doubles as a dungeon.”
  • “We have orders to keep you from joining the anime club.”
  • “This smells like cash… and adventure!”
  • “Why should a pair of bright young people let nonsense stop them? We’ve got youth on our side!”

2 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, winter 2020 edition”

  1. Thanks for posting, I had almost given up hope.

  2. HE LIVES!

    And yeah, Eizouken was fantastic. Glad Railgun T’s been good…. Accelerator’s first episode was hot garbage.

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