thin slicing the new season, spring 2020 edition

8,000 words, 20 anime, and more bad isekai character designs.

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 FOURTEEN YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, it’s the fourteenth anniversary of thin slicing since it began with ranking Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome.

Updates on thin slicing are always on my Twitter account.

For people who want to know how this ranking is done, I suggest reading the archived explanation. If you’re like, “This show is ranked too high!” or “Too low!” or “This show has a great ending!” then, well, you don’t know how this works. For every show high, there has to be a low. You don’t need me to validate your taste in anime. And, again, for the sake of time, I don’t rank sequels if I never finished watching the original or if there’s nothing interesting about the sequel. It’s a sequel! If you watched the first season, you should know if you should watch the second as well. You definitely don’t need me to tell you if you should watch the second season of Love Is War or Tsugumomo by now.

Twist for this season: What would each protagonist stream on Twitch/Mixer/TikTok/Facebook Live during a global pandemic’s physical distancing?

Quick recap from last season: Thanks to the pandemic, Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! was the only show I was able to finish. And it was fantastic.

#MR IRRELEVANT. Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle
Project No. 9



The best part Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle is when the old knight named Skeers (almost as good of a name as Stunk) looks at his watch and goes, “Whelp, it’s time.” And just dies. He wandered around to a remote village, dueled some brat, looked at his watch, and died. Why did he have so much bread on him if he knew he was going to die soon? He wanted to die with a belly full of bread and on a bread pillow? And… that’s about it. The rest of the anime is low tier gatchapon mobile game turned low budget anime garbage. The character designs, especially for the main male lead, screams chuunibyou to the point I thought it was a chuunibyou show and not an actual fantasy anime. The guy has just a random red part of this hair that isn’t like a tuft– it just looks like someone splashed some red paint on him. He also has multiple belts, and gets edgy black wings (unlike Sephiroth-kun who has multiple belts and edgy black wings but makes it work).

Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle seems like a middling gatchapon mobile game– the US version got shut down after a year, and I cannot find a tier list for the English version. You know how popular a gatchapon game is if there’s not even a server-specific tier list available. I guess the anime tries to make it edgier by trying to enact the Sanctuary episode of The Mandalorian, except the exact opposite outcome where everyone is dead except Baby Yoda. The town tries to use spears and swords to fend off a monster attack, only to have everyone killed. How did the town last this long anyway? One child gets brutally eaten by a centipede, another gets impaled through the back by a monster, and a third dies from poison. The edginess of children dying to monsters juxtaposes well to the flying princesses with ample cleavage. The show doesn’t know if it wants a roll for your SSR waifu or dark fantasy chuunibyou tone so it tries to do both badly.

(This gatchapon game is so edgy that there is a spin-off tennis game based on it.)

(Streaming: The protagonist, who was so edgy that he didn’t tell old man Skeers his name, will probably stream Doom Eternal or Dark Souls but secretly plays Princess Connect! Re:Dive.)

#19. Bungou no Alchemist


“When an author enters a book, he forgets everything about that book.”

Never a good sign when the show is halfway done airing, and it still does not have a Wikipedia entry for it. I don’t write about anime in any particular order when I write thin slicing, and this show is one of the last ones that I have to write about. I’ve been putting it off because I just ran out of ways to describe bad isekai anime other than “Yep, Bungou no Alchemist is yet another bad isekai anime.” Bungou no Alchemist is also based off of a gatchapon mobile game to complete the bingo for awful anime (missing: “CG ONA by Netflix”). The story is also nonsensical where authors have to fight evil monsters inside their own books, but they forget about what they have written while in the books. It makes no sense. They are also trying to save physical books or something as their leader, who is a cat, tells them, “If all books disappear from this world, human civilization would end.” Really? Does this blog count as a book? Does Khan Academy count as a book? Does Google Maps count as a book? Do they count Wikipedia as a book? I’ve watched TV shows where a single Japanese man has rebuilt civilization using Wikipedia. CROP ROTATION!

(Also, for books, it is basically all fantasy books. I’m sure society can still continue without fantasy books. Modern literature? Old Man and the Sea? Cookbooks? Manga? Travel guides? Non-fiction? There are no husbandos to save in any of them.)

Besides the “Been here, done it too many times” isekai mobile game setup, this show has some of the worst animation of the season. The CG water looks like it is floating on top of the background as if they just decided to toss it in at the last minute. The character designs range from potato quality to over-embellished husbandos. Characters and objects just seem to magically come and go, like horses and a cloud rope, that are discussed for minutes then discarded with zero fanfare. There are low quality skits a la the Tales of game series. The OP… my gosh… it has a background full of words flying around at high speeds with characters in front which kills any streaming/encoding of the segment. I’m sure engineers and programmers are currently using this OP sequence to develop MPEG 15,532. The title sequence is also chock full of gears, which is a major giveaway that it is an otome game.

(Fashion Czar: “The tie is tied to his neck. It’s above his collared shirt… it’s literally tied to him.”)

(Streaming: I guess they would stream library haul videos on TikTok.)

#18. Nachi-nantte, Sore wa Nai Deshou
Shin-Ei Animation and SynergySP


“I’m a white collar worker at heart.”

The isekai power fantasy of Nachi-nantte, Sore wa Nai Deshou (The Eighth Son? Are you Fucking Kidding Me?) is super strong. Strike Freedom strong. Here’s the Wikipedia description: “As the series progress, Wendelin forms an adventurer party with his former classmates and friends and becomes famous not only for his powerful magic but also for finding lost magical ruins and defeating powerful monsters. Eventually, he is rewarded for his accomplishments by the King who grants him the rank of Earl, his own lands to rule and legally allowed to have a polygamous marriage. Wendelin eventually marries five of his female companions and later his former sister-in-law.” That’s the gist of it. A poor Tokyo Japanese salaryman somehow dies or falls asleep during dinner (not really sure which) and ends up in the body of a five year old boy– another poor five year old soul evicted from its body so yet another Japanese person can fulfill their power fantasy much like Ascendance of a Bookworm. The twist is that he’s the youngest of eight sons, so he has no wealth, but, really, that’s a minor hindrance to our boy Well who can use magic. He then uses his knowledge of being a Japanese salaryman and magic to conquer this fantasy world and eventually bang his older brother’s wife.

I enjoyed none of this awful isekai. The fantasy world is typical Japanese isekai fantasy world garbage– why are there pie charts in a fantasy world? The outfits and clothing scream 1990 Moscow yet the clothing feels like what the Japanese think Medieval Europe wore. The writing system is kanji. The story is painfully slow, and the bleak/low budget animation does little to make the show enjoyable. The hook that he’s the eighth son is only a minor obstacle, and this show might as well be titled, “How a Japanese Salarymon Conquered a Fantasy World and Banged His Older Brother’s Wife.”

(Fashion Czar: “I like the haremette with the turkey leg. Dear show, that’s not how clothing or boobs work.”)

(Streaming: Well would stream himself playing harem visual novels.)

#17. Tamayomi
Studio A-Cat


“Look how hard your skin is!”

Tamayomi is boring. The Fashion Czar and I started talking about Tropicana packaging, JYP, and a gigantic three pound potato sitting in our dining room. It shouldn’t be boring (Princess Nine anyone?), but somehow Studio A-Cat turned a potential sports anime about baseball into 24 minutes of girls having pedantic, cutesy dialogue. One thing I can say about this show is that it doesn’t seem to give a shit about baseball. Nothing quite says dynamic action than a still shot of a ball being caught.

Even if they don’t want to make a sports anime and want to make a cute girls doing cute things anime, well, for whatever reason, all of the girls talk with high-pitched baby voices. They all sound very unnatural and overly exaggerated as if the director kept egging them on, “No, sound cuter! You don’t sound cute enough! CUTER! YES! THAT’S IT!” The character designs are all very boring and samey with the same potato-ish face on all of the characters. It is next to impossible to tell them apart visually when the camera is zoomed out for “baseball” action since they all wear the same clothes, have roughly the same body size, and share the same four hair colors. It doesn’t help that two of the main characters are identical twins. All the girls in this school also wear skirts hiked up to “haremette last chance to seduce the loser male lead before he makes his decision” levels, and it just seems so out of place because the rest of the show tries to be a more wholesome girls being cute anime rather than lewd girls being lewd anime. Unfortunately, the characters are not only similar in design but personality. None of them seem anything other than the cute girl archetype. Let’s say with Haikyuu, you reealize the personalities differences between Hinata, Kageyama, and Daichi very quickly.

(Streaming: Out of the Park Baseball.)

#16. Gal to Kyouryuu
Space Neko Company & Kamikaze Douga


“Gal doesn’t worry or fret. Dino doesn’t worry or fret either.”

I like the concept of Gal to Kyouryuu (My Roomie Is a Dino), but it really needed to be a half-length or four minute show. At the four minute mark, I was enjoying the show. At the ten minute mark, I was wondering what’s the next atrocious isekai that I will have to suffer though next. At the fifteen minute mark, I started to nod off. The jokes get a bit too repetitive and too stretched out, and the pacing is too slow. I get it. It is about a nominal gal, Kaede, living with a dinosaur who behaves more like Rilakkuma than an actual dinosaur. While the different styles (animation, stop motion, and live action) are used, they are mainly used to show the same scene in another style. I don’t need to see a six minutes sequence repeated almost verbatim remade into a live action skit with an old Japanese comedian (who might be gunning for Tokui’s spot on Terrace House’s panel if Terrace House is still a thing) inserted instead of the gal. I get the joke. I don’t need to see it for six minutes. As much as I enjoy Kristen Shaal is a horse, that type of comedy is good for one skit, not an entire anime series.

Also, there’s padding in anime, and there’s padding. Gal to Kyouryuu features a full three minute sequence where we see a sparsely animated Dino waiting for this ramen to be ready. Three minutes! Nichijou fit the hall of fame Principal vs. Deer saga into two minutes and fifty-nine seconds.

Besides the pacing, the length, and the humor, the show has some bad SFX choices. The Dino is waving so let’s put a lightsaber sound effect. The cell phone makes a vuvuzela noise because why the hell not? The SFX feels a tier lower than Japanese variety shows, which I guess would put it in Family Guy territory.

(Also, what is a gyaru or gal in 2020?)

(Streaming: Dino would be streaming pirated episodes of Iron Chef 24/7 while Kaede would stream herself eating ramen every night.)

#15. Sakura Taisen


“Divine Blade: Cherry Blossom Storm!”

One thing no one wants to talk about the revival of Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars) is how the character design baton got passed from Kousuke Fujishima (Aa! Megami-sama) to Tite Kubo (Bleach). Fujishima has been ousted from his long-standing character design role in both the Sakura Wars and Tales of franchises presumably because of his sexual antics. Find me a review of either the Sakura Wars PS4 game or this anime series that talks about Fujishima-san’s virility because no one wants to go there. I sure don’t, so let’s move on.

This show is confusing to me on a few levels. One, it is a sequel to the recently released PS4 game, which would be literally two weeks prior to airing for America and just a three month gap for Japan. How many people finished the PS4 game in the US and are anxious to watch an anime sequel? Did Funimation know it was sequel and not a retelling when they licensed it? Two, why is this show in CG? I normally would not watch CG shows, but I thought the CG was just for the mech or idol dancing segments but nope whole show. And the CG is bad. The characters all walk abnormally, and there is a distinct lack of action associated with low budget anime– why bother using CG if the characters are going to be sparsely animated anyway? The world isn’t ready for an all-CG Sakura Wars and neither were Sanzigen.

Three, the architecture choices in this anime are hideous. You take an over-embellished haremette from a low tier gatchapon mobile game and stick a Big Ben clock tower in her, and that’s basically the home base for Sakura Revue. All the buildings try to mash up Japanese Taishou, Victorian English, and steampunk architecture with some random modern technology tossed in. It’s Taishou steampunk Japan with flat screen TVs. And, lastly, the plot makes zero sense. It never really did for Sakura Wars, but I’ll just bring it up again: An elite mech squad protects the world from alien/monsters/whatevers, but they don’t get government funding, so they have to put on Vegas shows to earn money. Imagine if Dr. Fauci has to work at Taco Bell during the day to help fund the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which I’m sure is just four weeks from actually happening.

(Also the aliens/monsters don’t seem to attack during a stage performance. They are nice enough to wait until the show is over and then attack.)

(Fashion Czar: “The word that I think of for this show is ‘tacky.’ I’m also literally retaining nothing that this show is putting out. No one cares about this debriefing. Where are the girls and the dating elements? Can we get a reason to care about these characters?”)

(Streaming: Kamiyama would definitely stream making a Gantt chart using Microsoft Project.)

#14. Shachou, Battle no Jikan Desu


“Me as president, huh.”

Shachou, Battle no Jikan Desu is yet another fantasy RPG mobile gatchapon game turned anime. Sigh. At least it isn’t an isekai? The main character already lives in this awful mobile game world? The hook for this game, besides badly designed waifus, is the weird juxtaposition of adventurers and people who look like modern day public works workers. The offices look like modern Japanese offices complete with modern office chairs and filing cabinets; only a fax machine is missing. All the characters also have official stamps, which is the most Japanese office thing. NEETs also exist in this fantasy world. The game fulfills a very specific power fantasy of someone who wants to bone a lot women and also lead a struggling small business. The setup is that the main character is chosen by the secretary of a failing company (yes the secretary) to be the company’s next president. He has never worked in this world before, and his only qualification is that he is the son of the previous president– the Goro Miyazaki special.

This anime is bad, but what is the worst part of this show are the character designs. The secretary doesn’t wear pants, and has a red, two yellow, and a blue wheel in her hair in addition to a black hairband. Most of the other characters are over-embellished in dumb ways, as is par with modern gatchapon mobile games. One girl has a heart cutout near her crotch. Another has straps holding down her tie… literally ties down a tie. Another has straps above and below her tie and has a compass for a tie knot. Another wears gloves but no pants. No one working on this show knows how ties work. And then there’s Thomas… who designed this abomination? The monster design is slightly better just because they put almost no animation effort into them so they just look like generic PlayStation era monsters.

(The mobile game came out a few months ago, and I can’t find either a tier list or a reroll guide for it. RIP.)

(Fashion Czar: “Logos? There are brands in this fantasy world?”

(Streaming: The cast would probably stream either Good Job or Overcooked and do badly on both.)

#13. Listeners


“She’s got a hole in her body over here!”

Listeners is the newest post-apocalyptic future anime from Dai Satou, creator of Eureka Seven and Ergo Proxy. It is, not surprisingly, about a boy Echo Rec and a girl Mu with pastel-ish hair, who team up and pilot a mecha. The show is a mess. First, I’m not sure if I’m in the mood to watch an anime about a dystopic future where people’s lives are only valued for their ability to be exploited as cheap, disposable labor. Second, Echo Rec’s just boring. He just wants to collect trash, build tube amp, and live out his life as a day laborer with no further dreams. He is a bit of an asshole towards Mu, treating her like a Fender guitar more than a person. His name is also uninspiring. What were the rejected ideas? Line In? Fast Forward? Jimi Stonefree? Third, the animation is messy and some of the worst from MAPPA recently. The mecha and monster designs are also hideous. Lastly, the whole theme of music and sound is way too literal. Every aspect of the show has to be shoehorned into a word about sound: Earless, Players, Aux, etc. Unfortunately, it’s only literal. One would think an anime about music and sounds would have good music. Nope. The BGM sound like rejected tracks for a Guilty Gear game.

The battles don’t seem to utilize sound beyond a very superficial way. Echo and Mu just punches the Earless. While I’m not saying this show needs a Macross Delta-like combination of idol singing with variable tech fighters battling in the background, it needs something to justify all this music symbolism. The show also has as weird fetishization of music where vacuum tubes and amps and mechanical equipment define music: It eschews music produced other ways like singing or just banging on pots and pans. If there is a major destruction of a city, I wouldn’t expect many vacuum tubes to survive.

(The mayor is a parody of a Japanese boss in a live action drama.)

(Fashion Czar: “Echo doesn’t have the face of a protagonist. He looks like a background character.”)

(Echo Rec and Mu would be on Music and somehow get muted by a copyright claim. Next!)

#12. Gleipnir
Pine Jam


“But… there’s a beast inside me! I don’t know how I got this power! I don’t understand. Of all the things I could transform into, why a stuffed animal?”

Gleipnir is about how wonderfully advanced Japanese vending machines are: They can also dispense teenagers. It is also a standard action death/battle royale game (like last season’s Darwin’s Game) centered around a bunch of teenagers trying to kill each other. The teens all become monsters via wishes or desires that bring out their monster side (monkey’s paw), and they have to hunt for coins. Once they collect 100, they get an extra life just like Mario. The twist to this death game is that while most of the teenagers transform into monsters themselves, the main character turns into a monster that can be piloted by another person, so imagine him turning into the Bonta-kun battlesuit in Full Metal Panic Fumoffu and piloted by either a naked Chidori or Tess.

The art for Gleipnir is inconsistent. Sometimes, it goes from okay to awful to passable to “Why aren’t you animating that?” to “Why are you animating this?” I’ve read some of this manga, so it is weird to see where Pine Jam embellishes. The CG mascot monster looks better than the one in Darwin’s Game when still, but the sequences where he has to fight are bad. There is a girl’s locker room sequence in that manga that is reduced to a quick still pan here. Meanwhile, the main heroine’s bra gets the Violet Evergarden in terms of production quality.

(The real reason, spoilers, to acquire 100 coins is that it lets the person trade them in for a limited edition figure of Ultra Instinct Goku at Animate.)

(Claire and Shuichi would play PUBG pairs with Shuinchi running off by himself and hiding in a bathtub. He would later have to fight fellow bathtub-seeker Shinji Ikari who abandoned Asuka Langley Soryu.)

#11. Houkago Telbou Nisshi
Doga Kobo


“That’s the problem with you weak city folk.”

I’m trying to figure out if Houkago Telbou Nisshi (Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater) is for people who like fishing or for people who think they like fishing, but it is definitely for people who like the cute girls doing cute club activities genre. As I enjoyed Laid Back Camp, I was looking forward to this show. Unfortunately, the show is just dull, mainly because the main character’s personality is that she likes handicrafts and hates slimy things. Almost every interaction with her involves either her saying how much she loves handicrafts or how she hates slimy things. The principle event that drives this show is that an octopus lands on her and is subsequently blackmailed into joining the Breakwater Club instead of the Handicrafts Club. Somehow, in one episode, she manages to go from being terrified of a wharf roach to being able to watch a horse mackerel slowly die in her hands.

My other issue with this show is that the characters are all over the place. The two senpai are way too old. They are supposed to be 17-ish, but one looks like an office lady and serves tea like one. The other behaves like a 62 year old man– all she’s missing is a beer. The other freshman club member looks like she is in daycare with a forehead tail. Who has front tails other than toddlers?

(The scriptwriter adapting this manga? Fumihiko Shimo, famous for being one of Kyoto’s early writers and was responsible for Kanon, Clannad and After Story, and Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.)

(I feel like Animal Crossing is too easy of a pick for Hinata so I’ll go with something lower key… streams Dark Souls Cooking Mama: Cookstar on Mixer.)

#10. Appare-Ranman!
PA Works


“Drive safely!”

I have a back of the BD quote for Funimation: Appare-Ranman! is like Dr. Stone: They are both clown science anime. They both feature characters who look like Sideshow Bob and superficially shout “SCIENCE!” once in a while and have no other way to entertain us. What science is presented is usually really shallow and ridiculous. The titular Appare somehow manages to build a steamship in the mattter of a few weeks by himself– it took Dr. Stone a whole winter and a small army to build one.

Appare-Ranman! gets knocked down maybe 5 to 10 places solely because of its awful character design. I’m intrigued by this trans-continental race across America, but, yikes, the character designs are the worst of the season, even worse than Shacho‘s Thomas. It seems like PA Works looked at Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and thought that the character designs were the strong point of that show and decided to go further into the matrix. Appare is a mess, and here’s the Fashion Czar’s take: “What is that character design? What is going on with the hair? I don’t know where to look. The one yellow band on one leg just kills me. Why are they shorts and not pants? And why an ankle bracelet? He’s wearing pleated overalls? Not just overalls but pleated overalls? He has one glove. One.”

I don’t want to see Appare on screen anymore. The rest of the cast have just bad but passable designs, but Appare is a train wreck. I don’t know which I hate more, his Dr. Stone “E=MC^2” face tat school of character design or his red corner lips. The disparity of character embellishment between cast members and background characters is as large as starters and bench for the 2004 LA Lakers. It makes it hard to focus on the plot of this clown science anime.

(Streaming: Appare would stream himself building Gunpla.)

#9. Arte
Seven Arcs


“Is it really that important to be known to men?”

Let me start off by saying that my dog’s butt slammed into my keyboard as I was watching Arte, and that was probably the most entertaining event of the episode. The art for Arte, an anime about art, is terrible– almost every shot is a pan and so many voices with non-moving or poorly-synced mouths– and reminds me of the old “kinetic” comics that Marvel used to sell.

The basic premise is that our heroine, Arte Spalletti, is a 15 year old girl living in Florance and wants to be an artist. Even though her mom disagrees with her, her mom basically does nothing to stop her from moving out of their family home and into the roof of a 45 year old man besides scowl from a distance. I feel like this mother/daughter conflict could be mined for more drama, but, nope, onto a Pretty Woman-esque montage of Arte getting rejected by every artist in Florance. Imagine Julia Robert’s attempt to buy clothing on Rodeo Drive, except every shopowned forciably pushes her out. It’s not good enough that the art teachers just tell her, “No!” but they also have to heave-ho her out of each art studio as if she had coronavirus, the Spanish flu, H1N1, turberlulois, Fusarium wilt, bee colony collapse disorder, Stuxnet, and cooties all at once. The show also makes it very clear that she is being rejected because she is a girl, with almost every artist saying something like, “I won’t let a girl cross over my threshold.” That could be mined for more drama than just a montage, right?

Nope. She instantly meets a 45 year old man, Leo, who happens to be the only art master in Florance without any apprentences. He assigns her some busywork, and she does it, and viola, she is his new apprentice slash love interest. Oh good. Can I remind you that she is 15? Basically all of the conflicts are resolved a bit too fast and tidily, and most of them stem from simple misundertandings. Also, almost all of the interior monologue of the show is through Leo and not Arte. Arte almost always says what she feels (hashtag no filter).

(I have been to Florence in the middle of winter, and it gets really, really cold there. I don’t know how a girl wearing flimsy clothes and having no blankets can survive overnight in a door-less shack that makes the Eikouken home base seem like DJ Ertegun’s pad.)

(Fashion Czar: ““How am I supposed to tell that she is a quirky genius if she doesn’t have asymmetrical everything?”)

(Streaming: Arte would have an art channel where she draws nekomimi meido for her Patreon.)

#8. Woodpecker’s Detective Office
Liden Films


“They need to understand the pleasures of the flesh, or they won’t understand literary matters.”

Woodpecker’s Detective Office is a good name for an anime, and, at first, I thought it would either be an aspirational show like The Great Passage (since the main leads are poets) or a bromance series like Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju or maybe a bit of both like Run with the Wind. Nope. It’s a Sherlock/Watson-esque mystery setup with some unexplored sexual tension between the two. The two male leads, Takuboku and Kyousuke, definitely want to grind each other, but maybe the editor was like, “Wait, you’re basing Takuboku on a real poet so maybe don’t imply that he’s gay.” It reminds me of Richard-san from last season, which wouldn’t be a bad thing except I didn’t enjoy Richard-san, and it was only last season. What straight man would say to another straight man, “I didn’t write that poem. My friendship with you let me read it.”

So the setup is Sherlock/Watson in Meiji Japan, and the two solve mysteries. Takuboku solves crimes with good intentions but his methods are highly unethical. Even if they do put bad people away and save good people, he’s taking the worst possible route to do it. Unfortunately, there is a better show this season with this exact same premise and a hotter lead detective who doesn’t have turbuculouis. The biggest stretch of this show is that evil corporations and corrupt cops would give two random poets the light of day and not just charge them with some false crimes and stop their meddling. Animation is so-so to below average, but it’s acceptable for 2020. The real bummer of the show is the music, which doesn’t fit. If I’m picturing two guys deeply in love with each other in the Meiji era, it’s bad 80s rock music, right?

(The real Takuboku Ishikawa died when he was 26 from malnutrition and turbuculouis. He was actually married, which isn’t the case in the anime, and wrote in Romaji to hide it from his wife. Also, I think he’s going to be genderswapped into a high school girl for Fate Grand/Order‘s New Year 2021 servant.)

(Fashion Czar: “Just make them gay! I’m tired of this bullshit!”)

#7. Princess Connect! Re:Dive


“Start with a low flame, and then turn up the heat. Even if the baby cries…”

Originally, I was like, “Oh, Princess Connect! Re:Dive‘s another gatchapon mobile game turned isekai anime”… and I’m still like “Oh, Princess Connect! Re:Dive‘s another gatchapon mobile game turned isekai anime.” I guess the twist is that the main prokai, Yuuki, is raised through battle from a blank slate toddler to a semi-functioning child despite looking like any old teen prokai. Because of his todderish tendencies, this show has a slapstick sketch comedy feel. There are definitely a swarm of comedy-focused isekai out there, but this show kind of just sticks to the show and moves along fairly well. The comedy is also just dumb, and the show knows it, which I appreciate. The characters are all idiots. The main prokai can’t form complete sentences during the first episode. The main heroine’s nickname is Pecopeco, which is one of the better recent isekai name, because she is always hungry, and is addicted to rice. The other heroine waifu Kokkoro does a X_X face constantly, and she means well but gets into situations where she gets bailed out by random chaos.

Of course, the show has many isekai and story issues: Even though the world is beseiged by monsters and demons and awaits a hero to save the day, there are strawberry and Nutella crepes to be enjoyed. There are parts that feel like a mobile game… like, “Hey, do this to equip your sword and attack!” And, of course, my favorite trope where the studio has to show off every princess in the first episode (which I’ll just call azur laning) because Oharuhi-sama forbid we leave out anyone’s waifu.

(Yuuki wouldn’t know how to stream. He would point at the monitor when I try to get my daughter to Facetime with her grandma. Pecopeco and Kokkoro would team up for a cooking stream where Kokkoro cooks while Pecopeco eats.)

#6. Yesterday o Utatte

Doga Kobo


“I have nothing to say when others show me their enthusiasm.”

Yesterday o Utatte (Sing “Yesterday” for Me) is a very seinen coming-of-age story about people who are mostly post-college but not quite ready for adulthood. One thing that struck me about this show is that it is unbashedadly 1997 full of Walkmans, cartridge game systems, CRT monitors, and VCRs. There is no moderness to it at all. The manga started in 1997 and ran for almost twenty years, but, during those twenty years, the characters barely moved in time. It’s like Yotsuba!, but instead of a cute, rambunctious little girl, it’s about sad, horny almost-adults who smoke a lot.

The pacing for this show is painfully slow that I thought the first episode was a two-parter (it’s not). The main character, Rikuo, is basically suffering from mild depression, and he would be a standard “woe-is-me stuck in another world prokai” except he’s stuck in 1997 Tokyo. He is no fun and makes me wonder why the two girls even bother with him. The two heroines fair a bit better. There’s the cheery friend-of-crows Haru who has plenty of chaos energy and injects some much needed life into the show. She’s my favorite part of the show because of her crow flock. The other heroine, Shinako, is Rikuo’s object of affection and is presented as an ideal teacher, so we all know where this is going (Scum’s Wish? Happy Lesson? Ano Natsu de Matteru? Domestic Girlfriend?). Yesterday then plays off this strange love triangle between a convenience store clerk, a high school teacher, and the teacher’s former student who can talk to crows.

(Everytime a love triangle starts in anime, I feel like we need Maaya Sakamoto singing “Triangular” in the background.)

#5. Tower of God
Telecom Animation Film


“The answer can always be found at the top of the tower.”

Is it anime if it is animated all over Asia, written by a Korean, directed by a Japanese person, scored by an Australian, produced by Americans of various ethnic backgrounds, and financed by AT&T? Tower of God (Sin-ui Tap) is a global effort, as are most things today. What is interesting is now AT&T, Comcast, Amazon, and Netflix are all making original anime (Disney sporadically makes Marvel-based anime) so only CBS-Viacom is the only major US TV company not making original anime at this point. What do you think we’ll see first? Original anime made for Apple TV+ or a Star Trek anime?

Tower of God feels like its manwha roots. If the fault of many manga are how they overexpositionize and rely on info dumps as with the classic “That girl is the student council president, prettiest, smartest, etc” setup is that manwha tends to do the opposite and assumes you know what is going on despite clearly not knowing what is going on. Of course, some shows do a good job of not falling into either of those traps (Made in Abyss), but Tower of God is a mystery upon mysteries. What is human life like in this world outside of the tower? Why were Rachel and Bam outside? How did they get in? Why did Rachel poof into flower pedals? What is with that eagle? What is the state of human civilization if there are briefcases, guns, sniper rifles, intercoms, and monster folk in this tower? I feel like this show needs slightly more exposition, but that’s not a major issue.

My major issue though is that Bam has zero personality, and he’s strictly defined by his love for Rachel and his cute face that women go ga-ga for as if he were JYP in his prime. It is a boring personality type that is over-represented in anime. My second issue is that the setup is pretty much the setup of Fate/Extra Last Encore, which is an anime I would like to never remember again.

(JYP? Stray Kids? The kpop invasion has come to anime.)

(Bam would idle in a Valorant streamer’s channel hoping for a beta key drop.)

#4. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
Silver Link


“I can’t believe I almost killed you with my butt.”

Wow, that did not last long. The former Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai Memorial Name Award only transitioned into the Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu. Memorial Name Award last season, and now it is the Otome GAMU no Hametsu Furagu Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei Shiteshimatta… Memorial Name Award. I actually like that name a lot (and the literal translation of I Reincarnated into an Otome Game as a Villainess With Only Destruction Flags… isn’t too bad), and I don’t care much for My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!. The best part of the name is the “…” and they substituted that for “!” which is a major downgrade. We went from quirky light novel title to standard light novel title.

Though isekai are the bane of my existance, rest assured this wretched genre will get the best of care here. Anyhoot, HameFura is a reverse harem isekai where a high school Japanese girl gets run over by a car (because she was too engrossed with otome games, which is a mistake no true Capturing God will make). She is trapped in this fantasy setting otome game as the villain, Catarina, where all endings lead to sadness or death for her. So she uses her knowledge of what goes on in the game to try to create a new path… of course, that new path is given away in the OP. The otome game’s actual heroine, Maria, is going to pick her as the end girl and forsake all of the hot men.

Things I like:

  • The twist on the isekai formula. Finally we have a female version of The World God Only Knows, albeit the Walgreens generic store brand vanilla frozen dessert to TWGOK‘s premium Salt and Straw zucchini bread ice cream.
  • The Herman Head’s panel discussions, especially the 8 year old Catarina with a Monopoly Man mustache.
  • Catarina’s desire to use the golems to replace human labor. Both Jeff Bezos and Avicebron are smiling upon her.
  • She was actually born into this world and didn’t steal the body of a toddler like Nachi-nantte or Bookworm.

Things I don’t like:

  • “I HATE DOGS!”
  • Catarina spends all of her time improving her sword and magic skills. She should have been improving her tanking skills.
  • Really bad CG animation of carriages and magic spells.
  • “Geordo Stuart”.
  • OP that spoils most of the show.
  • The amount of times “flag” is said in this show. Might surpass the number of times “15,532” is written in a thin slicing.

(Catarina streams otome games non-stop. Easy peasy. I did a search for “best otome game 2020,” and 7 out of the top 10 are for the PS Vita. I feel like there’s money to be made here… mmm…)

#3. Foujou Keiji Balance Unlimited


“That’s not how a cop handles things. You’re not a hero; even infinite lives aren’t enough.”

I wasn’t into Foujou Keiji Balance Unlimited (The Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited) until Kanbe let the detective plummet into the river, not even trying to save him. Then I was all-in. It is the good type of stupid, like Mai Otome and Higurashi, not the bad type of stupid, like most isekai. The whole show is stupid, and it knows it and revels in it and swims around in it like Scrooge McDuck in his treasury. Kanbe is a detective with unlimited wealth with a butler who is a knock-off of Iron Man’s Jarvis. He literally has unlimited wealth– the first episode quickly establishes that by having him buy out a car from an oil tycoon. How did he get his money? Who knows? Why is he a detective? I don’t care. He’s just there tossing cash around to disguise his awful and corrupt police work. He also looks like the love child of the quintulet’s dad from 5Toubun and Sherlock Holmes from Fate Grand/Order. The best part of the show might be whenever Kanbe has to sign a check in VR and goes, “Deposit: Complete. Balance: Unlimited.”

I think this show will settle into an odd couple detective buddy action comedy, and I’m okay with that. As long as Kanbe keeps doing Kanbe things and says Kanbe things like, “I came, I saw, I sponsored.” He is a more interesting than the lead in Shachou, Battle no Jikan Desu. Unfortunately, this show’s production is affected by coronavirus and was shelved until summer after two episodes. I do look forward to our Japanese Tony Stark next season.

(Instead of spending his unlimited money to provide jobs, health care, education, and child care, which can reduce crime, he just spends his money to pay off the people in buildings that he destroys while chasing down criminals. Did I mention Kanbe is part of the “Modern Crime Preventation Task Force”? They are supposed to prevent crime, not get into car chases around Tokyo.)

(Fashion Czar: “This show is 100% dumb.”)

(Streaming: Kanbe would try to buy Twitch from Jeff Bezos… and stream it on Mixer, which he purchased last week from Microsoft.)

#2. Kakushigoto
Ajia-do Animation Works


“So many things that my mind cannot comprehend.”

I feel like the Funimation title of Kakushigoto: My Dad’s Secret Ambition unnecessarily complicates the title and also weakens it. One, Kakushigoto is just a great name by itself with its double meaning and its relevance to the plot. It doesn’t need an added subtitle, much like Vertical’s instance on Bakemonogatari: Monster Tales. Second, what secret ambition? Zetsubou-sensei is clearly trying to hide his profession from his and Rin’s love child. It’s not like he’s hiding a meth addiction or his collection of Princess Connect Re:Dive figures. He’s also not just the mangaka but the boss. He’s respectable, even if he likes to draw naked people while naked. Cowards. Just leave the name alone. We’re not going to see this BD on the shelf at Best Buy anytime soon with the retail apocalypse upon us, so why even try to pander to people looking for Dragon Ball Super BDs?

Despite the fact the main father lead is named “Kakushi Goto,” he’s clearly Zetsubou-sensei with bad facial hair. He looks the same, walks about the same, and has the same expressions. He’s even voiced by Kiroshi Kamiya, who pretty much does like half the male voices in anime, but notable for all his work with Shaft including Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei. What is interesting is that every single female character in this show is voiced by a seiyuu who didn’t even start voice acting until at least five years after the last episode of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei aired. The daughter, who is shown as both her 18 year old and 8 year old self, is voiced by Rie Takahashi, whose first major role is Eggplant from Fate/Grand Order. She’s been in the industry for over 5 years, it’s been over a decade since SZS. And it’s hard not to reminiscence about SZS while watching Kakushigoto because they feel so similar.

The plot is simply that Goto is raising his daughter, without a mom, much like everyone else in anime like Sweetness and Lightning, Somali to Mori no Kamisama, Usagi Drops, Barakamon, The Mandalorian, Yotsuba, etc. In all of those cases, the mom is dead. But for shows with a single mom, it’s usually that she’s divorced or the husband is overseas or he’s abusive as in Hoshiai no Sora. But if it is a single dad scenario, mom is RIP. The twist is that the daughter is seeming normal while the dad is neurotic and tries to keep his job of writing erotic/lewd manga away from her. I’m pretty sure there was a recent anime with this exact setup where the daughter knows about the dad’s job. As Shaft proved, there is enough in Kouji Kumeta’s work to carry a show in spite of what animation occurs around it. (Yes, Shaft both giveth and taketh, but, would you trust post Fate/Extra Last Encore Shaft with anything?) Ajia-do does a fairly faithful job of making sure the original work is the star, not the accurments around the work. They put in some production values, and, really, all they needed to do was cast Kamiya, which they did.

Almost as quotable as last season’s #1, Eikouzen:

  • “A bookstore that doesn’t sell manga!”
  • “You need to learn how to change in a phone booth, Clark Kent.”
  • “If you have something to say to me, draw it in your manga.”
  • “Cat saved by butt donut.”
  • “It’s the editor’s job to make sure the mangaka doesn’t draw what they want.”
  • “That’s the legendary ring that saved the kitty! It’s like we’re in a dark fantasy world! Come back hero! This is the beginning of our dark fantasy!”

(Streaming: Goto would definitely get banned from Twitch by streaming himself naked. Hime would stream Animal Crossing New Horizons and end up 2.5 million in debt to Tom Nook.)

#1. Wave, Listen to Me!


“At this moment, I’m forced to fight a bear!”

My first note that I scribbled down for Wave, Listen to Me! (Nami yo Kitte Kure!) is “Why do so many of the men for this show have wispy mustaches like they are about to tie a damsel to a railroad track?” What stands out to me for this show is Riho Sugiyama’s portrayal of Minare. It is a stellar, high-energy, riveting, and exhausting performance. I get physically tired just listening to her lengthy shouting matches. Five minutes in, and I”m already to give her the Outstanding Seiyuu Award for this year. The show is about a radio personality in Hokkaido, and it rides or dies with her performance. The initial setup of her pretending to fight a bear while giving out life advice is outstanding and made me want to see where this show goes.

The animation from Sunrise– SUNRISE!– is also top notch. The bear is so much better drawn than the bear in Golden Kamuy. I like the detailed shots of Hokkaido– a place I would love to visit one day– yep, those look the same as the travel videos I have seen many times. They put in budget for a seemingly niche show, but then I realized that this manga was written by Hiroaki Samura, most famous for Blade of the Immortal.

But the show is really carried by Minare’s antics and Riho’s voice. It’s a suburb casting combination that makes Wave, Listen to Me! enjoyable and be a standout anime of this season. Yes, Funimation, you can use that for a back of the BD case quote.

I love the lines from Minare:

  • “People. What do you want this late at night?”
  • “Sapporo’s the battleground of curry!”
  • “Give me a chicken wing so I can restore my faith in you.”

(Yes, I have waited the twenty-five minutes for souffle pancakes at Hoshino Coffee, and they are delicious. I don’t get why souffle pancakes haven’t taken off in America… linecon for all the major places in Tokyo and Taiwan.)

(Streaming: Minare would get a $5 million dollar deal from Spotify.)

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