thin slicing the new season, summer 2020 edition

6,000 words, 13 anime, and one strange 2020 that we live in.

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. Do you know if your youth romantic comedy is wrong or not wrong or just broken? You should definitely know by the 15,532nd season of Sword Art Online and Food Wars.

Twist for this season: Random manga recommendations return!

Quick recap from last season: LISTEN. TO. ME.


#MR. IRRELEVANT. Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!
ENGI

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“We should enjoy our leisure time and not make fun of others for spending it how they want.”

I don’t understand the appeal of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!. The premise of a girl pestering a guy to hang out with her because he’s always alone is one thing, but Uzaki-chan goes a step further and has the girl trying to make the guy feel bad about being lonely too. How is this show a full-length anime? How are there already five volumes of this manga? Nothing about this show is enjoyable. The animation is dollar store quality and features very bland and generic backgrounds. ENGI splurged on a pan shot of Tokyo, and then hired maybe four people to animate the rest of the show. The character designs are also unappealing, with Uzaki drawn with a fang that sometimes looks like a tooth but other times looks like a piece of flesh. The facial expressions are also off making the characters look alien at times. Uzaki also oozes the opposite of fanservice as she just wears T-shirts with phrases that point out how big her boobs are. “SUGOI DEKAI” is a T-shirt that a stripper would put on after she has performed at a Bachelor’s party. There is no other occasion for such a T-shirt. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No sirree. The animation is a shame considering that the director, Kazuya Miura, is a key animation lifer. His only significant role outside of animation is as director for DRAMAtical Murder, which I’m sure you all remember and own BDs of. For a show with a title character who is just a pair of walking breasts, the lack of fanservice is odd.

(Quick quiz! Did DRAMAtical Murder air before or after Amagi Brilliant Park?)

The characters are also very uninteresting. Uzaki is basically Nelson Muntz with boobs. She spends almost all of her time making fun of the poor loner male lead about how he’s always alone yet she doesn’t realize the irony that she too is alone. Maybe she knows how lonely she truly is deep down, and she’s acting this way to express herself as a cry for help? I don’t know. Maybe they can try to squeeze in some character self-introspection betweeen boob jokes. The loner male lead has zero personality and is crabby all of the time– so of course Uzaki has a crush on him. I can’t wait for the flashback where he saves her from a car accident to explain her almost stalker-ish behavior towards him. Here is a back of the BD quote for Funimation: Uzaki-chan is an unfunny mess with uninspired characters– but– hey, at least the title girl has giant knockers that you can slap on a BD cover.

(Fashion Czar: “I read about this show on Soranews about how they were giving out clear files of the big titty girl in a maid costume for donating blood. Some people weren’t happy about that.”)

(Quiz answer: Before! DRAMAtical Murder aired the season before Amagi in 2014. It’s been six years since we have a Bonta-kun in our lives.)


#12. My Love: Queen’s Choice
MAPPA

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“The cold truth that will rock the world.”

I originally guessed that Mr Love: Queen’s Choice was an otome mobage, but it turned out to be a Chinese otome visual novel mobage. I was very close! This game actually has a decent wiki and a tier list. All of the boys have multiple variants like Boy, Boy Alter, Summer Boy, Halloween Boy, Caster Boy with 50% NP battery, and Bride Boy. Seriously, though, it seems like there are only 4-5 boys, and each one has dozens of variants to fill out 7 stars of rarity. One boy has a variant that’s just him drinking boba, which is probably the one I would roll for. Each boy variant is a “karma,” and they need XP, ascension mats, and skill mats just like every other modern mobage.

The anime? It is a mess. The animation quality is not good and seemingly even poor for budget otomoe game turned anime. I remember when MAPPA was on a roll with Rage of Bahamut, Kakeguru, and Yuri on Ice. Their production values have gotten worse lately, and My Love: Queen’s Choice is middling for an otome game. Aren’t mobages supposed to be able to fund expensive anime like Azur Lane and Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia? it’s bad enough that there are only four male leads, but they all look the same. They all have similar faces and designs. One of the funnier scenes is when the mousy female lead tries to buy potato chips, but all of these identical hot men just show up and prevent her from buying those chips.

I’m also confused about a few things: One, why do half the characters have Western first names yet supposedly they are all Japanese? Two, why does the mousy female lead go to a psychiatry professor and end up getting a lecture on physics? Who ever wrote this otome game knows that psychiatry and physics are two vastly diff– oh nevermind. Three, why would a Chinese otome visual novel mobage reference YouTube and not Bilibili? Four, how many times is this poor mousy female lead going to be almost run over by a car? Can the writers put her into a threatening situation that doesn’t involve an automobile?

(Mitigating factor: One of the first anime where I noticed a cup of disposable pour over coffee.)

(Fashion Czar: “All of the buttons on her blouse made me think it is a show for women.”)


#11. Gibiate
Lunch Box

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“DRINKS BRUGS [sic] and ROCK’K ROLL”

Gibiate is an anime about an epidemic wiping out humanity, and I don’t really know if it is tasteful to air an anime about a disease wiping out humanity during the worst pandemic of a century. The pandemic already caused Tokyo to move its Olympics to 2021 so maybe consider delaying this anime to next year at the very least? Does Lunch Box have to pay back the yakuza or Tencent or something? They already delayed the show a season, but they should have pushed it back more. Even if we are not considering the pandemic, the animation is rough. The OP is just poorly-animated clips from the show, and it uses a filler song. The monsters all look bad, and, somehow, despite being CG, they look like they go off-model occasionally. The lightning and shadow effects are really distracting and on the level of Hand Shakers. The ED sequence that tries to mimic a reality TV show feels really out of place and low budget as well. The production for Gibiate is a flaming pile of garbage crossed with a rotting pile of compost. Unless Lunch Box really, really needed the money from the dozens of DVDs this show might sell, why not delay it another season or two to try to distance it from the actual pandemic and also to work on the production? The story can’t be saved, but at least have a real OP/ED sequence and decent CG models.

It’s not bad enough that this Gibiate features a pandemic– it’s also an isekai. Yep, a samurai and a ninja travel from feudal Japan to save the day. There isn’t a story connection– they magicially get swallowed by a wave of light and end up in the future. There is even less story reasoning as to why they were transported into future Tokyo than why the USS Voyager was tossed into the delta quadrant. The writing just feels lazy, and the author did zero research on epidemics and viruses. How does a virus quickly spread if each virus carrier can only infect 1 person every 24 hours, and they can only spread it after they turn into a monster? How does a virus give a person the ability to fly? How did the JSDF fail to contain these monsters yet a samurai from feudal Japan and a girl armed with a taser has no such issue? How did the virus monsters overpower the well-armed police force of any major American city? Why did it take so long for humans to realize that the monsters hate light? Why is curing the virus up to a high school girl in a mini-skirt and a doctor who looks like Dr. Nick from The Simpsons? How are these monsters not dying of starvation years into this pandemic? Being a monster takes serious calories. There just isn’t enough alcohol in my house to make me overlook all of the ridiculous plot holes in this show. At one point, we are told how deadly these monsters are (after the girl tases one), and a guy just randomly gets off the truck and decides to look for a sword in a monster-invested part of Tokyo by himself. What was his plan? That’s dumber than going off by yourself in a horror movie. Nothing in this show makes any sense.

(Fashion Czar: “Why did Kathleen not ride shotgun but squeeze into the back?” Me: “She’s 18, and they are probably the first hot men that she’s met in ages.”)


#10. Peter Grill and the Philosopher’s Time
Wolfsbane

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“WHY COULDN’T I KEEP IT IN MY PANTS?!”

The best part of Peter Grill and the Philosopher’s Stone is the name “Peter Grill.” “Peter Grill” is either the best isekai name yet (sorry Uncle Dis), a mediocre chain of family restaurants in the Rust Belt, or a gas BBQ grill made and designed in China but aimed at Americans. The second best thing about this show is that it is a half-length show, and that’s already probably five to six minutes per episode too long. The premise of Peter Grill is that Peter Grill is an extremely strong hero in this fantasy world, so all of the ladies want to “partake in his loins” so they can have strong children. Peter Grill, though, doesn’t want to be a Dwight Howard or Scottie Pippen and instead wants to be a Doug Christie with Luvelia as his wife. Unfortunately, Luvelia has been brainwashed by this fantasy’s world version of Christianity to not know how babies are made, so she is the one woman in this world with zero interest in his super sperm. The problem is that this premise feels like one of those SNL skits stretched out to a full movie.

The animation is Jack-in-the-Box taco material with almost all action shots being pans or action lines. The fight sequences are barely animated. There fanservice is not well-drawn either and is just a series of pan shots for the most part. For a show that features a threesome in the first episode, it felt as clinical as getting a Jack-in-the-Box taco from drive through. Also, I don’t think anyone drew any backgrounds for this show. They feel like they picked the backgrounds from the trash pile of another studio.

(Fashion Czar: “This show is pretty ugly, I gotta say.”)

(Random manga recommendation: Frieren at the Funeral. Frieren starts like dozens of other fantasy manga/light novels– the hero’s party prevails, and the world is saved. It then jumps to the elf mage, who has a longer lifespan than humans as dictated by the laws of fantasy writing, attending the funerals of party members. She then embarks on a slice-of-life quest to learn more about magic and retrace their historical journey before she too forgets it. It becomes a story about legacy… not just what is their legacy but how does their legacy affect them and whether or not the legacy they have is the one that they wanted.)


#9. Lapis Re:Lights
Yokohama Animation Laboratory

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“Oh, but what if magical beasts attack?”

That’s the first line of Lapis Re:Lights. Just based on that line and then name of the show alone, is Lapis Re:Lights a light novel, manga, mobage, original work, or PS Vita game? What if I told you it is about witches? And magic? And over-designed and over-accessorized female characters? What if I told you that there is a fully animated song sequence? Yep. It’s a mobage. Only mobages have this kind of production budget nowadays. KLab generally makes licensed mobages like one for Bleach and one for Tales, and Lapis Re:Lights is their attempt at an original property.

Guess what? It’s bad. The show is woefully about nothing and not in a good K-On! way, which I guess is the plot to most mobages out there (sorry Azul Lane fans). The pacing of Lapis Re:Lights is so slow that the Fashion Czar checked out around the five minute mark to look for idol gloves. The basic story is about a girl named “Tiara” who wears a tiara who goes to a fancy pants magic school. It’s a luxurious school, and she somehow doesn’t think she belongs. That’s it. The show hints at monsters and magic battle arenas, but nothing comes of it quickly. The big action sequence involves dodgeball. I think the series could benefit a lot from more in terms of the story and less in terms of accessories for female characters.

(Fashion Czar: “Character designs aren’t generic, but they are forgettable. They all have the same body type and boob size. There has to be the DFC and mega tits in this as well.”)


#8. Super HxEros
Project No. 9

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Super HxEros (Dokyuu Hentai HxEros)

“How erotic can one person be?”

I guess Aniplex decided to localize Dokyuu Hentai HxEros as “Super HxEros” because Best Buy surely wouldn’t stock a BD that had “hentai” in its title. As if people bought BDs anymore. As if Best Buy stocked anime anymore. As if Best Buys were actually open. Sigh. This show is a classic 90-ish early 00-ish fanservice raunchy action comedy. It reminds me of the anime where the loser male lead pilots a mecha that’s fueled by his erections. Super HxEros asks a question that we are all wondering: Can we make an ecchi parody of One Punch Man? Yes, yes we can. Will it be good? No, no it won’t.

The loser male lead of this show has an unique ability to defeat, by punching, space aliens who harvest the libido of Japanese people to stop them from having kids. Aliens, you really don’t need to do much to achieve that goal. Surprise, surprise, the protagonist’s boxom childhood friend and three other nubile haremettes are part of a secret organization that is tasked with stopping the aliens. He gets recruited into their organization with the stipulation that he has to live with them. Oh, the sacrifices he has to make so Japan can get its groove on.

For an anime with “hentai” in its title, the first five minutes of the show are really boring and tame. You’d think a show like this one would put some tits and ass action front and center so people won’t confuse this show with Japan Sinks or Sword Art Online. Does BNA hide its furries? Super HxEros takes some time to get to the fanservice, and, once in fanservice town, it doesn’t leave fanservice town. It also puts its assets in the right place– backgrounds? Drab and boring. Alien monsters? Looks worse than the costumes on Power Rangers. The bouncing bosoms of boxom haremettes? As meticulously crafted as an artisanal, small batch craft beer made in someone’s basement.

A few random points:

  • Are these the only five people in all of Japan trying to stop the aliens? No one else noticing aliens sneaking around like the Hamburglar?
  • The loser male lead and his harem all get smart watches that can harness their erotic energy and do magical girl-ish powerups. The watches still need to be charged via USB cable.
  • The ED feels like it came from 1998.
  • Also from 1998, the show starts with boys looks at gravure magazines in school.
  • The playground looks like the sad playground from FF7 Remake.

(Fashion Czar: ““That’s not how boobies work? There’s something wrong with hers. They’ve broken the laws of physics.”)


#7. Japan Sinks: 2020
Science Saru

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“That’s a gamer for you– those quick reflexes saved you.”

I watch a lot of anime. Maybe too much anime. I once referred to a turtle as a “Zaku’s head.” I don’t remember a lot of disaster porn anime, except jokingly referring to Guilty Crown or Gundam Seed Destiny as such. But an anime like Dante’s Peak, Volcano, The Core, The Day After Tomorrow, Geostorm, San Andreas, 2012, or Skycraper? No so much. So of course we get Japan Sink: 2020 during the worst pandemic in almost a century. A few questions:

  • Do I want to watch a disaster anime right now?
  • Is Masaaki Yuasa involved in this show in any significant way?
  • How bad is the science in this show from a scale of Dante’s Peak to The Core?
  • How long did it take someone to draw that detailed pan of Tokyo that lasted a whole 8 seconds of screentime?
  • Why did they choose a soundtrack for this show that can be best described as “chill beats to study to”?
  • What happened to the Science Saru production values that we saw on Eizouken? Did production on Eizouken not just break Yuasa but also Science Saru?

(Random manga recommendation: Tonikaku Cawaii. Do you like Hayate the Combat Bulter? What if you can get a version of that where Hayate marries an amalgamation of Hinagiku and Nagi? And have the second slowest relationship in manga history? I think they kiss by volume eight or something. Needless to say, if you weren’t burned out by the 51 volumes of Hayate and want more of Kenjiro Hata-sensei’s work, then Tonikaku Cawaii is for you. If Hayate is Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, then Tonikaku would be Kakushigoto. I think this manga was originally scheduled to have an anime either this season or last but got pushed to fall.)


#6. The God of High School
MAPPA

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“I’LL BE YOUR CONTRADICTION!”

So one point from Michael Lewis’ Moneyball is that one way to win is to exploit inefficiencies in the system. Crunchyroll (CR) is trying to do exploit an inefficiency as it dives into anime production: Pretty much all anime are written by Japanese writers. Ghibli might take European source material, but they still have their own writers and, sigh, Goro, adapt the material. (There are a few written by Chinese writers but are generally funded by Chinese mobages.) It is rare to have an anime whose origin is not from a Japanese person. So enter CR, and they pick two Korean manwhua to adapt right off the bat. The God of High School follows Tower of God as yet another battle royale-type manhua with “God” in its name. CR can probably get a better deal on the source material since who is competing with them for the rights to manhua? It’s smart on their part. (I’m just not sure adapting two similar shows back to back is that smart.) Though I think it would be smart for anime studios to eventually consider non-Japanese authors and creators considering how much their revenue comes from overseas now. I’m not saying they should adapt existing properties like Judge Dredd or Undertale but instead embed Western talent like how Evan Call works on music for various anime.

The God of High School does have decent production with some good fight sequences and interesting character designs. You can feel the serious of ouches from the battles. I’m not sure if I like or dislike all the red noses that make every character seem like they all came from a cocaine orgy. The show does have numerous exposition issues though. One, the tournament is a brutal fight to the finish involving high schoolers. Let’s have high schoolers pummel each other to death? The setting looks like normal South Korea and not Mad Max South Korea, so the tournament already feels really out of place. Why would their version of YouTube allow this broadcast without some seriously dystopic backstory? Also, if the tournament is supposed to be high schoolers, why are there criminals from jail involved? Why are Crunchyroll and Webtoons a sponsor of this tournament? I get they want to get their brand out there but sheesh. Second, the tournament is supposed to be this grand event that is streamed and has been streamed in the past. Characters literally watched YouTube clips of past tournaments. So how the fuck do the participants not know the rules? Can you imagine if Matisse Thybulle didn’t know what a 3-point line was? Third, the characters are really dumb. How does it make sense to do hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to downtown Seoul to stop a purse thief? That makes sense in Balance Unlimited but not so much for this show. Lastly, there is just a bit too much supernatural fluff and macgruffins that I felt like I was watching Rise of Skywalker. Why are there realms of Gods in a high school tournament? Why do participants need to get injected with nanomachines? How do they “handicap HP”? It almost cannot decide if it is a battle royale or a Super Smash Brother fight.

(Andohbytheway, this show and Peter Grill have something in common: Elephant penis jokes in the first episode.)


#5. Rent-A-Girlfriend
TMS Entertainment

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“VIRGINS GOING TO VIRGIN!”

I didn’t want to like Rent-A-Girlfriend (Kanojo, Okarishimasu) because it seemed like a never-ending, dragged out harem slog like Nisekoi. The manga started in 2017 about the same time as 5Toubon, which is the quintessential modern harem comedy, yet Rent-A-Girlfriend is still going on while 5Toubon already wrapped up with Futarou waking up, realizing that meeting the quints was all a dream, and then putting on his armor and grabbing his sword to save the world from a demon lord. But… it turns out… Rent-A-Girlfriend is serviceable for a harem anime. I like that the show takes place in college, and everyone is aged up a bit so it isn’t as awkward as Happy Lesson. I like that the premise of the show is that somehow Google/Facebook found out that the loser male lead broke up with his girlfriend so they immediately start barraging him with targeted ads for a girlfriend rental service. (It honestly feels too 2020.) I like how even though the girlfriend rental service is an app on his app phone, he doesn’t pay the service via the app. Instead, he just hands the girl cash directly at a family restaurant. I guess the app really doesn’t want to pay Google or Apple their app store cut. I like how an end user license agreement is brought up in this show to win an argument. I like the animation– it has some great facial expressions, and there are some top tier ponytails in this show.

However, there are also things I don’t like. The loser male lead feels unsympathetic. He doesn’t seem to think with anything other than his penis, and while that’s true for almost all men, it just doesn’t make for a good harem anime. (A good raunchy fanservice fest like Sora no Otoshimono? Another story.) He gives Chizuru a one star review and starts harassing her both online and offline for doing the job that he paid her to do just makes him seem petty and kills any of the harem self-insertation fantasy. Can you picture any top tier loser male lead doing that? Tomoya? Keitaro? Futaro? Shiratori? Keiichi? Would he ever leave a one star review for Belldandy? It’s not a good sign when I am actively rooting against the loser male protagonist. I also don’t like how most of the plot moves along by coincidence. Okay I can accept the loser male lead and Chizuru never meeting at school until the day after their date, but the thing with their grandmas? A bit too much. I also don’t like how slow some parts get, as if they are trying to drag out a chapter for another four minutes when there’s no material left to work with, which is also an issue Nisekoi had.

(Andohbytheway, the music is by Hyadain, who seems to have returned to anime after five or so years. I do like the chiptunes style, but I kinda miss his raw energy.)

(Fashion Czar: “He’s coming off even more pathetic than what I remember from the manga. I like his pants though.”)

(Random manga recommendation: After both 5Toubon and High Score Girl ended, I wandered the manga wastelands looking for another good harem romance comedy. I didn’t find any, but I found Spy x Family, which is an action comedy about a dad who is secretly a secret agent, his wife who is secretly an assassin, and their daughter who is secretly an esper. Of course, none of them know each other’s secrets, except the daughter since she can read minds. The writing and drawing are sharp, and the manga moves along at a good place. The chapters that focus on their kid are probably the best because they all boil down to her knowing everything that is going on but she can’t act on the knowledge to not let the families secrets spill out.)


#4. Deca-Dence
NUT

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“Have a profitable day!”

The end of civilization? Hostile predator species? Moving city? Humans unaware of the true nature of the world? Darling in the FranX? Actually… Deca-Dence is a lot more Mad Max crossed with Attack on Titan with a dash of FLCL. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, bad thing, great thing, or just a thing thing. Deca-Dence is an original work from Hiroshi Seko who wrote a lot of Attack on Titan spin-off stories and also Seraph of the End and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress— two other anime that feel very similar to Attack on Titan. He’s really into humans being pushed to extinction by strong monsters and fight back by jumping around a lot. In this show, the fighting is done partially in SUVs and Jeeps and also with warriors jumping around and stabbing syringes into monsters to suck their blood. No, I’m not kidding. No bullets– just blood leeching. It’s a ridiculous concept, but the action is fantastic.

This show has good production values with fights hectic and full of energy. There is a style to this show, and there is almost always something interesting to look at. The backgrounds do a good job at selling this world. The character designs are great, and the facial animation is some of the best of this season. The main moving city transforms into a literal fist and can punch.

The real kicker, and what I’m interested in, is that the true nature of this world is revealed in the final three seconds of the first episode. It’s an interesting take that I would have like more as a slow reveal rather than a narrator explaining everything in the first four minutes of episode two. Where does the show go from here? How will it be different than Seko’s previous works? Can NUT keep up the animation production quality?

(Fashion Czar: “The costumes are realistically frugal yet unique but not in an obnoxious way.”)


#3. The Misfit of Demon King Academy
Silver Link

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“MONGROLS! ZASSHU! TRY STRAINING YOUR EYES AND PEER INTO THE ABYSS!”

魔王学院の不適合者 ~史上最強の魔王の始祖、転生して子孫たちの学校へ通う~ (The Misfit of Demon King Academy: History’s Strongest Demon King Reincarnates and Goes to School with His Descendants) wins this season’s Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai: Puberty Syndrome Abnormal Experiences During Adolescence Due to Sensitivity and Instability Memorial Most Ridiculous Name award. It is another one of those: Fantasy light novel with overpowered protagonist who kills and fucks his way across the world. The twist? He’s actually not a “good” guy but rather a demon lord, which certainly isn’t the setup of Overlord, Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle, The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Maou-sama, Retry!, Her Majesty’s Swarm, A Wild Last Boss Appears, My Next Life as a Villainess, An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, or An Oil Baron Is Among Them.

But this show knows its dumb. It’s profoundly silly, and it revels in it like a dad joke that has gone on for far too long (best kind of dad joke really). There are awful puns. The Demon Lord wears a popped collar with a wallet chain, which is more of a choice of a 2006 era edgelord than a demon king. But it kind of works here just because of how out-of-touch that look is. The high school he goes to is run by a talking owl. Power levels are referred to solely on a numerical scale a la DBZ which is really the only way to present power scales in anime. The Demon King murders someone with his heartbeat. The entire setup is that the Demon King died 2,000 years ago, and he’s now reincarnated today but ends up abused and doubted by the organizations that worshiped him, which sounds like the author accidentally stumbled into a rebuke of Christianity except with more nubile haremettes and wallet chains. The Demon King, also against anime norms, has a family with a supportive mom and dad. The best part of the episode was the montage of the Demon King growing from baby to high schooler in the span of one month, As someone who already spends too much time on uniqlo.com, how the fuck do you clothe a kid who grows up that fast? He must be hulking out of his pajamas overnight. He also popped out of his mom fully clothed and was talking.

I find The Misfit of Demon King Academy both ridiculous yet fun to watch. Unlike other shows of this type which veer too much into slapstick or are too serious, this show knows it is dumb and rolls around in the dumb slop. The show moves fast, is competently animated, and is generally fun. There are some weird moments like the sensory deprivation chamber that is used to administer quizzes and somehow this fantasy world has photo albums. The anime did what it was supposed to do and sent me to buy the light novel– except, unfortunately, the light novel is currently not licensed or translated for English release. OTL.

(Fashion Czar: “I like the talking owl. I like this show now. That’s all I needed.”)

(Random manga recommendation: An Oil Baron Is Among Them. I’ll just give you the boring description from the scanlator– Hazama-san, who finds herself in a new job at a record label, discovers one of her colleagues is secretly an oil baron. She makes it her mission to find out who and marry him so as to fund her expensive habits. From just that description, I have a lot of questions. One, why does an oil baron work at a record label? Is it like Balance Unlimited where the guy richer than an oil baron works as a detective? Second, are there even Japanese oil barons? Why do they all look like Japanese otome game fodder? You are telling me no other women are tossing themselves at these hot, rich, young, well-dressed Japanese guys? Three, her expensive habits include eating out and playing Mr Love: Queen’s Choice. I don’t think she needs an oil baron to fund that.)


#2. BNA
Trigger

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“Enjoy this beastmen celebration that we waited 1,000 years for.”

It’s hard to watch BNA and not pick up the X-Men vibes. Both feature former humans who transform into something other (and maybe slightly better) than humans, and humans are filled with hate and are racist against the new sub-species. There are very few story beats in BNA that haven’t been done in X-Men. I’ve seen vigilante humans try to kill furries/mutants. I’ve seen the furries/mutants try to form their own city-state with Genosha, Utopia, and, more recently, Krakoa. I’ve seen furries/mutants take advantage of each other and sell out to human interests. I’ve seen furries/mutants drink something that looks vaguely like a Red Bull. I’ve seen a furries/mutant orgy rage on while a gruff old man proclaims that it is a “celebration that we waited 1,000 years for”. Trigger made a convincing X-Men clone, and I’m just waiting for the giant robots to show up at this point.

But what doesn’t the X-Men have? Besides Inferno Cop? Trigger’s sense of style– they still go strong with their identifiable aesthetic. The animation is crisp, fluid, and beautiful. Their color palette is vibrant and fun and is recognizable as Trigger. The music is great as well. BNA is a fun show, and I am interested in seeing where it goes.

(BNA is written by Kazuki Nakashima, whose last three major anime were Promare, KILL la KILL, and Gurren Lagann.)


#1. The Great Pretender
Wit Studio

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“I AM JAPANESE TOP SCAMMER! I CAN’T JUST LET GO OF THIS!”

I love con man and heist dramas. The Star Trek Deep Space 9 episode where the gang decides to risk their lives to save a holodeck personality from crushing debt while the Dominion War raged on in the background is one of my favorite Star Trek episodes (not as good as Picard’s flute but better than all of Enterprise and Voyager). I liked the Oceans series, and I somehow own the Now You See Me franchise on 4K. One of my secret favorite TV shows is Leverage. It was a silly, low calorie heist drama on TNT over a decade ago, and The Great Pretender reminds me of a fancy anime version of Leverage– which is a good thing since anime hasn’t had a good heist drama since… um… I guess Lupin is more of a slapstick heist comedy. Heist dramas aren’t common in anime and con man dramas are even more rare thus making The Great Pretender feel like a breathe of fresh air in a smog of isekai.

What makes a good con man show is that it drops enough clues along the way that you can figure out the con if you pay attention. The Great Pretender does that, and it tosses in some interesting characters too. They all drip with personality and are all flawed in some way. The dialogue is well-written, and the show never feels slow. There are some hokey character development points, but I can see why they are included to emphasis that Laurent’s crew is the same as Leverage’s: They only steal from bad people. There are also a lot of random homages that I enjoy, like IN Z OUT BURGER and how Laurent handles his knob and the crane kick. The production values are also top notch for this season– Wit does an excellent job with facial animation and has nice, vibrant backgrounds and characters designs. The music is also fantastic as well with a lot of jazz.

(This anime starts with a pan shot of LA. I think it’s the only non-Tokyo starting pan shot of this season.)

(By the time this thin slicing has been posted, I have watched the first season of The Great Pretender, and I think it’s strange they change In-and-Out’s name but keeps Bank of America as well as a famous boba tea franchise unaltered. Bank of America being evil? Oh they would never do that…)

(Fashion Czar: “The ED sounds very Queen. This wins best ED of the season. Wait, this is the Freddie Mercury song!”)

(You know how Netflix adaptations are always, uh, budget? Comparing Netflix’s Project Runway clone to Amazon’s is like comparing the pre-made ribs at Safeway to the ribs at Franklin’s. So I wonder if Netflix will keep The Great Pretender as the ED song or sub it out like what happened to Eden of the East? I feel like the song is so vital to the show, it loses something significant without it.)

(Random manga recommendation: Fate/strange Fake. Technically, it’s a light novel first, but the manga is enjoyable in its own right. It is yet another Holy Grail war and takes place in California, and it written by Narita Ryohgo, the writer for Baccano and Durarara. The appeal is just an insanely large cast even by Fate standards. The twist is that no servant or master is what they seem with “real” and “fake” versions. Enkindu’s master? A dog. A pupperoni. A doggo. Who is Rider? A literal cloud. What do you think Jack the Ripper’s Berserker form looks like? An Apple Watch.)

One Response to “thin slicing the new season, summer 2020 edition”

  1. Thanks for the tip on Great Pretender, it was fabulous (though the color palette in the Singapore arc started to burn my eyes).

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