thin slicing the new season, summer 2021 edition

7,400 words, 21 anime, 15 years, and a lot of dragons who can turn into sexy ladies.

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 SIXTEEN YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, it’s the sixteenth year of thin slicing since it began with ranking Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome. Next year thin slicing is old enough to drive a car in every state.

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. 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! Do you need me to tell you to watch the last episodes of Attack on Titan after you already watched fifty episodes? Also I don’t rank shorts or primarily CG shows (sorry Kuro Meido, but you deserved better).

Quick recap from last season:

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Before we begin, I want to toss Super Cup in with Aldnoah Zero, Gundam Seed Destiny, and Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans in the “Wait, you had all that time to write an ending, and that’s what you came up with?” Hall of Shame. Somehow, Super Cup turned this poor girl whom we were supposed to sympathize with into an emotionally manipulative bully who only cares about herself. There’s an entire episode about how she takes her Super Cub illegally off-roading in a forest near Mount Fuji. It doesn’t matter how much destruction she caused as long as she got her jollies.

Worse yet, one of the final plot arcs is about how her friend falls into a frozen river. The friend, dying of hypothermia, cannot climb out, so naturally she phones the main girl instead of an adult or the police. So the main girl shows up in her Super Cub, and, instead of calling for help, just admonishes the friend for being stuck. She makes the friend get out of the river by herself, doesn’t try to warm up her, and then doesn’t let her call her dad. The main girl then sticks her friend in the front basket of her Super Cub and drives her back to her house (rather than the friend’s house) and almost slides out on the icy road. The topper is that the main girl doesn’t get admonished or scolded for her actions. Instead, the show passes it off as if the main girl did the right thing. I’m just horrified that the show presented all of this in a positive light. If there’s a second cours to this show, I’m sure it will involve her destroying COVID-19 vaccines while running over stray cats.


#MR. IRRELEVANT. Life Lessons with Uramichi Bro
Studio Blanc

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“Why are you smiling when nothing good has happened?”

Probably the biggest upset of the season is that out of all the bad isekais, Mr. Irrelevant goes to dark workplace comedy Life Lessons with Uramichi Bro but really should have been titled Mercy Killing Uramichi Onii-san. The premise of the show is that Uramichi works as a kids television star but has a troubled dark side and isn’t afraid to let it leak out in front of the kids. The gimmick is also telegraphed because if he is going to make an edgy, dark comment, the screen goes dark for a second, and, more depressingly, none of his comments are funny. The gimmick gets old three minutes into the show. This concept might work as a short, but it is sad to watch over a full episode let alone a full season. Somewhere, there is a poor animator working long hours to churn out this poop of an anime.

There is also no real story as the characters are introduced with a narrator explaining everything about the characters just to get to the next sad gag. I just want to know who is the target audience that will buy BDs of this unfunny, predictable, and boring anime.

(Fashion Czar: “The most surprising part of this show is that it’s a fixed camera show with all the kids facing away from the camera all the time.”)


#20. Scarlet Nexus
Sunrise

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“The power within your brains must be connected in order for us to survive.”

Scarlet Nexus is a paint-by-the-numbers, almost brainless (heh) adaption of the recent character action RPG game of the same name. The best part of the game is the combat, and none of that translates into anime form. Instead, the anime takes the worst parts of the game– the boring duo protagonists, the silly anime plot featuring characters named “Travels” and “Major General Spring,” garishly obnoxious character design complete with heterochromia, all the nonsensical jargon like “Struggle Arms Systems,” and how everything needs to be a high school setting. Nevermind these kids are defending Suou (Tokyo) from demonic alien creatures, they still need to be in a high school-like military academy and also moonlight as idols. Why? Anime. That’s why. The end result is that Scarlet Nexus feels like a generic, poorly-produced anime about high school students trying to save the world. Yawn.

(Sadly, if this anime is supposed to be an advertisement for the game, it backfires because of how bad this show is. The game is much more enjoyable with the action combat being the real star. Also, there is a tie-in with the anime that you can punch in messages from the anime into the game to get bonus items, and I’m like, “I can’t be bothered to fast-forward through this anime to find the item codes.”)

(Fashion Czar: “We randomly assigned everyone uniforms. All uniforms are patch-worked from other uniforms. Poor animators.”)


#19. Mother of the Goddess’ Dormitory
Asread

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“Not having a place where you can unwind is tough.”

First scene of Mother of the Goddess’ Dormitory (Megami-ryou no Ryoubo-kun) is a full frontal shot of three busty haremettes bathing naked together. They are interrupted by when a confused little boy who got lost and wanders into the bath. Yep, it’s an ecchi shouta harem comedy. The boy is supposedly in high school but is drawn such that he looks like someone who could be in Uramichi Onii-san‘s audience. This poor boy then endures wacky harem ecchi hijinks as he becomes the “mom” of this problem dorm. The problem? The girls are too ecchi. Only in anime does having sexy neighbors lower the property value in the area.

Pros: A lot of boobs.

Cons: Not enough boobs to distract from how boring the story are characters are.

(Asread’s animation is not bad. A non-trash level production ecchi harem comedy is kind of rare these days.)

(Speaking of sexy neighbors lowing property values… watching Fast 9 feels like, “Nope, we can’t have bikini babes in Fast and Furious anymore. It’s a family franchise.” There’s two late night dance scenes, and all the ladies are fully dressed. This is the same franchise that had a plot point revolving around getting someone to grope Gal Gadot’s butt. I would applaud them for their decision except they totally undermine themselves by having an unnecessary scene with sexy ladies holding assault rifles for no real purpose other than having sexy ladies holding assault rifles.)


#18. The Case Study of Vanitas
Bones

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I feel like if The Case Study of Vanitas (Vanitas no Carte) were made five years ago, Shaft would have been first in line to make it. The anime features an over-the-top will-they-or-won’t-they bromance between a human and a vampire, ridiculously large-scale architecture that makes no sense, characters posing as they talk, a cat with heterochromia, and random super-deformed style slapstick comedy. Then I saw the credits, and the director is Tomoyuki Itamura, who was formerly with Shaft and previously co-directed for the Monogatari series with Shinbo. No wonder. The first episode takes place in an airship but the inside seems to be a gigantic five-star hotel, and I wrote in my notebook, “This feels like a Shaft setting.”

The base plot of vampires getting their true names hacked seems to just be an excuse for our pair, the human Vanitas and the vampire Noe Archiviste to get to know each other better. I don’t know where the show is going, but it can be anything from Bungo Stray Dogs to Blood Blockade Battlefront to Code Geass at this point.

(Probably the strangest aspect of the show is that it doesn’t call vampires “vampires” or “kyuuketsuki.” Instead, the show refers to them as “vampier,” which is either French or some poor pronunciation.)


#17. The Dungeon of Black Company
Sunrise

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“I have evolved into the ultimate NEET! I am the uber pro NEET!”

One theme that I keep going to this thin slicing is what is the state of Japan if all recent escapism fantasies involve dying so you can be free from your job? Anime back in the 2000s and 2010s were more focused on finding a romantic partner or saving the world. Now in 2020, it’s “Fuck Japanese work culture.” The Dungeon of Black Company (Meikyuu Black Company) kind of goes the other way with this theme in that the prokai has created a black company in Japan and was planning to go into space with Jeff Bezos when a random hole opened up under this prokai and transported him to a fantasy world full of slave labor. Finally, an isekai about an asshole rich person in our world getting tossed into an isekai fantasy so they can exploit that world too.

He gets enslaved and learns, well, nothing. He goes on an anti-union rant while his oppressors whip him because he isn’t mining ore fast enough. He then tries a bunch of schemes to get rich quick, but most of them involving exploiting others and end up back-firing. If the show is about watching him suffer, then it might be passable as he has the personality of an used cars salesman crossed with an infomercial star. Also, the prokai claims to be a NEET, but he owns a company. How is he a NEET if he owns a company? He’s definitely in “E for Employment.” He’s also super ripped and has a penthouse that isn’t overstuffed with eroge games. He’s as much of a NEET as Michael Jordan is a hockey star.

(Fashion Czar: “He learned nothing! I need some ice cream to alleviate the suffering from this show. It’s not funny. It’s just sad.”)

(The dragon turns into a sexy lady.)


#16. Girlfriend, Girlfriend
Tezuka Productions

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In my thirst to fill the harem gap left by 5Toubun and Hi Score Girl, I started reading the manga for Girlfriend, Girlfriend (Kanojo mo Kanojo). It did not fill the gap. I found the story to be a low-calorie harem comedy featuring fairly forgettable characters and a coward for an author. The anime so far has been a faithful adaptation of that manga. The basic premise is that the mangaka saw a photo of Taika Waititi kissing Rita and Tessa our loser male lead finally scored the girlfriend of his dreams, and he instantly screws it up by not declining another girl who asked him out. Instead, he proposes that the three of them enter into a polyamourous relationship with him. I’ll just write out the pertinent dialogue:

“Can I date both of you? I can’t bring myself to date both of you in secret.”

“DID YOU EXPECT ME TO BE OKAY WITH THIS?!” turns to other girl “How are you even okay with him dating two girls at the same time? One guy for one girl. Isn’t that common sense?”

“Yes, I agree that it’s selfish for me to date two girls. I promise to make sure both of you are happy that you both dated me at the same time. And… let’s live together at my place! All three of us!”

They all move in together that evening.

“I’d like to do it with both of you, together.”

After some push-back from one of the two ladies (the other one was into the idea), he backs off with, “I’ll give up on a threesome. Let’s not do that yet.”

And that’s what I mean by coward author. WHERE IS THE THREESOME? I’ve watched anime for over half my life now, and harem anime sure likes to avoid the harem ending. If this anime doesn’t end with a threesome, it will be the biggest disappointment since Darko Milicic. Also, I understand that anime likes to shoehorn in random songs that a music label wants to promote as an OP, but the brave choice would have been to use Trianglar for the OP. That would fit the show like how My Generation fit A Silent Voice.

(The loser male lead is a lucky idiot with almost zero personality. The original girlfriend might as well be generic tsundere haremette, and the second girlfriend might as well be generic ideal waifu material haremette. They’re all kinda bland and watching them interact feels like eating raw pasta.)

(A more satisfying ecchi harem manga? Let me recommend Excuse Me Dentist, It’s Touching Me. The key word is “it.”)

(Tezuka Productions turning down the subsequent seasons of 5Toubun to make Girlfriend, Girlfriend is like turning down free Din Tai Fung to go eat out of Hardee’s dumpster instead.)


#15. Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist
EMT Squared

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“Damn normie enjoying a fulfilling life. I hope he explodes.”

Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist opens with a former Japanese dude working at a fantasy pharmacy with his dog girl haremette and ghost girl haremette. We don’t even get a backstory montage or narration– just a quick text line saying, “Former office drone now isekai resident.” Has anime writing become this lazy? Why bother with the isekai setup at all if it is just skipped? Why does the main character have to be a Japanese office drone who gets isekai’ed if it doesn’t impact the story? Is the meet cute between him and the two haremettes so boring that they would skip the introduction stories for them? There’s no point to the isekai setup other than blatant escapism from Japanese society. I don’t blame them, but, come on, at least camouflage it a little.

The art of this show is boring, the character designs are forgettable, and the story rivals an Ikea assembly manual in terms of depth and pathos. One of the first arcs of this show also seems misogynistic that the “crazy” girlfriend only needed tea to calm down and not be crazy. I don’t really understand how Drugstore got made into an anime other than, “It was the cheapest property we could license.” The only way this show could be watchable is if it takes a dark turn, and the prokai is actually making narcotics and getting the town addicted on them. The “potions” he is making is actually meth. I guess that would make more sense because why else would the townsfolk in this show be constantly popping potions?

(The original publisher for this light novel went bankrupt. Probably not a good sign.)

(Hitomi not even being isekai’ed into Gaia until the second episode of Escaflowne feels like War and Peace at this point. Can you imagine watching an isekai show where the prokai doesn’t get teleported in the first ten minutes in 2021?)


#14. Getter Robo Arc
Bee Media

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“This must be the presence of Getter Rays!”

Stuff Japan inexplicably loves: Isekai light novels, hiding porn magazines under mattresses, heterochromia, and assuming the son can do something because their dad was good at it (“The Miyazaki”). Getter Robo Arc is a throwback mecha anime based on a manga that got cancelled after just three volumes (seriously are we that desperate for source material). I guess people assume that Shin Getter Robo was popular so its successor manga would be too. The main story of this show is more Getter Robo nonsense with the son of the protagonist of Getter Robo Go getting to pilot the titular robot because he’s the dude’s son. That’s his main qualification. He is also good at using getter particles.

We’re in a dystopic future because most of the world already blew up 19 years ago because someone cut the wrong wire in Siberia. Did Michael Bay write this show? There are roving gangs armed with morning stars, pipes, and chains, and our two heroes fight have been battling them a la River City Ransom until they discover the Getter robot. The hero son then is instantly able to pilot a complex war machine that has a touch screen, keyboard, two joysticks, and foot pedals for controls.

Getter Robo Arc is boring. The characters feel like 1990 era WWE caricatures, and the hero son is supposed to be a teen yet look and sound like thirty year olds. The action sequences feel adequate for a 1990 era tokusatsu show, but I guess that’s the issue with the show is that it’s trapped in the 90s with minimal attempts at modernization. Unfortunately, we just had an example last season of an old franchise that has been properly modernized in SSSS.Dynazenon, which only makes Getter Robo Arc feel even staler.


#13. Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi
MAPPA

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“What exactly is a ‘proper’ Idaten anyway?”

When was the last season when a mangaka has two manga (not light novels) turned anime airing in the same season? I have no clue. But Coolkyousinnjya manages to pull it off for summer 2021 by getting both Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi and Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon being turned into high production anime in the same season. Idaten feels like it is trying to be a modern, edgier Dragonball Z. Maybe it’s because it takes place in some desolate, Utah-like location or because a lot of characters have spikey hair or because how we are treated to a Yamacha-like beatdown in the first five minutes. There’s going to be a lot of punching and training up ahead, I reckon.

The basic premise is not unlike Hellgate: London. Our version of Earth gets run over by demons, who overpower our militaries. A bunch of gods appear and save us, but the older ones fuse with a seal that is sealing away the demons thus leaving behind the younger gods. 800 year of “peace” passes, and it turns out that the real demons were humans after all. Now the young gods get to butt their heads against the demon that is humanity.

Idaten isn’t my type of show, as it just seems like random battling interspersed with physical comedy, but it seems competent enough and the action sequences are well-animated. However, the show’s color palette looks like if someone watched the Singapore arc of The Great Pretender and went, “We need that for our show, except 10X more.” It physically hurts to watch this show.


#12. Remake Our Life!
Feel

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“I have no idea what happened, but now I’m ten years in the past.”

There is a definite trend in anime about youths being unhappy and either escaping by going to another world or going back in time. Maybe there’s a deep societal problem in Japan that should be addressed. Naaaaah. Japan just really likes time travel and fantasy worlds. Remake Our Life (Bokutachi no Remake) is about a loser harem lead who discovers being a wage slave office drone isn’t what it’s cut out to be (i.e. doesn’t run into high school runaway on the way home from the bar), and he just magically teleports ten years back in time so he can undo the mistake of being an office drone. I guess that’s a step up from getting hit by a truck in waking in a fantasy RPG world. It then becomes a low calories slice-of-life harem comedy about art school.

The tone of the show is inconsistent with a dreary, moody, dark scene jumping to cute girls in swimsuits. It wants to show how bad this guy’s life was in the future and how great it could be now, but it goes in extremes. There’s no subtlety. One possible reason why is that even though the show is based on a standard MF Bunko J light novel, the anime is being financed by an eroge visual novel company, Frontwing. Nothing like seeing the main character go through an existential crisis and then jump to this in the next scene.

(Remake Our Life is directed by Tomoki Kobayashi, whose last major directorial work was Sola, which some anime blogs– not this one– claimed to be the best anime of 2006.)

(Biggest plot hole really is that he can go back in time and become an artist or he can go back in time and make a fortune off of gambling on the NBA and then pumping that money into bitcoin or Apple stock. Or he can put in a prop bet in 2014 that the Tokyo Olympics would be delayed by one year.)

(Fashion Czar: “At 28, you couldn’t have paid me to be 18 again.”)


#11. Seirei Gensouki
TMS Entertainment

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“I will teach you about od and how to use this power.”

Seirei Gensouki is, sigh, another isekai that starts with a college student in Japan dying because his bus randomly swerves and hits a train. Everyone in the accident is apparently dead and isekai’ed, including the prokai’s old crush who probably was in the train, which was spoiled by the OP. Besides spoiling major plot points, the OP features an Azur Lane-sized cast of haremettes. I can’t wait to meet them all, especially the one with heterochromia and the one who likes herbs and making potions because those two archetypes are so rare in isekai anime.

I’m glad the Japanese person doesn’t just take over the body of a poor fantasy world kid, but he instead just merges with them. The poor kid ends up being both the Japanese person and the fantasy world kid. That’s not as bad as Ascendance of a Bookworm but still a shitty thing for a boy to do to live out isekai power fantasies. Why not just have him warp into this world with this existing body like Tsukimichi or Cheat Pharmacist or a version of his body that he picks like Sword Art Online?

Seirei Gensouki ends up being a standard “I wanna redo my life as a cheat hero” power fantasy isekai. One of the prokai’s special powers must be being able to tell all the haremettes apart even though most of them have the same face. The prokai gets saved from a bandit by a goddess who teaches him magic, and, before we know it, he’s joining a magic school because of the king and acquiring haremettes.

(Somehow this series has 19 light novels in 6 years.)


#10. Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy
C2C

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“An isekai adventure normally starts like this…”

Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy (Tsuki ga Michibuku Isekai Douchuu) is an attempt at a comedy isekai that feels meh at best. The show starts with our prokai lamenting about how lucky other prokais are (to get hit by a truck) and how unlucky he is because– we then cut to the OP where he’s riding a wagon full of busty haremettes. I’m glad when an isekai acknowledges how devoid of creativity it is for someone to die because of a truck accident, but then just tosses the prokai into an isekai with an even dumber reason. “Yeah, isekai is bullshit… so here’s more isekai bullshit for ya!” Our prokai here gets sold to another world. His parents sold him like Hayate the Combat Butler.

So he goes to meet god, which is an isekai trope the Fashion Czar hates, who gives him a gift. That gift is that god will burn our prokai’s porn stash. Are there even high schoolers in Japan in 2021 buying porn magazines anymore? I imagine the only people who buy them are old people, truckers, and Jamie Tartt. He then meets a goddess because why the heck not, who then tells him that she’s disappointed in how ugly he is and, “Don’t spread your seed in my world.” Well, then. I’m disappointed that the reveal wasn’t that the goddess herself was a pig and considered the human ugly like that Twilight Zone episode because that would be the only thing that redeems this meh isekai. The god witnesses how badly the goddess treats him, so he gives him a bunch of cheat powers.

He ends up having like eight different special abilities, can punch through wolves, and defeats a dragon who is horny for teenage boy memories, but somehow the iPad-like device in Tsukimichi only registers our prokai as a level one hero. The dragon then offers him a contract, and, ABC: ALWAYS BRING your own pen to sign CONTRACTS with suspicious magical creatures in anime. Once signed, the dragon turns into a sexy samurai girl because why the hell not.

(The end wasn’t finished on time as there’s no song to go along with a video of pigeons flying in front of a full moon. By episode 3, C2C replaced that placeholder OP with still shots of the characters in front of the same full moon. This production is going to fall part by episode 8, isn’t it?)


#9. Battle Game in 5 Seconds
SynergySP

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“You’re our ability-testing focus group.”

Ah, yes, every season needs a random idol show or a random death game show. Battle Game in 5 Seconds is a battle game where all the contestants are locked in a jail-like facility but each given a weird superpower. They then battle each other, but it feels more like Yu-Gi-Oh! with “Ah ha, you thought my power was this, but, in actually, you triggered my trap card!” The animation and character designs are kind of rough, and I thought it was a manga from the early 00s. Nope. 2015. The characters and title graphics might as well come from 2002.

The protagonist is just the same, “Games are cool; normies drool” archetype from Jaku-Chara or No Game No Life except he’s an outline of that character instead of an actual character. Everything he does feels like a PowerPoint presentation. And par for the course for this type of battle game show, the female lead is a sexy schoolgirl who gets instantly sexually assaulted. The other characters just look like the knockoff versions of more popular anime characters– oh look, it’s the bootleg Sanosuke from Kenshin or Guy from Sk8. The masterminds behind this death game are doing it to test new superpowers, which seems weird to have a bunch of random people do this instead of cherry-picked volunteers. It couldn’t have been cheap to install these powers. Also, this death game is managed by just two people, including a cat girl magician with the most grating voice possible.

(Fashion Czar: ““This is like when I read ‘Battle Royale’ and thought about how to battle royale myself out of any situation.” Editor’s Note: She’s now reading Fire Punch. Please stop and read something like Emiya-chi.)

(I like how their prison cells have tatami mats, and the death gamers have to take off their shoes before entering. I’m to believe this dude who murdered someone and is now unhappy that he’s stuck in a death game is going to take off his shoes in his prison cell?)


#8. Peach Boy Riverside
Asahi Production

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“Why is there so much demihuman hate?”

I was kind of with Peach Boy Riverside when it was trying to be a story about racism, but then we get a random tentacle hentai scene followed by a character named “Walrus Ogre of the North, Sett.” I’m totally in. Anime has never been competent at addressing racism, so I’m sure that part of the show will be just as bad as Brand New Animal‘s treatment. I do enjoy the wacky half of the show where we get a talking walrus ogre and also boobs that always bounce whenever someone stares at them or mentions them. It’s like a manga character sneezing when someone far away is talking about them, except with heaving bosoms. Princess Sally reminds me a little of Tsukihime‘s Alucard, and her demihuman friend Frau reminds me of the avatar from Summer Wars.

Animation from Asashi is competent with some fight scenes that felt impactful, though there are a few cuts that didn’t make sense to me. In one scene, Sally falls asleep wearing her sweater and no blanket but wakes up with no sweater but a blanket. I feel like two different people draw that scene and never had a Zoom call to decide what she would wear during it. The characters also make fairly good facial expressions, which I always appreciate.

(Fashion Czar: “This princess gets to wear pants. They might be Lululemon yoga pants, but they are pants.”)

(What if there are more Momotaros? And what if some of them had a slightly different backstory? Or wore swimsuits? Or liked boba? Or had on Halloween outfits? Or had different rarities? Mmm…)


#7. RE-MAIN
MAPPA

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“I don’t even know what I thought I know. This is the worst.”

RE-MAIN is yet another obscure sports turned into anime where the main character has some trauma in middle school, gives up on the sport, but then rekindles their interest in high school. I would like to see ice hockey, bocce ball, or Lego building as the next obscure sports rekindling anime. But, the difference is, RE-MAIN is swimming in butt cracks. There are more butt cracks in this show than in Keijo!!!!. Besides the copious amounts of butt fanservice, the animation for this show looks great, and I wonder if drawing so many quality butts broke MAPPA.

My random notes for this show:

  • The main character getting into a car accident on the way home from winning a water polo tournament and losing exactly three years of memories is so hyper specific. He’s also not isekai’ed, which is even stranger.
  • Original work by Masafumi Nishida, who wrote Tesla Note and Tiger and Bunny. He is also directing.
  • The main character’s family seems normal and sells artisan jeans. This show might feature the most supportive and normal family of the season.
  • Wow, he has numerous books of water polo rules. Are there even that many books about water polo? I wonder if Cade Cunningham has a library full of books on NBA and FIBA rules?
  • Beethoven’s Seventh was playing during the car accident flashback, which is a head scratcher. I don’t normally associate that symphony with tragic accidents unless you count Napoleon crashing into the British army.
  • JO JIMAJO! Shouldn’t he be a character in Stone Ocean?
  • Still good after all these years.

(Fashion Czar: “Suit man is hot. Out of the way, high school boys.”)


#6. The Detective Is Already Dead
ENGI

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“It’s adolescent romantic comedy time!”

“Oh no! We inadvertently took up too much time with the romantic comedy!”

Thin slicing is all about which show I want to see the next episode of. Well, what the hell is going on with The Detective Is Already Dead. (Tantei wa Mou, Shindeiru.)? One, why is there a period in the original name of the show? Two, wait, they are middle school students trying to stop a plane from being hijacked by an android with a tentacle for an ear? Three, who would believe that a middle school girl is a famous detective without any sort of ID or proof? Four, why is a detective Naruto running in the middle of a passenger plane? Five, why does this show turn into HigeHiro for ten minutes in the middle? Six, why is the detective named after the meido from Zero no Tsukaima, Siesta? Presenting a lot of random but interesting crap and not explaining any of it is a way to get me to watch more (see: Loki).

The show kind of goes everywhere. It doesn’t try to rationalize what it does and instead focuses on delivering fun set pieces. The hijacked plane culminates in a fantastic 30 seconds of animation with Siesta getting into a face off with the hijacker, a man named “Bat,” and shooting him with blood bullets. The school festival climaxes with Siesta carrying Watson newlywed style (yes, her apprentice slash friend slash love interest is “Watson”) and literally flying into the blue yonder while wearing a wedding gown. Their trip to a local Italian restaurant ends with her dumping four canisters of Kraft Parmesan cheese into her pasta. The Detective Is Already Dead is dumb, but it knows it is dumb.

Animation from ENGI is better than their show last season, Full Dive, and they put extra effort in animating Siesta. One thing that bothers me is that there is a time skip, but the characters look the same pre and post skip. It’s like their character designer couldn’t figure out how a second year middle schooler and a high school senior would look different. (Hint: They will look very different.) That kind of makes it difficult to tell if a scene is supposed to involve middle school Watson or high school Watson.

(From the Future: The animation quality of this show falls off a cliff. I can’t remember another show that drops this much from episode 1 to 2 except maybe Heroic Age.)

(Fashion Czar: “They gave her a purse. Anime acknowledged that women need purses.”)


#5. Kageki Shoujo!!
Pine Jam

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“How is it that you have such beauty, but no one wants to bask in it?”

My favorite part of Kageki Shoujo!! is how it mirrors real life with a recent real life idol being dismissed from her group because she called fans stalking her while pants-less disgusting. One of the main leads of this show, Ai, walks away or is cancelled from their version of AKB48 because she dared to call out creepy male fans. She is so disgusted with men, she joins a female-only theater school to avoid men for two years. If you’re looking for battles a la Starlight Revue, well, Kageki Shoujo!! is not it. If you’re expecting character drama fueled by clashing personalities, then, this show is it. I do like the dialogue and pacing of the show, but, like pretty much all anime, there are a WTF moments for me like when the JSDF shows up at this theater school. And, also, like every single anime about a character attending a prestigious school in Tokyo, the school is palatial with giant open outdoor areas yet is in the middle of Tokyo where land is cheap and abundant. I just want one of these shows to feature a prestigious school located on floors 4 through 7 of a monolithic office building that they share with Toshiba or something.

The other main character, Sarasa, reminds me of a giant innocent St Bernard. She has an optimism that the world is trying to crush, and it will be interesting to see if the world does crush it (so she and Ai have to rebuild it) or if it goes the just win baby route where she overcomes all obstacles by being so innocent an optimistic.

(In one scene, Ai boards a train with upholstery that has the same pattern as a Minecraft creeper and foreshadows the creepers who will approach Ai in the next scene.)

(Fashion Czar: “I absolutely believe that being an idol is enough to put you off from men.”)


#4. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S
Kyoto Animation

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S (I still prefer “Maid Dragon”) is more of the same. And, by more, I mean more dragons with more hentai racks. More bros playing Final Fantasy Fourteen. More hentai boobs colliding with a poor shouta. More, well, more. If you enjoyed the first season, you’ll probably enjoy the new season. If you didn’t care for the first, I doubt anything here will change your mind (unless you were like, “Well, the show could use just one more set of giant hentai boobs”). The question is whether or not you’re up for Dragon Maid‘s particular brand of comedy.

But I think this show is notable because it is Kyoto’s first TV production since their tragic arson attack, and their production has not slipped. Animation, pacing, and direction are all stellar. I find it amazing that their staff can still create at a high level. A group of people uniting after a tragedy to create something special is something that maybe I’d like to see an anime of someday.

(Dragons turning into sexy ladies? You betcha.)


#3. How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom
JC Staff

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“Why do you think people have families?”

Spoilers ahead!

If I haven’t already read thirteen volumes of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom (Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Okoku Saikenki), I would have turned it off at the poorly animated montage of the plot summary of the state of this fantasy world. The animation of bags of gold going to the Gran Chaos Empire is on par with something I would see on a 2005 era Japanese afternoon talk panel show, and the OP looks like it is from 2004. Overall production for this show has been on par with last season’s HigeHiro, which is to say boringly bad. JC Staff’s animation just gets worse and worse. That’s a shame because I honestly did enjoy at least 8 or 9 volumes of the light novel. When I first started reading this series, I expected competency porn (like Star Trek TNG) but instead ended up with anime’s version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Souma, our prokai, is has a scene with his dead grandfather and then is tossed into a fantasy world with demons and mermaids and dragons. At least he didn’t get run over by a truck. He tries to recreate things from our world into the fantasy one. If you thought sniper rifles showing up in Sword Art Online Alicization‘s Underworld was anachronistic, Souma eventually builds an aircraft carrier. Yes, a fucking aircraft carrier. He also introduces this fantasy world to museums, antibiotics, soy sauce, and Japanese-style variety TV shows. There’s a third of a light novel dedicated to describing how he lowered the child mortality rate in the Kingdom of Friedonia. He also ends slavery. He’s basically Louis Pasteur, Abraham Lincoln, Momofuku Ando, Henry Ford, and Nick Cannon all rolled up in one.

Production values aside, the adaptation is a bit lackluster. JC Staff seems to focus in on what I would consider less important parts of the story and focus less on what I would consider more important parts of the story. They also screw up a few plot points by trying to show a few haremettes earlier than they would appear. One haremette that won’t show up for three volumes is already in episode one, and she is somehow using technology that Souma would invent later on to… I mean, I think it’s a mess. But for someone who hasn’t read the light novels, maybe it’s acceptable. The audience want to see haremettes. I also didn’t expect Souma’s inner monologue when he’s thinking to be Pharaoh Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!. That wasn’t really what I pictured when I was reading the books. I’m also not liking how this fantasy world understands “A,” “B,”, and “C.” That’s almost as good as how Leonidas and the Battle of Thermopylae occurred as a historical event in the world of 86.

But this show is complacency porn. If you want to see leaders act like real leaders and make rational decisions, this show is it. Souma would have delayed the Olympics another year and also banned ska from the closing ceremony. Also, there are plenty of buxom haremettes if you’re into that sort of thing.

(Fashion Czar: “This is the most chill royal family that I have ever seen. I do like that the princess is wearing pants. She is wearing both a skirt and pants. I’m okay with that. It might not make sense, but I’m happy for the pants. You can tell they are pants and not tights because they have a pleat in the front.”)

(Andohbytheway, the demon horde have been featured in one of the first thirteen light novels so far. I’m pretty sure Souma will introduce the fantasy world to mobages before he fights the demons again.)


#2. The Aquatope on White Sand
PA Works

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“The world of squids is more interesting than math.”

Ah, yes, name me another anime combo like PA Works and young women working in idyllic rural towns. I guess to celebrate the tenth anniversary (wow ten years already?) of Hanasaku Iroha, why not an anime about a young woman escaping from being an idol in Tokyo to work in an aquarium in Okinawa? The Aquatope on White Sand (Shirou Suna no Aquatope) is an original work by Yuko Kakihara, who wrote all the Digimon Tri movies, adapted all of Sora no Otoshimono, and did the original work for IRUDUKU… and Aquatope feels like IRUDUKU meets Hanasaku Iroha/Sakura Quest.

Animation from PA Works is pretty with a lot of great backgrounds and fluid character animation. I like the Shiba Inu moving service, and I like how the director of the aquarium just wears her high school uniform. The only production disappointment are the fish. They look okay in the background, but, close up, they look like a Windows screensaver. I would assume an aquarium anime would draw or CG the fish better. Oddly, the moss-eating fish featured in a later scene is drawn and not CG and looks great which makes all the other fish look worse by comparison. “Hey, we can animate fish well, but we’re only going to spend the time on this one fish.” Maybe not a disappointment but more of a head scratcher is that half the kids in the Okinawa high school have blue hair.

(Fashion Czar: “She’s wearing pants under her skirt while riding a scooter, which is what the Super Cub girl never learned to do.”)

(I was like, “What’s an aquatope?” and googled it to discover that this show made up the word. How do you pronounce it? Aqua-toupee? Aqua-top?)


#1. Sonny Boy
Madhouse

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“Hey, is this an utopia? Or is it a dystopia?”

I don’t know much about Sonny Boy, and I like it that way. It’s a fantastically animated show about a classroom that is… well… mmm… by itself in an unknown world. The show itself suggests Drifting Classroom as a comparison, but I’m not so sure. There is a free optimism in Sonny Boy that Drifting Classroom lacks. The star of the show is the visuals. Motions and facial expressions look painstakingly rotoscoped, and there are very few shows recently at this level (not you, Realist Hero). Character designs are interesting but not garish. Simple things like tan lines are used to make characters stand out rather than the isekai method of “We’ll just put 12 accessories on her and give her heterochromia” school of character design. The shot compositions are all interesting, and the objects have an artistically weathered look to them.

The story and characters are also interesting in that I have no idea where this show is going to take us, but I’m happy to be along for the ride. There are already themes established early on and characters who side with the various themes so hopefully the show has a plan on where it wants to take the story. The director and creator of this original work is Shingo Natsume whose last three major works are the original HoriMiya OVA in 2012 (that was remade this year), Space Dandy in 2014, and One Punch Man in 2015.

(Drifting Classroom is probably the most devastating manga one can read… yet can’t put it down. It’s so bleak and awful and will probably never leave your mind.)

(Wait… is this show an isekai…)

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Final Count: Anime with retired idols because of how awful the idol military-industry complex is: Aquatope, Kageki Shoujo!!

Final Count: Anime with dragons who can turn into sexy haremettes: Tsukimichi, The Dungeon of Black Company, Realist Hero, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

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See you next season.

One Response to “thin slicing the new season, summer 2021 edition”

  1. Thank you for still writing these. I still read them. They’re like riding on little glass-bottom skiffs out into the waters of the late aughts internet. All of us who were there miss them.

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