thin slicing the new season, spring 2021 edition

10,500 words, 31 anime, 15 years, and a joyride on a Super Cub.

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 FIFTEEN YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, it’s the fifteen 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 Househusbands, but you deserved better).

Quick recap from last season:

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#MR. IRRELEVANT. Cestvs
Bandai Namco Pictures

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“The only rule is to fight until a fighter has total victory over the other.”

The only good scene of Cestvs is when someone shouts, “SUCH INTENSITY!” during a poor-animated scene where a guy lazily punches air. I knew we are in trouble when Cestvs starts with the big brain meme providing backstory to Roman gladiators followed by some awful CG boxing. Some of the fighting in this show is CG, and the CG portions look like a PS2 game cutscene. It’s like they matched the graphics to when the source manga was originally published in 1997. “Nope, we can’t do Sekiro… but we can do TimeSplitters.” All the faces are similar, which is a hallmark of a great animation production. The boxing sequences are a mix of CG and normal animation, which is jarring, and the jarring is made worse because the CG character model has a different color palate. They couldn’t even get the colors to match between drawn and CG animation. The ED confusingly features still shots of the CG models. Why bother with CG models if they aren’t moving?

The story and characters are also dull. None of the characters seem to have any personality, and the plot moves on a bit too fast and depends too much on coincidences. Cestvs is a slave gladiator but somehow is allowed to watch gladiator fights with the Emperor of Rome after winning his debut fight? He somehow bumps into the best fighter in the world while getting lost in the colosseum because we know Roman slaves can just wander around at will?

(Fashion Czar: “That was boring and bad.”)

(Watching The Bad Batch and bad CG anime is night and day. Just incredible difference between what CG is capable nowadays of and what passes for CG in anime.)


#30. Seven Knights Revolution: Eiyuu no Keishousha
JC Staff

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“Wield his heart’s desire.”

Seven Knights Revolution: Eiyuu no Keishousha (Seven Knights Revolution: Hero Successor) is just generic fantasy nonsense mobage bait turned anime. The original mobage came out in 2014 in Korean, and it had a sequel replacing it in 2019. Everything about this show feels like its mobage roots: Generic monsters that kill everyone except the main character, the cute icon girl who is inspired by Joan of Arc, special powers gained by summoning a card, and a giant Azur Lane-sized cast in the OP. The huge cast is confusing because the first episode only features three characters. Also confusing? The Seven Knights fight the evil monsters by traveling around in trains, but the trains are staffed by like two people despite being many compartments long. The trains also have no means of defending themselves, which seems like a major oversight. There are definitely not the armored fortresses of Kabenari but more like a tourist train serving premium pour over coffee.

And, yes, there is a pour over coffee sequence between monster battles because why the heck not. The last monster battle of the first episode features the Joan of Arc character screaming at the main character to run away on foot as she is losing to a monster. Seriously? The monster caught up to a speeding train and derailed it. How far will the boy make it before he’s caught and disemboweled? None of the actions make sense in this show, and it saps all the tension from the fights.

(Fashion Czar: “That lady has pants. So far everyone seems to have reasonable outfits. I’m impressed. I do feel bad for the animators to have to put in the details for the finger sleeves.”)


#29. Blue Reflection Ray
JC Staff

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“Senpai’s going to be sooooo mad at me.”

Ah good, Blue Reflection Ray starts with a flash forward with a bland narration. That’s exactly how I enjoy my anime. Imagine if before you eat anything, you had to poop it out first with Marv Albert doing play-by-play commentary. Wouldn’t that just make you want to eat all the time? Also nothing about the flash forward is interesting enough to warrant a flash forward. So if we’re playing first episode bingo, we already have a flash forward, a pretentious quote, and we learn that the protagonist’s parents have moved overseas for work. Classic. We’re just missing the OP featuring all the characters on top of a cliff or building starring out. Nothing else about her living situation is explained.

The pacing is super slow, and the dialogue feels unnatural as if the characters are narrating the story to each other rather than have a natural conversation. The “villain” who shows up also feels out of place… even though she shows that she is a villain by licking her ring as is she were a character from Sk8 the Infinity, she does not feel threatening at all. While the story is uninteresting and feels like a worse version of Wonder Egg Priority, the animation fares worse. The meet cute of the two girls colliding into each other because of their Captain Crunch decoder rings is not animated. We just see them running towards each other and then the show cuts to a field of lilies and a still image of a music box. Then when the girls transform, we don’t even get a transformation sequence. We see the protagonist in her school uniform then a jump cut to her already into her new battle clothes and then some bows pop out of it. If JC Staff can barely animate the first episode and this show is scheduled to be two cours long, good luck.

(Fashion Czar: “The character designs are off-model a lot and feel flat. The shading is a little weird too. It looks like it was designed with shoujo in mind. There is a bit too much post-processing too.”)

(The original character designs for Blue Reflection were by Mel Kishida (Hanasaku Iroha), but they are pretty much all redrawn by Koichi Kikuta (KonoSuba) into trash for the anime.)


#28. Shakunetsu Kabaddi
TMS Entertainment

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“Enough people play that they have tournaments? I thought this was a gag sport.”

Shakunetsu Kabaddi (Burning Kabaddi) is about a Japanese high school kabaddi club. Is kabaddi that popular in Japan? Is there enough interesting in kabaddi to warrant an anime? Or is this show funded by the kabaddi association? The main character, Tatsuya, looks like he is twenty years old and not a highschool freshmen. In fact, most of the characters look too old. One of them looks like the Hulk. This show seems like a rare sports anime where the main character isn’t a transfer student or new student and isn’t tasked with saving the club. He joins an established club and gets his ass handed to him by the veterans. The show seems to feature advanced kabaddi strategies. If someone didn’t know anything about Pokemon, would telling them about STABs be the best way to introduce the game to them? “Okay forget the cute monsters and the 15,532 anime series for now… let’s just focus on matching our elemental attacks.”

I think the most important part of a sports anime is how much it makes the audience cheer for the featured characters, and this show does not give the audience any reason to cheer or care for the characters.

Despite Shakunetsu Kabaddi being about muscular men grabbing each other, there is a dash of insecure masculinity underlying the show. Tatsuya refuses to play defense because that would require him to hold hands with another guy, and he does not want to hold hands with another guy. There are also a lot of random anal sex jokes tossed in from absolutely nowhere, and there’s a running gag involving the soccer joke overhearing the kabaddi club and thinking they are having carnal relations.

(Fashion Czar: “This sport is not interesting to watch, and they are not giving us a reason to like these characters.”)


#27. Battle Athletes Victory ReSTART!
Seven

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“Sports is just cheap alcohol. How ridiculous.”

The reaction I had when I learned that Battle Athletes Victory ReSTART! is a continuation sequel to Battle Athletes Victory is the same reaction when I heard that Netflix is producing a continuation sequel to Charles in Charge. The original BAV was an anime of its time in the late 90s, and ReSTART! feels trapped in the past too. The setting is even farther in the future (supposedly the original series’ protagonist’s granddaughter is the star here), and we get giant space stations, but the cops look like they are wearing uniforms from 1991 while everyone else dresses like they are from the Jetsons. There is no attempt made to update the formula like how Trigger revitalized Gridman. There is still the girl from a podunk town on Earth trying to become the Cosmic Beauty by winning track and field events, and then she can represent Earth and defend it in Mortal Kombat, except with track and field instead of martial arts.

The school the protagonist enrolls in to train to be a Cosmic Beauty is a Japanese interpretation of an European castle somehow turned into a McMansion. Of course, the school is about the size of the Mall of America yet has like seven students. One of the other students is a girl from Pluto who is introduced as an intellectual doctor but the camera just lingers on a close-up of her bouncing boobs. Thanks anime. The school also has a weird arbitrary rule that they have to find a roommate or get expelled. Can you imagine if Harvard is like, “Yeah, we accepted you, cashed your tuition check, and you’re here on campus. But you have 4 hours to find a roommate by yourself, or you’re getting kicked out.” It’s even weirder since they are all competing against each other in singles events. Meanwhile, we get random cutaways to a sinister cabal of three men who twirl their wispy mustaches and tell each other how they are manipulating the Cosmic Beauty to control the galaxy over and over and over again. We get it. Don’t you think these shadow power brokers have better things to do than keep reminding each other of what they do?

Some of the animation is really off, like the characters don’t look at anything in particular. There is a scene where two characters are talking to each other, but their eyes are wandering off into the distance. The ED is a worse-animated version of Catch You Catch Me.

(Fashion Czar: “How is this little girl out harvesting potatoes own her own in the dark?”)

(This show has to of my favorite names of this season: Anna Oldman and Jimmy K. Oldman is such a great name– it should be a Pokemon that just goes around shouting, “Oldman! Oldman!”)

(Just kidding about Charles in Charge… or… am I?)


#26. The World Ends with You
Shin-Ei Animation

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“Does he ever take his headphones off?”

The World Ends with You feels like a children’s anime that came 14 years too late. In the 00s, it would have been a good companion media to the game, but, in 2021, it feels dated as a BlackBerry phone. Andohbytheway, The World Ends with You originally debuted on the Nintendo DS around the same time Gurren Lagann was airing… 14 years ago. This show feels like a literal translation of a videogame. The characters’ clothing feel like they are painted on the characters rather than actual clothing. Everything feels rigid. Neku never removes his headphones, and what does he even listen to on them? The action is fairly generic with a lot of stuff going on, but none of it is visually interesting (like fights in Wonder Egg Priority) or impactful. The fights become a flurry of punching and magic fire shooting from their fingertips. Every “boss” has to be punched by Neku and Misaki simultaneously.

Neku himself is a dimwit crossed with Anakin Skywalker. The characterization of him having anger issues and then almost choking out his partner with a force grab is pretty much Anakin towards the end of the Clone Wars. He also has amnesia, which adds to his JRPG creds but makes him an even more boring character. Misaki asks him, “Is Neku your first name or your last name?” and he doesn’t even answer he. He just leaves. That’s something Anakin would do.

(Getting killed by a frog spitting acid on you might be a horrible way to die… but I would certainly welcome an isekai where the prokai gets killed by a poisonous frog instead of overwork or a traffic accident.)


#25. Dragon, le o Kau
Signal.MD

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“My perfect house is out there!”

The first scene in Dragon, le o Kau (Dragon Goes House-Hunting) is of one the most generic-looking fantasy RPG scenes ever. It’s like if someone had to draw “JRPG party fighting slime” in Pictionary after already downing 2 gin and tonics. And that’s probably the best animated-scene of the first episode.

The titular dragon main character looks like a silver or bronze mob in Fate Grand/Order. At first, I got pumped about this show thinking it would be House Hunters Isekai, which would be fantastic and needs to happen. It would ideally be delusional couples from our world getting transported to a fantasy world and be asking for open floorplans, three car garages, shiplap, and clawfoot bathtubs but getting shown stone huts lined with straw where one just poops in a corner. Sadly, the show is about the dragon trying to find a new home because reasons. He also can’t use his overpowered ability to fly because of reasons (like most of the conflict can be avoided if he just flew because, you know, flying is a key part of being a dragon). Maybe this concept works as a five minute gag short, but, as a full-length anime, it drags. The premise isn’t strong enough to prop the show up by its own, and the characters are devoid of personality.

(The dragon has a driver’s license that shows his RPG stats. Fan-fucking-tastic.)

(Fashion Czar: “Either show his eye or don’t show it… but just don’t draw his eye completely through his hair.”)


#24. Bakuten!!
Zexcs

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“Men’s rhythmic gymnastics? They are really chomping at the bit, right?”

Last season gave us an anime that turned a traditionally individual/pair sport (figure skating) into a team sport with point guards and centers (no I’m not kidding, go read the last thin slicing). This season? We get rhythmic gymnastics presented as a men’s sport in Bakuten!!. Like I get that there’s a sports manga for virtually any sport these days (kabbadi?), but we are scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Also this show is the second Noitamina show in a year featuring men doing gymnastics or rhythmic gymnastics.

The base premise is typical sports anime fare: There’s a baseball player who decides to wander into a rhymthmic gymnastics match after a game and gets hooked. It just so happens that the team he is smitten with is the team from his high school, and, oh-what-are-the-fucking-odds that the team doesn’t have enough members. Our protagonist is now lead down the men’s rythmic gymnastics rabbit hole.

Of course, all the gymnastics segments are done in CG, and they have an uncanny valley to them. Their movements are too precise, too identical (literally cntl-v cntl-c) that it ends up comically fake. The boys all move perfectly with identical timing and jump the same heights. The character designs are not great. The eyebrow guy looks like he is thirty years old and works as a cement paver. Each of the boys have a different hair color because they are also secretly Power Rangers.

(Are any Canadians more furious or more relieved that there hasn’t been a curling anime yet?)

(There’s an article from the NYT about why there isn’t men’s rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympics that basically boils down to egos and toxic masculinity. “The stigma of the term rhythmic gymnastics poses ‘a huge marketing challenge,’ said Mario Lam, a martial arts and gymnastics instructor in Canada. Lam uses the term ‘martialgym’ to help avoid the connotation that it is a female-only sport, he said. You know what else would help avoid the connotation that it is a female-only sport? Make an anime about boys doing it Have a medal event for the men’s competition at the Olympics. Gold medals, endorsements, and scholarships will get more people interested in the sport a lot more than calling it “martialgym.” This sport at least is more interesting to watch than 50km walking… which will probably get an anime next season.)


#23. Iijranaide, Nagatoro-san
Telecom Animation Film

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“Senpai’s been acting sus this whole time.”

I have one question for Iijranaide, Nagatoro-san (Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro). Just one question. What kind of dork names the main character of his fantasy novel “Siegfried”? Anyway, Nagatoro-san is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but I believe I watched a show about bullying translated by someone who plays a bit too much Among Us. The titular Nagatoro-san teases the loser male lead to the point where I wrote, “She’s destroying this poor man to the point where if this weren’t an anime, I would be afraid he might cut himself or something.” She humiliates him so badly at one point that it opened up repressed memories of how we was bullied when he was younger. Somehow, it’s okay, because she’s a cute haremette, and he’s a loser male harem lead, so it’s not bullying but instead a sweet endearment of love.

She reminds me a bit of a chihuahua. Chihuahuas look small and harmless, but they are some of the best bulliers out there. She also has a ton of crazy face, and the highlight of the show are all the weird faces the characters make. I’m not into the humilation romance (but I guess plenty– and I mean plenty– of people on MAL enjoy it) so this isn’t the show for me.

(Fashion Czar: “There has been a big yankee romance boom in both sides of shounen and shoujo but usually they are a good-natured person who is misunderstood not actually a terrible person.”)

(You’re telling that Japanese mangaka write a lot of self-insert fantasies? Surprised Pikachu face.)


#22. Fairy Ranmaru
Studio Comet

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“What is love? What, exactly, is love?”

Fairy Ranmaru starts with a flash forward then it jumps to a narrated montage about love featuring shots of the male leads in codpieces. After that, the five hot codpiece-wearing men are enjoying chocolate mint soft serve with a goth loli holding a sloth. How do you even make chocolate mint softserve that has the chocolate bits inside still? I would like to try that. Then we get a three minute rundown of the ten laws of fairies that is absolutely boring and saps all momentum from the show. Some law highlights: Law one forbids love. Law five forbids physical relationship with the opposite sex. Interestingly, the law does spell out opposite sex so same sex physical relationships as good to go, which does fit this show about five fairy men wearing codpieces.

We then get to see a bartender, who isn’t a fairy and subject to the laws, having sex with a lady in a pink Cadillac convertible. It’s exactly like the first episode of David Duchovy’s Californication except this version has a purple tapir trying to sleep in the back of the car while the boning is going on. There’s a lot going on so far, but none of it feels cohesive. We then get a shot of a short boy in glasses and a girl getting a little bit close on top of a lighthouse in the dark of night (not the only show this season that will feature a setup like this one), and they almost kiss.

Wait, I thought there was a rule against physical relationships with the opposite sex, and when their lips almost meet, he inhales the girl and triggers a magical boy transformation sequence where it’s revealed that instead of a penis, this magical boy has a beam of light. He goes from looking like a minor character in an otome mobage to a character from the twelfth season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. We then get treated to a full-length song karaoke sequence where the magical boy runs to fight the Social Media Bottomless Hell girl. Why a full karaoke sequence? The Social Media Bottomless Hell girl uses a contraption inspired by the Taiwanese Pokemon Go grandpa to bully her classmates.

The magical boy defeats the villain by stabbing a giant CG key into a keyhole that is located on her belly. Totally nonsexual. Fairy Ranmaru has some interesting ideals and setpieces, but it overall feels like a mess with zero cohesion or substance. I do like the sloth eating chocolate mint softserve and the purple tapir. I would watch a Rilakkuma-type show about those two.

(Fashion Czar: “Who are these outfits supposed to appeal to? I feel like I’m walking into the Folsom Street Fair.”)


#21. Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood
Bakken Record

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“I hate that little bitch.”

Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood takes place in an alt-history version of Japan inspired by Final Fantasy 7. The Japanese empire is strong because they have a machine that sucks energy from the Earth or something, and Tokugawa Yoshinobu still rules Japan even in the 1930s (he dies in 1913 at 76). The setup then becomes like X-Factor where a secret group of people with special powers are doing the bidding of the shogunate. The main lead, Sawa, can partially transform into a creature and uses a sword hiding in an umbrella. Another lady assassin has a lightsaber. Yet another lady assassin has an umbrella that shoots arrow and also turns into a whip. The show felt a bit too slow and overbearing with boring characters, especially Sawa. The animation is okay, but I wish they used the caligraphy look for the whole series instead of just a few scenes.

(Mitigating factor: I hope that Sawa has to recite a new poem whenever she kills someone. I think that can make this show a bit more enjoyable to watch.)


#20. Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (Koikimo)
Nomad

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“Did you think it came from Tuxedo Mask?”

Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It’s Disgusting to Call this Love) is a josei manga series turned anime about an old man harassing and stalking a high school girl, but it’s perfectly okay because it’s in Japan and he’s blonde with dreamy eyes. The series starts with the old man (probably in his early thirties because this is josei) banging hot ladies and complaining about getting too much sex. He then trips in a subway station on his way home from banging hot ladies and is saved from a three foot fall by a high school girl. The high school girl then gives him a bento leaves, which makes him fall in love with her. Then like rolling 3 copies of a featured SSR with one multi-pull, the old man meets up with his sister, and his sister is hanging out with the high school girl. He then immediately propositions the high school girl for sex. He then continuously tries to sleep with her, despite her constantly telling him “no,” in a way that makes Pepe Le Pew uncomfortable. As the episode goes on, the old man just comes off worse and worse. At the end, I’m hoping he gets hit by a car and gets isekai’ed as Peter Grill’s penis.

I have a few questions… one, are eggs sold in packs of ten in Japan? If I told someone in Japan that I wanted a dozen eggs, would they look at me as if I’m crazy or they would give me a ten pack? Two, does the old man have anything better to do than stalking a high school girl? How successful is he really if he still lives with his parents and spends all his time making Tuxedo Mask jokes at a girl who was born after Sailor Moon finished its original run? Three, why is the high school girl’s mom encouraging the old man to hit on her daughter? Four, why are the backgrounds for most of the show drab and plain but the scene where they are in a grocery store looks so much better?

(Fashion Czar: “Very creepy. The more real they make this show, the creepier it gets. How is he so awful?”)


#19. MARS RED
Signal.MD

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“The end of a play is the end of a dream?”

If I told you that there’s an anime about the Japanese army battling vampires in pre-WW2 Japan, would you guess it is (a) an original work (b) a manga (c) an eroge (d) a mobage. Surprisingly, MARS RED is a stage play being turned into an anime, a manga, and a mobage. They pacing is a bit too slow, and everything takes way too long to setup. The story itself is also strangely pretentious– a major plot element of this stage play turned anime involves a stage play, and it references classic literature a bit more than I would like. If someone wants to make a classy anime, that’s great, but this show also features a sexy vampire lady massacring Japanese soldiers. At least there’s no panty shots… yet.

This show is Signal.MD’s first major production since FLCL Progressive and Recovery of an MMO Junkie. Overall, the show looks good and tries hard to be cinematic with its extra widescreen ratio. Character designs are good when drawn, but the CG work is bad, especially when they mix CG backgrounds with drawn backgrounds. The vampire lady’s character animations are also much better than all the other characters’. The music doesn’t fit the show at all with a lot of overmixed tracks and some dub step. You know what I think of when I think of pre-WW2 Japan? Dub step.

(There’s a scene where this ultra-secret army unit has its soldiers running down Tokyo shouting military secrets to each other as normal citizens gawk at them.)

(Fashion Czar passed out from how bad the title card looked. How can you screw up a title card for a show with just 7 letters total in its name?)


#18. Tokyo Revengers
Liden Films

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“You changed the future by traveling to the past.”

Just when I thought redo anime was out of favor, Tokyo Revengers is here to fix the past. At least it isn’t a magic battle high school anime. The protag was an yankee in his youth and somehow his delinquency gets his first love killed in the future where he becomes a sad person living in a cesspool apartment filled with gravure magazines, trash, and cum socks. He magically goes into the past and has a chance to fix things.

Things I don’t like about this show:

  • The yankee accents on this show are getting on my nerves.
  • The MC Hammer parachute pants… in 2005… almost 14 years from U Can’t Touch This. Andohbytheway, Tokyo Revengers‘ 2005 is closer to U Can’t Touch This than we are today to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
  • Why doesn’t he just buy bitcoins and Apple stock when he travels back to 2005? Or go into sports gambling like Biff in Back to the Future?
  • I can’t tell the ages of any of the characters because of the character design. The little brother who becomes a detective looks like he’s older than the protag the future despite being a lot younger. The gang who beats up the protag’s gang looks like they are in their thirties or something.
  • A DVD rental shop is prominently featured. No, no in the 2005 past but in the 2017 present.

Things I like about this show:

  • The protag has brief nostalgia for flip phones before realizing how awful they were.
  • He travels back and forth through time by touching the dead girl’s little brother. What a weird mechanic to introduce into a redo anime.
  • He introduces his friend as “That guy who can’t keep his hands off of his dick.”


#17. Kyoukyoku Shinka shita Furu Daibu RPG ga Genjitsu yori mo Kusoge Dattara
Shin-Ei Animation

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“I let her honeypot me into buying this game.”

Well, we all know which shows wins the Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai: Puberty Syndrome Abnormal Experiences During Adolescence Due to Sensitivity and Instability Memorial Most Ridiculous Name award of this season: Kyoukyoku Shinka shita Furu Daibu RPG ga Genjitsu yori mo Kusoge Dattara (Full Dive / Full Dive: This Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier than Real Life!). At first, I was like, “Oh, great, yet another dumb SAO knock-off VRMMORPG anime where you put a helmet on and then lie on a bed.” And, yeah, that’s basically it. We get a two minute narration on the rise and fall and maybe rise again of the VRMMO industry. Fantasy VRMMORPGs is something that is popular in anime but not popular in real life like hiding porn under mattresses.

We then get a sequence of the loser male protagonist trying to find a game on release date for cheap. He has to go to physical stores and buy the game because apparently all VRMMORPGs are still disc-based. At this point, I’m just figuring out how to rip into another bad VRMMORPG show for thin slicing. But then he gets suckered by the hot lady with big breasts who works at a game story to buy a differnt VRMMORPG that might as well be Jumanji. He, a VRMMORPG afficiendado, has never heard about this game, and he just plays it. Doesn’t bother googling the name, looking for a Let’s Play, or see if anyone is streaming it on Twitch. He gets transported into a typical fantasy world, and his first quest involves picking apples. He doesn’t want to do that, becomes obstinate. and decides to get physical with an NPC and results in the NPC’s death. No big deal. Except it is, and he becomes the Best Friend Killer. We get a great heartbroken scene involving NPCs and some great faces.

Animation and production are surprisingly better than isekai average. The characters have good expressions, but the RPG setting is dull, and the backgrounds might as well be from the isekai fantasy stock background service.

(Things sure go fast: The first volume of this light novel came out 14 months before the anime. Did they start planning this anime before the light novel was even published?)

(Fashion Czar: “I’m already asleep,” after seeing the title card.)


#16. Yakunara Mug Cup
Nippon Animation

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“It wouldn’t be any fun if you could do it perfectly from the start.”

The protagonist of Yakunara Mug Cup (Let’s Make a Mug Too) moves from Tokyo to rural Tajimi and has a dead mom. Sakura is falling everywhere. Three spaces filled on first episode of an anime bingo. We’re just missing the pretentious quote and the “She’s the prettiest, smartest, most athletic student council president” line. The show then follows on her as she tries to be the best mug maker in Japan like her mom. I have two questions. One, is this show sponsored by Taijimi City in Gifu prefecture? It sure feels like a Sakura Quest-ish scheme to attract young people to move into their area. Two, how does pottery fuel a manga for ten years and 33 volumes. 33! Attack on Titan only went to 34.

Yakunara Mug Cup is a low calorie, slice-of-life, cute girls being friends kind of show, and it works in small doses. I’m not sure if I am interested enough in mug making to stick with the show, but it is competently produced and directed. I do like how the pottery scenes are drawn rather than CG.

(Fashion Czar: “Are they trying to become contestants on The Great Pottery Showdown”?)


#15. Shadows House
CloverWorks

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“Are you human?”

I have no clue what Shadows House is about nor why the title is “Shadows House” and not “Shadow House” or “Shadow’s House” or “Shadows’ House”. All I know is that there’s a train, a possible murder cult, a doll girl who is born from a coffin, and a family that is pitch dark and constantly generates soot that the dolls have to clean up. But the show’s tone is more of a low calorie, slice-of-life comedy. The doll is awoken, and then she prompty breaks a bunch of stuff in a clumsy meido montage. We go from murder cult to coffins to clumsy meido. Then she tries eat bread and… roll credits. I have no idea where this show goes or even what genre it is trying to be. It might be worth a few episodes to just find out what the heck do the soot people do all day.

(Is “Emilico” the Japanese way to make “Emily” seem more exotic? Kinda like “Aliciazation” is to “Alice”? Actually… no… still no idea what that means… though selling 26 million copies can buy Reki Kawahara a lot of cocaine.)

(Fashion Czar: “Someone should explain living to them first before making them work as servants.”)


#14. Farwell, My Dear Cramer
Liden Films

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“Why do people go crazy for a sport you can’t even use your hands in?”

Farewell, My Dear Cramer is like The Mighty Ducks if The Mighty Ducks were devoid of heart and Emileo Estevez. This show, which is named after a famous German soccer coach because maybe the mangaka was inspired by Grantland, is a competent girls sports anime, and it’s a girls sports anime where the focus isn’t on the moe aspects and presents the sport as an actual sport and not a moe vehicle. The animation is good, but the character designs are a bit wonky– one girl has just dots for her eyes and another has leaves for eyebrows.

The characters are a bit dull. There’s an ojou-sama. Yes, a girls soccer anime somehow noodles in the most basic ojou-sama trope. There’s the girl who is great but had bad teammates in middle school (pretty much Tobio Kageyama). There’s the star player on a star team in middle school (cue most Mitsuru Adachi protagonists). There’s the generational talent who thinks she should be playing with the boys and not the girls. She’s probably my favorite character so far because during the first game, while her team is struggling to keep up, she just stands there for twenty minutes. No one even wonders why the heck she isn’t moving. She then says, “There are good players on this team– but not as good as me,” and then starts playing and promptly scores.

(Gotta love Japanese club sports and how it’s perfectly normal to have a rice cooker on the bench with them. I have a lot of questions about this rice cooker. Why do we see rice cookers in sports anime, but we don’t see the characters eating rice? Do they eat just plain rice, or do they have other food that goes with the rice? “Excuse me coach, let me scarf down this oyakodon before returning for the second half.” Why rice and not food more optimized for athletic training like Twinkies and beer?)


#13. Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Love Comedy (Osamake)
Doga Kobo

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“It was upsetting that you didn’t pick me, but that doesn’t change my feelings for you.”

The first scene of Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Love Comedy (Osamake / A Romantic Comedy Where the Childhood Friend Absolutely Will Not Lose) features poorly animated CG students walking is not inspiring. We don’t even get a sweeping view of the town or pretty sakura pedals falling. It sets the pace for a barebones light novel romantic comedy that doesn’t have ecchi or personality. One of the two main haremettes is introduced by saying that she isn’t just a high school novelist, but she is also a gravure model. She’s smart, she’s athletic, she writes novels, and she has bikini posters. She might as well be a JAXA astronaut and a potion-making princess because why not at this point jam in a few more accolades?

The other featured haremette is the titular childhood friend and is boringly introduced as just the childhood friend. No novels, bikini posters, or space flights for her. The loser male protagonist is pretty much nobody, but he is in love with the novelist slash gravure model while the childhood friend is in love with him. Unfortunately, the gravure model slash novelist is dating the hot hunk of the high school, so the loser male lead and the childhood friend team up and get into antics except have sad teen sex (which is what would probably happen in reality).

(The loser male lead is a former child actor. Why does this backstory seem to popular recently? And does it actually go anywhere? Has the backstory of the protagonist being a former child actor made any contribution to the trainwreck that is Kami-sama ni Natta hi?)

(All the characters in this show are named after Fire Emblem characters. I don’t know how more dorky this show can be.)

(Fashion Czar: “So how hot is this boyfriend? Oh, the two guys have the same face. Just blonde hair.”)


#12. Sentouin, Hakenshimasu!Sentouin, Hakenshimasu!
JC Staff

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“Don’t call my uniform cosplay!”

Sentouin, Hakenshimasu! (Combatants Will Be Dispatched) is a dumb, crude, crass fantasy/comedy/fanservice isekai light novel turned anime about some poor dude getting isekai’ed into a fantasy world to steal its resources. This show feels like a 1988 anime in all aspects– the slapstick, the slapstick sex-crazed character, the bikini outfits, the art style, and the loli robot. The co-CEOs of this evil company that rules over future dystopic Earth wear bikini uniforms because why the hell not. The male lead is sex-crazed and makes every decision with his penis. Sentouin, Hakenshimasu! is never going to be prestige anime, but it satisfies the same dumb niche Chris Farley movies fills.

One thing about this show that I don’t understand is why are they so bad at teleporting the male lead but so good at teleporting everything else? He can send back requests for supplies by writing a piece of paper that gets sent back to earth, and the supply gets dropped on he almost immediately and precisely. Also, this fantasy world has org charts and seems less of a fantasy world but a parallel future Earth.

(I like how the demographic for this show on Wikipedia is just “male.” Not shonen, not seinen… just “male.”)

(Godzilla vs. Kong is such a horrible movie with such bad science that made it hard to enjoy the Godzilla vs. Kong fights. The scene where the drone scans a rock and then uploads it from the middle of the Earth to Hong Kong pretty much broke any immersion in the movie. How do you get 5G coverage to download anything from 10,000 miles under the surface? How do you supply unlimited power to Mechagodzilla by just scanning a rock? You know how scientists duplicate rocks? They do 3D scans of them and presto we can remake the rock, right? And then there’s the scene of bypassing the computer security by spilling hard liquor on the computer… not even Independence Day would stoop to that level of bad science.)


#11. Mashiro no Oto
Shin-Ei Animation

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“BABY-CHAN! MAMA IS HERE TO PICK YOU UP!”

I didn’t expect Mashiro no Oto (Those Snow White Notes) to start with a shamisen solo followed by gramps dying followed by the grandson being rescued from thugs by an ass-kicking hostess. On this deathbed, the grandpa tells the main character, Setsu, to give up on music. Uh, thanks? Alone in Tokyo, he sends notes and postcards to his parents. Apparently, neither him nor his parents use phones or texts or anything not involving stamps. It is weird that, at one point, a background character is yelling about smartphones but no one in the show uses one. Because none of the featured cast have smartphones, there is a a convoluted way to get Setsu playing his shamisen to go viral on Instagram Live. (Carole & Tuesday already did this two years ago.) That sequence felt odd to me because the manga originally came out in 2009 where I’m pretty sure there was no Instagram Live so this story must have been updated for 2021, which I’m all for, except for the part where the cast does not seem to know what a smartphone is.

(Manga is 27 volumes long and has been running for over a decade. It came out around the iPhone 4. I remember being in Japan and Taiwan around that time, and I had an iPhone 4, which wasn’t widely available in either of those countries back then. There was still a large stubborn attachment to flip phones. The next time I went to Japan with my iPhone 6, almost everyone was playing Puzzle and Dragons or Monster Strike on their iPhones on the Yamamote line.)

(The number of anime that have a character move into a new home in the first episode must be over 15,532 by now. Setsu only moves into a new home in the first episode but also moves out of it.)


#10. Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
Wit Studio

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“AIs and humans. Let us build a future where we can both evolve.”

Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song is one of Wit Studio’s two original productions (the other is the excellent The Great Pretender) that probably caused it to bow out of making the final season of Attack on Titan. Vivy is part Halo, part Terminator, and all anime. Vivy‘s base story is of AI rampancy that dooms the human race in the future. The montage of various machines killing humans made me laugh because it was so dumb. To save humanity, the future sends a machine that is basically Guilty Spark back in time to prevent this future from happening. Of course, with AI going crazy everywhere, it’s a good idea to send an AI back in time because it surely can be trusted with such an important task. It’s like every Terminator movie. The anime part comes in where the AI finds an idol AI and tasks the idol AI with saving humanity because surely there’s no better way to save humanity from rampant AI than with an idol AI. What plays out is Powers of X/House of X where every action Moira takes to stop the Nimrods and Sentinals from defeating the mutants doesn’t necessary lead to the future that Moira wants.

Vivy‘s plot points all seem familiar but can develop into something interesting, and Wit’s production and animation are excellent. However, the show is hampered by how uninteresting Vivy is. She feels like a doll character like Ikaros from Sora no Otoshimono except there’s no Tomoki to balance it out. Her Guilty Spark, Matsumodo, is a budget Kyubey and hardly a proper foil. I guess my favorite part of the show is how humans in the future eat edible clouds that they squeeze from toothpaste tubes. That’s a fun dystopia to look forward to.

(The two writers of this show? Eiji Umehara, who write parts of Halo Legends, and Tappei Nagatsuki, who writes Re:Zero. So, yeah, AI rampancy and attempts to fix the future that don’t necessary go correctly. I’m surprised Jonathan Hickman isn’t involved in this show.)


#9. Suraimu Taoshite Sanbyaku-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Reberu Makkusu ni Nattemashita
Revoroot

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“Female. Single. Corporate slave. I see. I literally lived and died for my career.”

Suraimu Taoshite Sanbyaku-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Reberu Makkusu ni Nattemashita (I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level) is yet another isekai where the poor Japanese person dies of overwork. How socially taboo is discussing dying from disease in Japanese society if their two main causes of death in fantasy literature are overwork and traffic accidents. Dying from disease is so taboo, we can’t have that in our isekai manga about killing slimes. Where is the isekai about someone dying from a global pandemic or suicide because they were left holding the bag on GME or just plain blowing up in a fireworks factory? We need the grimdark isekai where someone gets diagnosed with smallpox then loses all their bitcoins in a smallpox cure scam and then jumps into a burning fireworks factory.

So after our lady prokai, Azusa, dies from overwork, she is transported into another world and, yep, she’s making potions. Can we get a lady prokai who isn’t into making potions? She should be like, “Fuck your herbs. I died while writing a paper on using mRNA for vaccines.” And, yep, there’s an iPad analogue in this fantasy world that shows her RPG stats and XP needed to level up. Can we somehow work this mechanic into Lord of the Rings? Maybe have Grimli put his hand on Gandalf’s iPad to reveal that he’s level 98 but then Legolas gets scanned after him to reveal that’s he’s level 15,532. And, yep, it’s another fantasy world with our calendar system with twelve months and 365 days a year. What is the point of a fantasy world if it is constructed so lazily? And, yep, Azusa is super-powerful because isekai power fantasy reasons. Her cheat code? She just fought 25 slimes a day for 300 years. She can beat anyone with one punch now.

Animation and pacing is okay, but the story is pure vanilla overpowered isekai fantasy nonsense. I’m only ranking it here because Asuza and her dragon meido reminds me a bit of Saitama and Genos.

(Fashion Czar: “I never like it when the main character has a conversation with the god person. I rather they are just mysteriously reborn.”)

(This show is Revoroot’s third anime. First two being FLCL Alternative and Babylon. I feel like FLCL Alternative came and went like the Will and Grace continuation. Yeah, it existed, but no one is going to throw a viewing party for it.)


#8. Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou Desu
Diomedéa

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“It’s better than sitting around bored.”

Do you like ladies getting transported into another world and then finding purpose mixing herbs into potions? Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou Desu (The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent) might just be for you. Oh, much like many lady isekai setups, this one also features two girls from Tokyo getting teleported to a fantasy world. The hot one gets mistaken as the savior and hero while the more mousy main character (who is secretly even hotter but she wears glasses and fantasy world princes hate glasses) is the unwanted bonus summon. This setup is actually fine for our lady prokai who just focuses on her potion-making.

Our protagonist, thankfully, doesn’t get hit by a car or die of overwork. She merely comes home, opens the door, and finds herself in the world of Salutania. Luckily for her, the fantasy world of Salutania’s primary spoken language is Japanese, and their primary writing method is a mix of kanji, hirogana, and katakana (no hentaigana?)… which makes it really easy for the head priest to give her and us and info dump of what is going on at the same time. At least none of the hot male knights have English code names like “Merlin” or “Undertaker.”

My list of questions:

  • Is this nation run by hot 25 year old men?
  • If magic is rare and hard, why does it take like five minutes to teach someone how to use magic?
  • If there’s any place that I would expect to be capable of making high-grade potions, wouldn’t it be the Royal Institute of Potion Making?
  • Why are injured soldiers just dumped into the foyer of the palace? They don’t have hospitals or rooms for them?


#7. To Your Eternity
Brain’s Base

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“Boku no namae wa~”

To Your Eternity is solid, and I hope everyone gives it a whirl. It is a prestige anime with good production, Utada Hikaru, and a story from the mangaka of A Silent Voice. I think the show can be a little slow, and it reminds me of Seirei no Moribito. From what I remember of the manga, there are a lot of bitter and bittersweet moments and probably not something I need to experience again during a pandemic so the show can wait a bit.

(Is this show Utada Hikaru’s first anime TV series?)

(The narrator, voiced by Kenjiro Tsuda, uses the same voice and tone he uses for Jujutsu Kaisen‘s Nanami Kento so everytime he speaks, I just picture him furrowing his brow at Satoru Gojo.)


#6. Bishounen Tanteidan
Shaft

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“Be pretty. Be a boy. Be a detective.”

I knew nothing about Bishounen Tanteidan (Pretty Boy Detective Club), but once I saw this scene two minutes into the anime, I wrote “Shaft x Nisio Isin” in my notebook. Yep. It’s another Shaft x Nisio Ishin collab with 11 volumes of this series being released in just 4 years. Think that’s prolific? During that span of 4 years, he also wrote 7 Monogatari light novels… 1 Mazemonogatari light novel, 1 Juuni Taisen light novel, 3 Zaregoto light novels, 4 Densetsu light novels, and 7 Forgetful Detective light novels. That’s 32 light novels between October 2015 and December 2019 with 18 of them involving detectives.

(Meanwhile, Reki “The Slacker” Kawahara only wrote 6 Accel World, 7 Sword Art Online, 3 Sword Art Online: Progressive, 6 Sword Art Online: Gun Gale Online, and 3 Sword Art Online: Clover’s Regret light novels. That’s only 25 light novels.)

Anyway, Bishounen Tanteidan is exactly what you think it is. There are a lot of metaphoric imagery, a lot of dialogue that would probably be more clever if I were a native Japanese speaker, periods of boring character posturing, and characters with one wacky trait each. This show is probably Shaft’s strongest offering since March Comes In like a Lion… uh… 5 years ago. Animation and direction are strong, and the BGM is the best of the season. The music has good variety and sets the mood well. Bravo, Shinbo, bravo. Doens’t make up for Fate/Last Encore though. Nothing will.

My notes:

  • What if Nisio Isin and Shinbo decided to remake Ouran Host Club?
  • The detective club has a similar overhead light as the one in my laundry room. I might have hit that light a few times with the laundry basket over the years.
  • Not only is the lead detective a business man, he’s also an artist, detective, and wears booty shorts. He also probably shaves his legs. But he’s still no gravure model slash novelist.
  • What parents consider being an astronaut as “playing”? It takes a lot of dedication, math, science, and physical prowess to become an astronaut. There’s even a whole 39+ volume manga series about someone trying to become an astronaut.
  • “Mr. Sexy Bare Legs” is now the best anime name of the season. Sorry Anna Oldman.
  • What middle school boy has a helicopter flying license? Japan’s aviation safety standards have really taken a nosedive since they let those high school prodigies fly around a nuclear reactor.
  • What if Nisio Isin and Shinbo decided to make an anime version of Queer Eye?

(Spoilers: Nisio Ishin should read this Wikipedia entry.)


#5. Super Cub
Studio Kai

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“I wonder how far my Cub will take me.”

Super Cub is Studio Kai’s second anime, right behind horse girls season 2. The studio is owned by Asatsu-DK, which is a holding company that also owns Gonzo. Asatsu-DK is owned by Bain Capitol. Yes, Mitt Romney’s former company. Somehow we have connected Mitt Romney to a sad girl riding a motorcycle (and also to horse girls). Super Cub feels like an alternate timeline for Yuru Camp where Rin doesn’t have her awesome and supportive family. Koguma, who doesn’t even have a last name and is the lead for Super Cub, is a sad girl. She has no family, no parents, no money, and no hopes for the future. The opening scene of her getting ready for school by pouring barley tea into a thermos, packing some white rice into a bento container, and then grabbing sad instant packaged furikake is quite gloomy. It makes me want to cook some pasta and bring it to her.

Everything to this show has a subtle sadness to it. The color palate is under-saturated. She rides uphill both ways to her school and is exhausted each trip, so she decides to buy a motorbike. She sadly looks at buying a motorcycle with what little money she has. The old man who owns the motorcycle shop seems to have pity on her and offers her a Honda Super Cub at a really low price. Why? No, not because she’s sad. But because three people died on it. Not one. Not two. Three. She doesn’t ask any questions and buys the bike because she doesn’t have any choice.

Then the show transforms. When he is on her bike, the colors start saturating. We go from Sad Yuru Camp to Yuru Camp in terms of pretty scenery and backgrounds. You can feel Koguma’s happiness and confidence on her bike. (And you the not-so-subtle advertising for Honda Super Cubs.) With Yuru Camp on break until its movie, I find Super Cub actually does a good job at filling in that niche for a pretty, low calorie, feel good anime starring Mt. Fuji.

(Both Super Cub and Yuru Camp take place in Yamanashi prefecture, though I think they are on opposites sides of Mt. Fuji with this show based in Hokuto.)

(I am surprised there isn’t a mobage about collecting Honda Super Cubs.)


#4. 86
A-1 Pictures

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“FUCKING GLORY TO THE SPEARHEAD SQUADRON!”

Once again, we have an alternate world yet they still use our calendar. Nothing quite breaks the immersion than seeing “May 13th.” What else takes me out of the fantasy immersion? Despite speaking Japanese, the characters of 86 use English for code names. Like is English in this world supposed to be English or a stand-in for an non-native language? Imagine if Aragorn called Frodo his “nakama.”

86 is kind of a hard anime to watch. On the production side, the spider tank vs. spider tank CG battles are a mess to follow and poorly directed. They are just basically four minute long sequences where tanks go fast and pew pew and the viewer can go use the bathroom or make some pour over coffee. The rest of the show wants us to sympathize with people in a nation that dehumanizes a minority group such that they can have an expendable army with to fight wars. 86 employs the totalitarian textbook on minority persecution. They don’t treat the minorities as humans. They give them terms and pronouns for livestock. They force them to live in squalid concentration camps. They strip them of their heritage. They use them as fodder. They are separated out from the majority because they don’t have the genetically homogeneous blue hair and eyes that the majority has. If 86 goes, “Ah ha! We were the racist assholes all along! We deserve to get our asses kicked,” then okay sure. But I’m not convinced we’re going there because anime usually handles race as well as they handle class conflicts.

This show also has some major tonal whiplash. It goes from “Let’s hide a horrible military secret from the people” to “Let’s enjoy some cream puffs” to “My old unit got annihilated” in three minutes without batting an eye. There is some serious Code Geass potential, but, sadly, A-1 seems like too vanilla a studio to put in a table humping scene.

(At least the Abh in Banner/Crest of the Stars are all genetically created to survive long spaceflight so they uplift the children of any world they assimilate, even if they weren’t Abh, into Abh.)

(Probably my favorite line of this season is, “Ethically responsible drones.” What does this line even mean? Which school of moral philosophy approves “ethically responsible drones”? Is there a chapter about ethically responsible drones in Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason that I missed?)


#3. Hige o Soru, Soshite Joshikousei o Hirou
Project No. 9

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“Aren’t F-cups you can touch better than the H-cups you can’t?”

I didn’t really like Hige o Soru, Soshite Joshikousei o Hirou (Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway) while I was watching it, but, after a while, it sat in my head, and FINE OKAY, YOU WIN, HIGEHIRO. It is a show that I want to know what happens in the end. Normally most harem shows have a predictable end girl (maybe not 5Toubun where Fuutarou picks the sixth quintuplet), but here everyone is in the running except poor Yuzuha.

The premise is that a sad sack 26 year old salaryman has a crush on his female boss (for five years), gets turned down by her, and he finds a runaway highschool girl on his way home from getting rejected. At this point, I had so many questions. One, he asks his boss out by propositioning her, “Would you like to come back to my place,” which seems like a leap of faith for the situation. Also, it’s revealed that his apartment is an incredible mess full of empty bento boxes and discarded cigarettes. Is his plan to bring her over and then go, “Hey, at least I don’t have cum socks in here like the main character of Tokyo Revengers“? Second, the cigarette brand is the name of the animation studio. I’m not sure if that’s a good luck. Who thought this branding was a good idea? Third, why does the main character wink so much? Four, wouldn’t the police be involved in looking for a runaway high school girl?

At this point, we find out that the runaway girl has been selling her body to get by, and he decides to take her in and not have sex with her. Instead, he kind of treats her like a normal person which throws her off guard, and the two basically re-enact the first episode of Toikaku Kawaii with platonic love instead of anime newlywed love (which is basically platonic love with hand-holding). His boss rejecting him would be the truck that hit Nasa-kun, of course.

And now I’m on volume three of the light novel before I’m even done writing thin slicing. What can I say– I like dumb harem comedies (not you Nisekoi). I thought 5Toubun was originally silly and didn’t rank it as high as I should, and it ended up being my favorite harem anime since Amagami SS so go figure.

(Fashion Czar: “What. A. Slob.”)


#2. Odd Taxi
OLM, Inc.

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“You’re not afraid to hate on stuff, aren’t you?”

Why is Odd Taxi about furries? I don’t know. Why is there a storyline about a runaway girl hiding with an older man in more than one show this season? I don’t know. Why does the main character walrus sound like someone who spends too much time on Reddit? I don’t know. Why does this show make the walrus seem like he’s in his late 30s or early 40s but considers Bruce Springsting and Stevie Wonder the music of his generation? I don’t know. That last question bugs me. For an anime that makes fun of the generational gap, it sure doesn’t know its generational gap. Walrus should be talking about how Springsting sang One Headlight over Jacob Dylan in the 1997 MTV Music Awards and subsequently destroyed Jacob’s fledgling career. People in their late 30s early 40s watched TRL, spent days downloading anime from XDCC servers, and remember waiting in line for hours to see The Phantom Menace… and thought that Springsting was old.

The thing is, though, Odd Taxi manages to weaves multiple storylines and makes fairly mundane things interesting. It feels like the start of Game of Thrones where all the characters make the worst possible decision, but they are compelled to do those choices because of who they are (like Ned being too honest). The writing is solid for this show despite its less than successful attempts to drop Western music artists into its conversations. Pacing is excellent, and the story beats are strung out just long enough to move the story forward but not long enough to wear out its welcome before switching focus.

(The proportions on the giraffes bother me. Their necks are not long enough.)


#1. SSSS.Dynazenon
Trigger

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“There’s three things to keep with other people… promises… love… and… uh…”

Let’s be real. The popularity of SSSS.Gridman wasn’t fueled by its interesting take on a nostalgic tokusatsu series, it’s fantastic direction and animation, or even it’s lol-it-was-aliens-all-along classic Trigger ending. Nope. It was Rikka’s and Akane’s thighs. Can SSSS.Dynazenon replicate the success of Gridman with Yume’s thighs and Chise’s DFC?

Seriously, Dynazenon is another fascinating attempt by Trigger to give a modern take to the Gridman universe aided by their great animation and direction. It is almost an inverse of Gridman in where Gridman was a slower burn with cards slowly dealt and revealed, Dynazenon opens with the nitrous oxide burning. It starts with all the cards in play and face-up. There’s kaiju. There’s this giant transforming robot. There’s a town under siege. None of the characters (or even the town) bat an eye to this setup. Surprisingly, most of the Dynazenon team get on-board quickly with piloting giant robots. Yume, who is a girl known for standing up dates and seems like a moody girl who needs to go winter camping, is the first to start training seriously. There are still mysteries in the world like why Gauma is here and why are the kaiju here and why people aren’t bothered too much about this whole town destruction thing, but the show fast-forwards through things that we have already experienced in Gridman. I’m enjoying the show and hope it doesn’t end with lol-it-was-aliens-all-along again.

(Gauma looks like he has been up all night doing cocaine off of Pikachu’s belly.)

(Yomogi has bad posture and gets bullied. “Who bullies in high school?” he wonders. Totally never saw A Silent Voice or Iijranaide, Nagatoro-san I guess. It would be cool if anime referenced other anime other than Sailor Moon and Doraemon.)

(Koyomi is anime’s first good take on a modern NEET: He just lays in bed with his laptops watching YouTube and eating potato chips.)

(Apparently, Dynazenon doesn’t block cell signals as the team can use their phones to call each while piloting. It does bother me a little that they’re not using hands-free headsets.)


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See you next season.

(I’m up to volume 12 of this isekai fantasy light novel about crop rotation, and nothing happens past volume 5 except he seems to add more harem members with each future volume.)

2 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, spring 2021 edition”

  1. Jason, thank you for all your effort to put out one of these takes on yet another anime season. It really is a highlight of my day to read one of these!
    That said, it’s Bruce SpringSTEEN. Sting was the singer/bassist for the Police.
    At the risk of being called a shill for Big Scooter, I think Super Cub is my personal #1.

  2. It was funny that you were talking about how these fantasy worlds using the standard calendar system is lazy and it made me think, “Huh, sounds like the Realist Hero anime upcoming might be up your speed then.”

    So of course you end with a screenshot from the anime and reveal you’ve read up to 12 volumes of the LN. (I somehow read 11 print volumes in basically two weeks.) I admit it, I was crying laughing.

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