Posted on 15 October 2019 with categories: About

Mario: If you ever wonder what is the current state of anime right now, well look no further than this final season of the 2010s as the Anime Goddess has offered us … half a dozen isekai shows. To be fair though, I have a feeling we’re reaching the post-isekai era where these shows appear to poke fun at the genre’s usual tropes (whether they’re actually funny is another topic). I also regard this season as a late bloomer, given how all these good shows aired at the tail end of our impressions (with several sequels still to come). Nevertheless, we’ve got our traditional First Episode Awards right down below, along with the blogging schedule for this Fall. With Armitage taking a seasonal hiatus and Aidan briefly coming back for more battles in space, this season we writers also aim to make a weekly summary where we can chime in on shows that aren’t receiving regular coverage. Enjoy the last breeze of the decade, folks.

 

FALL 2019 BLOGGING SCHEDULE

Aidan: Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Seiran film trilogy (episodic releases)

Mario: Beastars

Lenlo: Vinland Saga (carry-over) – Dr. STONE (carry-over) – Throwback Thursday

Wooper: Chihayafuru 3Hoshiai no Sora

Helghast: Psycho-Pass 3

Amun: Fire Force (carry-over) – My Hero Academia 4

Armitage: on hiatus

 

FIRST EPISODE AWARDS

Best First Episode
(The Death Note Award)

BEASTARS

Likely Spent All Their Efforts on the First Episode
(The Kyoukai No Kanata Award)

KABUKICHOU SHERLOCK

Best Animation
(The Samurai Champloo Award)

BEASTARS


Season Sleeper
(The Gargantia Award)

HOSHIAI NO SORA

Worst First Episode
(The Bleach Award)

ORE WO SUKI NANO WA…

Exceeded Expectations
(The Hyouka Award)

MAIRIMASHITA! IRUMA-KUN


Most Disappointing First Episode
(The Berserk Award)

SPECIAL 7

Best Sequel/Continuation
(The Natsume Book of Friends Award)

MY HERO ACADEMIA 4

Best Background Art
(Made in Abyss Award)

HOSHIAI NO SORA

Posted on 14 October 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fire Force

Welcome back to Beni town!  After a two week break, Fire Force has awkwardly picked back up with its penultimate episode (for the first cour).  Missed Shinra and the gang?  Unfortunately, there’s some Catgirl this week, but aside from that, we have another solid effort all around.  Let’s get into it!
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Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Shin Chuuka Ichiban!

Short Synopsis: A young master chef helps a struggling chicken breeder by winning a cooking contest using her birds.

Wooper’s review:

I’ve seen precisely one episode of the original Chuuka Ichiban, which was overly theatrical and not particularly well-produced if memory serves. This one fares much better, as it’s got Production IG money behind it and a veteran director (Itsurou Kawasaki) at the helm. I’m usually a sucker for the sort of white-trimmed characters that Shin Chuuka uses, but in this case I don’t feel like that extra design element contributes much to the series’ aesthetic. What does help its case is the above-average animation and the judges’ ridiculous responses to everything they eat. You get a sense from this episode that cooking means everything in 19th century China (ironically, this is conveyed via the 21st century technique of constantly overreacting to stuff). The art and the series’ sense of fun are great, but where the show stumbles is in its painfully simple story. Mao and friends happen upon a new village, meet a misfortunate character, and help put her life back on track with the power of food preparation. I’m sure the series has a larger plot in mind, but I can’t wholeheartedly endorse this sequel when its first script is such a boilerplate effort.

Potential: 50%

Mario’s review:

You can sense that the source material of this show comes from the 90s based on the character designs and the episodic content alone, and that for me works for its benefits. It certainly revokes many of the charms from that era: from the sidekicks’ dynamic to the feel-good nature it has. Add to that this show is about cooking and there’s clearly a love put on making the food. Maybe it’s just me who watched the episode with an empty stomach but the food displayed in the episode look so delicious. The art and animation remind us to its era, but overall it’s still lacking. The story seems to jump in the middle of an ongoing story, but points to the show of making this episode accessible to new viewers without the usual pitfall of overexplaning its world and characters other anime usually fall into. Admittedly the resolve is stupid (“this is steam rice but it tastes like chicken oh boy give me a goddamn break”) and its over-the-top reactions from the judges can be grating at times, but overall it delivers the charms and appeals successfully in this first try.

Potential: 30%

 

My Hero Academia Season 4

Short Synopsis: In a world of superpowers, one normal boy is given a chance to be the hero he always dreamed of.

Amun’s review:

Why are people calling this a recap episode?  I would say this was a filler episode at worst – I actually love when shows flesh out their world by looking at situations from different perspectives.  “Recap” implies no new ground was covered – while MHA usually covers more ground per episode, there was definitely progress here (see – All Might’s Former Agency Partner, Mr. Combover).  So what if they reused a few scenes? Half of each Bleach episode was footage from the previous 2 episodes, and they didn’t call those recaps. There was more than enough original footage to stand on its own.  This episode was like a small acoustic ballad from a heavy metal band – it may have been different from normal, but it was pure class all the same. I think it’s also critical to build up the impact of All Might’s retirement – this is a global event that shouldn’t be glossed over just to get to the next villain; personalizing it helps the viewers really appreciate how the world’s changed.  I applaud MHA for taking their time and doing this right. And I’ll take slice of Hero life to get me nice and hyped up for the new season any day. Plus ULTRA!!

Potential: 100000000000% 

Lenlo’s review:

Well, it’s really hard to rate a first episode, when the first episode is a recap episode. That said, as far as recaps go, it wasn’t bad. MHA tried to do something new by framing the whole thing from a reporter’s perspective. Even attempting to paint him in a more sinister light at the start. It was a… more organic way to do a recap than I was expecting. And even gave us a peek into the world outside of UA and how they view All Might. Helping to flesh out the world. It’s what anime only filler/recap content should be. All that said though, a recap is a recap, and I can’t really judge the season off old footage and a bunch of stills. So if you really want to know how MHA will do, wait until next week. As this one isn’t for old fans who already know what they are getting into.

Potential: ???

 

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

Short Synopsis: After ending the tyranny of the Administrator, Kirito must overcome his trauma to save the world. Both virtual and real.

Lenlo’s review:

So let me be very clear as I start this, I hated the first season of Alice. Probably my least favorite season of SAO yet, with how it handles its entire second half. So I went into this with the lowest expectations imaginable. When I say I couldn’t care less about this episode, please take that as nothing less than a compliment for the series. As it didn’t outright offend me. Just like last season, the opening arc actually appears like it won’t be that bad, maybe even good.  As with Kirito being a vegetable, the focus won’t be on him ruining the plot every 5 minutes. It’s probably the best decision it could have made. And Alice’s focus isn’t that bad either. Bringing the fight to her and all that. I find the weakening of her character strength wise to be a bit pointless though, as we all know it doesn’t actually mean anything. I would rather they just establish the bad guys as being that much stronger. Still, the episode wasn’t bad. But I just have this niggling doubt inside me. A doubt that says somehow, some way, SAO Alice will screw this up. 

Potential: 45%

 

Rifle is Beautiful

Short Synopsis: A girl gathers up other girls to save the rifle club from being disbanded.

Lenlo’s review:

Holy crap did Rifle burn through content. When I saw the club wasn’t formed, I thought for sure the season would be about them gathering members and coming together but screw that, lets find them all in 3 minutes flat. Almost gave me whiplash. As for the actual show itself, eh. Like Mario says its a CGDCT show, though while he probably likes it the most out of us, I probably like the genre the least. As a Texan, I was really hoping we would get some actual focus on the guns and the sports aspect of the club but that seems to be in vein. Some of it is there, but this is a CGDCT show first and foremost, and thats sad for me. I also don’t see how Mario failed to notice the CGI, because I saw it the moment it happened, when everyone turned stiff as a board. Now, I could rag on it all day, but I suppose it boils down to this: If you like CGDCT, you will probably find something of value here. The girls are the focus, its not a sports show, yadda yadda. If you want something meaningful out of a piece though? Something more than feel good times with highschoolers? I say its not worth your time. 

Potential: 10% 

Mario’s review:

The moral of this story: for cute girls even guns and rifles are indeed beautiful. Well, this is your typical CGDCT show (a rarity that it’s the only Cute girl show this season). I’m confident to say that I am the most into Cute girls show out of all writers, so trust me when I say that I can see it winning some hardcore fans of the genre. First, the character designs are cute and these girls have some significant traits (like… red hair for half-Russian because Russians have the most beautiful red hair ahh you know I’m just kidding). And literally they all have moments to shine in this episode. Second, it’s not much about the sports but more about them hanging out together so the chemistry between them is important, and as far as it goes the show already establishes some nice chemistry between them in which they bounce off each other quite well. Lastly, the production design is on a better side. There’s some CG mixes in couple scenes but I myself didn’t notice until someone pointed out to me. Overall, this show won’t win any awards but it serves as a good breather in between bigger hits this season.

Potential: 30%

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Vinland Saga

This is a big week for Vinland. One of the best episodes, not just of the season, but the year for me. So many things just came together to really nail it. As this week Askeladd makes us question who we are rooting for, and really throws the brutality of war in our face. Let’s just get right into it though.

Right off the bat, I think this episode looked fantastic. Wit really nailed the snow effects. Especially the wind blowing off the hills, flakes of snow scattering in the air. The lighting of the torches in the dark night, all of it really helped to fully realize and base the world. Which was very important for the actual contents of the episode. Vinland Saga also really upped the detail throughout the episode. Such as on the axes, characters faces or their hands. Really trying to ground it and push how real the characters are. I think Wit succeeds here, dialing in on the life of a peasant and focusing on them more than our leads. So that by the inevitable end of the episode, you are more connected and care more about them than our villainous leads. And boy, are our leads the villains this episode.

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Posted on 13 October 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Beastars

Short Synopsis: A wolf and a rabbit, both loners at a boarding school for animals, must navigate the social tensions between predators and prey.

Lenlo’s review:

So I gotta say, this was a much better opening episode than I was expecting. As a manga Beastars was very slow to start. So this upped pacing, 4 chapters in a single episode, was really unexpected. Part of me feels they did it just to get to that memorable first episode ending. But I think it helped get me more engaged quicker. Still, you know my thoughts on the story and where it goes. What I really wanna talk about is how Orange nailed the visuals. Seriously, Beastars is the best animated/styled series I have seen so far. The CGI models look great, blended with just enough traditional animation techniques that they fit in with the 2D also on screen. I also love the presentation style, such as the projector at the start (anime only) or the blue lines in darkness so we can still see, without crappy dark lighting. It’s just fabulous to look at. Also the music, my god the music. Violins, Jazz, whatever that OP that plays at the end of the episode is. Mmm, Beastars has style and I think I am going to enjoy watching it. Because if nothing else, I think Orange can take a story I wasn’t big on and make it interesting.

Potential: 90%

Mario’s review:

I have high expectations for Beastars, considered how Houseki no Kuni wowed me in every possible way. So far, this premiere manages to meet that. The worldbuilding is a highlight for me. While many has issues with its self-contained world, personally I dig this settings where anthropomorphic characters must control their own animal instinct. The concept itself is an interesting one and has plenty of room for develop into something unique. It helps that the main characters have strong personalities, especially the Rabbit girl. I credit her success on the voice performance that hints on both the anger and the tiredness of everyone else perceive her. Our main boy is more simple, but the last bit certainly raises a lot of ambiguity in his character. Orange really raises the bar here in terms of production as this first episode is brimming with many stunning shots, great background arts and and grandeur score. So far, I enjoy almost everything about Beastars: a unique self-contained world, interesting characters and visual audio that I can never get tired of. It has my highest approval.

Potential: 80%

 

Hoshiai no Sora

Short Synopsis: Two troubled teens look to their school’s soft tennis club to address the problems in their lives.

Mario’s review:

At long last, Kazuki Akane is back with an original project. Though at first it appears like you standard sports anime with all the club disband stuff, it quickly rises above the normal traps of the genre through the main characters and the chemistry between the cast. First, we have 2 main boys worth spending time for, each of them have their clear goals, their well-established personality, and most importantly there’s hints of dark familial tension between them and their families. I thought the moment the mother of one boy talk about how she’s scared of eating dinner together with him a bit excessive. Heck, the entire epilogue is excessive as well but they’re thematically consistent and further reveals more and more about our characters. Moreover, the cast so far has a relaxed chemistry with natural dialogues that really feel like they spend a great deal of time together. Then the chemistry between our two mains, and what the money can buy, is an interesting angle to develop. It also helps that the production is great so far with expressive animation and the soft art styles that reminds me a bit of Wandering Son. The last minutes of this episode suggests that this is more a character drama than a sport show and for me it’s all for the better. 

Potential: 60%

Wooper’s review:

Hoshiai no Sora doesn’t have the immediate brilliance that I was hoping for, but it’s promising enough to keep my excitement afloat. Not only are the characters intriguing, but I got big Tsuritama vibes from their designs, and sure enough, it’s Yuuichi Takahashi behind the look of both shows. Add to this some strong animation during both athletic and dialogue scenes, and you have a winning recipe. My biggest gripe with this episode was the script, which committed two faults. The first was the overwritten nature of the first ten minutes, which took pains to introduce every tennis club member and feed us a unique fact about each one. The natural cadence of their speech wasn’t enough to distract from its mechanical authorship. My second problem was the brief exchange between Toma’s brother and mother near the end, which planted an enormous seed of doubt regarding Toma’s character. This scene was unnecessary – there are enough glimpses of his obsessive personality without it. By the time I’d watched the surprising final moments of the episode, though, I was hungry for the next one. Director Kazuki Akane sometimes misses the follow-through on his promising projects, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for now.

Potential: 70%

 

Kabukichou Sherlock

Short Synopsis: A trio of detectives compete to identify a Shinjuku-based serial killer known as Jack the Ripper.

Wooper’s review:

Kabukichou Sherlock’s premiere is a colorful procession of eyebrow-raising scenes that holds together only by the grace of anime god. I was expecting a swing and a miss, based on the six month delay this series suffered back in spring, but this project proved me wrong. I think the secret sauce here is the show’s commitment pushing its illustrated medium as far as it can go. There are musical cutaways, exaggerated character reactions, amateur rakugo performances that seem to take place on another plane, and some of the most elegant use of on-screen text I’ve seen in anime. The jazzy soundtrack is mostly a success (there’s just one Hammond organ track near the start that didn’t work for me), and the character art is sharp and varied. There’s a new guy or girl on screen at least once every three minutes, and they’re all nuts. Remember how Baccano made its name by crossing the paths of a bunch of murderous gangsters? This incarnation of Sherlock does something similar, only its personalities are less violent and even more eccentric. The title character smells a cabaret hostess’ armpit to deduce how she’s paying off her nose job – that’s the level of strangeness the show operates on. If I have one criticism, it’s that the background art is occasionally flat, which is a problem that extends to both indoor and outdoor scenes. Apart from that, Kabukichou Sherlock is a rip-roaring good time.

Potential: 80%

Amun’s review:

I’m…not 100% sure what I just watched.  One thing I do know – and like – is that we have a distinctly Japanese Sherlock.  Most other adaptations of the famous detective duo have been the Western version culturally translated halfway – Kabukichou Sherlock takes it all the way (as to be expected from the name).  The bearded lady shtick feels a bit anachronistic in 2019, but we’ll let that slide. Very bright colours, nice soundtrack, and a good supporting cast all bode well. Straight man Watson also looks on point (I’m curious how they’ll do his military connection).  Kabukichou Sherlock might not fit the mould of shows I usually watch – but I’m along for the ride any way!

Potential: 90%

Mario’s review:

Just chime in to say that don’t listen to these toucans above because this show is a hot mess. Random rakugo and drag dance performances, half-baked case and plain Sherlock & Watson. Go watch isekai shows instead. 

Potential: NOOO

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Mugen no Juunin: Immortal

Short Synopsis: A young woman seeking revenge for the murder of her family hires an immortal swordsman as a bodyguard.

Lenlo’s review:

Blade of the Immortal is an odd one. From the beginning, you can see how limited the budget/time for the series is. As it has to be one of those two, since Immortal won’t be winning any animation awards any time soon. What it lacks in animation though, the series has in style/direction. As the series is very interesting to look at most of the time with how it composes its shots. Even throwing in some mixed media charcoal animation in there to help recreate the rough look of the manga. Still, while I find it visually interesting… the pacing concerns me. Its advertised as a “complete” adaptation, and I always thought that was ridiculous. But it’s burning through content to get there. Skipping over a lot of dialogue to get to more important story beats. It leaves me very concerned for how the story will end up pacing wise, and with the limited animation and 2 cour aspect of the series… I give it a 50/50 shot of not screwing this up terribly.

Potential: 50%

Wooper’s review:

We’ve finally arrived at the stage of the season where the more anticipated productions start rolling out. Blade of the Immortal has a strong reputation in manga circles, so there are a lot of folks looking forward to the anime on that basis. On the other hand, my interest is due to Hiroshi Hamasaki’s occupation of the director’s chair. This new adaptation is reminiscent of his work on Shigurui, owing to its graphic violence and oppressive atmosphere. The brutality of this episode didn’t always grab me like it did in that series, however; several computer-assisted shots of faces being sliced apart were distracting, and the quick subliminal cuts during the episode-opening massacre were too stylized for my liking. Thankfully, the episode takes a more natural approach when introducing its cast. Hamasaki uses pillow shots of flora and fauna as a contrast to the characters’ pallid designs and agonized facial expressions, creating a heavy mood that’s broken up in just the right places. When the episode descends into bloodshed once more near the end, the impact is much greater thanks to that middle section. The series boasts an intriguing setup, cool sound design, and some nice landscapes, but the action scenes themselves leave much to be desired – they’ll be one of my major measuring sticks for this show going forward.

Potential: 65%

 

Assassin’s Pride

Short Synopsis: An assassin, posing as a teacher, decides to teach his mark to fight instead of killing her.

Amun’s review:

A few things stand out from this highly anticipated show. First, I feel anime as a whole is in a transitional period where traditional animation and CGI are becoming unified. Assassin’s Pride does about as good a job as I’ve seen blending the two, but it’s not 100% seamless. Secondly, the setting is wonderful – I love the unique world, the candlestick, the train…pretty much all the things that CGI helps you do better. Great job. Now the downsides. If you watched the recent show Angel of Death, this premiere has too many similarities – and that should be cause for concern. While I think the exposition as to why our “pro” assassin just betrayed everyone and everything he stood for is close to believable, I think they could have stretched it out just a tad more for me to buy it fully. Finally, the direction is a little odd – we saw far too many shots with the characters 75% out of it (and at weird angles too). Overall, I’m interested to see where it goes (for the CGI if nothing else), but there are some real causes for concern. (Also our MC is literally from the guild called “White Night” and does the Naruto run…meme anime of the season?).

Potential: 40%

Lenlo’s review:

Why does everything have to be so mixed this season? Because somehow, Pride manages to have some good animation mixed into a scene where they can’t match up bullet trails to the guns shooting them. As far as legitimate criticisms of the series itself, my only complaint is our lead Kufa, who might as well just be Kirito. Just as strong, just as emotionless, and just as bland as any other series MC. Winning maidens hearts by saving them in battle, etc etc. You know the drill, though it does end with a bit of a mystery (though his last name more than likely gives it away). So maybe something good will come from him. Outside of him though, I actually saw a lot of things I liked. Such as the almost Kingdom Hearts sort of setting. What with the different districts and “lantern”. Unlike other series this season, Pride also actually built that into its presentation of its world. Giving an artificial sky box for day in a world of eternal night, an extensive lantern system and a lot of darker lit scenes to fit the setting of the series. Meanwhile our female lead, Melida, seems to actually have a personality and motivations. So there is at least one character worth liking. I think if Pride can use its setting, the strongest aspect of it so far, well then it could rise above most of the rest of the season. Not terribly high mind you, I think things like Soul Eater do this sort of setting better, but hey. Getting mentioned in the same sentence as something like Soul Eater is a step above most everything else this season. So it’s not that bad.

Potential: 65%

 

No Guns Life

Short Synopsis: SF hard-boiled the gun smoke drifts muzzle talks.

Wooper’s review:

After reading the first few chapters of the manga for the season preview, my expectations for No Guns Life were low, but they needn’t have been – I was impressed by what I saw here. The premiere’s noir atmosphere is supported by moody lighting and a subdued color palette, but neither of these elements threaten to dominate the episode. Though lots of characters are partially shadowed, the action scenes are set in sufficiently bright parts of the city, and the use of pinks and purples alongside the usual browns and blacks gives NGL a retro-futuristic look. Almost all the backgrounds are 3DCG, which is also used to animate tough subjects like trains or bodies of water. For the most part, this decision works to create a sleek vibe that nevertheless feels slightly off (which matches the political corruption of the city). As for characters and story, gun-headed Juuzo is a strong lead, with quips for days masking a sheepish streak. He’s gotten himself involved in a plot that gets a bit dull whenever the show stops to dish out details, but the concept of a lone private eye pitting himself against a dystopian government is a winner at its core. I’ll be following this one for a full season unless it goes off the rails midway through.

Potential: 70%

Amun’s review:

Oh man, this is great! Throw away those fears of No Guns Life being just a gun otaku show – we have ourselves a mix of Black Lagoon/Trigun/Gangsta/Weird Gun Helmet (…the last one is not a real show). I love the city, love the setting, love the main character. The designs are pretty odd, but they strangely work given the context. I’ve yet to see a PI/wiseguy actually embodied as a gun (well, two guns apparently? Little bit of Vash going on there), but I’m excited. Dystopia, gritty city with PI vs Big Corp? Madhouse production? As my colleague above said, that’s a winner to me. Only thing I’ll disagree with Wooper on is the potential rating…I’m following this all the way, even if it goes Gangsta on me.

Potential: 100%

Posted on 12 October 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Mononoke, Throwback Thursday

Hello all, apologies for the delay, and welcome to the final arc of Mononoke! This is perhaps the most unique one yet. As we skip forward to a modern era, set the entire thing in a single location, and have ourselves a murder mystery. So, lets dive in!

Right off the bat, as always, I loved Mononoke’s strong sense of direction. Yeah the episode was kind of slow, which considering its the start of a 3 episode arc makes sense. However in spite of the pacing, or perhaps because of, we got a lot of really interesting scenes and decisions out of it. For instance, I found the usage of mannequins for the crowds fantastic. As this is the greatest amount of people in any scene Mononoke has had to deal with. So the decision both makes it easy to put them on screen, justifies their lack of animation, and denotes how unimportant they are. It also lead to some, not quite funny but memorable, scenes involving the train. Such as when it grinds to a halt, all of the mannequins are thrown to the ground, etc etc. It was all really quite clever I think.

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Posted on 10 October 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!

Short Synopsis: A newly-reincarnated mage frets about her godlike powers while rescuing a group of kidnapped children.

Wooper’s review:

Here’s a “reincarnated in another world” series that’s preoccupied not with explaining game mechanics or assembling harems, but with creating a main character worth following. All Mile wants is a normal life, but she was granted incredible powers upon her rebirth, much to her chagrin. Even though her prodigious skill is a burden to her, she’s the sort of girl who will sign up to rescue an inn-keeper friend just days after having met her (even if she has to reveal her shameful invincibility in the process). Mile is rather excitable, so we get both cheery and reserved attitudes from her in this premiere, both of which are believable. She and the show provide plenty of commentary on anime tropes, as well. Early scenes are constructed as though she’s talking to herself in clumsily-written fashion, but five minutes later we learn that she was speaking to an invisible friend the whole time. The circumstances of her arrival in the new world are cliched, so the show winkingly pushes through them in just a couple of minutes. The boarding school setup is unlikely to push any narrative boundaries, but it will allow the show to continue elbowing its fellow fantasy series in the ribs every now and then. With both self-awareness and decent characterization in its arsenal, NouryoKinchi is a fun isekai adventure for people who are burned out on the genre.

Potential: 60%

Lenlo’s review:

You know, as someone who has a relatively across the board distaste for Isekai… this one wasn’t actually that bad. I dare say I actually enjoyed parts of it, which was unexpected. The cast isn’t particularly crazy, seemingly existing for more than just fanservice at this point. Which is always a plus. Meanwhile the MC is rather self aware and generally just tired of all of this kerfuffle. Of course she’s still OP as all hell, and that’s annoying, but welcome to Isekai I suppose. It reminds me of Cautious Hero, in that it’s attempting to subvert the genre, yet I feel it does so… better. None of them have the character of Rista, but that’s fine. It’s not terribly well animated, but it gets by. Really all I can say is that the show is solid, and if I actually liked the genre, I could see myself liking this.

Potential: 35%

 

Kandagawa Jet Girls

Short Synopsis: Two girls team up to challenge the elite school of ski jet sports.

Mario’s review:

What with all these random fanservices? I know that anime medium is the land of pandering but in this show these shots come from nowhere which makes me think that 1 guy in the production committees push hard for these shots regardless of the content. It’s such a shame because otherwise the visual presentation is rather decent. The story takes a familiar route for this genre by introducing the two main characters who are fated to be partners. What it does raise the bar is how these two both have some sort of backstory/ special relationship to this self-invented sports, and the sport itself does intrigue me (do they shoot each other until one’s down or do they shoot some obstacles to gain points?). Then again, these out of nowhere butt and boob shots do deflate my interest somewhat.

Potential: 20%

Lenlo’s review:

Look, you know me. You see my name at the top of this blurb, and you already know what I am gonna say. That its a fanservice, water sports show with a cast of girls who exist purely to get wet, and get naked. The only upside this series has, is that it has a “mature” tag or whatever, so they moved up to the mystical realm of sideboob. To be frank, I don’t see anything interesting here. Keijo from awhile ago had better animation, better art and solid asses. Meanwhile Darling in the Franxx at least use the partner system as a metaphor for sex and all that, even if it kinda fell apart and got weird by the end. Kandagawa though? It’s just pandering, and I have 0 expectations of it.

Potential: 0%

 

Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth

Short Synopsis: A girl is appointed head scout in the quest to recruit hot boys for an investigative unit.

Mario’s review:

It’s clear from watching this episode that Stand My Heroes is based on an otome game (which normally I’m not fond of), and in the game we play this main girl whose main purpose is to recruit attractive boys to this STAND unit – an investigation unit that work independently with police force. Right in this first episode we have her meeting a football-size boys with proper full names and some sort of catchphrase lines to inform us their personalities. So formulaic aside, two questions come up. How does the main heroine fare compared to the genre and what makes this show different than other otome adaptation? For the first point, personality-wise our girl is still a plain character given how her enthusiasm for “justice” feels one-note at best. For the second point, this show has a crime procedure twist to it, which is clumsy in execution. No, otome adaptation isn’t a high bar and even then this one comes out as a run-of-a-mill addition to the list.

Potential: 10%

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Babylon

Short Synopsis: In the middle of investigating pharmaceutical law violations, the cops stumble upon evidence of a much bigger case that involves a current mayoral election.

Amun’s review:

(Like Mario, I’m only going to discuss the first episode, even if 3 have been released).  Coming into the season, Babylon stood out as something different from the 100 billion isekai offerings this season.  No one could watch the trailer and not feel a twinge of hope that this might be the next Monster. With those expectations the first episode…was pretty bland honestly.  It was well polished, well directed, and had passable 3D animation – it just felt like I’ve seen this setup so many times before. Even the big reveal could be seen a mile off (by apparently everyone but the supposedly smartest guy in the room).  I’m hoping the upcoming episodes start to flesh out the story a bit more, but for a show that’s supposed to be all about twists, I think this might turn out quite predictable.  

Potential: 35%

Mario’s review:

Note that the following review is for the first episode only, as 3 episodes have been released all at once. And as far as this premiere goes, I had a good time watching it. The mystery at heart keeps escalating at the right pace, and at least so far the setup hasn’t fallen into stupid territory or gone thorugh any major leap of logic yet. Penned by the guy who wrote Kado the Right Answer, I was looking for an ambiguous, mature project and everything happening so far ticks the boxes. The Law & Order vibe, and the dark shade of the city fit right to the tone of the show, but at the same time I find those qualities to be competent but a bit on a conservative side. See, looking at this opening chapter in a procedural crime drama’s point of view, it goes pretty much by-the-book. Main character has some solid traits but as a whole this feels more like an action-driven show rather than character piece or thinkpiece. Depending on how the story escalates in later episodes, we’ll see what heights this show aims for. At least this first episode proves that it can serve as a neat crime investigation show (with no superpowers!!!) for anime fans.

Potential: 50%

 

Fairy Gone 2

Short Synopsis: A cursed child and a war survivor join a military organization to manage powerful “fairies” and protect order in an unstable political landscape while seeking personal redemption.

Amun’s review:

On paper I really shouldn’t like Fairy Gone.  A political fantasy thriller is not usually my cup of tea – throw in shoddy CGI and no backing source material and it should be an easy pass.  But this show punches well above its weight and our first episode back reminds us of it. I think, despite the absolutely awful CGI we saw, the revisit of the Suna village helped flesh out some questions I had from last season.  I think the director and composer of this show really do an excellent job with their extremely limited animation resources – even in a recap episode, we saw some lingering issues nicely shored up. Their scene transitions are on point and honestly the VAs were great (and I usually don’t comment on VA or music).  I keep looking for an excuse to drop this show and it just keeps bringing me back – this season will probably be no different.

Potential: 55%

 

Africa no Salaryman

Short Synopsis: Anthropomorphic savannah creatures try to scrape some enjoyment out of their corporate wage slave lifestyles.

Wooper’s review:

This show reminds me of nothing so much as last year’s Pop Team Epic. They share a raucous sort of humor, though PTE was a stealthy satire whereas Salaryman’s laughs are more sophomoric. Both series used a variety of art styles in each episode, as well; Salaryman shifts between 2D animation reminiscent of Haoliners’ better stuff (To Be Hero comes to mind), stiff but occasionally charming 3DCG, super deformed reaction shots, a crayon-styled kiddie look, etc. This mixed visual approach was the most noteworthy aspect of the show for me, as the humor wasn’t my cup of bush tea. There are segments about girls making false molestation claims, pursuing girls at mixers because their parents are loaded, jokingly trading a donut shop point card for a quickie in the bathroom, etc. These bits aren’t exactly offensive, but they wore on me because they all stem from the buffoonery of one very loud character: the toucan. Here’s a fun fact: toucans don’t live in Africa! Dial down his appearance rate and make the office setting more central to the show, and I might come back for another episode.

Potential: 25%

Mario’s review:

Imagine Aggressive Retsuko, but with an African setting and more crude and mean-spirited humor, and you pretty much have Africa no Salaryman. As is the case with comedy shows, humor can be a hit or miss depending on each person. For me, the humor of the show hits when it defies our expectations on certain characters’ archetypes – given they are anthropomorphic cast. It suffers when it tends to be snotty to gets its jokes across. The highschool girls portrayed as “false victims” certainly raise an eyebrow. While at first it appears that Lion is the main character of the trio, the spotlight for this episode instead is given to Toucan, which makes sense since Toucan has the boldest personality. In that light Lion, and Lizard in an extend, still don’t have much room to grow. Visually speaking, while I approve the art styles, it’s the CG animation that makes the show looks cheap and stands out in a bad way. I’ll give this show another episode to see whether to stick with it.

Potential: 40%

Posted on 9 October 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Special 7 – Special Crime Investigation Unit

Short Synopsis: A rookie cop helps bust a bunch of bank robbers.

Lenlo’s review:

Unlike Wooper, I actually didn’t have that big an issue with the opening plot and bank heist. It’s a simple and straightforward way to introduce your whole cast. No, my issues lie much deeper. From the knockoff Shadowrun setting, to the crazy cast and dull visuals. First up, the setting, which it establishes as fantasy-modern in nature ala Shadowrun but does virtually nothing with. Window dressing that might as well not exist, even with all the wasted opportunity of a bank heist to throw in things like magic or magical races and the like. Meanwhile the cast itself just doesn’t feel like a “mature” one, to use Wooper’s word. They feel like over the top Shounen characters. Which in a Shounen show is fine, but for a cop drama? Eeeeeh. Last up the actual presentation, which just felt… flat? The crosshatch shading gave me flashbacks to Berserk 16/17, while the actual scenes themselves never really felt fully together. Like a lack of depth, or direction, such as simply cutting to different sides of the car as characters talk, etc etc. I’m just not feeling any passion from this project, which is a shame. Because passion can at least take something dull and make it unique. This is just forgettable.

Potential: 0%

Wooper’s review:

To put it frankly, Special 7 (“Tokunana” in Japanese) didn’t hold my attention. Neither its flashback opening scene nor its ‘in medias res’ bank robbery plot are crafted with much care or attention to detail. They just serve to introduce our newly-minted policeman friend to his childhood savior and his new partner, respectively, via dialogue you’ve heard a dozen times before. The mystery of which bank employee helped the robbers with their heist was Scooby Doo-tier in its simplicity, and only gave Mr. Rookie an excuse to scream about justice and punch the traitor in the face (despite having a gun trained on him). The ‘supernatural procedural’ angle, which has already been tackled by Cop Craft and Midnight Occult Civil Servants this year, adds basically nothing of value. Worst of all, the show looks ugly as sin, featuring jerky character animation and hatching lines being used to shade an inordinate number of surfaces. The result of that second technique is so amateurish that it must be masking the plainness of the unaltered backgrounds, though I don’t know how they could look worse than what we got. Special 7 is proof that mature anime can turn out just as poorly as the moe and isekai bogeymen of recent years.

Potential: 10%

 

Actors: Songs Connection

Short Synopsis: Countless boys gather in a club to sing and “connect”.

Mario’s review:

Actors is another male idol property and it has the same problem many idol or game-adaptation shows before it have: it’s so busy introducing too many characters that the plot gets sidelined. And because there are five, six characters getting introduced at the same time it’s hard to tell them apart, let alone have any proper investment to them. The fact that it has a supernatural twist about White Wall and white shadows that would fit right at home with shows like UNDONE (hey, I just watched it. UNDONE is awesome) than here doesn’t work for the show’s benefit. There’s an actual singing at the end that serves as a climax for this premiere and brings everything together, so I’d suggest that if you decide to check it out, wait until that moment to decide whether or not this show is for you. For me, while the song isn’t bad it lacks the dynamic of songs in say… Sarazanmai or production values of Carole & Tuesday, thus there’s nothing to keep me hanging here.

Potential: 0% 

Lenlo’s review:

I’m not even a fan of normal idol shows. So why in god’s name the other writers thought it was a good idea to let me be the one to write this is beyond me. Maybe they thought it would be funny to watch me lay into the series generic characters or complete lack of actual production value. Or the seemingly split focus between being an Idol show, and this odd supernatural mystery. For the songs themselves, it wasn’t bad, I just didn’t feel anything from it because I didn’t much care about anything that built up to it. Of course, Mario references Sarazanmai and Carole & Tuesday in his writeup, which doesn’t really help considering I wasn’t a fan of either of those as well. So to make a long story short, my answer is this: If you like Idol shows, you will probably like this. If you are like me, and don’t like Idol shows, there is nothing here for you. It’s a very binary choice, all things considered.

Potential: 0%

 

Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai 2

Short Synopsis: An average student must earn his recommendation by tutoring several geniuses who are brilliant in one area and useless in all others – can he avoid falling in love with them…or his teacher?!

Amun’s review:

Our first episode back and we’re here to…discuss bust sizes.  Boku-tachi had an entire season’s break to come up with that premiere?  Not only that, this episode came off as picking on one of the candidates rather than the typical building up of one girl per episode.  I’ll be honest, my patience at this point is wearing pretty thin, so barring any remarkable character building within the next couple of episodes (which would be a complete departure from where the manga was going last I checked), this is probably the end of my “learning” from this show.

Potential: 25%

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Fire Force 12 – Eve of Hostilities in Asakusa

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