Posted on 16 July 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions


Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2

Short Synopsis: A grade schooler tries to embarrass the girl sitting next to him in class.

Amun’s review:

First of all, this show is more difficult than the others to watch this season – so take that as you will. The first episode picks right back up where the previous season left off – that wonderful age where girls always just seem to be one step ahead of their male companions. The gimmicks and the characters are still great, with always the hint of romance, but I remember one of the issues I had in the previous season – the format is just too long. This should be aired as separate shorts, instead of putting several of them into one 20 minute odd episode. It’s hard to maintain interest through all 3 stories per episode, at least for me. Still, I’ll probably watch this and skip through segments I feel are going nowhere.

Potential: 40%

Mario’s review:

There is a certain charm Takagi-san the series that I always come back for more. “Charming” is indeed the magic word here, as under the cute bickering between our duo (in which they have an incredible chemistry together), we can see what their feelings lie beneath. It might be a roundabout way to express their feelings to each other, but like the old saying it’s the journey that worth it. The repetitive nature is not much of an issue for me, since we follow these short stories through Nishikata’s headspace, and he’s always interesting to follow. It falters a but when it focuses on the other three girls, which for me lacks the charms and the humor from the main duo. Overall, you know exactly what to expect here so if you enjoy the first season well enough then by all means, this season will be a treat to watch.

Potential: 50%



BEM

Short Synopsis: Demoted, idealistic cop encounters monsters while adjusting to a new city.

Armitage’s review:

So, to keep up with the trend, we have our yearly 50th anniversary project (Megalo Box and Gegege no Kitaro the year before). Though, in retrospect, BEM has more in common with the latter. We have our lead characters, fighting off yokai who dwell among us mere mortals for the good of all humanity, much like Kitaro, although this show doesn’t even come close to the same level of polish as that ratings juggernaut. Everything’s grim-dark (more literally than figuratively). The animation’s fairly passable but character designs for the yokai looks very jagged. Those of the main characters look pretty stylish, though. Maybe the source material’s strengths can be banked upon to deliver a solid narrative over the coming weeks but as of now, this looks like your everyday monster-of-the-week anime with some gritty dark overtones thrown in for good measure. Don’t expect anything more and you should have a decent time with it. If you like the concept, and wish to be absolutely blown away by its execution, go watch Kitaro.

Potential: 30%

Amun’s review:

Apparently this is the latest of many adaptations of BEM, the story of 3 vigilante demi-humans. The first episode had…a very large bridge, lots of shadows, quite a bit of jazz, a naive cop, gratuitous violence, and anime New York City. And monsters – pretty powerful, but not overly imaginative (they seem to have elemental affinities). With obvious overtones of injustice and class divides, BEM could conceivably turn into an action show plus social commentary…not a great combination. I feel this is going to be a supernatural take on Gangsta – which might not be a terrible thing. However, if you’re expecting something more upbeat like Battlefront Blockade, this is probably not the show for you. If you’re into urban, gory shows (and jazz…so much jazz) that make you feel good when the opulent overlords inevitably get what their nefarious schemes deserve at the cost of some minor character’s life or a major character’s appendage – watch this one.

Potential: 33%

Posted on 15 July 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions


Given

Short Synopsis: Chancing upon an encounter with a doe-eyed boy his age, a teenage guitarist find his love for music once again.

Armitage’s review:

I can see why this is undeservedly flying under the radar for most people. The core demographic for this show (those unfamiliar with the manga, which is outstanding) comprised of two kinds of viewers. The ones who were wishing for a Free: Rock Band Edition, with pretty boys having glistening abs locked up in a music room. And the ones who expected this to be an all-out music themed story. First of all, to clear the air, Yes. It’s a Shounen-Ai anime so there are bound to be pretty boys being awkward around each other and stealing the occasional side glance. But, if done right, it can turn into a highly compelling story like the Classmates movie which came out a couple of years back. And the kind of story Given tries to tell is a very compelling character-driven drama with music serving as a subplot.

It’s about Uenoyama and his attempts at finding his passion in life once again. It’s about Mafuyu, who from the moment he heard a guitar strum just felt completely enamored by its sound. And It’s about the journey that these two will take, breaking down each other’s defenses and growing as people, together. And as someone who is familiar with the source material, I can say that Lerche has done a solid job adapting the manga. The backgrounds aren’t lush or highly detailed but the character art stands out, giving the pivotal scenes the vibrancy they needed. Hearing these precious boys talk was a joy in itself. No complaints on the voice acting front. And, boy! That instrumental band performance was the highlight of the episode. The sound design was absolutely stellar; each instrument sounded very real and the entire showcase and made me reminiscent of Kids on the Slope. Whether Given is able to stand toe-to-toe with that series is something which will only be revealed over time. But the premiere has given (ha!) me high hopes.

Potential: 80%

Mario’s review:

Given is a show of two halves for me. When it focuses on the lead guy Uenoyama, it delivers with solid characterization and the guy has enough complexity for us to care: he finds himself losing the sparks of playing guitar, and finds that sparks in the new guy. It helps that every subplot around him is pretty good as well: he has a natural chemistry with his older sister, he has a band in which the bandmates serve as a nice supporting roles. But when it comes to the other “lost-puppy” character I am almost put off by it. I don’t know how anyone can find him remotely interesting since his head is over cloud 9 all the time. The production, aside from weird smoke effect at the end, is much better than I expected. The use of color and how they put characters into frame strengthen the mood of those scenes, and there’s an attention to guitar sound, which is gonna be key elements for the show going forward. So basically how Given handles that Satou character will be a make-or-break factor for me.

Potential: 50%



Okaasan Online

Short Synopsis: An ungrateful teenage boy and his doting mother are summoned into an MMORPG.

Wooper’s review:

Okaasan Online gives you exactly what it says on the tin: an RPG-themed story about moms. The white-pupiled character designs remind me of the protagonist from Net-juu no Susume, though that series aimed a bit deeper than this one. I feel confident in making that judgment after just one episode, because this show is pretty fetishistic at its core. The mom character is youthful, buxom, and freakishly supportive of her child. She says stuff like, “Look at how cool you’re acting!” and “I’ve discovered a new side of my son!” without the slightest hint of irony. As he’s being sucked into the game world, the main character even hopes that when he returns, he can be “more honest” with his mother. Gee, I wonder what that’s supposed to mean? The twist, which is also the show’s one redeeming feature, is that she’s far more powerful than her son in-game, which will probably lead to his humiliation in future episodes. Their immediate goal is to recruit a bunch of hot female party members for him to flirt with, but with his mom around to accidentally blue-ball him at every turn, this fanservice series might end up a half-decent comedy.

Potential: 25%

Lenlo’s review:

What is with anime, or Japan in general I guess, and fetishizing the family? I like a hot girl just as much as the next guy. But there are certain territories that are off limits, such as “sister” and “mother” and “family members”. Basically, as Wooper was saying, there is a whole lot of mother/son subtext going on and I don’t care for it. It’s an ecchi rpg isekai like series. That’s like… all of my negative tick boxes excluding loli. The only thing it has going for it is the comedy aspect that comes with ecchi series. Which this one has a bit of a twist on with, as Wooper said, the mother blue-balling her son. That at least is novel! However, comedy isn’t exactly my genre. So if it’s yours, this might end up being worth your time. For me though I have so many other things to watch this season, that Okaasan just isn’t even on my radar.

Potential: 5%



Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka II

Short Synopsis: A white haired boy finds love and adventure in a mysterious world called “Dungeon.”

Amun’s review:

1,476 days ago, I last saw the adventures of white haired Bell Cranel and Hestia the short, stacked goddess. DanMachi S2 Episode 1 had the accumulated expectations from the past 5 years to assuage us fans that our patience would be rewarded (I do not accept the existence of the spinoff show as canon, by the way). From episode 1, I can safely say…it’s been worth it.

One of my major concerns was where the series will go – will they continue the MMORPG progression raiding or will they introduce new characters and complications? From the looks of it, the latter. However, instead of the normal character creep that sets into these shows (think Fairy Tail), DanMachi – at least in their first episode back – has done a great job of clearly defining the conflicts, the goods and the bads, and bringing in a balanced mix of familiar side characters and fresh blood. With a surprising amount of relationship progression, nice fighting scenes to remind you this is an adventure show, and a quick tour of all our old friends, DanMachi is back with a bang. Wave your ribbons, fire your firebolts, splatter your minotaurs – the Dungeon is back!

Potential: 10000000%

Helghast’s review:

I watched DanMachi when it first came out and I wasn’t impressed by it at all as it was an amalgamation of every single stereotypical trope of the anime industry. It looked nice but it might as well be an isekai given the video game-like fantasy world with its RPG mechanics, shallow and pedantic characters and a massive amount of fanservice. There are the goddesses that fight over each other like teenage girls in high school and another one that just screams out just how all the little adventurers would enjoy being stepped on by her.

I suppose the best moment in the whole episode was how Bell and the Sword Princess ended up dancing courtesy of Hermes being a completely boss of a wingman. Ais still has the personality of a cardboard cereal box but that was probably the nicest moment between the two characters. It all comes down in the end as the next main conflict gets set up between the Apollo familia and Hesita in an overly dramatic reveal filled with rapey vibes that only emphasizes just how comically bad our new villains are. I’m not a betting man but I’m pretty sure who is going to be the winner in the war games and how Apollo will deservedly get the beatdown that is coming to him.

It’s animated decently enough and you can really see where J.C. Staff focused their efforts on instead of bothering with One Punch Man Season 2. If you into shows like DanMachi then you don’t need me to tell you to go watch it, but for the rest of us, season two isn’t going to change your mind in the slightest.

Potential: 34.5%

Posted on 12 July 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions


Kochoki: Wakaki Nobunaga

Short Synopsis: Oda Nobunaga in his younger days before making a name for himself.

Armitage’s review:

Oh, yes!! Here we have a completely original story about a historical figure you have NEVER heard of before. Especially, if you follow seasonal anime. That’s right! None other than… drumroll Oda Nobunaga!  Can I get a ‘Hell, Yeah!’ exasperated moans 

Okay, okay. I know. This is just a classic example of anime giving you a sense of Deja vu by re-adapting a story and giving it a modern spin. Sometimes that works out pretty great! That is what I was thinking before I watched the premiere. But I am now here to report that, it was actually just, um…okay?

I mean, you’ve been there, seen it all. This story just follows Nobunaga in his teenage years. That doesn’t really make up a massive difference though. All the characters apart from Nobu-chan himself are going to be forgettable. You know that. The animation is mostly lacklustre but barely competent. That’s to be expected though. It’s being adapted by Deen. Even their best shows like Rakugo and KonoSuba have shoddy animation. You know that. So, it’s up to you really. Would you like to go into this series to experience a story you already know and are familiar with? Or would it be a soft pass so you can watch the better shows airing this season? My recommendation, is for the latter.

Potential: 20%


Mario’s review:

How many times that we see Oda Nobunaga in animated form? And hot young boy on top of it? This premiere focus on him in adolescent age, and put him through some troubles to determine what sort of person he will eventually become. On that front we have an alright execution of him acting against his father’s will. It helps that he’s an interesting character and the confrontation at the end feels somewhat earned, but the rest of the episode feels unremarkable at best. Maybe one of this first episode’s successes lie in the fact that it has little to do with the main overarching arc yet, so instead it lays its focus on developing him and introducing other main characters. For what it set out to do in this first episode, I can say that they did a decent job, it’s the coming events that I’m not sure if I am interested enough to follow.

Potential: 30%



Isekai Cheat Magician

Short Synopsis: Two childhood friends are transported to an alternate world, where they begin their journey as adventurers.  

Amun’s review:

This season must set a record for the number of mediocre (or downright awful) isekai offerings.  Isekai Cheat Magicians may be the best one, but that’s not a compliment – this show is so set on being mediocre, it can’t even make an impression as remarkably bad…just remarkably bland.  I think probably the most original idea I saw was bringing a girl from one world to the other…although I guess Konasuba sort of did that. Other than that twist, this episode is so utterly forgettable, that I’m having trouble discussing anything aside from the jarringly generic textures that were used for any particle effects – did someone just learn how to use MS Paint?  Fan service and overpowered MCs also happened, I guess. This is a pass from me (go watch DanMachi instead).

Potential: 1% (and that would be by accident since I forgot the title)


Helghast’s review:

Isekai shows are a dime a dozen nowadays but Isekai Cheat Magician is like a dozen dimes put together and that’s a lot of dimes. Instead of a single person being magically transported into yet another fantasy, they manage to blow my expectations by having an entire TWO main characters. On top of that, we have the added bonus of the classic character female childhood friend trope which has high potential for some deep character development as these two will no doubt grow in their relationship with each other. Speaking of developmental growing, the character designs may be a little generic but at least all the females are cute and have giant boobies which more than makes up for it as that’s the only criteria for a good show and they deliver in spades. I’m not worry at all about how seemingly overpowered the main characters are or how welcoming all the other adventurers are. This can only mean that as we get further into the show, there will be some really really hard challenges that only the powers of friendship, overpowered cheats and love all combined together will be able to defeat it and I can’t wait to see it.     

Potential: Unratable as no scale can describe how amazing this show is going to be.



Machikado Mazoku

Short Synopsis: The descendant of a demon clan learns of her heritage and sets out to defeat a local magical girl.

Wooper’s review:

This show has one thing going for it, and that’s hyperactivity. It only paused to catch its breath once or twice during this entire episode, preferring to spend most of its time providing raucous self-commentary. Even the opening scenes, which bluntly laid out the entire plot, contain violent commands from a cute demon spirit and lots of fretting over the main girl’s newly-grown goat horns. Characters are constantly interrupting each other and making snide comments under their breath, and screen tone backgrounds are employed one after another in heightening this sense of chaos. When everything about an anime is played for laughs, though, it’s hard to find anything to connect with. The story of a recently awakened demon girl who accidentally befriends her mortal enemy is ridiculous, and the show isn’t wrong to poke fun at itself, but I would have preferred at least a small serving of heart to offset the nonstop gags (which grew tiresome after the first five minutes).

Potential: 15%


Amun’s review:

Magical girls, while not as commonplace as some seasons past, always seem to have at least one offering show up.  Due to the numerous renditions, I think the genre has become a little self-aware – thankfully, Machikado Mazoku at least tries to switch some tropes up instead of doing another Black Rock Shooter (cute edition).  So far, this reminds me of Endro! from a few seasons back, with some slight variations on the characters and themes – the upbeat energy, bright colours, and cute girls are all present as expected. That being said, this show did make me laugh a few times and had pretty good comedic timing and sound effects (for the genre).  If Mahou Shoujo is your cup of tea or if you’re just looking for some light hearted laughs at cute hijinks – this show is for you.  

Potential: 45%

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


Cop Craft

Short Synopsis: A human policeman is forced to partner with a female alien and track down a kidnapped fairy.

Mario’s review:

Despite its formulaic premise, Cop Craft’s first episode is such an enjoyable ride. It has an interesting settings for one thing, and while in concept it reminds you of Blood Blockade Battlefront, it does have many elements to make it its own. Then the two odd couples have their own distinct personalities and they bounce off each other nicely. On top of that the dialogues are on the better side of the spectrum, both does its job to establish character’s motivation, and each character has their own way of speaking. The production can be a bit shaky at times, but for now it manages to hold up. The gritty tone also brings a lot of potential, and a right mix between real world and fantastical elements are explored in just correct amount. I’d say that its best quality so far is the right mix of all its ingredients, make it a show that is familiar enough but still has its own personality.

Potential: 60%


Wooper’s review:

There were a lot of visual choices here that I didn’t like. The drab color palette, featuring mostly brown and gray environments, is rescued only by Tilarna’s elaborate red outfit. There are moments when the series feels like it was animated in Flash, especially when side characters are put through their stiff walk cycles. The ship on which Tilarna arrives has a rough, sketchy quality to its illustration that doesn’t match the rest of the art. But you know, I kind of dug this episode. It’s another buddy cop show like Double Decker, but it aims for a grittier tone right off the bat, and mostly manages to hit the right notes in the process. The supernatural element and Tilarna’s curiosity about human technology give the script a little flavor, without which it would have felt too familiar. Most importantly, it quickly established who the main characters are and what they want, generating a clash of personalities that it can resolve as it progresses. In short, it didn’t waste my time.

Potential: 50%



HenSuki

Short Synopsis: A gutless high school boy must figure out which of his smoking hot clubmates gifted him a pair of her panties.

Wooper’s review:

Are you willing to fall in love with a pervert, as long as she’s cute? This is the literal translation of HenSuki’s full title, as well as the philosophical quandary at the root of the show’s deftly-woven narrative. Japanese society is largely conservative (I know this for certain because I am an anime blogger), so even mild sexual deviance on the part of an individual can have lasting ramifications in their life. With this in mind, our potato-faced main character must approach the girls in his after school club with caution. One of them has left him a love letter, which would be scandalous enough on its own, but to include a pair of her panties alongside it? Such a woman could drag him into moral degeneracy! Nevertheless, such a bold maneuver could indicate a favorable temperament with regard to such lewd activities as hand-holding. Thus HenSuki establishes its central theme, exploring the personal cost of pursuing an anime gf with big tiddies. Subplots include incest teasing, breast envy, and sexual slavery. You won’t want to miss this thoughtful, daring, and not at all pandering look at modern teenage romance!

Potential: 0%


Mario’s review:

I expected this show to be trashy but I didn’t expect it to be this boring. This premiere’s main flaw is that it focuses entirely on romance aspect and not too much about comedy. Up until the very last reveal (which put this show into interesting direction, I admit), it feels not unlike a dating sim game or dating visual novel where all girls have a hot for this totally plain male lead. That sense of visual novel extends to its production too, as there isn’t much actual animation and the show’s hanging there with key still frames. The decision to play it straight with romance could have been fine if the dialogue weren’t this boring. Every conversation comes from boy’s wet dream, in which if my memory serves me right he was dreaming in the beginning (See, I already forgot). In theory, this show could serve as a dating genre-reconstruction where all the girls have hidden sexual fetishes that are way beyond this guy’s head but when you care nothing about this faceless dude, you have a hard time getting invested to what it’s trying to say.

Potential: 10%



Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou

Short Synopsis: An adventurer from another world is betrayed by his classmates before eating monster flesh and turning into a badass.

Wooper’s review:

“Incompetence” is the word that kept springing to mind during this episode. It begins in a cave so dark that the main dude’s hair had to be traced with a white outline, because otherwise you can’t tell where he ends and the background begins. Every combat scene, including the one where he loses an arm, depicts the slashing of claws and blades with limp effects animation. As a result, it’s hard to care about any of the fighting, especially the bits with CG skeletons that hardly interact with the characters. All of the flashbacks seem to have been placed in the script just to emphasize the hero’s weakness and his former classmates’ cruelty, setting the stage for his rise to power. Sounds exciting, right? Nope, he promptly attains this power by getting really pissed off and eating monster meat, rather than by training or learning anything. And then the show has to trot out the concept of in-game stats and skill trees to show how much he’s leveled up, so that even people who don’t leave their rooms can understand how awesome he’s become. If you still remain unconvinced that this show is a turd, check out this climactic moment from the ending. In case you’re wondering, that clip isn’t slowed down, darkened, or modified in any way. The show is just that bad.

Potential: 0%


Mario’s review:

Anime medium is known for its entertainment, but once in a while there are shows that aim for something much more profound, something of a life lesson. Watching Arifureta reminds you time and again that life isn’t all rose-tinted color and that in life, many people have it way worse. Our hero’s innocent outlook of life is shattered through harsh reality. Yes, life is cruel, life is unequal but that makes his transformation all the more powerful. I felt shocked, but I also felt sort of uplifted to see him bounce back and claim his life back. Yes, that is the strength of humanity: To never give up, to enjoy every piece of food you found, and to look Death in the eyes and say: “I will kill because I am hungry”. Arifureta is a story about survival, Arifureta is a story about revenge and Arifureta is a story about breaking your own weak self. Beneath the shocking content, I can see the layered messages that work together perfectly. Its thematic complexity is something that blows away any other contender of this season, Hypeland Saga included. It’s too early to say anything in terms of how the story will go from here but I have no doubt that Arifureta will change the way I view life forever.

Potential: put Vinland Saga into a pit of shame!!!!!!!!

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


Vinland Saga

Short Synopsis: For a thousand years, the Vikings have made quite a name and reputation for themselves as the strongest families with a thirst for violence. Thorfinn, the son of one of the Vikings’ greatest warriors, spends his boyhood in a battlefield enhancing his skills in his adventure to satisfy his desire for vengeance.

Lenlo’s review:

This is it Wit, this is everything I wanted. Sure I could nitpick that the CGI isn’t perfect 100% of the time. Or that the OP by Survive Said the Prophet isn’t my style of music. But you know what, I don’t care. Everything else is gold for me. From the downright stunning background art, to the great soundtrack and stellar character designs. These detailed designs and backgrounds don’t get in the way of animation either. Wit knows when to focus on what aspects, and I love it. The VA’s don’t always match what was in my head while reading either, but I will chalk that up to vikings speaking Japanese. As is though, Wit have proven themselves with this opening 3 episodes. Going so far as to alter the chapter order to better fit an anime format. This is the kind of adaptation everyone wants. Constructive changes, rather than destructive ones, showing they know and care about the source material. If Wit can keep this up throughout the next 21 episodes, this is easily my AotS, with this being the best premiere in a while for me. The hardest part will be the 3 week break between now and the next episode. My body is ready Wit. Don’t let me down.

Potential: All the %. Infinity %.

Armitage’s review:

Studio Wit has been on a roll lately. With the recently concluded season 3 of Attack on Titan, they already surpassed all expectations fans of that manga would have had from the anime. Yup, they knocked that one right out of the park and then some. But it seems like they aren’t satisfied by just patting themselves on the back. Enter Vinland Saga. A manga, epic in every sense of the word, widely considered as unadaptable because of its godly art (which might arguably be second best only to Vagabond, in the entire medium). A solid adaptation seemed like a herculean task. And what do Wit do with it? Well, they knock it out of the park again! There’s so much to like about this adaptation as a fan of the manga. The lush backgrounds, the choreography of the fight scenes, the impeccable sound design, the choice of the (inevitably japanese) seiyuus. Oh, and did I mention we have best OP and ED of the season? Yup. It’s all here. And it all, somehow, just clicks together so beautifully. For anime only viewers, I can’t sell this enough. It’s one of the most gripping tales of revenge, hope, history and loss, told with a real flair for the epic, by Yukimura-sensei. The kind we rarely come across, anime or otherwise. If you have to watch only one anime this season, make it this one.      

Potential: 100% is selling this short.

Helghast’s review:

Unlike some of the writers here, I’m going into this blind so I don’t have any expectations other than its reputation of it being an epic saga set in the age of the Vikings. With each and every one of their previous shows being well-animated, Studio Wit doesn’t disappoint at all by showing off their trademark rotating action sequence in the first five minutes. From that point on, the action dials down to ease us into a world where ruthlessness and violence is the way of life for the people of nordic countries. So often in anime, violence is used a means to be edgy but it suits Vinland Saga just fine as it doesn’t even bother to tone it down while being historically accurate. If you are disillusioned with how infrequent the Berserk manga updates or its terrible anime counterpart, Vinland Saga is a perfect choice to scratch that itch with its faithful adaptation, a bombastic OP and another great ED from Aimer which I’m sure that fans will love. I can see why they decided to release three episodes in a row in order to capitalize on the hype by quickly reaching the crux of the prologue without rushing the pacing and dragging out from week to week. However, this bold strategy is also a double-edged sword as now we wait for a painful three weeks to see how it all it plays out for Thors and his son, Thorfinn.   

Potential: 85%



Re:Stage! Dream Days

Short Synopsis: A girl transfers to a new school and joins an Idol club.

Lenlo’s review:

If nothing else, Dream Days is clearly the superior idol show between the two I watched for this post. It looked good, the art was clean and the animation better than I had expected. In particular the 2D animated dance sequence that is normally relegated to 3D CGI for Idols. There were also some clever shots and scene decisions made. Such as the OP switcheroo into an actual character introduction that caught me off guard. The worst I can say about Dream Days is that it simply isn’t my kind of show. It was never going to appeal to me because it was a quintessential Idol show. If that’s not your cup of tea, turn back now. However based on what I have watched, I feel comfortable saying its a good fit for anyone who enjoys the genre. Everything it needs to be successful is there. It’s just not my kind of show.

Potential: 25%

Mario’s review:

I give it 20% for animating the dance routine in hand-drawn style, and another 5% for occasionally beautiful shot composition (just look at the second screenshot), otherwise we have a fairly generic set-up of what would be a right-on-average idol show. As it is the case now in almost every idol show, when you get to the performance part, the disastrous CG models stand out in a bad way. Re:Stage (a little sister of Re:Zero and a daughter of Re:Life and maybe distant cousin of Re:Creators) reminds us once and again that it is much more effective when you stick with the traditional hand-drawn. The story department, however, is pretty much formulaic so far. We have lead girl gets introduced to her new school, to her new club and suddenly she can dance very well because “my body just moves by its own”. Fans of idol show will have lots to like it, as the characters are fun to watch and from the ED it looks like 3 more (some of them already appear in the background) will join the club and so far it does make some attempt of fleshing out the main lead. For those who aren’t fond of idol shows or CGDCT there’s not much to see here.

Potential: 25%



Ensemble Stars!

Short Synopsis: A group of low-ranking male students at an idol academy aim to overthrow its draconian student council.

Wooper’s review:

You know, I reserved a tiny spark of hope for this project coming into it. I’ve never seen a good bishounen idol series, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay bad forever. Unfortunately, Ensemble Stars won’t be the one to snap the genre’s losing streak, as it’s prone to all the same cliches as the rest. The female lead has only two lines of dialogue that aren’t “Huh?” or “Eh?” or parroting something the boys have said. The guys are all super cute, but their sparkly appearances are wasted on stock character types: genki boy, bookworm boy, loner boy, macho boy, etc. There’s no hint anywhere in the series that they’ve lived outside of this school, so the whole production feels one-dimensional. The plot is a familiar mash-up of idol aspirations and student council machinations that left me struggling to care. Only the visuals have any polish, and it’s limited to one combat sequence and a handful of poses. Look forward to those moments only if you’re a fan of idol boys – otherwise, skip this show.

Potential: 5%


Lenlo’s review:

For anyone that has read almost anything I have written on this site, I am sure my opinion on this show is already known. It’s an idol show without even the eye-candy. That’s a rather rude thing to say, but I don’t like Idol Shows inherently, and I find their sole purpose is to put cute girls on a screen in skimpy Idol outfits. It’s a fanservice genre to the end. Ensemble doesn’t even give me that. Instead throwing generic stock male characters into a room, giving them a VA with a decent singing voice. Ensemble is, at its core, a generic anime made for a generic game. That David Production is somehow producing Fire Force in the same season as this confounds me to no end. This is a hard pass for me. The first episode alone was almost impossible to get through.

Potential: 0%

Posted on 8 July 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions


Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo.

Short Synopsis: A coming-of-age of five high school girls curious about sex and all the awkward and beautiful things that come along with it. 

Mario’s review:

Now, that’s more like it. When you reach a certain age you get into an awkward phase where everything and anything would link you to sexual reference and Araburu so far understands it completely. The fact that it doesn’t make light of this issue, at the same time still manages to squeeze humor out of it, is something of an achievement. Mari Okada is in total command of her story here, although I must note that her works are always better in the beginning than when she wraps it up. What I enjoy the most out of this premiere is how brutally honest it feels, when our female cast gets swept away by hormones and where they find themselves in one embarrassing situation after the next. The scene where our main Kazusa catches her friend in the act is where this episode best delivers its theme of adolescent awkwardness, but Okada has a tendency to go overblown and we also get that in the form of club president’s sudden outburst. The art is also pleasing with round facial designs and soft outlines, which totally works for the show’s benefit. I don’t know how the show will go from here but at least this first episode stands apart by addressing the genuinely honest adolescent experience of coming to terms with their own sexual urges, in a medium where we have plenty of this but rarely dare to dig down deep enough.

Potential: 85%

Armitage’s review:

Yup. No Middle ground here. You are either gonna love this or hate it. Considering it’s an adaptation of a Mari Okada manga, it’s no surprise either. For me personally, the premiere of O Maidens in their Savage Season resonated resoundingly. It’s the kind of story that never sees the light of day, especially in anime. A story brave enough to comment about the hush-hush parts of our society and which dares to go to places only portrayed in other anime for cheap laughs. Yes, to tackle the elephant in the room, this story is about five high school girls and their curiosity about sex. Now, in less able hands, the delicate nature of the subject matter would have led the story to come off as cringy or even exploitative. However, Okada-sensei treats it with utmost care and maturity. These girls are going through puberty. Their bodies are changing drastically and they feel like losing control over it. Sex, which is always an enigma, seems like it’s staring in the face for Kazusa and the other members of the Literature group. One day, they are discussing the one thing they would like to do before dying and one of the girls, Niina, the prettiest in the school, says, ‘Sex’. And that’s what the central hook of this story seems to be. 

The character designs too stand out really well, fleshing out each character’s personality and their quirks. The cast’s chemistry already seems pretty great but it will only improve in coming episodes. The one thing that I feel some people might pinpoint as off-putting is the humor. But I think it is integral for this story to not come off as too heavy or preachy. This episode portrays incidences that tackle bullying, a girl exploring online sex-chat sites (which serves as a harsh reminder of the lack of sex education in teens) and a scene involving a girl walking in on another person masturbating. The latter was such a delicate moment to portray because it’s a tightrope. Even the slightest of missteps and the entire scene would have lost its impact. Yet, it is again handled with such maturity that it almost feels real. The awkwardness, the reluctance to make eye-contact, the shock, the over-reaction. All of it. Sure, moments later, a little humor is infused but that’s only to provide the audience with a sense of ease. And that’s what I liked the most about this show. How it knows that the themes to be explored are going to be uncomfortable. But it wants to tell a story that’s important and necessary. And for that, you can’t help but admire it.             

Potential: 95%



Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files: “Rail Zeppelin” Grace Note

Short Synopsis: After the events of Fourth Grail War, Waver purchases the El-Melloi class and eventually becomes its Lord.

Lenlo’s review:

I have to say, this first episode of El-Melloi works a lot better than the episode 0 introduction we got prior. For one, Waver and Iskander’s relationship was easily my favorite part of Fate/Zero. So I love that El-Melloi is putting so much focus on that. How it shaped Wavers character, his motivations moving forward, how it turned him into who he is for this series. Parts of it are fanservice no doubt, but it’s fanservice I love. Not the usual ecchi variety. El-Melloi also seems to be taking a much more interesting approach to combat. With Waver focusing on winning the war, not necessarily the battle. Knowing he doesn’t have to fight every battle with brute force, etc. It’s the kind of battles I enjoy, knowing there is more to it than increasingly large lazer beams and such. Story wise, El-Melloi is also avoiding one of my biggest problems with the Fate franchise with this focus. That being the sheer ridiculousness/minutiae of parts of its lore, like all of the Alter’s and how every historical figure is just another Saber. El-Melloi instead focuses more deeply on the world surrounding the Grail Wars. All things considered, if your like me and you enjoy the concept of the Fate series more than Nasu’s actual writing, and don’t mind less shounen-ey kind of show, El-Melloi seems like it will be right up our alley.

Potential: 80%

Mario’s review:

This Fate spin-off starts off on a pretty strong note. In a way, this premiere works better as a prologue than the episode 00 did, where this episode focuses entirely on filling the gap on Waver Velvet from when he was after the Fourth Holy Grail War until the present and the pact he makes with Reines as a true successor of this El Melloi family. With that focus, while we don’t have any “case” this week (which I believe to be the show’s true format), we get plenty of backstory from Velvet and the chemistry between him and other characters. It’s a solid trick since this episode successfully establishes Velvet as a compelling character who is in the middle of his own personal crisis. He has an intriguing goal the way he’s still struggling with self-worth provide plenty room for character development as the show goes on. It’s also a neat choice to call back some of the key events in Fate/Zero, although I am not sure if non-Fate/Zero watchers can pick up the details. All in all, this series has the right ingredients for a solid package (at least so far): a main character worth caring for, intriguing side characters that help expanding the Fate world, but until next week should we see if the cases Waver is dealing with are worth it or not.

Potential: 60%

Helghast’s review:

For those who are weary of the Fate franchise going down the route of magical girl spinoffs, gacha game adaptations and confusing extra stories, Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files is a refreshing return to its core narrative. Serving as more of a sequel than anything else to the excellent Fate/Zero, it’s going to follow Waver Velvet, survivor of the fourth Holy Grail War, as he grows into the shoes of his former mentor and teacher of Kayneth. The first episode certainly does an excellent in setting up his progression from being separated from Iskander to being a major player within the Mage Association with all the callbacks to Fate/Zero and its pivotal moments for our main characters. Now, instead of powerful historical servants smashing into each other, I’m excited to see an in-depth look into the politics and inner workings of The Clock Tower that other series have only shown small glimpses of. 

Studio TROYCA, who animated Re:Creators and Sakurako-san, is more than up to the task of making a well-produced show as its look something ufotable would produce minus the crazy special effects and shovel face character designs. Even Yuki Kajiura is back to score the music and that is a good sign that this just might be a show to add in the essential viewing of Fate instead of being another piece of waifu bloatware. 

Potential: 80%



Naka no Hito Genome [Jikkyouchuu]

Short Synopsis: A group of Let’s Players are sucked into a video game, and can only escape once they hit 100 million views.

Amun’s review:

“Trapped in a game world” is kind of an older brother to the standard rebirth Isekai genre – in both cases, worlds and characters are make or break for the show.  Naka no Hito Genome does neither well in the first episode. This looks like a poor man’s Danganronpa, which to me was fairly low on the tier list to begin with. The flaws start with the underlying characters – somehow we have managed to find an archetype less enjoyable than normal shut-in gamers – then move on to the animation (what are those background effects?), choppy direction, and generally sloppy storytelling.  I’m really not that interested in sitting through each character’s back story followed by a nonsensical, poorly animated big baddie with an ambiguous cliffhanger. I might give this another episode to change my mind, but this one is probably a pass from me.

Potential: 10%

Wooper’s review:

Trapped-in-a-video-game series are a dime a dozen. Without fail, the main draw of the genre is the virtual worlds themselves, so it hardly matters how the characters get there. Maybe some malevolent puppet master traps them in a VR session, or maybe they die and their souls wander into the digital realm. Or maybe they sneeze so hard that they end up inside a game, as is the case in Naka no Hito Genome. Sure, that moment may have been preceded by a mysterious email promising to spirit them away, but the most important thing is that the main character closed his eyes to sneeze, then woke up in a virtual world. Things only got stupider from there, with a llama-masked teacher explaining the rules of the game in a shoehorned classroom setting. The show strikes out in terms of characters and visuals, as well. The bargain bin designs and bizarre black streaks peppered throughout the exterior scenes had me scratching my head regarding the appeal of this series. As far as I can tell, the only reason to try Naka no Hito would be that you dream of your favorite IRL Let’s Play person getting sucked into a game. If that’s you, please watch this so I don’t have to.

Potential: 10%

Posted on 6 July 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions


Dr. Stone

Short Synopsis: A teen self-proclaimed scientist and his loud sidekick try and revive humanity after being turned into stone for thousands of years. 

Lenlo’s review:

My biggest worry about Dr. Stone going into it was how the anime would adapt Boichi’s art into animation. For the most part, it seems to have gone well. Occasionally the complex designs get in the way, but Dr. Stone handled itself well. And in place of flashy animation, Dr. Stone has some clever tricks up its sleeve. Such as the timelapse near the end, which did more in 2 minutes than some series do in 23. Now, the only issue facing Dr. Stone is its slow start. The series doesn’t really get going until after this introductory arc, where Senku starts going wild and playing with science. The way it was handled in this episode though makes a good impression for the future I feel. Suffice to say, if your going into this expecting classic Shounen battles and such, then Dr. Stone may not be for you. However if you enjoy all the regular Shounen tropes and want a chance to watch them work in a mostly non-battle setting like I do, then I see no reason not to stick with it.

Potential: 75%

Armitage’s review:

This is a series which really needs no introduction. One of Shounen Jump’s most prized properties. A manga that seems to have only been growing in popularity since it started being published and one that barely misses out a spot on their Big 3 in terms of sales. But, that’s to be expected, as it involves some good ol’ Science!! Finally, we have Dr. STONE: The Anime. The story is actually pretty interesting and has a real catchy hook (not as much of a gut-punch as Neverland, but that’s an unfair yet inevitable comparison). Humanity being turned to stone, for thousands of years. Well, 3780 years to be exact. How do we know that? Because our boy Senku, counted every goddamn second! Yup. The kid’s wicked smart. 

His plan, is to revive all of human civilization and have them progress from stone age to modern day, but you know, at real breakneck speed. Looks promising! The art and animation too are mostly competent for most parts. My only issue is our other main character, Taiju, who seems to have been brought into anime form with the ‘Asta from Black Clover’ syndrome. He is obnoxiously loud. And at some points, that really started to get on my nerves. Also, I know that the early few episodes won’t be as stellar, since the manga goes through a soft reset in vol. 2 and from that point on, things really pick up. Still, if you can ignore these minor quibbles, this should be a fun ride!

Potential: 75%



Enen no Shouboutai

Short Synopsis: A new recruit joins a squad of supernatural firefighters in order to become a hero.

Lenlo’s review:

Whew, is it hot in here, or is that just Fire Force? Seriously, if nothing else, the show looks good. If David Production can keep this up for all 4 cours, I will be impressed. That said, it was a rocky start for me. Fire Force had a lot it wanted to get across in a single episode. From its tragic backstory and its world building, to not one but 2 fantastically animated fights. It tried to shove a lot in there and this resulted in some… sudden tonal shifts, for me. The actual content was fine, it’s mostly your usual Shounen fare, though with a rather interesting twist this time. It just seemed to me to be a bit cramped. However if Shounen or fantastic fight animation is your game, I think this series from the creator of Soul Eater will be right up your alley. I know it’s up mine. I mean c’mon, 4 cours of beautiful fire animation? I have to see this.

Potential: 90%

Wooper’s review:

I read the first volume of the manga for this one, and the anime adaptation is off to a solid start. That may seem like faint praise, but given the striking nature of Atsushi Okobo’s art, an accurate translation to the TV screen indicates a hell of an effort by the creative team. The linework in particular is really crisp, so the characters are fun to watch even during their tropiest moments. There’s a bit of SHAFT flavor here, too, as some of the people on staff are refugees from that studio. The shots that place pipes and other machinery in the foreground to obscure the characters provide a slightly darker atmosphere, and the morphing shadows of Shinra’s relatives amplify the cruelty of their gossip regarding his tragic past. And then there’s the main attraction. While there’s a smattering of computer-generated flames during the big fight scene at the end (as well as a couple backgrounds that are entirely CG), the show’s treatment of fire is awesome. Combustion this impressive-looking lends believability to the series’ Solar Era future, where people pray to the sun god and an unlucky few spontaneously burst into flames. Even if this premise fails to spark my interest going forward, the art and animation should carry me through.

Potential: 80%



Granbelm

Short Synopsis: A girl finds herself in the middle of cat mecha fight before pilots one herself.

Lenlo’s review:

Granbelm has me more than a little confused. It’s like Madoka Magica with a hint of Fate and a dash of chibi Mecha, all wrapped up in Re:Zero’s character designs. Yet with none of the magic those series had. It feels like it was adapted from a gacha game really. I can’t decide if it’s a terribly generic mesh of a bunch of successful series, or some authors attempt to stand out. Don’t get me wrong, Granbelm is pretty enough I suppose, it didn’t look bad in motion, though the Mecha felt pretty weightless. And the Re:Zero character designs still look great, regardless of what show they are in. Its just that there was never a single moment in this episode where I felt invested in what was going on. No singular aspect stood out to me as interesting. Maybe that’s just my predilection against Cute Girl shows. Maybe it’s the mecha designs. I dunno. Granbelm doesn’t look bad, it’s not the worst show I have seen so far this season. It’s just the most… average.

Potential: 30%

Mario’s review:

It’s rather refreshing to see hand-drawn mecha fights in the time where the industry tends to cut corners with CG animation… if only I have a reason to care about those fights. Having extended battle from the two sides we haven’t known, nor cared about, is a pretty bad idea. Add to that we have the plain main girl hasn’t established any distinct personality before being swept up to all this. The general plot doesn’t push the envelope as it goes pretty formulaic (for example the main girl is “the one” or she takes literally 2 minutes before mastering her moves), yet I don’t dismiss it entirely because the core concepts of these girls as mages piloting robots to retrieve magic could become epic on its own way. So in the end we have an episode with solid mecha animation, one-note characters all around and the plot that could go serious as the story pans out. I can see the ambitions from the staff, the question remains whether they can pull it off.

Potential: 30%

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions


Maou-sama, Retry!

Short Synopsis: A game developer is taken to the world he created following the game’s shutdown.

Amun’s review:
No two ways about this – Maou-sama Retry should take a mulligan on that first episode. As a moderate fan of the Isekai genre, I feel this is a case study in what not to lead with. Isekai’s major strength is that it gives an excuse for a fantastic world – Maou-sama did absolutely nothing to interest me in this world or these characters. While posturing as self aware, Maou-sama Retry seems to misunderstand what core strengths made other Isekai titles like Konasuba or Re:Zero enjoyable: unique characters in a well-built world. This anime just seems poorly done all around – sloppy writing, forced voice acting (props to whoever is doing the subs though – they are trying mighty hard to embellish this wooden dialogue), poor environment, and really blatantly shoddy animation. This young studio brought us Crossing Time, which I have mixed feelings on, but this episode highlights clear weaknesses that do not bode well for future projects.
Potential: 5%

Lenlo’s review:
Maou-sama managed to impress me with just how terrible this first episode is. Literally everything bores the crap out of me. This is below even your bog standard Isekai. The world is dull. The character designs, are dull (And who thought putting a mafia boss in a fantasy world was a good idea?). Maou-Sama even managed to make its opening showy fight, dull. At least with last seasons One Punch Man I could sense the passion behind parts of the project. At least some people clearly cared. But this? I don’t want to watch 5 more minutes of this, let alone an entire season.
Potential: 0%

 

Uchi no Ko no Tame Naraba

Short Synopsis: A local adventurer finds a lost demon girl in the forest and adopts her.

Amun’s review:
On paper, Uchi no Ko no Tame Naraba, Ore wa Moshikashitara Maō mo Taoseru Kamoshirenai (or roughly translated, If It’s For My Daughter, I Could Defeat The Demon King) seems similar to another current show, Maou-sama Retry: both have devils in the title, both have abandoned little girls, both are made by extremely new studios, and both are adventure shows at heart. However, the similarities with Maou-sama Retry end there, because If It’s For My Daughter sparkles in its first episode. Sure, there’s a bit too much close up Moe Eyes, sure there are some plot holes and suspensions of disbelief (let’s overlook kidnapping and child endangerment), but this is how to kick off a season right: clearly define characters with room to grow, introduce a nice world setting and mechanics, and show some clear problems to keep the viewer interested – looks good so far!
Potential: 85%

Mario’s review:
If you regard this one as a lesser-Usagi Drop, or even a lesser Udon no Kuni, you’re pretty much on track. It offers the same feel as those titles, with much less subtle and even less production quality. On the bright side, the chemistry between the main guy and Latina is solid and Latina IS CUTE. The show also adds some extra flavor of raising the child not in the real world like its predecessor, but in a fantasy world where they can explore the “race” issues. And while Latina’s cute appeal is the show biggest asset right now, the same doesn’t apply for the other lead. The main guy is undoubtedly likable, but he’s also unmemorable and the casual remark that he’s just 18 leaves me somewhat baffled (AN 18 YO KID CAN’T POSSIBLY RAISE A CHILD, LET ALONE THIS DUDE WITH NO EXPERIENCE). Add to that my biggest concern is the production values as it already looks stiff in this first episode, especially the facial expressions of everyone except the little girl. Still, the healing feel is right there so if you’re a fan of this particular genre, or you just want a feel-good show in your weekly dose, then this remains a solid pick.
Potential: 40%

 

Joshikousei no Mudazukai

Short Synopsis: A teenage girl starts high school and pesters her friends about wanting to be popular.

Wooper’s review:
Joshikousei’s title translates to “Wasteful Days of High School Girls,” but if I were in charge of its localization, I’d call it “Wasteful Time Spent Watching This Show.” And that’s kind of a shame, because I wanted to like it. If anybody remembers Nichibros from 2011, this show is a more straightforward, less energetic version of its High School Girls are Funky segments. In both cases, the emphasis is on satirizing the eternal CGCDT trend in anime and manga, which isn’t a bad concept. Unlike the characters from those side stories, however, Joshikousei’s main cast comprises three dead fish whose dry deliveries had me wishing for the end of the episode by its midpoint. The main girl, whose non-sequitur dialogue consumes most of the script, can’t carry the unimpactful gags on her own. This issue is compounded by her friends’ disdain for her shallow personality, so it’s not as though the show can use them to bail itself out. There are two bright spots on the visual end, though. Both the character designs and background art nicely emphasize the idea of wasting your life; the girls’ simple appearances make them look bored at all times, while the pretty backgrounds provide a pointed contrast to their idle chatter. It’s a good trick, but I’d rather take a stroll through town myself than watch these characters do it a second time.
Potential: 30%

Mario’s review:
I remember checking out the first few chapters for the Preview and bailed out because the jokes don’t work at all, so I’m glad to say that it translates quite well in the anime format. Joshikousei falls comfortably in a same range as Nichijou and Daily Lives of High School Boys (Nichibros – that makes it Nichisis??), a parody to countless slice-of life High School and CGDCT shows, but it manages to stand apart. Part of the success lies in its witty exchanges from its varied cast, and these three mains (another wink to its inspirations) bounce off each other nicely. There’s a level of self-awareness in its humor and I enjoy the talky, loose nature of their jokes which reminds me a great deal of Kouji Kumeta’s (Sayonara Zetsubou sensei, Joshiraku) works. The art and character designs are pleasing and so far with the large cast of archetypal girls, they have more than enough room for parodying these characters in the future.
Potential: 50%

Posted on 4 July 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions


Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e

Short Synopsis: In the wake of a civil war, a squad of shape-shifting soldiers become murderous beasts, who are hunted by their former leader.

Amun’s review:
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts starts off their first episode with typical war anime exposition and setting – supernatural squad turns around impossible situation with immense personal cost.  However, a twist! We now have our former war heroes become villains (with a side of an odd love triangle, which inevitably spawns the main big baddie). The daughter of a squad member also is innocuously introduced, implying immense imminent importance.

Overall, not a bad first episode – however, I’m wary since the quality (almost) always deteriorates after number 1. Personally, I think the fighting animation is fine (typical MAPPA), but the character designs are surprisingly from the wrong decade…I haven’t seen hair like that since the 80s X-men.  If you watched Fairy Gone last season, this will probably be very similar (thankfully without the random CGI). I’m also getting some real Darker than Black 2 vibes from the main character pairing and some whiffs of Golden Kamuy for the plot progression (probably without the humor, sadly). Overall, I would say this is shaping up to be your forgettable, albeit enjoyable B-tier action/revenge show for the season.
Potential: 50%

Lenlo’s review:
Holy exposition Batman! I joke, but this first episode was actually alright. It did a good job of getting me interested in the company and their plight. Introducing us to most of them first as people/characters before they become monsters of the week. Assuming Sacred Beasts uses them right, doesn’t make them all bloodthirsty monsters and properly explores aspects of the horrors of war and what is does to a person by metaphorically turning soldiers into monsters, I think there could be a lot of value in it. That said, its MAPPA, so I don’t expect any sort of consistency in production, and the Manga is still ongoing so we won’t be receiving a concrete ending anytime soon. Both of those make me hesitant to recommend it because I believe there will be better action fare this season. However, if your up for a war story and willing to take a chance, Sacred Beasts may fill that niche. At the least, I will be giving it a shot.
Potential: 55%

 

Kanata no Astra

Short Synopsis: A group of nine students get stranded in space on their school trip.

Armitage’s review:
Alrighty, then! We have our first one of the most anticipated shows this season, in Kanata no Astra. And even though I am not familiar with the source, I know that it is regarded very highly in manga circles. The premise is about a group of teenagers who get transported to… nope, not another world. Space! Because if it ain’t isekai, it ain’t gonna sell! Nobody wants to watch a classic, by the books space opera. LoTGH, you say? Pfft! Boring. Though, in all seriousness, Kanata no Astra takes its premise and runs it home. I loved how some of the conversations were just called out for being cliche and also appreciated the comc timing of some of the jokes. Though, the manga is by the author of SKET Dance, so it’s no surprise really. The characters by themselves aren’t that memorable. Out of all, Kanata and Aries stood out the most. Though, over more episodes, everyone should get their time to shine. 

But for me, the highlight of the premiere was definitely the OST. Issogood! It’s upbeat and sort of Jazz influenced but it’s been a long time since I listened to an OST so memorable. I can remember four standout tracks from just one episode! That’s no small feat. My only issue with this premier was how the animation was lacking in parts. Lot of still frames and lack of character expressions at points. Now, Lerche isn’t exactly known for their fluid animation work, but if it gets too bad, it sort of distracts from the story.  Hope it doesn’t come to that. But all in all, I really liked this premiere! Can’t wait to see where Astra takes these kids! If nothing else, I hope we get a few more gems like “UNTIMUT DAIBAMOMO!!” XD
Potential: 85%

Mario’s review:
Despite the occasional hiccup, Kanata no Astra’s strong premise makes the double-length premiere well worth it. On the plus side, this show has a strong sense of direction (it knows where it’s going), and the thrilling part works decently most of the time. The main lead has a fair share of backstory in this episode, which I expect will be the case for the rest of the cast as we spend more time with them. They have already planted some dynamics between this diverse cast, which is nice, but it also leaves me many concerns in that regard. First, the comedic bits aren’t the show’s strong suits, as every time the characters make some silly remarks or reactions, it falls flat. Second, the dialogues aren’t that memorable either. Some are intentional (especially when it comes to Kanata the male lead), but overall these exchanges are rather typical. Consider how Kanata no Astra will rely on these chemistries between their characters as one of its themes, they will have to work more in that department. The action part is mostly well done, although at the expense of some logical leap. For example, they totally forget about “the rope” when the cast attempts to save the leads (Note: I just found out in the manga version the leads did use the rope. Aghhh. Stupid lousy alteration). Overall, Kanata no Astra is worth checking out and there’s still space (pun intended) for developments as we know the cast better in later episodes.
Potential: 75%

 

Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?

Short Synopsis: Two high school girls join their local gym for different reasons, and develop an unlikely friendship.

Wooper’s review:
A show about cute girls lifting cute weights? My gym experience is limited, but I guess I’ll give it a shot. What’s that? The show is full of advice regarding exercise form, eating habits, and even workout supplements? The characters are super entertaining thanks to their fitness-related quirks and overreactions? The OP and ED feature a peppy personal trainer chanting English phrases such as “Yes muscle!” and “Nice form!” along with the music? Alright, you sold me. In all seriousness, this premiere was quite good, and a lot of it has to do with the characters. Things aren’t made easy for female lead Hibiki, who joins a gym in order to lose weight and snag a boyfriend, but discovers that muscle training is much more difficult than it looks. She reacts to fitness culture with a mix of confusion, intimidation, and horror, but by the end of the first episode, she’s already formed a bond with Akemi, a health nut with an amusingly intense muscle fetish. With a girl like Akemi around, the show’s exercise goals for Hibiki will probably deepen over time, which provides a clear road for its story to travel. The one criticism I have is that Hibiki looks like a typical slim anime girl for the majority of her screen time, despite the declaration that she’s on the heavy side. Maybe she’s just extremely body conscious? Even if the show doesn’t address this issue, the comedy is still strong and the visuals are above par, so I’m down to follow this for a full season.
Potential: 75%

Armitage’s review:
Right. So all you body-conscious girls and boys, raise your hands, if getting off your ass and going to the gym sounds like a pain!… No? No one? Oh, right. Raising your hands is kind of a workout too. Ah, my kind of people. So, here we have our run of the mill cute-girls-doing-testosterone-fueled-masculine-exercises anime of the season. You know, the usual. We have our MC, Hibiki who just wants to enjoy her 6-7 meals a day, stay slim and have a nice ass. Is that too much to ask for? Nay, I say! But still, as our goddess Britney Spears has aptly mentioned in her popular hymn: “You want a hot body? You gotta work, B**ch!” 

So, Hibiki decides to join a gym. You know, the girly kind with slender, pretty trainers and couples clicking selfies. But the gym she ends up enrolling herself in, turns out to be quite the opposite. And what we get in the rest of the episode is some pretty neat information about gym exercises and correct posture. That too is presented in a very non-male-gazey way. Except for when it’s played for laughs (which works hilariously). So, yeah. All in all, I had a real good time with this premiere. This very well has the potential to be the sleeper of the season! And hey, if nothing, we’ve got two really upbeat songs as the OP and ED to listen to. while working out at the gym. Whenever that happens. (In the near future, promise!)
Potential: 80%

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

Kenja no Mago

Short Synopsis: Some guy dies in a car accident (how many times has it been already?) and is reincarnated into an overpowered wizard.

Mario’s review:
As I mentioned in the Seasonal Preview, Kenja no Mago obtains a deadly combination: it serves as both an isekai and a magical high school harem. The result? The most blatant, shameless show that embraces all the tired tropes with zero tact. First, not only the protagonist is already overpowered, he has the knowledge of an adult and he has the memory of modern world. The level of he learning new magic reaches a ridiculous level as he literally blows everyone away with his power. So it sucks out all the fun when we know he will overcome everything, with ease. The supporting characters fare no better as they are cliched with familiar tropes, even down to their designs and their dialogues. The production is horrible as you can see in the above screenshot where the main character just floats around the still background. The world building is samey-samey with nothing interesting of note and guess what, cute girls with big boobs already line up to be his future classmates. When the show that only cares for making things easy for the protagonist, why should we care?
Potential: 0%


Carole & Tuesday

Short Synopsis: A runaway rich girl and a street-smart orphan meet in a bustling Martian city and decide to compose music together.

Wooper’s review:
This was undoubtedly one of my most anticipated shows of the season, and I’m happy to report that it’s pretty good! The animation is top notch, with attention being lavished on moments both big and small. From shots as complex as Carole’s hoverboarding scene down to the way a guitar case shifts when you pop one of its latches, the team at Bones really pushed themselves for this episode. The characters’ outfits are particularly stylish, with fancy dresses, belts, piercings, and the coolest pair of overalls Mars has to offer on display. The main characters themselves are well-worn types, but they’re backed by strong showings from two hungry young seiyuu. By the end of the episode, their passion for music makes their bid for stardom feel worthwhile, but there are some potential hang-ups surrounding the jam session near the end. The all-English lyrics are repetitive and simple, and pop music won’t be everyone’s bag, despite being Carole & Tuesday’s bread and butter. Luckily, there are already subplots and side characters populating the script, from an actress who wants to break into the music biz to the friction between A.I. composers and the old guard of record producers. Without these stories to offer extra information about C&T’s vision of the future, the series might have felt too conservative. Thankfully, its detours are doubly exciting due to the show’s colorful, detail-heavy nature. Check this one out if you haven’t already.
Potential: 75%

Helghast’s review:
Netflix is back to save anime once again by throwing a ton of money behind the very well-regarded director of Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Kids on the Slope, Zankyou no Terror) and enlisting Studio Bones to do the animation. That kind of support pays off in spades when it comes to the glorious production values and soundtrack that would find little trouble in appealing to both Japanese and international audiences. For example, the character designs takes cues from contemporary anime and western influence to create a visually alluring cast that embraces the ideal cosmopolitan future of a terraformed Mar. While Yoko Kanno isn’t scoring the music, the Canadian composer of Mocky is more than capable of crafting the OST with his background of R&B, Funk and Soul that would complement the upbeat and futuristic tone of Alba city. I’m glad they went with the route of switching the VAs from Japanese to their English counterparts when it came to singing the songs. While it comes off as a bit jarring, it is a far better solution than having VAs attempt to sing at the musical levels that Carole & Tuesday demands. Speaking of VAs, I can hear Shinji (Fate/Stay Night) taking on the role of the all-knowing producer with his AIs and predictive algorithms. This sets up the multiple character threads that will no doubt end up intertwining together and clashing between the assembly-line manufactured songs and unrestricted freedom of Carole and Tuesday.
Potential: Should have streamed on a Tuesday but would still watch on a Thursday.


Sarazanmai

Short Synopsis: Three boys are transformed into kappa after angering Keppi, the successor to the throne of the Kappa Kingdom.

Mario’s review:
IKUHARA IS BACK. He’s one of my two favorite directors working in this industry (the other is the late Satoshi Kon), so I had a ridiculously exorbitant expectation for this one, and this premiere manages to match it with flying colors. Well, I still regard his Penguindrum premiere as the better one (in fact, one of my favorite opener of this decade), but this one comes very close to that bar. There’s his visual quirks, there’s his heavy symbolism, there’s his irreverent humor that is both bizarre and charming at the same time. His distinctive style won’t be for everyone, though. The sequences where our characters pop out from Kappa King’s butt can easily turn viewers off; and this episode lacks the dramatic weight (another one of his trademark) that only hinted very slightly at the end of the episode. Everything else though, is a knockout. The premise is so weird and fun that it’s refreshing to see how it folds out. The visual is simply sublime that at no point the REAListic backgrounds become a distraction, and the layers of symbolism so far work for the show’s benefits. I’ll be frank, Sarazanmai is everything I could ask for. Keep this up and I am a happy Mario.
Potential: 1000%

Wooper’s review:
This episode was an achievement in both visual presentation and symbolic saturation. The first of those two items is a straightforward compliment, but the second may be backhanded – Ikuhara and MAPPA have packed this thing to the gills with metaphorical objects, to the point where it feels overstuffed. We’re entering Penguindrum territory after just one episode, and your preparedness for this series will be a lot greater if you’ve seen that earlier work. There are cardboard boxes, cucumbers, bridges, and dishes all over this episode, representing the secrets and connections held by the three main characters, but they hardly pose any interpretive difficulties. The real wrench comes when the boys’ shirikodama are wrenched from their anuses, and we pass through several layers of reality with different art styles and functions. One is a miniature musical number, one is a dimly-lit combat set piece (against a giant screeching cardboard box), and one is a melding of minds where a character’s deepest secret is revealed to the other two. By the time you come out the other end, the episode is nearly over, and you’re wondering what the hell you’ve just watched. But that’s when the show hits you with a post-credits scene featuring two sexy policemen and a giant taiko drum, which makes even less sense than everything that’s come before. What ties all of these crazy elements together are the nostalgic background art, beautiful animation, and double-edged sense of mystery and fun. There’s no way to predict where the show will go from here, but its visual magnificence is likely to persist.
Potential: 85%

Helghast’s review:
I don’t know what those two above me are smoking but if you enjoy cross dressing, yaoi, anal, scat and bestiality all mixed up in a drugged-fueled psychotic dream, then this is for you. For the rest of us, RUN AWAY.
Potential: 0.69%

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Featured Posts

Kanata no Astra – 03 [Meteor]

This week in Kanata no Astra happens almost entirely inside the spaceship, and with that we come to learn more about some characters, the “conspiracy theory” and how once again they need to work together to save their asses. Put frankly, I found the way the discussion turns into a suspect game just based on […]

Carole & Tuesday – 12-14

We finally get to the end of the Mars Brightest contest and the beginning of the new arc (with shining new OP and ED to boost), but narratively it’s not much of a big gap between these three episodes. While we can see how it wraps up from miles away, episode 12 wraps up the […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 16 [Letting Someone Else Go First]

Welcome one and all to one of the more tragic episodes of Kimetsu no Yaiba. This week a Demon falls, Inosuke becomes a dating sim and Tanjiro makes googly eyes at someones mom. Let’s dive in! Right off the bat, this week makes up for last in terms of production. Not even talking about the […]

Mix – 14-15 [We’re Losing/I Wanted to See That Expression]

I’ve got to lead with a gripe: Mix’s new OP is worse than the first. I haven’t got anything against Porno Graffiti as a band, but Akihito Okano’s vocal performance is too deliberate and modern for a show this committed to naturalism. What’s ironic is that Sumika, who provided “Equal” for the first opening, have […]

Dr.STONE – 3 [Weapons of Science]

Hello everyone, time for another day at the anime blogging grindstone. This week Tsukasa’s conflict comes to the fore, Yuzuriha wakes up and our team goes for a hike. Let’s get to it! This week, Dr.STONE continued to make good use of Boichi’s original art. However we are starting to see some of the limitations […]

O Maidens in Your Savage Season – 03 [Willy’s Real Rear Wheel]

I hate stereotypes. Mostly because they’re just the viewpoints of people lazy enough to not make the effort to know better. And from personal experience, I can safely say that women bear the burden of facing this almost all the time. Unjustified and stupid as it may be. If you’re a blonde, you must be […]

Serial Experiments Lain – 12 [Landscape] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome, one and all, to the penultimate episode of Serial Experiments Lain! This is a weird one, yet I feel like I got it on some level. As Lain questions peoples perception, her place in the world, and Masami’s words, let’s just dive right in. Starting off, I haven’t been bringing it up as much […]

Given – 02 [Like Someone In Love]

Contrary to the common belief, I feel that sunrises are far more prettier than sunsets. That’s because they represent a shimmering, sanguine new beginning. So, with that random fact about me out of the way, Hello Everyone! It’s your girl, Armitage. And today, we kick off and let the metaphorical sun rise on our coverage […]

O Maidens in Your Savage Season – 02 [Es Ee Ecks]

To someone on the outside looking in, the anime medium, or what it has become now, comprises of some incredibly good seasonal shows that never become truly great; behind these, we have a slew of solid ones followed by a sea of mediocrity. And all this covers a fifty feet deep pile of crap that […]

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