Posted by SuperMario 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 by Lenlo on 8 July 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kimetsu no Yaiba

Welcome to another week of Kimetsu no Yaiba. This week we take a break as our trio get to know each other, have some dinner and meet best sister Nezuko. Let’s get into it!

Right off the bat, I am rather split on this episode. Both in terms of production/animation and the actual narrative of it. There are things I really like and things I don’t for both. For instance, Yaiba did a really good job with the hand-to-hand combat animation! That was a pretty sick combat, and it was a nice change of pace from the swords and demons. Something nice and mundane. However, Yaiba also really overused the “comedy” style for my this episode. With the blank faces and really simplistic art style. It’s not the comedy itself, that was hit or miss and I will get into that later. It’s just the style. It works better on some characters than others, clearly. With the simple dots for eyes and round heads. For the most part though, I want to call Yaiba a success this week.

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Posted by SuperMario 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 by SuperWooper on 6 July 2019 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 by Lenlo on 5 July 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Action, One Punch Man S2, Reviews by Lenlo

Often at the start of one of these reviews, I will wax philosophical about a series. Attempting to slowly draw you, the reader, in to whatever topic or anime I am discussing in that review. This time, none of that. This time, I have to come out and say from the beginning, that One Punch Man Season 2 is terrible. Though there are a few occasional gems throughout the series, thanks to one Kenichiro Aoki, most of the series is a mess. On every level. This review won’t even be comparing One Punch Man Season 2 to the original, as that is just unfair. Even if you didn’t like it, in terms of pure production, the first season was on the upper end. Sadly though, this 2nd Season can’t even stand up to the average show in it’s own season.

So all that said, lets get right into it.

(Disclaimer: I am working to make 50 the new “average”. 70 is not an average score people. 70 is above average. Carry on.)

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Posted by SuperMario 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 by Lenlo on 3 July 2019 with categories: One Punch Man S2

Oh OPM, you never make it easy. Even in your finale, you can’t just let me love or hate you. You have to show some good animation besides terrible, good sound design beside horrific, good CGI alongside bad. It’s enough to make a man wanna scream. Lucky for you I suppose I get to write a review about you in full this week. If you thought Dororo was scathing, watch this. For now though, OPM S2, lets jump in.

Starting off, the production. This was a wild ride. Everything 2D was sub-par, disappointing even after episode 11’s showing with Garou. Meanwhile the CGI for Centichoro actually looked quite good! There were some moments where it seemed like it wasn’t fully rendered, but hey. This thing almost killed Murata just to draw it. I imagine making a CGI model for it wasn’t much easier, nor was rendering it. So kudo’s on that front at least JC Staff. Specifically, thank you Kenichiro Aoki, for doing your best to save this season. If nothing else, OPM S2 burned your name into my memory, for making a majority of the best scenes of it’s season. Sadly, even your heroic effort cannot save it. Because however good your scenes, almost everything surrounding it was just trash.

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Posted by Lenlo on 1 July 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kimetsu no Yaiba

Another week, another episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba, though not a great one. Zenitsu gets less annoying, and the fights are fun, but the pacing is off and the narrative is questionable. That said, let’s get into some details and jump in!

Starting off, like always, production. Animation wise, Yaiba was fine. The rotating room was still great, but it wasn’t as strong as last episode. It felt like Yaiba almost got too ambitious with the whole thing. Leading to some weaker angles that didn’t work. For the most part though, Yaiba looked fine. I still quite enjoy its style, the thick black lines and heavy contrast. Reminds me of some comics. No, the big question for me was narratively, specifically the pacing of it all. Yaiba just felt really weird this week. With a few repeated scenes, or odds timings. For example, at the end, as Tanjiro just stands there for upwards of 2-3 minutes. Or basically repeating Kyogai’s backstory twice, along with his whole defeat. Yaiba has been moving at a fast pace for awhile now, and normally it works well. But it seems to be catching up with itself.

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Posted by SuperWooper on 29 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Mix

I missed last week’s post due to a temporary Hearthstone addiction, so here’s a doubleheader for you. These episodes stepped away from the show’s recent focus on romance and character building, opting to broaden the cast in preparation for the East Tokyo summer tournament. Episode 13 actually covers the opening innings of Meisei’s first game, and I have to acknowledge some disappointment at the return to the baseball diamond. It’s a sweet sort of disappointment, though, as I’d been afraid near the start of the series that sports would be the show’s greatest strength. Knowing that the characters are carrying things can propel me through some of the less impressive baseball scenes, which are plagued by static shots and oppressive lighting. Mix’s visual limitations become even clearer when you realize that it refuses to depict characters running the basepaths, cutting directly to the moments when they’re called out by the base umps. Cross Game wasn’t much of a looker either, if I recall – guess I’ve become more critical since then.

The rest of these two episodes make up for the show’s so-so presentation, though. The Tachibana brothers (or Tachibros, as I’ve taken to calling them in my notes) were in fine form for both installments, particularly Souichiro, who’s becoming one of my favorite characters despite the show’s clear Touma bias. His secret desire to pitch may be temporarily squashed as we enter sports anime mode, but the show’s commitment to the story is clear at this point. Coach Goro directly encourages him to pursue the position in episode 12, but Sou is convinced that his brother wouldn’t lose the ace spot so easily. His previous observation that Touma’s ability was buoyed by his own skill as a catcher speaks to his confidence, but that’s one challenge he’s not ready to face yet. Still, he’ll challenge Touma to rock-paper-scissors to use the bath, then offer him the spot without even looking at the result; he’s not above pushing his brother’s buttons regarding their RPS history. The brothers’ reaction to Haruka’s scouting report in the following episode was also quite entertaining. One couldn’t be bothered to read the hefty document, while the other instantly memorized it and used the opportunity to flirt. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which was which.

“Lightly” was most notable for its focus on Meisei High’s past. We finally got the story of Sou and Otomi’s father, the man who took up the mantle of starting pitcher after the school’s miracle run 30 years ago. Though his career was cut short by injury, I can’t say I felt much for the guy, as I’d rather follow the story developing in the current day. It was nice that Otomi got to talk about her dad with a classmate’s mother for a bit, though, especially in the wake of her regret from two weeks ago. As for the story developing in the here and now, much of it centers on Tomohito Akai, power hitter for Kenjo High and older brother to Ryou (the heartthrob of Otomi’s ninth grade class). Tomohito has a massive chip on his shoulder, shooting down Arisa’s attempt to give flowers to his brother and criticizing him for taking too long to deliver a package to Kenjo’s campus during after school practice. It’s Touma who steps in during his terrible treatment of Arisa, setting up their rivalry both on and off the field, but I’m more interested in Ryou’s side of things here. There’s a scene between him and Otomi where she broaches the subject of their difficult relationship, but his reluctance to respond informs us that there’s a bigger story there. I’m looking forward to learning the details of that story in the coming weeks.

Posted by Lenlo on 29 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

I will admit, this episode of Serial Experiments Lain was difficult to get through. This week we learn about History, both of our and Lain’s world, and get more information on the Knights. So lets just jump into it!

Starting off, this episode felt… weird. I don’t want to say it was a waste, as it introduced the series endgame with Masami. But it feels like beyond that, not much happened. Like a lot of exposition and additional information got thrown at us solely to setup the ending of said episode. That isn’t to say there wasn’t some progress, I think Lain demonstrated Lain’s deteriorating mental state well. With her difference in personality when dealing with Taro, or the Alien who came into her room. It’s making a very clear point that Lain feels isolated from society now. Just like she was, if not more so, at the start of the series. It’s just the conspiracy stuff surrounding that which I felt really broke up the episode for me.

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