Well, first off, I know I haven’t posted many new material here for the last 2 weeks, but it was more because I was in a total mood for the new season of anime. It’s always my favorite part of the season and I always regard this period as wine-tasting period. You take a sip and see which one you want for more. About this Summer 2018 season, while I agree that this season is lackluster, especially compared to the previous season with only 1 true hit Banana Fish, there are a surprisingly rich under-the-radar, sleeper hits from wide range across many genres (we have sports, comedy and even “idol” shows for a chance). This season turns out to be much better than I thought it would be, at least so far.
So far, I’ve watched 30 new shows with some shows yet to air until next weekend, which I’ll update here once I watch it. Those remaining shows are Aguu: Tensai Ningyou (from Chinese web Manhua which no one care to sub), Tsukumogami Kashimasu and Muhyo to Rouji no Mahoritsu Soudan Jimusho (on that note, you won’t find the 3rd season of Attack on Titan here as I fall off that Titan’s wheel during its second season). I’ll group the shows based on colour code (see below), and while I don’t officially rank them, the order we have here is from my least to most favorite. Let’s do this:
[Update: I’ve added 4 more premieres: Baki, Aguu: Tensai Ningyou, Zoids Wild and Tsukumogami Kashimasu to the list. Muhyo to Rouji no Mahoritsu Soudan Jimusho will air next weekend. Scroll down to check them out.]
AKA Your Typical Anime Garbage Bin
Back Street Girls
And the last spot’s reversed for Back Street Girls. Do you find it funny? Is it funny? Well the premise is so outrageous it’s actually hilarious but the way this episode shows it just kill off all the hilarious part. First, after 20 minutes I still can’t tell apart any of the main characters, because boys they acted like one person. Second, the animation… is it even qualified as animation? The production is really amateurist with the scenes are mostly composed with moving Powerpoint presentation and slightly off sound. Even the jokes become repetitive after halfway mark. This shit is terrible, man.
Sunoharasou no Kanrinin-san
Boy, even with me, who is fond of slice of life shows, couldn’t find anything remotely interesting regarding this. This first episode had only two things going on: that this kid is a boy despite looks (and behaves) like a girl, and his boarding house caretaker has a massive bouncing boob. There’s no story to begin with, but the fan-service fares so much worse, uncomfortably so. You see, not only she waked the kid up by putting her chest to his face, she determines to wash his back naked and let ms him touch her chest. Aahh! The show looks bland and other characters have some sort of fetish, not in the good way. This is just a huge waste of time.
Your typical game adaptation in service for promoting toys more than it concerns about the story. If you have encountered series of the same kind such as Yugioh and Baybe… you know the drill here. Protagonist with only one dominant trait (that is “annoying”) who happens to make a pact with the best Zoids beast out there. The plot is a dime a dozen and doesn’t have much to distinct itself from the pack. The cast is a bunch of paper-thin personality and the fight is bareboned. The only factor that makes this one has any sort of its own identity is the design of the Zoids beasts, which basically a beast in robot form. Make no mistake, this is strictly for kids who already play this game and don’t care much about the story. Others have no reason to watch this.
Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria
Another generic isekai garbage? Dude, how can we end this nightmare? If you want to see all the snapshots of cliche, lazy written isekai story, you can’t go wrong with this one and Demon Lord earlier. It’s educational, after all, to see those that embrace all the tired tropes of the genre. Again, this boy transported into another world with knowledge (and a smartphone) that immediately makes him overpowered in this new world. Girls with different hair color and boob sizes following his every step, even blatantly hit on him. But of course the guy’s a Saint so he never thinks of them that way… you know… all the usual crap. This one doesn’t even attempt to make anything different, and shows with no identity like this are the most forgettable ones.
Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu
Next up from garbage isekai, we have… anothe garbage isekai. Talking about typical isekai garbage, this one fits all the bill. Why does something like this get adapted in a first place? I feel pity, truly, for the spineless protagonist who is too bland and generic that he has to embrace his game’s player personality. I feel pity for the author himself. I don’t know how he is in real life that he needs to go such extend to satisfy his wet dream. Girls already become his slave, one of them with basketball-size boob, the other one develops a feeling for him after he harass her? And there will be 3 MORE GIRLS WAITING IN QUEUE. Even those stupid tropes I just mentioned are nothing new in anime today, which makes me question again why is something uninspiring and terrible like this get made. Sometimes, just use your imagination for something other than bouncing boobs and self-indulgent thoughts, writers.
Just after last year with Touken Ranbu where hot boys are the incarnations of famous swords, Senjuushi basically borrows the idea with them boys as an embodiment of famous matchlock firearms, in a musketeer fashion. The mashup of all the different setting periods is actually the most amusing factor this show provides. Throughout this episode, more than dozen of male characters introduced and I’ll be damned if I remember any of those faces. Make no mistake, this show is an advertisement for those boys and I suppose this show will make several missions as an excuse for those boys teaming up and squeeze out every drop of charisma out of them. Avoid this show at all costs.
Gosh. This whole episode squarely focuses on how badass these guys are that it feels like a wet dream from the main author. This is the world where muscle and power rule the day, where people exist to gain more power and kill the rest. I’m not a fan at all with the art designs. The fights are more interested to the injuries and smashed faces more than the fights itself. It’s a Netflix show and I can see that they aim to bring back the old school aesthetic of the 80s, 90s. I’m not that fond with this trend to be honest, as for better or for worse they are the production of its time. It might kick some nostalgia factor but it also reminds me why the materials are dated. Anyway with Baki it’s a fight-fest all the way and I can’t say I care much for these kind of fights. When they’re all exceptional in physical ability then what is the fun to see them in battle?
Yume Oukoku to Nemureru 100 Nin no Ouji-sama
Think of a generic reverse-harem isekai and you pretty much have a good idea about this show. 100 Sleeping Princes embraces all these tired tropes: main heroine who already has super-power (and amnesia), sleeping boys around wherever she goes, and the mascot who basically info-dumping us all the things we need to know. All those make this episode a predictable and harmless ride. It doesn’t help that the production doesn’t have anything above-average to offer, nor can the characters carry the show. There’s a fair bit of chemistry between the two princes, but it’s obvious that this is an excuse for amping up as many cute boys in distress as it could. Look, if you want make a reverse-harem show, just don’t grant your girl any special ability.
Lord of Vermilion: Guren no Ou
I give it points for not outrightly terrible, but it’s ultimately a forgettable title. There’s two main issues with Vermilion, that it takes its premise a tad too seriously, and that both the characters and the story aren’t that interesting to hold any interest. The show starts right at the end (or maybe not?), when it’s clear that our hero team members fight each others to death, accompanied by generic lines (“that’s the only way I could come up to kill you, sister”. Oh hell I care) and some ridiculous deaths. Then the show goes back to the present and introduces characters that way too bland with not even one memorable characteristic (Main guy especially receives the “prefect” status). The plot itself has many holes (like why many of them dissolved into thin air, while others don’t; why this red wall of Berlin cut off the supply but leaves the food alone? What happened to the people that dissolve into dust?), and based from the flashforward it looks like the cast will try the special power from the red mist and pays their own price for that. I’m not particularly interested to see it play out at all.
Aguu: Tensai Ningyou
Aguu, just like many Chinese anime we’ve seen through the years, doesn’t have its chop for smooth animation. It looks stiff and the production is bare boned most of the time. Being an conspiracy action horror of sort, this first episode sells the idea of Aguu: cursed prodigies who tied up and lived in like a mummy. The idea behind it is fascinating, but it doesn’t have compelling characters, or like I said production values to hold it together. Ai, the main character, doesn’t establish herself as someone we can get behind, and the supporting cast likewise is weak. I have a feeling the main storyline kicks in next episode, when her and the author try to unseal the curse of these poor souls, so frankly the most amusing part (the concept) is already done. This is not something you need to hold your breath with.
Let’s me just recap the story just so we have an idea how half-baked it is. We have a guy who literally a blank page, who both suffers amnesia (!), but “remembers” enough key events to advance the plot at will (!!). He meets various girls (!!!) and the first thing he remember about them is boob and kiss (!!!!). This is obviously a VN type of story where the main guy has no personality whatsoever and the girls are loud and cliche. It doesn’t help that the fanservice is off-putting and the conversations are generic. There’s some hints of a darker storyline which all the mysteries and killing stuff, but so far it’s hard to invest to any of that because the pacing is all over the place. That insert song in the end might pull some viewers in but for me it’s just a generic J-pop song. Uninteresting characters with too much fan-servicey and not enough plot would sum this one up nicely.
Dropkick is a comedy show that only has two things on its mind: being a slice-of-life cozy show about cute monster girls spending time together, and being an ultra-violence slapstick show whenever the titular strikes an opportunity to kill her human friend, but she gets beaten in a gruesome way. It doesn’t do justice for either if them, given the characters lack the warmth, or depth. The simple character arts might remind you of anime product from twenty years ago, even its slapstick humor feels dated as well. I don’t mind the extreme gruesome, by the way, but its jokes weaken fast every time it repeats itself, and by the end we can only see several variations of the same joke. There are some meta jokes as well, which I find it mildly amusing. Make no mistake, Dropkick’s appeal is its commitment to the several gorefest ways our heroine will endure (and she deserves it), if that exactly what you’re looking for then by all means continue, because otherwise it doesn’t have many other things to offer.
AKA You can pretty much Take it or Leave it
Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san
This show feels like an anime that be made 20 years ago, which its old-fashioned concept and its harem plus ecchi edge. Nothing wrong with that though, given for what it’s worth it’s a decent watch from start to finish. Even at the end, there’s hint for some emotional conflicts of putting that ghost girl to the afterlife once she learns about her roots of unhappiness. It reminds me of the old charm of watching these similar shows when I was a kid (to Love-Ru, Love Hina), where guy “accidentally” grabs big boobs and all girls are fawned over him. In fact, it follows that harem’s formula to the T that I embrace all the cliche that genre has (girls who live under the same house with different personality and boobs size), the main leads sleep together, so on and so forth. Hence, watch this show only if you miss that old flavor because it offers relatively little beyond that.
Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa
I haven’t seen the original Kaiji in which this spin-off recap the events in the first 3 minutes. Amusingly, coming out of this episode I’m more interested to watch Kaiji but not a lick of interest in this Tonegawa story. It plays as a wordplay comedy and it isn’t that good on that. Partly because we foreigners don’t really understand fully the nuance of the jokes, partly because wordplay on names isn’t that interesting to begin with. The character designs are distinctive, but the lack of animation suggests that this show is on a tight budget. The main Tonegawa and his plans will be a make or break of the show, and so far this episode doesn’t really sell me in any of that.
Ongaku Shoujo (2018)
This is your idol fix of this Summer season, so pretty much if you don’t care for idol shows you won’t find much in here. Within the idol genre, however, this actually does a decent job. The only thing that works against this show is that it feels like a second-rate version of THE iDOLM@STER (it doesn’t help that I just watched the Idolmaster so it’s still fresh in my mind). From an underdog idol team of 10 plus girls with slightly different traits, to the same kind of bland male producer, they repeat the same formula here. The factor that differentiate this to its inspiration is the involvement of Hanako , a girl who just comes back from overseas but has the X-factor. It’s hardly anything original, but so far they don’t make any wrong step yet. I say this is an above-average idol show but it doesn’t have a widespread appeal. If you’re within their niche market then you will enjoy the hell out of it, others might approach with caution.
We have the second cute girl playing sports anime this season, and this one wasn’t half bad, all things considered. It isn’t anything stellar by any stretch but it does its job on selling the appeal of the sports and introduce characters we can get behind. Although aware of beach volleyball as far back as I can remember, I don’t really know much about it. So on that front this show does make me feel a bit interested and I particular like it when they frame the sport as partnership instead of team or single sports. Second, the two main girls are the exact opposite so their differences bounce off each other well, and having complex about height is something I feel as reasonable. The main story, however, is formulaic as we can all figure out that what this story is gonna head. The new girl will learn the sport, drag her partner to some sort of tournament and they will play against these girls in the final. I would love to be proven wrong on this.
Shinya! Tensai Bakabon
So, this one goes for Osomatsu-san route. When adapting a beloved classic manga, it always raises an issue of how relevant it is for the new audience today. And that’s exactly the topic this first episode addresses. This new version of Bakabon is a whacky take on the length these characters would go to adapt themselves and appeal to the new market. If you’re big on meta-jokes you’ll find a lot to love here. Fans of the recent Osomatsu would find themselves at home as well, although in that regard I don’t find the humor as fresh as it was with Osomatsu-san. The real story will begin next week, and you can expect it has all the bawdy humor (and the same artstyle) that made Osomatsu-san a hit in recent years. Not a bad way to approach this classic material, but it feels like an inferior Osomatsu-san at best.
Happy Sugar Life
If you look for romance, if you look for true love, if you look for loli, if you look for yandere, if you look for deathly stares… Happy Sugar Life is all in one package. Despite it’s a story about true love, this anime debut makes it clear that the romance doesn’t carry the narrative, but the character Satou-san herself. This episode splits sharply into two halves: first building up how pure the relationship Satou has for her love (a questionable underaged kid, but the show manages it considerate here) then proceed to put on the extreme to see how twisted that love and Satou’s personality is. It certainly grabs you, however these kind of story’s only at its most promising right at the beginning, so I’m a bit reversed on how it will progress. Just this episode alone we see many contrived plots and characters we all love to hate, so that’s not a good sign. This show’s make or break will be entirely depended on Satou’s shoulder.
Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes
Holmes of Kyoto’s debut episode has fair shares of good and bad. This premiere both builds up the relationship between our two main leads, and sell the appeal of antique appraisal, as well as Holmes’ amazing deduction skills. On a good side, the antique appraisal part is really solid. It comes from the appreciation of this work of arts, and like any famous painting it takes skills, and knowledge behind it to fully value the works. Second, the relationship between him and her grow naturally, and while his deduction strain some credulity, overall it sells his character well. On the negative side, the counterfeit case is extremely hammy, especially the bad guy image is just too on the nose. Consider that the counterfeit thread will become the central plot in the future, I have some reservations. Furthermore, the drama isn’t quite good. The drama of the lead girl for example, is too underwhelmed, emotional distant and resolve too quickly that I don’t feel anything at all. I will give this show 3 episodes to see if it’s worth following all the way.
In many levels this anime has all the ingredients that I’m fond of: it has a nice-looking set designs, the background just looks soft and colorful here. It sets in the intriguing time period and the concept is amusing, but unfortunately coming out of it I don’t care much about its story. The main story is about a Tsukumogami rental shop, where the owners (a non-blood related siblings who apparently have a thing for each other) use the Tsukumogami to gather information for the case. First, I don’t really like the way the mains manipulated these Tsukumogami, it feels like “workplace abuse” to me and gathering information based on pep talks? Nah. Second, there is a disconnection between the human and the Tsukumogami that I don’t quite get behind. They can’t communicate directly to each other, they might as well operate in different world. The case of this week, like Tokyo Holmes is mild, simple. and underwhelmed. You don’t watch this show for these cases, that’s for sure. So it remains to be seen if these lovely creatures and their owners can sell their world to me in the next few episodes.
High Score Girl
This 90s arcade rom-com manga was a hit back when it first run, throughout many disputes regarding legal issues of using all these games’ characters, now it becomes a full CG show licensed by Netflix. Which mean, not many people gonna watch this based on these conditions alone. My very first impression after watching this is that the CG looks “cheap”. Characters on games look on point, but our characters move way too stiff, and the art in general in uninspired. The series’ first episode runs several small encounters where those two main meets at the arcade and play game, but based on what I heard there will be an arc and the story deepens later on. So basically this episode introduces these two kids and gives us a “feel” of the year 1991, both of which I regard it as barely succeed. There’s some odd pacing at the beginning, which take me awhile to realize what’s going on. Haruo is the protagonist that is easy to follow, mostly because he has a keen sense of his world. Oono, too, with the way she behaves hint at her pressure at home and the two has a strange bond of sharing the same hobby. Story-wise I can get behind but I’m more worried about the production, which can become more unbearable as it continues.
AKA Sleeper-hits, 3-episode Rule Applied
Shichisei no Subaru
Well, people are right to suggest that Shichisei is a mixture of Anohana in a Sword Art Online RPG settings, even the characters resemble the cast in Anohana, let alone the twist that brings us to the present day. It does run through many forced developments and strain credulity a bit, like the love interest bit and WHAT THE HELL? THEY ARE PRIMARY SCHOOL’S KIDS. But at the same times I’m not lying when I say this twist does grab me and I want to see how they deal with it in future events. The characters, then, will have to shoulder all the emotional weight, and as far as this first episode goes, NO, they still aren’t fleshed out beyond their established traits yet. It might get frustrated later on, but for now, I’m mildly interested to see what comes next. I’d say that the best way to know if the series works for you is to see how’s your response regarding that plot’s turn. I don’t mind another Anohana-inspired offering if it’s done right.
Satsuriku no Tenshi
Woah, the art is quite impressive, not so much with the story. and the characters are just… duh. Satsuriku doesn’t hide the fact that it’s based from a game, as game format bleeds right through this story in every moments. Girls waking up doesn’t know who she is or where she’s from; clues written over the wall, each “villain” situated in each floor. Even the show’s wash-out aesthetic, and some of its visual choice reflect the game mechanic (like the door automatically opens). It has a strong visual sense, solid camera composition (look at one of the screencap, where the camera pans around Rachel but intentionally keep the light on top of her head, illustrates that fact that she’s an “angel of death”. Being said that, the characters are god awful. They’re loud, they talk nonsense and the show makes their expressions completely deranged, for what? Creepiness for its own sake ain’t gonna make it, ever. The story has own central mystery and so far, it doesn’t sell well on that either. I see no chemistry whatsoever between the two leads, so they will have to try harder to make those characters relatable. Well, I highly doubt they can do that.
Planet With is one of my most anticipated anime of this season based on staffs involved alone, but the fact that it’s an original show means that we don’t have much detail to form a concrete opinion until the first episode airs. So, how does it perform? Well, I have mixed feeling regarding this episode. Main lead with amnesia? AGAIN? The plot sure raises many red flags here, chief amongst them the main character himself. He’s so bland and uninteresting, and so far he does stuffs because others tell him what to do – a boring trait that I’m not sure if I can follow him for the whole season.Other characters don’t fare well, either. We have classic “Class Rep” type, an imouto-like character who basically takes care of him, and that Cat-like sensei… I’m alright with shows mixing unrealistic part to their world (after on Doraemon is anything but realistic but he fits into the world), but how the hell no one notices anything strange about him, whereas make a big deal out of UFO? The CG fights were alright, although I’m not a fan with flashback sections in the middle of the fight. Although not flat-out terrible, I have the same vibe between this and Darling in the FranXX, an original production with good animation but botched down by weak and forced writing and uninteresting characters. Hopefully this show can prove me wrong on these.
Phantom in the Twilight
We have a first supernatural thriller original of this season (the second will be Tenrou), and as far as supernatural thriller original goes it fares well. The “pretty boys” (subjectivity here) serving in a restaurant have me worried for a second there, mostly because I worked part-time in a restaurant years ago and I know it takes much more than 3 people to run the thing. But soon the main heroine appears the show goes into a much better territory. The main improvement is Ton herself. She has a strong personality and she’s the easy protagonist to get behind. Normally, girls within that genre is a blank who get dragged into problems and found themselves out of depth in most these situations. Ton, on the other hand, adapts herself to the situation quickly. Being say all that, the cast so far is still too generic. The supernatural dash in a London settings is welcomed, although again it pushes the story into formulaic fashion. We all know she will become a regular in the restaurant despite they wash away her memory at the end. Overall, while the first episode doesn’t wow me, I can see its ambition. The production is on the brighter side and the story has some potential to be deeper, whether or not they can reach that potential remains to be seen.
I found Asobi Asobase the most hilarious premiere of this season so far. Granted, Chio-chan is more grounded but as far as a show that can make me chuckle along the way, this one does an admirable job. Their core strength lies in how these girls betraying their own typecast traits, with a straight face. As such, they have such solid chemistry and bounce off each other well. The character designs are cute, until they display their meanie deranged sides, which I found amusing. There remains an issue, however, how long it can hold up before it gets pale with a thin premise like this. With already four short segments, it doesn’t feel like it has enough fuel for an entire series. I hope they can find a way to get away with it, although as far as this first episode goes, I’m sold with its humor and the three cute-but-not-cute girls.
Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki
Looks like we got a solid historical thriller dose of the season. I was mildly intrigued by the settings – where Mongol invades Nippon (just a historical trivia here but Mongolian Empire was extremely powerful in the early era), but I didn’t expect it to be this strong. The production, in particular, has extra grainy filter which add to the seediness of the era, and I particularly like the raining filter that looks just like a moving painting. The fights have some dynamic choreography there. We also have a strong male lead that worth investing to, a hero type who has his dark past. I’d have preferred the princess of this island stays cruel like she first appeared, given when she displays her weak side, it treads the well trodden path. The story is what I’m a bit worried about. We still don’t know for sure how much of disbelief we need to suspend regarding the cast’s combat skills. I mean, we have a guy who literally parkour roll 20 meters away from where he fights to his ship, which for me is just comically ridiculous. The story establishes its main concept, however how they execute it so that they can keep our interest is hard. This show reminds me a bit of Shoukoku no Altair: rich history context but too crammed with plot progressions and many layers of side characters. The leaner it gets the better. We shall see on this then.
I approve this fresh interpretation of the cells in our body. This is something that can work for general audience, as kids would find out a lot for their knowledge, and us can appreciate the whole world building on another level. First, it’s nice (and certainly informative) to learn more about these cells and what their main function is, as we have the Red Blood Cell in their red uniform delivering boxes of oxygen, while the White Blood Cell’s more macho, trying to protect the body from outsiders. In one of the most refresh take, Platelets are portrayed as kindergarten kids doing their jobs, it’s the cutest thing there is. Second, the two main leads more than carry this episode. Not only they have their fair share of distinctive traits that make them different than the rest of their own team (she is hopeless with direction, he has this deadpan delivery), they share a strong chemistry together. Third, the rich backgrounds are lovely to look at, with many details on others organs and cells, and I’m sure interested to see the designs of other body organs in the future. Lastly, the story of this week serves as a perfect plot to introduce this world, and even if the show does monster-of-the-week format (which I doubt), I won’t complain as this one’s brimming with exciting sense of adventure. I can’t wait to get back to this world next week.
How appropriate that we have a sport anime that kick off the season in a middle of football frenzy and Wimbledon, and it’s a competent one to boost. Conventional plot aside, Hanebado has all the ingredients of a solid sport drama, from adequate character developments to outright impressive badminton choreography. These two main girls have clear motivations and struggles, but what I enjoy the most is the way the show display characters’ feeling through subtle expressions (this reminds me a lot of KyoAni works). Yeah, that main girl can be unbearable sometimes but she comes from a place I can totally understand. As a person who used to practice tennis day and night, I come up with that question a lot: Why do I keep playing the sport. As noted, the animation is impressive. It’s one of the few shows where I can say it resembles the sport in real life, but I’m not sure if they can keep up that impressive visual for the rest of its run. Other concern is that I’m not certain if it can finish the story in one cour, because I just don’t want to invest in a story that just stop when everything just gets interesting.
AKA The Cream of the Crop
Well, it’s sure is a hilarious first episode. While I have some tibbits here and there, mostly regarding the female’s core cast, what this first episode sells me is the drinking, the booze, and the alcohol. Our main character, Iori, both serves as a straight man, but when he’s drunk he become as ridiculous as the senpai he was initially afraid at first. So he’s served both as a character to laugh with, and a character to laugh at. Normally, this trick won’t work but somehow Grand Blue succeeds. Second, I like the message behind the drinking culture and diving, it’s to experience something new and enjoy the life as it is. The male buddies shine through here, and I pretty much enjoy all these crazy faces these characters make. Being said that, the girls so far function like Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and their suggestion at the romance between Iori and his cousin is… worrisome. We only get to see 70% of this show’s premise, given the diving isn’t featured yet. So next episode, we will get the full picture of what this show’s about, but I guess its main attraction is to see these college kids binge alcohol like water, running around naked and making crazy faces. I’m pretty on board with that.
Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger
Tackling at some of the most well-worn concept in this anime industry, about vampire slayers hunt these vampires, after this episode I could see Tenrou add something different to that premise. Firstly, the arts look very nice. From some well-detailed backgrounds to the smooth animation, to the distinctive character designs to the wonderful jazzy score. It looks good and it sounds good. The story has some potential to become something interesting, like the identity behind our main Yuliy. The characters, however, are serviceable at best, since each of them is your archetypical type. It has “solid” written all over it, although part of me afraid that it can’t keep up with its breakneck pace. Otherwise, this show has one of the most remarkable production of this first impressions’ period.
Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight
Well, what a second half this one was. Initially, when I watched the first half, I took it as a above-average idol show and thinking to myself “the rest would have blown me up in order to not drop this” and that was exactly how I felt, totally blew away. This show (especially the magnificent Starlight fight) has a clear Utena-vibe, which come as no surprise since the director Tomohiro Furukawa was an apprentice of Ikuhara himself. What’s more impressive is that the whole fight at the end justifies all the things come before that. Not only it’s weird in a delightful way (talking giraffe!!), it’s inspirational and just downright expressive like those Utena’s duels. You can also pretty much take these fights as a dream, or the performance, or the audition and it all makes sense. In fact, now thinking back it’s more that these girls won’t work together like idol shows, but will have to fight against each other for the main spot. I’m thrilled on that. The characters, however, are on the underdeveloped side, but I’m sure when these “stage performances” start we will start to learn more about them. Personally, I’m excited to see how this story is gonna pan out.
Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro
Chio-chan is a show with one simple premise: Chio’s misadventures on her way to school, which arguably is more suitable for shorts than a full-fledge 1 cour series. But if this premiere is any indication, I think we’re up for a good fun here. This episode walks a fine line between bizzare and relatability, boasted by the absurd situations she faces herself in, Chio’s colorful, silly yet rich inner voice and the unpredictability both in how the story progresses and in Chio’s mindset herself. These two skits paint two different aspect of her (her game nerdy side and her social anxiety side), and the tone and style in general remind me a bit of Nichijou, which is one of my favorite comedy anime. The animation is fairly basic, and not all the jokes land, most notably the bouncing boobs that just gets pale fast. Still, as someone who was dreaming the same goddamn things (what if something extraordinary happened on my way to school) in my junior years, this pretty much lands within my territory here.
And at the top we have Banana Fish. No question about it, Banana Fish is kool and stylish. From the NY settings to this mafia feud to the compelling characters, Banana Fish grabs you in the first moment and never leaves you.The story so far is fast-pace and thrilling, without ever sacrifice the characters’ motivation and they provide just enough information for us to process. For only the first episode, Ash proves to be an interesting lead, confident, sharp but has enough ‘weakness’ to make him believable. I’m not too fond on the other lead, Eiji though. So far he’s dragging the show down and that yaoi tone is so obvious it’s rather distracting. It helps that the production is sublime: many striking shots and the animated sequences at the bar are simply stunning, and the memorable soundtrack with the gritty backdrop make this the best-looking and stylish show we’ve seen so far this season, and that Banana Fish, whatever it is, will prove to be a wild ride for our Ash and Eiji. Sign me in for this wild ride.