Anime, Seasonal Anime Review

Seasonal Anime Review: Fall 2018 First Impression (Full updated)

While there are some shows still lagging behind, we’ve pretty much had the general sip of what this new season has to offer. Although personally I don’t have a clear favorite (my top shows are the lowest since I’ve taken this job), there are many shows that genuinely surprise me. Who would’ve thought an anime with “Bunny Girl senpai” in the title can be this solid, or shows like Zombieland Saga and SSSS Gridman that defy their own tropes in every turn? On the negative side, I can regard this season as the season of bad-taste rape-attempts. From yaoi show about a romance between two sexy boys poisoned by attempted rape; goblins sexual assault to loli abuse, incest romance and a boy who travels to another world to make love with 12 different girls. This season has it all. Same deal, I’ll rank those show down, starting from worst to best. The rating I give is based on the Color code.

In general, this season, I’ve watched and reviewed the total of 32 new episodes (no sequel or shorts included, unless otherwise noted). At this moment there are 3 shows left from the list: Ingress (which is licensed by Netflix), Tsurune (which is delayed due to typhoon) and Kitsune no Koe (already out but no sub available) [update: it’s a short), Han-Gyaku-Sei Million Arthur which will add as soon as they’re available online.

Terrible, trash premiere

Ore ga Suki nano wa Imouto dakedo Imouto ja Nai

You know what type of show that I hate even more than softcore full-on fanservice show? It’s a LN adaptation about highschool LN author who always has a cute sister to bang. The first reason for my distaste of it is because of the high level of self-mastubration, and the second reason is that it has the maturity of a 14-year-old kid. Like its predecessor Eromanga Sensei it goes through all the stupid cliches: a no-face male lead, a perfect girl who has a thing for him, a panty shot, a boob grabbing, a team of hot harem girls… why does this shite get make in the first place? I put the blame on otaku target who keeps buying this kind of lazy writing. That girl is so unbelievably perfect that she feels like an object of affection. I mean, this show knows all the common tripes but glorify it so that it can appeal to its target audience. Honestly it’s the most lazily written premiere I’ve watched in years.

Conception

And I originally thought this season was already bad enough with rapes and loli sexual assault, now here’s the premise that can’t be topped: pregnating a harem team, one of them is your cousin. Yuck. If there is one praise I have for this show, it is that I admire it for its shamelessness. The opening sequence pretty much strips out all the pretense and gives you what this show is about (half of it anyway), a vintages of silhouetted naked girls. The other half is your cliche isekai world that the show doesn’t even bother to build it properly. Everything is fanservice to your teeth. We have girls already lining up to him to have sex (they literally say that), we have creepy mascot who trying to help our boy by molesting a girl for him, we have him tied up in chain with only underwear by a busty doctor. Even with the actual sex scene, there’s an overlong moment where the guy clumsily takes of the girl’s strap. It’s so badly framed that at one point it becomes unintentionally hilarious. Look, by now you know what you’re getting into so if this is your thing then go right ahead.

Gakuen Basara

My goodness, this show makes no damn sense. It’s just a playfield for over the top boys acting over the top antics. Imagine a middle school kids come up with an idea to cram up all his favorite toys and you would get something close to this. I know this show aims for ridiculous but it needs to have a point. Here I don’t see any point at all. It just keeps introducing one bad-ass character after another, and when all is crazy from design to personality, no one comes up as amazing at all. At the end of the day I don’t give a damn for any face, let alone their proxy war or real war or whatever the hell it is. This, my friends, is the most incoherent premiere I’ve watched this season.

Sora to Umi no Aida

I give this show points for such a absurd take of its universe. It’s about a school for girls to learn a job of fishing in outer space, with our main girl’s inspiration to make sushi out of them. It’s so playful that I, for once, want to explore more about that world. It also has a slice-of-life feel with your usual stock characters so fans of this genre will find heaps to enjoy. The problem with the show is everything else. The main character isn’t that interesting and I don’t really like how the show keeps telling us how clueless she is. The fishing mission remains my least favorite part as it becomes somewhat of a exhibition for its game source. I also like the feminist voice but the show does it by antagonizing the male cast a bit too much. The production is on par but nothing really stands out either. Silly, enjoyable but ultimately forgettable, it’s strictly for fans of slice-of-life fans or viewers who is already familiar with the game.

Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc to Renkin no Kishi

“Forgettable” is the term I’d describe Ulysses as a whole. It’s not terribly bad. It does have some neat idea of mixing historical fact and establishing the young characters’ bonds before breaking them apart. However, everything else falls flat. The production is nothing of note, with the cute-edge design that only separate the main male (who has a girly face) with the girls by boob-size. I don’t hate the characters per se, but the harem angle is nothing worth recommending, and in fact, where is the titular Jeanne d’Arc? I don’t mind when anime taking some artistic liberty when it adapts the historical events, but it needs to justify the changes. This show sure doesn’t.

Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san

I’m suffocating with too much cuteness, and a sip of creepiness. It doesn’t have much in terms of plot or even production quality, it only has two main premises: that one of the girl is a cute, high-class vampire who drinks blood in a teacup and the other one is a more intimidating one. It offers some twists over the common myth of vampire, but everything here is mild, very mild that it easily slips out of the memory. From the look of the OP there are two more girls who serve as third wheels so you can be sure that these yuri hijinks won’t go away anytime soon. The girls’ design are cute but their personality sure isn’t, and the animation remains quite bareboned. Honestly there’s nothing much to look forward to except for the cuteness overdose.

Bakumatsu

Bakumatsu is another excuse for throwing pretty boys with awesome inhuman ability together to fight… what exactly? I know for a certain that I’m not within this show’s target demography. For the plot it tries to do something different by using time-travel, which itself makes for a fresher world design, but it brings a fair share of narrative issues as well, namely how these two fit in with this new world and how consistent other characters gonna be. Provided that we know next to nothing about these characters, it doesn’t come as a huge loss, still the inconsistency is there. Can’t say I care much for this cast, and in this episode we still have little clues on how that time-device world (conquer the world? Yeah, it’s the usual crap). Putting all the historical figures together getting a bit predictable lately, so if Bakumatsu doesn’t make full use of it then I don’t see the point of including it in the first place. Overall, it’s an easy skip for me.

Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama

This might be the fluffiest depiction of Hell that I’ve ever witnessed. Honestly, there’s not many things going on to this show except the main girl’s obsession with everything fuwa fuwa and her romantic relationship with the main boy. It provides some cute moments for sure, and these leads are hard not to like. But it’s also a show that is too safe in its literally comfort zone with little to no ambition. The soft color palette and an easy-to-the-eye character designs further elevate its mild tone, but even with this first episode I can see the show goes around in circle in search for a proper plot. An easy watch but one that I don’t see can leave any big mark…
Unless you like fluffy things or big boobs.

Uchi no Maid ga Uzasugiru!

It’s the second consecutive show I watched about a girl who has weird fascination with a loli girl. This show underlines the level of creepiness by having the crazy one an actual adult with six-pack abs.The main joke is that doesn’t matter how mean the loli girl behaves, she can’t match the insanity of her maid. It provides some amusing slapstick gags, and I especially enjoy the Russian music, but after it passes halfway point the premise already wears thin. We does see the fact that the girl tries to cope with the loss of her mother, producing some mild touching moments, but they are quickly put aside for harmless and questionable hijinks, and a father who can’t be taken seriously. This show is trash.

It has some neat ideas but is still disposable

Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki

We’re sure familiar with these Chinese inputs by now. Something I must note after watching two dozen of them season by season. The general reception for the animation in Chinese products is sub-par, especially compared to anime counterpart. But I see it this way, Chinese animation industry (and Western cartoon on that end), don’t usually emphasis on animation like the Japanese does; as a result I don’t think it’s really fair to judge its fluidity quality from anime standard. The reason I’m bringing this up because I believe the production of Ken En Kei in general is pretty decent. It’s the direction that was a mess. We don’t have any real sense of how the story flows since it’s too busy to introduce too many characters and its plots. It has some nice world-buildings, but the characters in it are so far, unmemorable. As it stands, Ken en Kei functions more like a game. We get to some narrative progressions, but it feels all to weak with the messy packing that it fails to leave an impact.

Radiant

It takes to the point where if I haven’t know that Radiant is based on a French comic beforehand, I couldn’t tell it apart from various One Piece or Naruto clones. Not that this premiere was bad, it’s just feel so familiar that I don’t really care for any of it. Take the main protagonist, he’s your typical shounen’s lead that has a tendency to bring troubles to himself. The main conflict that this first episode brings up: the mahoutsukai is discriminated feel really forced and uncompelling. The monster, as expected, appears and it’s enjoyable but not outstanding. It’s not bad, it’s just that the story and the characters are so simple that it fails to make any distinction.

Anima Yell!

Welcome to the cute girls doing cute things fix of the season. This time our girls are really into “chair”… ah pardon me… cheerleading. While the plot and the characters are competent enough, I noticed the pacing isn’t that smooth. It moves between scenes a bit too quickly that you don’t have a clear sense of the flow of time. You have a typical sets of characters with familiar designs and personality code. At that, the main girl strikes just about enough that highlight both her clumsiness and her high energy without become annoying. The little sequences around the cheerleading does sell its appeal, but the premise of gathering a 5 member club is a road very well trodden at this point. This show most likely will be forgotten as soon as the season ends, but it’s not a bad entry for fans of CGDCT genres.

Merc Storia: Mukiryoku no Shounen to Bin no Naka no Shoujo

Another mobile game adaptation? Even with this plot (about a boy and a girl he met going on an adventure) that we’re all familiar at this point, there are two things I really like about this premiere. First, the bright and colorful world building. While some could argue that its aesthetic is along the lines with children show like Monster Hunter, this world totally had me at the moment where one of the monster creates a rainbow as his ability. That sure is inviting. Secondly, the characters are damn adorable. Even the monsters are adorable. On the other spectrum, the plot we see so far is pretty thin and it tends to drag a bit in some scenes. Merc Storia is ultimately an enjoyable watch, and frankly I like to see more of this fairy in the bottle and her uplifting attitude.

Dakaretai Otoko Ichii ni Odosarete Imasu

Oh boy, they go for *hardcore* borderline-porn BL. Oh boy, it’s the usual boy force-kisses the other, and of course the victim finds the predator too charming that they can’t do anything but be swept away. Damn it. I have to kick myself for watching this in public, as I don’t know how the people around me would think when the lines “I want to have sex with you” flashing repeatedly on the screen. Damn it. It would’ve been a powerful love story if they don’t rely on those uncomfortable tropes. One thing this show works quite well is that it portrays the male lead in an interesting way. He’s a mountain of personal conflicts: he hates this guy and loves him at the same time. His actions sometimes contradict with his thoughts, but they all reveal a deeper side of him. That he tries his earnest to help “his rival” with his experience makes him an interesting character to follow. The main draw of this series, however is the hot, burning hot passions from two sexy “huggable” naked boys, and for me, it’s just way too hardcore for me to fully embrace. It might be one of the better shounen ai titles, but it’s strictly for the fans of this genre.

Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken

Slime makes some fun twists to its familiar crowded trend: the main protagonist is a 37-year-old virgin who reincarnated as a slime. Just like how KonoSuba did before, it rightly plays his death as ridiculous and meaningless as possible. The main strength of this premiere is how he realizes and then get accustomed to being a slime, which comes as witty and generally fun to watch. Although many of the genre’s issues are still there: he acquires the skills way too quickly, he gets friend (with a tsundere dragon no less) way too quickly and I’m sure in the future he quickly gets girls lining up for him as well. It’s one of the show where it’s interested in seeing him function as a slime so when that premise wears out, it needs something more than stock characters and cliche to hold our interest.

Hinomaru-Zumou

This sumo anime is your typical sport show, but so far it benefits from that. The main protagonist’s fighting spirit and the situation he finds himself in are pretty much by the book. He meets some school delinquents who treats unfairly to the only wimpy sumo member and with his sense of justice, of course he finds back. Through this conventional premise and an old-fashion aesthetic, the show still sells on the chemistry between these two guys and it has a great control on the pacing. All the beats are building up properly, our main guy has a well-defined goal and when the climax kicks in, it’s all great to watch. Sumo this time is the sport of interest and I can say that the show sells the sport well, not only it brings attention to this Japan-specific sport, but I can clearly feel the love the show has towards sumo. While this show won’t breakout beyond its genre, it’s still a solid one for viewers who craving for conventional sport show.

Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet

The foundation of this show is the main relationship between our Romeo and Juliet in an updated dorm, just like how its inspiration works. At that, I can pretty much say that its main strengths are the personalities of Romeo and Juliet and their chemistry together. So far in term of those, this show succeeds. Both Romeo and Juliet have a relatable side, and overall it sells the affection between them. The updated world building is refreshing, but it does bring along a fair share of issues. First, everything revolving the feud between the two houses feel pretty contrived. Only in this episode, they already went with attempted sexual assault. As the tension will sure be escalated later on, I just hope it doesn’t go for stupid, force plot point for the sake of melodrama. Second, being an anime also means they will bring a host of harem, third wheels and the likes and since we know for sure that Romeo and Juliet’s love can not be broken, it instantly kills all the ambiguity. Still, the confession scene in the fountain is pretty heartwarming so as long as it does their relationship like, there’s still things to look forward to.

Recommendable premiere

Yagate Kimi ni Naru

Bloom into You opens with an overly pretentious monologue that I was afraid it’s just all about those vague feelings that amount to nothing. Thankfully later on we get to know the reason behind it and I feel much more related to her issues. But immediately after that, it raises another issues: the confession is way too abrupt, in a manner too clumsily, that it takes me out to the romance again. This first episode is told from the point of view of Yuu (while literally as we have some scenes in the first person perspective), that’s why Nanami’s confession doesn’t work because we know next to nothing about her character. In term of romance I can say that it attempts more at the feeling, rather than physical exploitation in the same vein of Citrus and the likes, but to tell an intimate romance takes a lot of insight and this is just half-way there. Design-wise, the flat, big eyes of the characters might get some time to get used to, but as a whole I’d say that the production is pretty good. One of the trick to make a good romance is that they need to establish characters we can care about, and so far Bloom into You just barely makes it there.

Release the Spyce

Release the Spyce is pretty much what you expected, a nonsensical fun ride. This episode spends its amount of time into two subplots: cute girls having their normal everyday school life and cute girls moonlighting as spies – or more as ninja, or more as heroes in cute outfits. Some details might stretch its credulity a little (ninja frog? Hell, yeah! Licking to sense other person’s personality?), but to its credits it doesn’t take those seriously. I suppose the main character Momo embodies the first episode’s strengths and weaknesses so far. On the narrative level, her role works as she’s a qualified addition to the cast. Unlike other main helpless protagonists who usually get sucked to the case all by accident, Momo gets there all by her ability and her determination to fight crimes. Her hesitation when it comes to action, her inspiration comes from her late-police father, all work by that glance. On the negative side, she never feels like a real person to me. Her ability is nonsensical and there isn’t much subtext going on in this chick flicks. The cast fares much worse as for now they fall into archetypal roles, and the villains are clearly evil and maniac. It’s too simple and straightforward for its own good.

Akanesasu Shoujo

Out of all the premieres so far and possibly this season as a whole, Akanesasu Shoujo leaves me the most surprise. Not that every section hits the mark, but it’s sure intriguing in its concept. The cast is basically stock-characters at the moment, but they deliver some natural chemistry and overall a fun to watch. Asuka’s airhead personality might be annoying in other anime, but for this show she serves as a nice contrast to the other-Asuka. When the plot kicks in at the halfway mark, it raises more interesting questions to its universe, and I pretty like the dark-behind-the-fluffy-surface of the monsters, which can be say the same with the overall tone the show goes for. The CG battle is not that distracting and overall I’m pleased with its production. It successfully piqued my interest, now let’s see if further episodes can maintain its ambiguous.

RErideD: Tokigoe no Derrida

RErideD has some neat ideas, but this first episode feels the need to feed us its world-building a bit too much. This first episode clearly serves as a prelude, where we get to know where our main character comes from, its universe and its premise… so far, it’s a hot mess. We learn a bit too much, although it raises more question than clarity. We know about its descend to hell near-future when the robots basically overloaded and take over the world. We know about the project being Derrida and his father’s brainchild, then we learn about another project of leaping time and then characters that would be important later on (in a birthday party that feels superficial at best), and I haven’t gotten to the main catalyst of the episode. It doesn’t help that Derrida’s motivation and personality are an open book, which makes him feel more like a first-person device than a real character. Being said that I’m sure interested to see what the hell this world is now, and the current characters and how they fit in to all this. Also, when it hits it can produce some inspiring moment (I’m referring to the hallucination image, which might or might not be real). The story really starts in the second episode, so until then we will know how well this story is going to pan out.

SSSS.GRIDMAN

I admit that I had no expectation whatsoever prior to watching it. It’s based on a Tokusatsu show for one thing, and Trigger production always gives me a mixed feeling as a whole. But the episode really caught me off guard. My main impression after watching this first episode is that it’s very offbeat – to the point it’s risk sacrificing the audience’s involvement. For me though, it works in service of the story and it makes the ride wholly unexpected. Take the main character’s amnesia for example. It’s a well-worn trope to the bone but here, every single character treats it like no big deal. It’s further strengthened by the commanding direction. Many beats stay for almost too long, and until much later should we know how important these scenes are. The characters, likewise, feel like they’re in some sort of lucid dream. There’s no clear sense of what is real and what is dream and it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. This show is like your silent colleague who like to do her own thing but we can’t help but attracted to.

Double Decker! Doug and Kirill

It’s always nice to get back to the universe of Tiger & Bunny, where superheroes and fighting crimes are a whole lotta fun. Although if I have to compare the premise of this spin-off and the original then the latter still has an edge. Cop-buddy is a familiar narrative story, although on that front Double Decker offers a solid entertaining start with the likeable leads. Both Kirill and Doug are fun characters to follow, and they share good chemistry together. The aesthetic never loses a sense of fun and cool and never takes itself too serious, which is a plus. This first episode does a decent of introducing the main players and its world. I still have some minor issues with it, however. Unlike Tiger & Bunny in which the characters have some pretty cool and flashy fighting styles, for Doug it’s just gun-shooting so how the hell they can make it look fresh every time he pulls the trigger? Second, whenever it switches to CG models it looks jarring and loses its cool vibe. All in all, Double Decker is still a solid start for this seemingly underwhelming season.

Goblin Slayer

Most viewers’ takeaway from this premiere is how gruesome and brutal it is with all the rape and killing. So far, these dark elements justify its existence. We follow this madness through the eyes of a rookie priestess, that works too so we can experience how frightening a bunch of goblins (which are always regarded as one of the weakest monsters) can be. The titular man doesn’t come off as strong personality-wise, but so far he serves the plot quite well. One more aspect that I find this first episode works quite well is that it provides a solid textbook of what NOT to do when you’re a rookie adventure, as this new band picks all the wrong choice that would cost them their lives. Overall, it’s a dark take on the RPG settings, and it remains to be seen if the rape (which from what I heard was featured quite often) will become too excessive or not.

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

This is a solid start for Tsuyoku, although I’m not totally satisfied by the narrative. Let’s get to the good parts first. The production is clearly the standout here. While we don’t see much of actual running this week, everything else, from the character acting to the facial expression are pretty sublime. That’s a huge accomplishment since this episode has to introduces ten different characters, yet everyone has their own voice and mannerism. The concept screams a lot of promises as well. It’d be fun to see these different characters working together for running. However, how the show groups them together leave something to be desired. It feels incredibly forced the way the main lead declares the rest that they are in the tracking club without their prior knowledge. It also feels lame the way it has to be 10 tenants in order for the club to be active. While the supporting cast is okay with one or two significant traits, it’s the main lead who is very plain and uninteresting. Consider how we follow the new apartment through his perspective, he’s someone we don’t relate at all. Still, the groundwork is solid and I sure will follow it till the end.

Karakuri Circus

Now that we’re near the end of this first impression, I can say that Karakuri Circus is one of the most confident premiere of the season. It has its own unique style, and its aesthetics are so different from what we used to see in this medium. The most impressive of all is that it blends its two main themes: that of circus setting and puppetry into a solid whole. There’s an air of mystery in both themes, and judging from the premise I’m pretty sure the creators know where the story is heading. What also sells me in this episode is the strong impressions of both three main characters, and moreover, their chemistry that was built gradually within 20 minutes. Our main guy, for example, has an interesting quirk but the show never sells him short, in the end he says he helps the boy for himself, which further make him an interesting and complex character. There’s the whole conspiracy going on in the plot, so in terms of story I’m sure it has enough twists and turns to enjoy. The production so far is pretty much on point too. This show is a keeper.

The cream of the crop

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai

Despite my own skeptical approaching this (all have to do with girl in bunny outfit and that obscure “Adolescence Syndrome” term, Seishun Buta Yarou turns out more along the lines with OreGairu and Monogatari series, the titles I’m particularly fond of. The dialogues might sound unnatural or clunky here and there, but overall they do a decent job. The main character at least has personality, with his detached, cynical outlook that while he reminds me a great deal of Hachiman, he still comes off as a protagonist worth following. The main strength of this episode is how it deals with one of my favorite theme: the pain of growing up through exploring psychological issues that manifest into physical scars. All characters we’ve seen in this episode experience that to some degrees (that at least justify the inclusion of imouto character), and that make them grounded. So far, the leads offer some solid, albeit not that fresh, chemistry and I’m down to whatever new characters with the same syndrome come up in later episodes. If the syndromes serve as a psychological issues the cast has to overcome by themselves then I’m all in for the ride.

Zombieland Saga

I guess I should’ve seen this coming, combining two most popular pop-culture genres together – an anime about cute girls becoming zombie idol. It’s a mash-up that can go north or south easily, but thankfully for Zombieland Saga the fundamental is strong enough to make it a fun ride so far. First, within the two genres it’s spoofed of, Zomebieland Saga understands and uses the tricks of the genre efficiency. The first part works reasonably well as a goofy comedy-horror, the same goes for the idol aspect it makes fun of. What makes this show a winner, however, is that it knows how to up the ante and it controls the overall tones quite thoroughly. Every twists and turns make it wittier and more absurdist. It’s elevated by the strong screen presence of our main zombie girl, who tries her best to stick it together. That manager’s antic can get in the way sometimes but overall they deliver some snappy chemistry together. Its visual direction is on par too as the show successfully handles many different moving aimless zombies, our panicked girl and their eccentric manager together without losing its wit. How it goes from here is another question given the premise of them becoming idols can wear thin quickly, but on the other hand the other girls gain personality which can make their banters a fun show to watch.

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara

I’m not hard-pressed to say that Irozuku is the most gorgeous production in this season so far. It has rich background arts, expressive characters, fluid animation and it’s so goddamn striking in everything it does. The fireworks scenes are beautiful both in color and in muted black & white through Hitomi’s point of view, and the train sequence is impressive. In fact, its production values are too great that it kinda overwhelms the narrative. I like the meat of the story, a girl who loses her passion for magic, and for the colors of life, literally, but what sold me on her characters and the world so far is purely on the visual level, not the narrative. Her character is passive, not in a good way. She’s passive in a way that she seems lost and always waits for the plot brings her along. In addition, while I appreciate the way her Grandma brings her back to this world, the manner the show does it is way too contrived with a vague explanation that “it has been decided. You will understand”. I’m not too sold with the story so far, but the natural chemistry between the cast, and the rich art designs in both worlds more than make up for its more familiar story.

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