So this new season has run in full gear now that all the titles have settled in and showed their true skins (well, most of them anyways). If you’ve read my First Impression post, basically I continue to follow all the shows from Kishuku Gakkou No Juliet downward, so basically 16 shows in total. 3 weeks in, 1 show OUT, and Tsurune’s gonna replace its spot for now. Couple more shows I’m not too sure about but I’m willing to give them some more chance. As far as this Fall season goes, there still isn’t any show that I would put it on an elite level, but the worthwhile list sure is crowded. While Zombieland Saga stumbles in its 3rd episode, SSSS.GRIDMAN and Bunny Girl senpai continue to prove that they still have tricks under their sleeves; and even more traditional fares like Karakuri Circus or Fuiterui still provide a whole lotta fun. For RErideD and Double Decker, I know that more episodes came out but for now for my sanity sake I’ll keep an episode per week. Another thing of note is that due to my own timing, for this Fall season I’ll post this either on my Monday or Tuesday (Monday would be ideal but I have more time and less work on Tuesday). With all that said, let’s scroll down to see all the fruits of this Fall season’s offering, with some random grouping just for the heck of it.
To Be or Not To Be, That is the Question
Kishuku Gakkou No Juliet (ep02-03)
With three episodes, I’m happy to end my journey with this show. It still remains somewhat enjoyable, mostly come down to the charms of its two leads. But its issues lie in the fact that there’s simply not much going on beyond that. The side characters are either oblivious, or way too manipulated (like the entrance of Princess Char in the 3rd episode, herself is another host of problems). I get that the very nature of Romeo and Juliet’s romance is contrived, but when Romeo has to put up all by himself without sharing his issues to Juliet when he obviously needs to, I just feel that the show still goes way too easy for Juliet and their love. Char is very inconsistent as a character, and at the end of the day she’s simply a character stock. The show’s biggest selling point is the romance (and so far, it’s cute) but they still need more than that to keep our interest.
Seishun Buta Yarou Wa Bunny Girl-Senpai No Yume Wo Minai (ep02-03)
These two episodes cover the entire Mai’s arc and for me it does a great job of raising the conflict and resolve it just about right, without dragging the story too much. Mai’s condition is still somewhat vague for me, and their back-and-forth conversations sometimes sip a bit of LN cliche, but I’m quite happy with the end result. Episode 2 delves into Mai’s problems, and at points we can see the stakes she has to deal with. The strengths of both Sakuta and Mai raise this show above your average lame long-title LN fare, for Mai it’s the contradicted way that she behaves: at times strong and cynical, but at other times weak and vulnerable. Like how she puts sleeping pills to Sakuta so that he’d forget her; but when he actually does forget, she gets hurt by that. For Sakuta, he has a whole character arc in this first three episodes and it’s great to see how he comes out of his own belief to solve this case by confessing his love. Now, the question mark is how the next arc will be carried out? Will it has the same psychological phenomenal like the first arc and how relevant Mai is in the next coming arc.
Yagate Kimi Ni Naru (ep02-03)
I guess your involvement with this show will largely depend on whether or not you’re on the same wavelength with these characters, especially Yuu. I’m on the fence with this show, mostly because I feel Yuu cold-hot behavior a bit irritating. Which is kind of exactly the point this show wants to bring across, given she herself doesn’t quite know if she likes Nanami or not. Affection takes time, it’s more of a matter of getting to know the other person and then develop a feeling for them. In that aspect, Bloom into You (I really love the translated title) nails it with its slow-burning approach so far. But at the same time I still don’t buy their relationship at all. Take Nanami’s crush for Yuu for example. It’s sudden (again, intentionally) without much building up (then again, having a crush is impulsive that way). It’s just that we need to see why Yuu that Nanami’s heart skip a beat, and I still don’t get that. In addition, Nanami’s approach to involve Yuu in a school prep campaign can feel creepy at times.
Akanesasu Shoujo (ep02-03)
This isn’t a good batch of shows by any stretch, as Akanesasu Shoujo is another entry that is in my bubble list. I still like the core concept of these girls travelling through multiple universe and meet their doppelgangers. But these last two episodes when they focus on Nana and her wedding is half-baked and full of inconsistencies. Take her superstar fiancee who turns into a manipulating asshole before reveals as the arc’s mini-boss for example. There’s no real personality in his character. Nana’s switch also doesn’t feel natural or earned, and the rest of the cast, especially Asuka, feel underwritten in these two episodes. In one clunky sequence, we have Asuka in this timeline meets the other two Asukas before the gang runs into the wedding and guess what, this timeline-Asuka already teleport there. Only the serious-Asuka holds some narrative weight but she alone can’t save this clumsy, stupid arc. The show is near my chopping list right now but I will wait and see how the next arc going to be.
The One Who Pulls All the Strings
Karakuri Circus (ep02)
This second episode functions more as a traditional shounen fare now that it sets up what the next arc is about. For the puppet battle, I’m quite surprised that the fight happens too quickly but I’m not too bothered by that. The humor becomes much more slapstick and so far it works for me. Admittedly Narumi’s condition and his desperate search for laughter wear a bit thin now, and I can live without the gag involving him seeing the nude Shirogane. But this episode still sells it on developing the unique chemistry between Narumi and Shirogane, the two person who share nothing in common except wanting to protect Masaru. And now that the boy’s out of the picture (at least for the next few episodes), it’s interesting to see how they must make more effort to work together (and endure each other). The concept still feels fresh for now and I sure want to see more puppet battles in the next coming arc.
Zombieland Saga (ep02-03)
While the second episode finds Zombieland Saga expands its nonsensical concept with a witty and fresh take on the genre, the third episode finds itself falls into its own trap. So far, it takes different music genre which for me is a good move. Episode 2 continues to flesh out this entire cast, and I pretty much enjoy them all (except for Ai and Junko whom I can’t tell apart since they have the same goddamn personality), and the moment where Sakura raps is my favorite scene for sure (she threw the mic!!). The manager Kotaro is as loud and annoying as ever, sometimes I finds the way he dodges all the girls’ questions amusing, but most of the time his pitch stands out like a sore finger. The third episode makes a grand mistake of animating the dance sequence in CG. I really wanted the show to give some commentary regarding idol show using cheap CG to cut cost but it appears the show plays it straight, which is disappointing. In fact, the third episode feels like we step into a typical idol anime show and if the show can’t keep its head straight, all the glisters from the first two episodes will soon be gone.
Kaze Ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (ep02-03)
In the last two episodes, we see how much of a manipulator Heiji is to make sure that all his residents will join the track. Personally, I still don’t buy the whole premise as it feels stupid for him to wait (and wasted) 4 years of college to gather a group that both unwilling and unfit to participate. His determination to get everyone on board can feel like he’s invading other’s freedom at some points. But if I can get pass those issues then this show offers plenty strengths to enjoy. It’s enjoyable to see these characters interacting with each other, and sometimes it feels kind of nice to see a bunch of friends doing some activity together. In term of running, they’re doing the basic for now, which is get used to the feel of running. There are couple characters’ threads that I’m sure the show will address, chief among them Kakeru’s own issue, Prince’s physical demanding and the lawyer student’s determination. It’s a long road ahead for these guys indeed.
Irozuku Sekai No Ashita Kara (ep02-03)
Three episodes in, Hitomi finally joins the Photography/ Art club, talking about deliberate pacing here. Irozuku remains a show that still hasn’t totally impressed me. The main issues aren’t in the slow tempo, however. It’s more that Irozuku has a fair amount of cliche plot and predictable storytelling that it fails to grab me as much as it could. Take the Photography members and their love interests, for example. In a P.A.Works fashion there are hints of some potential pairings within this group, although whether or not the president Shou will get interested in Hitomi remains to be seen. I also start to warming up on Hitomi as our main character. In the premiere, she’s passive, the kind of passive that other characters or the plot have to carry her along. In these two episodes, at least I can see her drive and I can relate to many of her issues. She’s attracted to a boy in her school Yuto, or to be more precise, she’s attracted to his drawings. We also get a glimpse of Hitomi’s magic and while it’s underwhelming, it’s not due to her lack of power, but more on her lack of confidence. It will be interesting to see how Hitomi eventually opens up to use more of her magic, at the same time to open up with friends and sees more color to her life.
In the Midst of Chaos
Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 (ep02-03)
The last two episodes do a decent job of setting up the main conflicts, at the same time they suffer in term of pacing because of it. There’s just way too much exposition with very little awesome battle sequences, which make the story so far a little underwhelming. Shang Bu Huan and Gui Niao are still enjoyable as always. For this installment we have a whole new set of supporting cast, all of them who come from Shang Bu Huan’s hometown and having crossed the Wastelands of Spirits. So far, it’s interesting that they fit in different roles in this ongoing conflict. On the one hand, we have red-haired Lang Wu Yao and his demonic talking pipa who is the blabbermouth that appear to be our lead’s ally. As opposed to Shang Bu Huan we have the Princess of Cruelty Xie Yingluo, who tends to use tricks and poison to do the dirty job. On the other spectrum, we have the general Xiao Kuang Juan who (by coincidence) was escorted by our Gui Niao AKA the guy who could not be trusted. So far the hero’s and villain’s sides are pretty clear-cut , and with episode 3 the last member of the promotion art claims his first appearance. This dude Di Kong is a travelling monk who help cure the toxic for no gain, even putting himself in danger. He makes one hell of an impression, but my gut tells me that he’s the guy not to be taken lightly. There’s still one missing piece in the grand scheme so far, and that is Cruelty-hime boss, Kasei Meikou. I believe this yin yang monk fits all the bill as the final boss for this whole affair.
Gridman so far feels like an anti-Trigger show, which makes it all the better. Three episodes and it keeps progressing in a wholly unexpected way. While episode 2 reveals its hand on the main antagonist of the show – Akane and her petty, ruthless personality – it’s the way the show frames the narrative that make it intriguing and worthwhile to watch. This is a visual-heavy show, with many stunning shots that embody its themes (like that screenshot above is one of my favorite shot). And what a theme since often the times I feel like I’m both its target audience and not at all familiar with it. It’s based on a tokusatsu show, and while we don’t really need the knowledge from Gridman or Transformers franchise, there’s clearly a love to these inspirations. On the other hand, the visual storytelling is so excellent that it conveys most of its message without much of exposition or even traditional character interaction (the dialogues remain offbeat and unimportant here). While the second episode is a revelation, the third one keeps expanding from that universe and now it seems all the pieces of the board are in place now. Surprisingly this one turns out to be the one I’m looking forward the most this season.
Goblin Slayer (ep02-03)
There’s simply not much going on in Goblin Slayer. While episode 2 takes some careful time to dig into the titular character quest, he still comes off more as a tragic figure than a full-fledged character. With episode 3, the Fellowship is formed but it doesn’t offer any complexity, or even any real stake to this mission. As such, I often feel like the show is in conflict with itself, it can’t quite decide whether it wants to be a dark character study of a man who descend into his own madness, or a more conventional fantasy tale with dark flavor on top of it. For the former it’d be one hell of a ride if they pull it off, but it’s simply too straightforward to make it a overarching plot. So instead they use the latter as a way to move the plot forward. So far, these characters lack any real distinction to separate them from thousands of characters we’ve seen before. They need more than this to really hook us to this world.
RErideD: Tokigoe No Derrida (ep02-03)
And this train keeps straying off its rails. Even with 3 episodes, this one is still a mess with many big ideas but clunky execution to back it up. Its main flaws right now lie in the characters. They’re underwritten, they’re never convincing as real people and the lead Derrida drags the show down as he’s in the middle of all this mess. You see this above screenshot where he just sits there cluelessly. That pretty much sums up his characteristic for the first three episodes: moping around, having a guy to protect him and a girl to show him the direction. So far they’re too busy to follow his narrative that we don’t get to see the world-building fleshed out at all. In another stupid, clunky sequence we have some terrorist bombs Yuri’s apartment, but she somehow ends up on the cliff of her window? This is overall just bad storytelling.
On a Mission
Release the Spyce (ep02-03)
Episode 2 and 3 go for an action-packed fashion, which provide some good sequences but it lacks the thematic depth in general. Episode 2 develops some bond between Momo and Yuki, which I much prefer compared to week 3. It’s nice to see how Momo progresses from having no clue to being efficient. Episode 3, however, rushes the plot so much that it doesn’t leave much impact. Forget Princess Principal, Release the Spyce is more along the lines with Totally Spies, which a clear-cut evil organization and the overall focus on missions over characters arc. The organization the girls are dealing against right now lacks personality. I really hope it tones down on the overall good vs bad and more on characters’ interactions.
Double Decker! Doug And Kirill (ep02-03)
This show still proves to be an enjoyable show all around. It’s goofy, it knows it tropes and so far it plays nicely around the tropes. To add it up, the production, especially its lush background and attractive character designs make this show a winner so far. The lack of proper buddy chemistry between tje titular characters mean that sometimes it feels like they don’t gel to each other, and I would like to see more of the supportig cast besides their one-liners. Kirill still serves as a interesting lead, basically because of how out of depth he is in many situations. As far as episodic case goes it provides a good mix of fun, goofy characters and just about enough plot to entertain, although in order to stay relevant it does need to mix things up more.
Banana Fish (ep14-15)
That image above pretty much sums up what is wrong with Banana Fish. Sometimes I get the feeling that the show tries too damn hard to make Ash the ultimate perfect human being. Adding to the list of his awesomeness, Ash now has an IQ of 200 and sexy boner voice that would please every fan. Damn it, why Banana Fish? The last two episodes pretty much set up the next arc, which is to say it’s the lowest point of the show so far. Eiji does a bit of standing up, which is a welcome sign but he still drags this show down. My biggest issue is that I don’t feel this Mental institution plot thread matters much in the long run. We could easily cut down that fat and spend those times to develop our main players instead. Candy bar indeed leaves a bad taste to my mouth.
Golden Kamuy (ep13-14)
Golden Kamuy embraces its goofy side as this second cour starts. In a way, there’s some pretty dark twisted humor about the criminal minds and slapstick nature that you can’t find anywhere else, especially in this medium. The plot, however, is a whole mess as the three sides start to squeeze in tighter. There are just too many loose ends, the show tries to give too many characters (mostly side-characters) goals that it becomes hard at times to comprehend the whole affair. Asirpa , and in an extend Sucimoto, are non-existent at the moment. This is the case where I suppose the creators just want to mKe it as big and bold as possible, making this journey from snowy forest to fisheries to mining and God knows what would come next. No, I don’t think of those as Golden Kamuy’s weakness. The spooky atmosphere and goofy characters have become the show’s identity now. And for that I just take it as it comes and enjoy the ride.