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[In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2019

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
The first few novels for it were decent, and the first was total cute overload.

The demons come later. And...

Spoiler: Show
Your concern about it Usagi Dropping are very valid as it does go there, which is when I bailed on the books. Light the Bunny Drop anime though, I dont expect this series to get that far. But who knows? *sigh*
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
No less than five new shows started today, but since I spent the whole day at Japan Expo, I didn't have time to watch any of them yet ; it'll probably take me a day or two to catch up. But I did manage to watch the premiere of a series whose broadcast doesn't officially start until tomorrow...


Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Rail Zeppelin ~ Grace Note already aired a pilot episode six months ago, but that was mostly concerned with showing off the status quo of an older Waver Velvet solving magical incidents in and around England. Now this first "proper" episode is much more interested in showing how we actually got there from Fate/Zero, with Waver taking the legacy and name of his hated former mentor. Also, why what's left of the El-Melloi family would even let him do that. (Basically, because they need a placeholder until the actual heir comes of age, and Waver's offer to solve their debt problems somehow is very welcome. Also, it's funny, and the heir does have a sense of humour.)

Let's be honest : the Waver/Rider sections of Fate/Zero were easily the best part of that show, so I was already sold on The Further Adventures of Waver beforehand. And it doesn't disappoint : even older and more mature, Waver still has a bit of that dorkiness that made him so fun. (Daisuke Namikawa absolutely nails the acting of the various aspects of the character.) He's already got great chemistry with his new "sister", and all-around the supporting cast seems promising.

This is just a joy to watch, and I'm glad it exists.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Wait, we're getting no less than three survivalist shows this season ? At least they all have their own identity, with Dr. Stone adapting one of the latest big Weekly Shounen Jump successes, with at least 24 episodes scheduled for now.

Our point-of-view isn't the titular Dr. Stone (who's never actually called that in the first episode), but his best friend : the dumb big oaf who makes up for his lack of smarts with his enthusiasm and general good nature. And obviously he makes a good excuse for the one with a clue to explain what's going on.

Our heroes were "typical" high school students (well, in a Jump fashion) until suddenly the whole world had people (and birds, for some reason) get covered in a layer of stone. It looks like they're the first to break free, several millennia later, apparently from the dumb luck of some acidic bat guano dripping onto them in the cave they happened to wash into. Many people were a lot less lucky ; presumably anyone who broke into pieces is a goner. (And the show dutifully mentions the poor sods who happened to be in a plane at the time.)

So our two protagonists task themselves with rebuilding civilization, one bit at a time. The smart one has most of the needed knowledge, but having woken up first he barely had the manpower for his immediate survival ; so he certainly welcomes his big pal breaking free six months later. Especially since the big lug's fresh perspective sometimes allows for some critical breakthroughs, such as finding a way to cure more survivors (the credits sequence showcases about a dozen of them).

Let's be honest, this is more than a bit dumb, but it's got enough charm to carry it forward. The two main characters have some genuine chemistry together, it's relatively well-paced (besides that awkward flashback with the birds), and it's just plain fun to watch.

I'm in.



Fire Force (Enen no Shouboutai), on the other hand, is an adaptation of a manga series published in the rival Weekly Shounen Magazine. It's by the author of Soul Eater, so of course its protagonist is stuck with a manic grin on his face. Literally so : it's how his muscles react under stress, however much he would want to show different reactions to other people. This has obviously led to many incomprehensions, especially around his mother's tragic death.

It doesn't help that he's a third-generation pyrokinetic. First-generations tend to flame out badly and very suddenly ; second-generations have more control and many of them enlisted into the titular "Fire Force" to help out against flaming out incidents. Still, the social stigma is very present indeed, which contributed to our protagonist's hero complex. The squad we're following is rounded up by some normal human beings, including the squad leader and the nun whose main role is to perform last rites on site. (She's clearly being positioned as the main love interest.)

The key point of the show seems to provide some incredible action sequences. Studio David Production are of course no slouch in the matter, and they're helped by the clever design choice of having bright blue reflective surfaces on the squad's uniform ; not only is it a striking contrast to the warm colours of the furnaces, but it provides a visual help to keep track of how the characters' bodies move around. The whole thing looks great, and I can only hope they can keep the budget up for 24 episodes (not to mention the second season that's been alluded to already be in pre-production).

There's also quite a bit of fanservice ; besides the gratuitous shower scene, one of the squad members shown in the opening credits doesn't button her protective uniform close, which looks like it'd miss the point. (On the other hand : pyrokinetics. After all, our protagonist goes into combat barefoot, as his feet how he controls fire best.) And then there's the end credits showing the nun's younger years at her seminary with more gratuitous skin being shown off... wait, did she just witness all of her friends burning to death ?

... Under the joyful shounen-ness of it all, this is actually quite a dark show, with a very high casual body count. So far, it seems to be pulling off the balancing act ; so I'm probably going to keep watching it, at least for a while.



O Maidens in Your Savage Season (Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo.) sees Mari Okada adapt her own manga series about high school girls having hang-ups about sex.

The series centers on the Literature Club, who are rather unsettled by how explicit the sex scenes are in books labelled as "high literature". There's some good comedic mileage gotten from them exploring variations of the purple prose used in those scenes, but at its core this is a much more introspective show than you'd expect from the premise. (But it's par for the course given Okada's heavy involvement.) This is about teenage girls finding the prospect of sex scary and refusing to engage with the thought... at least initially. Obviously there's room for coming to terms with it in later episodes.

Be forewarned that by its very nature, this is a very sexually explicit series. Nothing is actually shown, but the final scene does involve one of the protagonists stumbling on her childhood friend jacking off to a porn video.

It's not quite what I was expecting, but I'm willing to stick for the ride at least for a while.



If you'd rather watch a more straightforward comedy about high-school girls being assholes to each other, then Wasteful Days of High School Girl (Joshikousei no Mudazukai), an adaptation of a web manga series, should be right up your alley.

If there's one gimmick to this show, it's our lead character giving somewhat insulting nicknames to her classmates. In retaliation, her "friends" go through a variety of increasingly sillier and weirder nicknames (I have a soft spot for "Parents Are Nudists") before settling for just calling her "Baka". Because yeah, she indeed is an idiot.

The good news is that it has some great comedic timing ; the sequence of everyone calling our protagonist by that series of nicknames as though they were completely normal especially stands out as comedy gold. I'm less enthused about the teacher loudly ranting that he's only interested in college women (he protests a bit too much), but his next scene works much better and hopefully we'll move on from that joke which didn't quite land.

There were quite many moments where I laughed out loud, so I'd say that its mission is accomplished.



Granbelm is an original mecha series that borrows more than a few trappings to the "dark magical girl" subgenre : the descendants of seven mage dynasties (who all happen to be young girls) secretly battle it out in a parallel world every month for the title of "best mage". This doesn't preclude some alliances of circumstance ; one of the main contenders has for example bullied a couple of other into being her minions so that she can (unsuccessfully) try and take out the reigning champion.

Our protagonist had absolutely no clue about this, and randomly wandered into the battlefield at the wrong time. The fact that she can even get there, and then of course summon her own mecha, seems to prove that she's the long-missing 7th. (I believe there were some vague hints that she and her sister were orphans, which would explain why she's out of the loop.) Anyway, she quickly strikes a rapport with the hunted champion (who went out of her way to protect the innocent "civilian" before the truth dawned onto her) ; and we all know how this type of stories with a naive, inexperienced pink-haired protagonist and the dark-haired veteran stuck into a doomed cycle of endless fighting end, right ?

For all that this is very familiar indeed, it does manage to be pleasantly watchable as it runs through the usual tropes. For all that this is "dark" show (especially visually so, as it's a plot point that the battling fields are stuck into permanent night), it does manage to feel reasonably fun. Even the edgiest of the "baddies" still act a bit like goofballs and inject some fun into what could have been very miserable battles.

It remains to be seen how the show evolves after establishing its premise, but this is a good start.
 

q_3

Ge.
Validated User
and we all know how this type of stories with a naive, inexperienced pink-haired protagonist and the dark-haired veteran stuck into a doomed cycle of endless fighting end, right ?
Naked space hugs? Reminders that if you fight with hate, you'll definitely lose? One of them turning into a car?
 

Rainfall

Registered User
Validated User
What stood out for me in Fire Force was the casual world building. There's a sense of history to it, it's a world of industry, fire and smoke and people's attitudes reflect that. As well as the architecture.

Also, I love the cast. The Captain remind me of an older, more mature Kamina who's seen some shit.
 

Bookwrack

Gazer
Validated User
Por que no los tres?
The first few novels for it were decent, and the first was total cute overload.

The demons come later. And...

Spoiler: Show
Your concern about it Usagi Dropping are very valid as it does go there, which is when I bailed on the books. Light the Bunny Drop anime though, I dont expect this series to get that far. But who knows? *sigh*
Yuck, the sickening whiff of wife husbandry. :sick:
 

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
Por que no los tres?

Yuck, the sickening whiff of wife husbandry. :sick:
To be fair to the Father figure, its all Latina, the little demon girl. She starts crushing on him hard when she hits her preteens, and it just gets worse for her from there. Meanwhile, dad is oblivious. He shamelessly dotes on her as a dad, but never considers her anything more until she hits her late teens and starts forcing the issue. So its not as gross as it could be.

But yeah, it really ruined the series for me.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Note: this review was written on the back of watching the preview showing of the first episode at Japan Expo on Saturday. I'm led to believe that a couple more episodes are already available somehow, but I haven't watched them yet. Also, I'll try and catch up on the other Sunday shows tomorrow.

Vinland Saga adapts a manga series by the creator of Planetes that is unlike Planetes in just about every way. For one thing, it's about Vikings in the Xth century.

Aside from a lengthy opening flashback to assure us that Wit Studio haven't lost their touch and can still animate the shit out of hig-octane medieval battles where characters keep jumping around, this is mostly a quiet piece. We follow a small family in the village they lead ; Dad used to be a badass warrior in the wars against the new Norwegian king, but it looks like he choose to flee and resettle to Iceland when it became clear his own faction wasn't winning. But not only isn't Iceland very hospitable, but it's also got some assholes in the rival clans on the other side of the island. So when Dad rescues an escaped slave and tries nursing him back to life (with not much success), the slaver neighbours come aggressively knocking and demanding the escapee back.

What looks like our actual protagonist for the show is still a young boy at this stage of the story, so most of the protesting against Dad's anti-slavery and self-sacrificing stance comes from the elder daughter. There's also an Uncle who keeps telling tall tales of some paradisiac "Vinland" he once explored when younger (and barely came back from without his crew) ; since he's actually a lot more savvy in handling the tensions with the neighbours that you'd initially expect, and it's in the series' name, presumably going there will be a major part of the story.

It's a decent start so far ; it's certainly great at depicting the daily lives of Vikings with enough verisimilitude to feel historically accurate. I'm not yet sold on our future protagonist (who is barely a character at this stage), but I'm willing to keep at it to see where it goes.
 

Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
There's also quite a bit of fanservice ; besides the gratuitous shower scene, one of the squad members shown in the opening credits doesn't button her protective uniform close, which looks like it'd miss the point. (On the other hand : pyrokinetics. After all, our protagonist goes into combat barefoot, as his feet how he controls fire best.)
I think the people with fire powers must be fireproof. At the beginning of the climactic battle, it bothered me that no one was wearing a respirator; then I noticed that the nun and the chief, neither of whom have powers, do wear masks as part of their battle gear.

For everyone else I guess it's just a fashion statement. Fire suits are also made of heavy, durable material, so it'd still help protect them against things that aren't fire. (This doesn't explain the catgirl stripper, of course.)
 
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