With my all-too-long summer list and my recent personal announcement, I hope you can forgive the late menu offerings. Consider this more of a mid-season review of where I am so far. Not all the shows are up to date, so there still stands a chance that some of them may be dropped before the end of the season. There’s also the fact that I’m looking forward to the upcoming Anime Secret Santa recommendations (all three of which are excellent) and the 12 Days of Anime.
- Comet Lucifer
- Dance with Devils
- Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
- Garo: Guren no Tsuki
- Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka??
- Haikyuu!! Second Season
- Heavy Object
- Noragami Aragoto
- One-Punch Man
- Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan
- Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen
- Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry
- Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
- Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider
- Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen
Comet Lucifer (4 episodes watched)
Eureka Seven meets Castle in the Sky? We have a hovercraft board-using male lead, a crystal-born girl floating from the sky, and mecha completely disregarding of the surrounding environment. The first couple of episodes were actually pretty exciting, and I was looking forward to the mystery and adventure—then came that horrendous third episode with the comical villain bent on trolling our trio. I now have a strong association of cat pigeons and talking rocks with plummeting story lines. But, I’ll stick with it for now because I have hopes, too many hopes, that we’ll stick to the more interesting mystery of this girl and the military goons after her.
Dance with Devils (2 episodes)
Musical crosses with reverse harem in this story of a girl predictably surrounded by packs of hungry men. The name of this show had me on high alert—it reminded me of Diabolik Lovers, a horrid, horrid anime where the heroine had zero personality or backbone and was preyed upon by a bunch of repulsive young men. Ritsuka of Dance with Devils is surprisingly present, both physically and psychologically, and unwilling to immediately swoon at our “devils’” feet. The opening week played about three to four musical renditions for the audience—which I did not expect in the slightest, despite the title—and had me curious if the show-stopping songs would continue throughout the rest of the episodes. The second didn’t have near as many, maybe one or two, but I am still intrigued enough to keep the anime on the menu for now.
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk (5 episodes)
Surprise, surprise, this was not a show I expected to be all caught up on. I initially picked up the series for KWoo. I gather all the ecchi, harem-y, comedic series for him and usually only sample the first couple of episodes myself before dropping. However, Asterisk turned out mildly interesting with its Academy City on the Water (reminiscent of Index) and battle arenas. The main characters immediately bump heads in a groan-worthy, awkward moment when Ayato stupidly leaps up onto the window sill of Julis’ bedroom to return a wayward handkerchief. Obviously, she would be in the middle of dressing herself. Obviously, she would be less than pleased. And obviously, she would take it upon herself to execute Ayato immediately. As is common with these types of series, anger turns to like, and the two are pretty much best pals by the fourth episode. I couldn’t stand Julis in the first couple of weeks, but have now warmed up to her since we’ve been given a bit of back story and explanation for her prickly personality.
Garo: Guren no Tsuki (3 episodes)
This is not the Garo you might be looking for. At least, that’s what I can tell from these first couple of episodes. I was beyond excited when I found out that Garo: Honoo no Kokuin would be getting an almost immediate sequel and so snatched this up without a thought. Guren no Tsuki is not a sequel, but more of a side story prequel to a time when the knights and priests operated openly. The art style of this addition is also vastly different from the visuals earlier this year; I haven’t quite decided whether or not I like the change. I am a tad interested in the priestess, who reminds me a bit of Emma the alchemist/priestess in the previous season, due to her deceptively laid back—almost careless—personality. Her role in the battles against Horrors is one completely new to me with my limited Garo realm exposure. She dons no knightly armor, and does not take Emma’s more physical approach. She hovers mostly in the background as support in a more traditional Makai Priest manner. I’ve heard some foreboding changes for this character in the following episodes, but I’m hoping that the sly wit and capability shown at the beginning always simmers below the surface despite the mask she wears.
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? (3 episodes)
The first season of GochiUsa was probably one of the seasons where I tweeted the most images of a single show. I couldn’t stop myself from giggling and sharing my favorite scenes of cute girls in European-esque café settings. There was never a question that this sequel would be on my fall watch list, and my expectations panned out exactly as imagined. Silly, sweet girls serve coffee to customers, sip tea and attempt discussion of string theory at tea time, and encounter rogue rabbits. This show is all about the little moments—I’m almost never concerned with conflict or forward movement.
Haikyuu!! Second Season (5 episodes)
After the disappointing end of the first season, I am ready to see our team back in action and improving more than ever. I cannot get the scene out of my mind of the team in tears over their meal after their devastating loss to Aoba Johsai. The disappointment stifled me, yet I understood that Karasuno wasn’t quite ready for the higher stage. That truth comes out loud and clear very early in this sequel when Karasuno partakes in a series of practice matches against some of Tokyo’s big hitters. The team is surprisingly average without the Hinata-Kageyama duo. I’m hoping that along with the new manager, we’ll also get more oomph to either our current players or additions to the roster.
Heavy Object (3 episodes)
In truth, the heavy objects look absolutely ridiculous to me. They’re clunky, and the onion image comes across horribly cliché. Oooh, damage to the outside? Just peel on to the next layer! They are inelegant in form and purpose, though that’s obviously the point. Technology has progressed to the point that face-to-face combat in mass is no longer necessary—instead, nations send singular heavy objects against one another to decide supremacy in a way reminiscent of medieval champions. As positive as it seems to have one sacrificed instead of many, the people in this world have become lackadaisical towards confrontation. Full measures are no longer taken for proper defense of facilities. There isn’t even an official contract stating the defeat of a nation’s heavy object results in an immediate cease fire—it’s only assumed. The ease with which our very green main characters infiltrate enemy bases is sadly comical. With their government taking advantage of their luck thus far, I’m sure it won’t be too long before we have a clashing of ideals and policies.
Noragami Aragoto (6 episodes)
It’s not often I say this about sequels, but I am actually enjoying Aragoto more than the first season. While the first grounded us in the world and brought us close to our main trio, I didn’t feel much consequence to Hiyori’s still uncertain stance between worlds, and the drama between Yato and Yukine played out predictably favorable. With Aragoto, we’re not only fleshing out Bishamon’s character and role as the most powerful war god, we’re also diving to the crux of Yato’s darker days as a god of calamity. His shaking off of Nora may be swift each time, but there’s still a nagging reminder that his time may be fleeting given his lack of followers and his tie to a human whose life is all too short when compared to a god. The manipulation of Bishamon by one of her own has played out beautifully so far on screen and revealed the fragility of even the most powerful of immortals.
One-Punch Man (4 episodes)
I felt an overwhelming draw to this show based purely on the promotional artwork of a bald superhero zooming in for a punch. I am pleased to announce that my attraction was completely founded in a show that has proved itself through its main character. Saitama is an oddity among oddities—with a single throw of his fist, he lays waste to the most formidable of foes. Without a deviation, that one punch is all it takes to defeat the opponent. The simplicity of this work’s premise and the almost perpetual boredom on Saitama’s face concoct a hilarious series of events. My favorite episode so far was the opening with the pure fabrication of Saitama’s mind as he lay dreaming of Subterraneans actually worthy of a fight. It would be almost perfect if through the entirety of this show an actual rival is never found, and Saitama reverts back to whatever he was before becoming One-Punch Man (which was likely already something special).
Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan (5 episodes)
Thankfully my only short of the season now that I’ve cut ties with Monochrome-chan, Hakone-chan is a perfect dose of adorable authority each week. There’s just something ridiculously irresistible about an ancient god too weak to appear in anything older than a child’s body. Her demonstrations of power–spewing hot spring water out of her mouth, creating small water formations–weaken her even further. It isn’t surprising that people in today’s age can’t really take her seriously. They instead see her powers as advanced magic tricks from a little girl enamored with hot spring buns. Like me, they can’t help but love her childish assertiveness. Her brief incursion in an adult body has its triumph hilariously cut short first by the lack of recognition of her friends and adoring fans and second by an over-use of power. I admit I’m not quite ready for an adult Hakone-chan just yet!
Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen (2 episodes)
I’m holding back on following this series week to week simply because I think I’ll enjoy it more if I can marathon a handful of episodes at a time. The first season wasn’t what I would call a rousing success–we were repeatedly bashed with Yuu’s cocky attitude. Hiiragi was the show’s saving grace with her crooked smile and all-knowing glance. After finishing that season, it felt wrong to write off the sequel since so much was left hanging at the end. Yuu’s strange powers far different from any human or vampire require explanation, as does Mikaela’s hidden potential as a human from the same orphanage now turned vampire. It was mostly assumed in the first season that the vampires were the villains, a black-and-white distinction with our point-of-view obviously from the good guy’s side. But the more we talk with Yuu’s higher-ups and peer at the vampire’s hierarchy, the line isn no longer so sharp.
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry (2 episodes)
At a glance, I often mix up Cavalry with Asterisk. They both feature a male and female pair of main characters. Both sets are high school students in the study of magical combat. The girls are indisputably geniuses of their arts, while the guys are looked down upon for their oddities. Calvary also reminds me a lot of a series from last winter, Absolute Duo. It’s as if the writer had this single idea and decided to go two different directions that ended up with their own series. If there’s one thing to be oddly grateful about, it’s that Stella has a fully developed body that doesn’t make me deeply uncomfortable every time Ikki notices it. Also a princess, Stella demonstrates a believable curiosity in the male body and every day habits of the middle and lower classes. This inquisitiveness helps with what otherwise would have been awkwardly fast pacing her and Ikki’s friendship over the first couple of episodes. There isn’t much I can say just yet about the show since we’ve only just learned about the competition put forth by the local academies, but I will commend this mirror image show on choosing to focus on characters instead of story at the start. I find these magical high school shows too often jump right into the fray without grounding my feelings on the people involved.
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru (4 episodes)
It took me a bit to actually get started on this show, but after that first episode, I couldn’t help but snatch up every episode afterward right as they aired. Sakurako-san’s delight in the dead bodies of all of Earth’s creatures is an interesting premise in and of itself, but the combination with a weekly mystery clinches my devotion to the anime. I’ve been on a major supernatural detective mystery lately in live television with shows like Grimm, Lost Girl, and iZombie. I love the initial shock of discovery, the learning of morbid details, and the exciting explanation of events leading up to our initial finding. There isn’t actually any otherworldliness in Sakurako-san, unless you consider the young woman’s almost eery intuition and observation skills magical. I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. In addition to her weekly cases, there’s also the all-encompassing mystery of Sakurako-san’s past. We know she used to have a little brother, and that she holds little interest in anything other than the dead. I want to know what past events created the woman we now know.
Starmyu (4 episodes)
My choices are really all over the board this season, aren’t they? It shouldn’t really be surprising to my long-time readers that I’ve picked up this all-boy cast show–I have my favorite reverse harems, and I always enjoy a good musical. There isn’t actually a heroine role in this series whose shoes I can step into, but perhaps we can think of it instead as a performance put on for what is likely a mostly female audience. Starmyu gives us an all-boy’s school dedicated to music. The elite of them are all part of the highly competitive Star Frame Class. Of course we can only begin in one of two roles: the already skilled, or the gifted beginner. While the main group includes a mix of the above, our main character is the newbie. Hoshitani has no musical background, only a newfound passion for dance and the stage. He has that overbearing cheeriness that can drive both in-show characters and viewers crazy. Thankfully, that happy face is backed by a hard-working ethic that quickly turns around the misgivings of his team members. We’ll see how far the boys can get before others are forced to take them seriously.
Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider (3 episodes)
Is anyone still watching this show? I thought after the first episode that The Perfect Insider would be a cult classic and immediate yes on my list, but I’ve been wavering lately. While i loved the dialogue between Saikawa and Moe in the opening, that chemistry has almost wholly disappeared in the following two episodes. I suffer with Moe at the drab responses to her advances, and grind me teeth at the group’s awe/belittlement of her lack of knowledge for middle class activities. Perhaps she simply has a misplaced daddy complex for Saitama? I welcome the change of direction with Magata’s strange demise, but find it difficult to raise any desire in continuing past the third episode.
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen (4 episodes)
Near the beginning of my discovery of anime in my undergraduate years, I watched the original of Utawarerumono. I don’t even remember how I stumbled across it–maybe my enabler friend handed it to me, or maybe i watched it so I could be an informed voter for the newly started ISML–but I do have fond feelings for the name. It was a full two-cour episode, as many of the greats of 2006, and I remember absolutely loving the characters and world for almost the entirety of the show. About three quarters of the way through, the main character’s past comes roaring back with a disturbing revelation of his identity and the truth to his world. I’m honestly fuzzy on the details after that point, but I do recall my affections for the anime lessening after the changes. Now nine years later, we have Itsuwari no Kamen. The series is certainly somewhere in the future in the timeline of the original series considering the name which Kuon bestows upon the protagonist and the glimpse we have later on of a bone mask used to disguise a friend’s face. New viewers need not fear; the glances to the past are not really significant so far to the current story. The transition into the world has been a gradual one, and I’m enjoying remembering what it was about this setting that I loved so much.
Continuing from summer:
- Diamond no Ace: Second Season (31 episodes)
- Ushio to Tora (TV) (11 episodes)