What have I gotten myself into? Don’t, just don’t, count the number of new shows I’ve picked up. It’s a bit ridiculous. It a lot ridiculous.
There are many wonderful sequels airing this spring, and I am also pleased with the amount of interesting new series. Below are my choices four weeks into the season. Let me know what you think of these shows, and to what you’re most looking forward!
- Alice to Zouroku
- Atom: The Beginning
- Boku no Hero Academia Season 2
- Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
- Dungeon in Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria
- Fukumenkei Noise
- Granblue Fantasy The Animation
- Hinako Note
- Kenka Banchou Otome: Girl Beats Boys
- Love Kome: We Love Rice
- Natsume Yuujinchou Roku
- Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine
- Sakura Quest
- Seikaisuru Kado
- Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul
- Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2
- Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?
- Tsuki ga Kirei
- Uchouten Kazoku 2
- Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho
Alice to Zouroku (3 episodes watched)
It’s been a bit of a tumultuous start with this one, from terrible CG, to cute-sy girl antics, to near sci-fi horror, but I’m in it for the finish to learn more about these Dreams of Alice. Engineered little girls aren’t exactly new to anime, but the inclusion of regular humans having the ability to transform into similar beings is intriguing. Not too much is revealed just yet, but what we do know is that the little blonde girl we meet at the beginning isn’t considered a human by the organization that created and now hunts her. Like others of her kind, she can make her vision into reality. Unlike all of them, the possibilities are endless. Usually, each user can only manifest one “card” at a time, whereas Alice can create an entire world to her liking. Her escape means that the organization not only loses valuable research, but that very real danger threatens anyone she encounters. Luckily for old man Zouroku, Alice is a sweetheart who would never harm a living being. When she manifests a horde of piglets, she opts for their removal to a safe place rather than making them vanish into the unknown. When she’s reprimanded for recklessness, she takes the scolding to heart.
I want to see how Alice will grow as a human with positive influences like Zouroku and his granddaughter. In addition to Alice, I’m also interested in the other children, who seem to share a similar underlying goodness. Even the third episode antagonist, Minnie C., is sympathetic. It’s terrifying to see how much a combination of love and fear can turn even the best people into something much darker. I’m willing to overlook the godawful CG car chase from the first episode, as well as the blatant Carl’s Jr. advertising in the third–if you give the show a try, I hope you will, too.
Atom: The Beginning (1 episode watched)
The last of the spring shows of interest to me to air, Atom: The Beginning, is a far prequel to the well known franchise, Astro Boy. It’s an interesting twist to the original, setting up Tenma and Ochanomizu as college peers and friends with a shared passion for robots. I am not at all familiar with Osamu Tezuka’s work, but the familiarity of the name, “Astro Boy,” is a testament to its far-reaching influence. I picked up this show not only out of curiosity for the connection between the two works, but also because I thought it might appeal to my husband who was part of his university’s Robotics Club. The first episode has an appealing, bright color scheme that encourages a positive view of the robots who make up the infrastructure of this society. Despite this, the dangers of such reliance make themselves apparent. Tenma’s and Ochanomizu’s research project, Six, represents a future that marries current robot technology with an experimental A.I.
We see the two possibilities clash during Mecha City’s parade celebrating their famous robots. The show does a wonderful job with this first episode, setting up the exposition at the start through dialogue and catching our interest in the characters’ project with Six’s showy performance. By saving the day, he wins not only Mecha City’s heart, but ours, as well.
Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 (3 episodes watched)
This show is right up there with my top most anticipated shows of the spring season. Its first season blasted me away with its energy and passion, and I can already tell that this sequel will do that same. You will most definitely need to see the first season before trying this one. The series wasted no time jumping right back into the fire with the memories of the last attack still resonating in everyone’s minds. True to superhero form, however, Hero Academy decides to proceed with the regular schedule and charge straight into the U.A. Sports Festival, a series of events that pit students from all classes, not just the superhero course, against one another for public entertainment and very possible fame and endorsement. All Might charges Midoriya with making a name for himself as the new hope for humanity. No pressure, huh?
One of my favorite things about My Hero Academia is its pacing. Despite being a shounen combining both battle and sports elements, the story does not suffer from slow pacing. There’s no dragging out of every second of a fight, no long-winded speeches slowing down our heroes’ necessary actions. We can count on the show to keep us breathless and eager for more.
I’m particularly excited to see Midoriya finally step into public spotlight and grab more control of his powers. Unlike the other students with their Quirks, he still struggles to use his without self-injury, and must rely heavily on his intelligence and strategy. His ability to quickly assess any given situation and react accordingly and effectively already pushes him above and beyond other more powerful heroes-in-training, like Bakugou or Todoroki. You’ll see in the third episode exactly what I mean.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (3 episodes watched)
I have not seen nor am I interested in the long-running TV series and manga, Naruto. While that series is finished, we now have the start of the next generation featuring the son of Naruto and Hinata, Boruto. I have never seen a full episode of the main franchise, but I do have a vague familiarity with the characters. I don’t think there are any anime fans who aren’t at least a bit knowledgeable of Naruto and his friends.
Boruto takes after his father in looks and personality, even if he would never admit it. He is skilled, confident, kind, and fair. I like him and would likely be friends with him, even if I disapprove of his more reckless impulses. I’m going to take this chance now to jump into this world and get to know the next generation of ninjas. I’m hoping the series won’t run on too long, since I have a hard time committing to continuous series over 50-episodes long (I dropped Bleach somewhere in the 100s). Monster and Hunter x Hunter (2011) are a couple of rare exceptions. Perhaps Boruto will also distinguish itself and earn my devotion, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Dungeon in Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria (1 episode watched)
I originally thought this would be a sequel to the first season, this time following Aiz, but this is instead a parallel story to the first season. We do experience the same timeline with Aiz, but are privy to her own experiences and knowledge mostly unseen by Bell. With the original series building its Hestia Familia with unknown members, Aiz’s Loki Familia takes in the best and brightest who have all made names for themselves as exceptional fighters. Standing at the top is Aiz Wallenstein, a beautiful warrior with a reserved demeanor. It’s too early to tell whether or not you’ll have needed to see the original series before this, but from what I can tell, it’s not necessary. The knowledge will certainly round out your appreciation for events, but the new protagonist lets us approach from a different perspective, much like Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi novel spin-off Ender’s Shadow to the original Ender’s Game (I preferred Shadow).
I’m trying not to let my previous dissatisfaction with the original tinge my feelings on Sword Oratoria, since I prefer to let new works stand on their own regardless of any connecting series or source material. For now, I’m interested in peering into Aiz’s point of view and getting to know the rest of the Loki Familia.
Eromanga-sensei (2 episodes watched)
Why, hello again, Kyousuke-I mean, Masamune! If you’re remembering Ore no Imouto when looking at the visuals and description for Eromanga-sensei, then you’re on the right track. The two share the same original creator. This time, we have siblings who may or may not be blood related. I haven’t yet figured out if Masamune and Sagiri are step siblings or half. I’m assuming step siblings since I hate incestuous set-ups. The two are largely shown to live on their own, although a single parent, the father, is hinted at almost never coming home. Masamune Izumi is an up and coming light novel author whose main work is illustrated by the highly esteemed Eromanga-sensei, an artist who avoids public appearance and handles all business online. Thanks to a perfectly timed meal and a live stream, Masamune realizes that Eromanga-sensei is actually his little sister, a girl who hasn’t left her room for a year after the death of their mother. If this isn’t enough to excite him, then there’s also the fact that much of her art is erotic. We witness her take a picture of her own backside as reference material. It’s easy to see where the rest of this story will likely go–Masamune will continue to push himself as a writer as well as urge his sister to leave her room. Sagiri will continue to improve as an artist and will likely leave her room midway through the season. They’ll obviously fall for one another, though it’s apparent that Sagiri is already fond of Masamune, while he in turn takes way too much joy out of washing her underwear.
As much as I dislike the amount of sibling romance in anime, I find myself drawn to Eromanga-sensei for its slick look and well-timed comedy. Sure, I find Sagiri’s treatment of her brother repugnant–he is, for all intents and purposes, an un-glorified servant. We can attribute her lack of verbal gratitude to shyness or trauma, but there’s no overlooking the ugliness to her stomping her foot as a call for food. I want to see her grow as a person–leave her room, share the chores, express gratitude. I’m rooting for her to better herself and win me over.
Fukumenkei Noise (2 episodes watched)
I’m struggling to remember the last time I saw a shoujo romance of this nature, much less one with such a clear love triangle at the start…Orange? Ao Haru Ride? None of those feel quite like the high school romances I read and watched when I was younger, so Fukumenkei Noise is extremely nostalgic to watch.
Arisugawa Nino is a high school girl who loves to sing, but spends much of her time silent behind a face mask. At first I thought this was because she wanted to protect her voice, but then we learn it’s because without it she feels like she’ll scream without it. This habit of wearing the mask goes back to when she was little, shortly after her childhood friend and first love, Momo, moved away. She’s horrified at the idea of never seeing him again, but in the midst of her despair, she meets Yuzuriha Kanade. “Yuzu” and “Alice” (“Arisugawa” is apparently too long to say) form an instant friendship over their mutual love for music. Yuzu composes the songs, while Alice sings them in the hopes that her voice will somehow reach Momo.
In the present, Alice has neither Momo, nor Yuzu, yet continues to sing with the same wish held close. I’ve never understood these stories’ insistence on a childhood relationship. I can barely remember my own friendships as kid. It’s a nice dream, I suppose, a love that transcends time and space and is realized once again.
So far we only have the introduction throwing these three students into the same school, and the back stories of how they all met one another and separated too soon. I’m always a sucker for the nice guy in these types of love stories, so I’m already pulling for Momo. Yuzu is a sweet kid, but I’ve never been one for tsundere guys.
Another point of interest for me is the musical setting: Nino’s supposedly amazing voice, Yuzu’s guitar playing and composition, and now seemingly Momo’s composition. I wasn’t too impressed with Nino’s vocals in the Light Music Club’s performance, but perhaps a different song will better high light her voice. Please let that not be another rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!”
Granblue Fantasy The Animation (3 episodes watched)
I entered into Granblue Fantasy The Animation fully expecting it to either bore or annoy me, so was pleasantly surprised when it turned out otherwise. The show stems from a smartphone game, and opens with a standard magical-girl-falls-from-the-sky scene. Protagonist Gran is first shown chopping wood fully decked in his armor. You can maybe see why I was skeptical. Yet somewhere along the line of following Gran as he discovers Lyria and fights off her pursuers, I started to care. I wanted the two to escape and get to explaining Lyria’s background. Once knight Katalina stepped up, skilled and unintentionally sexy, I was set to join the three of them on their journey to learn more about Lyria’s powers and hunt down Gran’s long-missing father.
This anime is the first of a few wonderful fantasies this season. I feel blessed to experience so many at the same time that involve adventures and none of the too-popular high school settings. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional magical school, but there’s a limit to how many I can take each year. I also find the art style incredibly pretty with its rough, sketched look. So many shows these days have smooth, perfect lines. CG aside, I sometimes forget what I’m seeing is hand drawn. There’s no forgetting that while watching Granblue.
If you watch this and have seen a fair amount of anime, you’ll likely recognize the little dragon’s voice to be that of Kugimiya Rie, the actress behind famous tsundere characters like Shana, Taiga, and Louise.
Hinako Note (2 episodes watched)
I know I’m not alone in finding much of Hinako Note familiar–particularly its character designs and choice of scenes. At a glance, it’s a typical cute girls doing cute things type of show. Hinako Sakuragi moves to the city from the country in hopes of improving her extreme shyness by joining the school’s theater club. She ends up living with three other girls who attend the same school. Their residence is a combined apartment complex, bookstore, cafe, and residents are expected to contribute to the household during the weekends. Bookworm Kuina tends the bookstore–she loves books and eating so much, she even chomps on pages from books. Talk about my worst nightmare! Mayuki works in the cafe and likes dressing up as a maid. Chiaki is both the landlady and a fellow student.
I’m reminded heavily of GochiUsa just looking at the art; Mayuki also makes me think of Sharo with her blonde hair and maid outfit. Both shows also feature coffee shops. Then there’s Kuina, who resembles Konata from Lucky Star with her long blue hair and frequent cat mouth.
In addition to the character comparisons, the first episode closes with a bath scene where Hinako contemplates her new experiences. Closing bath scenes were made famous in Hidamari Sketch, a franchise dear to my heart. I’ve seen complaints about these similarities, but I honestly don’t mind much. Using the bath as a means to unwind and hear into a character’s inner thoughts isn’t unique to Hidamari Sketch, and it only features in the opening episode of Hinako Note. Similarities are also bound to found in character art since there are only so many color combinations. Plenty of other shows feature the cat mouth and don’t receive flack for it. Yet somehow because Kuina has blue hair and makes that face, she’s pinned as ripping off of everyone’s favorite gamer.
So no, these issues don’t bother me. What really gets to me so far is my slight boredom. I don’t care enough about these girls yet to find their interactions endearing–perhaps further in I will start to laugh more. I also find Hinako’s scarecrow act bizarre. It’s one thing to be shy, but who honestly stands with their arms out for hours? Doesn’t that just draw more attention? I hope the scarecrow gag will fade out quickly in favor of building up their acting troupe, but I will re-evaluate after a few more episodes.
Kabukibu! (2 episodes watched)
I’m still on the fence about keeping Kabukibu! on my list, but for now, I’m looking forward to seeing the Kabuki Club succeed and put on performances. The set-up is pretty standard for shows featuring a student attempting to start a club in high school. Kurusu needs to find enough members to fill the roster, as well as an adviser. Slightly more unique is his deep knowledge on the topic. Other anime tend to give us a protagonist filled with just as much energy as Kurusu, but lacking any knowledge and or experience.
His passion admittedly comes across as forced, with him spouting off lines everywhere he goes and exuding a constant genki attitude. It’s almost like a group of older people trying to get kids passionate about the classic arts and not quite knowing how to speak in their language. Regardless, I’m willing to go with it since I want to learn more about kabuki and Kabukibu! looks like a reasonably friendly entrance into its world.
Kenka Banchou Otome: Girl Beats Boys (2 episodes watched)
The first of two shorts I’m picking up this season is Kenka Banchou Otome: Girl Beats Boys. The title pretty much says it all. We have a girl disguised as a boy attending an all-boys school full of mostly delinquent students. Hinako is charged with the mission of rising to the top of the school’s hierarchy, which involves using her brawn to beat down any competition. Yakuza use this school as as way of picking their members and cultivating their leaders. Hinako’s predicament at Shishiku Private Academy came about from her long lost twin tracking her down and convincing her to take his spot. Whether it be from a new found sense of familial obligation, or from boredom, or loneliness, Hinako takes up her brother’s offer. Her appearance belies any physical strength, but Hinako turns out to be a skilled martial artist and makes it clear from the first episode that she’s a real contender for the top.
At eight minutes per episode, there isn’t too much substance to this simple formula of a story. It’s just short enough for me to not feel burdened by adding it to my already long list, and it’s fun enough to convince me to keep at it. The scenario might turn out like HanaKimi with its reverse harem, but Hinako looks like the type of girl to not be swayed much by the good looks of her classmates. The show’s art doesn’t look too bad either. A lot of shorts I try end up looking like obvious side projects with little time or resources, but Girl Beats Boys has enough quality to its art to not be an eyesore. The fights also avoid relying on CG, though it does pop up in less noticeable areas.
Love Kome: We Love Rice (3 episodes watched)
The second and last short on my list is Love Kome: We Love Rice, a show that submits further proof that Japan can make a show about anything. We have four minutes each week to see whether or not rice can take back its rightful place from bread as Japan’s favorite staple food. Inaho Academy enrolls students with the purpose of re-popularizing rice to the public. The students are anthropomorphized strains of rice. If that isn’t weird enough, they also speak a language full of puns and other play on words associated with rice and the act of eating.
This type of humor isn’t really my style, but what caught my attention was the 30-second recipe segment at the end of each episode. The first shows you how to make tempura-fried mozzarella balls, the third, a take on pizza using fried rice as the dough. I’m pretty much watching these for the recipes at the end!
Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (2 episodes watched)
Natsume Yuujinchou is the gift that just keeps on giving. You’d think after five seasons of gentle, self-contained stories that the franchise would struggle to yank on my heartstrings in new ways, but this sixth installment continues to do exactly that. We’re only two episodes in and I’m already sucked back into Natsume’s world.
There are still plenty of directions the series can take that haven’t been fully explored, like Reiko’s life after marriage and leading up to her death, Natsume’s ongoing interactions with various exorcist factions, and his continued secrecy from his guardians. I wonder if we’ll ever see the the Book of Friends emptied–it’s highly likely not–because this is a setting worth re-visiting from countless angles.
Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine (3 episodes watched)
Thank goodness there are practical royal families in anime that favor equality over murder for determining the heir to the throne. There is a wicked kind of glee in witnessing siblings war over the title, but it’s a style that’s starting to wear on me. Equally prevalent is the story of the king’s daughter, a tool to forge an alliance with another kingdom or best forgotten. Neither of these apply to Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine, a story involving one teacher’s duty to educate the four youngest princes of the kingdom.
If the tutor were a female, we’d have a classic reverse harem, and I’d expect each one of the princes to take their turns wooing her heart. Instead, our royal tutor is an adult man the height of a child with a murky history and unimpressive credentials. We don’t know why the king personally requested his presence, or why Professor Heine chose to take the offered station, but I approve of his character and design. He is, for better lack of a word, adorable in both looks and demeanor. He handily interviews each of the princes and earns their respect, begrudging though some of them may be. He skirts any attempts at his belittlement and proves his capability as a tutor and role model. In a way, he reminds me of both Kuroshitsuji’s Sebastian and Ciel.
Re:CREATORS (2 episodes watched)
What if the fictional stories you wrote suddenly came to life in your own world? This is the premise of Re:CREATORS. Mizushino Souta is an aspiring author who loves fantasy-themed anime and video games. His view of reality and fiction is turned upside down when he is sucked into an anime then spit back out into his world with the female protagonist. Alternate worlds and books that capture the reader are pretty common in anime, but this is the first time I’ve seen the stories come to life in “reality”–what Re:CREATORS refers to as the “creator’s world”–unless you count the summoning of heroes in the Fate franchise. American films like Jumanji, Bedtime Stories, and Goosebumps express a similar idea. As fun as it may seem to re-imagine characters from multiple worlds into our own, Souta discovers this collision to be much messier and incompatible than one might expect.
The magical worlds from where Selesia, Meteora, and Mamika come hold different laws of physics. Selesia’s Earthmelia treats pain much the same as ours, while Mamika’s world imagines combat without bloodshed. When she uses her magical girl spells, she’s surprised to find that real damage is sustained by both the surrounding buildings and her opponent. It’s amusing to see such different approaches to fighting come together under new rules. Part of me wants Souta to sit back and enjoy the spectacle, and another part realizes that we’ll likely see much worse than has been shown so far in the first two episodes. What if a character with the ability to destroy entire civilizations comes to life? So far the characters we’ve seen seem to exhibit feelings of remorse, but what if a one-dimensional villain enters the set? It’s scary imagining the consequences. I want to know what breathed life into these stories and how they might be imprisoned back into words and pictures.
Sakura Quest (3 episodes watched)
Sometimes the familiar is all you need to relax and enjoy yourself. P.A. Works returns with their signature art and setting to tell a story of a country town struggling to renew interest in its tourism. The main character is a girl fresh out of college but down on luck with job offers. Her lack of expertise or any real interest results in 30 failed interviews and the threat of running home to her rural town looming over her head. It’s a struggle I find familiar, though I never scraped the bottom of the barrel in quite the same way as Yoshino. She has mostly herself to blame for her lack of appeal to companies–why would they want to hire someone with little knowledge of their vision? And if she’s really so desperate, why isn’t she working part-time?
When the opportunity to represent Manoyama arises, she turns her nose up at the small town setting despite her lack of options. When she does decide to help out, she does so with very little research into the role she needs to fill. Yoshino has a far way to go as the “Queen” of Manoyama, but I’m sure her journey there is the whole point of this show, like others of its kind produced by P.A. Works. Given the title and a scene from the first episode, I’m pretty sure I know where Manoyama’s tourism will eventually grow, but I still look forward to seeing Yoshino struggle along with her friends and the townsfolk over these coming weeks.
Seikaisuru Kado (2 episodes + episode 0 watched)
I’m still uncertain on whether or not to keep going with Seikaisuru Kado, but for now, my curiosity is piqued. I started with episode 00, which is a prequel to the main story line. It covers the work of negotiators for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Koujiro Shindou and Hanamori Shun. Shindou claims the spotlight as the negotiator most highly esteemed by his superiors and coworkers. I actually really enjoyed episode 00 detailing Shindo’s in-between work on land acquisition, but the episode served the purpose of character description rather than any kind of independence. We’re meant to walk away feeling awe and gratitude for Shindou, a man who works towards the benefit of all parties.
Episode 1 proceeds in a completely different direction, thrusting Shindou and Shun into an alien abduction of sorts. The plane they’re about to take is grounded by a gigantic cube with unknown origins. Within it, they encounter an alien being wishing to communicate with humanity. The whole thing strongly resembles the American film The Day the Earth Stood Still, which originally came out in 1951 and was re-made in 2008. Even though this anime is an original without any source material, I wonder just how much it will follow the events of the American movie. Is Yaha-kui za Shunina some type of galactic peace officer sent to Earth in warning of our technological advances?
I also want to point out that this show relies almost completely on CG, from the characters to the setting. It looks a lot better than expected; the faces and hair better transfer to the screen than the work presented in Sidonia or Ronya. I could do with more shading, but the improvement is appreciated. If you are a fan of The Day the Earth Stood Still or alien sci-fi, this show may be of interest to you. I still wish we could have a series dedicated to the premise presented in episode 00…
Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul (2 episodes watched)
Hell. Yes. Yes! BahaSoul follows on a beautiful fantasy that aired in 2014, which surprises me because it felt like just the previous season that I romped around with Favaro and Amira. While it’s been three years for us, 10 years have passed in the world of Bahamut and the balance of power has undergone a transformation. Gods and demons no longer reign supreme; humans now have the capability to kill the very beings they once worshiped and feared. Some familiar faces do immediately crop up, including Kaiser, Bacchus, Hamsa, and Rita, but they’re all shadows of their former selves. Kaiser regained nobility at the cost of his pride and dignity. Bacchus and Hamsa drink themselves into a daily stupor (actually, that’s not too different). And Rita, well, she’s perhaps the least changed of all. Our main character this time around is Nina Drango, an incredibly cute girl with the strength of…twenty men? She obviously hides a secret, but I’ll let you discover it on your own should you decide to give this show a try.
I am still undecided on whether or not you’ll need to see Genesis before Virgin Soul, but for now I’m going to say no. Yes, there are shared characters, but the world is so different now that we’re all together in trying to survive.
Fun fact: did you know that a spin-off was slotted to air in 2016, but was shelved indefinitely? It was supposed to be set in a magic school with a human princess and a dragon princess.
Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 (2 episodes watched)
It’s been four years since we last saw Eren and Mikasa, and at long last we are with them again for this single-cours sequel. While some people may have been agonizing for more material, I went and forgot about all the hype I felt during the anime’s original run. I didn’t read any of the manga, nor did I really believe WIT’s insistence during their panel at last year’s Sakura-Con that more was in the works. While cosplay persisted, the amount of coats and 3D gear started to wane. Yet here we are, thrust into the setting exactly where we left off with Annie crystallized along with her secrets.
While I appreciated jumping straight back into action, the shift away from Eren surprised me. I do find him a bit obnoxious and had wanted to spend more time with some of his peers, but I am confused by the decision to follow Sasha and Conny. A significant amount of time is spent taking Sasha back to her home village, and I didn’t garner anything particularly useful from her time there. Perhaps we’ll learn more later that will illuminate the reason for the detour.
Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? (2 episodes watched)
Jumping on that awesome fantasy train is Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?, a series with a ridiculously long title and is instead referred to as “SukaSuka.” I’ll be doing that as well since I anticipate tweeting frequently about this dark horse. Don’t be deterred by the fact that this is yet another light novel adaptation. SukaSuka pulls us along into its world by showing, not telling, the facts of life. Humans are extinct, and the population is made up of a mixed variety of beings we’d consider more suitable to fairy tales: animal-human hybrids, trolls, and leprechauns. Our main character is the exception, a human who walks this strange world after hundreds of years of sleep. We don’t know why, or how–we just know that Willem is highly esteemed and trusted by those who do know him, so much so that he is tasked with caring for the weapons that protect this world from those that would destroy it.
These “weapons” turn out to be little girls who look and almost act like humans. Except they’re not. They’re leprechauns raised to fight and die if necessary. Their cavalier attitude towards life and death is disturbing, and I can see why Willem’s peer worries that he’ll be unable to treat them the same after learning their true purpose. The more a girl wants to live, the weaker are her powers, so it would be more effective to let them embrace death. But seeing them play and laugh makes me want them to cherish what little time they have together. I hope Willem can find a way to free them from their duties without having to sacrifice everyone’s safety.
Tsuki ga Kirei (3 episodes watched)
It’s rare when a piece can so easily transform me back in time, particularly to my childhood when every emotion somehow felt sharper and more dangerous. Tsuki ga Kirei tells a simple story of youth and love in an almost effortless style and grace. It perfectly captures the awkwardness and excitement of its junior high cast by treasuring every pause, glance, and twitch. The biggest difference to my own years as a middle school student is the prevalence of smartphones and texting. Taking into account the current technologies and the fact that most kids these days have cell phones, much of the dialogue between Akane and Kotarou takes place via LINE, a popular messaging application. I’ve seen some complaints that the frequency of their texting seems like blatant advertising, but I don’t have a problem with it. From what I’ve seen, kids text constantly and it would be unrealistic for these Japanese students to use something other than LINE, which is the most popular app in their country. Their tendency to text one another rather than speak face to face allows them to more openly express their desires and concerns.
Another aspect of Tsuki ga Kirei I love is its art style, a soft, watercolor-esque look that does make use of CG yet avoids its associated ugliness. The art reminds me of Hourou Musuko, or Hai to Gensou no Grimgar. The hand drawing and CG meld together seamlessly and I wish shows would learn from Tsuki ga Kirei’s example.
Uchouten Kazoku 2 (2 episodes watched)
Here’s yet another show that felt like it was just the previous year that it aired, but it’s been four years! Sheesh, time flies by so quickly. It’s surprising to me that the sequel starts out the way that it does, almost with the assumption that its viewers will still hold hold dear the emotions they felt with the first season. Instead of opening with protagonist Yasaburou, we timeskip to when his mother and father were still children. The scene is short, but effective. I expect that we’ll be jumping to the past throughout this season, or at the very least see the consequences from previous actions play out. This is only fitting, given the setting and the nature of our characters, both of which share a long history. Kyoto overflows with traditions and lore, as do the tanuki and tengu who call it home. The appearance of Nidaime, Akadama-sensei’s son, means change is coming for the tanuki’s and tengu’s already precarious balance.
Much of these first two episodes is spent with various characters yearning for Benten. From Akadama to Yasaburou, a persistent longing for the human woman comes through in dialogue and visuals of blossoming sakura trees. I at first wondered if she would be absent for most of this sequel, appearing only in postcards and ending credits, but I realize now the importance of her clash with Akadama’s son and former student. His intentions remain unclear, and he strikes an imposing figure with his white suit and top hat and denouncement of his tengu blood. How will he react upon meeting Benten? Will he, too, be mesmerized? Witnessing events like this through Yasaburou’s eyes always spins the seriousness towards ridiculousness, which I think is a wonderful thing, or “amusing” to take Yasaburou’s words.
Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (2 episodes watched)
Finishing up my high fantasy ride is Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho, another light novel adaptation that somehow tosses off any negative assumptions with its half-man-half-beast mercenary (“Beastfallen”) and highly skilled and gluttonous witch. Their interactions, honest and skeptical, breathe life into what could easily be a generic setting. There isn’t anything particularly special about this story so far, but I’m intrigued enough by “Mercenary” and Zero to see where their journey takes them.
This world is one that pits humans against witches, who are blamed for everything from famines to floods to pestilence. The grievances on both sides are many and genuine. Then there are the Beastfallen, humans born with an animal appearance, like our mercenary the white tiger. There is seemingly no cure and they are feared and hated by humans and witches alike. Mercenary’s and Zero’s partnership comes about from her promise to remove his curse in return for his protection on her journey.
The show’s explanation of the source for the witch’s power is interesting, if but a bit long-winded. I blame the source material for that. Zero demonstrates sorcery and magic as two different methods. Sorcery involves preparation and must follow the rules of nature, while magic takes a shortcut with sacrifices and the language of power. After Zero’s demonstration, we learn that not only is she incredibly strong, but that she’s also the unintentional source of an entire sect’s devotion. Her book, the Grimoire of Zero, details her discoveries and technique. She looks to regain her stolen book, and seems to have an impartial approach towards human, witches, and Beastfallen alike. Coupled with her almost sly personality and comical love for food, Zero is one of my favorite new characters of the spring season.
- Little Witch Academia (TV)
- Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season (only one episode left!)
- Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation
Dropped (tried 1-2 episodes of each)
- Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism – Another boys-integrating-into-female-school setup, more tyrannical females, female on male violence
- Clockwork Planet – Ridiculous setting and overdone set up with robot girl falling into boy’s lap, ugly setting art
- Frame Arms Girl – Boring after first episode with repetitive battles
- Gin no Guardian – Terribly organized first episode; short-ish at 13 minutes, ugly, I don’t care about the characters to stick around for the story
- Renai Boukun – I had a lot of fun with the first episode, but then the second recycled the exact same jokes and tone of voice. I don’t think I can handle a full season of the same gags.
- Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records – Another generic magic school setting, terrible main characters, terrible female uniform design
- Room Mate – Weird first-person view assuming female audience; short
- Sakurado Reset – Personality-less characters, unrealistic dialogue (esp. from high school kids), idealistic and self-righteous
- Sekai no Yami Zukan – Lame that it started with an alien abduction (cool retro art though)
- Souryo to Majiwaru Shikiyoku no Yoru ni… – Terrible premise by starting with drunk sex
- Tsugumomo – feels like a standard harem fantasy, boring
- Twin Angel BREAK – A bit too juvenile for my current preference, boring magical girl premise
- Warau Salesman NEW – Too depressing for current climate, but interesting