Spring 2018 Set Menu

The Spring 2018 season is here with a smash, thanks to a slew of heavy hitters straight from the first week. Some of them are new and exciting in their craft, while others are reliable continuations. I’ve organized my watch list by priority, but you can use the below alphabetical list to skip to the shows that interest you the most. I will of course appreciate it if you take the time to check out everything on my set menu this season.

Ready? Start!


Top Shelf: High Priority

Amanchu! Advance

I’ve been in Kozue Amano heaven lately, with the announcement for a Blu-Ray English dub of all three seasons, including the OVAs, of ARIA, as well as the recent series and special of Amanchu! Now we’re back to Amanchu! with a second season picking up right where we left off in the midst of summer. It doesn’t take long into the first episode to feel right back at home again on the oceanfront with Pikari and Teko.

As is to be expected for new episodes, we do meet some new faces, like Kokoro-chan, a little girl aiming to be as strong as a man so she can protect others. Very little is known about her yet, but I’m sure we’ll get to know more of her history. Since much of the story takes place outside of school at Amanchuya, the scuba gear rental store/restaurant owned by Pikari’s grandmother, it doesn’t feel too out of place to introduce a character so much younger than the rest of the main cast. Other than Kokoro, I’m really not sure where we’ll go next, and am not concerned about it. Like with ARIA, Amanchu! is more about the characters than about some grand overarching story. You can’t help but feel warm and at peace in their world.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan

I have Draggle to thank for giving me the heads up about anime-original Dragon Pilot, a show I completely overlooked in my scan of the spring season. While I almost always like BONES shows, I somehow didn’t register this as one. After one episode, I now consider Dragon Pilot among my most anticipated shows of the season. The art, story concept, and characters all work together to create a whimsical fantasy for the modern technological age.

The art and animation styles of Dragon Pilot fully embrace hand drawn animation. With anime seasons inundated with CG animation, those that go without stand out. While the animation may not be as slick as fans of sakuga might expect, there’s an undeniable charm to the playfulness in the character designs and interactions with one another, particularly between our protagonist Hisone and the OTF. Despite lacking noses, our characters’ faces are full of expression. This includes the dragon, whose large, oval eyes give away its boredom and curiosity. The background art, with its textured sky and paintbrush clouds, continues that sense of play.

Another reason why I’m so excited about this show is due to its protagonist, Hisone. Her initial meekness gets pushed to the limit once she meets the dragon and her future is decided for her. The way Hisone mumbles under her breath and babbles out exactly what she think reminds me so much of Kumiko from Hibike! Euphonium. Even if what she says isn’t always nice or honorable, you can’t help but agree with her honesty. I can see why the OTF would choose her out of everyone else.

(Coming to Netflix)

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

I shouldn’t be so surprised anymore by old classics getting revamped or unexpected sequels, but here we are again with me baffled at Full Metal Panic!’s third season, Invisible Victory. It’s been twelve years since Second Raid, so you’ll have to forgive me for not remembering every little detail of past events or even some characters. Major players like Tessa, Sousuke, Chidori, Kurz, and Melissa are immediately familiar, but others like Leonard have drifted from memory. I’m not too concerned about that, though, since my affection for the people and their world are just as strong as before.

Viewers new to the franchise be warned: this is a series you should watch from the beginning. Much of the spoken and unspoken will fly right over your head without prior knowledge. Sousuke and Chidori holding hands, Atsunobu’s warning to them both, Chidori’s animosity towards Leonard, and the “Whispered”—this show doesn’t pull any punches and doesn’t have the time to explain it all to you. If you are familiar with this franchise, including comical Fumoffu!, know that Invisible Victory angles back to the main conflict of Mithril and the Whispered. Don’t expect the level of comedy present in Fumoffu! or even in the first season of FMP! I’m sure humor will work its way into episodes as it naturally does, but implications of a conflict more dangerous than any before hit us right from the beginning. It’s hard to imagine wrapping up within the scheduled twelve seasons, so I’m hoping that if tight writing and pacing aren’t enough, a fourth season will shortly follow.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Megalo Box

It’s anime like Megalo Box that remind me to stop letting expectations get in the way of experiencing new things. When I first heard about the show and its retro atmosphere, I worried that the “style” would be less meaningful and more an attempt to cut corners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Megalo Box is 100% aware of its identity, bringing together setting, characters, music, art, and animation to honor a boxing legend and revitalize it for the next generation. I am unfamiliar with Ashita no Joe and so can’t appreciate this anniversary project for that particular aspect, but I do value it for reminding me of film classics Rocky and Mad Max, as well as 90s-2000s-era anime like Cowboy Bebop and Black Lagoon. These works paired atmosphere with character in ways that made their stories and settings unforgettable. After just a few episodes, Megalo Box is already a classic.

If you are resistant or ambivalent towards sports anime, then you’ll want to know that this story revolves around boxing. “Junk Dog”, or “Joe” as he becomes known as later on, is the underdog you can’t help but love and support. He’s rough around the edges, but full of heart and promise. Without hard work and a lot of luck, it’d be easy for him to be swallowed by the society that so easily creates and buries the lower class. Something that sets the boxing in this anime apart from others is the addition of “Gear,” machinery made to enhance the physical  abilities of the wearer. Some athletes choose power over agility with bulky Gear; others like Yuri sport the most advanced, state-of-the-art Gear that molds itself to the user’s body. Right from the get go, we learn about “Megalonia,” a tournament meant to not only entertain the public, but to also advertise the sponsor’s Gear. Joe’s eventual goal of winning Megalonia means a whole lot of training and a battle from the very bottom. Despite the familiar underdog sport formula, Megalo Box still looks to shine in character and story writing. If you normally skip sports anime, then I beg you to at least try the first episode.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Steins;Gate 0

Again, we have an anime whose original series aired several years ago; I never thought we’d get a continuation, nor did I want one. I was happy with the way things ended in the television series, though I did appreciate the additional storytelling in the OVA “Egoistic Poriomania.” Yet here we are, in a World Line devoid of both best girl Makise Kurisu and Okabe Rintaro as we knew him. If you are new to this franchise, then stop, back up, and go watch the original series first. So much in S;G0 will fly right over your head without knowledge of prior events and characters.

Despite not wanting a continuation, I couldn’t stop my feeling of nostalgia and affection at meeting all of our cast members again, particularly Mayushi, Daru, and Suzuha. Okabe, however, had become someone I no longer recognized. Despite the familiar setting and faded lighting, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of wrongness that hung over every one of Okabe’s scenes. Gone is mad scientist “Hououin Kyouma.” In his place is an Okabe without Akihabara, a normal college student who avoids his former friends and laboratory, instead choosing to spend his time on his studies, classmates, and—of all things—tennis club. When confronted by an out-of-time Suzuha, he reveals he’s lost all hope for saving Kurisu. As Mayushi repeatedly states, this is “normal” Okabe, a man broken by repeated failure.

I’m scared to see how he’ll change over the course of the season. There are only twelve scheduled episodes, but I wouldn’t put it past S;G0 to bring us more bad ends. Or, perhaps we’ll find a better line than already experienced, one only obtainable after even more darkness and heartache.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Tada Never Falls in Love

With a title like “Tada Never Falls in Love”, you can bet that claim will be challenged repeatedly throughout this romantic comedy series. I’m a sucker for the genre, and was immediately charmed by the anime’s first episode. This anime-original series introduces us to Tada, a stoic high school boy passionate about photography, and to Teresa, a bubbly exchange student whose only hobby seems to be the samurai anime Rainbow Shogun. They bump into one another in a scene straight from the romance books: Teresa stumbles into Tada’s attempts to get a shot of blooming sakura, and he instead takes a picture of her smiling straight at him. From that point on, they’re fated to meet again and remain in one another’s lives. Her new home turns out to stand right next door to his family’s home and cafe. They attend the same high school. Her companion and not-so-subtle bodyguard reacts towards a family photo in the cafe as if she recognizes Tada’s deceased parents. Teresa even ends up joining the photography club where Tada and his friends spend much of their time. The promise of romance and club antics beckons and I will follow!

I also want to share the fact that an entire episode is devoted to Tada’s cat, Nyanko Big, who narrates and makes clear his feelings towards different characters. I’m a sucker for these kinds of extra point of views. Memorable examples include ARIA, She and Her Cat, and Mitsuboshi Colors.

(Watch on HiDive)

Mid Shelf: Worth Following

My Hero Academia Season 3

After two complete seasons of good-feeling superhero action, I was more than ready for the continuation in My Hero Academia’s third season. That excitement was immediately dampened by the pilot episode, which wasted much of its time on recap of previous events. While I understand that longer running series do this to help viewers stay clear on the story and characters, I usually find it unnecessary if the time between seasons is reasonably short. I was excited to jump back into the fray right where we ended with the same originality and drive of the previous episodes, only to get thrown back with old material and a swimsuit setting. Thanks, but no thanks.

Happily, the second episode and onward moved on in the direction I wanted, with Hero Academy sending its promising first years to a training camp meant to push them harder and further than any class before them. This change in pacing is a direct result of the league of villains and their repeated attacks on All Might and his students. It feels great to be back with the students even if I know the training arc will end sooner than expected. One thing odd in this third season is Midoriya’s control, which was just recently obtained in the previous series. Watching him take on challenges without having to worry about self-mutilation is refreshing, but also worrisome. He’s closer than ever to his role model, which in turn means Midoriya is well within the villains’ crosshairs. It’s crazy to think that it hasn’t even been a full school year since they all entered the academy.

(Watch on Crunchyroll, Hulu)

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These

It didn’t take long into my early days of anime to stumble across Legend of the Galactic Heroes, a space opera with a long history and an impressive amount of material. I was only a few years old when the first anime series came out, and as a college student the anime seemed too far removed to consider in the face of all the new series coming out. But as my interests grew, so did my desire to look further back in time to the works that inspired the stories I had come to love. Among them was LOGH.

Unfortunately, the never ending seasonal anime that seem to grow in number every year made it difficult for me to choose which older series to watch. LOGH never come up—until now. As seems to be the trend, the beloved series is back in a remake. Those familiar with the franchise will likely need to correct me, but from what I can tell, it looks like this two-part remake will cover only the first part of the original series. Just from visuals alone, I’m already more interested in the setting and characters. When a story is as dialogue heavy as these tend to be, dated graphics can make paying attention many times harder than usual. Here, the battles look representative of the forces at war.

The majority of the first episode is spent with Reinhard, a leader for the Galactic Empire, and his friend, Siegfried, so I had very little to go on for determining which side I supported. With the introduction of Yang and the Free Planets Alliance, I easily determined that despite finding Reinhard and Siegfried fascinating as characters, I didn’t want them to win. I cheered at Yang’s successful retreat, while simultaneously respected Reinhard for his acknowledgement of an incomplete victory. Starting this story in the midst of a battle was probably the best way they could have secured my interest in the rest of the series. I need to see Yang and Reinhard face off once more, and expect Reinhard to claw his way up the ranks of a society where nothing matters more than name and title.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Golden Kamuy

I first heard about Golden Kamuy from Draggle, who recommended I read the manga a couple of years ago. His reason for recommendation? The food. When I did start reading, I realized I had been tricked and that the story centered not on cuisine, but on wilderness survival and a treasure hunt. That isn’t to say food is completely absent; it does take several unique scenes to show us both traditional Ainu and Japanese dishes, like chitatap, finely minced squirrel meat and bones typically eaten raw. I was fascinated with learning about the Ainu, indigenous people of northern Japan suppressed much like the North American tribes. I’ve only seen them referenced in a few other works, like in Kuma Miko.

Golden Kamuy takes place shortly after the Russo-Japanese War, a real event in history I knew nothing about. Our protagonist, Sugimoto the Immortal, is a veteran renown for his ability to stay alive no matter how dire his injuries. Despite his almost barbaric approach to combat, he is hard working and cares for those close to him. His whole reason for chasing after the legendary Ainu treasure is to help the wife and child of his deceased friend. This is where he meets Asirpa, an Ainu girl whose father was among the group slaughtered for their gold. The story we learn about the murderer, his imprisonment, and plan to reveal the location to his comrades is fascinating and grotesque. By tattooing his fellow prisoners with coded directions, he sets them up as unknowing targets to be caught and skinned. This complete disregard for human life, the Hokkaido setting, and Sugimoto’s reputation come together to create what I hope will be a bloody good adventure. Now if only the anime would stop with the CG monstrosities…

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Hinamatsuri

If it wasn’t for all the praise on Twitter, I might have skipped right over Hinamatsuri, or at the very least pushed previewing it until much later. With manga lovers approving the anime and all the screenshots on social media, I decided to test it out—Hina and Nitta’s oddball introduction and later relationship won me over almost immediately.

Hina’s ability to get almost anyone to care for her reminded me a bit of Nodame of Nodame Cantabile. Whether it’s blow drying hair or spoon feeding, you can’t help but feel the need to make sure she’s okay. Toss in Hina’s telekinetic abilities and Nitta’s yakuza life and you’ve got one hell of a recipe for entertainment. Their relationship, at times owner and pet and at others parent and child, churns out a surprising amount of softness at unexpected times. Usually I’m laughing until it hurts, then Hina will say something alluding to her past and Nitta’s response will prompt her to help him in the only way she knows how. I want their makeshift family to work out in the long run and hope to meet more super humans like Hina.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Piano no Mori

I remember watching the Piano no Mori film early on in college, and although I had forgotten the finer details of the story, I do recall enjoying its concept and overall aesthetic. Now the story is back as a full twelve-episode series, and I’ve fallen in love once more with the piano of the forest. I may loathe the CG animation used for most of the performances, but I can’t help but admire the chosen music and accurate representation. I’m so used to other anime glossing over details like fingering and posture, that seeing it done so correctly here, as alien as the CG looks compared to everything else, is nice in its own way.

Other than the mystical qualities of the forest piano and Kai, the plot is a classic. There’s the hard worker, Shuhei, whose dream is to become a professional pianist. Then there’s the free-spirited talent, Kai, who has no aspirations other than to live in the moment. They become friends, then are immediately set up as rivals. A worthy opponent is almost always necessary for true growth—we see this regularly in sports anime. Whether that will ring true here has yet to be seen. I’m more concerned about their still young friendship. For now, the horizon looks clear.

(Coming to Netflix)

Rokuhodo Yotsuiro Biyori

At a glance, I assumed Rokuhodo Yotsuiro Biyori was an otome adaptation. Yet as I watched the first episode and met the characters, I realized this was something much more than a buffet of foods and hot young men. Rokuhodo was originally a seinen manga, and shares some common elements with shows like Bartender and Midnight Diner. Each episode focuses on a particular customer and their personal issues outside of the cafe. Food and drink are used as a starting point for one of Rokuhodo’s staff to connect with the person. They don’t offer unasked-for-advice or burden others with expectations; they simply observe and try to help others find relaxation. This is exactly the type of cafe I wish I could visit on a regular basis.

One memorable episode discusses the merits of loose leaf tea and tea bags. Rokuhodo obviously prefers to serve high quality loose leaf tea from a trusted source; when that resource dries up, they have to either find a comparable substitute or consider dropping tea from their menu altogether. There’s no question about switching over to tea bags. I really enjoyed this arc not only because I also love tea, but because I always appreciate seeing someone who is passionate about their craft share their knowledge with others.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Food Wars! The Third Plate

Food Wars! is back to continue the third season, and with a core group more determined than ever to keep alive the spirit of cooking. If viewers recall, the first half of this season ended with Erina learning about Souma’s father, the man she looked up to since childhood. Her own father, Azami, has returned and overthrown the school’s leadership to create a culinary standard of one approved style. The difference between the two men couldn’t be any more drastic.

Erina has softened towards Souma over the course of these three seasons, and has finally come to understand what it is about him and his friends that fascinates her so much. Even if their food isn’t what’s “correct” or “ideal,” it’s at least always interesting and pushing expectations. Her new found respect and self-awareness should make for a more level playing field with her father and his supporters, and I’m hoping we’ll have less Souma-domination and a bit more focus on Erina and the other characters.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Tokyo Ghoul:re

It’s been three years since the second season of Tokyo Ghoul aired, the same amount of time that has passed for the characters in Tokyo Ghoul:re. As simple as the connection is, so much has changed for Kaneki Ken as we knew him. Don’t be surprised going into this if you don’t recognize 99% of the characters. If you are new to the franchise, I strongly suggest you first watch the previous seasons; otherwise, most of the references will fly right over your head.

Since it’s not much of a secret, I’ll say clearly here that the protagonist of TG:re is Kaneki under a different name and lacking almost all of his memories of the first two seasons. “Sasaki Haise” is a model leader of his special Quinx unit, a group of Doves unique in their status as humans who have accepted ghoul implants. They not only wield Quinxes like other Doves, but they can also produce their own like ghouls. He refers to them as his family, and I can see why given his past. But the group dynamic is bad right from the beginning, and I’m certain they won’t stay together until the end. There’s too much risk riding on Sasaki’s memory loss, and too many other parties willing to make him remember.

(Watch on Hulu)

Umamusume: Pretty Derby

Part sports anime, part cute girls doing cute things, Umamusume is the next in line to show us that, yes, girls really can be cute doing pretty much anything. This time, it’s girls as horses racing against one another for public entertainment. As demeaning as that sounds and looks, don’t shrug off Umamusume just yet. The anime is a light-hearted, cute girls comedy that I find myself going back to week after week, which is more than I can say for some of the other shows I’m watching this season. There’s plenty here to like, including real racehorse history, adorable character designs, and the many definitions of “the best horse girl in Japan.”

You did read correctly; Umamusume draws inspiration from real horses in history, specifically Japanese horse racing. The character names are all real, as are some of their physical attributes. Special Week has a white forehead tuft just like her namesake. Do be warned that it’s best for you to avoid reading any actual facts about the horses, since you’ll likely be spoiled for events to come in the anime.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in seeing these girls train to become stronger and faster. Familiar archetypes and tropes are refreshed by horse-like quirks, like carrots in place of bread, and bridles instead of barrettes. And as ridiculous as wearing a skirt is for actual racing, I can’t help but admire the designs of El Condor Pasa’s overcoat and race hood, and research the purpose of Gold Ship’s bridle. Stupid as the idol bit at the end of each race is, I also find myself laughing at the comedy that ensues when some of the girls go up unprepared.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku

There are precious few adult romantic comedies in anime, so when shows like Wotakoi are announced, it’s hard not to be excited. I do have a handful I can name off the top of my head I love and recommend whenever I get the chance, like Servant x Service and MMO Junkie, and Wotakoi looks like it’s well on its way to joining them as another charming series. Like with the two aforementioned anime, this one features a protagonist with a secret: she’s a dedicated otaku. Narumi tries to keep this a secret since she lost her previous boyfriend and changed workplaces the last time her hobbies became public knowledge. While I can’t really relate since I’ve always had open-minded coworkers, I do understand the natural tendency to avoid talking about my hobbies with strangers.

Her new workplace not only gives Narumi another chance at settling in, but also reunites her with an old friend, the good looking gamer Hirotaka. As luck would have it, her immediate coworkers also share her interests. Watching Narumi and Hirotaka, it’s stupidly obvious the two work well together as both friends and perhaps something more if they open themselves to the idea. This is exactly what happens, and it’s comical seeing two inexperienced people like themselves try to figure out romance. I can understand why they’re hesitant to potentially ruin a friendship as natural as theirs, but I also commend them on trying to see where couplehood takes them. It certainly makes things fun for us!

(Watch on Amazon Video)

Bottom Shelf: Slightly Interesting

Comic Girls

Comic Girls features four high school girls who are all aspiring mangaka. Some of them are already successful as published artists, while others are still improving their craft. They live together in a Japanese-style apartment building and help one another grow. Normally this premise would reel me in without a second thought, but I’m still on the fence after a few episodes.

My main hesitation stems from the main character, Kaos-chan. As a still unpublished mangaka, her role in this work doesn’t make sense to me since she seems to possess no desirable qualities for her line of work. She doesn’t draw well, has no experience with the process of preparing a manuscript, has no clue what kind of story she wants to tell, and can’t even voice the characters she draws. Her style leans towards chibi art, and despite being a high school student, she has no idea what other high school girls think or how they act. It doesn’t make sense to me that she’s even considered by publication companies as a mangaka.

Other than Kaos-chan, the other girls do show promise in their skill as artists and storytellers. They at least seem to know who it is they’re writing for. I’ll stick around for now and see how Kaos grows. If the gags regarding her abilities remain the same, I’ll likely drop it before the midway point.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Gegege no Kitaro (2018)

Somehow it took until 2018 and the current remake for me to discover Gegege no Kitaro, a series that’s been around since the 1960s and is the basis for so many youkai shows that followed. Given that I’m a sucker for stories featuring Japanese folklore, I really should have known about Gegege.

Be that as it may, I’m here now, and excited to learn more about Kitarou and Youkai Forest. I’m sure the style has changed greatly since its inception, with modern technology like cell phones and even YouTube now included as plot devices. It’s fun seeing the old adapt to the times and find new life and audiences. Even though I don’t believe in cat girls or vampire trees, I can still appreciate the warnings and lessons they impart.

Gegege’s art style is less Natsume Yuujinchou and more Kyoukai no Rinne, with bright colors and sharp lines. The storytelling also includes more comedy than the softer atmosphere of some of my favorite youkai anime, but I still like both approaches to the genre. For now, the episode count is an unknown and I’m curious enough to stick around and see where Kitaro and his allies will take us.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food from Another World

When first watching Isekai Izakaya, I was thrown off by how similar it looked to another recent isekai restaurant anime, Isekai Shokudou. They both feature a restaurant from a world like ours connected to a fantastical world. While Shokudou claimed itself to be a Western restaurant, several Japanese dishes were featured. Isekai Izakaya uses some of the same themes. The truth is, however, that Shokudou’s source material is actually newer even if the anime came out first. Although the two anime are similar, Izakaya tells stories with far less care and with less interesting characters.

My real draw to this food short is the extra content at the end of each episode. While some may justifiably peg these sections as blatant advertisement, I enjoy seeing alternatives methods from a real chef to preparing the episode’s featured dish. After all, this is a work sponsored by the Japan National Tourism Organization, so key phrases will obviously be used. That doesn’t bother me as much as it might others.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-

The verdict is still uncertain for Kakuriyo, since I’m not yet sure which direction the anime will take. While I do enjoy the otherworldly setting, I’m not such a big fan of the main romantic pair. And since we’ve already met a couple of other possible matches, this could easily turn down the reverse harem route. I do like myself a good otome adaptation, but I hate it when the obvious winner turns out to be the guy least deserving of it.

Kakuriyo tells the story of a human girl, Aoi, who has inherited the ability to see youkai and other spirits from her grandfather. After his death, she discovers that she has been promised as a bride to an oni leader as collateral for her grandfather’s debts. Thankfully, she has enough backbone to refuse and try to find another way to pay him back. This is where the setting takes a turn for my weakness: a humble, Japanese-style cafe on the outskirts of the oni’s luxurious inn. It’s there where she finds a possible future as a cook; she happens to make the kinds of dishes youkai crave, like omelette rice and curry. Her food is in direct opposition to the fine dining of the oni’s inn, and makes for a convenient metaphor for her relationship to the young master. It’ll be interesting to see if she’ll come into her own as a confident cook and equal to the youkai, end up marrying him by the end, or perhaps give us some mixture of the two.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Layton Mystery Detective Agency: Kat’s Mystery Solving Files

I first learned about Layton through a couple of DS games, and was charmed by the storytelling style, art, and difficult puzzles. Then I learned Professor Layton has a ten-year history of games, most of which I’ve never seen. So when I heard an anime adaptation was in the works, I knew I had to try it out for myself. To say I was surprised at the anime protagonist would be an understatement. Instead of Professor Layton, the anime follows his daughter, Katry Layton.

Despite my trepidation, and that of her clients, she demonstrates an inquisitive and clever mind just like her father’s. The episodic nature of the mysteries lends itself well to helping us get to know her in lieu of the professor; they’re also just simple enough to encourage viewers to try and solve the crime along with Katry. You can tell this show is geared towards children, but there’s plenty to love even for those of us only young ta heart. The spirit of the mysteries, Katry’s charming intellect, that talking dog—it’s a shame more people aren’t watching the show. A large part of this is due to the fact that the anime has yet to be licensed by a U.S. streaming service, which I hope will be remedied sooner rather than later.

(Watch on TBA)

Lupin the 3rd Part 5

I’m still new to the Lupin franchise, as long-running as it is, with only the Ghibli film underneath my belt. I’ve also recently started watching the 2012 series Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, since I found her fascinating in both Miyazaki’s film and in this newer series. Watching the two at the same time should make for an interesting experience given the different backgrounds of their writers and directors. Another part of what fueled my curiosity in other works from the franchise were the snapshots in Part 5 to events I assume occurred elsewhere, like in the Castle of Cagliostro. I love it when these kinds of Easter eggs are provided for the fans’ benefit, as well as for the overall cohesion of the world.

Something a bit different in this 2018 series from others is the distinctly modern feel to the technology, how Lupin and his friends use it and are also exploited by it. The very first episode includes “rescuing” a hacker, a young girl I assume will become a regular part of the team for the rest of the series. Together, they steal vast amounts of digital currency from an online black market called “Marco Polo,” a not-so-veiled reference to the Silk Road. Although Lupin, Daisuke, Goemon, and Ami initially succeed, they find themselves the unwilling participants of an open manhunt where anyone and everyone is invited to “spot” Lupin as part of a social media game of Where’s Waldo. The app even provides facial recognition to combat Lupin’s disguises. I love the simple brilliance of the idea, and look forward to seeing how his crew will get around a seemingly perfect plan to capture him.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Major 2nd

Originally a 1990s manga, and later a beloved 2000s anime, Major is a story dear to the baseball lover’s heart. Now the show is back for the next generation. This looks to be a trend, with other works like Boruto and Layton moving past their original protagonists to follow their children. Major 2nd is the same, with Daigo Shigeno as Goro’s son whose only wish is to be just as legendary of a baseball player as his father.

Unfortunately for Daigo, he lacks the skills he expects to inherit from his father. He is repeatedly described as having a weak arm, killing his dream of becoming a pitcher like his father and his grandfather. He fails to hit a single ball at the bat. With all the outside pressure and his own sense of failure, he quits after a single year of playing baseball. As much as I think he gave up too early, I also understand his thought process. He puts up with an incredible amount of expectation from everyone around him, including his own family. We never see them give him real advice, or even play catch with him. His father is largely absent chasing his own career, and neither his mother nor his big sister seem to do anything but nag him about quitting. It’s enough to make any kid give up. And when his sister later breaks his 3DS and his mother uses buying a replacement as a bribe to get him to play baseball again, I found myself furious with the whole unfairness of it all.

The real annoying thing is that of course Daigo gets back into the game. He’s spurred on by another “2nd,” the son of his father’s number one friend and rival. Hikaru excels at every aspect of the sport in which Daigo fails. When Daigo decides to play again, his family rejoices without ever acknowledging their own mistakes. I hope their acts don’t get swept under the rug, but I have a feeling they will in favor of following Daigo and Hikaru’s relationship with one another and with the game.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Persona 5 The Animation

I wonder if I’m in the minority of viewers who enjoy Persona solely through the anime adaptations, rather than their original video games. I first came into the franchise through Persona 4 The Animation, which I loved (The Golden Animation, not so much). Now Persona is back with Part 5, which covers the events of its 2016 game, a title you couldn’t get away from if you use Twitter as an anime fan and/or gamer.

I’m only a few episodes into the anime, but I’m already a fan. The protagonist reminds me a bit of Persona 4’s Narukami Yu with his silent capability, but it’s clear from early scenes that Amamiya Ren has a bit more darkness to him. I’m used to the characters showing different faces when in combat, particularly when their “personas” lack the social constraints they live by daily. The same is true here, but there’s still something about Amamiya’s personality that seems off. Perhaps I’m looking too much into it and will be proven wrong later on in the season, but that’s just another reason why I’m excited for this anime.

As expected, the story takes place with high school students, with our protagonist as the transfer student. Their school becomes an alternate reality called “The Palace,” a kingdom dominated by an abusive teacher. He regularly belittles his students in class and on the volleyball team as their coach, as well as pursues a romantic relationship with one of the prettiest girls in the school. The time skip between the beginning and the rest of the show reveals Amamiya as the main suspect of a series of crimes, with his teacher as the start of it all. Time jumps can sometimes feel gimmicky if not handled carefully, so I’m hoping it’ll be used to good effect here.

(Watch on Crunchyroll)

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

Fairly low on my priority list is Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, which is exactly what it sounds like—another story in the GGO universe. Gone are the known characters of Kirito and Asuna. Instead, we have two new main characters who baffled me right from the start. Llenn and M couldn’t be anymore different, she a tiny spitfire without a wit of common sense, and he a hulk of a man who provides all of the strategy. I also found her in-game personality not only dumb, but annoying. She’s impatient and full of complaints. I’m pretty sure she could not survive the game without him by her side, but perhaps I’m wrong. There must be some reason other than her superhuman speed for M to partner with her. I hope it isn’t because of her ridiculously pink gun and outfit, either!

Just like in Kirito’s SAO, we do get a glimpse of the players’ real lives. I’ve only seen one episode so far, which revealed Llenn as a taller-than-average woman with a laid back disposition. It’s always fun to see how our online and offline selves pair, and Llenn definitely has a lot of explaining to do. Does she have some kind of complex about her height and build? Why the pink? None of these curiosities rival the impact from the original SAO’s first episode, which is partly why I haven’t progressed further in this series. SAO Alternative feels like it has more in common with MMO Junkie than with the previous SAO. But I’m not really bothered by that since GGO was one of my favorite arcs of the first series and I wish we could have seen more of that world. Hopefully I’ll warm up to Llenn as we learn about her and as more characters enter the scene.

(Watch on Crunchyroll, Hulu)


Ongoing

  • Boruto – Naruto Next Generations
  • Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card
  • Darling in the FranXX
  • Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan
  • IDOLiSH7

Backlogged

  • Toji no Miko
  • Yowamushi Pedal – Glory Line
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16 thoughts on “Spring 2018 Set Menu

  1. I think that what you give Hero Acadamia a hard time for is answered by your points on Steins;Gate0 and Full Metal Panic. There’s no way I’m going back to watch 37 episodes of Full Metal Panic (and I’ve tried a couple episodes, and it just seems completely dated and uninteresting, and to be honest the first episode of this new series did too, so maybe I just find it dated and uninteresting 🙂 ). I mean, there are reasons that series like FMP and S;G are at the very bottom of my backlog list, and unlikely to ever get off of it. And I did try the first ep of this FMP show, and like you said, it expects you to know everything that’s going on (from a show over a decade ago), and feels like it punishes you for not knowing it. Given that, I think BHA can be forgiven for giving part of an episode to a recap.

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    • That’s understandable about Steins Gate and FMP. They really do jump right in and assume you’ll remember what’s going on. It makes me wonder if they’re banking on loyal fans of the franchises to make up the money, or if they’re hoping these continuations will garner enough hype to bring new people in and make more money for the older series.

      BHA is already better from the second episode onwards, though I still dislike the mini recaps at the start of some of the episodes. But that’s a style of lots of shonen anime.

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  2. Sorry for all the different comments, but I figured different thoughts should be different comments. 🙂

    This might be the first time you’ve got a lot more shows on your list than I do. On top of FMP and S;G0, I’m not really interested in most of the sports shows, nor a lot of the series that are continuing (I dropped out of Food Wars after the first series, Tokyo Ghoul after 1 episode, never watched anything of Persona, nor Legend of Galactic Heroes).

    The shows I am watching I really like: Wotakoi, 3D Kanojo, Comic Girls, HisoMaso, UmaMusume, Tada-Kun, Amanchu, DxD, Hinamatsuri, GGO, Kakuriyo. I just wish there were more on this list I really like.

    I also like a few you’re not watching: Shiyan Pin Jiating (Jikkenhen Kazoku); Nil Admirari (which is definitely an otome adaptation, but so far has treated the main character better than most), and Caligula, which has been ok, but other people have found kinda dull.

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    • No worries at all on the multiple comments. It does make it a bit easier for me to respond to your different points.

      I did try those three other shows you’re watching, but couldn’t get past the first episodes. The otome, regardless of how much better the protagonist is than usual, just felt too formulaic in the face of so many other more exciting new shows. With Caligula, I couldn’t stand the protagonist. I’m guessing his jaded personality improves with time, but I’m willing to let others let me know if that’s the case than push myself through who knows how many weeks to find out.

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  3. I have a hard time seeing *Umamusume* as a sports anime… The stakes are low, the character development miniscule, and the progress nonexistent. I mean, it’s certainly about a sport, but it lacks many of things that makes a sports anime go.

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    • Well, there are subcategories to categories, so I still consider Umamusume a sports anime even if it’s missing the traditional tropes. It’s why I also consider game anime like Saki, Hikaru no Go, and Chihayafuru sports anime, despite them not actually being physical sports. They all have their goal, rivals, and training, among other things.

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    • That Uma Musume is not really a “sports” anime is why I like it more. I really don’t like most sports anime, because it’s not about what is in the show, it’s about how they do it: sloooooowly, dragging things out as looooooong as pooooosssssiiiible, and with lots of YELLING!!!! and lots of monologuing. It’s just not my style. UmaMusume does just a little bit of that. They take a 2 minute race and make it a 5 minute race. That’s not bad (YowaPeda took a 30 second sprint and milked it for more than an episode!). They have a little bit of yelling. It’s handleable. They’ve got rivalries and goals and training, but it’s not all about grit or guts. They’ve got progress: Special Week lost to Seiun Sky, then beat her. El Condor Pasa learned she needs to work harder to catch up to Silence Suzuka.

      Basically, I think it’s a good amount of the sports stuff, without the usual amounts that make sports anime an unenjoyable slog to watch for anyone who’s not a fan of sports anime.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. IIRC, HisoMaso does have CGI in it, I think the planes are all CGI! I’m pretty sure about this since apparently they put everything through a post-processing filter to make all of the lines look thicker and (maybe intentionally, not sure) that ends up blending the CGI and 2D animation really well (I think Sakugabooru blog has talked about this a little in their write-ups of the first few episodes).

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    • *goes back to re-watch planes* wait, what?? I can’t even tell! And that’s how it should be when melding hand drawn and CG. I have even more respect for this show now. Thanks for letting me know!

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  5. You’re right about FMP, I watched like the 1st epi and it confused the hell out of me. I am watching amanchu as well :D. I enjoyed S1. So, yeah agree with you on Pikari and Teko’s world sure as heck bring out such calmness & peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, in the case of FMP, I wonder if fans go back to rewatch the previous series, or read a quick recap of events somewhere like on Wikipedia, or if they forge ahead and try to understand. What’s your plan? I’m forging ahead despite forgetting a couple things.

      Liked by 1 person

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