In which the Josei watches everything, so you don’t have to.
After spending much of the last week putting together that massive Summer Review post, I get to take all of a five-minute breather before launching into the Fall season. Who’s ready for this madness?!
I will be doing things a little differently this season. In order to get these posted in a timely manner, I’ll only be writing full “Meet ‘n’ Greets” for the series that made me want to watch more episodes. I’ll touch on the others and why I dropped them, but I won’t bother to give the full run-down on the studio, where it’s streaming, and so on. (And yes, I still only review licensed series, because for all its flaws I love the anime industry and want to support it in whatever small monetary way I can.)
So let’s dive into that stream and see if we can hunt down any gold nuggets, starting with our first trio of the season…
Studio: Liden Films
Based On: The manga by Sasuga Yuu
Streaming On: Crunchyroll
In a Sentence: A team of enhanced soldiers travels to Mars – a planet overrun with mutated, killer cockroaches – in order to find the cure for a deadly extraterrestrial virus.
How was it? Well, the production values were fairly high and the premise caught my interest, but…
Full disclosure: This one got an early release date, so I’ve actually seen the first two episodes. And while I wouldn’t say I liked the premiere (it’s too GrimDark to be enjoyable), it interested me enough to come back for another episode. Episode 2 saw a two-year time-skip, a whiplash shift in the main character’s personality (he went from serious and world-weary to more of a stereotypical silly teenage boy so quickly that I actually thought he was a different character), some weak attempts at humor and humanization of the characters, and some heavily-censored violence. Also, the character designs for the roaches make me…uncomfortable. I get the feeling that this is going to be one of those overly-GAR action stories that are heavy on the spectacle but light on the substance, which doesn’t bode well for it holding up over multiple episodes.
Did it make the watchlist? At this point I might as well give it the three-episode rule, but I’m going to be a lot pickier about which shows I watch this season, and I’m fairly confident this one won’t make the cut. It’s got one more episode to prove me wrong.
DENKI-GAI (Denkigai no Honya-san)
Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
Based On: The manga by Mizu Asato
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (listed as “DENKI-GAI”)
In a Sentence: A workplace comedy about a group of comic book store employees.
How was it? Amusing, although I suspect I missed a lot of the referential humor.
I’m glad I read Enzo’s First Impressions before writing this post, because it clued me into something I suspected: The humor of this series is very inside-jokey, making a lot of Japanese otaku/fujoshi subculture references that even an outsider who’s fairly well-versed in the culture might not pick up on. That said, the series still got some chuckles out of me, and I like how the first episode acknowledges and accepts the nerdy (and NC-17) interests of both its male and female characters.
What didn’t work for me so much was the art and acting. The girls are drawn WAY to young and cutesy (they look about 12, while their younger male coworker looks like a high-schooler) and the actresses play that up, giving them squeaky prepubescent voices that might be endearing in actual children, but come across as annoying in characters who have gotta be at least 16 (and almost certainly older than that). It killed some of the humor for me, which is a bad thing to have happen in a show that’s pretty much entirely based on its ability to make you laugh.
Did it make the watchlist? As a former bookstore employee, I really WANT to like this series, so I’m giving it three episodes to hook me. Fingers crossed the girls can tone down their performances and make this more enjoyable in the coming weeks.
Tribe Cool Crew
Imagine a street dance movie for 10-year-olds, and you’ve got the gist of this one. Reminded me of those old Kids’ WB cartoons that tried WAY too hard to be hip and ended up just making you roll your eyes. I laughed more than I was supposed to and didn’t make it to the halfway mark.