Panning the Stream: Overlord, Castle Town Dandelion, Seiyu’s Life, Sky Wizards Academy

The waters are getting choppier.

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I sat on a lot of mini-reviews because I didn’t want to do a Panning post without at least one full meet ‘n’ greet, but the list was getting longer and the shows weren’t getting better, so I finally decided to buff my one “maybe” into a full-length blurb and chuck the latest batch up. The weekend’s “unpolished but potential-packed” series have been swiftly replaced with nopes and sighs, but feel free to hit the jump for some thoughts on ’em, at least.

Overlord

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Studio: Madhouse
Based On: The light novel series by Maruyama Kugane
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)

In a Sentence: Momonga logs into his favorite long-running MMORPG Yggdrasil to say farewell as it shuts off for good, but after the servers go down, he finds himself still trapped in his avatar and facing a group of NPCs suddenly granted sentience.

How was it? Just strange and well-executed enough to keep me interested.

Overall
It’s another “sucked into an MMORPG” story, so it’s probably a good thing I’ve seen relatively little of both Sword Art Online and Log Horizon and am not suffering from MMO anime burnout just yet. The art in this one is… weird, but not necessarily in a bad way. It just looks really, really ‘90s, right down to the color shading and animation shortcuts (and then there’s some wonky CG every so often, but shh, we don’t need to talk about that), which makes it feel like a throwback even though it’s based on a series that began in 2010.

As for the story, the first 5-10 minutes are alarmingly good, capturing the quiet sorrow of a fading online community and the feeling of being one of the few people not quite ready to cut those ties (both with the world itself and the people who made it worthwhile). Then the MMO “shuts down,” the protagonist doesn’t log out, the NPCs start to gain sentience, and things get… not bad, exactly, just a lot more rote than they were previously, complete with fanservicey shenanigans and talky world-building (although it’s handled more organically here than in most adaptations).

I honestly don’t have a lot of hope that it’ll have staying power, but it’s Madhouse, so I’ll give it another episode to see where it’s taking its story and main character. No promises, but it ain’t an official “drop” yet, either.

Dropped

Castle Town Dandelion (Joukamachi no Dandelion)

This is the story of the royal Sakurada family, and specifically of the local king’s nine super-powered children. If you squint your eyes, this is actually a pretty amusing satire of modern monarchies, as the kids’ “royal duties” mostly involve dodging the paparazzi and participating in expensive publicity events. That said, I suspect it’s intended to be a royal/supernatural slice-of-life (if there is such a thing), more interested in light humor and familial relationships than really prodding at the absurdity of its premise. Nothing about it annoyed me (even the panty jokes) but nothing about it interested me, either. I’ll stick to other series for now.

Seiyu’s Life! (Sore ga Seiyu)

A pretty standard cute-girls-being-cute show that follows a trio of young women through the world of voice acting. It’s informative but not very engaging, showing some of the girls’ struggles but never quite hooking us into a serious conflict, and padding everything with soft colors and angles. It also has terrible timing, coming on the heels of the fantastic anime-about-anime series SHIROBAKO and the Shojo Beat-released manga Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, making it difficult not to make comparisons and wish I was watching/reading one of those two instead. Ah, well.

Sky Wizards Academy (Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan)

You know a show is going to be a cliche, lazy pile of bad when the main character runs into a girl with toast in her mouth and it leads to an accidental groping and an argument about breast size. This is the most uninspired show of the season, a cut-n-paste action/fantasy harem series filled with bland character designs, flat animation, and unlikable stereotypes. But on the plus side, the score was kinda pretty. So. You know. Everything has its bright spots, I s’pose.

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