They sure are throwing a lot of, uh… different stuff at us this season, I’ll give ’em that at least.
Got an odd batch for you here. Only one of them is technically a new series, but the others aren’t really sequels in the proper sense, either—more like spinoffs or reboots. We’re also heavy on the comedy this time, with mixed results, but there were some moments that tickled my funny bone. Hit the jump for laughter and crickets alike.
Attack on Titan: Junior High (Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou)
Studio: Production I.G.
Based On: The manga written by Nakagawa Saki
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)
In a Sentence: A spin-off parody series that takes the characters from Attack on Titan and throws them into a high school setting where the Titans are still a horrifying threat…er, sort of.
How was it? Incredibly silly, and that’s kind of all I needed it to be.
This unlikely spin-off is one-part school comedy and one-part AoT parody and works way better than it should. It relies on the audience’s familiarity with the original AoT anime, as there are loads of references and riffs on well-known scenes, so I wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone who isn’t familiar with the source material. I also wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who’s seriously dedicated to the original, as you may not appreciate the way it pokes fun at the story and cast (especially Eren, who’s pretty mercilessly mocked).
As for me, my opinion of the AoT anime is a resounding “It was fine,” and I found Eren more-or-less insufferable, so a series that drops giant erasers and protractors on his head is A-OK in my book. This premiere has a good sense of humor and energetic animation, using super-derformed slapstick and expectation-reversals to great effect. Production I.G. isn’t just cashing in a check here; they put some effort and passion behind this, and it shows in the little touches. The conceit may get stale as we go, but I’m happy to stick around until it does.
Mr. Osomatsu (Osomatsu-san)
Original Series: Inspired by Akatsuka Fujio’s manga, Osomatsu-kun, and directed by Fujita Yoichi (Gintama, Good Luck Girl!)
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (worldwide except Asia)
In a Sentence: The 1960s anime Osomatsu-kun returns to the airwaves, but can its Showa-era cast find popularity among a modern-day audience?
How was it? A little tiring in its hammer-a-million-jokes-at-you pace, but had a lot of great laugh-out-loud moments
I have no idea if I’ll watch this one past the second episode, because I’m still not sure what kind of show it’s going to be. The first episode went Full Meta, as the characters celebrated the new anime series and then worried if they could appeal to modern audiences with their dated designs and jokes. So they spend the rest of the episode gleefully trying out modern trends (and animation styles), from idol groups to BL to sports dramas to Titan-slaying. If you don’t get the references I suspect this won’t do much for you, but I did and I found the majority of the episode hilarious.
The callbacks to the original Osomatsu-kun flew right over my head, mind you, and by the end of the series we’d ditched the “be ALL the animes” gag and settled into a new premise: The sextuplets at the core of the story are adults now, and trying to do something with their lives. So who knows what kind of show it’ll be from here on out! But that premiere worked well enough for me to come back and find out, at least.
Peeping Life TV
I suspect this is the most unusual premiere I’ll watch this season. Essentially it’s an improv series where they bring in a couple actors, give them an “mundane life” scenario with classic anime characters (“Black Jack Goes to the Doctor,” “Doronjo Gets Her Bike Fixed,” etc.), have them ad-lib a scene, then add some cheap-looking, mostly static CG animation to go along with the dialogue.
It relies on you knowing the characters to get the jokes, and most of it fell pretty flat for me (though the doctor diagnosing Black Jack with chuunibyou disease because of his “emo hair” was kind of the best thing ever). If someone had taken the time to dynamically animate it a la Rick & Morty’s channel-surfing episodes, there’s a chance this could’ve been a lot of fun. As it was I giggled a few times but found my attention wandering through most of it. Ah, well. Dropped.
I know, I wanted it to be a Pokemon spinoff series about Misty, too. Actually it’s about cute boys at an academy that specializes in the performance arts. They sing! They dance! They… are pretty unremarkable, blandly drawn and characterized. The dance animation doesn’t look half bad, but I need more than absurd random musical numbers to keep me hooked. Series like this pretty much have to have a sense of humor or tongue-in-cheek self-awareness to work, and Starmyu is sadly lacking in either. There are far better bromances to be found in the anime world, so I’ll leave this one here and go watch those instead.