Panning the Stream: The Perfect Insider, Anti-Magic Academy, Shomin Sample

Throw another potential gold nugget in the season’s li’l pile, at least.

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I sat on this post for a bit because there are still technically a couple premieres left, but none of them are available for legal streaming as I write this and I’ve got a packed weekend ahead of me, so I figured I’d go ahead and queue this up now. Consider it the last batch of new fall shows—I’ll throw up a post tomorrow for the extensive number of sequels (and “sequels”) I’m watching, and that’ll wrap up for the madness that is premiere week. If any of the stragglers catch my eye, you’ll hear about it in a Rule of Three.

As for this final batch, it features one of my favorites of the season and two more to add to the stack of unremarkable-to-ohGodwhy LN adaptations flooding our streams this season. Hit the jump for praise and headshakes alike.

The Perfect Insider (Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider)

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Studio: A-1 Pictures
Based On: The novel by Mori Hiroshi (The Sky Crawlers)
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (click here for the full list of regions)

In a Sentence: A group of college students and professors plan a trip to a remote island where the brilliant but reclusive scientist Magata Shinki resides.

How was it? Smartly written and directed, if not a bit slow-paced and difficult to know exactly where the story’s going at this point.

Overall
I had tentative hopes for this one given the source material and some of the talent behind the project, so it was good to see those hopes amply rewarded (for now, at least). The characters are realistic and recognizable (if not always likable) individuals, and their dialogue snaps with a stylized realism as they sometimes talk to each other but often just talk at each other. The exchanges between Saikawa-sensei, a misanthropic “genius” professor, and Moe, a bright but down-to-earth college student, are particularly sharp, with Saikawa going on broad philosophical rants about humanity and Moe boiling them down to the petty personal issues they really are.

The camera work is more similar to a live-action film than an anime, using a lot of straight-on shots, and the art is desaturated and subdued, with animation focused largely on subtle but detailed body language. The story has the heady, character-driven pace reminiscent of a Nakamura series (Lain, Kino’s Journey), which will either bore you or suck you into its dimly lit, mystery-laden world. I’m in the latter category, so I pretty much loved this thing start to finish. It’s too early to get excited, but… yeah, I’m a little excited for this one.

Dropped

Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon (Tamaidou Gakuen 5 Shilken Shoutai)

It’s another light novel adaptation about a school full of people with special abilities, although in this case instead of magic it’s martial arts and technical skills used to combat witchcraft. It has exactly every tired and distasteful stereotype you’d expect, but the camera is slightly less skeevy than usual and the director hurries through the worst of the tropes, seemingly more interested in the combat than the crass fanservice checklist.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s bad, but I actually got through the entire episode, so it was less bad than the other LN adaptations this season. And, I mean, any project that lets Shinichirou Miki vamp as an eccentric headmaster can’t be a total waste. So, you know, I guess if you have to watch a crappy LN adaptation this season, this is the one I’d recommend.

Shomin Sample (Ore ga Ojou-sama Gakkou ni “Shomin Sample” Toshite Gets-Sareta Ken)

Aaaand here it is, the LN adaptation that crosses the line from generically offensive to aggressively offensive. The first 10 minutes are awash in classism, homophobia, and that “impressive” brand of sexism that manages to be insulting to every gender under the sun. It thinks it’s a wacky comedy and is really just lazy and off-putting. I didn’t stick around long enough to learn anything beyond that, and you know, I’m really okay with that.

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8 thoughts on “Panning the Stream: The Perfect Insider, Anti-Magic Academy, Shomin Sample

  1. I’ve said this about 35th Test Platoon a couple of times to folks now, but what really irritated me about it was that it didn’t need the fan service. It’s got a strong enough premise, and an interesting enough world, it would have been stronger without it.

    As it is, it comes off as a slightly, and I mean very slightly, better version of Asterisk and Cavalry. Not enough for me to stick with it, which is sad, as I think it would be a different matter if it had stood on the premise and not fallen back on cheap fan service and the same tired cliches.

    Ah well.

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    • Yep, and that’s why it’s at the top of my list of bad LN adaptations for the season! But it’s like there’s a checklist you have to tick off when publishing an LN series anymore, so Anti-Magic‘s decent premise gets buried in cliche characters and routine fanservice. But, eh, my watchlist is looking to have a fair number of shows on it at this point, so I won’t cry too loudly for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kind of a rough season. Some good and some bad, but the bad ….just wow, really bad. Have 2 shows that are making me question my “everything gets 3 episodes” policy, Shomin Sample being the first offender due to everyone in it carrying the idiot ball and pretty much everything else you brought up here

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    • It didn’t help that the season was front-loaded with four awful LN adaptations, so the first impression of fall was “uggggh” instead of the round of decent-to-great premieres we got on Sunday.

      You watch the first three of everything? You’ve got thicker skin than I do, that’s for sure. If I can’t even get through the first episode without wanting to throw my tablet out the window, there’s no way I’m subjecting myself to another 40-odd minutes of a series. I salute your dedication and wish you the best of luck in the coming two weeks!

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  3. Sometimes a show has a shaky start, sometimes they just rush to show you everything in the first episode hoping you see something to get you hooked and sometimes they need time to build up the setting. I find a lot of shows start to even out nicely after 3 episodes.

    and of course sometimes there is just no saving something

    (Advice/Warning that is hopefully not too late – don’t go near Valkyrie Drive….just don’t…..really really don’t)

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    • Hah, I was going to eventually, but then a friend who knows my tastes really well told me I’d make it five minutes at most before I gave up on it. Since I’d already said I wouldn’t do a Panning post on it, I figured I could just let that one go.

      I used to give more shows the benefit of the premiere doubt, but eventually my watch-and-write schedule just couldn’t take it. That said, I do keep my ear to the ground about the shows I drop, so if I start to hear good things about any of them I may go back and give ’em a second try. It keeps me from missing anything amazing while also allowing me to sleep, so win/win, I figure. ^^

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      • If you are up for giving some things a 2nd look you might consider giving Lance n’ Masque episode 3 a look. Not saying you will like it any better than you did episode 1 but it does change the feel of the show quite a bit. The Show appears to be straight Bodyguard and Princess story with an inevitable doom coming for the Princess.

        (Episode 2 is pretty much more character intros and little bit of plot, you don’t miss too much if you skip it. To Sum up Ep2 = He has a horse that thinks it’s people, a squire and a scary (awesome bad ass) maid. The little girl’s dad is a jerk and our hero gets a bit of a thumping from a fellow Knight)

        The show isn’t in my official watch list yet but it’s got a better impression on my than I had with episode 1

        Still debating if I want to give Shomin Sample 2 more episodes or not…..It might still surprise me but I somehow doubt it.

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      • Hnnn, “Bodyguard and Princess” sounds like one of my least favorite things, to tell the truth. :/ I’ve read/seen enough stories about dudes protecting ladies that I’m a pretty tired of them at this point. Although I s’pose the damsel angle would be mitigated somewhat by the fact that he’s surrounded by what sound like plenty of perfectly capable/badass ladies, too. Eh, I might go back to it. We’ll see how the rest of my three-episode series shake out and if I wind up with some extra time on the schedule. Either way, thanks for the recommendation!

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