Lions and udon and Motes, oh my!
The deluge is more-or-less over and it’s left me swimming in a massive watch list. I’m excited for what looks to be a strong fall season, but also a bit overwhelmed. In order to keep myself from drowning in titles, there’s no “On the Fence” category this time–if I’m not actively excited for the next episode, then it’s almost certainly not getting a second look.
The wild part is this isn’t even everything! Girlish Number won’t air in the U.S. until Wednesday, and The Great Passage (Fune wo Amu) premieres Thursday. I didn’t want to sit on this post for that long, though, so we won’t worry about them for now. If either is worth mentioning (and I suspect at least The Great Passage will be), I’ll roll them into my “Rule of Three” digest. For now, hit the jump for a group of new series that I can’t wait to see more of.
Streaming on: Crunchyroll
In a sentence: Hoverboard-riding Papika appears in honor student Cocona’s life and takes them on an adventure to another world.
At this point I don’t really know what Flip Flappers is going to be about, but if the first episode is any indication I expect a fairy tale-like story filled with dreamy art, whimsical animation, and two girls finding magic in the world and power in themselves. It’s an active but ambiguous premiere that explains little but sets a tone that hovers between light fantasy and a darker, perhaps even sensual coming-of-age story–which, given all the references to western fairy tales in that wonderful ending theme, is likely very intentional.
The episode ends with the promise of an antagonistic organization and immediate danger, so I’ll probably have a better idea of where this one’s going in the coming weeks. I will absolutely be around to see it.
Streaming on: Crunchyroll
In a sentence: Composers Beethoven and Mozart are reimagined in the modern era, where they goof around, wax poetic about gyoza, and use the supernatural power of “Musique” to help out high schooler Kanae, their unofficial landlady.
ClassicaLoid‘s premiere follows the same structure as Flip Flappers: It tosses you into the story, introduces the characters and sets the (weird, buoyant) tone, and then leaves you with the promise of “bad guys” and an expanding world. As the description might suggest, it’s bombastic and silly, a brightly animated, spirited “all ages” series with a lot of humor (Beethoven is such a drama king) and a warm heart. Possibly the premiere I had the most unabashed fun watching. Hopefully it can keep that sense of joy going strong.
March Comes in Like a Lion (Sangatsu no Lion)
Streaming on: Crunchyroll
In a sentence: Adapted from an ongoing manga by Chica Umino (Honey & Clover), this character-driven slice-of-life focuses on introverted professional shogi player Rei and his relationship with the energetic Kawamoto family.
Studio SHAFT can be a bit self-indulgent and overbearing, cramming in stylistic touches that distract instead of enhance the story or characters, but overall I quite liked this one, as it did a lot to visually set the tonal differences between Rei on his own (melancholy and anguished) and Rei with the Kawamoto family (bright, warm, and busy). The balance between the somber Rei and the energetic Kawamotos is perhaps the central tension of this premiere, and overall it does a nice job establishing Rei’s relationship with the three sisters and how important each is to the other.
Like so many of the shows on this list, the premiere is all about tone and character without giving many clues about the overall story. But I’m intrigued by the setting and cast, so I’m happy to give it three episodes to show me what it’s all about.
Poco’s Udon World (Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari)
Streaming on: Crunchyroll
In a sentence: After his father passes away, 30-year-old Tawara Souta returns to his hometown and stumbles across a young, udon-loving tanuki.
Gosh, this premiere was delightful. I had a feeling a show that combined udon restaurants (a food I love) with tanuki (a critter I love) would be right up my alley, and Poco’s Udon World did not disappoint. Tawara’s complicated relationship with his father and the family’s udon restaurant offers glimmers of a more serious internal conflict, which should balance nicely with the unabashed cuteness of the li’l tanuki. Throw in a few supporting characters, including a friendly businesswoman and an enigmatic monk, and you’ve got the recipe for a charming fantastical slice-of-life series. I look forward to being adorablugeoned in future weeks.
Sequels (Again!) & Shorts
- Bungo Stray Dogs – Part 2: The literary pretty boys are back in town! I’m more excited about this one than I thought I’d be. Igarashi’s series tend to build on themselves really well, so I won’t be surprised if this second half is better than the first. Right now we’re getting a flashback mini-arc, but all my hype is reserved for the League of American Authors. Bring ’em on, Bungo!
- Haikyu!! Karasuno Vs. Shiratorizawa: I always forget how much I enjoy Haikyu when it’s away, and then it returns and I’m immediately sucked back into the lives of its lovable volleyball dorks. This is a short, single-arc season of just 10 episodes, which should mean Production I.G. can hit us with all the stunningly good animation we could want. I’m very much looking forward to it.
As for shorts, I’ve only watched a few, and the only one I’ve stuck with is Nyanbo, a CG show about cat aliens that is definitely going to fill the Bananya-sized hole in my schedule. Shorts are never my main focus, but is there anything else that should be on my radar? Hit me with the recs, dear readers!
Outside Looking In
In a weaker season a few of these would have likely made the cut, but as full as my watch list is looking, they’d have to really work to earn a place in the queue:
- ALL OUT!! – A totally competent, by-the-book sports series about a high school rugby team and two freshmen: The timid giant and the short spitfire. I’m sure it’ll be perfectly enjoyable, but in terms of animation and direction it pales in comparison to Yuri on Ice or Haikyu (or even Keijo, which regardless of how you felt about it definitely stands out from the pack), and I only have room for so many shows on my list.
- Keijo!!!!!!!! – Just between you and me, I kinda liked this premiere. The over-the-top TnA pairs with the over-the-top shounen action to create a faux-serious sports series full of high-octane (and incredibly stupid) butt attacks that feels more like bawdy humor than titillating fanservice. There are brief brusts of unpleasant comedy along the way (involving groping and fat-shaming) and I suspect the central joke will get stale in a hurry, which is the main reason I doubt I’ll be back, but(t) that was far more entertaining than I’d ever expected.
- Drifters: From the creator of Hellsing comes a series about famous historical Japanese warriors getting tossed into alternate worlds! I guess? This first episode only hints at the story to come. It’s an interesting blend of moody action and offbeat humor, and I could see it catching people’s attention, but it didn’t hook me, so I’ll pass for now.
- Occultic;Nine: Boy, that sure was a well-animated mess. Despite atmospheric direction and staging, there’s way too much crammed into this premiere. Even so, it’s mach speed pacing might have been tolerable if the default Acting Style wasn’t “FASTER AND MORE INTENSE.” It seems like a cool premise, but outside of a few quieter, unsettling sequences, it was loud and annoying and just not any fun (to say nothing of this poor girl’s awful character design). The whole thing gave me a headache.
- Kiss Him, Not Me: I know the manga series is well-liked by a lot of people, but there was a shallow and voyeuristic undercurrent to this first episode (the protag’s objectification and fetishization of gay men coupled with the way the guys only become interested in her once she’s skinny and “hot”) that struck me as viscerally unpleasant and mean-spirited. The last 10 minutes or so were a bit better, but the premise just didn’t sit well with me, so I’m out.
- Long Riders: I think this will eventually be about a competitive cycling club, but the premiere was all “cute girls doing cute things” in the most generic, blandly pleasant way possible. I got bored fast.
- Magic of Stella: Another “cute girls doing cute things” show, only this one’s about a club that makes video games. A little funnier than Long Riders, but with none of the energy and sharpness of New Game. “Generic, blandly pleasant” describes it pretty well, too. Watching it made me sleepy.