Don’t mind me, just drooling over a fresh batch of titles.
Even though some series are heading into their third episodes, believe it or not this post is not belated! The spring premiere season decided to stretch itself out over the course of two solid weeks, and once I struck (ah-hem) all those Amazon shows from my schedule, it wasn’t long enough to justify two posts. Rolling ’em into one made sense.
Y’all know the drill: New series get divided into three categories (Yes, Maybe, and Nope), then I make a note of any shows I didn’t mention and any sequels I’m catching. The list isn’t terribly long, but there’s a fair amount of charm and some solid potential, especially if you like fantasy (and I do). Hopefully I can help you find a new show to add to your watchlist, too!
Based on: The mobile RPG developed by Cygames
Series director: Itoh Yuuki
In a sentence: A young woman and rogue warrior fleeing captivity join forces with a village local to solve the mysteries of the woman’s past.
This was a double-episode premiere, and the second was better than the first, so if you were on the fence I’d recommend giving that one a try. This is a pretty standard setup: Small-town boy with annoying animal companion dreams of adventure, gets pulled into a plot way bigger than he is, and leaves the village to help his new companions find answers and probably battle foes. If you’ve played many fantasy JRPGs, you’ve likely seen this story before.
But that’s fine, because the character designs are great; barring some awkward CG dragons the art direction is distinct and charming (there’s a Miyazaki-esque flying machine in the second episode that I just adored); and the female characters are powerful, distinct, and treated with respect by the camera and the protagonist alike. Also, I am fantasy trash. That definitely has something to do with it.
The Royal Tutor
Based on: The manga by Akai Higasa
Series director: Kikuchi Katsuya
In a sentence: Pint-sized tutor Heine Wittgenstein is brought in to teach the four youngest princes, a task that proves trickier than he’d first thought.
This is a very silly comedy with a warm, squishy center, which is to say that it was pretty much custom-made for me. I already talked it up on AniFem, so I’ll just direct you to that review for all the happy words.
Original story: Series composition by Yokotani Masahiro
Series director: Masui Soichi
In a sentence: Struggling to find work after college, Koharu Yoshino agrees to take a job working for a rural town’s tourist bureau–too bad she didn’t read the fine print that said the job would last an entire year.
Probably the best premiere of the season in terms of pure storytelling competency, Sakura Quest does an excellent job establishing its cast and its setting, balancing realism with humor and just a dash of idealism. Everyone’s comparing it to Shirobako, and for good reason: It has that same feel of a working woman sitcom, one that doesn’t shy away from the less rosy parts of reality (dying rural towns, the difficulty of finding a job out of college) but insists it’s going to fight for its goals even so.
I suspect it will be a fairly predictable story–Yoshino will slowly come to love this “small town” (pop. 50,000 is not that small!) and will help revive its tourism industry with the aid of her new gal pals–but that doesn’t mean the journey won’t be enjoyable and worthwhile. It’s rare to find anime about the jobs of and friendships between adult women, but so far Sakura Quest is proving itself up to the task. I’m here for three, at least.
WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? (SukaSuka)
Based on: The light novel series by Kareno Akira
Series director: Wada Junichi
In a sentence: Willem, the last human on earth, takes a job as the caretaker of a “special weapons” facility, only to discover that the “weapons” are young women and children.
My eternal skepticism about LN adaptations aside, I’m cautiously optimistic about this one and want to see what it can do with its wistful world and story. (Also, I’m fantasy trash, remember?) I reviewed this one for AniFem, too. It hasn’t gone live just yet, but I’ll link to it here once it does. Can you stand the suspense?! [Update: It’s published! Click here for hopeful words!]
On the Fence
Alice & Zoroku
Sana, a.k.a. The Red Queen, escapes from a research facility full of people with special abilities called “Dreams of Alice,” and ends up hiding out with a grouchy but kind old dude (Zoroku) and his granddaughter. The premiere blended cute-girl action/fantasy with grounded slice-of-life, creating a curious tonal tension between the two subgenres. Hilaribad CG aside, it piqued my interest.
That said, I’ve already watched the second episode, which leaned harder on “slice-of-life” and featured a lot of that manufactured hyper-sweetness that tends to turn me off a series. It’s closer to “dropped” than “kept” at this point. But it’s a light season, so we’ll see. I might go back for one more, just to see if the action/fantasy elements can weave back into the story again.
KADO: The Right Answer (Seikaisuru KADO)
Two young bureaucrats find themselves at the center of a national incident when a strange cube falls from the sky and absorbs their airplane. This was a double-episode premiere and the narrative structure thus far is maddening, as each episode is basically 22 minutes of people standing around talking and then 60 seconds of SOMETHING WILD HAPPENING.
It makes me so angry because… well, because I’m probably going to keep watching the darn thing. The characters are likable enough, and I want to know what the deal is with this stupid cube. So, yeah. You win, Kado. Your annoying narrative structure has me for at least one more. (Also, I kinda ‘ship the two main dudes. But in fairness, the series kinda does, too.)
Maybe the prettiest show on the schedule, it has the rounded character designs and soft watercolors reminiscent of Wandering Son and Battery, which fits well with its dreamily down-to-earth tone. This is a slice-of-life high school romance at its most grounded, and with the exception of the female protagonist’s ongoing anxiety struggles (she often relies on a stress ball to calm herself down), it’s exceedingly low on stakes or conflict so far.
If you like watching awkward teenagers awkwardly crush on each other, this is the show for you. I was underwhelmed and not terribly interested, but it has a pleasing tone and I like what it’s doing in theory. I’ll probably give it one more to see if it can develop a story or hook me with its characters.
‘Tis the season of much-anticipated sequels, and I’m watching a few of ’em, at least. A quick rundown of the relevant ones:
- The Eccentric Family: One of my all-time favorite anime has returned with a minor miracle of a second season, and I’m over-the-moon about it. Odds are high I’ll be blogging about this one regularly, if not weekly.
- My Hero Academia: Deku and the Lovable Gang (and Bakugo) are back with…a tournament arc. There’s one in every shounen, eh? The tournament arc is usually where JUMP series lose me, so this will put me to the test. But I like these characters an awful lot, so if they can keep the format fresh, I’ll be around for the whole season.
- Attack on Titan: I just finally watched the premiere today and was reminded that I’m, uh… honestly not that big a fan? I’m all for the tension and action but I’m not terribly attached to the characters, and the drawn-out ultra-violence puts me right off. At this point I’m planning to stick around, but those plans are by no means set in stone.
- Natsume’s Book of Friends: I’m not watching this season just yet–my friend and I are still playing catch-up, halfway through Season 4–but I’ll get there eventually, I swear!
- Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul: I’d love to be watching this sequel. I sure would. Maybe one day Amazon will stop trying to double-charge people to watch anime and I’ll get that chance. Maybe…
Boy howdy are there a lot this time! Amazon’s stupid Strike channel picked up a bucketful of series this season, and since I’m still refusing to pay for and thus encourage their crap business model, I don’t know when or if I’ll ever watch any of those shows. I’ve heard really good things about Re:Creators and decent things about Grimoire of Zero and Kabukibu; if you have Strike and would like some reviews, you should check out ANN’s Preview Guide. Oh, also, Netflix has ID-0, so that’s off the table too.
Remember when it was just Crunchyroll and Funimation battling over titles, and the biggest hurdle for non-subscribers was waiting a week for new episodes to go live? Those were the days, huh?
These weren’t for me. Sometimes they were very loudly not for me.
- Tsugumomo: A potentially cute Shinto-inspired fantasy ruined by “comical” assault and abuse. I grumbled about it on AniFem if you wanna hear more.
- Frame Arms Girl: A toy commercial about fighting dolls whose “battle armor” always shows their underwear. Would be icky if it wasn’t so boring.
- The Laughing Salesman: Selfish, lonely people are punished in a manner that’s excessively cruel considering their petty “sins.” Viscerally unpleasant. The opening theme is awesome though.
- Akashic Records of bastard magic instructor: “Hey, this isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself, right before one of the girls started groping her friend and the camera framed it in a way that clearly wanted me to think it was hot. Should’ve known better.
- Clockwork Planet: I could have pushed past the inherently stupid premise (the Earth was rebuilt using GEEEEARS!) and enjoyed a ridiculous steampunk adventure series, but then they had to go and throw in random nudity and a sex slave fantasy. This is why we can’t have nice things.
- Twin Angel Break: A chipper magical girl series with some yuri undertones and a crossdressing (arguably trans) supporting character who’s cheerfully accepted by the group. Definitely made for a younger audience. Not bad by any means, just too cookie-cutter for me.
- Love Tyrant: Loud and aggressively unfunny comedy that throws every annoying trope in the blender and then serves it up with a big dollop of homophobia. The best part of this episode was reading Vrai’s review of it.
- Hinako Note: Pretty run-of-the-mill, soft-focus cute-girl series. A bit dull and manufactured. Solid facial expressions though. Talked about this one on AniFem if you’d like some details.
- Eromanga-sensei: Solid production values and a story of found families and shared trauma, none of which matters a jot when it’s about a guy lusting after his middle school stepsister. I clocked out at the midway point here and do not regret it.
- The Seven Mortal Sins: Not to be confused with The Seven Deadly Sins, which is a shounen adventure series. The Seven MORTAL Sins is softcore porn featuring balloon boobs and a fair amount of woman-on-woman assault, all of which is apparently Too Hot For TV, given the copious amount of censorship pentagrams. It’s upfront about what it is, at least, and unintentionally hilarious at times, but…yeah. I’ll pass.