2018
01.22

DARLING in the FRANXX

SHAFT tit...er tilt.

SHAFT tit…er tilt.

You know what? Hype is a bitch. And nobody knows that more than Studio Trigger (for better or worse). Ever since they were declared “THE SAVIORS OF ANIME!!!”(tm) by one of my colleagues (the one who doesn’t write here anymore because he’d have to apologize to all of us for making that inane claim), the studio’s name always gets attached to some high profile, heavily promoted, stylish as hell supershow, only for it turn out either some half-baked light novel-grade shit (Inou Battle and Kiznaiver) or lazy troll job that was funnier internally than it was for the rest of us (Ninja Slayer). Hell I’m gonna say this right now, Kill La Kill doesn’t hold up anymore. We only liked it for Imaishi’s scratchy art style. Why do I know this? Because that is all the show had going for it since it’s main plot was pretty awful once Trigger actually got to it 14 episodes in. So that makes their kids show Little Witch Academia the only consistently good thing they’ve made! For that reason I am done giving The House That Imaishi Built the benefit of the doubt. They will be treated like any other “celeb” studio that disappointed me one too many times. They’re just Gainax…again.

And with that out of the way let’s talk about DARLING in the FRANXX, the new Trigger thi—oh wait this is actually an A-1 show isn’t? But it is an A-1 show WITH Trigger…although I’m not exactly sure to what degree each company contributed in the production. Early documents suggested A-1 did the hard lifting while Trigger contributed design work and key animation. This would explain why this show feels like one of A-1’s stock robot show cliché factories…albeit with that signature unrefined “we just colored in our storyboards” Trigger look. Color me unimpressed.

So the world has come to an end! Hooray! Whats left is a vast desert wasteland ravaged by giant monsters called klaxosaurs. The remaining humans huddle together in a glass dome containing the last plant and animal life on Earth while their leaders, a bunch of KKK guys because Trigger, use pairs of orphaned children known as “parasites” to fight the giant monsters with rather impractical looking robots called FRANXX. Our story concerns two of them: Hiro, a Shinji-Clone whose only saving grace is his balls have dropped (albeit only half way), and a mysterious girl with horns who just wants to lick him. Licking in this case is good, because these FRANXX apparently run on orgasm fuel because of course they do this is an A-1 Robot Show. Oh yeah the giant robot (named the Iron Maiden because lulz) actually talks and has tits, because Trigger.

Now I’m pretty sure I know how this show came about. A-1 had a crappy idea for a robot show and a set of crappy old robot show scripts. They knew if they had made that show alone, it would just be another version of Star Driver/Valvrave/Guilty Crown/whathaveya. So Trigger was brought in to weird it up. But at the end of the day, its still that same crappy robot show script. Characters spew dialogue that was already wooden 15 years ago and is now downright petrified. And the plot, your basic “get in the fucking robot Shinji” storyline albeit with more cunnilingus, feels even older. DARLING in the FRANXX is ultimately just an average teen dystopic robot show. Just like the ones that aired last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. The only thing missing is Hisashi Hiirai character designs to make it Gundam Seed.

Clearly this is why we’re only getting the bare minimum of story information when this kind of show is announced these days. The makers know they’re giving us the same old shit so better not go into the details or else we’ll know its the same old shit. Just…typical. – Lord Dalek

Second Episode Review

The prototype for the FranXXs required pilots to be seated in rim job position.

The prototype for the FranXXs required pilots to be seated in rim job position.

You know, I was going to write this show off by the first episode. But then I watched the second, and oh man. This show is going places I’m not sure I want to go. First off, this is another mecha show that’s all about teenage puberty like Aquarion and Eva, except this show skips all the subtext and gives you metaphors as subtle as shoving a wet banana through a pink donut. All the female mecha pilots are on their stomachs in doggy-style position while the males use steers and controls attached to their buttcheeks, with one incident causing the girl to moan in ecstasy over her ass handles being touched. Yet, these same pilots are so sheltered that they have no idea what kissing is. They’re all teenagers who have little idea of their world, guided by strange looking elders and given little reason to live except to pilot the FranXXs. Perhaps we’re meant to see this as tragic, as an allegory for how modern-day Japan is mistreating its youth and forcing ridiculous standards upon them, if this hadn’t been played out in almost every mecha series in the last two to three decades.

Though Darling in the FranXX is at least bombastic enough that every form of symbolism seen through its first two episodes is blatant and in your face. One of the major arcs that’s sprouting out is the main character going through erectile dysfunction after successfully flying a FranXX with an exotic pink-haired girl, but then failing to get it up when another girl’s his co-pilot. She even kisses him and shakes her ass in order to get some sort of reaction, but he feels nothing. He suffers through performance anxiety in the sheets and out. It’s almost funny to watch when out of context, or even in context. And I’m not sure if the show knows that or not. It has all the blatant sexuality that fueled Kill la Kill or Gurren Lagann’s more Freudian moments, but without any of the self-awareness. At least those shows had more going, and Simon and Ryuko’s character arcs weren’t driven entirely by their reproductive organs, while FranXX seems content in throwing sexual imagery everywhere and hoping you’ll think it’s deep or something. I’m not sure what this show wants to be.

Does it want to be goofy and ram the viewer with basic penis and vagina symbolism, or a dark methodical mecha series about how dangerous a teenage boy’s sex drive can be? Because the Deadman Wonderland-esque opening suggests they want to do the latter, while the dumb jokes and silly characters like the egotistic midget kid or the fat guy who eats bread in every scene he’s in suggest otherwise. Maybe that’s what happens when you cross A1 Pictures with Trigger. Their styles just can’t coalesce, and you get a bizarre Frankenstein show that doesn’t know whether to kiss or to bite. And that’s a shame, because this show sounds like it wants to say something interesting about sexuality and coming-of-age, but they lack the cognitive faculties to express those ideas without coming across as horny teenagers who just figured out what vaginas look like. – BloodyMarquis

Killing Bites

You can kill five or six girls... or just one!

You can kill five or six girls… or just one!

Okay, let’s get the elephant out of the room first: the first two minutes of the show has attempted gang rape, with a high school girl being dragged into an van while the driver wonders if he has enough courage to attempt stopping his colleagues from penetrating all her orifices. Yeah, turns out said teenage girl can become a furry monster and utterly tear her assailants limb from limb, but still: our introduction to this show’s violent heroine (a girl named Hitomi that’s half-honey badger) and hapless male lead (I don’t care about his name, he drove a rape van) is an attempted rape scene. It’s a bad start, but it lets you know exactly what you’re getting into. Killing Bites is a tasteless, schlocky, violent fanservice anime. To steal a joke, this show is basically Kemono Friends: Top Cow Edition. The OP and ED are filled with wank fodder, our heroine spends most of her time in a bra and panties, every fight comes with copious amounts of blood and dismembered body parts, and we get animal facts every once in a while (did you know honey badgers are also called rastels?). All bookended by some sweet garage rock. This show is stupid… and I love every second of it. I mean, I don’t love the rape part. I could have done without the rape part. That shit lingers over the rest of the episode like a bad fart and almost made me tap out before we hit the opening titles. But everything else brought out my inner teenager who just relishes in sex and ultraviolence, and I can’t help but wait in glee for whatever happens in the next episode. Not just because of the fighting though, as there is more to the show than that. We have good old shady organization #45129431 running these fights, and despite them clearly existing as an obvious excuse to justify all this, I can’t help but hope to learn more about them and the creepy tongue-wiggling, screen-licking psycho at the very top. And it looks like we’ll be having some school shenanigans in our near future, as well. That’s all secondary to the furry fights that are this anime’s bread-and-butter, however. And those fights will be the main reason why I, and a number of others, will continue watching. I just wish it didn’t have that attempted rape scene at the start; that would make it easier for me to recommend without feeling too uncomfortable about it. – RacattackForce

Mitsuboshi Colors

Kids Next Door, battle stations!

Kids Next Door, battle stations!

You can clearly see that picture above, with three elementary schoolers aiming an anti-tank missile at a police officer. Do you really need more? Mitsuboshi Colors is probably the most fun “cute girls do cute things” anime this season, as it doesn’t try to hook the viewer with odd gimmicks like ramen, camping, or being a year older than all your friends. It just gives us some basic character types (the crybaby, the energetic one, the laidback gamer) and revels in the straightforward fun to be had in watching these little kids be little kids: playing video games, hanging out in the park, disturbing the peace, and just messing around under the guise of being town heroes. Every winter season manages to have that one show that just embodies fun and is all about hitting you with joke after joke, and this year’s seems to be Mitsuboshi Colors. – RacattackForce

Slow Start

Maybe the title actually refers to puberty?

Maybe the title actually refers to puberty?

These are supposed to be high schoolers? I mean, I’m one of those people that can look at Nowi from Fire Emblem Awakening and go “I’m okay with this. I’m gonna make her bang that other dude so time travel shenanigans grants me a dragon halfling baby to use in my army.” But I have my limits, and that limit is having 3 out of 4 of your normal human main characters look like they should still be having mandatory nap-times after lunch. But whatever. Loli character designs aside, this show has bigger problems: nothing here is halfway memorable.

This show’s gimmick is that our main character Hana is a full year older than her new classmates, not because she was left back, but because she was busy studying to get into this particular private academy. That’s where the title comes from. We learn this at the end of the first episode, and frankly, I can’t see how anything interesting could result from this setup other than maybe an awkward conversation or two with a former classmate that’s now a grade level above her. It’s the sort of thing that takes a sentence to explain, and unlike being held back a grade, it doesn’t seem like something a teenager would be ashamed of. Hell, her new friends would probably be jealous that her folks let her take a year off instead of force her to just go to any old local high school. I think the only time where not being the same age as your peers due to being out of the education system for a year would be awkward is middle school, and that’s mainly because kids at that age are extra ruthless with the teasing and bullying. But no one studies to get into middle school, so that wouldn’t work as a gimmick. But the “year older” thing is a shitty gimmick as it is, and they already have these really young-looking character designs, so changing it so that Hana was left back in primary and now has to deal with middle school would make things mesh more.

I can’t help but feel like I’m getting a bit side-tracked on the purpose of this review, which is elaborating why Slow Start is lame, but you need to understand. Slow Start’s first episode is the main quartet going on series of tangents, making observations about how each other’s names are written or what foods they like to eat. None of these conversations are funny in the slightest, much less memorable. And I only remember that much because I cheated and went to ANN to refresh my memory. Can I apologize to Laid-Back Camp for that “white noise with pretty pictures” jab? It may be boring 90% of the time, but at least I can remember most of the little gags that show had in its first episode, and I haven’t watched it in two weeks. All I remember about this is the large amount of nothing that was happening for 15 minutes and a strong urge to scroll through Tumblr to look at Steven Universe fan comics. I’m getting side-tracked because the core of the show is so bland that I needed to vent about character design and pitch tweaks to the premise in order to make this review more than a sentence. This is a solid skip. – RacattackForce

2018
01.12

Citrus

Do dah-do do-do-do do dah-do do-do/Have you read Mein Kampf today, gyaru?

Do dah-do do-do-do do dah-do do-do/Have you read Mein Kampf today, gyaru?

I don’t like Citrus. Watching it makes me feel like I’m seeing a teenage girl being sexually abused by another teenage girl. Because that’s exactly what I’m watching, and no amount of camerawork trying to frame it as romantic or erotic will make me feel better about a young woman being forced to the ground and violently kissed by her step-sister, tears welling up in her eyes. I’m not interesting in seeing the groundwork being laid for a relationship that, in real life, would be dreadful cause for alarm. That is, if it got past Yuzu going “Mom, everyone at my school acts like they’re in a cult, my new step-sister molested me in front of a crowd, and five minutes ago she forced her tongue down my throat.” A statement immediately followed by her mother filing for divorce (plus a few restraining orders) and transferring her daughter to a new school, if not them moving to another prefecture. Which is what should happen. But it won’t. So let’s not talk about this yuri that everyone else is going to love as much as they did NTR – Netsuzou Trap. Let’s talk about Doug.

It’s August 1991. Of three animated programs that premiered on Nickelodeon in the United States, one of these shows was a slice-of-life comedy. Perhaps the first of its kind, at least in the Western animation sphere. This show was, of course, ­Doug. Doug was a pretty good show. It would never be on a favourite shows list of mine these days, but I have fond memories of watching it as a kid and it still holds up remarkably well. But apparently the grandfather of this show’s other lead (the molest-y one) loved it enough to start the International Church of Doug Funnie. Let’s imagine the timeline for this, shall we? Old man glances at the television one day and sees a young boy wearing a sweater vest. He begins to lust after this cartoon boy. This plain-looking American child consumes his thoughts. He watches every episode. He buys every piece of merchandise he can. He exchanges most of his clothes for green sweater vests and brown shorts. When learning the creator of his love was visiting Tokyo Disneyland, he steals Jim Jinkins’ sketchbook and gropes his butt. After several self-pleasuring sessions to the Doug sketches found in his prize, this old man decides that he must share this love with the world. But how?

One day, he’s browsing his local video store for more Doug tapes and finds a VHS by a group called Family International. He decides to go home to watch it. Endless Doug marathons can become stale after all, and this can help break things up a little. Watching the music videos, the path forward is now clear. But just as Family International has these music videos to distract from their more crazed cannibalistic tendencies, our “hero” also needs a light-hearted cover for his operation. But what could have possibly be? Music videos are an option, but his beloved Doug deserves something far more dignified. The next day, he walks past a school and sees a bunch of children dressed like Donald Duck. Bingo. For the next few years, he gathers supporters (from whence they came, I know not) and they pool their resources to buy a large school campus that no one was using due to the high levels of radiation surrounding it. They were told long exposure to this radiation would make students uncontrollably shift into strangle, low-polygonal forms while on campus, but they did not care. They had their school. And they would train new generations in the art of Doug Funnie, with daily Quailman classes instead of P.E., and lunches that always included beets. Oh, how it became an all-girls school? Um… as a private school, the tuition was too high for a lot of families, and the ones that could afford only had female children, so they just decided to work with it. Plus, it was too hard to convince the district school board about brown booty shorts for the male uniform.

See, wasn’t that thought experiment more fun than talking about shitty yuri? Let’s move on. – RacattackForce

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Well so much for this caption.

This important announcement brought to you by Crunchyroll.

A little over five years ago, when I was dragged back kicking and screaming into this…this morass of depravity that was modern anime, I thought I had seen the worse. I was green then, and thus I believed this whole concept of Isekai was just Sword Art Online and Sword Art Online alone. And SAO was… to put it mildly… not very good. But then…the Isekai kept showing up and getting worse, and worse, and worse. Oh sure there were bright moments in the mire like Log Horizon, Grimgar, and Re:Zero, but they were buried under horseshit like Outbreak Company, GATE, and yes…fuck you Sketch…Konosuba. Last year I witnessed the first isekai I could argue was worse than SAO in form of the truly atrocious Isekai Smartphone (coincidentally in the same season as the actually rather good Knights and Magic). This seemed timed with an announcement that light novel publishers would no longer be accepting isekai stories, suggesting they too had become annoyed with a genre that was quickly becoming assembled from various stock parts. It seemed the age of hell that was isekai was coming to its ordained end.

…except in Anime because here we have another one. And its just SAO with cheaper animation and no point. Great.

THE “PLOT”: Dorky programmer for a company that makes cellphone RPGs goes to sleep one night after completing a so-called “death march”; corporate slang for a super all-nighter to fix bugs. Something happens and he finds himself 10 years younger in a mishmash of two RPGs he was working on because….reasons. The rest is just some endless monologue about RPG controls and how dorkface is expecting to wakeup but isn’t because this show is contrived. Eventually he’ll get a harem too of stock characters because every isekai has to have an effing harem now. Our lord and savior Kawahara wills it so.

Well the good news at the very least is Death March isn’t as bad as Isekai Smartphone. It would take an isekai version of Pop Team Epic to match that “amazing” feat. That doesn’t mean I actually have anything “good” to say about it though. Oh no, this show is about as pedestrian as people crossing the street. The protagonist is too boring to be annoying and too forgettable to be terrible. He just merely exists for the sake of existing. Much like this show, its neither bad nor good, it just exists.

Until next week of course when it’ll get 10000x worse. In which case I won’t be watching. – Lord Dalek

Gakuen Babysitters

This is the best baby. She’s adorable, has a giraffe, and her mom is a hot teacher. A+.

This is the best baby. She’s adorable, has a giraffe, and her mom is a hot teacher. A+.

Do you think babies are cute? Good. Do you like taking care of babies? Okay, less takers, but a good amount of you are still here. So have I got an anime for you. It’s about taking care of babies after your parents die in a plane crash, because planes are the cool thing this year. Not trucks. Trucks have become a bit overused in recent seasons and have recently unionized to increase their wages, so the industry is taking a break from using them for a while. But to the topic at hand, School Babysitters is an anime that appears to be aiming for a nice middle ground between “cute boys and cute babies” antics and the emotional trauma that occurs when you lose your parents. Yeah, you have your moments like our main character Ryuichi being ganged up on by five toddlers in a play fight. But you also have the second half of the episode, where Ryuichi’s baby brother Kotaro gets sick from stress and needs to be taken to a clinic, and during the panic, Ryuichi tries to call his father before remembering that he can’t: he and his brother are all that’s left of their family. The duo are at this academy because the headmistress lost her son and daughter-in-law in the same plane crash that took our protagonist’s parents, and she decided to adopt them out of sympathy and to get more help with the school’s daycare service. But I expected that to just to be throwaway information. Nothing more than a bleak excuse to justify why he’s being made to watch the teachers’ children. But no, Ryuichi is still dealing with the reality that his parents are dead. Kotaro is still really young, but he seems to understand what has happened as well. And the woman who adopted them is also trying to cope, with taking care of the two boys appearing to be her method of doing so. I’m a sucker for cute things and love playing/working with children in general, so just that aspect may have been enough for me to continue watching this anime. But if School Babysitters continues to dive into the story of this newly formed family trying to cope and move past the death of loved ones? I can safely say that I will definitely be coming back for more. – RacattackForce

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

Now do you want that body wrapped in paper or plastic?

Now do you want that body wrapped in paper or plastic?

Hey, didn’t you love the shit out of John Wick? Wasn’t it great to see a universe where almost everybody was a supercool assassin, and how they were being hunted down by an assassin of assassins? Didn’t you love that? And don’t you love anime? So wouldn’t you like it if someone combined those two? Because that’s not what you’re going to get here. This show tries to be like that though. It surely tries. It wants you to see the show as this cool thriller where hitmen are hunting each other down, but Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (now that naming your shows Re:something has fallen out of style, I guess it’s now cool to add the word “ramen” to your title) lacks that certain style other crime shows and movies have.

Like I see quite a few other writers comparing this show to Durarara, but that series had easily memorable characters who had striking first impressions. Nobody in this anime is as interesting, not even the Chinese crossdressing hitman played by Yuki Kaji. The people running this series clearly want to have some fun, like casting Koyasu as an opportunistic man running for mayor, but there’s little soul to it. I would compare this first episode to a guy who watched Shaw Brothers movies like the 36th Chamber of Shaolin and wanting to make a movie just like that, but what they create is unmemorable direct-to-VHS schlock. And that’s what this is, a regurgitation of something more stylish while carrying none of the wit of its spiritual progenitor. For instance, the central devious corporation hiring all these hitmen and giving the police a ton of headaches? They’re called Red Rum Inc. It’s like watching a show where the military is investigating whether or not a group called “Absolutely, Totally not Terrorists, We Swear” is up to anything. This show promises a lot of mind games, but elementary word play like that implies this will be another dumb show that thinks it’s smart. – BloodyMarquis

Violet Evergarden

Don't get your hopes up Rynnec.

Don’t get your hopes up Rynnec.

There’s something oddly familiar about the premise of Violet Evergarden than I just can’t put my finger on. Like it was something from a show I watched several years ago but don’t seem to be able to place. Hmmm, well anyway this is the new KyoAni show, produced in partnership with Netflix but behind their inane time wall. However, Netflix International apparently doesn’t give a crap about binge releasing which means for the second week in a row I get to review a show in…English?!? Ummm, thanks Canada.

So what exactly is this about anyway? Words. Words and robots. That’s what I got from it. The eponymous Miss Evergarden was apparently some sort of superweapon designed to win another WWI-esque conflict in a steampunk fantasy land. However, after four years, the war is over and poor old Violet has lost both her limbs and her commanding officer/probable lover in the process. As part of dead guy’s last wish, she’s sent to his family home to be looked after and find her purpose in life. And what purpose is that? Why working as a dictation machine for a mail company run by a grizzled older version of Pimp-Kun from Free of course!

….yeeeeeeeeeeeeah this show isn’t really a taut thriller. Oh sure KyoAni TRIES to get some action in there with the frequently grisly footage of Violet Evergarden’s past life as a killer death machine but it just sticks out of place in the end and creates mood whiplash with the hohum slice of life framing story I’m stuck having to watch over it. As a premiere its just shrug inducing, with no incentive to come back and finish the series. No wonder Netflix is sitting on it till April here even though its already dubbed and ready to go.

But still… I just can’t get over the familiarity of this. I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere before. Maybe if Violet, instead of a book on tape, was a maid or some….

OH.

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

This is just fucking Mahoromatic again! But boring! And with no maids! Goddammit KyoAni you wasted all of our time on a boring version of Mahoromatic. Clearly this is the reason why we’re never gonna get a second season of Amagi Brilliant Park. You’d just turn that into Mahoromatic too! Goddammit!!!! – Lord Dalek

Yuru Camp

........................

<page flip> …….. <sips hot cocoa> …….. <throws stick in fire>

Everything you need to know about Laid-Back Camp is in the title and I appreciate that. If you ever wanted a chill anime about some teenagers going on weekend camping trips to Mt. Fuji and doing little else, then this is your show. If you aren’t into that, then you can skip it. Really, I can end the review there. This is slice-of-life at its most relaxed, with few jokes to be seen throughout the entire proceeding. If you are watching this show, you’re watching it to feel comfy. To reignite memories of your own camping trips and to look at beautifully drawn scenery of the forests around Mt. Fuji. You won’t be watching this show for the comedy, I can tell you that: the first episode had ten minutes of a girl slowly setting up her campsite with nary a joke in sight. Quite simply, this anime is the equivalent of an easy-listening station punctuated by a DJ doling out occasional camping advice. It’s an anime that requires the viewer to be pretty laid-back themselves or willing to enter that mood before watching, or else you’ll just be bored out of your mind. So yeah, Laid-Back Camp tells you everything about it from the moment you finish reading that title. Personally, if I ever have a really stressful day, I could see myself watching this show before taking a nap or something. Now, I don’t want to knock on a competently made show, especially when it’s actually one of the better anime joints this season so-far (not like that’s a high bar when your competition includes a show about ramen). But beyond its ability to act as a white-noise machine with pretty pictures, there’s little to bring me back to Laid-Back Camp in the future when something like A Place Farther Than The Universe premieres the same week, takes the same basic “girls go into the wilderness premise”, and weaves a story I relate to on a level far greater than “oh yeah, I went camping in the woods back in middle school too.” If you give me a slice-of-life, it needs to have some drama and/or comedy in the mix. Something like this just isn’t going to do it. – RacattackForce

2018
01.11

winter17CF10

No. No they haven’t. Welcome to the worst season of the year (until the next one).

Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc

cardcaptor

It's like a maze...

And you thought Kingdom Hearts had a wacky timeline.

Aw, yeah. It’s Keerdkapteers! Sucker-a’s a junior high school student now! Madison’s still a dirty, shameless voyeur! Eli Moon’s back! Ms. McKenzie’s back and she’s got tea! Yue’s back! Syao-show-xiao-Michelle-whatever-ran’s back! Kero’s back but he doesn’t sound like surfer dude Matt Hill anymore! That sucks, but who cares?! Everybody’s back! Except for that annoying Chinese girl who wanted to bone her cousin, and that girl who was in a relationship with her teacher even though she was like ten. And… come to think of it, Sakura’s parents met each other when her mom was a high school student and her dad was a teacher. And Tomoyo is Sakura’s second cousin even though she’s crushing on her. This series had a lot of weird romances, didn’t it?

Oh, CLAMP. Darling, delirious CLAMP. After dominating anime and manga for years back in the 90s and mid-00s, you fell in a rut with that Blood-C series. Few people give a shit about Kobato or Legal Drug, and nobody can even reminisce of their time with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle without remembering how convoluted and nonsensical the plot became as seen in the above images. But you know what you have got to do when you’re yesterday’s news, you pull the nostalgia string and make people excited for Clow cards again. I’d call it a shallow attempt to revive past glories because nobody’s biting at the new fish, but this episode’s actually kind of cute.

Sure, it’s not as engrossing as it could be, and newcomers will probably be confused and have to watch the entire previous show to understand what’s going on, but this show’s a little like meeting an old friend. No labyrinthine plots or identity crises, just a girl who’s out with her magic cards. After how badly Sailor Moon Crystal mangled its attempt to bring Sailor Moon to the modern day, seeing something like this feels less alienating and more comfy. And maybe CLAMP will go full CLAMP and ruin this trip to memory lane, but you could do worse than watching this premiere. – BloodyMarquis

Citrus

Forget the kissing. Real question is: Why would you only read books with monochrome colors?

Forget the kissing. Real question is: Why would you only read books with monochrome colors?

You know, if you wanted to make a show where two girls kiss, you could have come up with a less stupid plot than what goes on in Citrus. A girl who has never known love but lies to her friends about it named Yuzu goes to her new high school, full of young women who dress up like Doug Funnie and act a little like Nazis. All of these girls look the same, many are CG models, in fact the same CG model pasted a dozen times into a shot, and poor Yuzu’s rebellious personality just doesn’t fit in with such a conformist school. What to do? Oh, she can just let the student president molest her in front of everyone. And said student president is having a relationship with one of her teachers. And she’s Yuzu’s stepsister! And her grandfather owns the school!

As you can tell, this isn’t a show that runs on any sort of logic. The writer throws whatever they can on the screen and uses that as the backdrop for their yuri, not realizing how questionable this relationship looks like with all these off elements. Yuzu gets molested twice in this episode, yet the angles and direction imply we’re supposed to ogle at her being violated. And anyone who’s watched a hundred of these shows knows what will happen. Yuzu’s stepsister will eventually lighten up and be less of a predator regarding her actions, while Yuzu will grow to enjoy it. And they’ll start a steady pseudo-incestuous relationship while hiding it from friends and family. The shame of it all is Yuzu’s actually an interesting character, and it would be cool to see her in another show, and especially another school rather than the bizarre and poorly-rendered institution shown here. It’s telling that the school’s aesthetic stayed in my mind for far longer than the groping and kissing scenes. – BloodyMarquis

Devilman Crybaby

They did not sing a happy song and there was no music in the air.

They did not sing a happy song and there was no music in the air.

In years past, Netflix has been a bit of a thorn in the backside of many an anime fan who refuses to indulge in the dark arts of fansubbery. The reason not being that of a douchebag double paywall like Amazon’s ill-begotten (and now mercifully defunct) AnimeStrike, but for being a timewall. Wanna watch first run anime on Netflix? Well too damn bad you gotta wait 6 months for the show to finish airing in Japan. Now this form of troll toll has been awfully crippling for fans of Knights of Sidonia and Little Witch Academia but also more of a fitting punishment for what few fans exist of the Seven Derpy Shits. But no more! This year begins Netflix’s ridiculous new anime initiative in which most anime being aired on Netflix will be first run. No more Japan network run embargo redtape. When they say its “original” they mean it! And what’s the first on the agenda? Its Devilman Crybaby! Directed by….NO. NOO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Yes my old friend Yuasa, aka Makoto Shinkai for people on their third bout of seasickness. Somehow he keeps getting work as if a divine power wishes to punish me for my sins and/or Dalek Exterminates rants on GSB. As if that rant I wrote here all those years ago when Kick-Heart came out wasn’t justifcation enough. To add to this is its well….Devilman. Now I have only watched one form of this franchise, the 1991 OVA Remake Devil King Dante, which typical for an early 90s OVA was just a steady stream of tits and giggles. However it was apparently a fairly decent representation of the series. And we all know series creator Go Nagai is only it for the tits and giggles.

Did I mention I don’t like Go Nagai that much either? Because I don’t.

So this is Devilman directed by Yuasa. In it everyone is an underdetailed rubber band fluctuating between faceless cadavers and the frog people from Your Lie in April. Also one lady’s boobs turn into the fricken Thing from Another World. But otherwise its pretty much a faithful adaptation. In other words its that same godawful OVA I watched with Shadow and Rac all those years ago but even more fuck ugly because that’s how Yuasa rolls. Hell it even ends in the same exact spot. Does that mean next time Dante goes to a picturesque landscape made up entirely of boobs and uvulas? You know what? Don’t answer that question. I’d rather wish I didn’t know the original answer. – Lord Dalek

Junji Ito Collection

Your hausbando this season guaranteed.

Junji Ito, to put it mildly, is the greatest mangaka of all time. What? You disagree? Well fuck you then! Go back to playing with your turds then as well your pwecious Kenshin by that pedophile guy. Because seriously anyone who came up with something as awesome/horrfic as Uzumaki (aka the one with the killer spirals) or fan favorite Gyo (aka the one with the zombie robot fish) must be high on something stronger than what Araki usually takes for his evening snifter. Strangely however he hasn’t been given much of a fair shake in anime land though, but that’s not too surprising as honestly how the hell would you make a single cour anime out of a manga about killer zombie robot fish seem not ridiculous (and yes I know there’s a Gyo anime…it wasn’t very good). Nevertheless its time for the anime world to pay its dues and so we have Junji Ito Collection, a series made up of adaptations of Ito’s assorted one shots for various manga anthologies. Because apparently Junji Ito’s vast catalog of horror writing just wasn’t enough for ONE adaptation mirite? HAHAHAHAHaaaaohgod.

Well anyway we begin with an adaptation of 1997’s “Souichi’s Convenient Curse”, in which regular Ito asshole Souichi Tsujii (a taciturn young punk who looks like Klarion The Witch Boy’s far east cousin twice removed) uses a sort of voodoo magic to get even with his enemies by nailing dolls to the sides of trees and or attacking them with giant spiders and the fucking Slender Man. Why? Why not! He’s an asshole! But of course you would know that if you read or seen the anime any of the ½ dozen or so Souichi stories that came before this one! Wait what’s that? None of them have been translated and or animated? Well that’s just…super. Either way it ends well and the kid has to suck the fumes of a dead frog! Moving on!

The episode also throws in a bonus adaptation of “Hellish Doll Funeral” in which a weird virus turns some poor schlub’s daughter into an actual doll that withers and dies before his and his wife’s very eyes. It is pointless, and virtually plotless but lord is it disturbing….let’s move on.

In a way this is almost like an anime version of Night Gallery, just without Rod Serling and those weird paintings (then again Junji Ito art could easily be mistaken for some actual Night Gallery paintings). We’re just sort of kicked into the plot and expected to make our way alive before the commercial break only to get further wrecked by the mood altering whiplash of the quote-unqote bonus short. Although ironically it was usually the longer stories on Night Gallery which had the disturbing endings, with the goofy shorts stuffed in the middle having the comedy ones. Here its the other way around, think Souichi’s a little too frivolous? Whelp here’s two minutes of nonsensical nightmare fuel for ya! But this is not helped by the fact that the makers of the show elected to pick two completely random stories for their premiere episode and to add additional insult, one featuring a character who was on his 7th story at this point. There was enough Souichi material out there (two whole manga volumes in fact) to make a single cour show, why couldn’t you just do that instead?!? Its one thing to have an anthology show. Its another to stick a random episode of another show into it. Oh hey I guess that DOES makes this Night Gallery and that non-existent Souichi thing must be The Sixth Sense! HAHAHA I love making random references nobody will get!

Oh yeah its Deen and look like five cents was spent on it in total. Fuck it we’re done. – Lord Dalek

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles

There. I saved you 20 minutes.

There. I saved you 20 minutes.

Okay, fess up. This is a fetish show, right? Is that the only reason this series exists? To pander to the audience getting off to teenage girls making slurping sounds? Because I can’t find any other reason one could watch this show, unless you were so bored with your life that you wanted to know about ramen trivia. If this was a 2-minute gag anime, it would be fine. This show could be thrown to the corner, and wouldn’t waste anybody’s time. But this is full length. Your weekly serving of Japanese animation, boiled and seasoned, something this show does nothing to earn. It’s just one girl lusting after another girl, and that girl eats ramen. It’s not even good-looking ramen. Instant noodles coming right out of a Styrofoam cup look more edible than what the animators draw here. Food porn addicts stay away.

Perhaps this premise could work if it was a backdrop to something else, but no. One part of the episode involves the main character Yuu thinking horse oil was an ingredient used in ramen instead of chicken broth, with a joke that only makes sense if you’re versed in kanji. Nothing else in particular stands out as funny, and neither does the show succeed in romance. Yuu is a fucking creep, stalking Koizumi and savoring over the sight of her eating ramen. We’re supposed to think this is cute when this feels like the prelude to a failed kidnapping plot, or a particularly cringeworthy love confession at least. For a show centered around food and the love of it, this show has a poor aftertaste. If you are that desperate to watch people eat ramen, go find a youtube video. Search “girl slurps ramen” and you and your nether regions will be more satisfied than whatever this episode will offer you. – BloodyMarquis

A Place Farther Than the Universe

"Fuck you, mom! I'm gonna go to the South Pole and become bros with penguins! You'll see!"

“Fuck you, mom! I’m gonna go to the South Pole and become bros with penguins! You’ll see!”

We all have those moments, those third-life or quarter-life or even fifth-life crises, where we question our place in this world. If anything we have done matters, or if anything exciting happened in our lives. For many, there’s that sinking hole in our hearts following the realization that we haven’t had the most adventurous life, and how we’ve let monotony become the norm. But sometimes, there’s a rare person who decides they don’t want to let routine life become the rest of their existence. They don’t want to be one of many cogs in the system. They want to do something amazing for once, commit to a life that few others have done. And what better way to do that than… go to Antarctica?

I had no expectations when going into this show, thinking this would be yet another “cute girls doing stupid things” show that’s clawing at whatever “insert stupid thing here” it can to maintain relevance and stand out amongst the other shows. I thought it was going to be like that boring camping show that premiered on the same season, but this is a surprising treat. The lead of the story Mari Tamaki has an aim that almost everyone experiences in their lives, that nothing cool has happened in their life and they need to do something to compensate for it. But unlike many (including me, sadly), she acts on that promise thanks to a chance encounter with another girl named Shirase who’s hoping to go to Antarctica to rescue her missing mom.

It’s a show that easy to relate to, no matter where you are in life. Behind the cute designs and charming art is a little existentialism, where the show asks us if it’s better to risk nothing and lead a boring life or pursue a costly adventure that might lead to nowhere. Combine that with instantly likable characters, and you get a great premiere. I know I’m making this show sound sappier than it actually is, but this show is genuinely worth watching. – BloodyMarquis

Pop Team Epic

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Record of Grancrest War

"Can't have a fantasy anime without twin maids!"

“Can’t have a fantasy anime without twin maids!”

I only watched two or three episodes of Record of Lodoss War like twelve or thirteen years ago on the International Channel, and don’t have any real urge to pick that show back up. Only thing I remember about that show was the elf character Deedlit, and not because of her personality. The memory is such a blur, and that’s how I’d describe Lodoss’ apparent sibling series despite watching it just now. It’s a 24-minute blur where I didn’t feel invested in any of the characters or settings. I could tell you more about an episode of an anime I last watched back when I was ten years old than I could this show.

Not to say I hate this episode, it has decent animation and the designs are okay, but it’s really hard to muster up any reaction than “Oh, this is a JRPG anime” or “Oh, the main girl is a blonde tsundere” or “Oh, she’s setting up a contract with the main guy. Kind of like Saber except not really”. It’s unfair of me to expect this episode to be exciting from the get-go, but the premiere feels like background noise. It’s a show you watch not because you want to, but because it’s on and it’s either this or twenty minutes of staring at social media accounts or forum threads. But what should I expect? This is a light novel adaptation. It’s not made for newcomers. It’s made the built-in audience who’s going to watch every episode either for their waifu or to see their favorite fight scenes animated.

And I guess that’s okay. Count my blessings this isn’t another isekai show, but couldn’t I just watch someone’s playthrough of a Tales game instead of this? Like instead of focusing on another overpowered boy and girl couple who are learning magic to fight the forces of Chaos story, why not focus on the government in this show? Figure out why the Factory Federation and the Fantasy Alliance are at war with each other, and see what extremes can be taken when conflicts escalate. Something other than this formula that I’ve seen so many times that I have nothing new to say anymore. But what can I expect from a series where one of the villains is called “Demon Lord of Diabolos”? – BloodyMarquis