2017
05.07

Atom: The Beginning

Behold the secret handshake of the Big-Nosed Brotherhood.

Behold the secret handshake of the Big-Nosed Brotherhood.

Spin-offs and prequels not done by the creator themselves have been hit and miss for me, as they can get a little indulgent in referencing the source material and sanitizing popular characters. Episode of Bardock, for example, was written by a huge fan of Bardock, but consequently she wrote the character as too perfect, a grumpy guy with a heart of gold rather than the callous cold-blooded killer he is, fundamentally misunderstanding his characterization and the themes of the original special. Similarly, when the Young Black Jack anime came out, I remarked on how that seriously tried so hard to make Black Jack a bad-ass that they made him more philanthropic than the money-grubbing misanthrope he really is. As a result of such mischaracterizations, these series feel more like glorified fan-fics, rather than stories you can believe happened in the worlds of the originals.

So I tempered my expectations going into Atom: The Beginning, another Tezuka prequel series not done by the man himself, this time detailing Ochanomizu and Tenma creating Astro Boy’s prototype. And yeah, there are some incongruities in how the personalities of Ochanomizu and Tenma are presented. Yet, rather than making out their characters as overly noble or glorifying them, they’re presented as goofy college kids with illusions of grandeur, which I can totally believe. Tenma, in particular, is exactly the kind of lazy, self-absorbed narcissist I’d imagine he’d be as a college kid, and he’s a lot of fun to watch as a result. So while this show’s versions of Tenma and Ochanomizu might not totally line up if you were to watch this series and then read the original Astro Boy manga, they’re more flawed and interesting and stay a lot truer to their original characterizations than most spin-offs and even other incarnations of the franchise.

But I don’t think you need to know much about Astro Boy to appreciate this series. It’s not overly reliant on references and lore and you pretty much understand Ochanomizu and Tenma’s characterizations from the opening scene. That said, this premiere is rather slow, and I’m not sure if there’s anything terribly interesting about it. I mean, Six’s sentience as an AI robot has potential, especially in a story set before Astro Boy when robots didn’t have human rights (speaking of, read the Once Upon A Time Astro Boy Tales arc to see if you want to see the series at it’s darkest). But it’s not presented in a more interesting light than what you’d usual get out of these stories, and for me the best parts of this premiere were Tenma and Ochanomizu’s dicking around, gloating about how awesome they are, and sharing their weird nose kink. The show has a really fun training montage-style opening done by Bahi JD and in general looks boast great visuals and animation. I think this is one of the best-looking shows of the season without a doubt. I’d love to give as wide a recommendation I can for this show, but truthfully I’m not sure yet if the story will have much to offer outside of fanservice for Astro Boy fans like myself. But I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t enough for me. – LumRanmaYasha

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

Boruto, buddy, you've been saying that for one and a half years. When's it going to happen?

Boruto, buddy, you’ve been saying that for one and a half years. When’s it going to happen?

This may surprise you – heck, it still surprises me – but I’ve been able to rekindle an affection for Naruto since it ended two years ago. The concluding arc of the manga was abysmal, and I had long soured on the manga during it’s ten-year downward decline that corresponds to the material covered by Shippuden. When it ended I was feed of the obligation to keep up with the insufferable, agonizing mess it had become, and vowed not to bother with the franchise ever again. Yet, when The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring mini-series began running in Shonen Jump, I couldn’t help but read it out of morbid curiosity. To my surprise…I really enjoyed it! Sarada was a compelling character and I appreciated that Naruto and Sasuke had matured in believable ways, and the themes Kishimoto tackled about father figures were honest and heartfelt.

That left me curious about how well the Boruto movie would turn out, and I went and saw it in theatres that fall. I loved it. The Boruto film was a well-made excellent passing of the torch moment for the franchise, humanizing Naruto as he struggles to balance his role as a father to both his village and his family, contrasting it with Boruto’s desire for his father’s approval while wanting to be recognized for his own merits, rather than his status as the Hokage’s son, by those around him. Once again, the exploration of their father-son dynamic was well-done and cemented my belief that Kishimoto’s strength lies in writing stories about the emotional connection between fathers and their children. Moreover, the film presented Boruto as a strong contrast to Naruto in motivations and goals while still possessing the spirited resolve of his father – to quote the film, “the times may change, but the spirit of the shinobi stays the same.” It set Boruto up as a solid protagonist to take the torch from his father and trailblaze a new path forward for the franchise, one that seemed to lead in a promising direction.

Sadly, it’s been about a year and a half since the Boruto film came out, and we’re still not moving forward. In fact, this anime seems set on moving back, taking place before Boruto has even joined the ninja academy when in the movie he’s always formed a squad and been going on missions for some time. The movie already showed us Boruto’s coming of age moment and the resolution of the tensions between him and Naruto and the compromises each made to their ninja way for the sake of their family and comrades. Having to wait for Boruto to re-learn that again, over an elongated period of time, seems redundant to me. While seeing Boruto’s academy days might potentially help flesh out more of the supporting cast, including Boruto’s newly introduced stooge Denki, most of them like Shikadai and Cho-cho feel like re-treads of their parents, and based on their role in the Boruto movie and Sarada’s mini-series it doesn’t seem like they’ll become much more distinctive. I’m really concerned that nothing that happens before the Boruto movie will matter in the long run. Which is why the flash-forward at the beginning of the episode frustrates me so much, since I know it’ll take ages before we even get past the movie, and much more to get to what’s beyond.

But the show itself is really well made. The new character designs are rounder and more lively, and the show has some choice cuts of animation that was really fun to watch. Production-wise, this seems like a real step up from much of Shippuden, though how that’ll fare in the long run remains to be seen. It looks good though, with eye-popping colors and a vibrant palette. It stands in stark contrast to the darker, temperate tones of the original series, especially if you were to go back and compare their first episodes.

On that note, I think Naruto has one of the best first chapters/episodes for a shonen series, and Boruto’s first episode definitely feels more derivative and standard fare in comparison. At the same time, it does a fine job of introducing Boruto and what makes him a likable protagonist, as well as establishing how important his family is to him and his resentment for his dad never being around for them. The biggest problem with how his character is handled is not giving him a clearly defined goal other than showing up his dad, and I guess we’ll have to wait until they adapt the Boruto movie for him to get one. I’ve come to believe in the potential for great stories in the Naruto franchise and the potential of Boruto as a protagonist, and because I like the world and characters I enjoyed this premiere even though its taking its sweet time to get moving. With the manga now finally entering new material after spending a year adapting the Boruto movie, I can only hope for the tv series to follow suit as soon as possible, and I hope seeing Boruto’s adventures in the academy will have a point rather than another disguise for filler to stall for time. – LumRanmaYasha

Eromanga-sensei

Please help

I’d quote Chin-chin, but everyone else has already done it.

Let’s just admit this to ourselves right off the bat: if you’re reading this, then you’ve already crafted an opinion of Eromanga-sensei. An hardened opinion that, no matter what I say in the next 400 words, will remain unchanged. It’s an animated adaptation of what has become the dime-a-dozen “sibling romantic comedy” light novel, so the lines have already been drawn in the sand. You either enjoy this show’s comedic exploits (and the female MC’s cute, underaged ass) and are about to be vaguely annoyed that I dislike this show. Or you’re happy to know that I hate this show too, scrolling on down to the next review in this “Clusterfuck” now that confirmation bias has been reached. Either way, you’re going to leave the same way you came in: the only difference is that you will have wasted two minutes of your life on Earth while I will have wasted an hour and a half watching the show and writing these two paragraphs. Either way, I have little else to do tonight (a blatant lie, actually), so I might as well explain why I dislike Eromanga-sensei.

To be completely truthful, half my dislike of Eromanga-sensei comes from the fact that there are so few anime that looks at incestual relationships in a serious light. Yes, I understand that this should be seen as a fetish and nothing more, but would it hurt to have pieces of animation outside Koi Kaze take a serious look at this sort of romance? No? Just fanservice it up and make the characters step-siblings so it isn’t too controversial? Okay, fine. I’ll begrudgingly accept this pandering otaku bullshit. Look at Sagiri’s adorable flat ass. Chuckle and d’aww at her silly dance in the ED. At this point, I don’t care. Because once I accept that the premise of step-sibling comedy love is something seen at least twice an anime season, Eromanga-sensei is just boring. Yes, boring. There was only one joke in the entire first episode that made me laugh, and that’s only because I can relate to taking pictures of myself in ridiculous poses to get a drawing just right. In all other aspects, I just saw a teenage boy who is forced to take care of a hikikomori little sister that refuses to acknowledge his existence. How cute. The aspect of them having unknowingly be a popular author/artist team, but now having that knowledge due to a mistake made in a livestream could be interesting, but I know in my heart that nothing will be done with it. I know in my heart that this show will just meander through every cliche in the book. The second episode has the class rep visiting their house for Christ’s sake. Who wrote this? Tsukasa Fushimi? The dude behind Oreimo? Okay, yeah, I’m done here. Just writing about this shit makes me feel jaded about the future of anime. When’s Little Witch Academia showing up on US Netflix, again?

I know it barely counts as a review, but just writing that annoyed me. – RacattackForce

Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Gaiden: Sword Oratoria

One episode in and already contender for the saddest anime death this season

One episode in and already contender for the saddest anime death this season.

Remember Danmachi? You may know it as that one show with that annoying useless boob-string girl that dressed like a retard, and everyone obsessed over her for some reason? And the main characters were so mentally challenged that they couldn’t even perform functions as basic as giving someone a powered up knife? Well, it’s not getting a second season, but it is getting a spin-off, and this time, all the fat has been removed.

Return to this weird tabletop RPG-style world despite the world itself not being an actual MMO or tabletop setting in any meaningful way, filled with deity-led guilds going on adventures in dungeons, but instead of focusing on the bottom of the barrel adventurer with a high-pitched voice, we focus on a group of experienced adventurers that actually do dungeon crawling and fight monsters and all that other fun adventurer stuff. In other words, the cast that the main series should’ve focused on in the first place. That fact alone should draw you in to this spinoff if you hated the original series like I did.

I did have a surprising amount of fun watching Sword Oratoria, in spite of the presence of some problematic elements typical of an LN (particularly one of the Amazons having a crush on her much younger guild captain), but otherwise its a serviceable action show. The characters bounce off each other well and likable, giving the feeling of a true close-knit group. Lefiya, our POV character, is a much more effective audience surrogate character since her insecurities and lack of experience makes for a nice contrast with her more hardened and fearless companions, I could honestly relate to her plight a little bit. The main cast of the parent series do make cameo’s, the only important one being Bell’s, whose introduction is his near death experience with a minotaur seen in the anime but elaborated on here, his limited screentime actually made me feel honest sympathy for the guy than I ever did in Danmachi.

While Sword Oratoria isn’t a standout show by any means, it does improve upon its parent series in every way, and while that does speak more to Danmachi’s quality than Sword Oratoria’s, if you felt like Danmachi had a good concept but bad execution, it won’t hurt to give its spinoff a try. – CrimsonRynnec

Kenka Bancho Otome -Girl Beats Boys-

If this were an X-Men comic, that wouldn't be DEATH next to her head.

If this were an X-Men comic, that wouldn’t be DEATH next to her head.

Series about girls crossdressing to attend boys’ schools are old hat. Those where they attend a school for delinquents and have to fight their way to the top? Less common, and more interesting. I was down for a delinquent school romance series with a female protagonist for once since there isn’t nearly enough Sukeban Deka to go around. Sadly, even though this show has a great innuendo of a title like “Girl Beats Boys” it doesn’t have an ounce of personality. Hikaru is a passive and unenthusiastic observer for most of the episode and doesn’t even seem to know what she’s doing or why she’s even here. The conceit of the series is that she’ll form her own reverse harem after beating up a bunch of the top guys, which is cool and all, but none of them are much more than pretty faces. The show is rather lazily made even for a short show. The background characters all rendered as shadows and silhouettes, the main character designs are appropriately and boringly typical of an otome game, and there’s not much in the way of animation, except for the five seconds where Hikaru actually fights. I’m into the concept of this show, but there’s not much of interest here worth recommending. Go watch the Sukeban Deka movies instead. – LunRanmaYasha

Love Rice

No more Mr. Rice guy.

No more Mr. Rice guy.

So after Rice proved that rice was the best grain in his popularity contest with Bobo-bread, the spiteful Bobobo crashed the rice market and has made bread more popular, and now Rice’s descendants must make rice popular again and defeat the evil Wheat Hunt Troops and Czar Crusty Yeast the Third. Okay, this show doesn’t have anything to do with Bobobo, but these four-minute shorts feel like sketches from right out of the Rice arc and the main character looks a lot like Rice too. I loved Rice, he got the shaft pretty early on but he was a fun character, so I think I’ll have fun watching this every week headcanoning that this show is about his son in a bizarre alternate spinoff of Bobobo. Wouldn’t be any weirder than that Don Patch spinoff manga. – LumRanmaYasha

Re:Creators

The embarrassment you feel when you realize you're just a shit-tier trash waifu from a crappy light novel anime.

The embarrassment you feel when you realize you’re just a shit-tier trash waifu from a crappy light novel anime.

As a creator of stories myself, the premise of Re:Creators deeply interests me. The idea of fictional protagonists confronting their creators or to force them to make their stories and worlds happier is a great meta concept. This series’ eclectic cast of anime archetypes, ranging from a light novel heroine to a magical girl to a Stand-wielding big bad, seem poised to comment on all sorts of clichés and genres in the anime landscape. It’s not only fun to see how each of these kinds of characters interact with the real world, but how they come to realize the flaws of their own worlds. Like in episode two, when the magical girl freaks out that her attacks are actually hurting her opponent, and is criticized for using violence to get her way without being prepared to follow through with the consequences. I’m especially looking forward to how each of the characters reacts with their own creators, and the hilariously awkward consequences. Selejia’s meeting with her creator was particularly funny because she’s hoping he’s not going to be some lame dumb-ass, but then she sees him and yeah, he’s a light novel author all right. When she talks to him there’s this delicious passive-aggressive disappointment shown on her face and when she’s talking to him that made me laugh. This show has some great meta humor and commentary on genre and media consumption, making it an absolute treat for someone like me who is fascinated with fictional stories and genre deconstruction.

We can thank Rei Hiroe for a great concept and fun cast of characters, but special props have to go to the team at Troyca bringing it to life as the most bad-ass and visually engaging action show of the season. I’m wary of Ei Aoki as a scriptwriter after Aldnoah Zero, but he can direct action well and the fight scenes presented so far have been riveting. I’m a little worried that the show might fall the way of Aldnoah Zero, but right now it’s like, everything I’ve ever wanted to see in anime in terms of concept, characters, humor, action, and the execution of it all. I can pretty much call the melodramatic plot twist will be that the girl who committed suicide by way of jumping in front of a train in the opening scene created the main antagonist and her story, and that the main character guy probably co-created it with her, probably contributing her character design, but we’ll see how that come across in execution. But man, I cannot stress just how much I’m enjoying this show so far. It’s like my fantasy dream anime recreated and now made real. Please stay good Re:Creators. – LumRanmaYasha

Room Mate

I want to come in his room and mate, if you know what I mean heh heh....god that was terrible.

I want to come in his room and mate, if you know what I mean heh heh….god that was terrible.

It’s rare to see a show directed in the first person, presented as if you were watching cutscenes in an otome game. It’s an interesting gimmick, to put the audience in the perspective of the main character, the camera shot as if you were interacting with the cast. I give it novelty points if nothing else. Too bad there’s not much of substance to make it actually interesting. All that happens is that you’re introduced to the main three guys welcoming you to the apartment, and they all fit into archetypes you should know if you’ve read enough shojo or played enough otome. If you really want to ogle hot guys you might as well just play an otome game since at least then you’d have an interactive experience. The first-person perspective gimmick isn’t even consistent, as in this head-scratching shot. How are you behind the guy looking straight-on at his ass in this shot, and then in front of him looking right at his chest all of a sudden in the next? If you’re going to do this gimmick, commit darn it! You could do a lot of interesting things with a show where the audience is the main character, but I doubt this series will make use of that potential. Only watch if you’re too lazy to play an actual otome game. – LumRanmaYasha

Seven Mortal Sins

This act of depriving of a shot of a woman's clit brought to you by Persona 5, now available wherever PS4 games are sold from Atlus!

This act of depriving the audience of a shot of a woman’s clit brought to you by Persona 5, now available wherever PS4 games are sold from Atlus!

When the first words of this series are literally “This sucks…” you know you’re already in a bad place already. Hell I knew I was in a bad place already when Crunchyroll actually gave me a NSFW warning upon clicking the first episode’s link. And that is something I have never seen before in the 2 1/2 years of me doing Clusterfucks straight from Crunchy streams. So yeah, I’m basically watching actual porn this season. Oh sure its censored but its still porn. In fact if this was a porn parody I coulda swore I was watching a shitty one on Gabriel Dropout, however at least Gabriel Dropout TRIED to be funny. Seven Metal Sins on the other hand is about as witty as that horrid Tanya bullshit from last season.

I’d tell ya about the plot but there really isn’t one besides “My little Urotsukidoji can’t Be This Cute!” Gore fetishing, skirt peeping, tit licking, bondage, demon rape, molestation and this is all in the first seven minutes. Or at least those are the parts I could actually make out from the parts that weren’t grossly over lit. Otherwise its just a rehash of Queens Blade  with angels and demons. Let us never speak of it again. — Lord Dalek

This guy actually finished the episode!

“What is a censor bar? A miserable little pile of cocktease!”

You know those “Bad Girl” comics back in the 90’s? When dark and edgy were the in things in comics at the time, so comic publishers made a bunch of titles starring  scantily clad female warriors with really edgy powers and personalities like Lady Death and Witchblade that were essentially just 20 pages of gore and fanservice (but mostly fanservice)? Well Sin: Seven Mortal Sins is basically that, but in anime form…and with more yuri!

And with that comparison, you can already tell if this show is for you or not and what it’s about. SIn does what it sets out to do and succeeds in doing so. I do wish the action was more over-the-top and easier to follow, but this show clearly isn’t interested in being a stylish action anime, so whatever, any complaint I have has nothing to do with what the show wants to be. Really complaining about shows like this is a waste of time and effort, so what’s really the point? It’s like watching and exploitation movie and complaining about the lack of nuance, or playing Doom and bitching about how violent it is. Granted, that won’t stop straight men from writing essays about how shows like this are the worst things in existence, but they’re a lost cause anyway.

Still a lot better than the other show named Seven Deadly Sins

(One important thing to note is that Crunchyroll’s stream of the show is censored, but there are uncensored versions of the episodes out there, if you want your cheesecake unfiltered, you know where to look.) — CrimsonRynnec

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