2017
07.05

Sup, NEETs? We're back for more.

Sup, NEETs? We’re back for more.

Aho-Girl

You can't even get out of bed on your own, you'll forgive us for being skeptical that you can wipe yourself.

You can’t even get out of bed on your own, you’ll forgive us for being skeptical that you can wipe yourself.

Aho-Girl succeeds where Aoyama-kun fails. It takes a character defined by their exaggerated quirk and pushes the limits of what you can do with them in creative and unpredictable ways. Maybe it’s helped by its 11-minute runtime, but I didn’t tire of the comedy even though there’s a clear formula: Yoshiko does or says something stupid, there’s a banana joke or sexual harassment or both, and then Akkun hits her. It’s a really obvious formulaic structure that they just repeat a few times throughout the episode, but each time they execute it in a way where the repetitiveness doesn’t distract.

Yoshiko is such a larger than life idiot that everything she does defies common sense and your expectations of how dumb she can get. Poorly pasting her face onto pictures of models in a porn mag so Akkun will get aroused? It’s just so dumb, but her honest enthusiasm in everything she says and does, no matter how inane or mean-spirited, somehow makes her more endearing than obnoxious. It helps that she receives regular comeuppance from Akkun’s physical and verbal put-downs. These admittedly tip-toe the line into uncomfortable domestic abuse territory, but here it always feels justified and was hilarious in how over-the-top and dramatic they’d be.

Aho-Girl is the kind of mean-spirited one-joke comedy that you’re either going to find hilarious or horrendous. I like my comedy a little mean and love seeing sociopaths screw around, so I fall on the former side. I got some real great belly laughs out of this episode and love the kind of kooky character Yoshiko is and the great sarcastic sardonic contrast provided by Akkun. It might wear out it’s welcome in a marathon, but a short weekly 11-minute dose of it stands to be a great pick-me up after a grueling Tuesday workday. Aho-Girl is good dumb fun, and while it’s no Konosuba, we can always use one of those kind of shows every season. – LumRanmaYasha

Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun

Aoyama-kun either must have a really dirty ass, or really like it up his.

Aoyama-kun either must have a really dirty ass, or really like it up his.

Aoyama-kun is trying to take a Sakamoto-esque inhumanly “perfect” character and make him the lead of a shonen sports comedy. It’d be interesting if it committed to one direction, because the execution flounders on both fronts. Aoyama-kun’s jokes are predictable and repetitive series of Aoyama obsessively cleaning things, people over-reacting and yelling really loud, and devolving into a super-deformed chibi-style. The latter is usually a pretty good sign that a series’ sense of humor is pretty unoriginal, because it’s banking on the fact that the audience will find chibi sequences inherently cute and humorous simply from the aesthetic. Instead it just feels trite, and the series overuses these moments to the point of formula. Even the episode’s punchline, where it’s revealed that Aoyama only attended the school because their toilets had bidets, is so obvious that it just doesn’t land. The series seems really fond of taking one joke based around a character’s quirk, like Aoyama’s obsession with cleanliness or the rival’s obsession with his pecs, and running that joke into the ground with incessant repetition. Aoyama-kun’s jokes are rarely funny the first time, and far less every time they’re repeated.

It doesn’t work as a compelling sports narrative either. While Aoyama proves he’s dedicated to playing soccer by the episode’s end, most of the runtime is him either being literally untouchably perfect or frustratingly immobile, so he’s not a particularly compelling protagonist. Maybe we’ll learn why he’s even playing soccer when he’s such a germaphobe in the future, for the moment he just doesn’t seem dedicated or motivated enough in a way that a sports series protagonist really needs to be.

Aoyama-kun could’ve worked if it committed to its comedic angle and took Aoyama-kun’s obsession with cleanliness to absurd extremes. But the series breaks its commitment to its premise by the end of the first episode, showing that Aoyama is capable of getting dirty when he needs to. That really removes the only thing providing a sense of stakes to the sports aspect of the series and mitigates the grounding of the comedy. It’s not unwatchable, and you might get something out of it if you really like chibi-style comedy and shirtless dudes. But I was actually in the mood to watch a soccer anime after reading Shudan!, and it wouldn’t have taken much to get me on board for one. If Aoyama-kun couldn’t endear me, it’s unlikely to impress anyone else.

I do like the ED, which plays homage to classic sports anime aesthetic. If the show was centered around that gimmick, then maybe it’d at least have more charm. – LumRanmaYasha

Fate/Apocrypha

Well, be careful what you wish for...

Well, be careful what you wish for…

This sure was the first episode of a Fate show. Lots of exposition, over explaining the grail war, a needless convoluted conflict between multiple factions, all ending with the summoning of the servants with the final shot being, of course, Saber showing up. Except she’s not the same Saber, but her descendant Mordred, who’s apparently more of a tomboyish shonen character I guess. Honestly, whatever. I liked Fate/Zero and all, but everything else related to the Fate franchise hasn’t impressed me, and I find it hard to believe an A-1 pictures adaptation of a light novel spinoff of the series is going to win me over. At least not in the first episode, which again, is literally just the first episode of every Fate show ever. Hopefully future episodes will make me start caring about the characters and what’s at stake, because right now this just feels like a less visually impressive re-tread of the same story again. – LumRanmaYasha

Fox Spirit Matchmaker

BLAH BLAH BLAH JOKE.

BLAH BLAH BLAH JOKE.

BLAH BLAH BLAH TENCENT

BLAH BLAH BLAH MANHUA

BLAH BLAH BLAH FOX DEITIES

BLAH BLAH BLAH ARRANGED MARRIAGES

BLAH BLAH BLAH FORCED COMEDY

BLAH BLAH BLAH ITS JUST SPIRIT PACT

BLAH BLAH BLAH……………………….AGAIN — Bob Loblaw

Kakegurui

Would you fuck me?

Would you fuck me?

Oh shit, a first episode that I liked! I was genuinely not expecting to enjoy this so much. So Kakegurui, or Compulsive Gambling, is a high school show all about the machinations and agonies of gambling huge amounts of money. People who seem sweet at first become utterly demonic when playing cards, sacrificing millions of yen just to have a chance to mentally break their enemy. Nobody’s really your friend. The caste system is in full effect. Money and the ability to own other people is so important that it goes beyond the evils of regular capitalism and right into old school feudalism. Your future and your debt can rely entirely on underestimating a situation. And the only things that can save you are luck and a miraculously good poker face. In other words, a metaphor for regular high school.

I was astounded by how this episode made a game of rock, paper, scissors horrifying. Every move was treated like a nuclear ultimatum. And what’s worse, the characters enjoy it. They make these disgusting faces, and voice actors normally known for cutesy little sister roles are now hamming it up as megalomaniacs. Hearing Saori Hayami go from sweet sounding to crazed when she gushes over how great it is to gamble away fortunes for the mere thrill. Crazed, calculating, but not exactly yandere so you’re not sure where you stand with her. Kudos to the direction. It felt like one of those wrong hentais but with the sex scenes replaced with card games. Honestly makes me wish more anime took some lessons from porn like Euphoria. I’m not even trying to be facetious. A show that can make children’s games resemble sexual assault in tone knows its influences well.

Oh yeah, the opening and ending are great too, along with the soundtrack. The jazzy undertones and Shinbo-ish imagery really strike at you to show what kind of series this is. – Bloody Marquis

Double Tap

Case in point: Kaiji, Akagi, early Yu-Gi-Oh!, Stardust Crusaders episode 35, and now this show.

Case in point: Kaiji, Akagi, early Yu-Gi-Oh!, Stardust Crusaders episode 35, and now this show.

I’m a sucker for crazy girls who make grotesque faces and over-the-top battles of wit and strategy, so Kakegurui perfectly caters to my tastes. Set in a high school where the social hierarchy is centered around gambling, and you become a slave if you lose all your money, you can either win big or lose big. I love how the main character, Jabami, presents herself as this passive-aggressively polite person even when she’s lost millions of yen, gets off on the thrill of the game, and can bluff her way out of a desperate situation in a way that’d make Jotaro Kujo blush. The antagonist Mary is also such a wonderfully disgusting bitch who’s an unabashed cheater and the faces she makes are just as delightfully disgusting as her personality. This show really feels like if you took the D’Arby poker game in JoJo’s, mixed it with the early parts of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and had Chiaki Kon draw all the faces. It’s a great combination of stylish visuals, great voice acting, snazzy music, and a dark atmosphere that makes this show such great trashy fun. The opening directed by Sayo Yamamoto is the perfect encapsulation of it’s sexy, seductive style. Man, why did Netflix have to pick this up? This is the one show this season that perfectly enraptured me in the thrill of it’s game, one that I highly recommend you give a play. – LumRanmaYasha

Katsugeki! Touken Ranbu

Hasn't Flashpoint taught you that it'll just lead to a really shitty story?

Hasn’t Flashpoint taught you that it’ll just lead to a really shitty story?

This is probably going to be one of the go-to action shows of the season. Ufotable delivers on exciting, visceral action choreography. The actual premise of the show doesn’t matter. Basically sword-wielding time-travelers fight against creepy, crappy CGI monsters interfering with the past. One of the leads is an optimistic altruistic shonen hero and the other is a seasoned badass. There’s a conflict between the two leads in the middle of the episode when a fire threatens to incinerate a village whether they should do something to help, and then they do something to help. Again, the plot doesn’t matter as much as the spectacle does, and for what it’s worth this show is some pretty fine action eye-candy. There’s not much of substance, but it’ll definitely satiate any cravings for over-the-top action schlock you’d want to watch this season. And it’s a hella of a lot better than that other Touken Ranbu show from last year too. – LumRanmaYasha

Knight’s & Magic

Don't be easy, or your beau'll be squeezy.

Don’t be easy, or your abuser be squeezy.

A Japanese geek gets killed by a car. Check.
Japanese guy gets reincarnated into a fantasy society. Check.
He grows up into a cute trap. Check.
His society has giant robots that conveniently look like the ones he obsessed over in his past life for some reason. Check.
Because of his skills as a Japanese man, he has a leg up on the competition. Check.
He’s so skilled that he can invent new forms of magic while he’s still a kid. Check.
Best friends are bastard children from a royal bloodline. Check.
The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this.” is uttered. Check.

Why is it called Knight’s & Magic, as if & Magic was something said Knight owned? Like it was a restaurant chain or a hick shop like Sneed’s Feed & Seed? Oh yeah, grammatically incorrect title. Check.

But besides naming the cliches this show produces faster than most A-1 Pictures factories, this show doesn’t leave much of an impression. It feels like we’ve adapted all the good light novels, then all the legendarily bad light novels, and now we’re stuck with the bad but unremarkable books stuck on the bottom shelf and labeled for clearance. The kind you would use as paperweights instead of actual items worth reading. Besides making some mecha toys to sell, why even make this? There’s no conflict whatsoever. The main character’s born in royalty, has trusted friends, is a genius, and his main dream to ride a robot is near his hands by the first episode. What’s the hook? It’s also weird to see him on the cusp of improving society with his Japanese programming skills, like the mighty white savior trope but it’s now a Japanese guy using his superior knowledge to improve a faux-European society. I can’t tell if that’s better or worse. But given how immature the rest of the writing is, maybe I can count on this show to become as woefully bullheaded as GATE. – BloodyMarquis

Restaurant to Another World

Who knew Smaug really loved beef stew? Maybe if Bilbo had brought him a pot he wouldn't have tried to incinerate him.

Who knew Smaug really loved beef stew? Maybe if Bilbo had brought him a pot he wouldn’t have tried to incinerate him.

I can’t say this slice-of-life fantasy cooking show is as fun as its premise suggests. The concept of fantasy world inhabitants visiting a restaurant in the real world whose door mysteriously appears invites boundless opportunities for fun hijinks. We do kinda see that in the opening sequence where a wizard, two muscly dudes, a lion-man, and a lizard guy start arguing over what goes best with rice. But the series is really laid back, so the comedy never elicits big laughs and the cooking/eating scenes don’t salivate as much as they should. There’s a decent thematic center about food bringing people together and the pleasure of sharing a meal in company, but if that’s all there is to the series then I could point to plenty of better fantasy cooking shows that say the same things in more interesting ways.

I do like the heroine, though it’s kinda cheating since a starving outcast is nearly always sympathetic. Her genuine appreciation of the chef’s kindness and his restaurant’s food might add some more flavor and heart to the show. Not to mention that there’s this Smaug-esque dragon lady who considers the restaurant her “treasure” because they make great beef stew, and her overprotectiveness of it might cause some actual conflict to happen later down the line. So there’s potential here, and even though very little happened in this episode, the show’s laid-back atmosphere and charm was the kind of iyashikei I could see myself relaxing to. If you just want a show that you can just sit down and relax while watching, then this show promises to be satisfying enough option. – LumRanmaYasha

Tsurezure Children

Something tells me you won't have to...

Something tells me you won’t have to…

Tsurezure Children is a breath of fresh air as a rom-com. Rather than focus on frustratingly dense people who can never seem to express their true feelings, it presents a series of vignettes about actual couples. This first episode features not just one, but several couples actually getting together, a step that takes most anime an entire series to do. This show promises to actually explore the awkward in’s-and-out’s of dating from several perspectives and multiple couples. These characters’ feelings feel genuine and seem like good matches for one another, making you want to see how their relationships develop. The show is just infectiously adorable, and I’d bet these sweet series of romances will put a smile to even the most aromantic of souls. Without a doubt, this will be the go-to romance anime of the season, and even with its short-form format it might very well have the potential to go down as one of the best overall. – LumRanmaYasha

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