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

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<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

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