Man, the shows are just so weird this season, what with their odd airing schedules.
So this part of the previews is obviously late, and I’m struggling to figure out how I’m going to do my weekly “thoughts”. Given the number of shows on my list, I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut a couple off. What makes it even more tricky is that more than half of the shows I’m watching air on Saturday in Japan… I mean, really? Sheesh.
Anyway, say hello to four more titles up for preview. These prodigal misfits include a boy and a cat, a boy and several girls, a girl and several more girls, and a girl and two boys. Yeah, not much help as far as descriptors go, so let’s DO THIS!
Natsume Yûjinchô Roku
Yes, I was very hard on Natsume Yûjinchô last season, so it goes without saying that I had my critic’s cap on whilst watching the premiere episode of its ostensible sixth season. And gosh-golly-wow was this a great premiere! I love how the show is finally utilizing Natsume’s backstory as something more tangible. For much of the franchise, Natsume’s dark past has always been a sort of play on nostalgia, often bringing up the topic as one would something they rather not bring up given the choice. In this episode, however, Taki and Tanuma are literally brought face-to-face with the traumatized youth and what his battered psyche has shaped him up to be. This was a very vulnerable Natsume with actual trust issues that were played both sensitively and realistically. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better premier episode than this from the franchise. My only request now is please, please maintain this level of consistency for the remainder of the season! Initial Rating: 9/10
Shûmatsu Nani Shitemasu Ka? Isogashii Desu Ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu Ka?
Holy-tedious-titles-batman! Yeah, I’m only writing the full name of this show for now, but people are apparently short-cutting it to Sukasuka, which sounds both silly and like the word for “vinegar vomit” in Filipino. Oh well, gotta live with it. Anyway, when I said I wanted to watch a fantasy show for a change, THIS was the kind of show I was looking for. I find it very intriguing that the show starts with what could arguably be the end of the story — a common tactic by most modern standards — but for the purposes of this pilot screening, I think it did a great job of reeling me in. The environment was immersive, and the protagonist was obnoxious enough not to be entirely detestable. Part of me has some reservations for the pseudo-haremesque setup with children in it, but I think the opening scene was a good reminder that there’s some reasonable amount of development that’s going to happen. This, however, needs to be balanced between effective plot establishment and whatever elements of slice-of-life it plans on injecting. This has been an ongoing problem for not just shows of this nature, but for most dramatic stories in anime, in general. I understand that the Japanese have a greater reliance on character-attachment and development than most western productions would allow, but too much of it and you end up with a wishy-washy story that fails to make any impact — especially in what is ostensibly a fantasy show. But that’s just me rambling about my insecurities with the title. To be fair, it has my interest, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this will take me. Initial Rating: 7.5/10
Sword Oratoria: Is it Wrong to Try Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side
Dear Japan: Long ass titles — stop it. But seriously, I was sorta surprised when I heard the Spring 2015 cult-hit Danmachi was getting a spin off sequel. By its nature, the series is an isekai world, only without any overt world-switching between members of the cast. The only thing overtly isekai about this setup is that the world of Danmachi follows a level/dungeon system similar to shows like Sword Art Online, what with characters collecting experience and having to traverse dungeons in order to get to deeper levels with higher-leveled monsters. There is nothing totally innovative about this show other than its level of fan service, which for its original run was provided by our ribbon-toting goddess Hestia — a character whose wardrobe was so incredibly inventive, it sparked real-world debates regarding whether or not breasts could actually be supported by a blue ribbon tied between one’s arms. But that was the original season. For this spin-off, there seems to be nothing of particular note, other than the fact that it’s interlaced with scenes from the original show as if attempting to prove its relevance. What confuses me more is that the show seems to be promoting not just Ais, but even Lefiya as its ostensible protagonists. I’m not sure how I feel about having to split the attention between these two characters, but as it stands Ais is a placeholder kûdere character that isn’t as much compelling as she is just tropey. The whole show sells itself by the sheer magnitude of its tropes, and tugs on the heartstrings of fans of Danmachi without necessarily giving itself any reason for its existence in this premier episode alone. In short, this was very weaksauce. I enjoyed the original because it was silly-funny. This show, so far, is just flat out boring. Initial Rating: 5.5/10
The premier episode of Fukumenkei Noise is perhaps one of those prime examples where withholding context and background information on character motives works AGAINST the purposes of storytelling. The story basically revolves around one Alice, who by means yet to be fully explained by the narrative, finds herself re-united with two boys she had a thing for back when she was a kid. I understand that there’s some amount of dramatic reveal that’s being explored in this first episode alone, but the ultimate result was that it drew up Alice to be both fickle-minded and ill-spirited. To use more crude language, she came off as a little slutty. And I hate to use that sort of language, but that’s really how I felt regarding Alice’s portrayal, which I’m very sure is not supposed to be the intended execution. Otherwise, I really like the in-your-face art style and free-hand cinematography during musical interludes. The music was also quite refreshing, reminding me of JIN, who was responsible for the Kagerou Days project. But yeah, this is basically a love triangle involving a girl who can’t stop singing even when it’s not appropriate, a boy who can’t make up his mind, and another boy who’s playing the “too cool for this shit” attitude. I dunno, it smells like a cheap teenage romance that’s trying too hard to be different. Not that that’s bad or anything — it’s just not really my cup of tea. Initial Rating: 6/10
Whew, that’s over and done with. I’ll try and get some weekly thoughts done over the weekend to share with you guys. Until then, ciao!