Oh man, y’all, this post is so late (“How late is it?!”) it might be missing a period or two
So, yeah, meant to have this out when everything I’m watching this season hit six episodes, but that took a bit longer than usual because March Comes in Like a Lion 2nd Season started a week later than all the others. That was problem the first. Problem B is that when March‘s sixth episode finally aired, holiday hours kicked in at work and…I got distracted (i.e. I’m a professional crastinator).
A small bit of housekeeping before we get into the usual proceedings: I actually dropped two shows. Made it three episodes into King’s Game until I called it quits, and then I somehow survived six episodes of Asta’s incessant yellching (that, dear reader, is a portmanteau of “yelling” and “screeching”) in Black Clover before giving up. Once again, no Elegant Yokai Apartment Life since it’s in its second cour (quickly though, it’s very okay).
Six (or eight) episodes in, so here are my least hype to most hype anime this season!
7) Juni Taisen
Let’s play Count the Dead People.
Every 12 years a competition is held where 12 mercenaries–each representing an animal in the Chinese zodiac–gather together to fight to the death. It’s something of a war in miniature with the sole survivor gaining prestige and one wish granted. During this twelfth tournament, each of the warriors swallows a poison jewel that will kill them in 12 hours unless they can kill the others and collect their jewels. Everybody, clap your hands!
This is one that I was gonna pass on…and I kinda wish I had. Other than those hella cool and attractive character designs, Nisioisin’s name is what got me to check it out. I love the two Zaregoto books we got over here in the states years ago, the Monogatari franchise, and the Katanagatari anime, so I had to give it a shot. I love the characters. I really do. It’s just after the first few episodes, the action seems to be few and far between and the plot feels like it plods along. Plus, kinda sucks seeing characters you like die constantly and in brutal fashion.
I hope it picks up near the end. ‘Cuz right now, it’s not doing much for me.
6) Two Car
Gal pals on bikes.
Motorcycle sidecar racing is a unique sport in that it takes two individuals to really function as one as the specially designed bikes require the passenger to balance the machine for all of its turns and brakes and the driver to…drive. Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro are two sidecar racers living on the speed mecca Miyakejima Island. The two high school girls have one goal–win this year’s sidecar race and go on to compete in the Isle of Mann TT where their coach will be racing. The two have their fair share of rivals and friends to overcome, though, and it won’t be easy. Especially since they don’t like each other that much.
Found out I’ve seen a lot of Silver Link anime. So…yeah. That’s a thing. Anyway, I obviously decided to watch this because it’s cute girls doing sports things! Gotta say, I’m enjoying it quite a bit. My major complaint is that it’s being really formulaic by focusing on one team at a time in two-episode arcs (which also slows the show down), but I’m hoping that changes real soon. There are a few deep and heartwarming moments here and there, but I think I find it more humorous than anything else. The one team that seems to be pretty blatant lesbians are a delight. They get a gag at least once an episode where they misread each other in fantastic fashion but dance it off afterward.
Also, there hasn’t been a male character with a face show up yet. That’s just funny to me. The coach the two main girls are crushing on is a faceless dude who could be anybody. Classic.
5) Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World
Born to be wiiiiiiiiiiiild!
Kino is just a traveler. Well, she’s a gun-toting traveler who goes from country to country riding her anthropomorphic motorcycle–known as a “motorrad”–named Hermes. She’s just out to see the world one country at a time. She only spends three days and two nights in each one for fear of getting the urge to settle down. Along the way, she and Hermes encounter a number of odd cultures and even more fascinating people. “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.”
Were I in the habit of making these lists pre-season, this new adaptation of Kino’s Journey would’ve been very near the top. I’ve never seen the others, but I’ve heard enough to know I’d be a fan. So, I had high hopes going in. Unfortunately, it hasn’t lived up to those lofty expectations. It’s still good, but there seems to be a giant disconnect between what’s going on and what the intended message is. I love seeing the strange countries and each one’s different laws, but I think the point of most of them gets lost in their respective stories.
I still plan on watching the 2003 version despite how letdown I’ve felt about this iteration so far. Once again, though, I am still enjoying it.
4) March Comes in Like a Lion 2nd Season
All that shogi and depression just makes you feel warm inside.
Rei Kiriyama is still recovering from his loss in his last major tournament and his new mentor’s loss against the Meijin at the end of the previous season. His school life is going surprisingly well as he enjoys his club and confides more in his teacher. The main light in his otherwise depressed life, though, is the Kawamoto household. Although fairly poor, the three sisters and their grandfather are full of warmth and love. This haven isn’t as sunny anymore; however, as the middle sister, Hinata, is dealing with bullies at school. In order to repay the sisters for all they’ve done for him, Rei is more determined than ever to win all of his matches and become a true shogi master.
Okay, so maybe “a true shogi master” is stretching it a bit for someone as normally unambitious as Rei, but it had a nice ring to it. Dawns on me now that I didn’t talk about March Comes in Like a Lion when I watched the first season last year (guess I started it way late). So, here it is: I really, really like it. It’s Shaft doing a shogi anime that thoroughly explores depression and familial bonds. Boy, oh boy, has my heart ached quite a few times during this show. But, I’ve also laughed quite a bit, too. This second season has surprised me by focusing on Hina’s story and the very real and serious problem of bullying in schools. I already liked her, but damn if she isn’t becoming one of my favorite characters right now. The Kawamoto sisters are just the best.
If you haven’t watched the first season, then you should definitely check it out. And then, of course, get in on that good season two ish.
3) Recovery of an MMO Junkie
WOW, it’s good! (I love bad jokes.)
At 30 years of age, Moriko Morioka makes the odd decision to quit her job and become a NEET. Tired of dealing with the stress of the real world, Moriko returns to an old love of hers–MMOs. She joins one called Fruits de Mer as a male character named Hayashi. She has a rough time at first, but an absurdly cute character named Lily starts helping her and introduces her to more players. Moriko finds herself fulfilled in her new online life, but the real world comes back for her once again as she literally runs into the handsome businessman Yuuta Sakurai. What seemed to be a one-off meeting quickly starts to become something more, as Moriko and Sakurai can’t help but find each other very familiar….
I’ma be real here, it was difficult arranging these top three. Recovery could easily have been second or first if I’d done this earlier or later. I’m really enjoying this show. Moriko is definitely Best Girl of Fall 2017, and the other characters are pretty great, too. It does a great job of showing how important relationships built online can really be in this day and age. No one completely neglects their real lives (well, maybe Moriko a bit), but their lives online are shown to be just as fulfilling and healthy as ones outside the internet can be. Plus, it’s got that good romance stuff in there, and y’all know how much I like that romance stuff.
It’s a standout this season for me, and I hope more people give it a watch.
2) Food Wars! The Third Plate
COOKING IS SUPER COOL, YO.
No rest for the wickedly good at cooking as the students of Totsuki Academy must now prepare to run food stalls at the annual Moon Festival. It’s not mandatory, but Souma Yukihira recognizes a challenge when he sees one and vows to beat the Seventh Seat of the Elite Ten Terunori Kuga in sales over the festival’s four days. It all seems to be standard shenanigans for the culinary masters of tomorrow, but something dark lurks around the corner. The man who honed Erina Nakiri’s God Tongue–Erina’s father–Azami Nakiri is returning to the Academy, and he plans to rule it with an iron pan.
(Look, I wanted to make a cooking joke at the end of the paragraph, okay?)
Gotta admit, I wasn’t feeling Third Plate at first. It was good stuff, for sure. It just felt very re-introductory. It’s at the end of the Moon Festival arc and the beginning of the next one where this season really starts to feel like Food Wars! again. I had genuinely forgotten what it felt like to need the next episode of Food Wars!. The introduction of an actual Big Bad certainly helped, I think. Azami is a despicable person, and I eagerly await his downfall. God bless this show.
If I find Third Plate to be a true return to form for one of the best modern shonen, then what could I possibly be enjoying more this season?
1) The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Single woman seeks good, horned demon skull-faced ancient man.
By the age of 15, Chise Hatori has faced so much trauma and seen so much darkness in her life that she’s sold herself into slavery hoping to find someone who actually wants her. Enter the tall, impossibly old British mage Elias Ainsworth. Elias purchases Chise for an incredible sum since she is a Sleigh Beggy–a being with limitless potential for magic–and intends to make her both his apprentice and bride. Where before Chise’s powers brought her only misery and heartbreak, she’s now entered a world where she’s not only useful, she’s one of the most desired beings around.
If there’s one anime that tries to make love to your eyes and ears with its visuals and soundtrack, it’s The Ancient Magus’ Bride. It’s just so pretty, and that music is so damn good! I was interested in it after checking out the prequel OVA, but it was actually reading the creator’s other translated work Frau Faust that got me really hype for this anime. I’ve been loving it to pieces. It’s a pretty neat version of a “Beauty and the Beast” story, and it’s world and its inhabitants are so varied and realized.
I wasn’t sure if Magus would be my number one, but I find myself really needing every episode.
Not the best season I’ve been around for, but those top three tick so many of my boxes. Don’t know what my next post will be, but as always…
Peace out, and stay bizarre.