Halfway through the first cours of most of the anime airing this season, so it’s time to rank them from my least favorite to my most favorite!
8) How to Keep a Mummy
Sora Kashiwagi’s globetrotting father often sends him exotic, cursed objects, so when he receives a package one day in the shape of an Egyptian sarcophagus, he’s not too surprised. What was inside did astonish the high-schooler, though, as if from the grave rose a mummy…a tiny, adorable mummy. Hesitant to welcome it at first, Sora breaks down against the mummy’s relentless cuteness and names the little guy Mii-kun. Equal parts child, little sibling, and pet, Mii-kun is now a resident of the Kashiwagi household and faces his new world with all his impressive adorableness.
Sure, the main characters fall under the usual tropes of all-loving protagonist, jerk with a heart of gold bestie, and…the chick, but they are likable tropes. Plus, all the main characters get their own little supernatural pets. Except Sora’s aunt. She just has a dog. Who is also adorable. That’s basically this show’s schtick. Not a minute goes by without it saying, “Look at how cute this mummy is! Look at it.” And I’m fine with that. It’s an odd, cozy slice-of-lifer. Not the deepest show out there, but it makes you feel content.
7) Maerchen Maedchen
When life gets to be too much for her, Hazuki Kagimura runs away and reads whatever books she has on hand. She finds herself doing this a lot since she’s now in high school without a single friend, and she’s living with her new stepmom and stepsister. They’re not mean to her–quite the opposite, actually. Hazuki is just so inept at socializing she has no idea how to talk to or get to know anyone. After seeing a mysterious girl one day, though, Hazuki fights her own nature and works up the courage to talk to the stranger. Turns out the girl’s name is Shizuka Tsuchimikado, and she’s one of the most powerful mages–or Maedchen–in the magic world. One thing leads to another, and Hazuki soon finds herself naked in the magic school contracted to a magic book. Yeah.
I can’t quite explain why I’m still watching this show. I think a lot of it has to do with the mages in this world drawing their powers from stories (ex. Cinderella, Princess Kaguya, The Pied Piper, etc.), and that’s pretty neat. But I also think Hazuki herself is a big part. She’s a solid lead. Cripplingly shy with a strong desire to get over it, and so well-read she recognizes the faults in the “established” stories and chooses not to follow them to the letter. The other characters are fun, too, but Hazuki stands pretty clearly above them. The show can drag, though. It took six episodes for Hazuki to unlock her transformation for the Hexennacht–the big witch tournament. There’s also a notable dip some–wait. Did I type–?!
6) After the Rain
Stricken with the condition known as “resting bitch face,” Akira Tachibana isn’t an easily approachable person. This got worse when a leg injury forced her to retire from her high school’s track team and she fell into a depression. A silver lining did soon appear, though. One day as she took shelter in a family restaurant to get out of the rain, the affable manager, Masami Kondo, gave her a free coffee and let her be. This act of kindness compelled Akira to start working part-time at the same restaurant in order to get to know the man better. Kondo’s a middle-aged single father who likes books, is nice to a fault, and really just wants to be liked by his staff despite being a goof. Somehow, though, Akira can’t help but fall in love with him.
I can see how the love story here would put a lot of people off. Hell, I almost didn’t watch it because of that exact reason. But, I saw one gif of Akira looking out at the track field from her desk, and it just looked so good! And hey, the romance isn’t really worse than the one in Ancient Magus’ Bride (although you could argue Kondo knows better than Elias and should nip it in the bud). It really wouldn’t work if Akira and Kondo weren’t both so likable. Kondo especially. As much as I like Akira, she acts very impulsively and is fairly possessive of Kondo despite simply having a crush on him (so, you know…she’s a teenager). Kondo, though, is just the best. He can’t see himself as desirable to anyone (don’t know yet if it’s just “I’m an old man,” or if his divorce has anything to do with it), and you can see life in his eyes and posture sometimes. Plus, he’s a goofball. I shouldn’t like the main romance, but the anime’s made me anyway.
Despite making her friends think she’s well-versed in the ways of love, high schooler Yuzu Aihara has never had a single boyfriend. The secret will keep, though, as she soon moves and transfers to an all-girls’ school thanks to her mother’s remarriage. Being pretty caring and laid back, Yuzu is taking it all well. She’s happy for her mom and looks forward to meeting her new dad and little sister. But, the first day at her new school didn’t go too well. She’s reprimanded by the cold student council president, Mei Aihara, who also confiscates her phone after a…thorough pat-down. Yuzu doesn’t get much time to dwell on her disastrous first day when she gets home and finds out she doesn’t just share a last name with Mei–Mei’s her (not so) little sister! Which makes it real weird when Mei kisses her, and Yuzu finds herself thinking more and more about her new sister in a very non-sisterly way.
So, I ain’t gonna say this is better than After the Rain. The romance here is…arguably more taboo since it’s step-sisters, and Mei kinda…forces that first kiss between herself and Yuzu. It’s trashy. But it’s the enjoyable sort of trashy. The two leads have some very questionable and uncomfortable interactions, but it’s clear they’re growing and learning through it all. Mei is also dealing with a lot of stuff. Doesn’t excuse most of her actions, but it gives the audience some reasoning behind them. And Yuzu is immensely likable. She’s discovering more about herself thanks to Mei, but she’s trying hard to be a good big sister while also…lusting after her little sister. Helps that the art style’s great, too. Oh, and Harumin. All hail Harumin.
4) Dagashi Kashi 2
Despite Hotaru Shidare’s feminine wiles, Kokonotsu “Coconuts” Shikada still isn’t keen on inheriting his family’s dagashi shop–Shikada Dagashi. Still though, he’s enjoying his summer having fun with the enigmatic dagashi fan-girl Hotaru and his two childhood friends, twins Saya and Tou Endou. Unfortunately, this isn’t Danville, so summer does come to an end, and as quickly as she appeared, Hotaru vanishes without a word to her friends. That sucks for Kokonotsu, and it only gets worse when a brand new convenience store opens up right across the way. What’s a teenage aspiring mangaka running a Japanese candy store supposed to do?
Despite it not being all that good, I really love the first season of Dagashi Kashi. I’m sure a good bit of it has to do with Hotaru’s unbelievably attractive character design, but the rest of the cast and their shenanigans really endeared the show to me. I felt for Kokonotsu being torn between chasing his dream or running the family’s store as Hotaru wants. I’d also root for Saya as she continually tries to catch Kokonotsu’s eye and often overtakes Hotaru for throne of Best Girl. And Tou’s just an amusing little twerp. That said, this season bummed me out when they cut the episode length down by half. Every time I feel like I’m getting into an episode, it’s over. Plus, Hotaru’s absence is very noticeable when she leaves the show early on. The manager of the new convenience store seems prime to take up the weirdo friendly antagonist slot, and Owari Hajime (another attractive character) is sure to be a delight. It’s hard to get over that episode length, though.
3) Killing Bites
College student Yuuya Nomoto really needs some different friends. The ones whom he drove around to “pick up chicks” wind up snatching a high school girl and try to rape her while forcing Yuuya to drive their van. He eventually stops in order to save her, but it turns out he didn’t need to. The girl, Hitomi Uzaki, killed them. Just as Yuuya thinks he’s about to experience the same fate, Hitomi instead drags him to a junkyard and forces him to be her sponsor for an underground series of fights between the top criminal organizations in Japan–Killing Bites. A ridiculous amount of money and prestige are on the line, but the Killing Bites has changed radically in the past few years. The competitors are now “Brutes”–human/animal hybrids created almost solely for the Killing Bites. Hitomi’s about to make her debut, so everyone sees her as a rookie. Little do they know she actually harbors the DNA of the most fearsome, vicious killing machine in the animal world! For Hitomi is Brute Ratel! A…honey badger.
Remember how I said Citrus is pretty trashy? Well, Killing Bites is just trash. Really. The characters and world exist solely for the purpose to display cool fights, a lot of blood, and shapely boobs and bottoms. And I’m fine with that. Show knows exactly what it is and revels in it. Character designs really are fine, soundtrack is catchy as hell, quite a few of the jokes actually hit, and the fights are pretty fun. Plus, Yuuya is laughably useless, and everyone often reminds him of it. My main complaint is how much rape is used for villain shorthand. Really don’t have to go that far to establish someone as a piece of sh*t. Also, Hitomi’s catchphrase gets kinda old kinda fast. And, yes, some of the fanservice is lazy, but most of it is pretty good. I can’t in good conscience call this show a masterpiece…yet.
2) Darling in the Franxx
Hiro lives in a pretty bad future. Humanity has been forced to live in militaristic Plantations and pilot giant mechs in order to combat creatures known as klaxosaurs. The mechs are called Franxx and can only be piloted by compatible boy-girl pairs who are raised for that sole purpose. The kids don’t even get names! Hiro just gave himself and his friends names because he felt like it. Unfortunately for him, he’s incapable of piloting a Franxx now due to the sudden incompatibility between him and his partner. Having lost his purpose in life, Hiro skips his graduation ceremony and winds up meeting Zero Two, an infamous horned Franxx pilot who’s alleged to have killed all of her former partners. Hiro sparks (or sparxx) her interest, though, and she picks him for her new “darling.” The two seem to have found something in each other, and maybe–just maybe–these crazy kids can fly away now.
Darling in the Franxx piqued my curiosity at “mech anime made by Trigger,” but they demanded my attention at “doggy style mech piloting.” Yeah. New savior of anime. Mech shows have almost always had a subtext of puberty/sex set against the backdrops of war or the apocalypse or what-have-you. Teens piloting giant robots and feeling frisky just seem to go hand in hand. Franxx has probably taken that to its logical conclusion. Aside from that gimmick, I enjoy everything else about the show. Characters, mechs, and backgrounds look great (I mean, it’s Trigger). The world-building has me pretty interested in the cowardice of the adults, the magma weapons, the seeming lack of sexual knowledge among everyone, and what exactly the klaxosaurs are. I’m all in for this ride. I do feel like I’m waiting for the pin to drop most of the time.
1) Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san
No matter what he does, Nishikata can’t get one up on his desk neighbor Takagi. Every day, Takagi finds new ways of embarrassing him and making him blush. Nothing malicious, but she seems to know how he thinks and reacts to almost every situation. It really does seem like her favorite pastime is messing with him. Which is fine with Nishikata. He likes trying to come up with ways to outwit her. Poor dense kid just doesn’t realize the cutest girl in his class spends most of her time interacting with him and what exactly that probably means.
This is the cutest freaking show. I love these two kids. Nishikata’s such a goodhearted, naive little dude, and Takagi’s a sly, witty girl with a penchant for pranks. I don’t even care each episode is four smaller segments. Just means I get to see these two in multiple situations every week. Their relationship is just so charming. Each has such an obvious crush on the other their entire class already thinks they’re dating. I also get get a kick out of the three girls in their class who get one segment in every episode. They remind me a lot of the girls from The Daily Lives of High School Boys. But yeah, more than a second season of a show I really like, more than a furry T&A mafia battle royale, more than giant robots piloted via two people in doggy style…. I love Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san. I can only call it cute, adorable, and charming so many times. It’s just good stuff.
And that’ll do it. A week late, but here it is. Really wanted to keep the number of shows I’m watching down, so there are a few I’m gonna check out when they’re finished (ex. A Place Further Than the Universe and Violet Evergarden).
Don’t know what my next post will be, but we’ll get there when we get there.
Peace out, and stay bizarre.