Seasonal Sawce: This 2017 Summer Animain’t No Bummer, Part 2

This is the second of three posts that will close out the 2017 Summer of Anime.  Don’t worry; I’m not cheating.  All of these have been finished.  I’m just slow when it comes to writing stuff.  *Looks at the Drafts tab and apologizes to Digi-Ramblings again.*

This time around we have seven anime to talk about.  No Elegant Yokai Apartment Life since it’s still going, though.  Without further ado, let’s get to the anime I watched during the summer season of anime and rank ’em from worst to best.

Knight’s and Magic

30 Knight's and Magic

If only we’d gotten more D…wait.

This was a consistently underwhelming show.  I hate to say that because I normally really enjoy isekai and mech series.  Knight’s and Magic was just…there.  I guess the only thing that struck me as neat was depicting the two weapons engineers as the driving forces of the war.  Even then, there’s something a bit wrong with that, right?  Like, our main character, Ernesti, never bats an eye when he kills people.  He’s smiling and laughing and reveling at piloting a mech better than the soldiers he’s massacring.  And he’s a kid.  Everything rang dissonant in this anime.

Hell, the most fascinating character arc was relegated way into the background.  Dietrich “D” Cunitz ran like the coward he was in the first big fight of the series.  Thought he was just a spineless creep, but by the time the series ends he’s become one of the finest knights in his order.  Fleeing that fight haunts and drives him to become better and never abandon his allies again.  But he was the least important protagonist of the, like, ten or so.  The most interesting part about the show was a sidenote.

I dunno, y’all.  There’s nothing glaringly bad here, but it’s all mostly just been done before and better.  I’ll give it a 5.5.

My First Girlfriend Is a Gal

25 My First Girlfriend Is a Gal

That’s the show.

Did I expect better?  Oh, heavens no.  Did I want better?  Well, yeah.  My First Girlfriend Is a Gal just didn’t succeed as the sex comedy it wanted to be.  Much like with Knight’s and Magic, pretty much everything the show has had been done much better elsewhere.  But, this anime actually entertained me.  I wouldn’t call it good, but I did look forward to it every week.  Sure, the girls are mostly great, but the main draw for me was the main couple.

Junichi is established early as a sh*tty dude who only asked out Yukana because she’s hot and his friends pranked him into it.  So, it was a little off-putting to see her being genuinely interested in him while he remained kinda sh*tty.  But, credit where credit’s due–he grows as a character and comes to love Yukana for the actual person she is on the inside.  Not the best start to a relationship, but I like where it’s heading.  Just wish it was in a better anime.

And, honestly, most of my disdain for this anime stems from Junichi’s friends.  Especially the fat one.  He’s a pedophile, and it’s played as a joke consistently throughout the show’s ten-episode run.  It’s not funny.  It’s gross.

It’s a 6.  Objectively, it’s worse than Knight’s and Magic, but subjectively, it had more than one character I cared about.

A Centaur’s Life

29 A Centaur's Life

This is not the snake girl Monster Musume promised me.

The previous two anime on this list are ones I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.  Yeah, I gave them positive-ish scores, but I’m usually pretty nice when it comes to that stuff.  I would suggest checking out A Centaur’s Life, though.  Probably to very specific people, but still.  For such an easy-going slice-of-life show, it has some really cool world-building.  Everything looks like nice and pristine, and there’s so much put in there to accommodate the various body types of the world’s denizens.  But, it’s continually hinted that such order is only maintained through strict laws about racism and prejudice.  There’s even an episode that follows a young boy in World War 2 to see how it played out there, and another that follows a frog-man visiting his home country after he’d been raised abroad.  Legitimately solid world-building.  For reals.

That’s easily the biggest draw for A Centaur’s Life.  I do mostly like the characters.  They’re a fun cast of teenagers who happen to have tails, wings, horns, etc.  There’s just something missing, though.  I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe it’s just not as funny or as feels-y as I like my slice-of-life shows to get.  I guess they just put all their efforts into building the world and forgot to give the characters the heart they’d need to carry the show.

I think I’ll go with a 6.5 leaning toward a 7 here.  I love the world-building a lot, but it doesn’t have that special something to make it fully click with people.

Restaurant to Another World

26 Restaurant to Another World

Amen.

When the isekai genre meets the food porn genre, you get Restaurant to Another World.  I never necessarily looked that forward to it every week, but I enjoyed every episode.  The world-building isn’t as in-depth as A Centaur’s Life.  Restaurant succeeds with its characters, though.  They have the heart, stories, and lives that the former anime was missing.  I appreciate the history and culture in Centaur, but Restaurant always knew to give enough to get me interested in pretty much everything in the other world.  That’s unfortunately a double-edged sword here.

The little snippets of the characters’ lives and homes are good.  But, you always want more.  Not enough happens.  Everyone has a little story of how they find the door to Nekoya, they eat some food, they love it, and then they leave.  That’s pretty much every episode.  Each of the cultures the beings come from are neat from what we’re given.  It’s just never enough.  I desperately wanted to see more than two of the legendary dragons and to explore more of their world.  This isn’t that kind of anime, though.

I’m giving Restaurant to Another World a 7 because I really like what it did right, but I can’t get over how much I wish it would’ve done.

Fastest Finger First

27 Fastest Finger First

Nerding is serious business.

First sports anime I’ve ever watched where I actually competed in said sport…even if it’s just quiz bowl.  It’s still real to me, dammit!  Yes, obviously Fastest Finger First struck a chord with me, which might explain why I loved it much more than I assume most people did.  It made me remember the days of memorizing questions from year to year, trying to predict how certain questions will go, and practicing every week with my school’s academic team.  Fun times, y’all.  Fun times.

I thoroughly appreciated the unique rules of the tournament in the show’s second half.  The written exam, the two-person teams, the semi-free-for-all where you could subtract another competitor’s points, and then finally, the classic fastest finger first showdown.  Loved it.  Loved the characters, too.  Pidge (I’m just calling him Pidge) is a solid lead whose background makes him both well-suited and a little handicapped when it comes to competing in quiz bowls.  I’m glad Mari is more than just the romantic interest in that she can more than hold her own in competitions, but I wish her voice actress had more experience.  Too often her line delivery felt stiff.  I also love all the rivals that are set up in a dominating yet reachable fashion.

Since I lived the life of a high school quiz bowler, this one’s an easy 8 out of 10 for me.  I love the subject matter and characters, but I wish it’d been longer and had more time to develop its whole cast.

Classroom of the Elite

31 Classroom of the Elite

He’s not exactly a people person.

You could accuse Classroom of the Elite of being up its own butt.  I, however, had a lot of fun watching it.  I don’t think Kiyotaka is the best “better than everyone else at everything secret badass” main protagonist out there, but I do think he holds his own.  He’s not really out to help people (or he believes he isn’t), and he’s not looking to make friends.  He’s here to win.  However he was raised, he seems to have this compulsion to succeed at any challenge presented to him.  I’m genuinely curious to see how his story–and those of his classmates–plays out in a second season I really hope happens.  Given his tactic of remaining in the background while allowing others to take credit for his victories, you can’t help but compare him to Hachiman of Oregairu.  Actually, the two main-ish female characters seem to be subversions of Yukino and Yui’s character types.  Probably wasn’t intentional, but they are strikingly similar.

As much I love the characters, it’s the miniature battlefields they compete on that really sucked me in.  There’s so much politicking and strategizing going on, it’s fun to figure out what exactly all the students are up to.  Hell, it looks like even the teachers are playing a larger game.  The second half’s big story sees the four first year classes left on an island to survive for a week, and it was great wondering how each of the leaders were trying to out-maneuver the others.

I’m actually gonna leave this one at an 8.  I enjoyed it and Fastest Finger First about the same amount, so I had to struggle deciding which one to put ahead of the other.  Classroom just edged it out because of best girl Airi Sakura.

Gamers!

33 Gamers!

Where is the lie, though?

And to think I wasn’t gonna watch Gamers!.  Yeah, it stayed my favorite show from beginning to end.  I love rom-coms, but the tropes can get tired after a while.  Keeping true to its name, Gamers! plays with all the cliches and ups them as far as they can go.  And the misunderstandings that would normally make a drama instead make this a genuinely funny comedy.  Different characters think there’s a love pentagon when there’s only a love triangle…or love square, really.  Like I said last timeGamers! is Shakespearean.

I love the main characters and want the best for them.  Even while I’m rooting for Keita and Karen in their odd relationship where they clearly like each other but they’re both convinced the other’s just going through the motions, I can’t help but hope Chiaki can somehow win over the impossibly desirable Keita.  And Aguri and Tasuku’s budding love (even though they’ve been dating for some time before the show begins) is delightful fun to watch.  Chiaki’s little sister Konoha showing up as her wingman was also a welcome addition.

Although a lot is taken to extremes for comedy, Gamers! remains one of the more realistic shows I’ve seen since teenagers do always misread each other and try to figure out what everyone’s up to.  Gamers! also has my favorite soundtrack and art style of all the shows featured in this post.  It gets a 9.  Everything just clicked for me here.

That’s it for all the shows I started and finished this season.  There are still a few short series I plan on checking out now that they’re over, and I’ve got one more post on the way to wrap up this year’s Summer of Anime.

Plus ultra, y’all.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

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Seasonal Sawce: This 2017 Summer Animain’t No Bummer, Part 1

Ah, summer.  The best time to watch anime because the sun punishes those who dare step outside their doors.

Since every anime I’m watching is now at least six episodes in, it’s time to take a look and list them from the one I’m least hype for every week to the one I’m most hype for.  Essentially, my least favorite to most favorite.  This season I almost got an Amazon Anime Strike subscription, but those greedy SOBs can suck it.  Also, Netflix seems to hate their subscribers who like anime, so nothing from there either.

Let’s get to it.

8) Knight’s and Magic

Knight's and Magic

Because poor literacy is cool.

Some nerd dies in a car accident in our world, but–as in so many other anime–that’s not quite the end for him.  He winds up being reincarnated as the androgynous son of a noble family, Ernesti Echavalier, in another world where knights pilot mechs called Silhouette Knights to fight demon beasts.  Somehow Ernesti’s vague recollections of his past life building mech model kits make him a savant of sorts as he designs, builds, and pilots these magic mechs better than everyone else.  And he’s 12.

Okay, so, on the plus side time passes quickly.  I think over a year has passed in the first six or seven episodes of Knight’s and Magic (that title will never not bug me).  Also, whenever the kid surprises everyone with his magic and mech mastery, it can be cool.  Other than that, this is pretty basic.  It’s an isekai show.  Down to the letter.  Nerd becomes surprisingly cool badass in fantasy land and all kneel before his superior nerdery.

I guess it’s harmless for the most part.

7) Restaurant to Another World

Restaurant to Another World

In Soviet Russia, restaurant goes to you!

There’s a quaint little eatery called Western Restaurant Nekoya situated in an unimpressive nook in a shopping district.  The patrons love the food, though, thanks to the owner’s impressive cooking skills.  Nekoya’s closed to its normal clientele on weekends because every Saturday the door to the restaurant appears in various locations in another world populated by elves, demons, dragons, and the like.  These denizens of this fantasy world also love Nekoya’s food and treat it as a neutral zone if usual enemies happen to be dining at the same time.  This is all extremely fascinating to Nekoya’s first waitress–a demon girl named Aletta–since she’s never been met with such kindness nor tasted food so wonderful.

Don’t let its spot so close to the bottom discourage you.  Restaurant to Another World is a perfectly competent show.  It blends the isekai genre with the fresh, flourishing food-porn genre of anime.  It looks good, and the characters are all likable.  (Especially the dragon Red Queen…. What?  I have a weakness for redheads.)  The reason it’s this low is that nothing really happens.  People come in and eat.  We get some backstory to flesh out the magical world a bit, but that’s it.  There’s no story or development so far.  And yeah, you could argue that’s just slice of life, but even that genre has a goal or a growing relationship that brings the audience back.  This just has fantasy beings eating omelets and cutlets and whatnot.

It’s a fine cooldown anime, but I just wish there were more meat on this bone.  (Get that?  That’s a food joke right there!)

6) Elegant Yokai Apartment Life

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life

I keep thinking he’s wearing a soccer jersey.

Three years ago, Yuushi Inaba moved in with his uncle’s family after his parents died in a car accident.  Although they loved him, Inaba knew he was a massive strain on his uncle’s family.  Now that he’s entering high school, Inaba has chosen a school with a dorm so that he can move out of his uncle’s house.  As luck would have it, though, the dorms are burnt down and will take six months to be rebuilt and reopened.  The poor kid is finally able to find an affordable apartment in the old building Kotobuki-so.  It almost seems to good to be true.  His room is cozy, the food is delicious, there’s a cute girl who lives on his floor, the ghosts are friendly, the…wait.

Maybe it’s just me, but Elegant Yokai Apartment Life feels like it was supposed to come out in the early aughts.  The designs for the humans and otherworldly beings, the music, the tone, the eyecatches, etc.  Like, this is something I would’ve seen on Adult Swim or Tech TV or something.  Anyway, I’m enjoying it so far.  I admire Inaba’s drive to strike out on his own, and the residents of Monster House are a lot of fun.  I also appreciate how the show is not afraid to get super dark at times.  I do wish the animation was better and that everything would just flow more smoothly.

If you’ve been hankering for some cute occult anime, then you could do a lot worse.

5) My First Girlfriend Is a Gal

My First Girlfriend Is a Gal

Dress code at their school must be pretty lax.

Junichi Hashiba isn’t exactly a piece of sh*t, but he’s pretty close.  His friends are actual excrement, and even though he frowns on their shenanigans, he tends to go along with them.  One such shenanigan sees his three sh*tty pals put a fake confession letter in the locker of the gal in their class, Yukana Yame.  Junichi shows up to the promised confession location hoping to at least get pity sex from the allegedly easy gal, but there is no such luck for him.  She pretty much sees right through him and taunts him for being a virgin, but there’s something about the way he carries himself and the way he acts that Yukana can’t help but find funny.  To the shock of Junichi and the school the next day, the beautiful Yukana actually agrees to go out with him, so now both of them have to figure out how the whole relationship thing is supposed to go.

Full disclosure here, My First Girlfriend Is a Gal might objectively be the worst show I’m watching this season.  There’re not really any fan-service, jokes, or characters here that haven’t been done better elsewhere.  But, somehow, the show has a certain charm to me.  Despite the super dubious base of their relationship, I do enjoy seeing Junichi and Yukana get closer.  Yukana obviously likes him, and Junichi is finally seeing past her looks and realizing he likes her as a person, too.  Then the other characters happen.  Two of the other three female characters are fine, but the giant-breasted loli is a trope so tired it should be put to sleep.  Also, Junichi’s friends can just f*ck right the hell off.  The show would actually be good without them.  Especially the fat guy.  I don’t know who thinks he’s funny, but they should nix that character.

At no point can you call it good, and I don’t even think many could call it entertaining.  I can’t say I don’t look forward to it every week, though.

4) A Centaur’s Life

A Centaur's Life

Is a joke here really Nessus-ary?  (I am hilarious.)

In a world not vastly different from our own, evolution took a different path.  Everyone the world over has horns or tails or wings or just straight up resembles what we consider mythological creatures.  Even here, the high school centaur girl Himeno Kimihara just lives her normal life.  She worries about her body, finding love, and doing well in school.  Nothing too major.  Just hanging out with her winged friend Nozomi Gokuraku and her horned friend Kyouko Naraku.  That’s her life.

I know I didn’t sound that enthusiastic last paragraph, but I do legitimately look forward to A Centaur’s Life every week.  I genuinely never thought I’d care for the monster girl genre, but here we are in 2017 and some of the most interesting anime we’re getting fall under that umbrella.  The art style was the first thing to get me, the characters are fun enough they interested me, but the world-building is what’s kept me.  There was a great amount of thought and care put into figuring out how this society works and how these races co-exist.  Every little bit of info we get just fascinates me more and more.  Plus, the Antarctican snake people are really cool.  I do wonder why the mermaids have thighs before they have fishtails, though.

I know slice-of-life and monster girl anime aren’t everyone’s bag, but there’s so much love and charm put into this world.  It’s a great cool-down anime.  Even if it does have some pretty dark implications casually thrown out every now and then.

3) Fastest Finger First

Fastest Finger First

GET SMART, SCRUB.

Pidge…er…Shiki Koshiyama has always preferred books over people.  This has left him with a great deal of knowledge but not much in terms of people skills.  That’s why when he’s randomly selected to compete in a quiz competition at the beginning of his first year of high school he’s unable to buzz in despite knowing the answers.  Furthermore, he’s impressed and intimidated by his classmate Mari Fukami who is able to buzz in long before some of the questions finish!  Shiki quickly realizes she’s determining the answers by listening for key phrases early in the questions and winds up answering an extremely difficult one himself to everyone’s surprise.  The thrill was nice but Shiki goes back to his books as soon as it’s over, but Mari’s seen his potential and tries to recruit him for the school’s competitive quiz team.  Sit down and buzz in if you want to become The King of Quizzes!

So, I might be a little bias here.  I was on my school’s academic team for three years (and captain for the last one of that three), and Fastest Finger First is essentially just that.  We met up, answered questions, went to competitions, and buzzed in to answer questions.  This is the first sports/competition anime I’ve watched where I have a legitimate connection to the subject matter.  But hey, this is definitely a sports anime.  Ragtag group that our hidden master protagonist joins, a whole new world of events to win, rivals appearing out of the woodwork, and so and so forth.  It would be higher if the last couple episodes hadn’t felt so filler-y, but them’s the breaks when going by the first half-ish (you know what I mean) of an anime.

Quite a bit more academic than other sports anime, but it is sports anime nonetheless.  Also has a cool OP.

2) Classroom of the Elite

Classroom of the Elite

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School was established by the Japanese government in order to educate and foster the future generations who will be responsible for supporting the country.  Within the walls of the giant school, the students are almost completely autonomous.  They live by themselves, can wear whatever styles they choose, and they even receive a monthly stipend of points that can only be used on school grounds.  There is a catch, though.  The points a class receives depend on how well those students are doing.  First year D-class–the lowest of the classes for all three years–finds this out the hard way when they get no points their second month after goofing around for the first.  This is the predicament protagonist Kiyotaka Ayanokouji finds himself in.  He aims for average and often attains it in order to stay out of everything.  The determination of his desk neighbor, Suzune Horikita, to move up to A-class by any means necessary begins to rub off on him, though.  Operating from the shadows as best he can, Kiyotaka begins making D-class look a whole lot better.

Can’t remember who, but I saw someone describe Classroom of the Elite as Assassination Classroom but starring the core cast from Oregairu.  As a bare bones premise, yeah, that’s pretty close (they even have a smoking-hot smoking teacher).  It’s kinda hard for me to explain why I like this show so much, though.  I think Kiyotaka walks that fine line of self-insert protagonist and legitimate compelling character you want to know more about.  Same with Suzune, Kikyou Kushida, Sakura Airi, and most of the rest of the cast.  The tension inside the school is also built really well, and the mental games of chess the students play as they try to out-gambit each other are tons of fun.

The set-up is pretty cookie-cutter, I’ll admit.  Watch the first couple episodes, though, and there should be enough things to get you hooked.

1) Gamers!

Gamers!

It’s all about the game and how you play it.

In his second year in high school, Keita Amano still doesn’t have any friends…but he has his games!  He plays games of all sorts and loves them for all their different aspects.  This is what catches the eye of the most popular girl in school and president of the Gaming Club, Karen Tendo.  She invites him to join her club, and the poor kid is just awestruck by his crush asking him to join anything.  Little does he know Karen kinda has a thing for him, too.  The other players waiting in the lobby to join the game are the top guy in Keita’s class Tasuka Uehara, Tasuku’s adorable girlfriend Aguri, and super gaming nerd Chiaki Hoshinomori.  Press A to begin and get ready for a true comedy of errors.

This is one of those I wasn’t going to watch because the premise sounds about as basic as a rom-com can get.  Gamers! relishes in that, though.  The anime takes the tried and true tropes of the genre and, well, plays with them.  Everyone is almost completely mistaken about everyone else’s motivations and actions, but it’s played for so very much comedy.  I have found myself laughing repeatedly in every episode.  Also, the cast is an immensely likable group of dorks.  These goofballs and their misunderstandings are just wonderful.  The art style is really cool as well, and the soundtrack is solid fun.

This is easily the anime I look forward to the most every week.  I adore everything about it.  If Shakespeare made an anime, it’d be Gamers!

And that is gonna be it for this time around.  I am so happy to see one of these Seasonal Sawce posts not dominated by second seasons and the like.  This is all stuff I wasn’t familiar with at all before starting this season.  Hell yeah.

Hopefully my next post will be a continuation of the Summer of Anime, but until then….

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

Seasonal Sawce: Spring into Summer of Anime 2017, Part 2

The fusion of Seasonal Sawce and Summer of Anime has returned!  Get excited, y’all!  Or not.  You do you.  I can’t tell you what to do.

Quick rundown as always before we begin:  These are the anime I watched that began and ended during the 2017 spring season ranked from my least favorite to my most favorite.  So, that means no My Hero Academia 2 or Sakura Quest here.  Those two will get their own entries when they end.

Okay.  Buckle up, you crazy kids!

Eromanga Sensei

16 Eromanga Sensei

They know what this is.

Oh, man.  I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret:  I was thoroughly entertained by this show every week.  Like, I almost justified putting it higher.  This is…this is a garbage show.  From the set-up to the characters to the story to the gags to the Imouto Cinematic Universe.  It’s just bad.  But Eromanga Sensei is so bad it’s entertaining.  Not so bad it’s good–oh, goodness no.  Nothing in my being will allow me to call this good.  It just relishes in being so shameless.  You can’t help but be entertained.

That being said, I wouldn’t suggest watching it.  It’s an anime only those who have delved too deep into anime and have morbid senses of humor can enjoy.  Or those who don’t know any better yet.  In fact, they may not be mutually exclusive.  But hey, I’ll give it some legitimate praise.  The show was made with love, and being a writer myself, it always got me motivated to write whenever the characters were talking shop.  I think that’s it.

I’ll give it a 5.5.  It’s not a good score.  It’s not a bad score.  It’s score.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor

10 Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor

Look at dem broad shoulders.

This season was full of surprises!  Eromanga Sensei was trashier than even I expected, and Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor made a magical school show feel fresh.  Not brand new…but definitely fresh.  Glenn Radars as the titular bastard is definitely not the average protagonist for these types of shows.  Yes, he does have a good heart, and yes, he is secretly a badass former government agent, but he really is a bastard.  He’s lazy, crude, and loves manipulating others.  He’s such a fun protagonist.  As for the others…eh.

His students, allies, and enemies tick off the cast checklist for this genre.  The tsundere, the rich girl, the adorable weapon, the hot witch, the evil organization hellbent on proving there’s a dark secret the kingdom doesn’t want getting out, etc.  Although Bastard pulls off these characters and arcs with a more adept hand than usual, it’s still what you’d expect from one of these.  Other than Glenn legitimately needing help to win a lot of his big fights.  He’s actually bad at magic, and the show keeps that in mind.  Good on them.

Gets a 7.5 from me.  Better than good, but not quite in that upper tier.

Love Tyrant

12 Love Tyrant

“Akane’s not the picture?!”

Is Love Tyrant funny?  Well, I sure did laugh lot.  Not like I laughed at Eromanga Sensei, but like legitimate laughter.  The jokes landed for me.  This show’s humor is my humor.  Plus, all they had to do was show Akane Hiyama on screen and all my worries went away!  Yes, Akane is best girl of spring 2017!  Shout it from the mountaintops!  All hail our yandere redhead assassin overlord!  Well…that was a mouthful.

So yeah, obviously the comedy and at least one character did it for me, but I also really like the rest of the cast.  Seiji makes a great straight-man, Guri’s quest to understand romantic love is always funny and heartwarming, Yuzu gets more than just her crush on her sister, Shikimi is always a delight when she shows up, and the demon penguin Stolas…well, I don’t know what to say about him.  Even in a show about an angel cosplaying as a shinigami putting herself in a polyamorous relationship via her Kiss Note…Stolas is random.  But it was great seeing all these characters every week.  Heck, Yuzu and her mom are responsible for one of my favorite jokes in all of anime.  It’s a terribly simple pun, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Akane and her funny friends earn an 8 out of 10!

Kado: The Right Answer

17 Kado the Right Answer

There are no strings on m…huh.

Okay, so, this is a bit tricky.  Kado: The Right Answer started off with a lot of promise.  Like, I was getting ready to tout it as a modern classic.  It’s a much slower-paced, thinking sort of science fiction anime you don’t see too much anymore.  The anisotropic alien Yaha-kui zaShunina’s relationship and conversations with the negotiator Koujirou Shindou, the devices zaShunina brought with him, and the world’s reactions to said devices were awesome to watch every week.  The ideas presented really got me thinking about other ways one could view the universe.  It wasn’t always terribly compelling, but it was so good.  And then, there was a bit of a tone shift.

I really, really don’t want to get into spoilers, so I apologize if this sounds maddeningly vague.  A character reveals something that seriously changes the game, and this action forces the hand of another.  That’s the moment Kado enters it’s second phase of sorts.  Truth be told, I loved the shift.  It caught me off guard, and I thought it added a lot to an anime I was already thoroughly enjoying.  This did all lead to an ending that has divided the fans of the show.  It is a true love it or hate it episode.  How do I feel?  I’ll admit it came off as rushed, and I wish they’d resolved something differently, but I mostly love it.  There’s a moment involving a message on a cellphone that’s one of my favorite anime scenes.  I legitimately marked out.

Had it not been for the fumbled ending, this would probably be my number one show for the spring 2017 season.  As it stands, I’ll give it an 8.5.

What could possibly be number one?  Well, if you read the last post, then I doubt you’re surprised.

Attack on Titan Season 2

9 Attack on Titan Season 2

This seems like a rather unfair game of “Pat-a-cake.”

Yes, my favorite anime that began and finished its run this season is Attack on Titan Season 2.  Trust me, I’m kinda tired of second seasons dominating these, too.  What can I say, though?  There’s a reason I watch season twos–I love those season ones so much.  Granted, had I watched the new season of Berserk it probably would’ve been near the bottom, but that’s just an awful adaptation of a magnificent series.

But yeah, Attack on Titan is great.  The anime does a wonderful job of presenting the art style in an awesome fashion, the soundtrack is killer, all hail Mikasa, and just when we think we have all the answers, they change the questions!  The second season isn’t as plagued with pacing problems as the first was, and that allows it to feel a little more lean instead of thin by having just one cour.  For the most part, at least.  The final stretch to the season finale felt drawn out a bit, but it didn’t bother me much.

Gonna give this one a 9.  I love Titan, but it’s never clicked with me enough for me to put it too close to 10.

That’ll do it for this round of Seasonal Sawce.  I’ve fallen behind on my Summer of Anime posts (as I’m sure you can tell), but there’s only one more to go until I’m caught up and ready to breathe a little easier.  And I can’t wait to talk about it.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

Seasonal Sawce: Spring into Anime 2017, Part 1

It’s been a year since I started doing these Seasonal Sawce posts.  The fact that I haven’t missed one is a darn miracle, and you should all be proud of me.  Just don’t think of all the other things I should’ve also written by now.

As usual, the following anime are the ones I started this season and will be ranked from my least favorite/hype to my most favorite/hype.  A bit of disclosure this time around, too:  All of these are on Crunchyroll.  There are a few on Amazon’s Anime Strike I’d planned on watching, but they already get an annual Prime payment out of me, so I don’t feel like giving them more for their anime service…even though I don’t know how long that resolve will actually stick because I really, really, really want to watch Saekano Flat and Re:Creators.

Okay!  Let’s get this party started!

7) Eromanga Sensei

Eromanga Sensei

It’d be good if it wasn’t so bad.

Masamune Izumi is an orphaned high school light novel author who’s using his earnings to take care of himself and his little stepsister, Sagiri Izumi, who he hasn’t seen in a year because she won’t leave her room.  Problem is, though, Masamune isn’t that great of an author despite how much he writes.  His novels’ popularity are based almost solely on the artwork in them done by the anonymous Eromanga Sensei.  With Masamune desperate to get a new novel series released, he inadvertently finds out that Eromanga Sensei is actually Sagiri.  The two once distant siblings now have something to bond over as Kyousuke and Kirino look to reconnect and repair their relationship.

I know what I typed.  Same creator.  Same-ish set-up.  But…kinda better.  Sorta.  Eromanga Sensei isn’t inherently bad so far.  I’ve actually laughed at a few of the jokes, but I must confess that I am indeed hate-watching it.  I am here for the trainwreck.  Yes, the character designs look nice…just unfortunate that they’re mostly 12 or 13-year-old girls.  It’s almost admirable in how shameless it is.  And, seeing fictional creators do their art thing tends to get me motivated to write and doodle, so that’s a plus.  This show happens to be saddled with the same problem as Oreimo, though:  The main love interest is not only a less interesting character than the supporting cast, but it is also very disturbing to think of her ending up with the main protagonist–i.e.–her older brother.

Oh well!  Like I said earlier–I’m here to see how badly this turns out.  Enjoying the ride so far.  For the most part.

6) Sakura Quest

Sakura Quest

It’s like Shirobako, but they make a tourist trap instead.

Yoshino Koharu is a fresh college graduate whose future looks bright.  Or so she likes to tell herself.  In reality, she’s failed interview after interview and her parents are trying to get her to leave Tokyo and move back home.  Yoshino refuses to return to the country even though things aren’t going great.  She gets a break when the economically struggling town of Manoyama wants to hire to be their “Queen” in order to revitalize their tourist industry.  Yoshino decides to take the one-day gig, and heads to the sticks to help the town.  But, as it turns out she was hired by mistake and she actually signed her contract to work there for one year.  Thus, the new Queen of Manoyama is joined by four other young adult women as they spend the next year trying to find a way to bring more people to their town and figure out what they want to do with their lives.

I guess I’ve reached that age where stories about adults just trying to do their jobs and find their way speak to me.  Doesn’t interest me as much as Shirobako did (so far), but there are still plenty of moments that have made me pause the episode and stare off in the distance contemplating whether or not I should write those lines down.  But yeah, Sakura Quest is pretty fun so far.  It’s my designated cool-down anime this season, and I do enjoy me a show when I go back and forth over who is best girl/woman (Maki or Sanae–the others don’t matter).

If relatable, interesting characters doing their hardest to accomplish their goals gets your slice-of-life engine going, then check it out.

5) Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor

Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor

Those school uniforms sure are practical…magic.  Movie joke!

Sistine Fibel’s favorite teacher at the Alzano Imperial Magic Academy has recently resigned, and she and her best friend Rumia Tingel wonder about his sudden departure on the way to school one morning.  Along the way, a disheveled man accidentally runs into them as he’s hurrying off somewhere.  Well, he would have run into them had Sistine not launched him with her wind magic.  That’s a bit of a no-no outside school grounds, and the man taunts her for doing so until she does it again and leaves.  Finally in their classroom, Sistine, Rumia, and their fellow classmates are astonished their new substitute teacher is so late–especially since rumor is he was recruited by the most powerful teacher at the school.  Finally their teacher arrives and–shock of all shocks–enter the bastard who ran into Sistine and Rumia, Glenn Radars.  The students eventually learn there’s more to the lazy, incompetent teacher than they initially thought, but they’ll have to wait till after study period to find out what it is.

I initially wasn’t going to watch Akashic Records since I’ve seen plenty of magical school shows in the past few years, and yes, even I can get tired of a genre.  The set-up also reminded me a bit of Irregular at Magic High School (seemingly inept mage being a secret badass), and that was another deterrent.  But, I saw that it was doing better on MyAnimeList than I expected and decided to check it out.  Glad I did!  I do wish Glenn maintained his bastard tendencies a little more, the female school uniforms are laughable in their pandering, and there are definitely some cliches present, but I do honestly like the cast and the rules for magic.  Glenn is a big plus and the main reason I look forward to this show every week.  Yes, he’s not as big of an asshole as I thought he would be, but he still taunts his students, shirks responsibility whenever he can, and makes reckless bets.

I wouldn’t exactly call the show fresh, but it has enough good ideas and heart to make it stand out a smidgen.

4) Love Tyrant

Love Tyrant

Akane top contender for Best Girl of 2017.  Fight me.

So, imagine you’re at home one day, and this cute girl cosplaying as a shinigami comes to your door saying she accidentally wrote your name in her Kiss Note–a magical notebook that forces two people whose names are written down with an X between them to fall in love.  Well, this happens to Seiji Aino when the angel Guri visits him.  She tells him he needs to kiss someone or else she’ll die, so she convinces him to confess to his crush, the beautiful redhead Akane Hiyama.  She actually reciprocates his feelings a hundredfold, and everything turns out okay!… Except Guri finds Seiji interesting and pairs up herself with Seiji and Akane.  And Akane’s a legitimate murderous yandere.  And she has a younger sister who’s in love with her.  And they have an even crazier sadomasochist cousin.  And Seiji has a little sister who’s stalked by some sort of powerful penguin demon.  Well, at least he’s immortal now that he’s been paired up with an angel!   Yay?

Love Tyrant probably isn’t good.  At all.  But, I’ll be damned if the show doesn’t entertain the heck out of me.  Yeah, the jokes don’t always hit, and the show kinda falls into the same tropes it relishes in parodying.  I just always find it charming.  The character designs are neat, there are some wonderful facial expressions, and the seriousness of some events isn’t so far from the humor that it feels out of place.  I also like how the show kinda ponders what exactly love is.  Might be giving it too much credit, but Guri’s whole thing is she’s trying to understand love.  She doesn’t know the difference between familial love, friendly love, and romantic love.  I enjoy their shenanigans as she tries to figure it all out.  Also, Akane is great.  I get yandere love now.

It ain’t the funniest anime out there, but I like what it does.

3) Kado: The Right Answer

Kado The Right Answer

Arrival, starring Roger Smith.

A cube two kilometers on each side suddenly appears at a Japanese airport one day.  The cube is made of a material that deflects any and all contact no matter the force, and worst of all is it’s appeared on top of a plane carrying 252 people.  No one knows the fate of the passengers, but finally, after 30 hours, a man walks out on top of the cube.  He is one of the passengers–Koujirou Shindou, the best negotiator for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The world is baffled until the owner of the cube, Yaha-kui zaShunina, appears next to him and informs all that he has come to Earth as a friend and Koujirou will speak on his behalf.  Let the negotiations begin!

I know that may not sound like the most exciting synopsis, and it honestly isn’t.  Kado: The Right Answer maintains a fairly slow pace and doesn’t seem to be interested in speeding things up too much.  But, Kado is pretty legit.  Koujirou is an immensely likable protagonist, and it’s easy to see why so many characters in-universe gravitate towards him.  The speed with which he adapts to Yaha-kui and treats the alien like a person who just doesn’t get people even amuses the young negotiator hired to be his opposite, Saraka Tsukai.  She, Yaha-kui, and the other characters are good, too, but it’s really the ideas that got me so interested.  Physics and communication work differently in Yaha-kui’s dimension.  There are concepts that seem absolutely impossible to humans at first, but it takes the Arrival approach of adapting one’s mind can alter one’s sense of reality.  That’s just cool as sh*t.  Also, I don’t know if I wasn’t paying close attention during the 0 episode (yes, you should watch episode 0 “Ninovo”), but I didn’t notice until the end that everything save for the backgrounds is CG.  Yeah.  A CG anime that doesn’t look like complete crap.  I can’t believe it.

Kado is a legitimately good sci-fi anime, and I implore you all to show it more love.

2) Attack on Titan Season 2

Attack on Titan Season 2

ANGRY!!!!!!

After the battle against Annie the Female Titan, one of the kingdom’s biggest secrets is revealed–Titans are inside the walls.  And–as they so often do–things go from bad to worse when the rest of the 104th Training Corps graduates are attacked by Titans in a place where there shouldn’t be any Titans and the new recruits don’t have their OMD Gear.  The mysteries of the Titans’ identities and the bleakness of the world are the driving forces in this second season of Attack on Titan.

Yeah, spoiler alert–this list is dominated by second seasons.  Sorry, but I love these shows!  Distance may not have made my heart grow fonder for Attack on Titan, but now I remember why it became such a big thing.  The world-building is just the best, the soundtrack is bumpin’, the characters are great, the mysteries are deep and interesting, and hey, it looks pretty good, too.  I appreciate they wanted to focus more on the pants-crapping horror of the world at the beginning, but I gotta tell ya, the show is at its best for me when Mikasa is killing all the things.  Also, the fight between Eren and the Armored Titan was an MMA fan’s dream come true.

It’s season two of one of the most popular anime in recent years.  If you aren’t watching it…well, I can only assume it’s because you haven’t finished the first season.

1) My Hero Academia 2

My Hero Academia 2

The day has come.  (That’s a call back joke right there, son.)

It’s back!  Yes!  Oh, man.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve been wanting this new season of My Hero Academia.  It’s been a whole year since I last saw Izuku, All Might, Uraraka, Bakugo, and the others.  The students had just survived their first real encounter with actual supervillains!  Yeah, the first season started taking its sweet time after the first couple breakneck-paced episodes, but I love it all the same.  Although, I can’t quite put my finger on why I put this above AOT.  Why did I do that?  I can’t…wait.  I hear something.  Off in the distance.  Can it…can it be?  It can!  Oh, my!  Say it loud, my friend!  Say it loud!

TOURNAMENT!

Yeah…that’s the good stuff right there.  Not even an attack by supervillains can stop UA High School from hosting their annual sports festival.  It’s an event that’s essentially the new Olympics in terms of prestige and popularity.  The whole world tunes in to see the current crop of hero students and their powers.  Still unable to control his Quirk, Izuku is at a definite disadvantage, and things only get trickier when the top student in their class, Shouto Todoroki, acknowledges Izuku’s talent and vows to defeat him in the festival.  The other students are hungry for fame and recognition as well, so let’s see just who will rise to the top of this generation.

Hot damn, I love tournaments.

Yeah, I love the world, characters, concepts, look, soundtrack, and everything else about MHA, but you throw in a tournament arc and my poor body just can’t handle it.  I love this stuff!

Despite the triumphant returns of Academia and Titan, I think I was enjoying last season a little more at this point.  Overall, at least.  Only by a bit.  Even then I’m still flip-flopping on it.  But yeah, this season of anime has been fun so far, and I just wish Amazon didn’t stream anime so Crunchyroll and Funimation could take them.

It’s actually time to start the Summer of Anime series, so it’s a guarantee when next we meet it won’t be another Seasonal Sawce.  Rejoice!

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

Seasonal Sawce: Winner, Winter Anime Dinner 2017, Part 2

Waited a week to write this just to make sure everything I started last season was definitely finished.  And, other than Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation, they are!

As always, the anime that I watched this season shall now be ranked from worst to best.  Hobey-ho, and so we go.

Fuuka

Fuuka 2

Oh, Sara.  You deserve a better anime.

Ya know, I didn’t really expect Fuuka to get better.  Sure, the characters became more likable, but nothing I ever saw made me go, “Man, this show right here is gonna be great.”  I do hate being right sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I did overall somewhat enjoy watching Fuuka.  Just never felt like there was any heart or ambition behind the decisions made for the show.  Oh no, Yuu hooks up with pop-star childhood friend Koyuki which forces jilted Fuuka to abandon the band she created and go solo.  Certainly a neat twist for those familiar with the manga (spoiler alert: Fuuka gets run over in the manga and is later replaced by another Fuuka for Yuu to woo), but there was nothing to it!  It never felt like a big deal.  I was excited to see this turn of events, but the anime just sorta mozied on along to the end.  At least most of these crazy kids get a happy ending.

I’ll give it a 5.5 out of 10.  Better than average…not by much, though.

Masamune-kun’s Revenge

Masamune-kun's Revenge 2

Revenge:  Complete.

I wanted to love Masamune-kun’s Revenge.  I wound up just liking it.  It really did not utilize its set-up to its full advantage.  Guess I was hoping for more plotting or chicanery on Masamune’s part.  But, he is–deep down–a decent person, and the anime probably would’ve been intolerable if he was a genuine asshole.

The most confusing part is how the female lead, Aki, doesn’t feel all that important when compared to best girl, Neko.  Like, I know the confusion from when they were kids shaped them into the people they are in high school (show definitely should’ve explored that more), but Masamune’s revenge on Aki takes a backseat to Neko’s story and influence on him.  That’s how it seemed to me.  Or maybe that was just the more interesting part.  The episode where Masamune goes to her apartment is by far the best of this first(?) season.  Also don’t think the Impostormune arc was that compelling.

But hey, I’ll give this anime a 7.  I did really like the characters, and there’s enough there that I’d be more than happy to watch a second season.

Interviews with Monster Girls

Interviews with Monster Girls 2

Succubus-sensei is best sensei.

Oh, goody!  I get to talk about shows I love now!  Woo!

So, Interviews with Monster Girls was definitely my cool-down show of the season.  If I’d had a rough week or needed to get my emotional state back on track because other anime threw me for a loop, Interviews was waiting for me with open arms.  It’s just one of those cozy slice of lifers…that happens to star a handful of monster girls and one buff teacher.

One thing I really appreciate about Interviews is how down-to-earth it approached the physiology and problems of the titular monster girls.  Yuki slowly opening up to her fellow demis, Machi learning more and more about her nature, Hikari gaining friends she can be herself around, and Sakie finally meeting a man she can fully trust are all situations that many have struggled with just presented with a supernatural edge.  I can definitely sympathize with what they go through.  Sure, I don’t think this show does all that it can with its premise, but there’s certainly a lot of heart on screen.  Like, you can tell the people who made this want to be friends with all of these characters.

This is a solid 8 for me.  Also, Sakie is best girl of Winter 2017.  Praise be to Succubus-sensei!

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 2

Two Dragons, a Girl, and a Cozy Apartment

Never thought an anime about a dragon becoming an office worker’s maid would be one of my favorite shows of a season, but here we are.  If you want a funny, legitimately heartwarming show, look no further than Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

The cast is charming, the animation is beautiful, and the stories are often fuzzy.  The thing that cements Dragon Maid as a pretty darn good show, though, is its exploration of loneliness.  One of my favorite vignettes details how Kobayashi and Tooru met.  Both lost due to how alone they are, and somewhere in their drunken bonding, they realize they could make each other’s lives better just by being together.  And they were right!  The other dragons who follow Tooru’s example and escape to Earth see what having someone can do for one of their own, so they, too, find people to spend their time with.  It’s just great seeing how connections with others can positively effect those essentially dealing with depression.

Throw in all that good stuff and you get a show I’m giving an 8.5 that is sometimes a 9.  Check out Kyoto Animation’s latest if you haven’t already.

KonoSuba 2

Konosuba 2 2

They ain’t the greatest heroes, but they’re the only ones we’ve got.

Didn’t know when I wrote the first post for this season that KonoSuba 2 was only going to be ten episodes.  They need to stop teasing me like this.  These shorter than average seasons just ain’t right!  Anyhoo, KonoSuba 2‘s last four episodes are just as funny as the ones previous.  Might even be funnier.

The last arc of season two sees the gang go to a town that actually worships Aqua, and–even though they expect the worst of those crazy enough to follow the impetuous goddess–it’s somehow more awful than they imagined.  Well, better for best girl Darkness as a follower of Eris since she likes the abuse thrown her way, but Kazuma and Megumin are horrified.  It remains consistently funny, and the final battle is as outlandish as the big throwdowns in KonoSuba always are.  Man, I love this series.

Easily a 9 out of 10.  Go.  Watch.  Laugh.

Descending Stories: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Descending Stories Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2

All the world’s a stage.

Yeah, absolutely no movement on the board this season.  The second season of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is just that damn good.  Everything about this show sounds like something I would never watch (save for best woman Konatsu), but this series is solidly in my top ten.  It’s exploring what art means to the artists and audience, it’s the great characters, it’s their struggles, it’s their lives, it’s everything about this anime that makes me love it so.

Well, almost everything.  There’s one little hiccup of an implication that I found…off-putting, but I choose to ignore it.  It’s just not often an anime comes along that effects me on such a deep emotional level.  I was crying tears of joy along with Yotaro and Konatsu when she told him she was pregnant with his child.  I was devastated when Yakumo finally passed on with the first genuine smile he’d had on his face since Sukeroku died.  I was overjoyed to see that Matsuda had grown old enough to see Yotaro not only save rakugo, but to also make it better than ever.  I can’t speak highly enough of it.

Tye Dillinger, tell the people what I’m giving Descending Stories: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.

tumblr_nywnfqsq941uxtjooo1_500

TEN.

And that is it for Winter 2017.  Gotta say, if the first season of the year is this good, I can’t wait to see what the other three will bring us.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

Seasonal Sawce: Winner, Winter Anime Dinner 2017, Part 1

Return of the Seasonal Sawce, y’all!  Get hype!

You kids know the drill by now:  At least six episodes into the new season, so it’s time to talk about what I’m watching in order of what I look forward to the least to what I look forward to the most.  This is a mercifully small season for me with only three carryovers from seasons past.  Without further ado, let’s talk about some Chinese cartoons.

7) Fuuka

fuuka

“Fuuka me?”  Fuuka you!

Yuu Haruna is a Twitter-loving introvert who’s just moved in with his three sisters for some reason.  While out and about town one day he is accosted by a hardheaded, unpleasant girl who accuses him of taking a picture of her panties after she kneed him in the face.  She then does the only sensible thing and breaks his phone.  The following day at his new school, Yuu finds his attacker, Fuuka Akitsuki, and returns a CD to her she dropped after assaulting him.  Fuuka soon warms up to the shy kid she tormented and ropes him and a few other people she somewhat knows into forming a band because she loves listening to the songs of pop idol Koyuki Hinashi.  Turns out, though, that Yuu and Koyuki are childhood friends!  Can you say, “love triangle?”  I can, but why bother?

As you can tell, I don’t think too highly of Fuuka’s character.  Or some of the set-up.  Or Yuu’s character, for that matter.  But, I do likes me some shoujo-for-boys anime every now and then, and Fuuka fits that role okay.  I’m mainly sticking around for the music angle, though.  Well, that and one other thing.  There’s a twist I happened upon one day, and I’m curious to see how that plays out in the anime.  The show’s not that good, but I appreciate how kinda realistically it handles some of its outlandish situations (does that even make sense?).

6) Masamune-kun’s Revenge

masamune-kuns-revenge

Her legs are as long as her personality is trash.

When he was a wee little lad, Masamune Makabe was fat.  Like, “his parents probably couldn’t pick him up” fat.  This led to him being bullied all the time.  His only solace was in a strong-willed rich girl named Aki Adagaki.  She didn’t suffer bullies and took pity on/became friends with the little fatty.  Masamune one day confessed to his only friend, but she soundly rejected him and dubbed him “Pig’s  Foot.”  This set the boy on his path of vengeance and he became Pigman!… Okay, not really.  What it did do was hurt him so bad emotionally he moved in with his grandfather in the mountains and started dieting and training.  Now, Masamune has returned home as one handsome devil with only goal:  To make Aki Adagaki fall in love with him so he can brutally dump her as she did him many moons ago.  This…is Masamune-kun’s revenge.

So, I started watching Masamune-kun’s Revenge because I have watched entirely too many romcom and harem anime, and a lot of those anime live and die by their unique set-up.  This revenge plot was enough to get me interested.  Halfway in and I don’t think it’s done as much as it could have with its premise.  Like, I get homeboy’s determination, and I kinda want him to succeed.  On the other hand, the anime’s dropped enough hints for us to know he probably won’t go through with it and they’ll wind up together for realsies.  Still, though, I do enjoy the characters.  Whereas Fuuka’s insufferable qualities bring down her show, Aki’s are part of the joke.  Also, I think the best way to describe Masamune is a gold jerk with a heart of jerk with gold inside it.  It’s great to see him play off Aki, her manipulative maid Yoshino, the compulsive liar Neko, his mother, etc.  This is a fun show that could definitely do more with its premise, but the characters have me looking forward to it every week.

5) Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation

yowamushi-pedal-new-generation

He’s gonna “Hime Hime” all the way to the finish line.

The third years are resigning from their clubs and getting ready for their lives outside of high school, but for all those who remain, there’s no time to rest.  Especially for Sohoku High.  Half of their Inter High-winning team is graduating, so they’re in more dire need of new recruits than most other schools.  Time to hop back in the saddle again as the new generation comes together.

(Heh.  I kinda like dropping the title in the description.)

Here comes Yowamushi Pedal with that young third season.  Now, I quite love this series.  It does everything a sports series needs to do, and it does it well.  So, I am very interested in seeing how the new team looks.  Kinda like what happened in Ace of Diamond.  I love the original line-up, but you can’t help but want to know if they’ll find the same success without their veteran members.  Plus, I gotta give props to how quickly the pace is so far.  Six episodes in and we’ve already gotten two decently big races…and a lot of feels.  Good on ya, Yowamushi Pedal.  Still interesting after all this time.

4) Interviews with Monster Girls

interviews-with-monster-girls

These girls’ hopes and dreams may be heavy, but he can carry them all wit dem arms.

The world is much more open-minded than it once was.  Nowadays, demi-humans are widely accepted around the world.  Still, though, not many people actually know one.  Biology teacher Tetsuo Takahashi is one such person.  He’s fascinated by demi-humans and wishes to learn as much as he possibly can about them.  He just can’t seem to meet one.  That is until he pays attention to his surroundings.  Turns out his school has three demi-human (well, they prefer “demi”) students and one teacher.  Tetsuo now has his chance to talk with a vampire, dullahan, yuki-onna, and succubus, and it looks like they want to understand his muscles as much as he wants to understand their demi ways.

(Thought about working the title into the description, but I’m past that joke.)

I love this show.  There’s just something about quirky slice of life shows that you watch on the weekends to wind down from a long week, and this new offering from the weird genre of monster girl anime is just what every anime fan needs.  I earlier gave some (extremely) slight praise to Fuuka for how down-to-earth some of its over-the-top plot points are handled.  Here, I’m giving Interviews with Monster Girls high praise for that exact thing.  How does a teenage vampire with an absurdly upbeat personality deal with her blood-cravings?  By drinking from government-issued blood bags and occasionally nibbling on her twin sister’s arm, of course.  Does a dullahan want to make jokes about her disembodied head?  Can a snow woman make friends even though she’s worried about freezing the people around her?  Yes!  It’s great seeing these odd situations being handled like somewhat normal teenage problems with advice from your resident bulky teacher.

And if you don’t feel for the plight of Sakie Satou, the succubus teacher, then you are the true monster.  (Also, Sakie is best girl.  Even if we’re just six episodes in.)

3) Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

miss-kobayashis-dragon-maid

What’ll anime think of next?

Kobayashi is an office worker with a penchant for drinking and an obsession with maids.  Imagine her surprise then, when she wakes up one morning after getting quite plastered to find a maid at her apartment.  Well, she actually finds a dragon who turns into a maid.  Her name is Tohru, and it looks like Kobayashi saved her while she was blackout drunk.  Kobayashi’s kindness and ranting about maids made Tohru fall in love with the office worker and convinced her to serve Kobayashi as her very own maid.  Kinda makes you wanna go out drinking more often, huh?

Two monster girl anime in one season and they’re both good?  What madness be this?  Yes, I like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid a smidgen more than Interviews.  Mainly because I feel like it does a little more with its premise than its fellow monster girl show.  Also, it’s good to have you back, KyoAni.  I was scared off thanks to Beyond the Boundary and Myriad Colors Phantom World.  But this proves to me you still have good within you.  And I gotta tell ya, when KyoAni is having fun, you can definitely tell.  This show is just dripping with charm.  The characters are so lovingly animated, and the scenes where the dragons display their powers are some of the finest feasts your eyes can have.  I have faith in KyoAni again.

2) KonoSuba 2

konosuba-2

Question: Which one is the most competent?  Answer: No.

When last we saw our heroes, Kazuma Satou was being brought up on charges of blowing up the house of a local noble and allying with the forces of the Devil King.  Season two picks up with his party letting him take the fall and the town too scared to stand up for him.  It’s fine, though.  He shouldn’t have expected any different.  And hey, little things like possible treason, rogue Devil King generals, and rampaging lizard monsters aren’t enough to deter our woefully unqualified band of heroes.  They’re too dumb to realize when it’s time to quit.  Sometimes.

I guess I watched season one of KonoSuba before I started trying to write more on this blog.  Otherwise, I’m positive I would’ve written about this anime before because I love it.  I’ve seen a lot of comedy anime that make me smile when their jokes come around, but season one of KonoSuba consistently made me laugh hard.  And season two is no different.  Kazuma’s scumbag tendencies, Aqua’s inability to not screw everything up, Megumin’s steadfast refusal to learn different spells despite her potentially vast power, and Darkness’s determination to be punished at every turn rarely ever fail to make me laugh.  This show also has the best facial expressions out there, and don’t you dare let anyone else tell you otherwise.  Give it a watch.  You’re bound to laugh.

1) Descending Stories: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

descending-stories-shouwa-genroku-rakugo-shinjuu

Let me tell you a story.

In season one we saw Yakumo Yurakutei tell his apprentice Yotaro and his adopted daughter Konatsu the story of his days as Kikuhiko with Konatsu’s parents Sukeroku and Miyokichi.  Season two jumps farther ahead with Yotaro moving up in the ranks of the rakugo world and Konatsu with a baby boy.  Yakumo is even older and more jaded, and he seems determined to have rakugo die with him.  Those closest to him refuse to let him have his wish, though, so the old man can’t be done just quite yet.

I meant to write about season one in a post about all the anime I’ve watched outside of Seasonal Sawce and the Summer of Anime, so I haven’t yet had a chance to gush about this anime.  Allow me to gush:  The first season is quite possibly the best anime of 2016.  Really only JJBA: Diamond Is UnbreakableRe:Zero, and Mob Psycho 100 give it a run for its money, and even though I love those three to pieces, I still might side with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.  It’s not the best-looking or the best-animated, but I’ll be damned if you can find something with better characters or understanding of what art means to its audience.  I thought the first season was squandering its potential greatness by leaving the ex-con-turned-storyteller plot to tell the one about his master.  I was so wrong.  But now, with Descending Stories, we get to follow that ex-con.

I don’t know what all I want to say about the first six episodes of this second season.  I know that even though I look forward to this anime more than I do any other I’m watching it’s still hard to watch new episodes.  And that’s because this anime elicits so much emotion from me.  This show has been so good about getting the audience invested in these characters and what will happen to them next.  They’re so well-done I feel like I know them.  And really, that’s when anime–and rakugo–is at its finest.

Well, that’s all I’m writing for this Seasonal Sawce.  I do feel bad ‘cuz I don’t feel like I properly explained why Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu deserves every bit of praise it gets, but maybe I’ll revisit that down the line when I’m a better writer.  Hopefully, I’ll be writing some more things on this blog in the near future, but I feel like I always say that.   Ah well.  Seasonal Sawce will return in a month and some change when most of these shows wrap up.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

Seasonal Sawce: Fall Back Into Anime, Part 2

Can you believe it?  I’m actually making another post.

This Seasonal Sawce is a bit later than the others have been (but not as late as another article I plan on writing!), and there’s no real reason for that.  Well, kinda.  I did something stupid and started watching even more anime that started airing in the fall season (March Comes in Like a Lion and All Out!!) because I wasn’t watching too many already!  Seriously, though, I’m cutting down next season.  Especially since the DC shows are coming back.

Anyhoo, as it has been every other time, I will now rank every anime that I watched that began and ended in the fall season from my least favorite to my most favorite.  I just want everyone to know that Diamond Is Unbreakable is probably my favorite anime from 2016.  Although it does have competition, but I might talk about that some other time.

Izetta:  The Last Witch

izetta-the-last-witch

Izetta flew on a broom this time to sweep Fine off her feet.

Yeah, I hate to say it, but Izetta was consistently my least favorite anime for the fall season.  I know this is true because it is the only one I fell behind on and had to make myself finish.  I don’t know what happened.  Everything was there!  Cute redhead lesbian witch flying around on a rifle wooing a princess and winning WWII for the good guys!  Her powers always look cool, and her fights against the cloned OG White Witch are pretty good and brutal.  For some reason, though, nothing else stuck.

I honestly can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe the story wasn’t anywhere near as compelling as it should’ve been.  Maybe the side characters didn’t get enough to them.  Maybe the world was fantasized but still too real to be enjoyable fantasy.  It’s hard to say, but I’m giving this one a 6.  Because a 6 on MAL is “Fine”…get it?  The princess is Fine, and the anime is fine.  Get it?  But really, the anime is just okay.

Occultic;Nine

occultic-nine

Hey, he did the thing!

Steins;Gate is amazing.  It is one of my favorite anime.  It’s one of my top ten–maybe even top five.  Occultic;Nine is none of those.  Not even slightly.  Now, I don’t want to say Occultic is bad.  I did enjoy it every time I tuned in.  The more I learned about the main character, the more I liked him.  The mysteries were set up as big, and even though the answers were a little dumb sometimes, I was still happy to get what answers the show gave.  I just wish this show would’ve been longer.

I feel like Occultic would be viewed as an entirely different show if it had had two cours instead of one.  More time to breathe, more time to give all of the characters all of the time they deserve, and more time to build the mysteries surrounding the city.  Also would have meant more time for them to talk, which I can only dream would’ve meant everyone talked slower!  Lordamercy, these people were hard to follow.  Especially when their absurdly fast monologues and dialogues were revealing key plot points.  I enjoyed Occultic;Nine for the most part, but I’m only giving it a 6.5.  It’s too difficult to follow, the characters don’t get near enough to them to make them memorable, and answers to the various mysteries felt fairly underwhelming.

The OP is great, though.

Drifters

drifters

Best character.

Drifters is a darn good prologue.

Okay, so I enjoyed this quite a bit.  The Drifters, the Octobrists, the Ends, and all the races caught in the middle of these factions drew me into this fantasy world.  I’m really eager to see where the story goes.  And that’s the biggest problem of Drifters for me.  It feels like the story hasn’t actually started yet.  The season ends with not all of the Drifters having met and the Ends rallying their troops to continue their conquest.  It’s an enjoyable prologue, but it’s still just a prologue.

I mentioned in the last Seasonal Sawce post that the art shifts from serious to comedic can get really jarring, and that stays true for the entire season.  I’m a fan of the art, and I also like when shows have different styles depending on the tone, but Drifters can get a bit ridiculous jumping from one to the other.  All that said, it feels like a solid 7.5 to me.  I love the characters, look, concept, and action, but the obvious feeling of prologue and never-ending style shifts left me a smidgen disappointed.

Girlish Number

girlish-number

Bada boom!  Realest guy in the room!  How you doin’?!

I enjoyed the heck out of Girlish Number.  I actually found myself cheering for Chitose and hoping she’d come to her senses (which she might have), and that surprised me.  Don’t get me wrong, Koto Katakura and Kazuha Shibasaki are still best characters, but I’m genuinely glad I wound up invested in Chitose’s arc.  She started off as a lazy, terrible person, and by the end she’s…a slightly less lazy, terrible person, but she learns!  Good for her!  The other seemingly main character Kuzu-P, the producer, can go straight to hell, though.

As much as I liked Chitose, it did kinda feel like the show shone brightest when the focus wasn’t on her.  The episode where Momoka and Kazuha go to Kazuha’s hometown was probably my favorite single episode, and I loved whenever Koto’s conversations with the other characters were shown.  In terms of problems, the show probably isn’t as funny as it wanted to be, and I do wish all of the main girls got as much development as Chitose.  I’ll still give it an 8.

WWW.Wagnaria!!

www-wagnaria

Should we call him Die-suke?  Eh?  EH?

As much as I love the parent anime, I gotta give credit to WWW.Wagnaria!! for wrapping up its three romantic pairings in one season.  Should I be proud of that?  I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be, but regular Wagnaria!! took three seasons and a special to get its two couples to hook up.  So, kudos for doing that in one season!

I love the characters in this show.  All six of the individuals involved in the three romantic pairings, St. Valentine, the Japanese kid who doesn’t speak Japanese, the truant who always hangs out at the restaurant…I love these characters.  My favorites who were always there but didn’t get to do too terribly much are Kisaki Kondou and her daughter.  Yeah, they probably work best as supporting characters, but I kinda want an OVA focusing on them.

Not that many jokes made me laugh out loud and the breakneck pacing threw me for a loop every now and then, but the charm of the characters and the feeling of coming home leads me to give this a firm 8.

Flip Flappers

flip-flappers

No, this is the other anime about a redhead lesbian that aired fall season.

Talk about movement on the board!  In my last post, Flip Flappers was almost at the very bottom of my list.  It was that low because it confused me and I didn’t really know what to make of it.  Now that I’ve watched all 13 episodes…it confuses me and I don’t really know what to make of it.  I’m positive there is meaning to all the weird worlds, beings, and various things that are seen and happen throughout the series, but without a re-watch and a lot of thinking, I haven’t the foggiest what most of it represents.  By golly, the show is pretty, though!

I don’t think Flip Flappers handled all of its characters or answered all of its questions well, but the ones they did handle and answer well were handled and answered extremely well (that was fun to type).  It almost seemed like every episode ended with me channeling Papika and going, “Cocona!”  The girl goes through so much, and when you find out everything that led to where she is, you kinda understand why.  I also tended to mark out whenever Yayaka showed up, and I was surprised by how invested I became in the sullen Salt.

This show was a legit surprise.  I may not have fully understood everything that happened, but I genuinely loved the look and feel of the worlds and characters, the story knew how to keep me interested, and the ED is fantastic.  Giving it an 8.5.

Keijo!!!!!!!!

keijo

Best timeline.

Anime is saved.

So, Keijo isn’t necessarily better than Flip Flappers, but every week I watched this first.  I watched this first because I just had to see what more they would do–what more they could do.  Yes, the opening episodes can drag a smidgen, but the way this show revels in its premise kept me watching, and I’m glad I did.  In terms of martial arts and sports anime tropes, Keijo doesn’t veer much from the norm.  You got your determined protagonist, allies, rivals, teachers, betters, etc.  Keijo‘s strength is in how it embraces these character types and molds them to fit its absurd world.

People, there’s a part where a girl uses her nipple to judo flip another girl in order to win her match.  There’s one girl who can access the powers of any butt she’s previously touched.  There’s another who channels her ki/chi/qi into her breasts and buttocks, and that’s her own form of kung fu.  This is just some of the outlandish stuff that’s played completely straight throughout this first season.  And I sincerely hope we are in store for more seasons.

Keijo may not have done all it could to capitalize on its premise, but it still did quite a lot and I’m positive future seasons will correct that.  Despite being mostly standard archetypes, I still found the characters pretty likable.  Gotta love those techniques, too.  Keijo gets an 8.5 from me.

Yuri!!! On Ice

yuri-on-ice

They were born to make history.

Times sure have changed, haven’t they?  I’m gonna let you kids in on a little secret:  I didn’t know this show went full gay.  Yeah.  I actually thought the show was still teasing the audience with the possibility of Yuri and Victor entering into a relationship.  It wasn’t until they bought the rings that I went, “Ohhhhhhh,” and that was followed by, “I’m so happy for them.”  I think it’s a testament to the world and all of us today that a figure skating show about two men falling in love is one of the most well received anime of 2016.  And the best thing about it?  It’s not just a gimmick.  The show is legitimately good.

Yes, the routines did fall off a bit near the end, and I was kinda underwhelmed by the ending.  All of the characters are great, though, and it was a treat seeing them express themselves in their various routines.  I was also pretty invested in their individual stories–as it should be with any sports series worth its salt.  The show has some great comedic moments, a beautiful soundtrack, and the art fits the series incredibly well.

I’m giving Yuri!!! On Ice a 9.  Only one other anime that started last season had me looking forward to it more every week.

Haikyuu!! Third Season

haikyuu-third-season

Shiratorizawa ain’t nuthing ta f*ck wit.

It gets a 10.  Yeah, spoiler alert or whatever.  I’m giving it a 10.  I lost my sh*t multiple times every episode.  I just…I love it so much.

I honestly don’t know what to say about Haikyuu!! Third Season.  The match surpassed my expectations in every way, and that’s saying a lot since the buildup was fantastic.  The art, animation, action, characters, comedy, and every other aspect was done impeccably.  It might be unfair for me to put this above the other shows since it’s the third season of a show I love, but hey, it’s my blog.  I make the rules!

That’ll do it for this Seasonal Sawce.  Fall 2016 might be one of my favorite seasons for anime in quite sometime.  I really liked and loved most of I watched, and I’m really enjoying the three I started that are still airing.

All in all, I think 2016 was a pretty awesome year for anime.  Had a few that could possibly go down as classics, and we may even have some game-changers on our hands.  I’m honestly pretty stoked for what 2017 could bring us.  I don’t plan on watching anywhere near as many as I did in 2016 (I always say that, don’t I?), but this will hopefully be a damn good year for anime.

As long as we get Vento Aureo.  We don’t get that, 2017 sucks.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.