Seasonal Sawce: Spring into Anime 2018, Part 1

Oh, man.  Two whole years of Seasonal Sawce brings us to this legendary moment: Another Seasonal Sawce.

This is a pretty ridiculously stacked season.  I started eight this season, and I’m not even watching everything I want to.  As always, we’re pretty much halfway through, so I’m gonna rank these anime from my least hype to my most hype every week.  Kinda fudging it a bit since one anime had an episode 0 and another had a recap 4.5, but I need to go ahead and get this out of the way.

Here we go.

8) High School DxD Hero

High School DxD Hero

Demons and angels and valkyries! Oh, my!

After three seasons and a few OVAs, Issei Hyoudou is well on his way to becoming the Harem King.  He’s the current Red Dragon Emperor and legendary throughout the supernatural world as the comical yet powerful “Oppai Dragon.”  So, things are looking up for him and his friends as the second-year students prepare for their trip to Kyoto.  Rias, Akeno, and Koneko aren’t happy about staying behind, but with Issei and so many of their other allies going, they should be fine.  Really.

Yeah, not really.  High School DxD Hero is one of those rare anime (that I’ve watched, at least) to get an episode 0.  Basically, the last few episodes of the third season have now been retconned out (best I can tell).  Having never read the novels or really remembering last season that well, I have no idea why that had to happen, but here we are.  This fourth season is like all the rest.  Characters I love with designs I love even more, so many fantasy and mythological characters and ideas thrown together with absolute glee, good-looking characters, genuine heart with its approach to story and fan-service, and wonderfully gif-able characters.  I don’t like the art style as much as the previous seasons, but it’s growing on me.

7) Food Wars! The Third Plate: Totsuki Train Arc

Food Wars The Third Plate Totsuki Train Arc

Because calling it “Season 4” would’ve been too easy.

With Erina Nakiri in their corner, the Rebels have become actual threats to Central’s reign at Totsuki Academy.  So much so that when it comes time for the school’s annual promotion exams, every student opposing Azami Nakiri and his ideals are ridiculously handicapped during each test.  Yukihira Souma and his friends prove resilient by facing the exams with confidence, but when the group is split up and put on different trains, they face their biggest challenges yet:  The Elite Ten.

Another season four?  Surely, there can’t anymore of those this season!  (Spoiler alert: There is.)  As much as I love Food Wars, I can’t help but feel it’s just kinda going through the motions right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think everything about the show is good, but it almost feels like there’s a spot the show wants to be at and it just wants to be there instead of where it is.  Again, I love it.  Yukihira finally getting his salty runback against Akira, Erina being Erina, the strange and fascinating dishes, etc.  But still, it doesn’t feel as enthusiastic as it used to.

6) Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku

Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii

Hot Skitty on Wailord action. (I apologize for nothing.)

Narumi Momose recently broke up with her boyfriend, but things don’t seem too down for her.  She’s attractive, only in her mid-20’s, and she’s landed a new job where no one knows her or her secret.  Well…almost no one.  Without thinking she calls out to her childhood friend, Hirotaka Nifuji, who also works at said new job.  All seems to go well until Hirotaka casually asks her about Comiket, and just like that, her secret is out: Narumi is an otaku.  Even worse, she’s a yaoi fangirl!  Luckily for her, the people around her don’t seem to care.  Hirotaka himself is a massive game nerd, his senpai is a light novel fanboy, and her own senpai is a well-known cosplayer.  Hirotaka also seems pretty interested in the prospect of dating Narumi, so she’s got that going for her, too.

Wotakoi is successfully filling the void in my heart left by Gamers! and Recovery of an MMO Junkie.  Nerd rom-coms are just the best, aren’t they?  It’s this low on the list just because it hasn’t done too much to really wow me so far.  It has been consistently funny with quite an entertaining cast, though.  Also, it has a wonderful OP.  Has the cutest bit of an OP I’ve seen in a while.  And, as if Wotakoi didn’t have me hooked already, Sawashiro Miyuki voices the very attractive cosplayer.  Great stuff.

5) Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

Took their sweet time with this one, didn’t they?

After what feels like years, Sousuke Sagara and Kaname Chidori finally hold hands!  Unbelievable!  The romantic milestone is short-lived as Leonard Testarossa and his forces make their big play to eliminate Mithril and capture Kaname.  For what may be one final time, Sousuke and Kaname will have to fight the odds to stay together and possibly hug one day!

To say Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is one of my most anticipated anime ever is a bit of an understatement.  I adore the first three seasons (Yeah, three!), and Sousuke and Kaname are straight-up one of my favorite anime couples.  The franchise is one of the best blends of action, mech, comedy, and romance.  So, why isn’t it higher?  Because they gave me a friggin’ recap episode, and then they didn’t even acknowledge the cliffhanger of the previous actual episode!  I’m not sure if I’ve ever been that blue-balled by an anime.  I love you, FMP, but I need you to treat me better.

4) Hinamatsuri

Hinamatsuri

Hina phone home.

Nitta is your average low-ranking yakuza thug.  He has a mean face, a nice apartment, and a penchant for collecting expensive vases.  What he doesn’t much care for is the large metal egg housing a young girl that appeared in his home one night.  Deciding to ignore it, Nitta goes to bed, but the girl is still there the next morning.  Releasing her from the egg, Nitta learns her name is Hina and she has great telekinetic powers matched only by her desire to live an easy life.  They reach an uneasy agreement where Nitta will essentially treat Hina as his estranged daughter and Hina won’t use her powers to ruin his life.  Throw in a hot, manipulative bartender, the most skilled middle-schooler of all-time, a street band, a community of homeless men looking after another psychic girl, and a few more oddities and weirdos and you got yourself a delightful comedy for the whole family…as long as you don’t mind explaining what girly clubs are.

Man, I can’t remember the last time I laughed at an anime this much.  Hinamatsuri is absolutely hilarious.  The comedic timing, punchlines, and facial expressions are top-notch.  And the characters–oh, the characters!  Nitta and Hina’s initially reluctant father-daughter relationship only works thanks to Nitta’s ability to roll with life’s punches.  Hitomi is easily the funniest character in the show, and Anzu often brings a tear to my eye.  I love this show.  It’s a guaranteed high point of my week every time.

3) Steins;Gate 0

Steins Gate 0

El. Psy. Congroo.

Rintarou Okabe did not save Kurisu Makise.  He has abandoned his lighthearted “Hououin Kyouma” personality.  Suzuha Amane’s future is still one of war and terror, but Okabe no longer has the heart to help anyone, really.  He just goes to class and lives a normal life now.  Until he meets Maho Hiyajou and the AI Amadeus she and her colleagues have been working on.  They’ve found a way to store an individual’s personality and memories into an artificial intelligence allowing it to grow and learn as if it were that person.  To Okabe’s surprise, Kurisu used herself as a subject for Amadeus before her death.  It’s almost a second chance for Okabe, but he’s in the bad timeline now, so the pin has to drop at some point.

Said it before, and I’ll say it again–the first Steins;Gate is one of my all-time favorite anime.  Okabe is one of my favorite male protagonists, and Kurisu is one of my favorite female protagonists (she might actually be number one).  And hey, I love time travel stories.  So, checking out Steins;Gate 0 was pretty much a no-brainer for me.  Yes, it is certainly darker compared to the original.  There are no fun time traveling text messages.  Okabe has made his choice, and the world is on a march to self-destruction.  I’m not expecting a happy-ending, but I just love these characters so much.  It’s been a bit more of a slow-burn than I would’ve liked, though.  I’m still on the edge of my seat every week.  It’s good to be back.

2) My Hero Academia 3

My Hero Academia 3

All for one, and one for all.

Ain’t no rest for the wicked or the virtuous as the League of Villains launch their assault on UA’s summer training camp to kick off the third season of My Hero Academia.  Plus Ultra, bay-bay!

I mean, come on.  It’s My Hero Academia!  Of course I’m hype for this every week.  We even get a patented MHA uber hype scene in the first few episodes.  Right up there with All Might versus Nomu, Deku versus Todoroki, and everything with Stain.  Probably the only reason this isn’t number one is because I have a good idea where this is going (I’ve started reading that manga, yo).  I’m still super excited for it each and every Saturday, and it will probably wind up being one of my favorites I watch this summer.

What could possibly be my most hype show I’m following right now, though?

1) Megalo Box

Megalo Box

Your arms are just too short to box with God.

Junk Dog doesn’t have a real name.  Doesn’t know if he ever did.  All he does know is how to box.  Unfortunately, he’s forced to constantly throw underground Megalo Boxing matches in order for himself and his crooked manager to make money and survive.  They’re unlicensed and will only ever live in the slums outside the absurdly wealthy city.  That changes one day, though, when Junk Dog runs afoul of the top-ranked legitimate Megalo Boxer, Yuri, and gets him into a ring.  No longer can he just throw underground fights.  He’s seen greatness firsthand, and he wants it.  With the local mob getting hold of an illegal license for him, the newly christened “Joe” now has only three months to climb the Megalo Boxing rankings and enter the Megalonia tournament.  The world of Megalo Boxing has never seen anyone like him, and Joe plans to take full advantage that.

I…am not really familiar with the original Ashita no Joe.  I’d love to check it out, but to the best of my knowledge, neither the anime or manga are readily legally available in the States.  What I have seen, though, is Hajime no Ippo, and that anime…well, it’s my favorite.  So, imagine me finding this brand new sci-fi boxing anime with a killer soundtrack and made to look like it came out in the late ’90s.  Simply put–I was smitten.  Megalo Box does falter when it comes to the actual fights sometimes, but I think that’s due to the series getting only one cour, forcing them to up the pacing.  But, the show has already tackled themes I never expected out of my boxing anime like classism and PTSD.  Megalo Box is only halfway through, but it already feels like this anime was made just for me.  Plus, it’s had some truly maddening cliffhangers, and I have to respect that.

Whoops.  Before I forget:

TOURNAMENT!

And that wraps up this Seasonal Sawce!  I’m watching three season fours!  Inconceivable.  When next we meet; however, it will not be another Seasonal Sawce.  Nay, it’s that most wonderful time of the year: The Summer of Anime.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

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Seasonal Sawce: Winner, Winter Anime Dinner 2018, Part 2

Dang, this sure is late.  In my defense, Amazon withheld the last episode of Killing Bites after first uploading it for some reason.  And then, once I got to watch that, it’s been one trip after another.

Also, I started watching Veronica Mars.  That show is extremely addictive.

Anyhoo, I watched seven anime in their entirety for the winter season.  Let’s get to them, shall we?

Maerchen Maedchen

Maerchen Maedchen 2

Go home, Maerchen Maedchen. You’re drunk.

Okay, so, I do think the premise of Maerchen Maedchen is really neat.  I do.  But the team kinda fumbled this one in spectacular fashion.  At first, the show felt like it was plodding along.  Then, things just started happening with no chance for the characters or audience to catch their breath.  Then, the show just ended without having a proper climax.  Just some questionable choices made at every turn.  Oh, and there’s the vanishing budget to talk about.

I don’t know exactly what happened during this show’s production, but whatever budget they had must have disappeared in the second half.  Episodes 9 and 10 ran late, and boy howdy, do they look like it.  I often don’t notice animation errors, but Maerchen Maedchen looked me in the eye…or maybe the ear and dared me to call out its poor quality.  Just ew.

Think I’ll give it a 4.5.  If it were just the bad animation in its later stages, I’d be more forgiving, but everything else about the show fell apart with its budget.

How to Keep a Mummy

How to Keep a Mummy 2

Praise be to Pochi, the Immortal One.

How to Keep a Mummy assured me in the beginning it would only be about cute supernatural pets, and by golly, it kept its promise.  The mummy, the oni child, the dragon, the baku, the Anubis sculpture, and the seemingly ever-living dog.  All cute.  All supernatural.  All good by me.

The show did seem to hint every now and then that it wanted to do more with the human characters.  Even though I did love the adorable occult critters, I kinda wish it had done more with their respective guardians.  They were likable enough characters.  Just got the bare minimum of character traits with a hint of more depth.

A 6 out of 10 for this slice-of-lifer.  Cute stuff.

Citrus

Citrus 2

Orange you glad I didn’t make a citrus joke?

Citrus really wants to fit a particular niche, and I have to applaud the show for it.  You want your trashy romance?  Look no further.  Feeling like you want that trashy romance to be yuri?  You got it.  Do you wanna go one step more and make it kinda incestuous?  I mean, if that’s what you’re in the mood for, then Citrus has got you covered.

In all seriousness, I do think Citrus is an enjoyable romance anime.  The character designs are pretty striking, and you can’t help but want these crazy kids to find happiness.  Even if one has some major emotional baggage to sift through and deal with and the other is entirely too confused by what she’s feeling to behave rationally.  Still not cool with how Yuzu and Mei’s relationship started.  “Forceful” is putting it nicely.  Should’ve had more Harumin.  Harumin is best girl.  Easily.

Gonna give it a 7.  I enjoyed it for the most part, but it only gets so high because of Harumin.

Dagashi Kashi 2

Dagashi Kashi 2 2

I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face.

I have…mixed feelings about Dagashi Kashi 2.  On one hand, I feel like the shorter episodes helped the show maintain a decent pace every episode, and each outing never overstayed its welcome.  On the other, I really, really like this cast of characters and wanted to see more of them.  It felt like just as I was getting into each episode, it ended.  Also, I love the two new additions to the cast, Hajime and Beniyutaka.  Both are somewhat mentors for Kokonotsu while Hajime doubles as his subordinate and Beniyutaka something of a rival.  Then again, Hotaru’s absence is just too noticeable.

This second season is as funny as the first, though.  May even be funnier.  Kokonotsu played off his dad, Hotaru, and the Endou siblings as well as always, and Hajime’s and Beniyutaka’s respective shenanigans were welcome.  But again, it was like the characters I grew to love in season one took a backseat to the new ones.  So, mixed feelings.

Dagashi Kashi 2 gets a cool 7.5 from me.  Pretty much what I gave the first season.

Killing Bites

Killing Bites 2

THAT’S WHAT KILLING BITES IS.

This would probably be my number two from this season, but man…okay.  I’m not saying rape is something that can never be used in a story.  If it’s handled well, if it’s explored correctly, if justice is found, then yeah.  Everything can have its place in fiction.  But Killing Bites is a little too cavalier with using rape as a plot device.  Hitomi is abducted at the beginning by people who plan to rape her, but kills her abductors.  The cobra therianthrope is a serial rapist, but he, thankfully, gets destroyed in the Destroyale.  Leo takes part in a massive coup and rapes Youko Mitsukado, but he…well, he gets away with it.  Show plays it off as part of his lion nature and Youko is one of the most despicable characters in the show, but rape isn’t something you just throw around in your story.  I hope that if this show gets a second season, it’ll be able to handle its more controversial elements better.

All that aside, I love everything else about this piece of trash.  It’s bloody, it’s full of glorious cheesecake, it’s got legitimate facts about nature, it’s got fun character designs, it’s got a catchy soundtrack, and it’s so gloriously over-the-top in every aspect you can’t help but have fun.  And that’s the biggest compliment I can pay Killing Bites.  It is always entertaining.

Giving it a 7.5 like Dagashi Kashi 2.  Sure, the score’s the same, but Killing Bites just has sharper fangs…and the one with the sharper fangs wins.  That’s what Killing Bites is.

After the Rain

After the Rain 2

It’s like looking into a mirror.

After the Rain had so many opportunities to go off the rails and become something…gross, but damn, it walked a tightrope, maintained its integrity, and wound up being a real gem from this season.  Seriously, if you were put off by the initial premise of a romance blossoming between a 17-year-old high school student and her 40-some-odd-year-old manager, then you should still give this a chance.  There is a love between the two, but if it’s romantic, it’s quite minimal and never acted on.

Instead, what Akira and Kondou find in each other is a newfound love for what they’ve given up.  Through their odd relationship, Akira is able to reconnect with her old best friend and begin rehabbing her injury, while Kondou’s passion to write is reignited with a fervor he hasn’t felt since his college days.  I like most of the side characters, too, but the two protagonists kinda eclipse the rest of the cast.  Plus, the show is pretty.  Like, really damn pretty.

Solid 8 out of 10 for me.  A genuine surprise.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2

We must protect this smile.

So, girl becomes interested in boy when he runs late on the first day of school because he found a handkerchief and turned it into the office.  Instead of befriending the boy and getting to know him in a normal fashion, girl decides to persistently tease the boy in order to see his reactions and get him to blush.  At some point girl must realize she is crushing on this boy and wants him to reciprocate her feelings (which boy does, even if he doesn’t think so), but she decides to continue pranking him.  Because it’s fun.  Because he interests her so much.  This is the story of Takagi and Nishikata.  And I love it.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is the anime I didn’t know I needed in my life.  Sure, I loves me some rom-coms, but Takagi-san really struck a chord with me.  The highlight of my week was always getting on the Crunchyroll app on my PS4 and watching Takagi and Nishikata’s interactions.  I like the side stories with three of their classmates thrown in to keep things from getting old, but man, nothing beat seeing the main two.  I’m sure I had just the stupidest smile on my face watching these two kids.  They’re the best.

Takagi and Nishikata get a 9 for my favorite anime this season.  I can only hope we get another season.  Or OVAs.  Well, I know one OVA has been announced, but I need more!

This is the part where I say, “Aw, yeah, I got some cool post ideas coming up soon,” but let’s be real here: The next post is gonna be Seasonal Sawce.  We all know it.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

Seasonal Sawce: Winner, Winter Anime Dinner 2018, Part 1

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!

Let’s go!

8) How to Keep a Mummy

How to Keep a Mummy

The new launchpad for the Dark Universe.

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

Maerchen Maedchen

Who booked this show?

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–?!

TOURNAMENT!

6) After the Rain

After the Rain

LEGS FOR DAYS.

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.

5) Citrus

Citrus

It is exactly what it looks like.

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

Dagashi Kashi 2

Is this the candy shop 50 Cent told us about?

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

Killing Bites

Battle Furryale

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

Darling in the Franxx

Franxxly, my darling, I don’t give a damn.

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

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san

Congratulations, you played yourself…and it was adorable.

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.

 

Seasonal Sawce: Fall Back Into Anime 2017, Part 2

Believe it or not, this post isn’t necessarily late.  I actually wanted to write this a year after this particular Seasonal Sawce.  Pretty neat, right?

(How many of you believe that?)

Okay, so, the following anime I watched in their entirety as they aired from October to December 2017.  Gonna be ranking them from my least favorite to my most favorite.  Without further preamble, let’s get into it!

Juni Taisen

Juni Taisen 2

No, Monkey, put your hand down.  You don’t get to be in a better anime.

Oh, man.  This right here…this might be the biggest disappointment in terms of anime for me in 2017.  I saw that Nisioisin name and got excited.  I saw those absolutely awesome character designs and got hype.  I read the death battle set-up and got all sorts of ready.  I watched the whole thing and really, really wished I’d watched something else in its place.

It’s just dull.  And straight-up ugly sometimes.  One episode randomly switched between 2D and CGI animation, and there had been nary a bit of CGI used in the show previously.  There was a two-parter covering the most uninteresting characters in the show, and those episodes looked rushed and choppy.  It’s like they blew their budget on the very first episode and went, “…Who the f**k said we had to do 11 more episodes?  We thought the leftover funds were booze money!”

Pretty cool characters and powers consistently let down by shoddy animation, poor pacing, and just a general disinterest in the source material.  I’m not saying the original is better since I haven’t read it, but the Juni Taisen anime is getting a 4.5 out of 10 from me.  I know it seems a little high for how I was talking, but I’m a generous sort.

Two Car

Two Car 2

And thus begins the crossover with Welcome to the Ballroom.

I can’t really say I was letdown by this show.  I think.  I dunno.  I didn’t expect it to be that good, but I also didn’t expect it to be so boring.  Okay, it’s not always boring, but it could’ve used some tuning up (and I’ll check that off on the pun list for this post).  The two main characters being rivals because they’ve fallen for the same guy is fine.  That was a good joke because we never even see the guy’s face.  He’s irrelevant.  But then he shows up and ruins the joke.  I didn’t think I’d miss the two-parters focusing on different teams and their problems from the first half so much.  Boy howdy, did I, though.

Once the joke is over for the main girls, the other teams are way better and more interesting characters.  Even the two announcer girls!  And why didn’t we get an episode that was just Mao and Hitomi on a date?  Those two are gold.  Sure, I wanted some more sports in my sports anime, but I knew the focus here would be cute girls.  So…focus on the cute girls more.  Give ’em more time and more things to do.  Don’t just throw them to the side once you’ve given up.

I’ll give it a 5.5.  It’s fine for a cute girls doing sports things show, but there has got to be better out there.

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World 2017

Kino's Journey The Beautiful World 2

Mighty needy for an anthropomorphic motorcycle.

This might have actually been beneath Two Car had it not been for a few spectacular episodes.  In particular the penultimate eleventh episode which is essentially Kino’s origin story.  That was some fine anime right there.  Aside from those standouts, though, the 2017 adaptation of Kino’s Journey is a wee bit lackluster.

Themes and messages tend to get lost in adaptation sometimes, and you’re left wondering what the point of those adventures were.  I also don’t feel Kino’s characterization was consistent.  Couldn’t put my finger on it, but she felt like a different character every now and then.  Also, she was only barely in her own show for a majority of the time.  Another group of travelers tended to take up a surprising amount of screen time.

Either a 6 or 6.5 for me.  There are a handful of genuinely great episodes, but the rest felt middling to decent.

Food Wars! The Third Plate

Food Wars! The Third Plate 2

Going off the rails on a gravy train!

Third Plate was on track to surpass Second Plate, and all in all, it probably did.  The second season of Food Wars! suffered from an incredibly rushed tournament arc and tacked on aftermath.  Season three here had a decent beginning, awesome middle, and then just kinda fizzled out at the end.  Yeah, Souma’s duel with the First Seat of the Elite Ten felt kinda superfluous.  I really don’t think these one cour seasons suit Food Wars! at all.

But, like I said, those middle episodes was Food Wars! at its finest.  Erina’s father returning and overthrowing the current regime, the iron wok of Central coming down on the school, Souma essentially beginning the revolution all by his lonesome…. Good stuff, man.  Good stuff!  Wish what came before and after were of similar quality, though.

It’s a solid 8.  I mean, it’s Food Wars!.  Of course it’s good.

Now, it’s actually time for my number one.  Yeah, that’s right.  Only five this time!  I love it!

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Recovery of an MMO Junkie 2

In which we are Sakurai, and Sakurai is us.

I like me some rom-coms, but I love me some good rom-coms!  And Recovery of an MMO Junkie is one of the goodest.  Or best, if you want to get all correct-y grammar-y over here.  All joking aside, though, yeah, I love this anime to bits.  The soundtrack, the look, the characters, the relationships, the humor, the set-up, the pay-off, the all the stuff…. I love it.  And it’s about adults!  How f**king weird is that?!

It also helps that Moriko Morioka is one of the top contenders for Best Girl of 2017.  Actually, if she represents the fall season, then we can get Karen Tendou of Gamers! for summer, Akane Hiyama from Love Tyrant for spring, and Sakie “Succubus Sensei” Satou hailing all the from winter in Interviews with Monster Girls and have them all compete in a TOURNAMENT to crown Best Girl of 2017.  I mean, physical strength gives the edge to Akane, so maybe if they have, like, a debate TOURNAMENT?  Maybe?

That aside out of the way, not only is Moriko a great main protagonist, but Sakurai is a wonderful main love interest.  Guy’s kinda smitten with her and is just the picture of a gentleman nerd most of the time.  Not the bad kind of gentleman nerd.  The actual decent person good kind.  His best friend/foil/romantic rival/wingman Koiwai is a surprisingly fun character, and all their guildmates bring their own set of fulfilled characteristics and lives to the tables.

It may not have had the most satisfying conclusion for a rom-com, but with only ten episodes and one for-funsies OVA, Recovery of an MMO Junkie did a remarkable job of presenting an immensely likable cast in a pretty real and heartfelt yet fanciful story.  This one’s a 9 out of 10 for me.

That’s gonna do it for this round of Seasonal Sawce.  If I’m being real here, I probably won’t write another post until the next Seasonal Sawce, but I always hope for better.  Gonna try and knock out at least one graphic novel a week this year, and I may or may not write about each of them.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

Seasonal Sawce: Fall Back Into Anime 2017, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.