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.

Advertisements

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.

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.