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Iaboo, Youaboo, Weallaboo for Anime!

I'm rewatching Ranma for the first time in a while with a friend who has never seen it before. Forgot how delightful this show is. Unfortunately, Happosai is due to show up in two more episodes. :(
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Tomodachi Game
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Premise

Man, the main character loves his friends. It's like, he and his friends are... BEST FRIENDS FOREVER... Or are they? On the same day the school trip money is stolen, a kid and his friends are kidnapped and forced into a game where they are already in deep debt but they can win big money. To win, they'll need the power of friendship. But considering one of them was actually responsible for the situation, friendship might not be what EVERYONE in the group values. Now they are playing games designed to rip their friendship apart and testing their resolve. But the main character might already be on the verge of cracking... and getting fed up with what seems to be closet fair-weather friends.

It Gud?

Tomodachi Game isn't a death game show... yet, it seems. It's not as edge-lordy as you might expect. But it is edgelord adjacent because it thinks it is blowing our fucking minds with the idea that maybe cynicism is a thing? JBear pointed out similarities to Kaiji. Kaiji did have a couple of death games but most of the games is about putting people in a debt so deep it destroys their will to live. It's also a show that has a character who wants to value friendship but also sees often that words are cheap and the actual work of trust is hard and painful and even after that doesn't always pan out.

Tomodachi Game wants to be that show. I doesn't present it's entire formula in the first episode but I get the idea that as the games designed to strain trust and take advantage of human weaknesses, the main character is going to put on a distorted face of insane rage, then expose the hypocracy of his friends and maybe shame them into being honest and making a mutually beneficial decision.
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Considering his opening gambit involves the colour of a girls underwear, seems like the brutally honest version of the main characters sucks. He probably says shit like "I'm just asking questions."

Anyway, it isn't very good. It's limply animated, every scene transition is the show title smashed across the screen, and it's characters are very superficial archetypes with no real sense of fun. I can already tell it wants us to believe there are more than meets the eye but I feel like it will only be in the dumbest way. It's possible that the solution to the first game is clever but frankly, I don't care to find out. It's not as ugly as death game shows can get, but there's not nearly as much "there" there as the show seems to want us to think.
Estab-Life: Great Escape
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Premise
In an alternate reality/future, people in Japan are trapped in their own districts and life-roles forever. But a group of people have dedicated themselves from freeing people from their depressing lives and give them hope again. They are called... I don't remember. Extractors I think?
It Gud?

The first thing noticable about Estab-Life is that it has some bad CG animation. It isn't as astonishingly bad as Tesla Note but it's mostly pretty lifeless and the lead character's lack of depth is completely represented in her face. It's not good. I will give the show SOME props. I appreciate it throws us into it's world and not explaining why there's a wolfman, robots and a girl who is "half slime". This is by no means Dorohedoro but I love the instinct is to just have shit like that "there" and let the audience deal with it. Not everything has to be explained. The other thing I like is that there is a sexy ass wolf man who only speaks in "woof" and occasionally Tim Allen-like grunts.

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Between this and Platinum End, I think if we collected all the good characters on bad shows, you'd have a fantastic if completely unhinged series.
Unfortunately about this show, most of the other stuff. Now, this isn't an excremental show, it's merely quite forgettable and not that interesting. The potential is there but the characters are underdeveloped and dull I have no investment in them. The lead is the worst, because at least her friends, a Tsundere and a cute slime girl, fall into easily recognizable archetypes that you can easily work with but the lead tries to fit in the "wacky friendly-type" but between her dead face and being a dull leader, she's a complete cipher for me.

The show also shows what kind of show it THINKS it is when we have a teacher reading Neitzche to his high school (or middle school, maybe) students. The teacher is whom the heroes must save from being a teacher forever and this causes him to... dance on the toilet? That out heroes have video footage of? Is this a weird influencer thing? I'm never quite sure. I know the show wants to be about escaping from pre-prescribed life but the problem with not explaining a lot in your show is that maybe people will be intrigued... or maybe they'll just shrug and find themselves with NOTHING to actually invest in, which is my case with this complete nothing of a show that wants to be something.

Love All Play

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Premise

A middle school kid who likes badminton is schocked when he's offered a place in a high school renowned for it's badminton club. He's hesitant for personal reasons and specifically in consideration for people he loves but eventually accepts... albeit his own way, a much hard academics path.

It Gud?

Pretty good. It looks like there's a lot of sports stuff this season and despite my love of the genre to the point where I feel like I'm an easy sell, I feel like I've hit a streak of bad ones and boring ones lately. Love All Play is a lower key series to be sure and that low key promise bit me on the ass in the forgettable 2.43. But in that I was also expecting something more of a narrative turn. Here I'm expecting a bit of sports comfort food. It could loose my interest if the new cast is poorly developed (wacky twins is usual a bad sign for whatever reason, as they often fall into similar, not-fun archetypes), and it already looks like there's a Rukawa in the cast.

What's a Rukawa? Oh, well, if you haven't watched Slam Dunk, that's one of the best sports shows of the 90s. It's the third most loved shonen manga of all time in Japan, too, according to some poll. And it's extremely influential on the sports genre. Sports manga and anime ALWAYS had a rival of the protagonist but I feel like the character of Rukawa became a very specific one I see a LOT; a serious and not happy looking dude with short black hair who is ultra competant and super talented and perhaps, if not arrogant, doesn't suffer fools. But said character also reveals themselves to BE a fool, usually on par with our foolish main character with the key difference is they are far more talented than the main character and tends to be more popular with the ladies, largely because they don't talk too much to reveal how kind of dumb they are. It's a good archetype but, again, isekai-level specific. And there's one motherfucker in this line up that I'm 90% positive is a Rukawa.

Of course, that usually works when the lead needs to be humbled a bit before he can turn the tables with hard consistent work. The main character is rather modest and is unaware as to why he's even garnered such attention. This could lead to some mystery but in the first episode it's taking a backseat to a smaller stakes tale. It's not the best, but I'm enjoying this and I'm looking forward to a nice little sports show and hope it stays interesting.

Fanfare of Adolescence

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Premise

An idol leaves the business to follow a new dream; becoming a jockey. So he joins a jockey school where he meets a mysterious country boy with an incredible gift for connecting with horses... despite never riding a horse before.
It Gud?

Of the three sports shows I've seen this season, this one is probably the weakest but it's still good. It does have some telltale signs that it won't rise above a mid-level show. Weirdly, it's the hair colors. I wouldn't call this a "collect the boys" but there's something about the hair designs that trigger something in my that says "this might not be bad, but it can only be so good." And I don't think any indvidual character's hair would do that, just when the cast is assembled.

But on viewing on it's own not-weirdly-arbitrary-hair-based merits, it's a cute little show. A young man wants to get into horse racing and our cast has different reasons. The story is pretty standard but there's something about the tone that makes me think I'll enjoy myself well enough, another comfort food show with low stakes. It also ends on a note where it looks like the two male leads are headed for romance without it feeling like an expressly BL-focused show. That said, I thought we were heading that way with 2.43 (I was sooo sure) and that didn't pan out. But considering it ends with him landing in another boys arms and the world explodes into pink petals, yeah, I'm right this time.

Birdie Wing: Girls' Golf Story
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Premise

A golf mercenary of unparalleled skill supports orphans with her deadly trade, only feeling alive when she can make outrageous bets. But her hunger for cash to support her loved ones might take a backseat when she meets a pro with her own unusual skills.

It Gud?

Well, I wasn't expecting a show like this. When I hear a title like "girls' golf story" I expect something like Slow Loop, which is cute girls enjoying a hobby or perhaps even something closer to a conventional sports show like Hanebado. I had NO fucking clue what I was in for. Seriously, go into this one cold if you can.

For those who can't wait, it's a show where our protagonist takes off a mask Mission Impossible style to reveal is replacing a pro. Then she has a golf battle with a clown where she shoots a shot between the cars of a moving train. It's a wild, over the top show and I am here for it.
That said, I feel if the show ever loses it's audacity, it will become a bore. It's the show's storngest attribute any if it doesn't have at least one "Oh, wait?" moment every five minutes, it will become a disappointment, meaning that it might have an uphill battle after a ridiculously giddy first episode. But if it keeps it up, I anticipate this one being a delight.

Aharen-san wa Hakarenai
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Premise

A stone-faced introvert who has a hard time reaching out due to his unfriendly face decides to try to change in high school, only to find his deskmate even more anti-social... or so he thinks. It turns out she's also hard to read and in addition is a very quiet talker. She also has a problem gauging personal space, often scaring off friends by getting too close physically and emotionally than people are often comfortable with. The two end up getting along and becoming friends as they learn to understand each other despite both already having problems navigating social norms.

It Gud?

When I started, I was afraid we were heading into a poor man's Komi Can't Communicate. There are definitely similarities; a cute girl of sublte expressions and the one man who comes closer than anyone to understanding her. But there are differences, the title Arahen is actually has the bravery to be a social butterfly but her quiet talking, pecularities and her problems with clinginess are her downfall. She's not socially anxious, she's just hesitant about making the same mistakes and meets someone willing to help her out as she figures it out.

It's also much more clearly a four-koma or four-panel comic, as it definitely moves in the mode of little sketches with pretty simple set up-punchline designs. And thankfully, they are often pretty funny, thanks in large part to the fact that the characters are subtle in their emotions, meaning straight faces as they do wacky things. Arahen headbutting her co-lead is a highlight, as is he receiving class notes at inappropriate times all the time forever from Arahen.

I think it will be compared to Komi, which is returning this month, and I hope it doesn't mean it gets overlooked because of that because based on the first episode, it's quite funny. I like these characters and though expressionless person acts silly feels very anime old-hat, there's still clearly a lot of life in it left.
 
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Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I don't talk about awesome editing in anime enough but Kaguya-Sama started this season off very strong in every respect and the arm-wrestling segment was a highlight. I loved them putting in a pastiche to Queen's "We Will Rock You" as well as a callback to the previous opening to explain a character's arm-strength. Leading up to a stylized scene that looks like it came from a VHS with a background referencing the openings to Kinnikuman.

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And of course, beyond "oh, clever reference", it's just very very funny. This show has not missed a step and I'm so glad to spend time with these characters again.
 

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
(they/them)
As an anime hipster I'm forced to concede that Kaguya does in fact deserve its popularity. Spy X Family looks to follow a similar path. There's too much good anime right now, someone please give the animators a nice paid vacation please
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Aoashi
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Premise
A middle school soccer player who seems to be a ballhog glory hound finds himself scouted by a coach for a series youth football club when he comes to realize he's more strategically minded and team-minded than even he realizes. Can he find a way to utlize his unique playstyle in a team when he asks so much to play in his own unique style?
It Gud?
Yet ANOTHER sports anime. Seems to be the season for it. This is definitely the most traditional of them in many ways, coming in with big shounen energy. Oh, it's not over the top or anything, it's just not a game changer either. Not that this is a problem, this one seems like it could be pretty fun. The idea that the character seems like a glory hound but is more of someone who has a specific playstyle is low key interesting and I'm curious if the idea that he has a hard time with traditional team work will be dropped in favour of straightforward teamwork but it would be fun to see something different happen with that dynamic.

It is weird that the show wants to forgive the main character for red carding the team to a loss when even when we learned WHY he hit another player, it's just as unjustified as when we learned about what he did, even if the other play comes in later extremely contrite for his shit talking. Dudes, even if some jerk talks about your mom, ya don't headbutt another player. Other than that, there's not too much to say. I suspect this might be a bit similar to Ace of Diamond, an addictive sports show that never quite rises above to really differentiate itself but nonetheless results in a quality product.

Dance Dance Danseur
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Premise
Jumpei is a young man who does manly stuff like Jeet Kune Do. But in his heart of hearts, he can't deny himself, he wants to do ballet. When a young girl recognizes a "kick" he did in class as a ballet maneuver, she pleads with him to join her in ballet. Tempted both by the thought this girl might have a crush on him and a chance to do ballet once again, Jumpei complains but finds himself returning to his love of ballet... but is it too late?
It Gud?
Dance technically is an "art" rather than a sport but Dance Dance Danseur is following that style in the best possible way. I love stories about growing abilities and craft that also connect in a personally emotional way and this series hits the ground running as he confronts masculinity and having the courage simply not to define his with simplicity. I like the way that it drives home in his backstory in a way that really drives home why he is concerned with it because beyond simply being embarrassed by doing a "girl" thing, a personal tragedy and help from well-meaning relatives want him to be self-reliant, which they define as being "a man".

His family is great and supportive but it is not clear to Jumpei that the "manliness" his loved ones want to instill isn't a series of prescribed norms but something that makes him personally stronger. And unbeknownst to them, he's finding his courage in ballet and being able to admit to himself how fulfilling and empowering it is to him. It reminds me a lot of Blue Period, another series about growing technique to work in a creative field and it being about also growing your worldview.

The animation of the dancing is beautiful, which is key, and it's just a great directed show. I can't wait to see more of it because it's not long before I'm invested in these characters and look forward to seeing how things shake out. And also knowing how rough ballet can be on the body, if they will get into some of the more horrifying details (I suspect in a low key way, probably, for injuries).

The Executioner and Her Way of Life
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Premise
A boy is summoned from another world to a magical land... and is promptly given the boot. He runs into a priestess who claims she takes in wayward strangers from another world, which seems to be a recurring problem that the upper class of the religion of Faust are taking issue with. After teaching the boy how to use his power, she suddenly kills him. It turns out that people summoned from another world have a very bad habit of having their problems go dangerously out of control and in addition to being a priest is an assassin. Learning the boy wasn't the only one summoned, he tracks down a young woman summoned at the same time in order to kill her.
It Gud?
I'm certainly not in the market for more isekai and one that, upon hearing the premise, sounds potentially edgelordy even less so. The Executioner and Her Way of Life isn't edgelordy, really, and is much more of a standard "assassin who believes they are sinning for a greater good finds their humanity again". It's actually pretty easy to predict the show's trajectory; she's going to meet this woman and instead of killing her will be driven to save her, turning her former allies into enemies. What's more, while the characters are in no way "bad", they also fail to leave a particularly strong impression and feel a little more like types I've seen before, even in this season, too. The overly affectionate little sister-type, the troubled assassin, the clueless friend who changes our antiheroine through pure avuncularness (granted, this is in the second episode, which I've already watched so spoilers for if I'm still watching this one).

So as basic as it is, if it wasn't for the previous bracket statement, you might think I'm dropping it. But I want to give it a try because even though I suspect they won't dive too deep, I do believe the world building is doing something different and low key critical of the modern and now very specific isekai genre. The hero finds, instead of being one super-special people, is essentially a reluctant immigrant, one of many special people chucked into the lower rung of society the second he isn't useful. He probably doesn't even have a lot to share with his new society because everyone else beat him to the punch and most of the cool stuff that would come with being this kind of protagonist is taken away. And when the hero learns he, in fact, might have a cool gift, he's killed for it. Because OP people are dangerous and people are scared because they often become monsters, literally, despite good intentions. I feel like this is interesting and parts of it even address things I wish the shows would address that get handwaved away for narrative purposes. Maybe people who are abducted miss home and this hurts them. Maybe people don't want someone from another world around.

It doesn't stray deeply far off the path and doesn't completely turn the genre (or any genre) on it's head to a significant degree, but it actually has a few stakes and a potentially emotional, if well-trodden, story of betrayal and love. Oh, it's not without problems, it gets a little gratuitously booby-focused a couple times and I'm not expecting big surprises, but it's interesting enough that I'll stick with it unless it completely losses my interest.

RPG Real Estate
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Premise
A woman joins a real estate company in a fantasy world helping people find places to live in a magical metropolis and beyond.
It Gud?
This is the kind of story that's not for me. I like slice of life comedy and I don't necessarily mind "cute girls doing things" series is who they are and what they are doing is interesting, but I'm growing tired of the conventional Western-style video game fantasy setting, particularly when so many pop up each season and seem satisfied with "yeah, you like this trope or reference." This isn't even the first fantasy real estate show within a year's time. I bounced off this one pretty quickly.

I don't think I would have stuck with it regardless but the show puts a lot of stock in me enjoying the series resident gremlin (in the non-monster sense of the word... although, also she's a monster). She's a loud 5-13 year old (anime makes it hard to gauge) who screams a lot and doesn't want to wear clothes and knowing anime is probably like a billion years old or something. l do not care for her.

Other than that, I found all it's narrative turns, slight as they are, REALLY easy to predict and even without the gremlin, am not having a tremendous amout of fun with these folks. Though the premise has been done with Dragon Goes House Hunting, I do think you can do a lot with this premise and have fun with the idea of the challenges of living and paying rent in a fantasy world. The joke I did legit like was the idea of owning an apartment where adventurers can legally rummage through your shit, Final Fantasy/Zelda story. But there were far more lows than highs and I have no interest in giving it the opportunity to turn it around as it feels happy with where it is.

Also, I'm pretty sure the owner of RPG Real Estate delivers saucy singing telegrams...
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The Dawn of the Witch
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Premise
A young man with no memories goes to a magic school that will erase his remaining memories if he can't pass, which I have a hard time believing the PTA came to an agreement on. To this end, the school teams him with a pantsless little girl who is 300 years old because this very young looking girl has no pants and anime is gross. They end up teaming with one of the top students on a special mission and I feel like maybe something else happened but I don't remember.
It Gud?
I mean, does it sound like it? I mean, this is how the mentor figure looks.
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As JBear pointed out, it doesn't look like she chose pantlessness but she simply forgot them. Similarly, the main character has a notable look. Specifically one.
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Never has a protagonist looked so disinterested in being in a series and this is ANIME where that is pretty common. The dude has the one face and some series would use that to comedic effect but considering this show doesn't do well in the humour department, this isn't probably gonna work.

And mostly, it's a pretty dull fantasy show (and memory loss? Is this backdooring an isekai element again) and if there's some sort of reveal, the show thought we'd be interested enough that they could wait for that drop. This is certainly not the case for me and while the series tried to get me into the worldbuilding where witches are a new class in society or something, I couldn't give a hoot. That's right, I cussed a swear! The Dawn of the Witch is yet another series I think I must have chosen because of a good animal and the dragonman isn't bad, he's far from enough to keep me going.

In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki
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Premise
Tsubaki is a kunoichi (lady-type ninja) who lives in a girls-only ninja camp where she and her friends are warned off men. But Tsubaki, though she doesn't want to admit it even to herself, really wants to see a man and struggles with these feelings, particularly since all her friends are more interested in dunking on men or straight up wanting to beat them up as a show of strength.

It Gud?
Tsubaki isn't bad but some shows seem to exist with one central joke and the promise comes with the question "can they keep the joke fresh". Kaguya-Sama did by making it's characters (mostly) loveable and building on who they are beyond the "romance Death Note" interplay without never completely abandoning it. Tsubaki doesn't really get beyond that to me and that's unfortunate.

I didn't dislike it as much as JBear, who seemed more bored by it and was likely disappointed since he was a fan of the mangaka's other series Teasing Master Takagi-San. For me, I found it watchable but repetitive, down to the girls constantly saying the same slams on men, complete with "just kick em in the junk". It feels like in the next chapter you can do that but the same time in a half hour is less so. So I don't have super-negative things to say but I have no desire to see any more.

Heroines Run the Show
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Premise

A teen moves to the big city to join track and runs afoul the two most popular boys in school, who have it in for her since she may have overheard something scandalous about them. But while they are in lockstep against her, they otherwise can't seem to stand each other. When her parents run into financial dire straights, she decides to support herself with a job... which turns out to be an assistant manager to the boys... who are also one of the most popular idol units in all of Japan.

It Gud?

A show about idols is usually going to be an uphill battle for me, not because I hold animosity against idols but many of the shows fall into a similar mold that don't interest me. But this really isn't an "idol show" with 3D simulacrum of the characters dancing around. Its more of a traditional shoujo show where our everywoman finds herself tormented by some jerky dudes who are likely going to fall for her, Boys Over Flowers-style.

But at the same time, it doesn't make a living Hell for our heroine the way some of these shows do for all the tension. If anything, I feel like for now, it is most focused on her and the ending makes me think we are not just going to get romance but also friendship as her gal pals work together and help each other out. It's not forging a new path but I am having a good time so far and I'm hopeful that it's not just these characters mooning over each other but her finding her worth in a new field beyond convenience.

Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost
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Premise
Miss Shachiku is an office worker doing late nightsto finish work haunted by a baby ghost DESPERATELY trying to get her to return home. Neither of them really get what they want.

It Gud?

There are a certain subset of shows that I feel confident I actually would have totally kept with if they were half the length. How Heavy Are Your Dumbbells, for example. Some shows feel like they work better in a bite-sized form. More isn't better and this show falls into that. The second half is the story from the ghosts point of view but it doesn't actually give us much insight and feels like a drag even compared to the leisurely-paced act one.

It's also not particularly funny. It's cute but cute only takes me so far (specifically 12 minutes). But I won't lie, this baby ghost is fucking adorable.
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So if that's all you need, this show definitely has what you need. You get a cute baby ghost.

You might think the message of the show is "life doesn't begin or end at the office" but it really doesn't do that. Actually, if anything it's more wish fulfillment that something adorable would tell me not to work (even if it doesn't work in the show). But mostly, it's someone wanting to have cute ghosts as a personal assistant.

Kotaro Lives Alone
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Premise
A four year old boy lives alone in an apartment with some other lonely people.

It Gud?

Kotaro Lives alone is a show that advertised itself as funny but also rather sad and it delievered. Oh, no, I wasn't going to town on the waterworks (and I am easy to make cry) but the show both embraces the absurdism and the deep sadness in a story about a little boy who lives alone. It's not realistic, as there's not much explanation on how this character is in this unlikely situation and it doesn't need to but it comes from an emotionally potent place about this apartment building full of lonely people who come together due to this little boy who enters their lives. I'm not as over the moon as I was hoping but even though it isn't quite as potent as I hoped, it really does do what I want, quirky little slice of life stories with a tinge of melancholy.

Thermae Romae Novae
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Premise
In ancient Rome, the son of bathhouse architects decides to follow in their footsteps.

It Gud?

I was a big fan of Olympia Kyklos, the weird edu-comedy set in Ancient Greece and was excited to see the same creator's premiere series. I was given to understand it was less comedic but I was disappointed with how bored I was with this one. It didn't help that the time travel aspect happened only very briefly in episode one and is more of a character piece, one that didn't capture my mind. If it was going to be less wacky, I would much rather learn about the nature of the bath, which we only get a bit of (mostly that you go between very hot and very cold water.)
The animation is more servicable than impressive and after the bizarre fever dream of Olympia Kyklos, this can only be a letdown in every respect. I do appreciate that every episode gives a mini-docu series about Japanese bath houses hosted by the creator but that's more "hmm, neat" rather than "Aw, yeah!"

It's a shame between this and Way of the Househusband, they take manga with perfect comedic voices and dilute it a bit with dull direction. Househusband gets off better thanks to very great voice acting and some good timing, even if it hurts the very good art of the source material. It could also be that this started off on the wrong foot; it feels more like a prequel chapter than a first chapter. But it pains me to say I'm just not interested in going further.

Deaimon
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Premise
A musician returns home in hopes of taking over his father's sweet baked-goods business in the hopes of taking over the family business. But considering he actually knows little about making sweets, his dad would much rather give his business to a promising apprentice... a 10 year old girl.
It Gud?
A pleasant and often funny little slice of life show, Deaimon is a simple series about a seemingly irresponsible musician and a girl taking on responsibilities beyond her years. The first episode ends with the dude helping the girl out of a jam with a jam... of the musical variety, and it's all heart-warming in the right ways.

I don't think when we hit the next season this one is going to stick with me strongly but I feel like it's in the same field as Aquatope from a while back about characters supporting each other and maybe learning a few things about stuff. Which I'm down with. The one thing that rubs me the wrong way is the white shading, which I've seen on a few shows.
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But that's really more of a personal preference.

Love After World Domination
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Premise
A Power Rangers-esque super team of tokusatsu heroes battles world conquerors. But the team leader ends up falling in love with one of the most powerful generals of the evil empire. The two decide to start a relationship but decide to keep their forbidden love secret from their co-workers.
It Gud?
I wasn't sure I was going to be into this since I've never been a tokusatsu fan and the thirsty design of the female co-lead. But I was really won over by this one. I can see getting tired of it if I don't like the ways the characters and comedy develops but it's a pretty fun first episode and I like the idea of two people who really don't know how to romance fumbling through romance while keeping a secret.

It's interesting to see that there are actually a surprsing number of series that is less interested in "will they won't they" and show that just being in a relationship also has fun tension. It's not nearly as comedically adept as my personal season favourite Kaguya but I like watching these dummies try to figure their shit out. I also say I like some of these designs.
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Shikimori is Not Just a Cutie
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Premise
The world's unluckiest guy has a badass girlfriend... but sometimes, she's rather be a cute girlfriend.
It Gud?
The description sounds slight but I quite liked this one. JBear bounced off and I'm not certain I like it enough to watch it for myself on my loaded plate but I might. Regardless, there's a weirdness to the premise I can't quite articulate. The premise sounds clear and when put into words it is. But I feel like the logline actually is only one thrust instead of the main one. In Kaguya, the main thrust was clear and then felt free to branch off and not be constantly married to it. But this one feels like only one moment, a bowling scene, is about the push and pull.

I won't call it a problem, per say, because I think it actually makes Shikimori a little more actualized. She doesn't dislike or even resist looking cool but wants to be seen in another light. The yearning isn't deep, at least in the first episode and I think it makes the character maybe more at peace with herself, it means it lacks a little push and pull of the comedy. So ironically, I think by having this character being pretty comfortable with herself means the push and pull isn't very clear for me.

But I still like the show, OK. It's very beautifully animated, to be sure. I will say I like the characters but I'm not as drawn into their relationship as much as some of the other ones we are seeing this season. I'm curious if in the next episode, it has a more clear "game" to how the stories and humour shake out.

Spy X Family
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Premise
Twilight, the world's greatest spy, has been given his hardest assignment... start a family. In order to get close to an important individual, he needs to get a child and have them enroll in the school. In order to not raise suspicions, he adopts from the shadiest orphanage around and finds a little girl who miraculously meets all his criteria. What he doesn't realize is the girl, Anya, has a secret; she can read minds and immediately knows Twilight is a spy on a mission and she wants in. Soon, the two find themselves hip deep in danger while also learning to create a genuine bond with each other.
It Gud?
Spy X Family is easily the most anticipated new series thanks in no small part in the manga's popularity. With Studio Wit at the helm, it's no surprise this was an instant hit with me, being very funny and clever. But beyond that, I was expecting a simple gag series but so far it actually seems to have a serialized arc and I'm curious how that will play out going forward.

I also appreciate how it uses stakes. The baddie is convinced he can overthrow a government official with evidence that he's wearing a hairpiece and I love that it punctuates this goofy plot point with a murder presented like a more series genre piece.
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I also think that it's a series with a good theme to it, about characters who have been bottling up their humanity for what they've been told is a good reason and find themselves opening up. I know that an assassin is joining the cast as the "mom", so I'm excited to see that play out but more than that, I always like the theme of having a good cause and simply being a good person and remembering the values that characters put aside for a "greater good".

I already see so much promise and one episode in I'm having a great time. Kaguya is my big show for the season but boy is this a close runner up.

EDIT:
Ya Boy Kongming
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Premise
Kongming, great leader and strategic mind of the three kingdoms era China, finds himself transported to modern day Japan where he decides to utilize his for his true calling; EDM Manager!
It Gud?
I feel bad for almost forgetting this one. Yes, it is good, a lot of fun. The premise is knowingly ridiculous but also it isn't just wall to wall wacky, we get to feel the weight of the goofy premise and actually stew in it for a while as Kongming adjusts to live in the modern day. Also, he tries to learn about blockchain. Thankfully, someone draws the line there.

It is a very funny show, to be sure, but I like how character based it is and isn't simply leaning on it's high concept but using it to give us some fun times with these characters. I know I'm in good hands when Kongming gives someone a fuzzy navel before they can finish saying it. Dude knows what he's doing.
 
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After last season's mostly meh shows, I'm ready to watch some good stuff! Johnny Unusual has already hit on some that I've watched and liked, so I'll just hit the ones I'm either really enjoying or have issues with. Because I like to complain.

So let's get the ones that I know I'm going to be watching and enjoying out of the way: Kaguya S3, Spy x Family, and Aharen-San Wa Hakarenai. Aharen-San is adorable and Raidou's attempts to communicate with her are equally adorable. Spy x Family I've read the manga of, on Viz for 2-3 bucks a month through Shonen Jump, and I knew going in I would love it. Kaguya is Kaguya, just so long as they don't do something really stupid.

Now for the ones that need to shape up or I'm out. Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs seems like a good premise. Protag was forced to play an unbalanced dating sim for his sister and get all the endings, after which he gets up from a 3-4 day binge, falls down the stairs and dies only to be reborn as a background character in the dating sim he was playing. On the surface it sounds like yet another isekai, except the show can't decide on anything. See, this is a world where women have power and male harems. Except they don't have any real power, but yes they do. And Protag McAsshole wants to get married after cheating the world and getting the best loot right from the start and earning himself a barony. Except he doesn't want to get married? Oh and the heroine and villainess are both being shoved out by a third girl, who looks so familiar, so they are both going to wind up with him. Calling it now that the third girl is protag's little sister. This may be my hate watch of the season, but Dawn of the Witch may usurp it.

Next up is one I've only seen one episode of, breaking my normal 2 episode rule, but I want to talk about it. See, I want to like Skeleton Knight in Another World because the premise sounds good! Arc wakes up in the OP avatar from the MMO he was playing, which includes the skeleton avatar he was wearing. All he wants to do is have a low key life, but of course he's going to get mixed up in saving the world or some such nonsense. It doesn't take itself too seriously and I appreciates that. Hell, the opening is a power metal song from Norwegian cover artist PellaK showng Arc being a badass drinking and smoking a cigar! All of this would normally make me happy, but the first thing we see is an attempted rape. Now it's no where near as pornographic as Goblin Slayer and Arc quickly kills the bandits, but when something like this comes up in the first episode I'm very wary of how the show will continue. The second episode is out, so I'll be watching it cautiously.

Don't Hurt Me, My Healer is a wacky show about a healer and the fighter she has accidentally cursed because he yelled at her when she was going to heal him. Now he has to stay within 300 meters of her or he will die. Oh, and the horned bear can't get its verbal tic straight. I like wacky, so this is staying on my list, gao.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
If anyone was ever curious about this, I watched Blade Runner: Black Lotus a little bit ago, because it showed up on HBO Max. It only had the English dub option, but honestly the voice work was pretty good and they even got some Actors to do it. As for the show, well, it was Fine. Really only worth watching if you're a big fan of the franchise. It had good fight choreography, the plot was a pretty standard revenge story, it barely serves as backdrop for Blade Runner 2049, and the 3D CG style actually did a great job of making it "feel" like this was a Blade Runner story happening in that universe. That last point is easily the strongest reason to recommend this show for fans of the movies, because it really nails the atmosphere and music. Also: does a show pass the Bechdel Test if there are 2+ women characters but almost all of their interactions are either sword fights or chase sequences?
 
Spy x Family - as good as advertised. Couldn't help but be amused by it obviously being a product of a different culture. The notion of a politician in America resigning in shame for doing *anything*, let alone because they got outted for wearing a toupee is laughable.

Kaguya-sama S3 - I assume will be good, but I'm waiting for a friend to catch up on S2 before I start watching S3 with him.

Ya Boi Kongming - Delightful show. Leaning very heavily into the Three Kingdoms mythos, but not in a way that's indecipherable. It's a shame this show is stuck on HiDive, but what can you do. Johnny, you said, "...we get to feel the weight of the goofy premise and actually stew in it for a while as Kongming adjusts to live in the modern day." And I'm just like, "Oh shit, that's P.A. Works' music!"

Sheild-Hero S2 - A friend is making me watch this again. Episode 1 of the new seasons starts out with the 'hero' getting yet another slave to join his thrall. I hate this show.

Tiger & Bunny 2 - Sure is more Tiger & Bunny, for better and worse. The new characters are cool so far. And I like the whole dynamic of all the heroes pairing up in duos as a result of Barnaby & Tiger's success in doing so.

Lupin III: Part VI - Just started this show. Sherlock Holmes being a Lupin III adversary is something that's been way overdue. Setting up beef between him and Lupin, heavily implying that Lupin is in some way responsible for getting Watson killed, and orphaning/traumatizing his daughter is spicy, but also pretty predictable where this is going, since we can't have the Miyazaki-Lupin actually be a bad guy. This would honestly be a way more interesting scenario if this was a Holmes-focused show with Lupin as a genuine villain more in line with his original comic-version.

The Case Study of Vanitas pt 2 - Love this show. It's pretty fun. My only complaint is that as gay as it feels like it wants to be, both of the main characters - who definitely want to bone each other something fierce - have beards for plausible deniability. It's still really fun though. If you liked Bungo Stray Dogs, this has the same vibe. Just sexy vampires in Victorian France instead of X-Men mutants in modern Tokyo.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Oh dang, I didn’t realize this season had both the new Lupin and new T&B. Gonna have to figure out the best way to get ahold of those.
 
Oh dang, I didn’t realize this season had both the new Lupin and new T&B. Gonna have to figure out the best way to get ahold of those.
New Lupin was actually a few seasons ago, I'm just catching up. It's all over and out already. It was a HiDive exclusive otherwise I probably would have watched as it aired, and am only watching now b/c I took a while to get off my lazybutt and sail the seven seas for it. I have the vague impression that I can't substantiate that it'll show on toonami eventually but don't take my word for it.

Tiger & Bunny 2 is a Netflix exclusive, and the first cour of that went up all at once a few weeks ago. The 2nd cour of it I believe will come out later.
 

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
(they/them)
Healer Girl is so good. It's basically Aria or Flying Witch except as a musical. Genius.
 

Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
Healer Girl is so good. It's basically Aria or Flying Witch except as a musical. Genius.
I'm glad you like it, but I have to admit my wife and I could not get through the first episode for the very reason of its musical tendancies.
 
Two episodes in on Love After World Domination and I'm convinced this is going to be a pretty good show.

The second episode of Skeleton Knight in Another World put my worries about it mostly to rest other than to show what a BAMF our hero Arc is.
 

Mr Bean

Chief Detective
Has Crunchyroll changed their free offerings with the Funimation merger and I just can't find it? It used to be that stuff unlocked for the ad supported tier a week after it came out for premium, but now everything except SpyXFamily is locked behind the paywall. Bookworm, Kaguya, even new stuff I wanted to check out like Birdy Wing all have 2-3 weeks of content still under the premium lock. It's probably worth it to sign up, but I don't like being coerced into it like this.
 
IIRC at some point Crunchyroll was going to get rid of the free, ad-supported option. Don't know if that's gone into effect yet, but it probably will soon. It's honestly miraculous that their free option lasted this long, as it's definitely not the route the entire industry is taking.

I don't mind paying for CR at all. It offers me better value than pretty much any other service, and their library just doubled without so much as a rate increase during this ongoing Funimation merger. But I don't blame anyone for not being thrilled at yet another recursive monthly payment. (I do the yearly subs; comes out to a fair bit cheaper and I know I'll be subbed that long anyways, so there's always that option still.)
 

ThornGhost

lofi posts to relax/study to
(he/him)
How did I miss Kaguya S3 starting? Watched the first episode - it's great. Like, really great. Thanks Kaguya. Thaguya.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Whaaaat how did I not know this was a thing. I’m not sure how much hope I have for it being actually good, but I’m probably gonna have to watch it regardless..
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Has Crunchyroll changed their free offerings with the Funimation merger and I just can't find it? It used to be that stuff unlocked for the ad supported tier a week after it came out for premium, but now everything except SpyXFamily is locked behind the paywall. Bookworm, Kaguya, even new stuff I wanted to check out like Birdy Wing all have 2-3 weeks of content still under the premium lock. It's probably worth it to sign up, but I don't like being coerced into it like this.

Yes, they did. Essentially, the Spring season stuff might have a few free episodes, but everything in this season is only under Premium.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Birdie Wing just had an episode where the mafia families settle a land deal with an underground golf game with a shuffling super course and the opponent is a thirsty snake lady who also looks like a vampire and drives the car from Doctor Who.

Doctor-Who-Bessie-Car.jpg
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It was the least expected car to be owned by a specific character that I have ever imagined.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
I love how the snake lady goes from "hyper thirsty" to "complete dork" in roughly 10 seconds after losing.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
Impossibly, a Discord channel I'm in workshopped an actually good isekai premise that I would actually be interested in watching:

"Help! I got Hit By a Bus And was Reincarnated With Back Problems!"

It's a comedy where everyone tries to convince someone who got hit by a bus that no, they just got hit by a bus and they're still in the same universe, but that person refuses to believe it because they've read so many isekai that they simply refuse to believe getting hit by a bus doesn't transport them to another world.

*waits for someone to tell him that this exists, because every isekai premise has already been willed into existence through sheer volume*
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Impossibly, a Discord channel I'm in workshopped an actually good isekai premise that I would actually be interested in watching:

"Help! I got Hit By a Bus And was Reincarnated With Back Problems!"

It's a comedy where everyone tries to convince someone who got hit by a bus that no, they just got hit by a bus and they're still in the same universe, but that person refuses to believe it because they've read so many isekai that they simply refuse to believe getting hit by a bus doesn't transport them to another world.

*waits for someone to tell him that this exists, because every isekai premise has already been willed into existence through sheer volume*
I Got Hit By a Truck But I Wasn’t Sent to Another World! What the Heck?!
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
Shenmue: The Animation finished over the weekend. I was skeptical of it when it was announced, both from the short length (13 episodes to cover the first two games) and from the very idea of an adaptation — Hadn't Yu Suzuki always discounted continuing the Shenmue story as a book or comic? Why would this be different? — but gave it a go anyway. To my surprise, it turned out to be much better than I expected.

No, it doesn't capture the game's verisimilitude; but it has the good sense not to try. This is one of those adaptations that recognizes that the source material is heavily reliant on its medium, and that any adaptation requires a bit of a rethink. So, Shenmue: The Animation cuts the story to the quick and ramps up the mystery and tension, turning it into a martial arts detective-adventure. And I think it works. By moving at a brisk pace, the story actually hits the dramatics that it probably always intended, and it becomes a pretty enjoyable (if not particularly original) romp. It helps that they have, in some ways, fleshed out and filled in the story: more time is afforded to Ryo's relationship with his father, characters like Nozomi and Joy get more screentime and play a slightly more active role in the narrative, and minor characters like Mark and Guizhang have their backstories and relationships changed slightly to give them an arc of sorts.

It does feel a bit rushed at times, and unable to give big events the time or space they need to really sink in and make an impact — this is particularly true of the final episode, where the big reveals in Bailu don't have nearly the impact they should. The dream would have been a full a 26-episode run, but I think even another three or four episodes would have been a huge boon. Still, I remain fairly impressed with the compression overall; the core of the story remains intact, and it's never incoherent.

What really endears me to it, though, is that it was clearly made by people who really, really love the games. It is incredibly faithful to the visuals of the games: even the most minor characters, like thugs that briefly impede Ryo, have their designs carried over; locations are true to the game not just in building interiors, but the city layouts; lots of shot compositions are taken straight from the game cutscenes. But more than that, it includes lots of small moments from the games, or nods to it. It includes scenes of Ryo using the chawan sign in the wrong places and getting into trouble for it. Eileen's and Izumi's subplots are entirely excised from the anime (an easy call to make), but it still finds the time to give them short but memorable cameos — including showing off Izumi's martial arts prowess, which in the game doesn't come up until much later. That inexplicable and pointless scene of Ryo watching a plane fly overhead gets its due. It even goes beyond these two games: a few anime-exclusive scenes with Shenhua in Bailu include a few nods to Shenmue III. And it does this without ever trying to call attention to it — it's never drawing attention to the Sega Saturn in Ryo's house — just putting them there for the fans to mark out over, which is nice.

Shenmue: The Animation certainly has its shortcomings and in no way replaces the games; but for a project that could have really, really easily been a disaster, that it instead came out pretty well is a pleasant surprise. I just hope it did well enough that it doesn't follow the same trajectory of the games, and that it won't be some fifteen years before we get the Shenmue III adaptation.

Too bad Yukawa didn't pop up, though. Would have been my new avatar.
 
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