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Iaboo, Youaboo, Weallaboo for Anime!

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
There are good isekai manga/LNs/etc out there, but by and large it's a sea of derivative power fantasies and wish fulfillment, yes.
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
There are good isekai manga/LNs/etc out there, but by and large it's a sea of derivative power fantasies and wish fulfillment, yes.
I'm enjoying My New Life as a Villainess and I've heard very good things about Ascendance of a Bookworm. OTOH, because I have pretty poor taste I also sometimes watch the Mother's Basement YT channel, which suggested the aforementioned Cautious Hero (bleh) and Make My Abilities Average (bleeeh) and loves both Konosuba and Re:Zero so I don't really trust its recommendations anymore.

For much, much older stuff, the original El Hazard OAV (no idea about TV), and the TV series of Escaflowne and Rayearth are still aces (and the latter also pioneered the "let's acknowledge this is just like an RPG meta text.) Maybe isekai just work better when the protag is genderfluid/ an Ordinary High School Girl rather than a male otaku wish fulfillment vessel?
 
I apologize if I came across as dismissive. I really was trying to say that I find the whole process amusing, and that time is a flat circle. Like, shows like Kanon, Galaxy Angel, Otoboku, Fate, and Demonbane were fairly common in the '00s, and I legit found it really interesting. Especially since a number of them became more popular once the porn was taken out, so I wouldn't necessarily call it a mask?
I don't think you have to apologize. I think Peklo has an important point that's worth considering. On the other hand, there are definitely adaptations that completely pull the porn out of it to pretty good success. (The first Utawarerumono show, I was absolutely shocked to learn it was based on a porn game because it's not skeevy whatsoever.) In general, porn-game derivitives are gonna have a lot of skeevyness in them, but there's soooo many non-porn game stuff that is just as skeevy, or has more indirect links to pornography that the entire medium is fraught and to avoid all of it you have to be extra judicious or rely on trusted sources to vet things for you. It's just kind of a thing.

Did someone hear how "Reincarnated as a Slime" became the most popular isekai of its season, and decided to do it again but 10x harder?
Slime-hero was a really popular LN before it became a really popular show, and there are dozens of copycat LNs of it well before the show was even made.

I also sometimes watch the Mother's Basement YT channel, which suggested the aforementioned Cautious Hero (bleh) and Make My Abilities Average (bleeeh) and loves both Konosuba and Re:Zero so I don't really trust its recommendations anymore.
Mother's Basement is mostly a hard avoid for me. The guy makes some salient points about stuff once in a while. But mostly, his expertise is in cinematography. So him breaking down an opening? Sure good stuff. Him discussing the broader merits of a show? He tends to mostly go for otaku-bait and it's not a great time. I dunno if he genuinely likes those kinds of shows, or is just going after whatever's popular to get clicks, but it's generally not a good time for the proclivities of most people here, including you and me it seems.
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
(he/him/his)
For much, much older stuff, the original El Hazard OAV (no idea about TV), and the TV series of Escaflowne and Rayearth are still aces (and the latter also pioneered the "let's acknowledge this is just like an RPG meta text.) Maybe isekai just work better when the protag is genderfluid/ an Ordinary High School Girl rather than a male otaku wish fulfillment vessel?
What it really comes down to is the presence of women. If you look at the genre before the modern boom, isekai was practically a "girl's genre"— most of the major works were written by women, for women, and with female leads. Inuyasha, Fushigi Yugi, Magic Knight Raynearth, Twelve Kingdoms all fall into this. Even the ones written by men still tended to have a female lead or at least have prominent female characters, like Escaflowne (which made a concerted appeal for a female audience; I wouldn't be surprised if the isekai premise was part of that). There were certainly still ones targeted at male audiences (you already brought up El Hazard), but they are very much the exception. That's changed, now, and it's men who are defining the genre… it's perhaps no surprise that it's now synonymous with otaku trash.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Did someone hear how "Reincarnated as a Slime" became the most popular isekai of its season, and decided to do it again but 10x harder?

Also I hate that I know that "Reincarnated as a Slime" is a thing that exists and is popular.
The premise of this series has nothing alike with Slime.

Also Slime is pretty good, except for some parts that I have very strong feelings about which makes it hard for me to enjoy the series as a whole.


Anyway the 8yo love interest aspect is hyper-gross and I hope one day the people who decide which LNs to adapt get struck by lightning a runaway truck and they end up isekaing as background characters into, iunno, Berserk.
Also I can't speak for what the anime ends up doing since it could swerve the other way, but this is like. Absolutely not what the LN does or is interested in doing at all. The girl isn't set up as a love interest, but as a friend, because she doesn't have any her age being a high ranking noble's daughter. Also Ryoma is skilled at a class of magic she wants to master, so her father goes "Yeah, this works out. Also I'll help out this kid that's living alone in the woods."

Are friendships really not allowed to exist? Are we so poisoned that any opposed-sex pairing has to automatically parse as romantic?

The tone of the actual series feels to me like the author is writing their wish fulfillment fantasy where people actually treat him like a real person, and congratulate and support him with his accomplishments. This does get kind of overwhelming at points, and that's not even getting into how I personally don't handle receiving accolades and support well due to low self-esteem problems. I actually have a bunch of LNs on my plate that are essentially an overworked office drone writing their wish fulfillment in order to burn stress. I'm 3 volumes in on the LN, and the most notable things Ryoma has done are cleaned up the city's sewers in order to prevent a plague, fix up the catgirl's house when the next-door dump broke through her basement wall, and start a laundromat. Oh, he does also do one fantasy thing, which is to help with clearing out a horde of goblins from a local mine. Like, I just love how mundane a lot of these LNs end up being? They don't want to go on globe spanning adventures, they just want to be treated like a real person.


Anyway, I will also make sure to say that my impression from watching the first episode was also coloured by the fact that I do read the LN, so please take my comments with a grain of salt.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
That's changed, now, and it's men who are defining the genre… it's perhaps no surprise that it's now synonymous with otaku trash.
Personally, what I think is also a major factor to consider is a combination of it becoming an expanding market (partly BECAUSE of male gaze otakus making stuff for other male gaze otakus) which resulted in an increase of just random people giving it a try, and also just plain us having more access to books then we had before. Even 10 years ago, it was a big risk to localize a book over a manga, which is why the localization for Twelve Kingdoms never did end up finishing. Nowadays, with digital releases, there's companies willing to take chances on random shit that gets popular on a Japanese website that's basically Archive Of Our Own/Royal Road. And let me tell you, I see that site come up a lot, on both good and bad LNs.

Like, given that I read a lot of LNs now, my Amazon recommendations list ends up with more than it's fair share of Young Adult novels in it (which is what LN actually means; it's to YA as Anime is to Cartoon and Manga is to Graphic Novel), and let me tell you: There's just about as much straight up trash in that category. This is not something unique to Japan.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Well, I'm glad my read on that was wrong, assuming it is an accurate representation of the source material. But frankly, I'm so used to series of this genre heading in directions not too distant from this, the episode ending with the two laying eyes on each other for the first time and going "Oh!" essentially read as "at first sight" to me, and that seemed icky. And the episode's ED with a cat lady hugging a body pillow with the face of a grown man in a little boy's body on it... that's still weird, show. Like, even if you are only interested in someone as a friend, please don't put your friend's face on a body pillow.

But at least there's one fewer show with creepy problematic stuff... I hope.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
I mean, I hope so too. It's not the one I'm most excited about this season, but it is on that list. This season has a lot of adaptations of LNs I've enjoyed, and I'm pretty hype.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in this slime property in any medium. I enjoyed the first episode a bit more than Johnny, and likely would have watched more before it revealed itself to be an isekai and completely nuked my interest. I have no idea what content the same property might have in other mediums.

That said: the OP to this anime 100% presents the 39-year-old and the 8-year-old as a romantic pairing. It is full of shots of them blushing and swooning at each other, to say nothing of what certainly reads visually as a romantic riverboat date:



I thought it was a cute OP before I had the added context of the 31 year age difference between the two people in this picture.

And frankly, even if the pairing wasn't romantic, a friendship between a 39-year-old masquerading as a kid and an 8-year-old is already problematic all on its own.
 
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What it really comes down to is the presence of women. If you look at the genre before the modern boom, isekai was practically a "girl's genre"— most of the major works were written by women, for women, and with female leads... That's changed, now, and it's men who are defining the genre… it's perhaps no surprise that it's now synonymous with otaku trash.
I'm not gonna say this is wrong, but it's definitely an incomplete look at things. If you're only talking about anime, sure. Or even just the stuff that makes it officially to our shores. But in Japan, manga, light novels, video games, they're all interconnected and support each other. Most of the anime that gets made is adaptations of manga or light novels or some other thing. And while most of the seasonal anime that gets talked about here has a primarily young adult male demographic, due in part to when it airs (in the middle of the night), manga and light novels both enjoy a much more balanced, diverse demographic as a medium with tons of girls and women who read them. So there is a buttload of isekai manga and light novels for female targeted audiences. It just usually gets ignored over here because most manga/light novels for a female readership don't make it over, and they also don't usually get anime made of them either.
 
Mother's Basement is mostly a hard avoid for me. The guy makes some salient points about stuff once in a while. But mostly, his expertise is in cinematography. So him breaking down an opening? Sure good stuff. Him discussing the broader merits of a show? He tends to mostly go for otaku-bait and it's not a great time. I dunno if he genuinely likes those kinds of shows, or is just going after whatever's popular to get clicks, but it's generally not a good time for the proclivities of most people here, including you and me it seems.
OTOH, he recently made videos recommending Deca-Dence, Appare Ranman, and The Great Pretender, which were all big winners.
 
OTOH, he recently made videos recommending Deca-Dence, Appare Ranman, and The Great Pretender, which were all big winners.
I wouldn't necessarily find that mutually exclusive with what I described though. He picks shows that are big with otaku and will get him clicks, and all three of those shows are pretty popular with otaku too and generated a lot of discussion in otaku circles. They just also happen to be legitimately good as well.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
And frankly, even if the pairing wasn't romantic, a friendship between a 39-year-old masquerading as a kid and an 8-year-old is already problematic all on its own.
Hm. It does beg some questions about reincarnation and past lives. I mean, if a baby were to suddenly perfectly remember their previous 96 year life, would they need to abstain from any relationships till they were an adult?
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
That's a chunk of one of the arguments I kind of wanted to make, but I had figured I had already burned a lot of my good will.

Basically, I imagine that most of us have had fantasies of going back to a younger version of ourselves with what we know now. Is this not basically the same thing? Is this not, essentially, the author wanting to have a "do over", to try to live their life differently this time? I imagine that this is a lot of why I am not bothered by these types of stories wanting to have relationships in them. After all, one of the few regrets I have, and would want to fix by going back to a younger age, is to try at relationships again with what I have learned during my transition. Like, knowing about being ace/aro at that age is a REALLY IMPORTANT THING.


Also this is going to just be me being a defender of the genre again, but I watched the first episode for the second time today, as part of a weekly group watch I have, and saying that the bit with the gods is "lampshading" just feels dismissive. Which, like, yeah ok I get that most of the folks here have little care or interest in the genre. I understand, and do not want to be negative to y'all about it. I really don't, and I know I'm gonna seem like I am because I'm a bad person.

Anyway, what I want to get at is that, well, after reading the book and seeing the scene twice, I don't feel that the author's intent was to poke fun at the trope, but was instead just... earnest? Ugh, as I was writing this I had the image in my mind, and then lost it part-way through. Anyway, I had said that the story feels like an office drone that just wanted to be treated like a person. Like, I'm not gonna say it was written great, but there was a feeling of desire behind it.

Also, I mean, folks sure make cracks at zombie movies and the like having people who have never apparently seen zombie movies. Now we have a genre that has advanced to the point where authors are writing the characters involved as having genre knowledge, and it's a negative?


Regardless of everything I have said, please keep in mind that for the most part I can only speak towards the light novel, and I have no real knowledge of what the anime staff plans to do. Maybe they do want to make it sketchy in order to pander to that audience, and that would make me really sad.
 

JaikuRirishii

Worthless Physicist
(He/Him)
Isekai's always been a girl's genre? If you're going to talk about Escaflowne and Rayearth as early examples, I feel the need to butt in.
I may be as good as Hilene at this, roughly, but I know a thing or two about giant robot shows.

If you want to put down Rayearth and Escaflowne as early, pivotal Isekai shows, I've gotta point out that they're both preceded by Yoshiyuki Tomino's classic Aura Battler Dunbine, which 100% is an Isekai. Fur-ther-more, in the time between Dunbine and Escaflowne, two DIFFERENT isekai FRANCHISES, Wataru and Ramune, started up in the interem. Alright, I know they weren't terribly popular in the west, but I know they were decently popular in japan. I'll freely admit that they came to the forefront of my mind because I've been playing SRWX, which includes both Dunbine and Wataru, but they're still valid points.
Probably the reason why we got Rayearth and Escaflowne here in the west is because they're more generally accessible? Dunbine is a boring and tragic war story. The first disk regularly put me to sleep. Wataru and Ramune are for kids.

This sort of power fantasy of gaining a new ability and entering a new 'world' or way of looking at things is Ab-so-lutely synonymous with the giant robot genre. Think about the dozens upon dozens of teenagers who are given a giant robot and whisked away to go fight in a war against some random alien enemy, or perhaps humans. The giant robot itself is much akin to the sort of superpower isekai protags are given. It's world-changing and role-defining. Amuro's boring day to day life on a space colony was rocked when Zeon attacked and he had to pilot the white war machine that is Gundam. It's actually pretty natural that one of the earlier Isekais on record (Dunbine) is one of these. I suppose the difference in robot shows, your robot changes the world, instead of taking you to another world. There's still some solid parallels.

Isekai has been around for a long time, and shitty male examples of it are just as common as female ones. In fact, there's still a lot of good female-driven ones coming out. I, for one, am beyond excited that my FAAAAVORITE Isekai, "I've been killing slimes for 300 years and maxed my level" is finally getting an anime. It's wholesome fun about a woman who was overworked in life and found a family in an alternate world on the other side.

Speaking as a man, men are shitty. Dudes are always going to make harem trash. They've made harem trash before poisoning this genre, and they'll make harem trash in any other genre they see. You shouldn't let yourself miss the good stuff out there because everything's shitty. Really, it's like saying the PS2 had no good games because I could show you aisles upon aisles of garbage. It's throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
 
If you want to put down Rayearth and Escaflowne as early, pivotal Isekai shows, I've gotta point out that they're both preceded by Yoshiyuki Tomino's classic Aura Battler Dunbine, which 100% is an Isekai.
I don't know why that's "putting them down". Also, you bring up Dunbine being a mecha show as if you're trying to prove nuh-uh, Isekai is for boys! But uh, you clearly don't have a handle on Yoshiyuki Tomino if you think he makes his shows for a male audience.
[/QUOTE]
Dunbine is a boring and tragic war story. The first disk regularly put me to sleep.
Them's fighting words.
 

JaikuRirishii

Worthless Physicist
(He/Him)
I feel like we could argue for days about Tomino's work, then. The fact that CCA is boys continuing to fight over a girl who died years prior, how all gundam shows treat female characters, such as Four dying to motivate Kamille, and all of Daitarn 3 are some things that come to mind pretty quickly to make me think otherwise. I think he appreciates that a female viewership is also important and will include stuff, but I don't feel like females are his core audience. Also, Lt. Quattro is eye candy for everyone.

An aside, back to Isekai, surely an inspiration for the genre is wishing one could live in a videogame, which is why dragon quest tropes pop up everywhere in most of these fantasy worlds. That's agender to boyish imho. Solid examples of this are Monster Rancher TV show and over half of the first two Digimon shows.
 

q 3

Posts: 181,942
(they/them)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court except Merlin is a teenage girl who keeps inexplicably calling the protagonist Baka

Alice in Wonderland except White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat etc. are all angsty hot guys pretty sure that one already exists actually
 

ThornGhost

lofi posts to relax/study to
(he/him)
Chronicles of Narnia except Aslan is a ditzy cat lady they keep stumbling upon while she's naked.
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
People are strangely taking major offense at an opinion I expressed, picking nits at very specific examples I only brought up to illustrate a much larger point, Talking Time v3 sure is off to a great start.

(Probably not the best time to share impressions on Yashahime ep 2, huh.)
 
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q 3

Posts: 181,942
(they/them)
I'm not offended, just shitposting, sorry!

Also as someone who has yet to decide whether to watch Inuyasha XX I would appreciate any impressions good or bad
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
It's ok, you can just call me out. I hate that I got so heated over it, but I'm an idiot who can't help themselves sometimes. Especially when it's things that I think are "mistaken".

Anyway, saying that isekei is "always" a women's genre is not quite right, but it's also true that it was that for a long time. Setting aside A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court as one of the earliest isekeis (and I'm sure that if we started to dig through historical or religious stories we'd probably find more, but I digress), the early days of the genre was indeed heavily feminine, used by women to explore a life that was not the one they lived. Imagining a life where they can be free from societal and familial demands, where they could be what they wanted, do what they wanted, and love who they wanted. I wouldn't really say that it was a defined "genre" at the time, though. In addition, Dunbine could have itself been a prompt for them, sure, though it certainly "follows" more modern tropes then the women-focused ones of the 90s.

I do, honestly, see very similar splits between modern ones. Yeah, a lot of modern isekeis take from the Dunbine model of dying and becoming a powerful warrior in another world, with a range from being super creepy to being pretty cute and loveable. From being clearly heavy male-gaze to being a mundane fantasy to being a womanly liberation dream. I also see more then my fair share that take the Fushigi Yugi or Twelve Kingdoms model, where it's about womanly empowerment or romance, away from the claws of the patriarchy. I intend to talk about these more in the LN thread, so I won't go into much here because we're already derailing heavily and I'm sorry for being unable to stop myself from doing so.

Really, what I wanted to get at is that (going back to my first sentence) I'm really steamed when people take a subset of something and apply it to the whole. Like, alright y'all, it's fair that you think something like How NOT To Summon A Demon Lord is trash and In Another World With My Smartphone is boring and somewhat creepy. But to extend from that to "And this is how all isekeis are and I'm gonna shit on any I come across" really burns me. Which is mostly a me problem, not you.

I don't know, maybe I'm just really upset at people being bothered by the idea of someone wanting to explore a personal fantasy, independent of the quality of that fantasy. Yeah, there's bad ones out there. And it bothers me that there's a large enough market for them that they tend to have a large presence. But that's not unique to the genre, either. That said, there's also been some localizers that have been good at picking up a wider range, or have a focus on specific sub-genres (there's one publisher that I have a lot of books from that is a lot of one-shot romance stories, both isekei and not, for example), so as someone who has discovered that they DO like seeing other peoples' wish fulfillment, to maybe fill in the gaps my own brain can't fill in on it's own, it's been a pleasure. And it doesn't have to be for any of y'all, either.

So, I apologize that I've been rambling and offensive.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Also as someone who has yet to decide whether to watch Inuyasha XX I would appreciate any impressions good or bad
I can only approach this as someone who skipped Inuyasha for bad reasons, but I've honestly been super into Yashahime so far. The second episode is really the first proper one, introducing the three leads, setting up a longer term conflict, and then putting them together. It's still a bit dense with introductions and events, but it didn't feel overly rushed.

Also, Towa looks hella rad in that suit. Like, just completely rocking that outfit.
 

ThornGhost

lofi posts to relax/study to
(he/him)
People are strangely taking major offense at an opinion I expressed, picking nits at very specific examples I only brought up to illustrate a much larger point, Talking Time v3 sure is off to a great start.
I'm not offended, just shitposting, sorry!
Same here! I just thought we were goofin' about old isekei-type stories with modern anime tropes. To be honest I didn't even see your original post.

In that vein, is Dante's Divine Comedy an isekei?
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
To me this conversation just seems like a microcosm of how the genre has taken root in contemporary consciousness and what's come to define it. I don't think the argument is or has been that these stories were exclusively for this or that demographic, just that the modern boom of the last decade or so resulted in the term, genre, and conventions of "isekai" being codified in a mass (niche) market sense, apart from the universal understanding of portal fantasy narratives, especially for people who only mostly observe it from afar and see brief mentions of what's being promoted and published with a heavy hand. The exploitative and gross representatives of the genre are seen as definitive because whether they're being sincerely consumed by the audience they cater to, or whether others specifically highlight them to critique them and the trends they propagate, the effect is the same in making these works the foremost association with the entire concept. Women creators and works about women have been there all along, but they often don't become visible enough in either extreme to wrest that cultural cachet away from the clichés that are now applied wholesale to these types of stories on a base level. Visibility and support for works standing apart from the perceived baseline is something that would have to change for people to approach the designation with more than constant suspicion, second guesses and the customary jibes, I think.
 
I'm gonna go back to this tangent because I like talking about Gundam and Tomino.
I feel like we could argue for days about Tomino's work, then. The fact that CCA is boys continuing to fight over a girl who died years prior, how all gundam shows treat female characters, such as Four dying to motivate Kamille, and all of Daitarn 3 are some things that come to mind pretty quickly to make me think otherwise. I think he appreciates that a female viewership is also important and will include stuff, but I don't feel like females are his core audience.
Tomino shows having groady depictions of women in the 80s does not mean his show isn't primarily targeting a female audience. And just because a bunch of dudes also watch the shows doesn't mean that's his intended target audience either. He's gone on the record repeatedly saying that he only cares about his female fans and impressionable young minds, versus his male fans. Because his female fans care about the messages of his shows and the interpersonal drama, but his male fans are just there for the toys and violence so they can fuck off. In 80s Gundam, those shows took the form of, "boys continuing to fight over a girl who died years prior" because that's what female fans watching at the time really liked and wanted to see. Romance in Japanese pop culture is weird and often very problematic, but it's what they like/liked. As time went on, Tomino's attempts to align the show with a female demographic becomes increasingly obvious as the heroes became more effeminate/less conforming to stereotypical gender roles, and women in his stories were generally increasingly elevated to the degree that they supplanted the vast majority of male roles in his stories.

Also as someone who has yet to decide whether to watch Inuyasha XX I would appreciate any impressions good or bad
Watch iiiiiitttttt
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Turns out there’s still more anime to talk about. The biggest shows all seem to be released already but there are still some worth noting… but just some.

Noblesse



Premise

OK, so there’s this cool kid at school who… I think he’s a vampire? He’s really old. And his BFF and maybe consensual thrall is Frankenstein? Or a Frankenstein. But he’s neither a scientist nor a monster and looks more like a hunk from a late 70s era shoujo or Saint Seiya (but no armor). And he’s the principal. And also there’s an X-Man style mutant who gets a job at the school while hiding from “The Union”. Whatever that is. Bad guys, I guess. Anyway, the vampire wants to be more human but spend maybe a scene on that. Also, there’s a kid at school with a broken arm and there’s a line that tells us his memory was erased so maybe he’s special too? PICK A LANE, SHOW!

It Gud?

Once again, Crunchyroll has adapted a Korean Webtoon and the animation LOOKS stellar but that’s about it. I mean, High School of the Gods had a promising first episode with wacky comedy before devolving into impenetrable shonen nonsense with a mythology that’s both confusing and uninteresting, like it took all the wrong lessons from the good and half-good shows. But at least Noblesse doesn’t waste my time with the promising first episode.

This is not a first episode without protentional, however. The logline “Frankenstein as a principal in a Korean High School” (or maybe a Japanese high school?) is a great show in itself. But the vampire kid wanting to be like human kids and might be happy to be less “cool” is hinted at and that holds a lot of promise too. Its not completely without charm. But the character who is presented as the lead in the intro doesn’t really do ANYTHING in the intro and is sideline for some bishounen Wolverine who has his own generic genetically engineered backstory that feels like its supposed to be its own show. And then after the credits we see two more characters standing on rooftops and… that’s about it.

Its too much, TV show. Just too much. And worse, none of it on its own, while having potential, is not all that interesting. I’m never given much of a chance to connect with all of the stuff it is throwing at me and I also got the feeling like the first episode threw out the first chapter of the comic, which is usually a dicey prospect (though somehow the Hunter X Hunter 2011 version made it work). Crunchyroll is able to get some really good looking shows out there. In/Spectre was the strongest, an off-beat series that was unlike anything else around. Maybe the problem is that they should try more novel adaptations because either webtoons doesn’t have a lot of good properties to choose from or the ones they picked are pretty disappointing.


The Day I Became a God



Premise

A young girl in weird close appears before a young man and proclaims to be the all-knowing god Odin. The man doesn’t believe her but despite her inability to showcase her fantastical divine powers, she seems does have the ability to predict the future with uncanny accuracy. She also tells him that the world is going to end in 30 days and she is allowing him full access to her divine knowledge for the remainder of that time.

It Gud?

Boy did this start on the wrong foot. I mean, we start the show with a shot of Odin’s butt that lingers for a couple seconds too long to be an establishing shot. Thankfully, it becomes decidedly not gaze-y from there on in but instead replaces it with a problem that is better but still annoying: bad comedy. OK, I don’t even think the comedy is BAD on paper. I wouldn’t laugh but not the worst. BUT it is LOUD comedy. Look, I’ve heard people who disliked Archer since it was just “people yelling”. I loved Archer (though I dropped off on the last two seasons. Really need to catch up) but I can see how yelling can be a turn off. And this show punctuates it. It screams every punchline and seems to believe volume equals comedy. It’s a show with an interesting premise on paper, either as a comedy OR a drama but doesn’t seem strong on the former and no relation to the latter.

At first.

In the final act something interesting happened. Something that made me want to give a chance to a show that failed SO HARD in the previous two acts. First, the climax builds on what I think is a genuinely good joke: both the protagonist and Odin make an elaborate plan and both space on a pretty crucial detail in a way that is funny. It made me smile. Next, it seemed to, for now, drop the “will he get the girl” aspect and I’m glad because narratively speaking I don’t like the idea of trying to use all-powerful knowledge to win over a girl. Third, we get to where we KNEW this was going to go: this little god girl is going to live with the lead character. And I’m like “ugh, another cliché. Her mom is probably going to be one of those overly gregarious (and probably busty) anime moms who will be happy to invite a cute girl to her house and maybe try to get them to hook up (even worse since she is described as looking like an elementary aged kid.” The lead calls his mom and… she is shocked. She knows something and takes this information with a surprising amount of weight. This alone made me interested to see if there was going to be a more dramatic angle to this wacky comedy on the brink of the apocalypse. I don’t expect HUGE dramatic swerves but that ending did a lot of work in making me want to give it one more chance. So I wouldn’t say its good, but that ending has me genuinely interested.

Our Last Crusade or the Rise of the New World



Premise

In a fantasy world, two nations, one ruled by witches and one ruled by regular types are at war. One young man from the regular type nation ends up being imprisoned for freeing a witch for reasons unknown. After a year of captivity, he’s given the opportunity to redeem himself by defeating a powerful witch known as the Ice Calamity Witch. After a pitch battle between the two, the fight is a draw and both are forced to retreat. However, the two accidentally end up meeting in neutral territory under relatively friendly circumstances.

It Gud?

For a show about what I assume will be star-crossed lovers, not only is there no chemistry between the leads (which is fine because they haven’t had much of a chance to interact beyond fighting yet), there is no charisma within them. We have no reason to root for either of their individual causes nor for them putting aside their differences and helping make piece. It also doesn’t help that the moment where both of them are given some doubt during their battle is that each of them wants to win so they can “end the war”. I mean, yeah. Why does this surprise you? Its such a trite “revelation” and it also sums up the show in a nutshell.

The “world building”, the look, the characters are all stock types all over, adding nothing new to the mix. The main characters posse include bland girl, cynical bland guy and team leader who is 22, looks like she’s 16, acts like a 13-year-old and has large breasts. And somehow its even duller than it sounds. The large scale battle is also pretty forgettable. Its probably the weakest show of the seasons from a visual angle.

Its not incompetent but its not giving me a strong reason to continue watching any further episodes, despite ending the episode on a “hook”. I will care neither if these characters who will fall in love will tragically be set against each other once again nor if they abandon the nations they love so they can be together nor if they start some third faction in the war. I just have no reason to care.

Akudama Drive



Premise

In the future, a new brand of supercriminal have arrived; the Akudama. The Courier. The Brawler. The Hacker. The Doctor. The Hoodlum. The Cutthroat. And most mysterious of all, the Swindler. Even the other supercriminals are unaware of the Swindler. She says its because she was clever enough to elude the system but the truth is she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and made up a backstory to stay alive. But this may have gotten into even hotter water as all of the top Akudama have had bombs placed around their necks by the person who they were tasked with saving. Can “The Swindler” survive in a world of the world’s deadliest and most awful people?

It Gud?

This show took me by genuine surprise. I don’t remember the preview at all but if I had to guess it was the quality of the animation that prompted us to give it a chance. And I’m glad we did. When the show started I noted that while the show looked good, a lot of the design felt like a bit much. But really, this is just a hint at how over the top the show was going to be and that it was actually very much in keeping with what this show is. In some cases, some of the future tech is clever, like flexible hard-light guard rails, but most of it seems needlessly complex, like a little forcefield around our heroine’s jacket when she hangs it up in her closet. But after reaching the end it makes sense. The show started relatively quietly, if visually rich and clearly Blade Runner-inspired. By the end, the show hits a scream fever pitch of excess. It also makes a lot of sense to use Blade Runner because while they are mostly tonally different, there are similarities in their settings: both are in world’s without empathy. Only the lead is a person who seems empathetic to anyone and everyone else is looking for criminal kicks or is distrustful and vengeful.

The cast is full of criminals but these aren’t just conventional antiheroes. They are full on villains, albeit ones that are fun to watch. They all threaten to kill our heroine and the Doctor even murders a train full of innocents so they don’t bother her saving a man from a heart attack. And she only saves that guy because she loves the feeling of getting wrist-deep in people during surgery. But this isn’t edgelordy, its Looney Tunes. Its knowingly silly. Tonally, it feels strangely more akin to Appare Ranman if all the contestant were also murderous monsters while also being a delight to watch.

The show also has a lot of promise. I love stories of characters being way over their head and must use their wits to survive. This promises to be a lot of fun. I’m not sure if this show will be a game of death show or a Suicide Squad type show but both are promising and would be a more comedic take on the former. But in the latter, I do like the idea of our lead winning over the worst people in the world.

The animation is pretty stellar. As JBear pointed out, the use of CG and 2D together is pretty impressive, especially when compared to The Adventures of Dai (a charming show but the two looks feel incongruous). Its style over anything else but it has such a sense of infection fun and it if the show can keep the pace and energy up, its going to be a fun one for the season.

Moriarty the Patriot



Premise

Mid-19th century London. When the wicked go unpunished, there’s one man lurking in the shadows looking to make amends. He is William James Moriarty, the consulting criminal. Using his brilliant mind, he shows his clients how to pull off the perfect crimes, giving them the means and opportunity to put to get what they need, including killing killers and allowing for retribution.

It Gud?

I feel like its been a while since I’ve seen an actually strong detective anime. I think to the shows like Detective Conan, Puppet Master Sakon, Death Note and even Detective Academy Q as shows that have clever puzzles for our heroes to solve and I feel we haven’t seen that in a while. I feel like some shows have detective in the title but we don’t get to see any really clever deductions. Even a favourite of last season, Millionaire Detective, felt more like an adventure show. Though Moriarty doesn’t entirely scratch that itch, it does look promising. Moriarty sits down and, like his nemesis, is able to make deductions based on minor details and while I wasn’t “wowed”, it felt like it was going in the right direction.

Overall though, I just found it OK for the first episode. I like the idea of Moriarty as an antihero Holmes and as Holmes is “the consulting detective”, Moriarty is the “crime consultant”. His MO isn’t to solve crimes but to figure out enough to promise justice outside of the law. I don’t know what this will look like going forward but while I won’t mind a traditional detective story with some karma for the baddies, I’m also hoping for something like Death Note where the protagonist must also outwit the police so he goes unsuspected.

So far, though, it seems serviceable and even a bit fun but I feel like its not adding a lot to the trope of “character we considered the villain is a hero in his own story.” As a protagonist, Moriarty nor his entourage is not actually all that interesting yet. It doesn’t help that his right hand man looks a lot like him in terms of character design, which feels like it could be fun for trickery or maybe the reveal that the Moriarty in the old stories (two total) were actually two people all along. So far things are standard but it was definitely fun enough that I want to keep going. Also, as JBear pointed out, I’m curious where the morality is going to land. The story ends with a father getting murderous vengeance and it seems to make him happier. I guess the message is “when you seek revenge, dig one grave. You know, for your enemy”. While I don’t think a show needs to be “moral” (the strange morality of Hunter X Hunter is one of the things I love about it), I’m wondering where it is going. Are they simply happy endings for those who get their eye for an eye or will it get a bit more complex? I’m hoping the latter.

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear



Premise

A rich girl plays an MMORPG and her character is dressed as a bear and she has bear powers.

It Gud?

Imagine a show in which a little girl dressed like a bear shoots a million bear army into the mouth of a 50 foot snake. Then imagine that show as being described as utterly boring. Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is a show that I thought was going to win me over with the title alone and turned out to be a total drag. At the beginning of the year, I talked about two shows: Bofuri, which I found competent but uninteresting, and Infinite Dendogram, which I found dull, despite featuring a bear with gatling gun arms. Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is fun to say but takes all the problems I had with either show and combines them into one show.

Like Infinite Dendogram is tells us from the start that this is just a VRMMORPG then acts like there are stakes if the NPCs die and that the characters care about the NPCs. Why? The show doesn’t give us a reason. A character muses to herself that an NPC is brave but the show gives us no reason to believe the NPCs have genuine sentience. Weirdly, the NPCs are our point of view characters (huh) to be amazed that our heroine is so strong. Its not even other players, its computer programs that merely look like they feel things. If this show had any depth, something clever could be done with this but the show doesn’t rise above “the cute girl is bear strong”.

BTW, so she’s dressed like a teddy bear and can summon bears. Is the costume cute? A bit. Are the bears cute?



No. These are the least charming bear summons I have ever seen. Japan seems so skilled at cute so I’m surprised they fucked this up. These aren’t ugly bears or anything but they have little kuma-risma (trademark!) I don’t like their bows and I don’t like their whole… vibe.

While I wasn’t that interested in Bofuri, that show did a lot of simple yet effective things: the lead character is shy and seems like some sort of everyperson. While the Bear Girl here is the lead and she DOES seem unassuming, she comes across as an enigma and not an engaging one. In addition, the final scene reveals that not only is she super strong in the game world, she has effectively won the game of life outside of the game, using her business acumen to send her parents on permenant vacation and living in opulence. Relatable. So, her alternate identity is exactly as successful. I guess the show will be about how she also needs friends because these shows are all about how friends are great but we don’t even get friends in the first episode. Or a longing for them. The only life obstacle is that maybe her grandpa won’t co-sign her lease or whatever.

It’s a show that pretends to have stakes despite immediately establishing that there are none, the most likeable characters don’t think, the cute mascot characters are off-putting and has a character whose only trait is “made of win and kind of friendly to game characters”. This show is not even “terrible” but just so thoroughly uninteresting. I’m not the biggest fan of the “friends hang out in a virtual RPG and one character can only win because they are great” but this is the one at the lower end of the spectrum.

The Gymnastics Samurai



Premise

An aging gymnast named Jotaro (sorry, folks, no “ORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORA!”) is encouraged to quit by his coach. After a lifetime, this father isn’t sure what to do but decides to break it to his supportive and ninja-loving daughter gently by taking her to a tourist spot with some live ninja shows. During a performance, one of the ninjas is chased off by “agents” and it becomes apparent that this is NOT PART OF THE SHOW. Later that day, the Ninja follows Jotaro home and reveals he is a foreigner running from government agents and is looking for sanctuary. The foreign ninja is a bit pesky but reveals amazing agility. Later that day, Jotaro is supposed to give a press conference announcing his retirement but finds he can’t do it.

It Gud?

I think so. But I’m having a hard time grasping what kind of show it is. At first, I thought it was a sports show. Then I thought maybe the lead would be inspired to become a performer at a ninja themed tourist spot. Then the ninja happened. Then it turns out its still a sports show.

And this didn’t help with my mental equilibrium.



WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU? IS THIS A FANTASY SHOW? They just say this giant talking bird is from “South America” and leave it that. Nobody acts like it’s the craziest fucking bird people have ever seen. It has a heart on its chest! Is that a tattoo? Or what it born that way. There’s a lot going on in the first episode but somehow this got the most attention from me.

So, in the end, it turns out it’s a quirky sports show with an “aging” lead (which we don’t get to see a lot in anime. Yes, the age is probably “late-20s to mid-30s” but that is old in sports years). And it seems like the show will deal with the fact that he might be at a physical disadvantage to his rivals, despite his experience.

It looks very promising but as I said, I feel like I’ve not quite grasped the show’s sensibility yet. The sports stuff seems relatively down to Earth, what little there is, but the ninja and bird are much more heightened (I’m also predicting that the “ninja” is actually a person of financial or political importance and the men following him are his body guards/wranglers).

My one major complaint: the initial gymnastics we see is done with some poor looking CG. But considering the episode features an impressive ninja display in the last act, I expect that might be a one-off or for background performances. Good OP, too.
 
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