In the horrifying future of 2011, otaku are now a persecuted minority and all their hug pillows and limited-edition games are being confiscated. Somehow, the series treats this as a bad thing and the only people to save the day is a super otaku and his team of magical girls.
Sadly, this is not the only anime that decided “otaku as a persecuted minority” has legs. I think the other one was called Rumbledoll? Anyway, I’m not saying you can’t find comedic, satirical potential in there but I feel like it’s basically the same “smelly boy-nerd” gags from two decades prior. It’s one thing to poke fun of or even mock your audience (because this is definitely a show AIMED at otaku) but I think it’s another if you do it very lazily, as this show does.
But I have a lot of other problems. The only female characters are actually competent lady who is practically pleading the main character to stay and fight, a damsel who at this point is only described as “horny” and Blue and one of the bad guys whom one of the male nerds attacks out of the blue and while from context clues it is obvious she’s a baddie, why is this guy attacking her? He doesn’t seem to know either.
It's also a show that is definitely from a male point of view; the magical girls don’t SEEM to be otaku (maybe one is a dating app otaku? The one who is kidnapped and has a whiffle ball gag that allows drool to leak through. Yeah, it’s that kind of show). And it makes a point to say that it’s otaku of all interests (trains, models, hug pillows) but there I don’t recall seeing any women.
Beyond that, my other problem is tone. I’m not sure how it wants me to take it because sometimes it’s extra wacky, like a guy in armor having a frizzing up afro after getting exploded or the female co-lead attacked with a fireball but then she’s sitting comfortably under a kotatsu, picking her nose. But then sometimes it wants us to take it seriously. And it’s not like varying moods can’t co-exist but there doesn’t seem to be consistency. There’s also shit I’m just not sure about. It wasn’t clear if the magical animal sidekick could be seen by all parties. It’s never clear if the main character believes if the girl claiming to be a magical girl is. It doesn’t even feel like it’s setting up ambiguity for a mystery, it just feels slapped together with the expectation that they’ll figure it out later. But it’s a show that never really earns the different styles or the ability to assume we are coming for this ride so we don’t have to explain things yet. It’s just a show that is not very fun or clever.
Ao No Orchestra
Y’all see Your Lie in April? It’s like that with a violin instead of a piano, a shit dad instead of a shit mom and also Kono Oto Tomare thrown in maybe.
OK, so at first blush it does seem derivative. But that’s necessarily bad. And I did bring Kono Oto Tomare to mind because thematically it will be about people working together to make music. And that was a show I was a bit cool on at first but it really wormed its way into my heart, making it one of the shows I was really invested in. This has the same potential.
As it is? Well, it’s not bad. Yes, it is practically begging to be compared to Your Lie. It has a moody young musical genius who wants to step away from music due to a complicated family member (who… may or may not be dead?) and it looks like a relationship with a girl is going to snap him out of his funk. But if I hadn’t seen that, I’d be interested in where this one is going.
I do like the story of the process of improving and would like to see a series about an orchestra getting together. Tomare was a series where I loved seeing these characters learning to be in sync and with the right cast this could do the same. I will say, the first two leads don’t lead a particularly strong impression. They aren’t dullards but they aren’t particularly unique in these kinds of coming of age stories. I’m going to keep with it and hope it grows on me.
In a shrine in modern day Japan, a goddess lives, tended to by a priestess. Unfortunately, the goddess is much more focused on her nerdy pursuits than actually doing godly stuff. She might be a pillar of her community but her priestess is just frustrated with her.
Where Magical Destroyers bugged me a fair bit, Otaku Elf is a much gentler otaku tale. I feel like I’ve seen or been aware of versions of this story before, mind. Umaru-Chan is the first one that comes to mind. We have a thankless title character and a put-upon protagonist who has to deal with them. There is a bit of story in the first episode but really this is just a pleasant slice-of-life comedy.
I really don’t have much to say on this one. It’s a completely amiable show that doesn’t reach too hard and just let’s us enjoy time with the goofball character whose priority is not the welfare of her people. There’s some mild worldbuilding; gods are common knowledge and though they are given Japanese titles, they are western-style fantasy elves. It also feels like the gods don’t do much but it doesn’t feel like a damning commentary on religion. We are here just to like the characters.
Too Cute Crisis
Luna Liza is a part of an alien empire with intent to destroy the Earth. But before she does, she’s tasked with exploring the planet to learn if they contribute something, ANYTHING of worth. She’s not that interested until she wanders into a cat café. She’s overwhelmed with the cuteness of cats, only to learn Earth is full of adorable animals the likes the universe has never seen. Now she wants to continue exploring but doesn’t want her mission to end, so is keeping mum about her findings.
I often opine about the overabundance of very similar isekai series. Often they have unpleasant power fantasies or smug self-satisfied references to things. But one element that I actually do relate to, when that’s what the show is about, is the joy of introducing someone to something they haven’t experienced before. It’s half of the joy of Campfire Cooking in Another World; yes, the wonderfully rendered food but also the characters discovering the joy of it. And this is in that ball park; each episode is this alien being introduced to elements of cute animals or a new animals. It’s a wish fulfillment I can get behind; being the person to introduce someone to something I love and have them surprised and shocked by it’s greatness, as if you get to take responsibility for what is found. It’s the same joy of sharing a funny internet thing or weird, cool trivia or “check out this cool movie you may not have heard of.”
Too Cute Crisis is really about that joy. The two characters, who are really chill about meeting a space alien, are far more interested in impressing her than asking her about the MIND-BLOWING FACT that aliens are real. The comedy is competent but the endorphins are less about greatly constructed gags but about amusing, overwhelmed reactions to pandas and cat beans. The show implies the other aliens, mostly kept to the background at this point, will also be impressed and that the emperor or commander or dude at the top will almost definitely be super impressed.
So really, it means that despite introducing the apocalyptic threat of the “toxicloud” which will end all life on Earth, I feel like for the most part the stakes introduced will probably not matter. Not a bad thing because it’s not that kind of show… but I will say, they could reintroduce it in a comical manner, having a lot of cute animals on the ship, one of them accidentally activating a countdown and the crew must scramble to stop all the quokka and capybaras on Earth from dying. Other note; showing the uglier space animals, one is a yellow cyclops ball with muscles. I think this would make a good pet. We could be lift bros.
The Marginal Service
A hotshot cop whose lost his partner while chasing down leads on a new drug finds himself fired. But soon he finds himself being propositioned by a new organization, The Marginal Service. It turns out the Marginal Service’s job is to monitor and police “borderlanders”, paranormal entities from beyond. With a strange crew of investigators, together they’ll use their high-tech weaponry and skills to take down a mysterious new drug with alien origins.
I remember when the first preview came out and it was mostly the cast of mostly men naked showing their physiques. The fact that this was were they wanted to start made me assume this was a more tongue-in-cheek series. But really, this first episode is a very slow burn in this respect. The episode is basically a Men In Black variation but for most of the episode there’s not a lot of humour and it moves kind of slow.
It isn’t until the last big fight that the series moves into fun goofball mode with one character taking a selfie as she demolishes a monster and a talking squirrel thing. But I can’t tell if the aim is to return only to this mood during action scenes or if the show just took this long to switch gears. It feels like it should have been sillier from the jump. The protagonists name is Brian Nightraider! I think it will be successful if it really leans into it’s goofiness so I’ll give it a chance but if it swerves back to being like the majority of the first episode, this could be a bit of a bore.
Run for Money: The Great Mission
In the future, the most popular TV show on the moon is RUN FOR MONEY. You will know this because you will see and hear RUN FOR MONEY a billion times before the episode ends. It’s a show were contestants must avoid androids and last longer than competitors, with those tagged being swept to a jail. Also, there’s a story mode or something. One kid from the sticks with mad parkour skills decides to force his way onto the show to earn money to move his kid bother with… moon asthma, I wanna say, somewhere better for his health.
I went into this one suspecting it wouldn’t be for me. It really had a feel of a show for kids. But something in me said to just give it a try. And… it’s a show for kids. And that’s not bad but it’s not the kind of show for kids that’s for me. It wasn’t without amusing elements, some unintentional (literally a character does have a sickness with “moon” in it and the currency is “moon dollars”).
The part that interests me isn’t so much the show itself, but the fact that it is the kind of show that I feel is aimed to sell a toy but unlike more obvious shows like your PreCures where they sell cool props or your Bakugans that sell… those things, I’m not sure what this show sells. The things they wear on their wrists, maybe? Not that exciting.
Like Beyblade, a really stupid franchise, this show is clearly trying to upgrade a children’s classic, in this case “tag”. And really, even if they are trying to use it to profit off of kids, I’d rather it be an active game rather than a sedentary one like sitting on your ass and guessing which top is going to fall last. Of course, WATCHING the show is a sedentary activity so… I dunno. Maybe it evens out.
X + Y
Two office workers working late decide to head out and getting caught in the rain take refuge in an escape room business. Despite the hours on the door saying it’s closed, someone seems to be there and invites them in. The two are interested in trying but the offer is presented and then suddenly rescinded. Then they can’t get out. The cooler headed guy comes to the conclusion that this is all part of the game to give a scare and a thrill and sure enough they are able to find some relatively simple puzzles. But things heat up when suddenly one of the games traps one of the men and threatens to cut his arm off with a buzz saw.
This is one of the few Chinese animated series I’ve tried. I feel like I may have tried one about cooking a while back but it was a bit of a bore… or maybe I planned to watch something but missed it? Anyway, this in tone and look has the feeling of a webtoon but I won’t hold that against it because mostly it isn’t bad. The animation looks pretty good and there’s a slow burn quality to it I appreciate.
I also think it’s interesting to see where this goes going forward. It’s possible they could Scooby Doo this and reveal that it really was all a game but if that’s so, I’m not sure where the show goes from there. Maybe the guy decides to create his own escape rooms or something. But I think this is supposed to be a thriller mystery. Another possibility is they are coerced to take part in more games or one or both of them just become addicted to keep playing despite the danger.
Either way, I’m interested. It isn’t a top tier show but it’s well-made for now. There is stuff to mock; the puzzles are really simple (though I’ll chalk it up to the admission that this is sort of the entry point mode in the game’s tiers) and there’s one guy whose ready to piss his pants and panic long before the buzzsaw comes out. Yes, I might be freaked out but also he’s clearly really slow on the uptake. I suspect most people will pass this series by. It’s easy to miss this season. But I could see it being a little gem; either clever or accidentally amusing. I’ll be checking it out to learn which.
Oh, also each episode is under 20 minutes. That’s a plus, for me.
Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts
In a fantasy realm, for 100 years after a truce between animal people and people people, the Beast King has demanded sacrifices to prove his superiority over the humans. But the newest sacrifice won’t flinch in the face of his threats and after a tragic childhood doesn’t fear death. Eventually, the sacrifice learns the Beast King’s secret; he’s never actually killed any of his “sacrifices”, setting them free and shedding his own blood. His own human blood because his other big secret is he turns completely human on the night of the sacrifice. He decides to keep his sacrifice and the two begin a public relationship, much to the shock of his subjects.
I was kind of “mmmm” when I saw the intro. Because the female lead spends a LOT of time in chains (including in the intro) and the show is basically about a king falling in love with something given to him as property and though he’s merciful, he’s allowed to do as he wants with her. It’s pretty questionable optics towards their dynamic. Yes, she’s feisty and he’s melting for her but he’s still a king keeping her locked up and for all the way they want some subversion in terms of her winning him over but he’s still the physically imposing king and she’s petite and by comparison, very much younger and inexperienced.
It's baked in, really. But I’ll say this… this is not as bad as it could have been. It doesn’t wash away the problems I have but I think it does it’s best just to make it a fun romance, at least having the female lead being fun. And there is a good twist in there and some fun chain chomp dudes. There’s a sense of fun and sweetness here. And I don’t want to deny someone might fantasize about being in the thrall of a big powerful dude. Who is also a lion man. But a romantic or sexual fantasy might have trouble as a real narrative as it might present some uncomfortable dynamics. Not as obvious but I had a bit of a similar problem with last seasons A Tale of Outcasts. I won’t be continuing this but while I have issues, I do feel it’s not without its charm. But the stuff I don’t like outweighs the stuff I do.