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Iaboo, Youaboo, Weallaboo for Anime!

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
(they/them)
Otaku Elf is way more pleasant and grounded than any series with that title and premise has a right to be.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Magical Destroyers

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The Premise

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.

It Gud?

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

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The Premise

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.

It Gud?

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.

Otaku Elf

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The Premise

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.

It Gud?

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

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the Premise

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.

It Gud?

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

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the Premise

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.

It Gud?

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

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the Premise

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.

It Gud?

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

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the Premise

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.

It Gud?

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.

EDIT:
Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts

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The Premise

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.

It Gud?

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.
 
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Macross: Do You Remember Love feels like the result of an extremely poorly phrased monkey's paw wish for SDF Macross to get a big budget film adaptation. Along the lines of, "I want to see an SDF Macross movie, and all it needs is to have a big budget this time," or something like that. You can see them practically lighting money on fire for every frame of the movie, but that's basically the only thing it has going for it. Everything good about the series is gone, everything bad about the series is worse.
 

gogglebob

The Goggles Do Nothing
(he/him)
Hey, is Crunchyroll any good? Like, for the longest time I heard it had issues with its browser-player (and I predominantly would be using it on a PC hooked up to a big ol' TV), but now I mostly just hear about it's terrible because it is a monopoly. Is this a streaming service I should toss a subscription fee to feed more anime bullshit into my eyeballs every month?
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
It definitely has a lot of anime to look at, some of which is bullshit. I think it’s worth it, but it is a big, hungry monster of a company, so take that into account.

It does have Golden Boy, which could be a knock against it depending on how much skeeze you can handle along with your surprisingly good animation in parts and Cowboy Bebop character designs.
 
Crunchyroll's web browser player got a revamp and now it's a little bit better. They finally found a solution so that different language tracks actually function as audio tracks you can select in-player instead of their lazy workaround where they were labeled as different seasons cluttering the site navigation. The last year or so they've been slowly adding the entire Funimation catalog as well, so there's a LOT of older shows in there now as well. It's a pretty solid value, has tons of older shows, and has the majority of whatever new is coming out on a regular basis as well (the other big streaming site for current-season anime is Hi-Dive).
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
And they completely redesigned their queue in such a way that it became almost entirely useless for me, making it much more difficult just to watch the shows that I like regularly without taking the time to curate specific watch lists.
 

Ludendorkk

(he/him)
Hey, is Crunchyroll any good? Like, for the longest time I heard it had issues with its browser-player (and I predominantly would be using it on a PC hooked up to a big ol' TV), but now I mostly just hear about it's terrible because it is a monopoly. Is this a streaming service I should toss a subscription fee to feed more anime bullshit into my eyeballs every month?

I mean it's good if you want Most* Of The Anime on one service, but the nuts and bolts still feel like a streaming service from 2009
 

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
(they/them)
HiDive makes Crunchyroll seem like polished cutting edge tech
 
Been watching a bit of random stuff on and off lately and one of them is the latest season of Demon Slayer, the swordsmith arc. Purposely ignoring the moe moe swords master (but I fully admit
having her be styled after a gynmist is rather clever, including a gymnastic ribbon sword
), somehow this season is more droll than the last season, which I didn't see in a very positive light. However they did elaborate more on the whole swordmaking lore etc but that's not hard as this part started in the first season and everybody is a bloody [slash]ninja[/slash] sword master.

In short:
xpectd.gif


To make it worse most of the powerful skills breaks down to slashing really hard, slashing really fast or both. This is likely my bias talking but Saint Seiya, a thing with a similar structure, has more power variety than this, and it was created in the late 80s. It's no Jojo in terms of power variety or creativity but what else is?

The fights are still pretty however.
 
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R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
Yeah, the demons in Demon Slayer have some really out there abilities that make for cool visuals, but every human fighter just Swords super good. It still bothers me that the story takes place in the 20th Century, yet the Demon Slayer Corp aren’t all carrying Colts or Nagants with wisteria laced bullets. Lotta weird sword fetishism in this show, honestly.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Been watching a bit of random stuff on and off lately and one of them is the latest season of Demon Slayer, the swordsmith arc. Purposely ignoring the moe moe swords master (but I fully admit
having her be styled after a gynmist is rather clever, including a gymnastic ribbon sword
), somehow this season is more droll than the last season, which I didn't see in a very positive light. However they did elaborate more on the whole swordmaking lore etc but that's not hard as this part started in the first season and everybody is a bloody [slash]ninja[/slash] sword master.

In short:
xpectd.gif


To make it worse most of the powerful skills breaks down to slashing really hard, slashing really fast or both. This is likely my bias talking but Saint Seiya, a thing with a similar structure, has more power variety than this, and it was created in the late 80s. It's no Jojo in terms of power variety or creativity but what else is?

The fights are still pretty however.
I mean, this doesn't bother me. I feel that generally each power is portrayed as a variation on a theme. The mist attacks basically created bigger mist-like and illusion stuff range. But I do agree the other half of it is "slash fast and good" is less interesting.

Still, mostly I find it ties things into personalities, sort of like how all the Green Lanterns have the same power but how they use it is dictated by the character themselves.

My bigger problem with the series, which has been less pronounced this season, is the most prominent female character constantly wears a gag, is reduced to child/animal-like intelligence and is kept in a freaking box for long periods until she is useful to a fight. Like, not even just in the day time, there are stories where she's asleep for huge periods because the story doesn't need her.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
It does have Golden Boy, which could be a knock against it depending on how much skeeze you can handle along with your surprisingly good animation in parts and Cowboy Bebop character designs.

I remember reading an interview with the character desinger. She said her previous job (Golden Boy here) always influenced her next job (Cowoy Bebop), hence Faye looking like she stepped out of the GB manga.
 
My bigger problem with the series, which has been less pronounced this season, is the most prominent female character constantly wears a gag, is reduced to child/animal-like intelligence and is kept in a freaking box for long periods until she is useful to a fight. Like, not even just in the day time, there are stories where she's asleep for huge periods because the story doesn't need her.

Is it unreasonable for me to absolutely hate how when she bulks up to fight, she only grows taller and gets big boobs and no beefy arms or legs? As much as the series likes to give all leading dudes six pack abs, none of the fighting anime girls get them, even tho Nezuko literally kicks demons faces in. But yes yes shounen.

I'll even take Nezuchad from the train arc, butt chin and all.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Is it unreasonable for me to absolutely hate how when she bulks up to fight, she only grows taller and gets big boobs and no beefy arms or legs?
Yeah, I'm not a fan of that either. I also had a problem with the way they tied her up in the fight against the Spider family. I can definitely think of shows where a character is treated more uncomfortably hornily (Lucy in Fairy Tale springs to mind) but it's funny because outside of that, Demon Slayer is mostly a non-thirsty show. Even though one has notable cleavage, even most of the other female characters aren't really treated like that.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Started watching Hajime no Ippo. It's nice, I like sports anime. Considering I know the name, and how it looks older, it's probably one of those shows that heavily influenced the genre?

I do wish these shows weren't so often about prodigies, or people who are just made for the thing they do. A few years ago, I read Whistle, which had a main character who was really bad at soccer at the start. I prefer that. Not a big deal, I guess, I still enjoy the shows, despite that detail.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I generally prefer series about dudes learning the ropes. I would say in most sports series, the prodigy is a secondary character. For instance, Takamura is definitely the prodigy of Ippo (and even then, it goes into him really suffering to make the most of it, despite his bravado). I'd say Ippo isn't a prodigy in this series but like a lot of characters he has one advantage (naturally powerful build) and works really hard at maximizing it. It's sort of similar to Slam Dunk, which has a very dumb protagonist whose only natural advantage having a good build and stamina but lacks the other necessary abilities like precision shooting or even just dribbling, so is basically the weakest starter on the team for much of the series.

Worth noting, Ippo started in 1989. It is still going.
 
Yuri on Ice's lead character isn't a prodigy: that would be his rival, Yuri(o) and his teacher/mentor/
eventual lover
Victor. If anything the lead character is just good (enough), but loses a competition, gains a lot of weight and then works his way back up in the ranks.

Also full disclosure the anime is more about two dudes' growing relationship with a figure skating dressing.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
Started watching Hajime no Ippo. It's nice, I like sports anime.
Hooray! Ippo is one of my all-time faves; probably my favourite sports anime, unless you count Hikaru no Go. I hope you have a good time with it! And if you do, there's decades more manga to read after you finish the anime.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I have not seen EVERY anime I planned to watch this season (sorry Too Cute Crisis and Blue Orchestra) but here's a rundown.

Vinland Saga 2 was very good. Considering the hard-edged action of the first season, I'm sure there are fan who are disappointed by the different direction but it's one I applaud and thinks comes organically. I feel like in most series where a haunted warrior swears off killing, they are reluctantly dragged back in but despite one fight, the show has remained perfectly on message that this is a show about a man who discovers pacifism and mostly sticks to his guns.. I guess some people have complained about the paced but its never bothered me. I feel like it's a very shonen/seinen thing to luxuriate in drama-feels if you know you aren't getting cancelled anytime soon and focus a chapter on the emotion of a single moment in time.

Birdie Wing was Birdie Wing to the end. It's never as good in terms of ridiculous when it leaves mafia golf but still fun. I love that when they got to the end they just half-assedly handwaved a character's huge crisis away for a happy ending in the most "oh, let's say Moe" way possible.

I haven't finished Marginal Service. It's not very good... but I also kind of like watching it? The animation isn't great, the scripts are both sloppy and think they are more clever than they are. But also, the show gets genuine laughs from me (the show really triples down that their Duane Johnson analog will ONLY talk about things in terms of "does it have protein"? I can't in good conscience recommend it but it has it's charms.

Behind on Otaku Elf but solid kick up your feet and relax show.

If you passed on the new Ranking of Kings season because it's mostly side stories set before and during the events of the series, the last episode basically sets up a lot for a new season that may or may not happen. Ranking of Kings is interesting: the first series was SO good but while it never got bad, the ending was so disappointingly easy in wrapping up complex conflicts and motivations it was frustrating. This season was far less complex, telling smaller stories with the characters or more clearly stating stuff strongly alluded to before. It's good but until the last episode, it didn't leave me hooked to see what's happening next. So this was a real swerve in the last episode to really matter and set up a new tragic status quo for two major characters.

Behind on Insomiacs After School and I went in thinking it was basically going to be a more down to earth and less thirsty Call of the Night but it somehow turned into Asteroid in Love with more personality and I wasn't falling asleep during it.

My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 and Skip and Loafer were both EXACTLY what I want from shojo anime (which is shocking because the latter is actually a seinen? There's nothing about this series that wouldn't be at home in Ribbon or Margaret). I feel like after Boys Over Flowers (or maybe it started before that), a lot of the series I encounter are girls falling for problematic assholes with a secret sensitive side. In these series, the dudes are pretty good from the get, even if the title character in the former series seems aloof. I like that there's romantic drama in the former but in both things are a lot more low key. Even when Yamada has the main character lied to into an uncomfortable situation, both series mostly value character over soapy dramatic happenstance and I love them all the more for it. These series have characters I just want to hang with as they learn about themselves. They are both also just really pretty shows. Hope both get another season.

Tengoku Daimakyou (weirdly Disney Plus isn't using the English title of Heavenly Delusion) is maybe the dark horse of the season, a dark post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure with mystery, tragedy and interesting characters. I AM trying to get a bead on what the show might be saying, if anything, about gender (half the story takes place in a dystopia with a utopian facade where the people running the show try to not introduce ideas of gender and one of the leads reveal they are a man with a brain placed in a woman's body). Like, I don't THINK it's going for anything shitty but in sci-fi sometimes metaphors can accidentally get muddied. Still, the show is good and while it seemed like a monster of the week, it dives deeper into its mysteries with one-offs stories that tie into bigger ones and a lot of tragedy that the stories tend to earn. I think the fact that it is also often funny helps. I will also say, I don't think it's my favourite OP of the season but I think it's absolutely gorgeous and effective.

Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible returned to basically be around a thirstier version of the same show, The Dangers in My Heart. The latter just isn't as good and Kubo isn't exactly brilliant to begin with. Both are about manic pixie dream girls who want to be friends with a social outcast (well, one is less an outcast and is just ignored) lead and in both cases the girl disrupts his life but also doesn't quite want to admit she's in love. The one advantage Dangers has is the girl in that is a literal hot mess and the best moments are when the lead is covertly watching her make embarrassing mistakes. But there's not so much of that. Dangers also starts on a more problematic foot but for both better and worse, a lot of it's rough edges are rounded down until these two shows are more alike. You don't need to watch either but I didn't mind either much and both had sweet and funny moments.

Demon Slayer also happened. It's funny, I went to an anime con this weekend and there were lots of stuff from shows I liked (stickers, key chains, art) but I didn't want a lot. Lot's of Demon Slayer stuff but while I like the show, there's no one character I stan and would like something to represent them. Still, the show remains very good with some amazing fights and set pieces. And this season had the advantage of no Zenitsu (but the disadvantage of no Inosuke. Take the good with the bad, I guess). I maintain that Demon Slayer is a standard formula but one very well told, both in the text but also in Ufotable's amazing animation team. And as expected, the new season is announced, so looking forward to that next year.

Hell's Paradise has some crazy ideas but at the end of the day feels more like a standard seinen actioneer (which is to say a shonen with more blood, a higher body count and sex). It's still pretty good and thankfully it doesn't wield sexual assault as a plot point... as much as a lot of those other series anyway. It's still fun to see and I look forward to it but I don't have that much to say. Cool, bloody action, ultra-violent barbarian antiheroes, body horror. Basically what it says on the package.

Oshi no Ko is a show I like despite getting started on the worst foot. Thankfully once the show lays out what it wants to be, a weird mix of a show about show business mixed with some non-lethal Death Note (the main character constantly takes time out from finding his mother's killer to use his wits to help someone being chewed up by the showbiz machine through manipulation and plotting), it's managed to make me glad I took a chance on it. The pedigree helps but even when it is going for laughs, it's far less funny than Kaguya-sama. But it also does have some clever twists and great cliffhangers, particularly the ending to episode 7.

Dr. Stone also returned and it's still great. My one complaint; got to wait till October for more, right in the middle of a story. I feel like the show doesn't quite hit the emotional heights it aims for sometimes but I really did enjoy the last one.

Oh, Golden Kamuy also came back. The show is so good at having great emotional beats but also absolutely insane stuff, like a masturbation battle.
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But the show still manages to weave it's wildly different tones that always feel true to itself. I assumed based on the midpoint cliffhanger that we were heading to end game and next season would be it's last but I think we have more to go and getting more of this show makes me happy.

Mashle definitely wasn't the best show of the season but it's sort of the one I looked forward to the most. Like, just watching Mash One Punch Man every villain they've been building up as a big deal is pretty cathartic, especially after Mash dunks on em.

Bad guy: explains why he wants to kill everyone weaker than him.

Mash:
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I think it also helps that while there does tend to be a bit of stretching in the fights, overall, they are all done in less than an episode. I also appreciate that in my shonen adaptations. Meanwhile, people are saying One Piece is better than ever and I believe them but I also know Luffy's been fighting this one big dude for at least four months.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Undead Girl Murder Farce

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The Premise

In late 19th Century Japan where Western colonists have encouraged the mass purge of yokai and supernatural beasties, one brutish creature makes a living fighting monsters for others entertainment. One day he realizes he’s being tailed by a woman… and a disembodied head. The head she wants to be killed, as she is an immortal but without a body, her quality of life is greatly diminished. Both realize the cause of their woes might be the same man and the two end up planning to head to London to track him down.

It Gud?

I… don’t know. It doesn’t seem bad, so far. There are a few action scenes but mostly it was a very talky episode setting up the premise and the characters and their motivations. And it’s not that I wasn’t enjoying it but with such a wild supernatural premise, a lot of it was a bit dry. Don’t get me wrong, it does some good stuff, setting up the hero as disenfranchised and cynical about his fate and humanity in general. I don’t think this is going to be as conversation-based as the madness that is In/Spectre but for a series about “monsters vs. an evil human and probably more monsters”, the series is more about characters trying to get a handle on each other and establishing the world and the stakes.

Keep in mind, it’s not completely artless (we’ll be getting to that later) but I was left feeling a little cold. I feel like we have things that should be hooks and exciting elements but I don’t have anything to really cling onto yet. Our hero has a bit of a save the cat moment and he is an outsider so that’s a good starting point but by the end, I’m not excited. Maybe it’s because the stakes need to be boosted. The characters will face a formidable foe but I feel like neither of them are particularly passionate about it yet. It’s always a risk of having all the characters be very dry; sometimes it can work but it can also risk a sense of detachment from the conflict.

Senpai-Bunny Girl (I am not saying the full title) often risked that for me but it did a good job of reminding us these characters do care about what’s happening and are scared of the consequences. This feels more like something we would flash back to in episode 2 or 3 after establishing an exciting introductory adventure. But then maybe this is what this series is. If it is, I don’t think I’d dislike it. It’s witty and has some cool fights. But overall, I just don’t have “strong” feelings about the series, more that it looks good and I don’t mind hanging out with it. Hopefully it will draw me in more going forward or like Golden Kamuy, prove to be a more idiosyncratic animal than expected.

My Tiny Senpai

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The Premise

A guy’s co-worker is small with big tits.

It Gud?

While there’s no shortage of isekai, another popular subgenre that seems to pop up each season is the office romance genre; low stakes love comedies with it’s leads fumbling awkwardly toward love. My Senpai is Annoying, The Icy Guy and The Cool Girl, probably another one I forgot. They don’t all land but they tap into the hope that maybe at our soul crushing job we’ll find someone in the same boat who you’d want to spend the rest of your life with.

My Tiny Senpai feels like it should be a very similar show to My Senpai is Annoying. In the latter, a lil work gremlin has a pretty wholesome relationship with a sweethearted himbo who is good at making people feel good about themselves but can’t always read the room. In the former, the small girl’s big tits are looked at a lot. To be fair, a lot of it is she’s cute and smol but the latter show, while just OK, lets it’s characters have more personality and the Tiny Senpai of the title is mostly clueless and the bland male lead is trying hard not to be inappropriately horny at work. It’s a less fun dynamic, really.

Much of it is I don’t find the cast that engaging. Neither character is particularly charming (though I have more of a problem with the male half of the equation) and the farce and misunderstandings simply aren’t very funny. My Senpai is Annoying is often middle of the road stuff but they do make the characters likeable enough (mostly, there’s some definite HR issues in that show, too) that I’m more invested in them. I’m not really interested in returning to this office, no matter how well stacked it is.

Level One Demon Lord and the One Room Hero

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The Premise

10 years after the Demon Lord was defeated, she is reborn as a tiny girl. Eager to see the one man brave enough to destroy her and gloat they she’s back to reignite their war, she arrives only to learn he’s a complete wash up, living in a shabby apartment, surrounded by garbage. It turns out the last 10 years have not been kind to him, particularly shamed by scandals of cheating on women. His former enemy is now determined to build him up as a hero worth defeating once more… even if he’s not particularly interested.

It Gud?

One Room Hero is a show with a solid premise and some good laughs. If only it weren’t so horny. Gross horny. Bad horny. The second seen prominently features the Demon Lord’s assistant with her ass and groin being a huge focus. There are some other sex jokes in there two and they aren’t my favourite but at least the jokes themselves aren’t “horny”, they are about a gross dude. I’m not a fan of them but really it’s the overt ogling camera that really hurts me here, as it shows a bit of the series less savoury intents.

Now removed from that is it a good comedy? It’s ok. Some jokes get genuine laughs, like the guy trying to frame his disgrace as “society has no need for a hero” but really he’s just a loser and a creep who handled fame very badly. His former enemy who has the utmost respect for him being disillusioned is good stuff and I feel like it’s a new wrinkle in the kind of idea introduced in some of the more meta Looney Tunes: “Am I actually happy if my sparring partner is out of the game”? It works on Venture Bros logic where the act of being a villain and having an enemy is far more important than accomplishing the goal.

The show is horny but I do have hopes for the dynamics of the two leads and can see potential for some big laughs and even some sweetness between the leads. I’m going to keep going and hope that it doesn’t double down on its worst instinct. I don’t trust it to abandon them but I am hoping it’s comedic sense will make the elements I don’t like easier to swallow.

The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses

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the Premise

I guy sits next to a girl he has a crush on. One day she forgets her glasses and Mr. Magoo’s around all day, which he is even more into.

It Gud?

Well…


So it’s a GoHands production and if you are unfamiliar, they are a studio making fantasy sci-fi adventure series that would be unmemorable save for their bizarre incompetence and decision making. In this series, there’s less incompetence (the direction actually gets decent at points, though their hair animation remains befuddling) but it doubles down on madness, at least for the first few minutes. The madness ISN’T in the storytelling but in the presentation. The series starts with these bizarre super-low angles making the characters legs super long. It sounds like it could be a foot or leg fetish thing but it doesn’t feel like it. It just seems like “impressive, no?” and it is only in that it’s impressive that someone thought this was sane direction (and at such a weird frame rate).

But what substance is there beyond this? Not a lot. That’s not necessarily bad. It’s a romcom, which is different for the studio. It’s not poorly directed but few of the jokes land. Though I think a lot of that also has to do with the fact that maybe the source material also wasn’t that good. It lacks substance, laughs, the characters aren’t terribly charming and any time it tries to wow, the show becomes completely unhinged.

So it feels like GoHands is evolving. It still isn’t a good studio. In fact, it might be the worst studio in terms of show quality around right now. I’ve seen a lot of piss-poor animated shows, many of them light novel adaptations that are banking on the overflow of the genre spilling from good studios into their own. But as bad as GoHands is, I will compliment it on this; it has an identity. It’s making choices, as misguided as they are and I won’t forget them. I can’t even hate them at this point. I can only look onto them with an awe at them following their muse straight off a cliff and I kind of admire that dedication.

My Happy Marriage

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the Premise

A young girl is made a servant of her abusive family and even the boy who loves her ends up marrying her abusive sister due to familial commitments. Soon she is set up to be married to a man known for driving all of his other fiancées away.

It Gud?

My Happy Marriage is a well-made show. The direction is not super showy but it works for this low-key story and is very even measured. The animation looks quite decent. Overall, it is a show with some real talent behind it. But I don’t think I liked it. It’s a melodrama where the lead has to suffer a lot and that’s not necessarily a deal breaker for me. After all, we often want characters to be able to overcome hardship and it becomes more satisfying when at first the deck is stacked against them.

But none of these characters work for me. Her abusers are just ridiculously sucky, especially her dad who just stands back and lets it all happen. It’s very unsubtle. That doesn’t mean you can’t do that and have it work but really, the show keeps going into it and I’m not getting more emotional returns. There’s the boyfriend who is the closest to being interesting, a well-meaning guy who probably lacks the proper fortitude and is too molded by his environment to actually stand up for someone who loves. The main character is the classic trope of the young girl who won’t complain even though life keeps dumping on her. She’s emotionally muted and the show isn’t subtle enough to make that work for me. And then we end with the introduction to the Hot Stern Fiancée who is probably going to suck too much for me to be invested in the relationship. Like the kind where it’s “he sucks but he means well at heart.”

The weird thing is the preview also implies there’s… supernatural adventure in this? It’s very weird if that’s correct because there is NO hint of that. Very weird. It might make sense for a novel but for the show to not even allude to that in the first episode (there’s something about a cherry tree that probably ties in but everything seems like a metaphor) is weird for TV. Now in many respects, I think My Happy Marriage is a good show but I’m not sure it’s one that I’m going to be into.

Reborn as a Vending Machine, Now I Wander the Dungeon

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the Premise

A guy dies and comes back as a vending machine in a fantasy world.

It Gud?

Look, if you are going to have an isekai, at least make it more interesting than “I’m an asshole with New Game + cheats”. And thankfully, while awfully “paint by numbers” at least this series differentiates itself with the absurdist logline. Really, though, it’s a traditional take on that, with a character finding they can level up in ways other characters can’t and can introduce mundane items to a fantasy world and making people happier.

The isekai genre as it exists now is tiring to me and this show doesn’t rejuvenate it but not falling into some of the worse instincts makes this pretty tolerable. The lead is a bit bland but at least he isn’t some entitled asshole. The “jokes” are kind of pablum level but they aren’t cringey or eye-rolling in their delivery. In fact, all the characters are broad archetypes but in terms of turn off your brain entertainment, you can do a lot worse.

Vending Machine isn’t a great defense of the genre but neither is it something to point to and say “don’t be that”. It sits in a comfortable middle ground that feels like watching someone else play a weird RPG. Thing is, a game where you are playing as this vending machine sounds like genuine fun and I would in a heartbeat. As a show… I don’t mind watching it but it’s also not much to recommend. If the show’s premise speaks to you, give it a try but I won’t spend a lot of time talking people into this one.

Reign of the Seven Spellblades

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the Premise

Six kids go to a magic school for magic.

It Gud?

Not an isekai, as far as I can tell, but another boring “magic school” series. And clunky. Most of the first episode is characters sitting around establishing who they are, where they are from and what their deal is. This is as organic as it gets; “OK, let’s discuss who we are and where we are from.” My favourite part is a flying map is present whenever they are discussing their origins but people aren’t pointing to the map, they are indicating flags floating above the map with no clear indicators of location. The floating map did nothing.

It decides to get a bit horny at the end with a cliché “I don’t care, where I’m from, everybody can look at my tits” and also an indication that the bland lead is a bland lead with a secret (I actually think it said his deal but I was really checked out by that point). But any attempts to get me interested are crying into the void, I really have no interest in these characters. As far as I can tell, they are all the background players in Mashle that aren’t interesting enough to get beaten up.

Overall, Reign of the Seven Spellblades lays things out that might be easier to accept in a video game; characters establishing stuff about themselves and one quick fight. I really can’t see much difference hear between this and a lot of the other bland magic school series that popped up in the wake of Harry Potter (and Fire Emblem: Three Houses probably also plays a role here). I’m not excited to visit this school where only 80% of the students survive (making it better than an American school) because despite the promise there is danger here, there is little sense of urgency.

The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today

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the Premise

An office worker owns a cat. Which is 6 feet tall and does all the cooking and cleaning.

It Gud?

This is, as far as I can tell, the best series that GoHands has released. It’s… watchable. I can definitely tell it would be a BETTER show from another company but aside from bizarrely 20 years ago-style CGI cars and just… atmosphere for the first four minutes, it’s a mostly watchable gag comedy about a giant cat and her owner…. Or an office lady who is owned by a giant cat. There’s definitely a lot of smaller things to nitpick about it but as a whole, it is not terrible.

Keep in mind, yes, that is damning with faint praise but faint praise is a BIG step up for GoHands. Because before it was bemusement and boredom. And despite this being just an OK slice of life fantasy, I didn’t hate this. Where there choices I would have preferred? Sure. I think they shouldn’t have put a voice to the cat’s inner thoughts which I feel should be read. The colour, like all Gohands things, looks weird (but better than it used to be). And there are a few bizarrely animated moments.



But I can watch this. I don’t hate the relationship between the two leads; a perfect “domestic” cat and a hot mess single lady who just wants to be spoiled by her cat. The series doesn’t look like it’s going to bother the premise, nor should it. I suspect that the manga this is based on probably could have gone to a much better studio but GoHands is doing better hear than The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses, probably because it’s attempts to wow are less confounding (though unsuccessful).



The Gene of AI

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the Premise

In the future, transhuman technological augmentations are becoming more commonplace. A young doctor working a private practice straddles dangerous legal and ethical lines for his patience as they all discover and navigate the consequences of alternating what it means to be human.

It Gud?

The Gene of AI is a hard sci-fi show in the classic sense. Not to say that all of the tech is right around the corner but it’s very much about the logical consequences of the introduction of revolutionary technology being introduced into the world and asking bigger questions about humanity. Now, the first one is a little more obvious and not as thorny per se; a man discovers his wife’s brain is dying but it dies, there’s a back-up brain. But that is not the same person. It looks to the idea that having a back up doesn’t mean she dies.

But it succeeds in a lot of other ways. It’s a very talky series but the series is also good at not coming out and saying a lot of this stuff. It’s more emotionally devastating for us to watch a character think it and too react than for them to come out and explain it and Gene of AI knows that. It’s interesting because it is humanist but it also runs a little cold. It’s a series that wants to take the emotional consequences seriously but there is some detachment, particularly in the clinical lead character.

Overall, we have a series that is well-written and does want you to think but I also find it something I’m not… excited about. I’m not really invested in the lead that much. It seems though he does have a story, the end credits sequence makes me hopeful that it will explore a variety of characters grappling with ethical questions about changing their minds (so to speak) and their bodies and what that means with their relationship with the world. Does it advance their humanity or simply make them less special? It’s kind of dry, but despite that, I think it’s a promising first episode.



Noble Farmer

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the Premise

The creator of Full Metal Alchemist shares what she knows about farming based on her personal life.

It Gud?

This is a niche one but it isn’t bad. It’s, as mentioned, Hiromu Arakawa explaining farm production and milk and stuff in little 4 minute shorts. The animation is nice and it explains it well so it really comes down to whether you find it interesting enough to keep going. I did enough watching it and I wouldn’t mind watching more but I don’t have a strong desire to seek it out. Usually, it’s nice to have something that fits into a short four minute slot.
 

RT-55J

space hero for hire
(He/Him + RT/artee)
The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today

the Premise


An office worker owns a cat. Which is 6 feet tall and does all the cooking and cleaning.

It Gud?

This is, as far as I can tell, the best series that GoHands has released. It’s… watchable.
My brother-in-law got my wife and I into the manga and we all think it is quite nice and charming. It's not a very sophisticated series, but it manages to offer some pleasant coziness and some occasional low-stakes drama.

Anyhow, after I read your summary the other day we ended up talking about the series for a bit because a new volume came out recently or something, and apparently both my wife and BIL are uninterested in the anime because they don't like watching Go Hands' stuff.

Pity this didn't end up with a better studio.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Anyhow, after I read your summary the other day we ended up talking about the series for a bit because a new volume came out recently or something, and apparently both my wife and BIL are uninterested in the anime because they don't like watching Go Hands' stuff.
It's not a good studio. And I will never not pay attention to it.
 
Re: The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today. I had a director that when he didn't like something you did, his response to it was "So that's a choice." Every time I see some weird camera angle or some unneeded atmospheric shot all I can think of is "So that's a choice."
 
So it feels like GoHands is evolving. It still isn’t a good studio. In fact, it might be the worst studio in terms of show quality around right now. I’ve seen a lot of piss-poor animated shows, many of them light novel adaptations that are banking on the overflow of the genre spilling from good studios into their own. But as bad as GoHands is, I will compliment it on this; it has an identity. It’s making choices, as misguided as they are and I won’t forget them. I can’t even hate them at this point. I can only look onto them with an awe at them following their muse straight off a cliff and I kind of admire that dedication.
I meant to respond to this a while back and didn't. On a technical level, the things the studio does is actually complicated and actually impressive. It takes a lot of work and effort and skill to do what they do - which is blending 2D characters with 3DCG backgrounds. You'll see a lot of modern studios do the same thing on a regular basis, but they usually save it for very limited, key sequences, because it's something that's so hard and probably labor intensive for it to look good.

GoHands cardinal sin then, is that they use this animation technique *all the time*. They use it so much and so often and in such ostentatious ways that it becomes discombobulating. When a character flies around like Spider-Man in Attack on Titan, those kinds of sequences usually only last a handful of seconds and gets used sparingly in ways where the audience doesn't have time to really sit, stare at, and break down all the little flaws. Go Hands meanwhile, almost invite that kind of judgment in how even mundane activities like walking through the halls of a school will have the camera spin 360s multiple times over the course of a minute or two of animation. And the lack of any other noteworthy higher animation techniques makes the studio feel like a one trick pony.

It's really bizarre. Because again, on a technical level, what they do is actually impressive. Very rarely are GoHands series ever show their character off-model on account of a hastily drawn character or background image. There's a lot of care and craft put into these shows. The real problem with their shows is the lack of any real restraint or judgment on when to use these tools they've crafted. The hallway scene posted above is actually not a terrible scene at all. Most anime has a problem where environments feel completely void of human activity in weird, hauntingly unrealistic ways, and the attempt to show a school bustling and full of people is actually a pretty neat choice. All of the characters are animated in that scene so that they don't look like they're superimposed onto the background as they do a decent job of making sure they don't slip, and they animate at a high enough framerate that they almost look like they belong. But again, when their entire ovure is filled with such scenes, the viewer gets ample time to let the uncanny valley creep in.

The other thing about their shows is that the same lack of restraint also occurs with the color palate. Traditional animation - paint on clear celluloid - the selection of a color palate was a very deliberate action. On a purely pragmatic level, most productions could only really afford to buy so many types of paint, and complicating the production with an overly rich color palate could lead to an increase in animation errors. Those limitations are a thing of the past with today's mostly digital productions, but the best productions still carefully consider their color palates because when carefully selected, a color palate can do a lot to inform the mood and tone of a show. GoHands meanwhile is like nah, fuck it. Let's just have every scene be an entire rainbow of colors, regardless if it looks good. There's so little thought put into the colors of any given scene as to whether it builds a visually coherent image that it's almost impressive. Like a hippy's ostentatious tie-dye shirt meant to as a visual protest against mundane orthodoxy. But it still looks bad.

The last thing that bugs me about GoHands shows, is that the stories are almost all pretty disposable. I don't know if it's because the people penning them are lacking talent, or their primary demographic has a terminal case of "chuunibyou" but even if the shows looked flawless, I'd probably stop watching them after a while anyways because... the stories just aren't interesting.
 
Saint Cecilia and Pastor Lawrens is the anime equivalent of comfort food. Pretty girl has a crush on the guy she's living with who takes care of her and is completely oblivious to her feelings and who happens to be some kind of magical saint. It's not a great anime, and the decision to put her in a miniskirt for her official saint clothes is weird, but it's also not super skeevy and is generally pleasant.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Woo, last four series I tried!

Saint Cecilia and Pastor Lawrence

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The Premise

A divine saint and a pastor living in a small town try to help its people. But the saint is a hot mess when no one is looking who has a crush on the Pastor.

It Gud?

I feel like Himouto! Umaru-chan, which I still haven’t seen, has cast a bit of a shadow over comedies and romcoms (even though it wasn’t a romcom). There’s both humour and sweetness in the idea of a character who should have things all together who is basically a sloppy brat when no one is looking. Similarly, I see that DNA in Otaku Elf from last season (which I didn’t finish yet) and I feel like there are a few other series that is eluding my brain that plays with the formula of the side of a “saint” that people don’t see.

In this case, it is a literal Saint. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure if the bucolic town this takes place in is supposed to be a fantasy world. Not a world of high fantasy but is this a world where saints with literal divine powers common? She has powers, to see these weird little glowing doodads, but it barely comes up and I’m not sure why? I think they wanted this lead to basically be a nun but with actual chance to romantic success without turning her back on her religion. And I have no problem with that, I just find the decisions interesting. I mean, at first I was like “I don’t think they know what a Saint is/does”, but then I realized I had to take it as a fantasy.

But that’s more unpacking what it is. Is it a good show? It’s fine. Just fine. I don’t feel the desire to watch anymore. But as a comedy, it’s merely competent and as far as these loveable characters go, it does feel like a watered-down version of better comedies. I’m not heavily invested in these characters or their romance and I feel like the juxtaposition of public face and private one has been done much better in other shows. You might enjoy it but for me, it’s not that interesting.

Dark Gathering

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The Premise

A teen who acts as a magnet to the supernatural finds himself roped into helping a little girl obsessed with the supernatural. She convinces him to help him to get a dangerous ghost in a phone booth to come forth and it is revealed she can combat the supernatural due to her unusual eyes that allow her to see spirits. The teen soon realizes that the reason she needs him is because while he attracts ghosts and such, she scares the shit out of them and they avoid her.

It Gud?

Dark Gathering is one I both wanted to like and expected not to and that’s sort of where we ended up. The preview had a character with a striking design but also exploding blood-filled plushies. In the end, yeah, I decided I didn’t like it but not *entirely* for the reasons I though. I was afraid it would be much gorier than it turned out being. And gore generally doesn’t bother me but I was expecting it to be the more upsetting. But it does have upsetting stuff; to set up the main character’s backstory, they basically have her mom trapped by a hentai beast doing weird hentai but still allowed on TV stuff to her and it’s very brief but boy was that a huge turn off.

It doesn’t feel entirely counter to the feel of the show but it drags it down into a level nastier than I want. Some of the nastiness, I like. Not the violence but the way it does gives the lead a bit of an edge; she doesn’t just capture ghosts, she is cruel to them. I think that’s an interesting angle for a paranormal fighter we don’t often see. But also, it goes a little hard on that at one point where we see the silhouette of a woman, an evil ghost that was the main antagonist, is being ripped apart. I think there’s an interesting idea but it didn’t thread the needle in the way I wanted.

And in the end, that’s the problem. A few too many dives into it’s edgelord side when just brushing up against it lightly would work better. I don’t want to see mom tentacled up with writhing bumps in her belly (yeah, seriously, that’s where it went. I told you it was very hentai). The level of cruelty of the lead is slightly too much. I want us to not just see her as just another “Raven from Teen Titans cartoon” but have her be actually kind of scary but you got to do it right. The reveal that the lead is actually turned on by his terror could be fun… in a funnier show but this ended up being a show that has elements I like but am just a too turned off by some choices that let me think they will just drive further in that direction.

Helck

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The Premise

Three months after the demon king Thor was defeated by a brave hero, the demon kingdom has been rebuilding and to do so, it has created a competition to decide the next leader of the demon forces. And the front runner is… a human hero of virtue true? Running on a platform of being strong and promising to kill all the humans, one demon higher up has trouble buying this is possible and that the human is planning to exterminate demonkind from inside. But everyone LOVES the human as he wins battle after battle. But why has a human hero seemingly sided with the demons?

It Gud?

Full disclosure: I read the entirety of the manga about a half a year ago. I quite liked it. This adaptation… not so much. It’s not making new stuff up but the problem is the series starts as comedy and then slowly works its way to an adventure narrative where it turns out Helck is a much sadder figure then we were lead to believe. This show is just ZOOMING past the fun to try to tell us Helck has a big deep mythos. And it results in too much stuff happening to keep notes on and what is kind of a fun hook of a premise already bogged down by it’s own worldbuilding.

JBear pointed out that weirdly Helck is kind of a cipher in the first episode of his own show. And I think if the show was a comedy, that would be far more of an advantage. In comedy, being a cipher and hard to read can be really funny and since our lead for a while is the demon lady just trying to figure this dude out and hamper him, only unable to overcome his chipper attitude and amazing power. But in trying to get to the point where we get into the sadness of Helck and the big battles that “matter” down the line, the show is missing setting up the fun stuff before it starts upsetting the table and transforming the one-sided rivalry that begins the series.

It reminds me of the new Trigun. Overall, I like the new Trigun but the thing I liked the least is we actually get very little “fun” Vash. Having Vash be sad works better after initially establishing him as a happy-go-lucky goofball. Similarly, Helck should begin as a gag comedy then slowly reveal it’s a Trigun where the hero is burdened. When I think of Helck, my brain goes to the first scene where he has a huge smile and is laughing about his mighty victory. But even the intro goes deep into “Helck is a sad, dour dude.” I feel like the studio Satelight knows that Helck’s reveals are good but forgets what makes them impactful. Please, just let Helck be fun for a while.

So long old friend…


Zom: Bucket List of the Dead

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the Premise

A guy who is in his third year working for an exploitative ad company is completely beaten down. But then one morning he finds to his joy that he’s free. And all it took was the zombie apocalypse.

It Gud?

Bucket List of the Dead was a series that on paper is something I shouldn’t like. I tend to resist the zombie fiction trope of “dude utilizes the zombie apocalypse as an excuse to self-improve and turn his life around” because I feel like it is often from a place of selfishness and entitlement. Bucket List of the Dead works in ways I didn’t expect and even when playing in tropes I don’t like, still manages to win me over. I quite like this series.

I think part of it is the series spends a lot of time establishing the main character’s shitty work life. I feel like it would have been easy for everyone to suck, he limits it to one or two obvious work boss villains. Yeah, they suck in cartoonish ways but also exaggerations of believable ways. The love interest character… it flirts with a Madonna/whore complex but I feel like it doesn’t actually judge her as a person for being a mistress (though it does make the decision to zombify her. Still, it doesn’t feel like her dying is supposed to feel cathartic). But I like that less than the character actually making his excuses to not leave and spending time with co-workers who aren’t bad people per se but have fallen under a similar spell as the main character as they compare their shitty work situations like a dick measuring contest.

When the apocalypse does happen, the lead character is… pretty indifferent to everyone dying. Even the person he “loves”. Is he completely detached from reality? Maybe. But it works for the irreverent tone of the show because, so far, the emotional core isn’t about caring about others but about long-neglected self-care. And I can hear you say “I dunno, man, it really does seem like it’s about a dude who is indifferent to the pain of others living a wish fulfillment life within the grave of the world.” And… yeah. It’s why I feel like there’s so much I feel I should dislike about the show that completely succeeds in the presentation of it. It sells it. Yes, it’s beautifully animated but that sure as fuck didn’t make me like “Jobless Reincarnation”. What I do like is the gore is splotches of ultra bright colours, which works well with the idea that the hero sees beauty in the world again. I’m still working through trying to understand why it does work. Yes, part of it isn’t that the show doesn’t focus on the hero being a survival genius. Seems like his only plan is to have fun. I’m curious what it will look like going forward. Will he meet other people? Will they be as indifferent to the suffering as other people or will they look at him like a maniac? I don’t know what episode two will look like but I am curious if it can keep up with the stuff I liked about the first or if it will convince me to turn on it.
 
What happens when you take My Next Life as a Villainess, strip out the very likable and adorkable lead and throw in more drama than needed? You get The Most Heretical Last Boss Queen. Both have similar setups: An isekai where the lead is reincarnated into the otome they played in our world. But where Villainess has Catarina decide to find a way to survive the coming doom and instead subverts it by simply being herself, and thus getting her own harem of all the leads, Queen decides to have the lead Pride Royal Ivy agonize over what a piece of shit and horrifying monster the original Pride was. Sure, she's now making decisions to not be a monster but it's not in a "Hey, I can actually do some good here" line of thinking but in the hopes of not being killed. Which again is fine, but it also doesn't make me feel like caring about her or the other characters. Give me some kind of goal that you are working towards, even if it's making a garden so that you can survive your possible exile.
 
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