Spring Anime 2017 Part 1: woke up late
This time I prepared so I could get to the procrastinating right with the first post! Yay! Let’s get this show on the road.
Alice to Zouroku
So get this, a pretty girl with psychic superweapon powers escapes from a lab she’s been in her whole life and now has to adapt to the real world with the help of a guy she stumbles upon, all while being chased by her superweapon former friends. But in a shocking twist, this is actually better than Elfen Lied! Not being written by someone as brutally incompetent as Lynn Okamoto is a start, but the real change here is that our heroine is less murder machine and more genuinely cute, and more importantly the guy she ends up with is not a harem ringleader dorklord, but a grumpy elderly florist. Yeah, we’re skipping the recent trend of dadfeel anime and diving headfirst into granddad feels (I don’t know if aging otaku are quite old enough to fully self-insert yet, but the same principle applies). It’s a low hanging fruit, but that’s what makes it work; a deliberate, contemplative pace and delightfully whimsical music by TO-MAS also help. So far, so good, were it not for the fact that this is only one aspect of the show. Of course a show like this would have an action half as well, and that one’s pretty garbage. Not only is it directed with zero impact or excitement, it also relies on horrible CG a lot - I really don’t want to be reminded of Hand Shakers this quickly again, thank you very much. Plus, it runs with a Alice in Wonderland metaphor, which is baby’s first literary reference and doesn’t bode well about the intellectual ambitions of the project. So we have one half that’s admittedly effective, but also very predictable and which desperately needs to go somewhere to pay off. The other half just plain sucks and has little chance to improve. I think I’ll give this one a few more chances to sort out its priorities, but it’s definitely not a sure thing.
Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism
A cocky guy walks into a school full of pretty girls with weapons who have managed to sissify all the dudes by forcing them to crossdress. He then proceeds to troll them with his rugged charm. You know, it’s really not that easy to offend me but damn this show is trying. Apart from bottom-tier harem crap setup, this show also looks like ass and is tremendously boring; a few well done action cuts do not in fact excuse “fights” that mostly consist of exposition about special attacks, or terminally uninspired direction. Macchiavellism is the worst of shounen fightmens crossed with the worst of harem LNs, plus some of the worst jokes bad anime comedy can come up with. It’s not even audacious enough in its badness to boggle the mind; I could watch this if I was interested in adding another 1/10 to my MAL, but that’s about all I can appreciate about it.
Frame Arms Girl
Speaking of unholy combinations, here’s Gundam Build Fighters x Rozen Maiden x Strike Witches: A girl stumbles into a sentient mecha musume model kit that spends its time explaining the technical details of model building to her and attracts other model kits that want to fight. It’s an ad for model kits, what do you expect. There’s no characters, the plot is utterly uninteresting, the action’s bad, it looks subpar to bad, and the only high point is how brazenly it reads to you from the manual.
Gin no Guardian
Here’s your latest Chinese webcomic adaptation from your friends at Haoliners Animation League (Shanghai) Inc., whose output has been asymptotically approaching the quality level of a bad Japanese cartoon for years now: Closer than ever, but still not quite there. Maybe they should stop picking bad webcomics with incomprehensible nonsense plots as source material, just sayin’. So this is about a dude who beats up CG zombies in the spirit world but the actual story is how he got there? Or something? It manages to look barely alright and even has some visually striking design work, but its half-length run time prevents it from forming any semblance of coherence and I’m not about to ask for further clarification.
Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine
In a vaguely 18th century Germanic kingdom, a grown ass man with the body of a ten year old and a snarky disposition is hired to become the tutor of an instaharem of fabulous princes. I really don’t get who this is for; obviously the harem is straight out of a PSP otome dating sim, but it’s lacking the obvious self-insert dimwitted main girl, and no, it isn’t gay romance either. Even though it’s a comedy, that aspect does not seem to be played for outright parody. The source material is running in GFantasy, a shounen title (but not one as specifically elementary schooler-focused as Jump, it also carries fujo favorites such as Black Butler). Dubious provenance aside, Haine is moderately funny if nothing else, mainly due to the deadpan reactions of the main character to these ridiculous dreamboats. It just also drags more than a little, with long conversations that aren’t very entertaining all the time. It’s watchable compared to a lot of the stuff out this season, but I remain unconvinced.
Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records
After Macchiavellism already obliterated the battle harem bingo, here’s our next winner. The setup’s more or less the same and in some respects it’s even more formulaic (the school is actually a magic school for magic people, princesses, duels, &c), but Akashic Record is not quite as odious simply by focusing on being a comedy first and foremost and pulling that off at least on a technical level - it has good visual execution and comedic timing. The question is just how much credit you want to give it for that when the jokes themselves still suck, and that’s of course ignoring the entire setup being Light Novel as all fuck. Kinda seems familiar actually, because this is not entirely unlike to what KonoSuba did to the isekai genre, and people keep trying to tell me that that was totally great. Well, go watch this one then, motherfuckers.
But there’s always the other kind of light novel, the one where high schoolers talk about life, people and the world. Think Bakemonogatari or OreGairu. Sagrada Reset wants a slice of that pie and starts by stealing the magical realism conceit from classic™ visual novel Wind ~A Breath of Heart~: There’s a remote town in Japan where everyone has superpowers, but if they leave the town they instantly forget about it. Oops, i guess I just spoiled Wind’s midgame, but I have to since Sagrada Reset puts this stuff right upfront because it has to discuss technicalities (at length) to make its plot work. Yeah, that’s how I like my magical realism, thoroughly explained and conceived by people who should write wikis, not fiction. There’s a girl who can reset time, but only once per arbitrary period of time and also including herself, which means she only finds out she already did it once it doesn’t work again. So that’s pretty useless, except there’s a guy whose superpower is having his memory unaffected by this. They have to work together to solve… some problems, I suppose. This whole idea seems to have potential in a JoJo subplot sort of way, but it’s completely sunk by the way the thing is written, since apparently the writer has never met a human being in his life. It’s entirely made of these pseudo-deep highschool stoner philosophy conversations presented in a lifeless inflection by people who stand around like robots on battery saver mode. This seems to be intentional (at least the term “robot” is thrown around a couple of times, which is certainly ominous), but it also makes for an excruciating and interminable watching experience.
Since Sakura Quest was announced, I have been gleefully throwing water on the hype of people who expected this to be the next Shirobako. After all, how likely is it for lightning to strike twice, especially considering Mizushima is not in the director’s seat? Surely it was all just wishful thinking, I want a S2 of Shirobako as much as everyone but I just don’t trust anime. Well consider me fucking told, since apparently among the parties wishing for more Shirobako is P.A. Works, and unlike the anitwitterati they can make it happen. The actual brand name seems to be reserved for a Mizushima project, but I would have no trouble believing that Sakura Quest is a spinoff about Aoi’s sister in the boonies; Shirobako Sunshine, if you will. The initial setup is mirrored here; Yoshino is not a young professional starting her dream job, but a young professional unable to score a dream job (or any job) so she settles for a random one she’s very skeptical of, but will undoubtedly learn to love. Apart from that, well, it’s Shirobako: The positive tone, the large cast of likeable oddballs, the relatable writing about post-highschool problems, and it even looks completely identical. I’ll still be realistic about it: Shirobako isn’t great for what its ideas were, but for how thoroughly it delivered in the long run, and this is by no means guaranteed to also happen with Sakura
Reset Quest. For an episode 1 though, it’s like a dream come true, and P.A. are setting themselves up for seasonal double domination with this and Uchouten Kazoku S2.
Souryo to Majiwaru Shikiyoku no Yoru ni
Enough gushing, here’s 5 minutes of porn. Okay, it’s josei porn so there may still be gushing involved if you know what I mean, nyuk nyuk. Er, sorry about that. Sooooo there’s a sexually frustrated woman who meets her school crush who’s now a priest, and then they fuck. With a staff made up mostly of (non-josei, but hey) hentai OVA veterans, there is really only one way this could go. I appreciate the brazenness as usual, but I really don’t know how much steamy harlequin romance tailored to TV broadcast standards I want to watch.
I’ve seen some warnings about Tsugumomo based on its source material which is a manga with 1. a very high level of art quality and 2. content that has been described as “makes To-Love Ru Darkness look family friendly”. This may explain why it has not been licensed. It doesn’t explain why this first episode is fairly tame though; sure, it’s very much an ecchi comedy, but you get those from time to time and Tsugumomo is not any more raunchy than what I’m used to seeing (and it accomplishes this even without obvious BD-advert censoring). That incidentally also removes any reason to watch it: The plot is as basic “guy gets magical girlfriend for purposes of fights and/or walking in on her naked in the bath” from 15 years ago as they come, and it’s suspiciously well animated, but not well enough for that to be a selling point. Maybe it will get real skeevy eventually, I won’t be around to find out.
Warau Salesman NEW
Warau Salesman starts strong with ultra cool, Saul Bass-inspired opening credits, but that’s about all it has to offer. It’s based on a “black comedy” manga from the 60s by one of the Doraemon authors, and oh boy can you tell. Not only are the character designs 60s-tastic (so at least the Osomatsu-san fujos can schlick to something while they wait for the S2 of that), but so are the sensibilities: The titular salesman goes around tempting frustrated office workers with doing something moderately irresponsible, such as drinking in your lunch break or spending above your means, and then ruins their life when they actually do it. It’s like Twilight Zone written by your HR department. In the 60s. This stuff would have been outdated even in 1989, when it was animated for the first time – hence the “NEW”. I don’t know, it just seems mean-spirited, obvious and pointless, and most importantly I put the “black comedy” in quotes because in addition to not being very black, it’s not funny in any way, and unlike regular anime comedy I can’t even see what’s supposed to be funny.