spring anime 2017 part 2: girlfriendship is magic
I can’t believe Maidragon was so powerful it brought the entire 90s back.
Yes, forecasts this season predict heavy showers of magical girlfriends.This time the dude afflicted by this sudden precipitation is a clockwork nerd, who gets a clockwork gothloli dropped on him. This may be less of a coincidence than it sounds because for spurious reasons the entire planet has been replaced by clockwork – if you thought this show was mentally capable of having a metaphorical title, I have bad news. So basically this is teen schmuck + robot superweapon having fights in a city that looks like a lazy steampunk cosplayer’s top hat, in between erotic misunderstandings. I’m regretting that I called Macchiavellism’s fights bad because a couple good action cuts are already a lot to ask for, as evidenced here: It looks just terrible, and obviously the content itself is even worse. Nuh-uh.
I love Hiro Kanzaki’s character designs. There, I said it. I just wish they weren’t attached to bullshit like OreImo or Eromanga-sensei, which, being by the same author and all, is more or less the same thing. It’s pretty bad when the implied incest fantasy is the least revolting thing about your celebration of otaku shittery: So a schlubby light novel protagonist who also writes light novels (and who happens to be surrounded by hot bitches that just love people who write light novels because that’s so cool) finds out that the mysterious porn artist he’s collaborating with over the internet is actually his hikkikomori little sister, who reacts to this revelation like any girl would: being tsundere. This means it’s full of mildly self-deprecating nerd humor, the infuriating kind that makes it abundantly clear that if the author meant any of it, he wouldn’t write this crap. Even worse is that the sibling relationship is played for sappy family feels, which I would be more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to if this wasn’t OreImo 2: The Sequel To OreImo. And the main guy can’t keep his eyes from wandering anyway, so it’s not like there’s a mystery here. I’ll say it looks real good, obviously there’s money in the OreImo market and it’s well made as a result, plus the aforementioned character designs. But if I want more Hiro Kanzaki I’d rather watch Go! Go! 575 again.
There’s actually no Manga Time Kirara adaptation this season, but worry not, Hinako Note is indistinguishable from one of those (that one being GochiUsa). So it’s Kirara at it’s most basic too: 5 girls with mild, generic quirks hang out and cute things take place. You get your shy one, you get your hungry one, you get your tiny maid one, etc. Ostensibly this is theater-themed, but as of episode 1 it’s less about theater than K-ON is about music, and that’s saying something. Now, these shows are always extremely inoffensive by design, and if they do nothing fundamentally wrong they just come across as dull. Since this does nothing fundamentally wrong, it just comes across as dull. Congratulations, Hinako Note, you pulled it off even while being born in the wrong magazine.
The easy hook when writing about Kabukibu is that it’s another DEEN show about a classic Japanese performance artform, but it’s blindingly obvious right away that Kabukibu is no Rakugo Shinjuu – it being about a school club is right in the title after all, and it has the requisite spurious punctuation too, so everything else falls into place from there. The main innovation is that this is about cute guys doing cute kabuki. As always, our main dude has to gather the five members to bring the school club back to life first. So it’s unimaginative and honestly rather bad, but I still like it. For starters there’s the bit where our lead is such a nerd that he spends every conversation clearing up common misconceptions about kabuki, which is hilarious, since it resembles weeaboo Richard Stallman wanting to interject for a second over and over again. Secondly, the comical cast of misfits does seem to have potential, with a rock singer that can’t sing, an obvious woman that is actually a woman, and so on. Overall it reminds me of Cheer Danshi, an obvious C-list production that gets by by being earnest. If I can learn to not be annoyed at the yodelling kabuki inflection, I might actually watch this for a lark.
The King’s Avatar
This may be completely outside the “Japanese cartoon” purview of this post since it’s 100% Chinese and doesn’t even have a Japanese dub like the Haoliners productions, but it’s on MAL so it counts I suppose. Also, it’s rather… good? The King’s Avatar is about a legendary MMO pro gamer who gets kicked off his team and has to give up his account, which afflicts him with a multitude of sads. After a bit of soul-searching he starts playing the game again on a new server, starting from level 1. What makes this not as bad as it sounds is that it’s not an isekai bonanza, but a sports show where the sport happens to be visually interesting, and it’s a slow and contemplative sports show at that. The whole “starting from level 1" thing is a topical twist on the sports comeback story, and it looks fairly nice too, a few bits of unfortunate CG aside (but that’s common, so whatever). Yeah, I like this, and if fansubs turn out to not be a huge hassle to get hold of I’ll give it a try.
Love Kome - We Love Rice
Back in Japan, please enjoy this short comedy about rice crop gijinka, boyband edition. It has atrocious character designs and is painfully unfunny. So nothing new there.
Girlfriends keep falling in my lap, and that might mean my eyes will soon be turning red. Hey, this is the old “reverse isekai”, where some nerd gets to live with a bunch of characters from his favorite anime that inexplicably became real. Brace for domestic hijinks and fish-out-of-water comedy - and a lot of action, because this is Ei Aoki working with offbrand Fate material. He may be this show’s saving grace, because I’m willing to forgive dumb action anime a lot if it at least manages to have some actual fucking action in it. The idea that these anime characters think they’re in the “realm of the gods” (i.e., their creators, you see) also has some storytelling potential, if it doesn’t get buried under stuff blowing up and comedic trips to the konbini. And it doesn’t have a “walking in on the girl naked” scene, which probably counts as “classy” in this field. I don’t know, it sure is stupid as hell but it might be a good time. We’ll see.
Renai Boukun is a comedy’s comedy about a very silly cupid that ships people, and herself. As a real anime comedy, it is of course chock full of people acting wacky followed by reaction faces, which is my kryptonite. I do have to admit that this show at least goes all out with it, it’s fast and furious and never lets up. Some of the jokes are even okay (mostly the more absurd ones like the unsettlingly bizarre cat with a human face), though most are just repetitive, like the yandere girl being constantly jealous. Yeah, this is just totally not my thing, but if I give it any amount of praise that probably means it’s a good one?
Never say that bureaucrats don’t get no respect, because this is the second season in a row where we get an anime about pencilpushers being totally awesome. The main difference between this and ACCA is that ACCA was roughly 80% style, and Seikaisuru Kado has no style. It makes up for it with conviction, because this is a show where some desk jockey assigned to wind down an electroplating business spends a night googling, with the result being him developing a new electroplating procedure that saves the company and impresses physics professors – and that is the intro before the science fiction aspect comes into play. Oh yeah, there’s a science fiction aspect. So after a job well done, Super Bureaucrat Man is taking a flight from Haneda airport when a Borg cube unceremoniously drops on the plane. The rest of the episode is spent with scientists trying to figure out what happened, mostly by shooting tank shells at the cube and so on. Guess they just aren’t bureaucratic enough, because by the end our hero emerges from the cube, having apparently come to an agreement with the proprietor. Uh. Yes, this is an extreme amount of nonsense, and I have no idea where this is supposed to be going. With the amount of military hardware on display, it makes me think “GATE, but not for total assholes”, but who knows. It looks very weird too, it’s a CG show that cuts a lot of corners by using 2D animation (I know, right?). Usually CG characters are good when you have a lot of action because it enables a fluid camera, but this has no action and they still could have done their special effects in CG like everyone else. So it ends up as an anime where the important characters look worse than the unimportant ones they couldn’t be bothered to build a CG model for. The whole thing is bizarre enough to be intriguing, but I don’t have high hopes for it, especially since the slots for shows I actually want to watch are now filling up.
Tsuki ga Kirei
Case in point: Tsuki ga Kirei is a romance about a bookish nerd dude who loves to quote Dazai at his most morose, and a neurotic girl. Needless to say, it is very awkward, but also kind of cute. This may seem like a slim synopsis, but that’s pretty much it: Tsuki ga Kirei is the sort of show that has the potential to be great if it pays off, but just becomes boring to infuriating Mari Okada clone #3879435 if it doesn’t. So it’s a risky proposition, and not one you can call based on the first episode. On the execution level it seems to do it right so far, it’s well directed, sticks to its slow, sensitive tone and looks pleasant and detailed – the only distracting thing are regrettable and robotic CG background characters all over the place. Overall, this is a show that demands at least three episodes, which it will get from me. Ask again later.
Twin Angel BREAK
Finally, if you’re looking for some basic-ass mahou shoujo shit, here’s the new Twin Angel spinoff. It’s indeed some basic-ass mahou shoujo shit (two-girl team aka PreCure version). The genki red one and the reserved blue one go around fighting evil by the moonlight or whatever, while being cheered on by their one-gimmick-each friends. I somehow doubt this thing is setting itself up for a subversion of any kind, so yeah. What you see is what you get. The only memorable thing is that the action is more than merely bad here, it’s comically bad. Seriously, it’s somewhere between Astro Fighter Sunred and Ninja Slayer. Too bad the rest of the show is just unambitiously competent, so watching it for production pratfalls seems like it’s not worth it either.