And we’re back! It’s cooled down a bit for today here in Britain (finally!) and I’ve got a lot more optimism than I had last week, so let’s see what we’ve got!
Cells at Work!
Ever wondered what was going on inside your body? Well now there’s an animated show for you! (You know, if you never saw Osmosis Jones). Follow the daily lives of a directionally challenged red blood cell, a worryingly blood-covered white blood cell and the cutest platelets you’ve ever seen. They’ll deal with all sorts of infections and viruses, but how long can this setup go on before we get sick of it?
Seriously those platelets are the cutest characters I’ve ever seen. This is a pretty good show, though nothing that will change anyone’s world. I mean the whole humanized version of what goes on inside the human body has been done before, it’s just Osmosis Jones, but with a more educational, slice of life bent rather than a buddy cop show (with terrible live action Bill Murray if we’re bringing the film into this). It’s cute and fun and I like the designs of a lot of the various cells and viruses. Each episode is pretty much a seminar on what happens to the body when it encounters various afflictions with a little bit of mild comedy and action thrown in. It’s not the funniest show or the most action packed, but for now it’s a nice breezy watch when I want to just relax for a while.
Aliens are invading! Again! (And boy are there some strange ones, even by anime standards), but fear not for there are seven magically transforming heroes here to save the day! Then there’s Soya who leads a fairly ordinary high school life, you know, aside from the fact that he has amnesia and a giant upright-walking cat as his foster dad. His only real complaint is that he wants to eat more meat. Then his memories come back and the maid and the cat that have been looking after him reveal that they’re actually aliens, aliens that want him to fight. Is he going to fight with the heroes to protect the world? Nope. He’s fighting against them. Why? Well the answer is in his memory.
I do really like this show, even if with each episode a bit more of the bizarreness fades away. As we learn more detail about what’s going on, honestly, it feels a bit more standard anime and I hope there’s some more weirdness along the way. Saying that there’s a lot of dramatic potential in this story and I like that we’re following the 6th Ranger (though I guess that should be 8th Ranger) whose going through a revenge arc and while the heroes aren’t the bad guys, what they’re doing could lead to something very bad. I also like that there’s factions to this, there’s more than two sides to the argument and each side thinks they’re doing good or right at least. I like the character designs and as I said before the creatures or weapons or whatever they actually are are really, really weird, but that’s the kind of crazy I come to anime for, so I’m all for it. Really looking forward to where this one is going.
Holmes of Kyoto
In an antiques shop in Kyoto there is a young man who is often referred to as ‘Holmes’. He has an expert eye for detail and can instantly read people and spot a counterfeit antique from a mile away. When Aoi, a high school student, starts working part-time in the shop he finds himself solving various mysterious across the city. Who has been sending a young woman threatening letters? Who burned a couple of scrolls? Holmes and Aoi will find out!
Don’t expect much from this series. The mysteries are very light and small scale, I don’t know if a detective slice of life is a thing, but that’s what it feels like. If you like the Sherlock Holmes type of mysterious where the detective basically talks to each person involved one after the other and then sits down to explain the answer it’s fine, sometimes it can only just get it within the twenty odd minutes, but that’s fine. The characters are decent, the animation is decent, actually that’s pretty much the word for this series, decent. It doesn’t do anything horrendous, but it’s not really blowing me away either. I feel what’s going to be a big problem for this series is the lack of stakes. There’s nothing really threatening or life endangering on the line here, everything feels a bit too mundane and relaxed. Now there was a hint of a counterfeiting ring for Holmes to go up against, but that has only been one hint, in one episode and not a sign of them since. Still it’s a pleasant and breezy enough watch, though it’s probably going to more something that I have on in the background than something I actively watch.
Phantom in the Twilight
Shortly after arriving in London, Ton and her friend are robbed! Giving chase after the thief, Ton stumbles across Café Forbidden, a place that was set up by her great-grandmother! There are creatures you see, Umbra, who live in the shadows, vampires and werewolves and the like and while there are those that wish to harm people, there are others who will defend them. The staff of Café Forbidden are four such Umbra and with Ton’s own emerging magical powers they will defend London from supernatural threats, and hopefully at some point get Ton’s kidnapped friend back!
I’ll admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this show. When I first saw it I was kind of fearful. It just reeked of a reverse harem and I could see it descending into all these vampire romance clichés, but so far it’s avoided any of that. Despite how basic the set up and a lot of the character backstory is, this show knows how to have fun and to use its concept in interesting ways. For one I’m really grateful that the vampire in this series sticks to the majority of the ‘classic’ vampire powers, turning into mist, hypnotism, can’t come in unless you invite him. It feels like so long since I’ve seen that that I’m actually really grateful. Also it can use powers in interesting ways, like with the ghost. Instead of just having a floating spectre, he has no form and instead has to possess things, whether that’s a mannequin or a radio or even a mobile phone and we get some creative uses of that power. One other thing that really surprised me with this series is how much these characters have grown on me and how much I just enjoy them interacting with one another. As an example I really love the scenes outside the café between Luke and Ton, you get a great sense of warmth and friendship off of the two of them and I’m looking forward to where this series is going.
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion
In the 13th Century the Mongolian Empire was a force to be reckoned with, rapidly expanding across the globe and seemed to be unstoppable. Then in 1274, the Empire set its sights on Japan, aiming to first conquer the small island of Tsushima before moving on to the rest of the land. With nothing but an aging general, a wholly unprepared army and several convicts sent over to help out in lieu of an actual death sentence, the small island must hold its own in a battle against one of the most deadly armies in history.
Okay, first off we have to talk about that filter; it is horrible. I get what they’re trying to do with it, they’re trying to make everything feel painted or textured to give the animation that old school feel to it, but just sticking a filter over every frame is an incredibly lazy way to do that. Heck, last season Megalobox managed to get that old cel animated feeling by just roughing up the line work. The filter just makes some of the scenes ugly, but that aside this is a pretty enjoyable show. I don’t know much about this period in Japan’s history, but the whole small island fighting back against a bigger enemy is fairly standard. So far it’s actually a pretty standard take on the plot and we haven’t really dug into many of the character so are lot of them are just coming across as stock. The series is enjoyable though, I like these characters and I want to see them survive. This is a solid show and considering the amount of below average shows (or shows that I just have zero interest in) this season, that feels like high praise.
Lord of Vermilion: The Crimson King
A strange sound rings through all of Tokyo and anything that hears it falls unconscious. When people finally start to wake up they find a red mist surrounding the city that no one can pass through and strange occurrences are rumoured to be happening, such as people disappearing and monsters turning up out of nowhere. Chihiro is the last person to wake up and his tragic, and possibly bloody, past is the least of his worries when he returns home to find his adoptive father transformed into a monster and then even weirder, though kind of expected with this being an anime, Chichiro turns out to have magic powers that lets him fight the monsters.
I’m of two minds with this series. It has a few story elements that I like (though there are some that I don’t), but what has me concerned is that I really don’t trust the writing of this show. Any show that plays the ‘I’ll explain it later, when it’s most dramatic’ card three times in the same episode so blatantly is in trouble. Doesn’t help that the episode immediately after it is pretty much an exposition dump from start to finish. All of which is a shame because there are parts of this that I really like. I like stories with factions and villains that have a reason for what they do and that believe they’re in the right, that is if they even turn out to be the villains by the end. Also I know the whole protagonist with a secret tragic past is a bit of an overplayed trope, but I think Chichiro’s morality struggle of coming to terms with having to kill people to protect others has a lot of potential. It’s just that so far the execution has been pretty substandard. This will probably turn out terribly, but I’ll hang in here to see what happens.
Attack on Titan Season 3
Eren and the gang are back! This time though its not Titans that are the problem. After the death of the pastor who knew more about the secrets of the Walls than he would say, the group becomes aware that someone within the Walls is trying to keep secrets. If the Scouts want to learn the truth to this mystery, or even survive to tomorrow, they’re going to have to take on their most deadly opponents yet, other humans! One of whom has a connection to Captain Levi’s past.
Well this series certainly came back with a bang. Full of adrenaline-fueled action and pitch-black moral quandaries as our heroes have to do terrible things if they just want to survive. I’ve really been looking forward to this series, not only because this series is always good (even if the central mystery has been stretched beyond breaking point), but because, yes, I did skip ahead and read the manga so I know what’s going to happen in this arc and that is going to be awesome (also some actual answers!). I have been really impressed with the first few episodes of this season, they’ve really hit the ground running with some big fights and some big reveals in a short space of time without any of it feeling rushed. Also yes, on paper the downgrade from fighting giant, merciless monsters to just people may sound like a bad idea, but in action it’s anything but. The manoeuvre gear on manoeuvre gear fight through the town in episode two may just be the best action scene this series has ever done.
We Rent Tsukumogami
There is a shop in old Edo that leases items to its customers. Some of these items happen to be Tsukumogami, objects that have developed a personality and spirit of their own after years of being loved and treasured by someone. With the help of these Tsukumogami the siblings that run the shop help solve mysteries in and around the town.
I’m actually really enjoying this series. It’s cute and fun. I like the personalities of the Tsukumogami and how they bounce off of one another. The mysteries while not huge, earth-shaking storylines are well done in how they present the issue and then solve it. I also like the fact that while there is a different mystery each week, there is also another mystery slowly being developed in the background as well as a progressing story. I don’t think this series will change anybody’s life, but as a something to just chill out to while watching I think this series works pretty good.
And that’s all for this season. I started off in a pretty abysmal frame of mind from what was on offer, but I’ve found some little gems and a few big ones. This season may be better than I first thought. Back to series reviews next week and we’ve got…Darling in the FRANXX…oh boy.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.