No time to lose, on with the first impressions!
Hazuki is a girl with no friends, I mean literally not a one, because she has this odd little habit, whenever something stressful or upsetting happens she has to run off and read a book. It’s an odd affliction I know, some might even say impossibly contrived, but it’s what she has to deal with. Then one day all her storybook fantasies seem to be coming true as she comes across a witch and a portal to a magical world. In this world there’s a school where magical girls are trained using the power of stories and Hazuki may have the power of a particularly powerful story, Cinderella, that is if she can learn how to actually use magic.
Ugh. I wanted to like this show, I mean its storybook fantasies and magical girls, that has potential. Yet I get the feeling I should have done some research before getting my hopes up. The minute I saw the fanservice in the opening credits I knew I was in trouble. To be fair, it’s not been played up as much as in the first episode (well, until we get to the hot springs fight, but that’s another story), but even without that this show has a big problem. It’s just not well told. First off you’ve got how contrived the main character is, sure you can have an awkward main character, one who prefers books to people or finds comfort in stories, but the series in no way justifies the extremes of Hazuki’s condition. I don’t believe for a second in Hazuki as a person, she’s just a plot construct, there to get things going and hit certain beats, which is not how you make an engaging character. Add to that the plot points you can see coming from a mile away and some clunky dialogue and I’m not hopeful with this one. Also, on last note, there’s the fact that after four episodes Hazuki is yet to gain even the basic form of her magic, there’s building tension and then there’s dragging your feet.
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
Ichiro Suzuki, aka Satou, is a game programmer in the middle of a death march (i.e. working himself to death non-stop until he hits the deadline. There’s way too many references to death in that sentence, although now I do have a need to play the “Working Dead” song from Steven Universe). Anyway, “Satou” decides to take a nap and wakes up in a fantasy world that is strangely familiar to the game he’s been working on. In a younger body with maxed out stats and a harem of girls waiting in the wings, Satou does wonder if he’s just dreaming or has actually been transported to another world. It’s too similar to the game to be a coincidence, but everything feels too real for it be a dream. Whatever the answer Satou decides to heck with it and to enjoy his unplanned vacation in another world.
Gee, a story about someone transported to another world and living inside of a video game. Everyone else getting a sense of déjà vu? Good, just checking. Okay so this doesn’t exactly have the most original plot, but I’m strangely enjoying it. It still has a long way to go before it gets anywhere near good, what with the generic fantasy setting and our overpowered main hero. I mean I do like the fact that he’s an older guy in a younger body and passes comment on some of the oddities of the game, also he’s clearly more of a strategic player than someone who just runs in guns blazing (also magic gun, awesome). Where it worries me though is the fact that Satou pretty much knows how to do everything from the start and picks up new skills like other people breathe. Also he is easily the most powerful character we’ve seen so far and that robs any danger he might get into of any threat, not that there has been much danger so far. I’m still going to keep watching it in the hopes that the series will surprise me.
How to Keep a Mummy
Sora’s dad is often travelling to far flung places and tries to make up for this by sending back presents to his son. Unfortunately those presents often turn out to be weird or creepy. This time he’s sent Sora a mummy! Expecting the worst Sora is prepared to face an undead Egyptian, but doesn’t quite get that. The mummy is in fact tiny, big enough to fit in the palm of his hand and is just adorable. Naming the mummy Mii-kun, the creature quickly becomes attached to him, but looking after something so small and fragile may prove a challenge for even the most practical of youngsters.
It’s soooooooooooooooooooo cuuuuuuuuuuuute. That’s pretty much my reaction to this show, I sit staring at the screen repeating that over and over in my head. Mii-kun is adorable and so is the show. It’s light-hearted, fluffy fun and nothing much more, but then it doesn’t really need to be. If you want to watch a cute little mummy run around and make adorable faces while handling objects much bigger than himself, this is the place for you. If you’re after something else, move along.
Hakyu Hoshin Engi
A Doshi named Dakki has made the kingdom’s emperor her puppet and thus rules over the land. She has been doing this for generations, manipulating and controlling all around her so that she can indulge her passions for chaos and death. The other Doshi have had enough though and charge a young Doshi, Taikobo, with defeating and imprisoning her and her minions. With only a flying hippo and his own strength to rely upon, Taikobo goes to face Dakki, but he soon realises he’s in over his head and it’s going to take a lot more to save this kingdom.
This anime has a huge world and that may be its biggest flaw. Every episode so far has been a huge info dump of some characters’ back-story or the world at large. Episode one itself had enough content to fill out at least half a series. It’s kind of bewildering and a shame as well. This world sounds really interesting, it has a terrifically horrible villain, complex characters driven by their own flaws and desires and a hero who could be pretty fun. I say ‘could be’ because my brain is too busy trying to process all the information that the show is throwing at me to actually connect with our hero. Also I’ve noticed a pattern forming over the first few episodes. After episode one they’re split into two threads, one with Taikobo meeting some new future ally, getting a hint of what their deal is and then they disappear at the end of the episode to do some more training while swearing to return when needed. The other one is following Dakki and whatever twisted, sick scheme she’s working on next and that is by farther the more exciting plot. Dakki is a really good villain so far, there’s a sense of tension whenever she appears because you just know she’s up to something and I already hate her and am eagerly awaiting the moment of her take down.
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
Fukuoka is a town riddled with crime. From hitmen to torture specialises, if there’s killing or maiming to be done then you have only to walk the street for five minutes to bump into someone with the necessary skills to help. There are even rumours of a killer who specialises in killing professional killers. Out of all these killers and professionals, several individuals are about to collide, including a private investigator, a rookie hitman and a cross-dressing hitman, in a tale of murder, revenge and frame ups. Somehow I don’t think this will end well, or bloodlessly for that matter.
I think I love this series, which is a little worrying considering some of the content, I mean this is a show about killers and psychopaths. Still this is shaping up to be a great series, loads of different characters, loads of different plot threads and all of them would make a riveting show on their own. Together they’re just all the better. I do have to marvel at how all the different plots are crossing and bumping into one another, while still letting each story be coherent and easy to follow. I do get the feeling that this show would be even better to binge watch, though that could just be that I’m desperate for the next episode pretty much as soon as the current one ends.
Darling in the FRANXX
In the distance future the world has become a wasteland, with strange giant monsters wandering the land and humanity surviving in a mobile city. Then there are the children, raised for only one purpose, to pilot giant robots and defend humanity from the monsters. These robots, known as FRANXX, must be piloted by one boy and one girl and their lives have no meaning if they cannot fulfil their duty. Hiro is one of these children and he cannot pilot a FRANXX, that is until he meets a mysterious girl with horns, Zero Two. It is said that anyone who pilots with Zero Two will die after the third time, but what will Hiro’s fate be?
Trigger and A-1 Pictures Unite! If nothing else this show looks really good, the fact that the rest of it is really good only makes this show all the better. While post-apocalyptic worlds with giant monsters is hardly anything new, there’s a real effort put into the world and the characters here. There’s still a lot to be learned about both, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far (in that I find it interesting, not that this dystopian future is in anyway a pleasant place. I mean raising kids purely to be fodder against the big bad monsters is just low). The characters are also interesting, each with their own quirks and flaws and there’s a real focus on their development rather than giant robot action (the action is good, but its not the be all and end all of the show). My only real quibble so far is in how the FRANXX are piloting, mostly revolving around the position the girls have to get into to pilot. Look, FRANXX, I get that you’re not really being subtle with your themes here, but can we have a less…uncomfortable driving position or at least don’t put it on screen as much.
Well, that’s all the first impressions for this season. Back to regular reviews next week and boy have I got a lot to get through. Onwards!
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.