First Impressions Winter 2020 Part 1

Winter is upon us once more, but while the nights are long and the winds are cold there’s also a whole smorgasbord of new anime for us to snuggle up with. From a new entry in one of my favourite franchises of all time, to brand new gems for us to admire, there’s plenty to get through so let’s cut the preamble and get right to it!

Asteroid in Love

Kinohata Mira has just started high school and she can’t wait to join the astronomy club to help her fulfil a childhood promise. Unfortunately the astronomy club is suffering from a lack of members and has had to join up with the geology club to form the Earth Sciences club. It’s not exactly what Mira wanted, but she’s excited to join anyway. See when she was little she made a promise to a boy she met only once, to discover an asteroid and name it after him! Except Mira’s childhood sweetheart turns not to be a boy at all, but a girl! A girl who also wants to join the Earth Sciences club! Talk about a coincidence.

Cute girls doing cute things, that’s the name of the game here. Whether it’s hanging out at the riverside collecting rocks, starlit phone conversations or working in a bakery part-time, this anime is very much brightly coloured, cutesy fluff, and it’s very good at it. The characters are all likeable and funny, this is one of those anime where my main enjoyment comes from all the scenes where the characters just sit around talking to one another. They’ve all got good rapore with one another and their quirks and personalities bounce off of one another really well. Also their enthusiasm for their subject really comes off the screen, you can feel the love these characters have for the stars and gemstones and all the nerdy little details that come with those subjects. If you’ve after something bright and fun, check this out.

A Destructive God Sits Next to Me

Koyuki has a problem. See all he wants is a nice, quiet high schools life, but it just so happens that he sits next to a kid who is convinced he’s possessed by some destructive demon. Koyuki does his best to ignore him, but just can’t help being pulled into the strange delusions of his ‘friend’ Hanadori. That’s without even bringing up all other odd boys in Koyuki’s class, but then maybe Koyuki isn’t so normal himself.

Normally I do my best to stick to the three-episode rule, it’s the fairest way I know to give a new series a chance to grab me and show me what it’s capable of. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, there are just some shows that I know I’m not going to like well before that point. One episode was all it took for me to give up on this series. It commits one of the greatest crimes a comedy can. It’s not funny. The set up has potential we’ve got our straight man, Koyuki, constantly plagued by the absurdity and rampant imagination of Hanadori, which is a perfect comedy set up. Lots of comedy is built on the pairing of opposites, heck a lot of comedy is built on the suffering of one slightly jerky character dealing with the strange people around him (that’s like 90% of British sitcoms described right there). However, this series’ problem is that Koyuki is too much of a jerk. He’s not likeable at all, he shouts at the other kids in his class and yet stubbornly refuses to call out Hanadori when he’s annoying him. He’s just a brat with no endearing or redeeming qualities to make me root for him and yet he’s not so detestable that his suffering is all that enjoyable. The rest of the cast aren’t all that interesting either. I’m out on this one.

ID: Invaded

Have you ever wanted to see the inside of a serial killers mind? Well thanks to several breakthroughs in technology we can now do just that! What’s more we can even insert people into these mental landscapes, people like the brilliant detective Sakaido, and with his help the police might just be able to catch these killers before they commit their next crime. But what kind of man can so easily walk through the minds of deranged killers? As the old adage goes, send a maniac to catch a maniac (100 points if you get that reference).

Really I should be all over this show. I mean we’ve got a detective story exploring the inner workings of serial killers and psychopaths, throw in some great surrealist landscapes and I should adore this show, but I don’t. It’s not a bad show and I know other people are really enjoying this, but there’s just this wall that’s stopping me from connecting to the characters and the events. Admittedly detective stories always have a hard time in anime, trying to pack an effective mystery into twenty-odd minutes is hard and that does mean that a lot of the resolutions to the cases so far have felt kind of flat. Add on the lengthy discussions and explanations of the pseudo-science behind the technology at play and half the time I’m bored by this show. I want to like it though, I’ve enjoyed the subconscious landscapes of the killers and Sakaido/Narihisago is a fascinating character. Honestly the scenes where I’ve actually sat up and paid attention were all the ones with Narihigo in. I especially love his chat with the bomber in episode three, talking the man into suicide. He’s got a Hannibal Lector vibe and I think I’ll stick with this show to find out what his deal is. Maybe now that we’re past the set up phase I’ll start enjoying this one more.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Ever since she was little, Midori Asakusa, has wanted to go on an adventure and, after watching an old anime, she’d decided that that adventure is animation! Together with the money-minded and organised Sayaka Kanamori and the teen model Tsubasa Mizusaki who dreams of becoming a character animator, the three girls decide that they should form a club and make their own anime! Making anime isn’t so easy though and the girls have a long way to go, but by combining their boundless imaginations they can make wonders come to life so a feature-length film shouldn’t be so tough, should it?

What do I even say about this anime, apart from the fact that I love each and every frame of it? This show is so clearly a love letter to animation and the creative process and if I could ever have an anime as the outward representation of my soul then it would be this show. I mean I knew this show was going to be good from the moment we see Asakusa lying on the sofa in episode one. That look in her eyes while she was watching anime and I could so clearly see the thoughts going through her head, which boil down to ‘someone made this. I could make something like this’. It’s a powerful moment. So much of this anime, after only three episodes, speak true, for me at least. I mean that scene from the third episode were Kanamori is trying to have a serious meeting about the repairs to the club building and the other two just keep getting distracted and going off on tangents, leading to Kanamori putting her foot down. I’ve been at meetings with my writer’s group exactly like that (and I’ll tell you now I wasn’t the serious one in that situation). I love this show, I don’t really know what else to say but if you’re interested in the creative process or a creative yourself then you need to check this out.

And I think I’ll leave it there for this week. Next time! The tragic death of Mr. Bunny, we meet a rather pushy God of Wisdom and, oh yeah, a new addition to one of my favourite anime franchises is here!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

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