The nights are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air, which can only mean one thing…it’s time for a new season of anime! And we’ve got a bumper selection to satisfy even the greediest anime-lover, do you want to check out the latest contender for the shonen crown? How about a series following a sleepy princess as she torments the demon castle that has taken her captive? Maybe you’re interested in cute girls flying fighter planes to save the world? One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m watching a lot more episodes on funimation’s site this season, when I normally stick to Crunchyroll predominantly. I don’t have any insights beyond that, it was just something I noticed. Anyway, enough of the preamble, let’s get on with the show!
Itadori is your average japanese high school student, well, apart from his tremendous physical abilities that have all the sports clubs begging him to become a member. Itadori isn’t interested in that though, he has much more fun with the occult club. In fact he’s just found this super special cursed object that the president of the club was interested in. I mean, it’s not as if curses are real or anything. Except they are and Itadori’s friends are in very real danger. So much danger in fact that Itadori’s only chance at protecting them is to swallow the very cursed object that got them into this mess. Now he’s part curse himself and there’s this group of sorcerers threatening to execute him unless he helps them collect more of the same cursed objects. Itadori’s life is never going to be the same again, but maybe, just maybe, he’s finally found something that only he can do.
When the man behind My Hero Academia tells you that a series is going to be apart of the next Shonen Jump Big Three, you sit up and pay attention. I certainly did and I haven’t been disappointed, so far. Don’t get me wrong, Jujutsu Kaisen is playing things pretty much by the book as far as shonen go. We’ve got our plucky, naive main character, our cool and collected rival and the wise yet quirky mentor. We also have a very badass female character with a fully formed personality, beyond that of just being the girl, which is certainly welcome, but Nobara is a good example of what this series is doing right. These are all familiar elements, sure, but they’re also executed really well, add on some great animation and a killer OP and ED and you’ve got just an all round enjoyable experience. Plus it always takes shonen series a couple of arcs to really carve out their own niche so I expect this series to only get better and better. If you haven’t already checked this series out, I’d jump on it now!
I’m Standing on a Million Lives
Yotsuya is a loner at school and, honestly, that suits him perfectly fine. After all, he hates his school and the city he lives in. All that may change though when the most popular girl in school, Shindo, and the physically weak Hakozaki, two people he’s never even seen speaking to one another before, suddenly take an interest in him. The next thing he knows he’s been transported into a game-like alternate world with them and given tasks by a strange half-formed man. Any hopes of an isekai power fantasy are soon dashed though as thanks to his low level he can’t even take on a goblin without dying, though being stuck as a farmer doesn’t help. Can Yotsuya learn to look past his cold and calculating nature and actually let people in? More to the point will he ever get a role that’s a bit more standard for a fantasy RPG?
I’m kinda disappointed in this series, but only a little. I mean this series gets points for being even slightly different from the usual formula for an isekai series, but then I’m questioning if I should even class it as that since the teens come home between missions. All the elements are here for the usual power fantasy, going by the OP most of the other characters are girls to surround our male lead and after three episodes he’s shown himself to be the most competent when it comes to actual fighting. What I appreciate though is the fact that he’s had to grind his levels to get as strong as he has and he already has a clearly defined personality so he’s not a self-insert for the audience. The hints of a tragic past for a couple characters is also promising, even if all I’ve seen so far is fairly generic. Where my disappointment comes in is that the first episode seemed to be promising something much darker than the proceeding two episodes that followed it. Yotsuya’s anger and calculating nature are a lot more played down after the first episode and he seems more like the usual male lead in these types of shows. I don’t necessarily want the show to get super dark, but that was definitely the vibe I was getting off the first episode. The show does have potential though, I’m genuinely intrigued by why these people have been pulled into this world and what the people from the future are up to. I’ll stick around with this one, for now.
Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai
Long ago the Dark Lord was defeated by the ‘Hero’ and peace was returned to the world. For the monsters of Dermline Island this was an auspicious day, as without the Dark Lord’s influence they were able to return to a peaceful life on their island home. Dai, the only human to live on Dermline Island, longs to be a hero himself someday, though his ‘Grampa’ wants him to be a sorcerer. Dai’s quiet life is about to change though as the Dark Lord returns and the monsters once again fall under his control. Can Dai become the hero he’s always dreamed of and save all his monster friends? With the help of his friends and teachers he just might!
Another retro classic is revived! Now I know next to nothing about the Dragon Quest franchise, other than the fact that it exists and the creator of Dragon Ball did character designs. So, this series feels like a good place to start. Honestly this series is just so much fun, it’s an old school adventure (which makes sense since this series was originally created in the 90s). The hero are good and pure-hearted. The villains are evil and totally despicable. Dai is a sweet kid that you just can’t help but root for and all the characters are fun and quirky in their own way. It feels like I’m back watching cartoons on Saturday morning, except with some amazing animation quality. It’s bright, it’s cheerful, it’s just a solid good time, definitely check this one out.
Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
Inspired by her favourite book, Elaina has always wanted to be a witch who travels across the world. Fortunately she has a high aptitude for magic and soon graduates to the position of an apprentice. Unfortunately there aren’t many witches willing to take her on and finish her education. Eventually she finds a teacher in the Stardust Witch who, after a valuable lesson, promotes her to a full fledged witch. Now Elaina has everything she needs to set out on her journey. She’s still got a lot to learn, and whole wide world to see, but that’s why she wants to go on a journey in the first place.
I’ve never watched Kino’s Journey (either version of the anime), but I know the basics of the series and this show is definitely giving off similar vibes. I mean we’ve got a young person protagonist travelling from place to place, interacting with people but really they’re more of an observer than anything else. All we need is for Elaina’s broom to start talking and the illusion will be complete. Not that any of this is bad, and there are much worse series to borrow the set up from than Kino’s Journey. So far this is a very pleasant series, we’ve had some good little vignettes told to us, the animation is good and our main lead is likeable enough (though she can be a touch arrogant and conceited). I will give this warning though, if you’re expecting Elaina to jump in and solve people’s problems for them, episode 3 is a good indicator that that isn’t going to happen and it’s what solidified the Kino’s Journey comparison in my head. Elaina is a traveller, she passes through, takes note of her surroundings and then moves on. (I really need to watch Kino’s Journey at some point).
Warlords of Sigrdrifa
When the Pillars appeared all life on Earth came under threat. No human weapon could harm them, that is until the god Odin appeared and offered humanity their salvation. The salvation comes in the form of the Valkyries, young female pilots with the power to destroy the Pillars using modified fighter planes known as ‘Hero Wings’. Claudia is a Valkyrie, the favourite ‘daughter’ of Odin in fact, but she also has a worrying track record. Everyone she flies with ends up dead. Now she’s being transferred to Japan and wonders just how long it will be before people find out about her record. Not that she has to worry too much, Tateyama Base is unlike any other base she’s ever worked at, each member unique in their own quirky way. Together with the other three Valkyrie of the base, Claudia takes to the skies to save humanity!
I like this show. It’s not doing anything original, but what it does do it does well (much like Jujutsu Kaisen). The quirky air base, the cute leads doing cute things together before rushing off into battle, even the bizarrely designed, silent creatures appearing to threaten humanity for no good reason. We’ve all seen these elements in a thousand different shows, but it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. It was a scene in episode 3 that convinced me that this show knows what it’s doing. It had already proven that it could do some spectacular aerial battles and there’s plenty of scenes of the characters being cute and quirky together. It’s genuinely heart-warming to watch Claudia slowly open up to the prospect of having actual friends to go into battle with. All good, but then we get to episode 3 and the quiet, mournful scene of a soldier dying. I barely new the character and the scene had me welling up with feelings, that’s how I know this is going to be good. Looking forward to what comes next.
The Earth is under threat from mysterious, extraterrestrial monsters known as the Enemies of Humanity, but there is no reason to fear! A special preparatory school on a secret island is training a collection of super powered teenagers, known as the Talented, to fight back against the aliens! Is that the whole story though? Has anyone ever actually seen these Enemies of Humanity? And why is the school so against contact with the outside world? Is there an enemy already among them? Yes, there is, and soon the bodies will start piling up.
Week to week, this is the show that I look forward to watching most (closely followed by Jujutsu Kaisen and Golden Kamuy). Don’t me wrong, there is a stellar line up of shows this season and I’m enjoying all of them to one degree or another, but this is the one that’s grabbed me by the throat and won’t let me go. The trouble is I can’t tell you why, because that is a massive spoiler. The first episode, for the majority of its run time comes across as a fairly generic story about super-powered teens, just in a slightly odd setting. I was willing to give it the old three episode try, but there wasn’t much to grab hold of me. Then we get to the ending and my jaw hit the floor. Suddenly everything is flipped, we have a completely different show but one that is a thousand times more interesting. The show isn’t perfect, the set up of the plot is really convoluted and flimsy and I hope that gets some better explanation down the line, but even if it doesn’t I’m more than content with the meat of the story, and the cat and mouse game I’m now watching unfold.
That’s it for the first impressions this week, but we’ve got even more weird and wacky shows to come next week! The triumphant return of Golden Kamuy! The dazzling performance of the Gymnastic Samurai (and the mystery of what the hell Bigbird is)! A princess tormenting demons in Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle! Also the sordid history of Sherlock Holmes’ greatest opponent in Moriarty the Patriot! See you then.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.