First Impressions Autumn 2019 Part 2

And we’re back! No preamble, let’s get straight into this and get on with the first impressions!

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun

Iruma is a total pushover, he’ll agree to do anything you ask as long as you say ‘please’. Obviously this makes his life difficult, but it’s not helped by the fact that he has the world’s worst parents, who are so completely lazy and useless that they get Iruma to do everything for them. Well, that is until they sell Iruma to a demon! Seriously, Worst. Parents. Ever! Luckily for Iruma the demon that he’s been sold to is actually fairly harmless and just wants to experience being a doting grandfather. He showers Iruma with love and presents, he even enrols him in Demon School, a school where if any of the students find out that he’s a human they’ll devour him in seconds, it’s even in their school song. You know what, I’ve changed my mind about how harmless this demon is.

I think this series may just be the surprise of the season for me. I really wasn’t expecting much out of this show, between the bright contrasting colours and how unsubtle this series is (the moment all the students started singing about killing humans while Iruma was stood there was a particular highlight), I judged this series to be fairly childish and simplistic, which isn’t a bad thing, but it didn’t exactly raise my hopes. But then, somewhere towards the end of the first episode, I realised something. I was actually having a lot of fun, Iruma is such a sweet kid and you can’t help but root for him as he tries to survive school and there are several points were the series manages to pull out a joke that I didn’t see coming. The series is just bursting with energy, it’s often completely over-the-top and ridiculous without ever breaking the internal logic that the series has set up. I’ve really grown to love the characters in this series I’m looking forward to spending the next season with them. Make sure to check this one out.

Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia

Humanity is facing extinction! When the Chaldea Security Organisation built its facility high in the mountains, it did so with one purpose, to watch over the safety of humanity’s future, but then something changed. Suddenly humanity’s future no longer existed and seven singularities appeared, points in history that have been warped to create a bleak outcome. Now Fujimaru, the last master of Chaldea, and Mash, a demi-servant with an unbreakable shield, travel into the past to correct the course of history and return hope to humanity’s future. With six singularities completed, it’s now down to the seventh and final one which will take them to ancient Mesopotamia and a city ruled by Gilgamesh.

This is yet another show that I was really looking forward to. I’ve had my ups and downs with the fate franchise over the years, but I did enjoy the Fate/Grand Order First Order movie that was released a few years back (I’ve never reviewed it so here’s a quick summary, it’s a fun little adventure, bit too much exposition and there’s no real conclusion to events and while I like the characters and the fights are cool, it definitely felt like one big ad for the game, which I’ve never played). Going into this series I really didn’t know what to expect and I’d say you definitely either need to have played the game or at least watched the First Order film to get a grounding in the characters and the set up because this show jumps straight into it’s story, and it’s an interesting story. For starters Babylonia is a great locale and I’m having a great deal of fun looking around the place, add on to that the usual collection of legendary heroes for us to get to know and a chance to see a wiser and calmer Gilgamesh and there’s plenty here for me to love. The action is pretty fantastic too.

Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next life?!

Mile is a totally normal 12-year-old girl! Honestly, she’s super completely average and in no way special in the slightest, please believe her! Okay, fine, she’s not the least bit average, see Mile is one of those kids who made their way to a fantasy world after passing away in Japan (seriously has anyone checked Japan for any kind of dimensional instability? This keeps happening!). Since she was a bit of an honour student in her past life, Mile’s one and only wish is to be average in her next life. Unfortunately, as with every monkey’s paw, she should have phrased her request a little more specifically. What Mile meant was to be average for a human, but what is she is is average for the world, which basically means she’s half as strong as a dragon! Join Mile and her friends as she searches for her perfectly quiet and ordinary life, and fail miserably each and every time.

Okay, own up to it, who started putting effort into isekai series again? I mean between this and Asendance of a Bookworm it feels like the genre has been given a much-needed breath of fresh air. I wasn’t expecting anything from this series, but between Mile’s myriad of worried expressions, the many references and parody elements as well as the bond that’s formed between the four main girls, this series is so much fun! I mean all the standard tropes are here, Mile is the super overpowered protagonist that can breeze through any danger, and yet this feels fresh because Mile is trying so hard not to breeze through things. She so desperately wants to be average, even though we all know it is way too late for that, and we’re just waiting to see how Mile will mess up her own plans this time. Add on to that the fact that Mile actually uses her knowledge of her past life, and not just to comment on all the tropes at play, but she’s actually bringing otaku culture to this fantasy world, which I love! It’s just so much fun, I’m definitely sticking with this one.

Food Wars! The Fourth Plate

The battle for the Totsuki Academy is well underway! Having made a clean sweep of the first round of the Team Shokugeki, the rebels are feeling pretty good about themselves, but the Elite Ten are the top of the totem for a reason. There’re plenty of fierce battles ahead, but if Soma and the rebels don’t succeed then the whole of the culinary world will be forced to adopt Azami Nakiri’s rigid and set way of cooking. Cooking doesn’t get any more dramatic than this!

And it’s back! It feels strange to say, but out of all the sequels I’m watching this season, this is the one I was looking forward to the most. I have this weird relationship with Food Wars, when I first started watching it it was fun, but nothing really all that special, and yet, with each episode I watch of this series I just get more and more invested. After watching three seasons of this show I feel like I should have ‘Team Soma’ tattoo across my back and be waving a flag every time I watch an episode. It helps that this current arc is what I’ve been dying to see from the start, Soma and the gang vs. the Elite Ten in a knockout battle and we even get Erina participating instead of standing on the sidelines all the time! Well, at least she’s going to be participating at some point. My only real fear with this season is something that I noticed in the last one, the battles seem to be ending too quickly, we’re skipping over the actual cooking and just going straight to the judges’ decision a lot of time. I liked the cooking, partly because you get some really good food animation, but it also helps to build the tension for the climax. I hoped they don’t rush this arc, but I guess we’ll see.

No Guns Life

Extended, people who have been enhanced with cybernetics, giving them everything from superhuman strength to perfect marksmanship. Originally they were created as soldiers for a war, but the war is over and those who survived must find a new way to live. One such man is Juzo Inui, a man with a gun for his head! When’s he’s asked to protect a kidnapped kid, he finds himself battling the very mega corporation that not only runs the city, but actually built him, and they’ll stop at nothing to get their property back.

Another show that actually came as a bit of a surprise, I didn’t know anything about this series before the season started, but I’m so glad I found it. It combines several things that I love, from a hard-boiled detective to a grimy cyberpunk setting with some typical anime creativity like a main protagonist with a gun for a head. There are plenty of cool designs in this series, and I do also love a cyborg, but I’ve really grown to love Juzo as well. At first he looks like the typical stoic, manly main protagonist, and he certainly has plenty of cool and badass moments, but you spent five minutes and you realise he’s a bit of a goofball. Nothing over the top, but he’s easily flustered and panics about rusting or not getting his favourite brand of cigarettes. I like that and while we haven’t seen all that much of the other characters so far, I like them too, though the less Tetsuro takes over people without their permission, the better.

And that’s it for the first impressions this season. There’s a bunch of other shows I want to be watching, but I can’t get access to them yet. Damn it Amazon give me Psycho-Pass! Sorry, back next week with the regular reviews.

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

 

 

 

 

First Impressions: Spring 2018 part 2

And we’re back! On with the show!

Hinamatsuri

When a girl sealed inside a giant steel egg falls on to the head of Yakuza, it’s the start of a bizarre series of adventures (as it should be). With no idea who the girl is or where she comes from the Yakuza finds himself taking care of the girl, mostly because if he doesn’t the girl will use her psychic powers to wreck his very expensive stuff. Not much of an overarching plot as of yet, just more mishaps in the lives of Hina and Nitta and I’m perfectly fine with that.

I am really enjoying this series so far, it’s striking the right balance of weird and interesting for me, though personally the strange meeting of a yakuxa’s life with a girl with psychic powers is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many odd little touches that make me both scratch my head and laugh at the same time, like the schoolgirl who ends up working as a bartender purely by accident or the fact that people say ‘ouchie’ when being thrown around by psychic powers. At some point I would like an explanation of where Hina and her powers come from, as well as what that bizarre flash forward at the beginning of the episode one was all about, but for the minute I’m happy with this as it is.

Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS

And it begins again. The vicious card game that has no other purpose than to torment teenage girls is back and again we all must question why anyone would want to buy these cards in the first place. We’ve got returning characters from seasons past, all new cards and rules and a battle to finally end the cycle of despair once and for all! But can anyone really stop the Selector battles, or will this franchise go on forever?

I have to admit, this may be the best WIXOSS season yet. Initially I was hesitant to watch this season, I mean I’ve enjoyed the past three seasons of WIXOSS, but they’re never been my favourite anime. Then I learned characters from the first two seasons were coming back for this one and I admit that got my interest and so far the series has exceeded my expectations. I am going to have to rewatch the first 3 seasons just to remind myself more of the details, but this season is really well written and has found a good balance of reintroducing bits of continuity while at the same time progressing the story. I love all the connections that have built up, as if this was the plan all along and I already know most of the cast so the show doesn’t need to waste time getting me invested in them. There’s a different feeling to this season, on the one hand the girls know what they’re getting into this time so they’re already aware their screwed before things even start. Also this time the girls feel a lot more proactive, they’re trying to find a way to actively fight against the force that is creating these battles and I am really looking forward to where this series takes that idea.

Food Wars the Third Plate

Yukihira Soma is cook from a small family diner, attending a cooking school for the elite. Over the past school year Soma has pitted his cooking skills against the best and brightest, but now Erina’s father is in charge and has plans to only allow cooking he deems as worthy in the school. With the advancement exam coming up, Yukihira and his fellow rebels face an uphill battle to prove that their own cooking is just as good if not better than what Erina’s father wants from them. Cooking battles don’t get any more intense than this!

I have to admit I love this show more and more with each passing season, especially after the way the last cour ended! I have been dying to see what happens next for months and so far it hasn’t disappointed. All that was good about the show before is still good, the characters, the animation, pacing, though my favourite aspect of this season has to be the development of Erina. Now I’ve never really liked her in previous seasons, the only enjoyment I’ve ever gotten out of her appearances where how Yukihira drives her up the wall and waiting for that inevitable moment when Yukihira finally shows her up and gets her to admit how good his cooking is. I did fear with the introduction of her dad that Erina was just going to become a damsel, a prize for Yukihira to obtain, but no. She’s actually showing some spirit, she’s fighting back and I find myself actually caring about what happens to her.

Libra of Nil Admirari

Tsugumi’s family is having money troubles and because of this she is being forced to marry a man she doesn’t know. After an argument with her younger brother, she finds him setting fire to his bedroom with a strange book in his hands. The book was cursed and apparently it’s not the only one out there. Tsugumi learns that she has the ability to see these cursed books and becomes a valuable asset to the Imperial Library Intelligence Asset Management Bureau (these guys really need a shorter name), whose job it is to deal with these books. With her marriage put on hold Tsugumi finds herself working alongside a bunch of handsome, if strange, young men (this in no way will lead to a harem *sigh*) and tracking down the cursed books.

After Code Realise I was willing to give this one a go, but so far this show is doing everything in its power to turn me off. Our lead female character is passive as anything, with her main power to be looking at things. Don’t even get me started on the evaporating marriage “Daughter you must married someone so that we can have the money to save the family! There is no other way!” “But Father now I have a magic power and must join this government organisation.” “Oh, alright then. We’ll hold off on the marriage.” Kind of makes it seem like the marriage wasn’t that important to begin with and just an excuse for the argument between Tsugumi and her brother, or a convenient bit of romance drama later in the series. Then we come to the Bureau, whose main method of finding cursed books is to, wait for this, walk around the bookshops each day and have a look. Really? That’s it? You’re a government organisation and this is your big plan to deal with books that can cause people to seriously hurt themselves! Arrrgggh! The way the plot of this show is executed is just excruciating. They don’t even explore the cursed books properly, they’re meant to be the emotions of the author at the time of writing influencing the reader, and yet all we ever see is a dark aura around the books and the reader just screaming some random things. We never learn anything about the emotional state the author was in, why they were like that, why that particular book became cursed. For something that comes from the emotions of the written word the shows demonstrates a surprising lack of an ability to convey emotions.

Caligula

Ritsu was living a normal and fulfilling high school life, until he heard a cry for help in the middle of the newest song from a popular idol. After that he gets a strange feeling, like something isn’t quite right, but it can’t put his finger on what it is. Then, at a school assembly, people suddenly turn into monsters and start attacking him. Luckily another student appears, whose arm has suddenly transformed into a giant handgun. From there things get weird (sorry, that should be weirder) as Ritsu comes across people with digital effects in place of their heads and floating little mascots. The world is not what it seems and Ritsu will have to fight to get any answers.

Okay, you definitely need to watch three episodes of this show before deciding whether to follow it or not (It takes that long just to make even a semblance of sense). However I am enjoying the series and I am going to continue watching it, if only to find out the extent of what exactly is going on. Don’t get me wrong the show has it’s flaws, it thinks it’s smarter than it actually is, at least so far, and it’s a bit all over the place when it comes to explaining what’s going on and with its pacing. We’ve only just scratched the surface of the setting and the characters though and none of that has been so bad as to put me off so far. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going.

Golden Kamuy

Former soldier “Immortal” Sugimoto is searching for gold, but happens across the story of a group of escaped prisoners, each with a series of tattoos that when combined lead to a lost treasure. With the help of a Ainu girl, Sugimoto hopes to be the one to uncover the treasure, but not only will he have to track down and defeat the former prisoners, there are others after the treasure. Including some of the strongest and most feared soldiers in Japan at that time. Just how “Immortal” is Sugimoto? He may just be about to find out.

Cooking with the Ainu! I joke, but this show makes a pretty good survival skills tutorial, showing how to lay traps and make meals out of what you catch. Not what I was expecting from the show, but I’ll go with it. Not that cooking and survival skills are the only aspects of this show, we do also have the plot to deal with. With regards to that, so that the show has really just introduced the core concept and been introducing a wide variety of eclectic characters, all of whom I’m interested in. I also like Sugimoto as our main lead, he’s a badass, but not all the time. He can joke and panic like anybody else and has a tendency to get through situations through a mixture of clever tactics and blind luck. Asirpa is also interesting and I love learning about new cultures so having her as a window into the Ainu culture is really great.

Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair

In a world threatened by monsters known as Spirals, there are those who defend the peaceful days of ordinary people, they are the ones who call themselves Periods (for some reason). When the 8th Squad HQ is shut down due to all their treasure being stolen, Haru and his friends are the only Periods left working for them. Now they must do as many jobs as possible to rebuild the 8th Squad, but they have more than Spirals and strangely identical mayors to deal with. There’s also the shady group known as Wiseman! Though, if I’m honest I’m more concerned about the fourth wall. They keep chipping away at it as they are and the whole thing might just crumble.

I realise comedy is a subjective thing and there are probably people out there that find this show sweet and charming. I mean in the grand scheme of things it’s a relatively harmless, average show. The characters are pretty flat and don’t have much outside of their one assigned character quirk and the setting isn’t exploded or developed all that well. This anime is very much an advert and lives and dies on its humour. Unfortunately for me the humour in this show is like a shambling half-dead corpse, lurching towards its own grave (sorry for that image, but that’s the mood this show has put me in). This show’s version of comedy tends towards reference humour, meta and otherwise to the fact that this show is based on a game and general anime jokes. The joke it likes to tell is lamp shading the tropes it likes to use and how generally shody and poor the show is, now lamp shading can be funny, in moderation, but when you keep doing it over and over again the only thing I think is ‘yeah, actually they’ve got a point, this is pretty shody and poor’, which I don’t think is what they were aiming for. That’s the problem with the jokes here, they’re way too repetitive and predictable. I’m out on this one.

Well, there are actually a lot of really good shows this season, but I’ve rambled on for long enough so I’ll leave it here. Back next week for a full series review!

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

First Impressions Autumn 2017 part 1

And we’re here once again. Another new season of anime has begun, so what treats are on offer to us this time around? Or perhaps there are a couple of tricks in the bag? Mwahahahahaha! (Sorry, I think I’ve been at the Halloween candy a bit too much this year.)

Food Wars! The Third Plate

And we’re back for a third season! Soma is a budding chef, out to learn from all types of cooking and one day make better food than even his father. He attends the prestigious Totsuki Academy that produces the world’s best chefs, but this time he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Soma has set his sights on the Elite Ten, the most skill and influential students at the school. Soma always manages to rise to the challenge though, so what culinary tricks will he pull off to save the day this time?

I never realised how much I’d been missing Food Wars until I realised it was coming back (in fact after watching the first episode I went back and watched the majority of season 2 all over again). You can check out my review of the first season here, as things stand it’s pretty much the same show, same fun characters, same great animation and so on. The one slight bug I have is that series leads off of an OVA that I’ve clearly missed. I still get what’s going on, but this arc does feel like it’s come out of nowhere and therefore a little rushed. Maybe I’d feel different if I watched the OVA, as it stands I’ll just have to track it down and see. Aside from that I’m enjoying the series as always and looking forward to where it’s going now that we finally get the meet the Elite Ten that have been talked about for the past two seasons now.

Sengoku Night Blood

Yuzuki is just an ordinary Japanese high school student, until she’s enveloped by a mysterious light and transported to a strange land (cough Escaflowne cough). There she finds a strange alternate history, where people carrying the name of important figures from Japan’s history battle it out to unify the land, but things are about to get even weirder. These characters Yuzuki finds around her aren’t exactly human, in fact the ones that have taken her in are actually vampires! Also it turns that Yuzuki’s blood has a strange effect on the vampires and other fantastical creatures, allowing them to ‘awaken’ or something. Oh Gods, this is going to be one of those vampire stories isn’t it?

Credit where credit is due, I haven’t seen samurai vampires before, so there’s that in this series’ favour. Unfortunately there isn’t much else for me. This series seems to be not much more than a collection of plots and ideas I’ve seen elsewhere and honestly done better by those shows. We’ve got the set up straight out of Escaflowne, we’ve got representations of these Japanese historical figures for the umpteenth time and then we come to the real problem, Yuzuki. I don’t wish to invoke the name Twilight here, but honestly that’s all I’m seeing. We’ve got this blank, personality void where our main heroine should be, whose sole purpose, so far, is to be charming and endearing so that all the male characters fall for her one by one. If you’re into self-insert characters then enjoy yourself, but personally I like my characters to have an actual character. I’m out on this one.

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War

Every twelve years twelve of the greatest warriors are gathered for a battle to the death, the prize? Whatever the winner’s desire is, well, that and the antidote to the poison they just swallowed. Each of these strangely dressed warriors has a particular skill or ability that makes them deadly in their own right, but when it comes down to it, just who will survive?

Well this is dark. Okay I know a bloody battle to the death is dark already, but damn this starts off in a dark place and looks to only get darker. I like the fact that there’s no main character as it means no one is safe, well unless we start getting their back story, that’s kind of a big death flag so far. The animation is good, the action is good, in fact the only thing I could see as a double-edged sword is the lack of main character. There’s no one to latch on to or root for and as soon as we learn someone’s back story they die. It makes it hard to invest, but so far the action is enough to keep me going for now.

Konohana Kitan

Yuzu is a fox girl and the newest employee at Konohatei, a hotspring hotel that will cater to any passing traveller or guest and treat them like kings. Yuzu has a lot to learn, this being her time out in the big wide world, but with her big heart and overflowing charm she’ll do the best she can. She might even teacher the other employees a thing or two.

Cute, that’s the best word to describe this series. I feel like I’ve been watching a lot of dark, violent and in some cases downright horrible (we’ll get to those in a bit) anime this season, so it’s nice to have something that’s just light and fluffy. There’s no overarching plot or high drama, just short, sweet little stories to wash away your ills. It’s not entirely my thing, but on some days it’s been just the thing I’ve needed.

King’s Game

A class of high school students (because of course it’s high school students, it always is) receive a text in the middle of the night, saying that they are now apart of the King’s Game and must do everything that the King says within 24 hours, or else there will be punishment. At first the students laugh it off, even though one of the students claims to have gone through this before and says it’s very real. Of course no believes him. Then people start dying, rather graphically.

You know the avoid image I give to really bad anime, that graphic of my cartoon avatar wielding an axe? Yeah, that image is exactly how I feel about this show. It is trash of the highest order and I don’t know what frustrates me more, the terrible writing or the fact that this is a decent idea. Very dark yes, but it could lead to some intense drama and clever strategies as the class try to outwit this mysterious King. We don’t get that. No, we get a bunch of screaming idiots who want to do nothing but beat up the main character, twice! Instead of getting us invested in its already large cast (read fodder), the show instead spends most of its time in a flashback with another large cast of characters we barely get to know. Which story do you want to tell? The first King’s Game, or this current one? Pick one and stick to it writers! Then, dear lord, we get a character who is one minute nice and friendly, the next a raving psychopath! And nobody calls her out on this! Now characters like this can be fun and interesting, if we’re given some build up or an explanation, but nope. This character does a 180 in zero seconds flat! Writing, who needs to bother, am I right? The deaths are clearly there just for shock and gore value and don’t even get me started on the treatment of women in this show. I’ve only watched 3 episodes and I feel genuinely sick. In fact, scrap the axe, get me a bottomless pit and some matches, this abomination is going to burn.

Let’s hope the next anime is something nice. Let’s leave the death and destruction behind for a bit. What is next? Oh beggar. Next time, what was a highly anticipated anime, a new way of getting your mail order bride and…immortal super nazis?

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

Anime Corner: First Impressions Summer 2016 part 1

Summer is here folks! The sun is shining, it’s ungodly hot and there’s people walking around in very few clothes. Frankly, you can all keep it, I’m going to lock myself in a dark, cold room and you can call me when it’s autumn. At least I’ll have to anime to keep me company, so what’s on offer this season?

ReLIFE

Arata Kaizaki has kind of made a mess of his life. He’s 27, quit his job after 3 months and hasn’t been able to find another since, his parents are threatening to stop sending him money and he’s pretending like he still has a job to his friends. There isn’t much hope really, until Arata meets a strange young man named Yoake. Yoake wants Arata to take part in a secret rehabilitation programme called ReLife, which uses a mysterious drug to make him look younger and they send him back to high school. Of course there’s no way this can possibly go wrong.

So far I’m rather enjoying this anime. It’s kind of a typical school slice of life just with an interesting twist. I like that Arata is struggling to get the hang of being a student again, like forgetting he needs a pencil case in his bag, or that the fact that he really shouldn’t be smoking at the age he appears to be. My favourite little observation has to be that the students are now allowed to carry their phones around with them, whereas in Arata’s day the phones would have been confiscated for a month (I remember when it was like that and now I feel old). Luckily the anime manages to avoid any creepiness, because you know we’ve got a 27 hanging around a bunch of high schoolers. Let’s keep this light and fun.

Berserk (2016)

Ok, we’ve got this big guy with an even bigger sword called Guts and this little elf named Puck, who travel around the place slaying demonic monsters. Guts has sworn revenge or something and there’s this talk about Revelation (I’m not religious so I don’t know if these are obscure bible quotes or just made up stuff) which I’m going to assume is related to some kind of apocalypse that’s coming. I’m sorry this is my first experience with the Berserk franchise and I get the distinct feeling that I should have watched the previous series and movies first.

The original Berserk anime is wildly praised as one of the greats and is on my ever-expanding list of anime I need to watch one day. When I heard about this series I was kind of excited, I don’t know that much about the story of Berserk, so I thought watching this series would be handy to get a taste for the franchise, which is kind of mistake as it’s almost put me off. Guts is cool as the badass wandering swordsman, and it’s a little bloody and very dark, but that’s ok. I haven’t learned much about the characters after 3 episodes (which could be a bad sign), but they have a lot of potential to be interesting. What puts me off about this series is the animation, I really don’t like it. I’ve seen some pretty decent CG animation over the past few years, I’d still prefer 2D animation, but it’s been perfectly serviceable, this though, this is bad. The characters look like dolls bobbing around the screen and can some please tell the director to hold the damn camera still. Yes, you can move the camera fluidly anywhere in a 3D space, that doesn’t mean you have to! I was getting motion sickness it was swooping around the place so much. Also, if you’re going with 3D animation, why keep cutting back to 2D animation? The final straw that made me end my watching of this series was, well let me put it this way, it’s the rape horse. I did not need to see that scene. I did not to know that scene existed. I’m ok with dark, but that is way over the line for me, I can’t watch that. Anyway this ramble is getting too long so I’m going to scrub this anime from my brain and move on to the next one.

Rewrite

Tennouji Kotarou is a strange kid who lives in a peaceful city. He’s a goofball who likes nothing more than either hanging out with or teasing the other goofballs. Also, he has superpowers. What? Don’t look at me, I’m still waiting for the anime to explain it. Anyway many strange things start happening to Kotarou, like having a ghost girl crawl into his bed every night and accidentally falling into an alternate dimension where he meets a couple of weird spirits and a giant monster (I’m sure we’ve all been there before). These events lead Kotarou to reform the occult research club with his harem of girls.

This anime is kind of an odd one and after 3 episodes (one of them double length), I still don’t quite know what to make of it. I suppose what’s really throwing me off is the split personality this show has, one minute it’s a gentle slice of life anime with Kotarou being quirky and wooing the various girls of the occult research club, the next it’s superpowers and ghosts. The show switches gears really fast too, the supernatural comes right out of nowhere and as of episode 3 hasn’t had even the vaguest of explanations yet. It does work for the show, so far it’s pretty much average, there’s nothing mind-blowing about the characters, animation or story, but the mystery of what’s going on has my attention. It had just better have a good explanation at the end.

Food Wars! Second Plate

Food Wars is back for a second season! Check out my review of season one here, this season continuing on from where that one left off. It’s the Autumn Elections and the students of this elite cooking are battling it out for a place in the Elite Ten. It’s spatulas at dawn, the heat is on and other food based puns. Cooking has never been this intense, or gorgeously animated.

I don’t really have much to comment on with this second season. My thoughts are pretty much the same as in the review of season one, the series is just continuing on right where it left off, as if there was no break at all. The animation is still great, the characters are still entertaining and thankfully the food orgasms are kept to a minimum. If you haven’t seen the first season definitely go see that one before seeing this one otherwise you are kind of dropped right into the middle of an arc with no build up. I know where the series is headed after the Autumn Elections are done, but I’m looking forward to whatever this series has to dish up.

91 Days

It’s the age of prohibition and the mafia rules. One young man, Avilio, sets out on a quest for vengeance by infiltrating the family that killed his when he was just a boy. Killing leads to more killing with the various families out for blood and full-scale war set to ignite. The question is, after 91 days, will there be anyone left alive?

I think this anime has to be a contender for the best in season so far. So far the story has a quick-pace without feeling rushed and has some really good twists and the animation just oozes that 1920s style (which is actually one of my favourite time periods style wise). We have some memorable characters, who’ll hopefully be expanded upon as the series continues, some good action and really pretty animation. From a story point of view I don’t think there’s anything that original, a lot of the individual elements I’ve seen in other shows of this ilk, but 91 days does it with enough confidence and competence that I don’t really mind, plus there’s still plenty of time for it to really surprise me. We all know everything’s going to go to hell in this anime, we’re just waiting for the bang. This is definitely an anime I’d recommend this season.

Orange

During her second year of high school, Naho receives a strange letter claiming to be from herself ten years in the future. It lists all of the events that are about to happen and the things she wishes her younger self to undo. Changing the future isn’t so easy though, especially for someone as shy and lacking in confidence as Naho, but there’s more at stake here than getting rid of a few regrets. Can Naho get up the courage to save the life of the boy she likes?

Tissues at the ready guys, I’ve got a feeling about this one. That being said this anime is definitely a slow burn, it hasn’t gotten to the proper feels yet, but it’s doing a good job of building the foundations. I care for Naho, even if I do want to scream at her with frustration sometimes, I want her to overcome her own insecurities and tell Kakeru how she really feels. That being said the time travelling letters are why I’m sticking with this anime, it’s all very nice and sweet, but not that much has happened to grab my attention, which is ok if you’re in the mood for something laidback, yet at the same time the letters offer us a glimpse of what’s to come and reason to stay to see if it can be changed.

Okay, this post is getting a bit long and I’ve still got a whole back of shows I want to talk about, so come back next week for my thoughts on the rest of the shows I’ve been watching including Mob Psycho 100! 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. 

Anime Corner: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Review

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Ready, Steady…Cook!

What’s the Story?

Yukihira Soma is a young chef determined to surpass his father’s cooking, but when his dad decides to close down the family restaurant and travel the world, Soma is sent to an elite culinary school, where only the best of the best manage to graduate. Can Soma handle the heat, or is it time for him to get out the kitchen?

The Review

Cooking has never been this exciting! I really do mean that, the TV (over here in the UK anyway) is always been filled to the brim with cooking shows, from Masterchef to the Great British Bake Off, but none of them have ever caught my attention. I much prefer to eat food, then to cook it. This show though has captured me. There are several recipes that just sound amazing and make me want to actually try them. This anime is bursting with inventive and delicious looking recipes, there are so many ways of cooking that I’ve never even considered before. It makes cooking interesting, there are several points in the anime where the action slows down while the characters talk through the recipe and the various bits of science to cooking, yet it’s almost never boring. It really makes me want to go into the kitchen and give a crack at some of these dishes, even though I know they’ll never come out like they do in the series.

It probably helps that the food looks absolutely amazing. The animation is great here. Typically when it comes to Shounen anime I expect a lower quality to the animation (looking at you Fairy Tail), but because of this series’ limited run the production has really gone to town on the visuals. The food is mouth-watering, the action is dynamic and fast, and the little comedy sections are well timed and fit in perfectly. A lot of the visuals are very colourful and eye-catching, which further helps to draw you in.

Talking about the visuals, that does bring me to one minor gripe. Now I haven’t really checked that many forums regarding this series, but I get the sense that’s it’s gonna be famous for the so called ‘food porn’ sections. Basically to show just how orgasmic the food is there are many (many, many, many) times where someone takes a bite, and then immediately they appear naked (though in the action man, no details kind of way that anime often does), making all sorts of noises. A lot of the time this happens to women, though I will give them credit for throwing in dudes every now and again. I should get really annoyed by this, but honestly it’s just so ridiculous I can’t help but laugh, and in all fairness the anime does calm down these sections the further along it gets.

In fact a lot of the aspects of the anime get better as it carries along. In the beginning it’s the typical kind of Shounen thing, where Soma is the underdog, yet surpasses all of the snobby people around him with his natural talent and creativity. The first half of this anime is kind of predictable that way. Soma will meet someone who’s snobby about some aspect of food, Soma will challenge them and all the other students will laugh (I mean how can a loudmouth transfer student possibly beat the other guy?), until Soma’s cooking stuns them all into silence with how good it is. Soma is never really challenged. It doesn’t help that Soma is a cocky bugger and always approaches challenges calmly, so you never really believe he’s in any danger of losing. It robs the showdowns of some of their drama.

Once we hit the half way point though, Soma finally starts to trip up. He faces bigger challenges, makes mistakes and has to quickly turn things around. Soma finally starts to feel like the underdog everyone sees him as, and it makes it all the more epic when he wins. This is also the point were a lot of the side characters start to come into their own. In the beginning a lot of them are just stuff in the background, but the characters in this show have this way of worming their way into your heart. All of a sudden you find yourself caring about these characters. Megumi’s development from the shy girl about to be expelled, to the dark horse knocking out the competition is just beautiful to watch. It’s disappointing that this is only a 24 episode series, especially since it ends in the middle of a tournament arc, but at least everyone gets a chance to show their stuff before we have to say goodbye.

You can come to this anime for several reasons, the cooking, the animation, or maybe you just want to check out this ‘food porn’ (for scientific study of course), but you will stay for the characters (Even if it’s the voluptuous women, though we do have a guy who walks around in just an apron, so at least the anime is attempting equal opportunities fan service). Their emotions feel genuine. They make you want to cheer as they win, or pick them up when they fall. This series really knows how to do drama. It knows how to draw you to the edge of your seat, and keep you there, giving a few moments of relief, pitching you back into nervous tension, before giving you that triumphant finale. It leaves you feeling completely satisfied, yet still wanting more. In short, this series has the recipe for some great drama.

The Verdict

This series is a cooking show that I can get behind. It’s full of action, drama, comedy and some really loveable characters. It also happens to look great. While I do wish there was more of this series, I am happy with what we got (and quietly praying for a second season). This series may be a little formulaic at first, but stick with it and I guarantee you a great experience. Now if you’ll excuse I’m heading to the kitchen to try out a new recipe, honey-coated squid anyone?

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

First Impressions Spring 2015

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So much anime, so little time. Let’s get on with this already.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

In a world where goddesses have taken human form, and adventurers travel vast dungeons, battling monsters for fame and fortune, we meet Bell who is only a novice adventurer. Yet he hopes to one day be a great adventurer and maybe impress the woman who once saved him from a monster attack. There’s more than a couple of girls with their eye on Bell though. Let the harem nonsense begin!

I think this anime has some potential. I like Bell and his desire to be stronger and better himself. He’s a good guy, a touch oblivious, but that’s par for the course with harem shows. The world is interesting, even if a touch familiar when compared with other fantasy shows. I hope it can distinguish itself a bit more, outside of the gods and goddesses walking around. They animation is pretty good too. My only real concern is that I can see this anime easily being overcome by fanservice and harem stuff. I hope it does manage to find a balance between that stuff, while also giving attention to its characters and action. A part of me doubts it will though, still, I live to be surprised.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

Soma has worked in the kitchen since he could hold a knife, and longs to surpass his father as a chef. One day though, Soma’s father closes down the family restaurant so that he can travel the world. Soma finds himself enrolled in an elite culinary school, where the best of the best are trained. Only the top 1% survive the full three years here, and those that do are hailed as cooking gods. Can Soma cut it?

I never knew that cooking could be so dramatic. Now I’m not a chef, nor do I have any real interest in being one, yet still this anime has me hooked. It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s mouth-wateringly gorgeous. I only really have two complaints so far. Number one is that Soma is just a little too much the genius child at the minute. He’s too good and I understand that they need to set up his potential, but I hope that he starts to stumble in later episodes. If he just wins at everything this’ll just get boring. The other complaint I have is the fanservice (or should it be called foodservice in this show?) After three episodes it’s verging on softcore porn at times, and I really really really hope they tone it over the next couple of episodes.

Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works

Yay! Fate/stay night is back! The battle for the Holy Grail continues. With Saber now Caster’s captive, Shirou and Rin are put in a dire situation. As the 5th Holy Grail War draws to a close the battles will intensify and masters will fall. But in the end, who will claim that mystical wish-granting artefact?

Unlimited Blade Works is still as gorgeous and epic as ever. It did stumble in its first episode back as the break robbed it of its dramatic punch. The anime is quickly gathering back its steam though. I like how the Rin and Shirou relationship is developing at a natural pace. I also appreciate a bit more back story for some of the supporting cast. My only complaint is that I don’t like how Saber has become a damsel in distress for the moment. I especially don’t like that dress she’s been forced into, or the pose she had to stand in back in episode one. Saber is one of my favourite characters, and it’s so demeaning to have her reduced to fanservice like that. Hopefully she’ll be freed soon enough and get back into action.

Plastic Memories

In the future personal robots, Giftia, have been developed with souls of their own. Unfortunately these Giftia only last for a few years before they have to be shut down. Tsukasa has just started a job in the department that retrieves Giftia for their shut down. It’s not a pleasant job, breaking up the owners from beloved partners. Matters are made worse when Tsukasa is partnered with a female Giftia who is incredibly clumsy and who’s only talent appears to be making tea.

Honestly I don’t think this is that original an anime, or premise. The characters, for now at least, are mostly just your typical stereotype with only slight variations. That doesn’t mean they’re bad or anything, I do like them, I just hope there’s a bit more to them as we go further down the line. Where is anime really shines is when it comes to its emotions. This is an anime designed to make you cry (and laugh a little too). I have no doubt that the ending is going to break my heart, we’ll just have to see if the journey to get there is any good.

Sound! Euphonium

Kumiko has just started her first year of high school, and her friends manage to convince to join the school’s brass band club. The only real problem is the band kind of sucks. Whether it’s lazy students, or a lack of direction from their hands-off teacher, things don’t bode well for the club. Yet I’m sure trials shall be overcome, and friendships forged (that’s how all these anime turn out in the end right?)

I’m not a music buff, but I do love a big band so I was willing to give this anime a shot. After the first two episodes though, I was going to pass off this anime as something nice, but also very typical. I don’t watch many anime about school clubs or bands, but that’s mostly because I’ve seen most of the plots before in other shows. Episode 3 made me change my mind a bit, or to be more accurate, the ending did. You feel the frustration and the pain of the character as she plays, and the scream afterwards felt very true. Honestly I wasn’t that into the character up until that point, but after that scene I think she might be my favourite now. If the show can get more moments like that, and get me caught up in the character’s emotions, then I think this could be a very good show. Also so far it’s been pretty informative about the different instruments and how to go about playing them, so that’s a bonus.

Wish Upon the Pleiades

What’s the story? Um…well…err… there’s some magical girls. They ride broom sticks that make the noise of a car engine when revving up. Honestly, that’s all I’ve got.

Mysteries are all well and good in a series, but I could do with a little context here to ground me. At the moment this show is just a bunch of random bits floating around that I have no idea how they piece together, or what they’ll eventually make. There’s talk of different realities and possible potential. The girls are meant to go around collecting engine fragments, but we have yet to see the ship they belong to, or learn why any of this is happening. There’s also a confusing back story between two of the girl who both think it was the other one to leave them, which makes no sense. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a horrible show. It’s bright and colourful and perfectly fine in its own way, but with so many other shows demanding my attention I might just let this one slip away. I just don’t have the time to sit through it and untangle this mess of a plot.

ETOTAMA

Takeru moves into his new place to find a hole in the floor that leads to the world of Gods and spirits (just roll with it this gets weirder, trust me). Out of said hole pops Nya-tan, a girl representing the cat clan. Nya-tan is determined to become a part of the Chinese zodiac, seeing as how the cat didn’t manage get in 2000 years ago. In order to achieve her goal though she must battle the 12 zodiacs, including the mysterious, and lethal, Chu-tan (Rat) who appears to have a very personal hatred for Nya-tan and the cat clan, though no one knows why. Insanity ensues.

Honestly this is how I like my anime comedies, fast, wild and completely off their nut. The comedy is perfectly paced, knowing just when to let you rest, and just when to hit you with an onslaught of jokes. It also manages to weave in a hint of drama, which I appreciate. The fights are cute and colourful, but that in no way lessens the impact of the action. The fight in episode 3 is particularly brutal. I enjoyed episode 3, but I can see some people being put off by it. For the latter half of the episode all of the comedy evaporates and things take a very dark turn. I was expecting something like this to happen, but not until the last couple of episodes. For me though it works for the story, it raises the stakes and furthers the mystery, even if the ending is a touch too sad for my tastes. On a last note, can we have an ambulance for the poor fourth wall? This series keeps smashing it to pieces.

Punch Line

What’s the story? Which one do you mean? The magical adventures of a young super-heroine who’s chief weapon is a giant straw? The slice-of-life comedy featuring four girls and a bear? Ghost boy’s pervy panty peepshow? That’s without even mentioning the terrorist organisation and its missing leader, the asteroid headed directly for Earth, the ghost cat and whatever’s possessed our lead guy’s body. Weird doesn’t cover it.

Honestly this show is a mess. I like the individual characters, though the comedy can be hit or miss (I found the joke about Strange Juice’s transformation sequence, and the difference between what’s in her head and reality, to be hilarious. However the joke about a couple of the girls mishearing a conversation and thinking one of the other’s to be pregnant was tired and boring). At the minute there are too many plots, and just too much craziness, which is stopping me from investing in anything. There is a hint of this all being part of a bigger puzzle, but right now the pieces are too scattered and the picture too big for me to work it out.

Also, the fanservice in this series is horrendous. It makes Kill la Kill look like a prude (so anyone who knows that anime should know how bad this series is).

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