And we’re back! Let’s get on with the show!
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Adolescence syndrome, just urban myths or do bizarre and strange things really happen to the teenagers of Japan? When Sakuta goes to the library the last thing that he expected to see was a girl dressed as a bunny wandering around the place. It turns out though that Sakuta is the only one that can see or hear the girl, Mai. She goes to the same school as him and is a former actress, currently on hiatus. The longer she’s on hiatus, the more people fail to notice her and pretty soon they can’t even remember her. Can Sakuta help Mai get through her Adolescence syndrome and what other strange goings on are about to befall this school?
I really love this series so far, which is not what I was expecting from the title. Honestly I wasn’t all that interested in this one and I was going to skip it, but then I heard good things and decided to give it a go, which I’m so glad I did. The first three episodes of this series play like there own perfect little movie. I love the relationship between Sakuta and Mai and I could seriously watch them all day. The dialogue between them is so well written, packed with dry humour and their deadpan delivery just really sells it. Just make sure you’re watching this show this season, it looks great, the characters have fantastic chemistry and I’m excited to explore more of these Adolescence syndromes.
Zombie Land Saga
Sakura dreams of being an idol up on stage someday and she’s about to get her wish, just not in the way she expected. After dying and being revived as a zombie (just roll with it, trust me it’ll make this show so much more enjoyable if you just leave your logic here before carrying on). Along with a bunch of other zombie girls Sakura finds herself press-ganged into an idol group with the mission of saving Saga! How will they save Saga? How did they get brought back to life? Who is the shouty guy that is behind all of this and came up with this insane idea in the first place? No idea, like I said, leave logic out of this one.
I’m kind of on the fence with this anime. I loved the first two episodes, but the third felt like it had run out of steam and that’s my biggest fear with this anime. I mean the plot and set up make no sense. There’s very little explanation as to why these girls have been revived as zombies and forced into an idol group. I get the impression that this was someone’s fever dream and they just turned it into an anime with as little excuse as possible, but that’s okay, to a degree. The fun of this show comes from just the level of bizarre you’re watching, as well as a couple of decent songs. Seeing the girls randomly thrown on to the stage of a death metal gig and forced to come up with a song on the spot when all but one of the girls is still in full on zombie mode is something that has to be seen to be believed. That and I couldn’t stop laughing at Sakura’s impromptu rap, which again has this feeling of being so out of place and yet it works. Episode three is where the cracks appear for me, it just doesn’t do anything weird or out there, the drama and the song are all stuff I’d expect from an idol anime (not that I’ve watched that many of them in the past) and the fact that they’re zombies kind of became little more than a side note with no effect on the plot whatsoever. That’s what I fear this series will become, once the surrealness wears off and the zombie stuff is pushed further into the background you’re just left with a typical idol show. I’m going to give it a few more episodes and see how this pans out.
Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighbourhood
Akari is a girl with a thing for dolls, no, thing isn’t the right word. Obsession, now that’s the right word. Anyway after hearing rumours about a doll girl who appears out in the woods at night, Akari just has to go out and find her! Naturally she gets lost, but she does find the girl from the rumours, except she’s not a doll, she’s a vampire! The vampire, Sophie, takes Akari back to her home where she learns that the life of a modern vampire isn’t that different from your standard otaku. This and the fact that Sophie does look a little bit like a doll helps Akari come to a decision, she’s going to live with Sophie!
Light and fluffy is the best way to describe this series. I mean I am waiting for the moment when the sell-by date runs out on this series’ jokes as there isn’t actually all that much to this, but for what it is it’s a nice way to unwind on a Friday so far. I like Sophie, on the one hands she’s actually pretty ordinary, watching the anime she loves and ordering the connected merch online. Her only difficulty is that she has to play by the typical vampire rules, she has to drink blood (which she buys online), sunlight turns her to ash with prolonged exposure and she has to be invited into places. Also there’s the fact that she’s over three hundred years old and has to deal with not knowing much about current culture or the fact that she doesn’t exactly get out much and doesn’t have many friends. Akari I’m of two minds on, on the one hand I do find it funny that it’s the human who often freaks out the vampire, but on the other hand her obsession is kinda creepy. It hasn’t crossed a line yet, but I’m worried it will and I don’t want that from my light and fluffy series. Still, I’m going to stick around to see.
Nemesis are monsters that fall out of the sky, bringing terror and disaster. The only ones that can fight them are the Sorcerers, but most people tend to think of Sorcerers as almost as big of a problem as the Nemesis. Seth, a young apprentice Sorcerer, hopes to change all that, the only problem is that when it comes to most magic he’s kind of useless. When a Nemesis crashes on to the island where he’s been training however, Seth sees it as his chance to prove his worth, but a rampaging, super powerful monster may be only the start of his worries.
If you’re fed with typical shonen shows then move along, because most of the common tropes are here already. Optimistic and naïve young hero? Check. Hero with a lot of potential but kind of makes a mess and nobody believes in him, but he’s really strong when his friends are in danger? Check. Winning through with heart and determination? Magic powers that basically boil down to hitting something really hard? Check and check. I’m willing to give this series a bit of leeway because, well, when I think about it a lot of shonen take their time to get going. They start off really generic and over time they develop their own style and start to distinguish themselves as they fill in their worlds, though all the series do this at different paces. The first three episodes for me are always about asking if there is enough here to keep me interested until we get to that stage. The answer to which is yes, there is, for me at least. I can understand if other people want to drop out, but I like the colour and energy of this, the character designs aren’t bad either. It’s generic, but it’s fun so I’ll stick with this.
Yuta wakes up with no memory of who is, but that isn’t the end of his troubles. For one he’s hearing and seeing things that no one else can, like the strange person on an old computer in a junk shop, telling him to remember his calling. Then there’s the giant monster in the distance of the city that suddenly comes to life and starts destroying the place. Yuta returns to the junk shop and combines with man in the old computer, appearing in the real world as the giant Gridman! Together with the help of his friends they defeat the monster, but the school is destroyed in the process. Except…the next day the school is completely intact with no one remembering the attack. Not only that, but students who were there yesterday have gone missing and when questioned no one can remember them, in fact, as far as everyone else is concerned those girls died back in middle school. Just what is going on?!
I may have mentioned this before, but I love studio Trigger. Mostly because I always love their character designs and they often have a tendency towards high-octane action and mad plots. I don’t like every single series they’ve put out, but I usually tend to have a lot of fun. This series is off to a much more low key start, with a lot of effort being put into the building atmosphere and the slow peel back of what is actually going on. It may all collapse in on itself by the end, but I’m having fun so far so I’m okay with that. I like all the characters, even if we haven’t dug that deep into them yet and the fights, while short, are fun. I am getting some weird flashbacks from this show, I swear I’ve seen an episode of the original show this series is based on when I was a little kid. The Gridman suit and the monsters are all looking vaguely familiar, but I have no idea what that show was called over here in the UK. Anyway, that aside, there is a clear formula developing in this series, but I’ve always liked the formula of these kind of shows so that’s just another plus for me. I am really interested in this series and I look forward to wherever it’s going.
And the treasure hunt is back on! ‘Immortal’ Sugimoto, Asirpa and the rest of the gang are back and on the hunt for the mysterious tattooed prisoners that will lead them to lost gold. Now with several skins acquired, Sugimoto and his party are on their way to the prison with a few questions with the man who may, or may not, be Asirpa’s dad! Meanwhile Lieutenant Tsurumi and the 7th have plans of their own, including making some fake skins to throw a spanner into the works and then there’s Hijikata and his gang of crooks and killers. I’d say things are about to get complicated, but it’s actually not, things are fairly easy to follow, now if I were to say it’s about to get weird, well, we reached that point a long time ago.
I’m really glad this series is back, it feels like an old friend has returned (I really should write up my review of season one at some point, though I might combine it with this one). Golden Kamuy is a weird show and it really shouldn’t work, but somehow does. It’s one part action adventure as the gang hunt for treasure, one part comedy due to the antics of the overabundance of crazy people in the cast (that and more dick jokes than you can shake a… you know what, I’m not even going there) and one part cooking show. That’s the part that has always confused me, when Sugimoto and Asirpa sit down to talk about local cuisine and enjoy some nice dishes. These elements should be completely jarring alongside one another and yet somehow, with this crazy cast they blend perfectly. Season 2 starts right back in the thick of it with possibly the craziest serial killer we’ve had on this show so far (and trust me, there’s some competition going with this series). There were moments watching that first episode were I was genuinely questioning my sanity, the biggest one being when the guy, who likes to make bizarre outfits out of people’s skin, starts putting on a fashion show for the Lieutenant. It just…it has to be seen to be believed.
That’s all for the first impressions this season. Next week back to regular reviews!
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.