Anime Corner: The Promised Neverland (Season 2) Review

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What’s the Story?

Having escaped the Grace Field House, Emma, Ray and the rest of the children now have to contend with the dangers and wonders of the outside world. Can they possibly survive in a world full of demons? A world were their only source of information is a pen and the few clues left behind by William Minerva? It won’t be easy, given they’ve got a whole world order to fight against, but who knows, maybe it’ll be exceptionally easy. Maybe everything Emma puts her mind to will come to pass with frighteningly little difficultly. Staging a revolution, enemies turning to staunch allies at the drop of a hat and whatever other obstacles remain quickly disappearing. No, that couldn’t be right, that would tank the whole series. Wouldn’t it?

The Review

I adored the first season of The Promised Neverland. You can read my review of it HERE, but in summary it is a staggeringly well put together show, a perfect puzzle box that continually kept me at the edge of my seat. I’ll still thoroughly recommend it, heck, I even shelled out for the collector’s edition blu ray just so I could own it (and it arrived just in time for me to watch it and remind myself that I actually enjoyed this series at one point in time). If you enjoyed the first season, leave it at that. Treat episode twelve as the final episode and make up your own ending from there. You could of course go read the manga, I’ve heard the next couple of arcs after where the first series left off are actually pretty good, but I haven’t read them so I can’t vouch for that. Whatever you do, do not watch season 2, not unless you want to experience the soul crushing disappointment and rage-inducing frustrations that I just have. If you want to leave this review at this point I don’t mind, from here on out begins the flaying of season 2.

I’m not going to act like continuing the story of The Promised Neverland was ever going to be easy. The ending of season 1 so irrevocably changed the dynamic of the series it’s hard to know where you go from there. We’ve transitioned from this closed off, claustrophobic environment to a wide open world that we know so little about, and somewhere in that the series loses part of that essential spark that made it so great. The first problem to hit season 2 is it’s lack of direction. From the outset of season 1 we had a clear objective for our characters to follow, they had to come up with a way to escape Grace Field House and they did. Season 2, well the end goal is finding a way to the human world, once the characters learn that that exists. The problem is that ‘Reach the Human World’ is a very vague and nebulous goal. We don’t know enough about this world and its rules to clearly establish what our characters can and cannot do. As such the series meanders around for its first few episodes.

It doesn’t help that the looming danger that was so ever-present in the first season has been removed. The kids still aren’t safe, but that danger is now nameless, there’s no central antagonist constantly looking over our heroes’ shoulders, creating that sense of dread in us viewers. Another factor is that the kids don’t actually do anything to face the danger that they do come across. In the first season (and I’m sorry to keep bringing up this comparison, but the two seasons are like night and day and that really is the coffin in which this season is buried), the characters are always thinking, always trying out plans, getting knocked back and coming up with something else. Here, what do they do? Most of the time they’ll run away, either that or Emma will give an impassioned speech about what it is she wants to do. There’s no challenge, where’re all those brilliant, devious little geniuses that I got to know in the first season? When they accomplish something in this season I don’t marvel at how clever they’ve been, I roll my eyes at the plot, yet again, bending over backwards to make things easy for them. It feels like the fangs have been removed from this season for whatever reason.

That brings me to the final nail in the coffin for this season, and that’s the pacing. It really just boggles my mind to think about it, once the show finishes it’s meandering after the first couple of episodes it just suddenly puts its foot to the accelerator and doesn’t let up from there. We get a time skip, reintroduction of characters, sudden heel-turns, back stories are crammed in and a revolution is begun (don’t even get me started on that ending montage. I nearly blacked out with rage once I realised what was going to happen). It’s as if there was some kind of edict from on high that this season also had to be the final season and if someone did make that decision I want to meet them, so I can strangle them with my bare hands! Every plot twist, every moment that if given enough time and development could have been a juicy bit of drama is instead bulldozed over in a mad rush to get to the ending, logic and reason be damned! It’s a sad end for a series that felt so methodically and carefully plotted in its first season.

The Verdict

I don’t know what happened to The Promised Neverland. I’d be really interested in hearing about the behind the scenes on this season, but that wouldn’t change the fact that this show is a pale shadow of its former self. What once was a carefully plotted puzzle, with a continual sense of dread and purpose has become a meandering, rushed toothless mess. The plot twisted itself into knots to get where it needs to go, foregoing logic, reason and, worst of all, character in order to reach its dictated endpoint. Don’t watch this season, leave after the first and let’s all pretend this never happened. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to watch the first season again to remind myself what good anime is again.

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.

Taste the Rainbow! The Colourful Stories Tag

So the ever-brilliant Ospreyshire nominated me for this fun tag a couple of weeks ago and, while it’s taken me a bit of thinking to settle on all of my choices, I’m finally ready to do this. Without further ado let’s get this show on the road, first what’re the rules of this tag?

RULES

#1 Share your favourite stories—movies/books/anime/manga/drama/songs—by classifying them on these seven colours’ traits:

  • red: passionate, exciting, invigorating
  • blue: peaceful, calming
  • pink: romantic, caring
  • orange: warm, motivating
  • black: mysterious, thrilling
  • green: fresh, unexpected
  • white: random

#2 Send this challenge invitation to at least one of your friends. Let them fear your superiority, as you—decide their fate.

#3 Link back to the original post here! And, enjoy!

Red – Haikyu!!

How can you get more passionate, exciting and invigorating than watching a group of people taking part in an activity they all clearly love and giving it their all? I only started watching this series last year and it genuinely blew me away. There are many, many great things about this series, but what I think takes it to another level is that it makes you understand the driving factors of each and every character. Any other sports anime just has you rooting for the underdog team, but Haikyuu goes the step further and makes you care and root for both sides of the conflict. After all the other teams are just as eager to win as our protagonists. This series always leaves me feeling pumped and eager for the next episode.

Blue – Laid-Back Camp

After exerting ourselves with some high octane sporting activities, what could be better than settling down by a camp fire with some beautiful scenery and good company? You can’t get be more peaceful and calming than a show that literally has ‘laid-back’ in the title and while this is a very idyllic look at camping, it also puts the chill in chill out anime. The characters are endlessly endearing, the scenery on display is often breath-taking and the atmosphere is so warm and cosy I can practically feel the fire whenever I watch this show. After a stressful day there’s no better prescription than settling down with this show for half an hour or so.

Pink – Given

I’ve stated several times on this blog that I’m not much of a romance person, and yet with shows like this and Horimiya I feel that may be changing. Given is a show that gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it, I love each of the principle characters (though watching the movie has taught me that I’m very much a Mafuyu and Uenoyama shipper) and I would happily spend all day just hanging out with them. Watching each of their relationships develop over the course of the first season and the movie has been a privilege and I’m really hoping we’ll get another season soon.

Orange – Witch Hat Atelier

This one took some thinking. There are plenty of series that I’d describe as warm, I just talked about two of them, but one that also leaves me feeling motivated? It took a perusal of my bookshelves to come up with the only answer for me. Witch Hat Atelier is a series that I discovered a couple of years ago and I adore it with every fibre of my being. Not only is the world beautifully drawn and endlessly fascinating, the characters are just so sweet and charming without ever venturing into saccharine. What motivates me with this series though is the clear parallels to what it’s like to learn to draw or enter any kind of creative profession. As any regular readers will know, I like to draw and this series always leaves me eager to break out my pens and pencils.

Black – The Promised Neverland (Season 1)

This feels like a bitter sweet choice because I’m currently in the middle of season 2 and to say I have issues with it is a massive understatement. Let’s go back to happier times though and the astounding season 1. It’s a perfect little puzzle box of a series, the question being less about what’s going on and more about how our heroes are going to get out of the terrible situation they’ve found themselves in. Every setback and twist just ratcheted up the tension higher and higher until that exhilarating conclusion when everything came together. I know you can’t see me so I’ll just let you know I’m doing one of those chef’s kisses right now.

Green – Princess Connect! Re:Dive

This is here more for the unexpected qualifier, rather than being fresh. I did not have high hopes for this show before I started watching it, all the promo art and the fact that it was based on a mobile game just lead me to believe this was going to be the typical harem nonsense that just isn’t my thing. I was bored though, so I watched an episode and was blown away by how different it was to my expectations. The characters are all loveable, the action and comedy are top notch and it even manages to introduce a plethora of new characters each episode without feeling likes its overburdening the series with too many pointless cameos. Bring on season 2!

White – Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai

I know this series hasn’t finished airing yet, but I feel the need to talk about this little gem of a show because not enough people are giving it the attention it deserves. I don’t really know that much about the Dragon Quest franchise, other than the fact that it exists, but this series has blown me away with just some good old fashioned fantasy adventure. The characters are often stock archetypes and the plot is best described as predictable, but there’s so much passion and love put into this series that is all feels fresh and new. Also this series looks amazing. Someone is having a great time bringing this classic to life and I’m having a great time experiencing it.

That’s it for my choices, for my nominees I think I’ll pick,

Lynn Sheridan

Yomu

Al’s Manga Blog

Crow

Hope you have as much fun as I did with this list, see everyone back here on Friday for a regular review. It’s March so why don’t we start the month off with some mecha?

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.

First Impressions Winter 2021 Part 2

And we’re back! No preamble, on to the first impressions!

The Promised Neverland Season 2

Having escaped the House, Emma, Ray and the rest of the children now face the dangers and wonders of the outside world. Can a group of kids who grew up in such a sheltered upbringing really survive by themselves in the wild? Considering some of the monsters that are waiting for them out among the trees it doesn’t seem likely, but not everything is a threat. In fact they might even have some friends and a safe place to rest their head, but will that last? The demons who set up the House in the first place are still out there, hunting them down. How long before they catch up with them?

There were a lot of series I was looking forward to this season, Attack on Titan and Re:Zero being primary among them (and neither have disappointed me so far), but The Promised Neverland easily took the third spot. I adored the first season, it was just this perfect little pressure cooker of delight and suspense and I was really looking forward to where this second season was going to take me. I won’t say I’m disappointed, because I am enjoying what’s been offered so far, but this new season is missing that air of dread I loved so much in the first season. As the world has expanded it’s had a knock on effect to some key aspects of the series. There’s no longer a looming threat, constantly looking over the shoulder of our heroes and the goals are more vague and ill-defined now. Rather than the simple find a way to beat Mother and escape the House, now they have to find a way to rejoin the other humans, somehow, somewhere. On a slightly more positive note there have been some truly excellent scenes showing the effect this new lifestyle is having on Emma and the rest and there’s hints at some exciting things to come, so we’ll see how this all plays out.

So I’m a Spider, So What?

When a classroom of high schoolers is suddenly enveloped in a mysterious light they find themselves reborn into another world. For most it’s the classic set up, they find themselves in positions of power, reincarnated as princes and princesses with extraordinary talent, but not everyone is so lucky. Take our protagonist for example, she’s been born into the body of a weak, small spider. While the others get to lounge around at fancy parties and attend magic academies, our protagonist is stuck fighting for her life, testing out her abilities and doing her level best just not to get eaten! Whoever said life in another world was easy?

Another season of anime, another isekai! I joke because I have actually been enjoying this series so far. The characters are fun and I’m at least interested in part of the premise, which part would that be? Well, naturally it would be the part about the class of high schoolers reincarnated into a group of OP protagonists in this fantasy world. Yes I know the spider is the protagonist, and probably a draw for a lot of the people, but if that’s all this show was I think I’d be leaving this series here. Don’t get me wrong she’s an entertaining character, or rather her personality is, but there’s only so much grinding to build up character stats I can watch. I get annoyed when I have to do that in games, so why exactly would I want to watch it? No, I’m more intrigued by the rest of the class and how the typical classroom squabbles of their past lives are bleeding over into their new ones, plus the fact that they can’t act too familiar because to everyone else these people have just met. I think Grimgar was the last anime I saw where an entire group was transported to another world like this, it’s the only one springing to mind at least, so I’m sticking around to see where this goes.

Back Arrow

Lingalind is a land enclosed by a giant wall, where ones conviction can take the form of a giant mech thanks to strange arm bands known as bind warpers. When a pod lands in the remote outskirts of Edger village, most think it will be full of bind warpers as these sort of pods typically are, but what the villagers find instead is a naked man! Taking the name Back Arrow, this mysterious man claims he has no memories of who is, expect for the fact that he knows he comes from beyond the wall, which is impossible! Together with the villagers of Edger, Back Arrow will set out on a journey to find out just what exactly is beyond the wall, but powerful forces are already moving against them. And what’s this about a prophecy of destruction?!

A classic fantasy adventure! And I mean that wholeheartedly, despite the fact that this is an entirely new property (as far as I know at least), there’s something so nostalgic about this series. Maybe it’s just the fact that this is just the kind of fantasy series that drew me into anime in the first place. A simple, but wholeheartedly good main character, a quirky cast of supporting characters and plenty of episodic action filled with giant robots and floating battleships. I feel like a teen turning over to Cartoon Network on a Saturday morning all over again. So far the series has just really been set up, getting all the characters and motivations in place while explaining the basic rules to us and it’s been plenty of fun while it’s done that. I can’t wait to see where this series is going, but I know it’s going to be a blast.

Horimiya

At school Hori is the perfect student and liked by pretty much everyone, but in private she’s a brash homebody who spends her spare time looking after her kid brother. Miyamura on the other hand is often seen as gloomy and unreadable, but in truth he’s a warm and gentle soul, who also happens to have a bunch of piercings and tattoos that he doesn’t want people to know about. After a chance meeting they both discover one another’s secret selves and decide that they actually quite like hanging out together. But is their something more to this blossoming relationship? Could this be love?

Out of all of the new series that are airing this season, and by ‘new’ I mean not a returning franchise like Re:Zero or Promised Neverland, this is the one I’m enjoying most. It came as a surprise to me when I first realised it, but it’s true. This sweet, fun little show is the one I’m looking forward to most week after week. Now I realise that this series is set in an anime high school and as such it’s a very idealised, rose-tinted view of school life that is being presented, but there’s just something so real about this series. The way the characters talk to one another and just some of the moments between them, I feel like I’ve seen them all happen in real life. Whether it’s Hori realising that she doesn’t know Miyamura’s first name and agonising over how to find it out, or Miyamura realising that he has has friends now, it brings a warm glow to my heart. I also love the way this series avoids the typical sort of melodrama I associate with this kind of series, there’s no love triangles here, just realistic awkwardness, friendships and figuring out feelings! My feelings are clear though, I love this show!

SK8 the Infinity

Reki loves skateboarding, he loves making them and he loves competing in the top-secret, no-holds-barred downhill race called ‘S’ even more. Unfortunately while he’s got the spirit, he’s lacking in some of the skills. That’s when he meets new transfer student, Langa, a snowboarder since he was a little kid, looking for something to give him the same thrill when there’s no snow around. Could skateboarding be the answer? With Reki’s enthusiasm and board building skills combined with Langa’s natural talent could this be the formation of an unstoppable duo?

I’m not a skateboarder. For anyone that knows me that’s probably pretty obvious, the closest I’ve ever gotten to the sport is playing one the Tony Hawks games for an hour or two back in my teens (which feels like a worryingly long time ago). That being said, I recognise that it’s a designed to appeal to the rule of cool and I can’t think of a sport more fitting for anime. Crazy stunts and crazier characters are the order of the day and this show makes every ollie and -insert other skateboarding trick here- look really, really good. It’s so easy to get sucked into this series. It helps that we also have two such enjoyable main character. Langa is a lot of fun with his cool tricks and nonplussed/airhead reaction to a lot of things, but it’s Reki who’s the star for me. He’s just such an excitable puppy dog of a person that it’s hard not to be drawn in by his enthusiasm. The plot for this one so far has been fairly by the numbers, though I do like the fact neither Reki and Langa are the full OP package by themselves and have things to teach one another. I’ll be sticking with this one for a while.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation

Let me know if you’ve heard this one before. A 34-year-old underachiever, among other things, has a meeting with Truck-san and finds himself reincarnated into a fantasy world. Shocking, I know. In a world with magic at his fingertips can this layabout actually make something of his life? It seems so as with a little push from his teacher he gains the confidence to step outside his home and he even makes a friend! Who knows what else he can achieve in this second chance at life, but since he can use magic without the hassle of incantations, it’ll probably be a lot.

The granddaddy of modern isekai is here! Or at least that’s what I’ve heard, I generally try to go in as blind as I can into new series so I know next to nothing about this franchise outside of a few reviews I’ve read since it started airing. It does make sense, someone is putting a lot of love and money into this production and all the usual isekai tropes are here and played pretty straight. What interests me is that this story is very much framed as a redemption arc for the main character, giving him a second chance at life to finally get off his backside and make something of himself. It’s something that a lot of modern isekai are missing, in fact I can only think of Re:Zero as another series that follows this formula. I also like the fact that this series is taking its time, three episodes in and Rudy is still a kid, yes he’s OP, but it’s made clear that other people can learn his tricks if they start practising as kids as well. That brings me to the only thing giving me pause about this series, the general horniness of the main character. Rudy may be a child, but he has the consciousness of a 34-year-old and there are several times where his antics cross the line into being just plain creepy. Again this is a redemption arc so I’m hoping this gets addressed as he improves himself, but I have found myself wanting to strangle Rudy on more than one occasion for bringing that sort of thing into an otherwise great show.

Wonder Egg Priority

Ai is a warm, friendly person, but the recent passing of her only friend has left her struggling. However, when a bug starts talking to her and promises to take her to something fun she may have just found the answer to all her problems! What ‘fun’ turns out to be is a machine that dispenses eggs, eggs which create dreams and when the egg is cracked in said dream then a girl pops out. If Ai can protect the girl until the end of the dream, from whatever nightmare creature is tormenting them, then she might just get to save the friend she lost! Of course neither the bug or the ones who are in charge of the eggs have outright said that’s what’s going to happen, which I feel is Ai’s second mistake. Her first mistake was following the resurrected bug in the first place, I mean come on does no one pay attention to folk horror stories, ‘cause this is how they start!

I mentioned before that Horimiya is the new series I’m enjoying the most so far this season, but this series right here is in close competition for that title. There’s so much to love here, from the vibrant imagery to the creepy creature designs, fast -paced action and the sheer amount of feels it manages to generate episode after episode. The only thing that’s stopping me from enjoying this as much as Horimiya is the sheer dread I feel with each new episode, because I know this is all going to go horribly wrong at some point. It keeps reminding me of fairie folklore and by fairies I don’t mean cute, sugar-coated little critters with glittery wings, I mean proper fairies, the mean spiteful little beggars. The kind that will have you dancing in a fairy ring only to realise that 50 years have suddenly gone by, or swapping babies out for changelings. Cicadas, or whatever that insect was in the first episode, coming back to life and leading a kid off somewhere sounds exactly like one of those stories and they never end well. I like AI, she’s got enough on her plate as it is and while I can see this adventure helping her find herself and make friends, I’m also worried it’s going to end in a body bag, which I’m not ready to see.

That’s it for the first impressions. There’s a lot of really good shows this season, but in returning series and brand new ones. Of course there is some absolute dreck as well, but let’s focus on the good stuff, I know I will going forwards. Next week we’re back to regular reviews so see you then! Stay safe and stay well everyone!

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.

Anime Corner: The Promised Neverland Review

Blog Promised Neverland Review Title

The Great Escape!

What’s the Story?

Emma, Norman and Ray live an idyllic life, yes they’re orphans, but they’re looked after by the perfect mum. They’re warm and safe and well fed, with plenty of siblings to play with and to love and be loved by. All in all, their house is one big happy family, except for those that leave. When a child leaves their house and goes down to the gate, they’re never heard from again, no letters, no visits, nothing. So when the next child is sent and Emma and Norman realise she’s left something behind, they hurry after her before she’s gone for good. However when they reach the gate they learn the truth about their little world and suddenly those idyllic lives are gone forever.

The Review

Go watch this series. I’m serious, stop reading this, open a new tab on your browser of choice and start watching this show if you haven’t already (I realise that may only be a small number of people considering I’m at least a season behind with getting these reviews out and this was one of the best anime of its particular season). If you want a summary review though, it’s a fantastic show, it’s smart, it’s gorgeously animated, the characters are equal parts adorable and badass and it has an amazing soundtrack and plot. If you have yet to check out this series then do so, immediately, it has my full recommendation (for whatever that’s worth). I’m hesitant to say any more than that because, in my opinion, going in blind is the best way to watch this series (I didn’t and I’ve paid the price, mostly ‘cause I was an idiot and the couple of chapters I’ve read of the manga I read out of order, because poor impulse control is a defining quality of mine).

This is a series that is built on its twists and plot development, I’ve heard people class this series as a horror and while it certainly has horror-elements, for me, this is a mystery series. Unlike a lot of mystery series though, the overhanging question that makes up the mystery is less of a ‘why is this happening’ and more of a ‘how do we get out of this’. We learn relatively little about the world outside of the series’ location, we catch glimpses and can infer certain things, but we never get a good look at anything beyond the confines of the House (I suppose that’ll be season 2’s job). Instead our main characters have a general idea of what’s going on and instead the question becomes what do they do about it.

This series is a puzzle box, with Emma, Norman and Ray coming up with plans and strategies to reach their goal, while all the time those that oppose them seem to be ten steps ahead. They just manage to figure one thing out, and we cheer, and then it’s revealed that there’s a new problem that completely negates any advancement they just made. One step forward, two steps back, as the saying goes and while that can be incredibly frustrating, it’s also part of how this series gets you. I’d get frustrated, but then I’d be on to the next puzzle piece, working out how to get in that next step, thinking this time, this time, I’ll get it, only for the rug to be pulled out from under me and bring everything crashing down. It makes the characters so endearing as the watch the odds get stacked higher and higher against them and you wouldn’t really hold it against them if they just gave up, but they push through it and try harder and harder and until… well, that would be spoilers and you’ve got to go in blind, remember?

Of course the plot and the mystery aren’t the only great things about this series. I’ve mentioned the gorgeous animation and, truly, this series is a joy to just look at, the rich colours and how it uses shadows and light, I could take a screenshot of any single moment in this show and it would be perfect to hang on my wall. Not to mention that the direction is top notch, finding some really clever angles and there is an astounding amount of visual story telling. This show knows when to let a shot linger, to build that tension, to make you wait for the reveal and make sure it really hits you. Not to mention that a lot of stuff is simply shown to you, trusting you to know what it’s saying without a line of dialogue. Not that this is a completely silent series. There is plenty of dialogue, heck I’d say the majority of scenes are just characters talking and yet the show knows how to make that engaging. There’s always a new bit of information or a revelation to hit you, its storytelling at it’s best.

One final thing to mention (since I’m refusing to go into spoilers on this), the soundtrack. Honestly I need more words for beautiful because I’ll use them all to describe the sound in this series, not only does it have a killer opening and ending track, but the music within the series itself is just bliss for my ears. My two favourite tracks have to be 63194 (Emma’s theme) and Isabella’s lullaby. Emma theme is just this grand, dark masterpiece that you wouldn’t think would fit such a bright and cheery girl, but when you think about it and you see the steel in her eyes, you know it’s the perfect music for her. As for the lullaby, well, watch the series to the end and you’ll know why that is perhaps one of the most beautiful and tragic pieces of music I have ever heard. Also this series has a fantastic villain, just saying.

The Verdict

The Promised Neverland is a puzzle box mystery, with the characters fighting with everything they have to overcome ever-mounding odds against them. It doesn’t feel like I’ve seen an anime this well put together in a long time (not until this current summer season came along anyway), from the animation to the writing and the directing and even the music, everything just perfectly slots together to tell this tragic, yet hopeful series about overcoming all the odds. I am really looking forward to season 2. Watch this series, I know I’m going to give it a couple of dozen more watches.

fish stamp unmissible

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

First Impressions Winter 2019 part 2

And we’re back! On with the first impressions!

The Promised Neverland

Emma is a happy child, living in an orphanage with her 37 brothers and sisters and the ever-wonderful Mom. She truly couldn’t be happier. All that changes though when the time comes for one of the kids to leave the House. Emma and Norman make a trip down to the gate to return the child’s forgotten toy, but instead of a final goodbye they learn the horrible truth behind their idyllic life. There’s a reason the kids have been told not to go to the gate.

This was the anime I was most looking forward to this season and so far it hasn’t disappointed. The animation is gorgeous full of crisp movement and it really knows how to use colour and shadows to their best advantage. I also like the focus on strategy with the kids outmatched at every turn and struggling to figure out a world they know nothing about. There’s a real sense of dread for the kids as the deck gets continually stacked against them and you wait for that one ray of hope that might be their salvation, only for something else to come along and snuff that out too. My only real complaint so far is that the episodes go by way too fast, which on the one hand is the sign of a really good and interesting show, it has also left me with the feeling that the story isn’t progressing all that much. Sure each episode has added to the situation and the threat our characters are facing, but sometimes it feels like they’re only taking the smallest of baby steps in the direction they need to. I suppose I’m just waiting for the big escape attempt, but this show is great regardless.

Girly Air Force

Humanity is left on the back foot when the Xi, mysterious flying craft, launch a series of devastating attacks, outclassing anything any air force can throw at them. The only hope seems to be three equally mysterious planes, each one controlled by machines in the shape of young girls (because of course they are). However the last line of defence has a problem, one of these planes, referred to as ‘Daughters’, is unstable, except when she happens to be near a young boy, a refugee she saved from the Xi. This calls for only one solution! The boy must date the plane! …Oh brother.

However much I make fun of this show in my head (which I do a lot, but only because this show deserves it), it’s actually not half bad. I mean I hate the title and the core premises is stupid. Really, the human avatars for your planes are all girls and this young guy has to hang out with them to make sure they work properly? We’re doing that plot are we? I can only be grateful that there hasn’t been that much fanservice so far. Then we get the Xi, who as villains are really lacking. I mean they look cool and they’re definitely a threat, but we know nothing about them. We have no clue as their motivation or goal, heck even their personalities are non-existent. They’re not characters, they’re just a plot point to up the drama when it’s called for. Putting that aside though, this show is far from terrible. It’s bright and colourful and all the characters are likeable. Kei’s dialogue may be a bit expositiony and cliché at times, but he has a good motivation and a good character arc ahead of him as he learns to deal with his grief and anger. Gripen is also cute and fun and I like the scientist character who’s name is escaping me at the moment. What’s probably going to hold back this series the most though is that the story is very predictable. You can make a good guess at the majority of the plot twists and I don’t expect that to change as the series continues. The dialogue has a tendency to repeat itself and over explain characters back story and feelings and all the background characters are pretty one note. It’s a fun show, but nothing special.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

When a terrible, if somewhat deceptively cuddly, threat came to the Earth, humanity turned to their only hope for salvation, Magical Girls! The battle was long and bloody and not all of the Magical Girls survived, but even those that did were left with scars both physical and mental. Asuka decided that she wanted nothing more to do with Magical Girls and tries her best to return to a normal life, but trauma and battle are not so easily left behind. There is a new threat on the rise and Asuka may just need to call on her powers to defend those she cares about, but can she survive a second go through the meat grinder?

Dark Magical Girl anime have been around for a while now and while I always make the effort to check them out (I’ve got to fill that Madoka Magica hole in my heart somehow), if I’m honest, the majority of them leave me feeling disappointed. That may just change with this series though. It’s just as bloody and violent and gory as those other series, but the key difference here is that this series feels like it has a point. It’s not just horrible things happening to Magical Girls or Magical Girls beating the snot out of one another, though it could go in that direction. I like the central concept of a person with incredible powers trying to find a way to deal with their trauma and so far the series has done a great job of portraying that. Asuka is a really likeable main character and it’s so easy to invest in her struggles. The villains aren’t that impressive so far, but I’ll put that mostly down to us seeing so little of them. I’m sticking with this one and hopefully this time I’ll come away smiling, if a little bloodstained.

Endro!

Whenever a Demon Lord appears to threaten the land, a Hero will also arrive to defend it. This is the cycle that has repeated throughout the ages and so it is for Yusha and her party of friends when they come to face the latest Demon Lord. Except, not everything goes as planned and the Demon Lord finds herself transported back in time to the era when Yusha and her friends were just starting out at Adventurer’s school. Now with plans to sabotage the Hero before she can take on her destined role, so begins the daily struggles of a girl who wants to be a Hero and her friends.

I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this show. I mean all the visuals were very brightly coloured and sugar coated, but then you’ve got that set up which is just begging for an epic fantasy series to go along with it. What we get instead is a cute and funny gag comedy as the Hero and her party deal with learning to be adventurers, which is fine. I can’t say I’m not imagining that epic fantasy in my head with a time travelling Demon Lord out to stop the Hero before they become the Hero, but at the same time I’m happy with what I’ve got. This is a very warm and gentle series, the perfect thing to watch on a lazy afternoon. It’s not laugh out loud funny and the Demon Lord’s plot haven’t been that great, but it’s a pleasant way to spent twenty odd minutes. I like how the series will poke fun at the characters, but never the setting. The world and the history that this series has build up are treated seriously and lets the comedy have a little extra punch to it.

See you next week!

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