Also deserving a mention is Lupin III: L’avventura Italiana, the first new proper Lupin III TV series in ages. As it turns out, the franchise has been very popular in the Italian market, so why not make a new series that’s actually set there for maximum pandering ? (It’s already been airing over there for the last couple of months.)
This is actually better than it sounds, since Lupin III’s shtick involves globe-trotting as a matter of course anyway. I thus have no issue whatsoever for his gang to show up in Italy for a random caper, and then stick around there for a while. The token new Italian semi-regular character does bring some added spice into the well-worn character dynamics, too.
This is the point where I have to admit I haven’t watched much Lupin III at all ; it got big well before my time and I’ve always found the franchise’s sheer size a bit intimidating. I do plan on checking out the highlights such as Castle of Cagliostro in due time, but so far my exposure is mostly limited to The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which was very atypical indeed.
This series is a much more conventional entry point, with pleasant kid-friendly adventures that have enough of an edge to entertain adults too. And heck, I’m a sucker for heist shows anyway, so I have every reason to watch this. (Miyuki Sawashiro voicing a very delicious Fujiko is the cherry on the cake.)
Hacka Doll the Animation is a series of shorts adapting… a news phone app ? Seriously ? It’s certainly not a ringing endorsement, as it stars a trio of bumbling AIs who completely fail to be of any use to their hapless owner. Which is actually mildly funny, all told, as they’ve got good comedic timing together. Very dumb, but entertaining enough for me to give it another episode. (After all, it’s only 8 minutes a week.)
Oh, and Noragami is back ! It’s still as stylish as ever (that god-tier Taku Iwasaki score !), although this episode spends a lot of time recapping the premise, the main characters, and the basics of the Hato/Bishamon feud which is apparently going to take center stage. But so far, so good.
Lovely Muco (Itoshi no Muco) are 12-minute shorts about the daily life of the titular dog, Muco. There were actually two previous anime series adapting this manga, but only as 2-minute shorts padding the schedule ; this is a back-to-basics reboot that requires no previous knowledge. And in any case, the OP sequence displays just about everything you’d want to know about the character dynamics (including from the cast who have yet to show up).
It’s a very simplistic, family-friendly show about Muco being a cute dog, and the communication failures with her laid-back master. It’s mildly entertaining, but I keep having the nagging feeling I’m at least two decades older than the target audience. The animation is very limited, but sells the jokes well enough for a gag show. And it certainly knows how to make a dog look expressive.
Kagewani are 8-minute horror shorts about a crypto-zoologist investigating monster sightings instead of, you know, actually teaching his college classes. But most of the episode is devoted to one of those “celebrity” monster hunters who’s busy faking one such sighting until things go very badly when his team encounter the real thing.
What makes this show stand out is the rotoscoped animation ; together with the overbearing colour filters and the nervous shakycam often at awkward angles, it gives off a strong “found footage” flavour. Unfortunately, it also looks like crap. (Which, I guess, completes the “found footage” look.) And frankly, it’s not particularly compelling, funny or scary ; it just doesn’t work for me at all.
K – Return of Kings if off to a rather mixed bag for its second season. It’s even more visually impressive than ever (how much budget do they spend on those super-kinetic fight scenes ?), although I’m getting tired of the camera switching to pervert mode whenever Awashima’s on screen. But the script seems intent on being as confusing as possible, starting off with an overly-long gratuitous fight scene that’s set before the first series, for some reason (as evidenced by the presence of the dude who got killed in the first episode), and then it switches without warning to the post-movie status quo. (Which, admittedly, isn’t very complicated ; “the gothloli is the new Red King, and the Greens are now attacking everyone and being jerks for some reason”.) Hopefully it’ll find its footing back soon enough.
Young Kindaichi’s Casefile Returns Again has been off to a good start. Actually, I’m slightly weirded out that we start immediately on the trail of the recurring villain introduced at the end of last season (Kindaichi’s usually more about one-off mysteries than ongoing storylines), but it’s a good way to keep the stakes high, especially as the supporting cast are all there and have something to do. And, well, I have a sweet tooth for mysteries, so I’m all for this.
Speaking of which, Owarimonogatari opens with a double-length episode that’s basically a lovely done-in-one closed-room mystery. It’s awesome. And despite how much Ararararagi has become the weak link in this show over time, he’s actually quite fun here, as Ougi leaves him absolutely no room to fall back on his usual excesses. This was a very good opener indeed, and setting a high bar for the season.
Attack on Titan – Junior High is very, very stupid. It probably doesn’t make much sense unless you’ve watched the main series. (Or, heck, read the manga, if the Ymir/Krista material is any indication.) What it does right, though, is being at least mildly funny most of the time ; and it’s having a lot of funny playing with Sawano’s bombastic score and the original anime’s direction for maximum comedic effect. At least for one episode, the joke works.
Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan is a gag manga adaptation about a childlike hotsprings fairy meddling with teenagers’ love life. In three minutes it makes its point, namely that it’s the same romantic comedy beats I’ve already seen hundreds of time, without any particular spark. Pass.
Miss Komori Can’t Decline! (Komori-san wa Kotowarenai!), on the other hand, does manage to spin a few decent laughs out of its premise. Unfortunately, it looks like crap and barely lasts 2 minutes. Oh, well.