Joker Game

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a novel series about spies in ’30s Japan.


The show is built around “D Agency”, a spy training organization created in 1937 by one Lt Col Yuuki. After some intense selection and training, they now have weeded down to eight trainees, who certainly at least talk a good game.

Interestingly, our actual point-of-view character for now is Lt Sakuma, who comes from the regular Japanese army and is clearly the odd man out here. From what I can gather, he’s been sent as a liaison from high command… with the explicit mission to find any single issue that could be an excuse for shutting down this dodgy agency that has yet to produce any results. Now, Sakuma himself is way to straightforward to act shadily ; that’s exactly why he despises the liars, cheaters and cowards trained by the agency he’s overseeing.

The case of the fortnight involves a “totally not a spy” US resident that D Agency is tasked to find evidence against. Which is of course utterly pointless from a counter-intelligence point of view, but hey, that’s the orders from on high.

Production Values

Perfectly good ; the depiction of the period feels authentic enough to work. And you can never go wrong with a Kenji Kawai score to build an oppressive and claustrophobic mood.

What did I think of it ?

First, the elephant in the room : given its subject matter, the show is doomed to confront the fact that the Japanese military did some really dodgy shit in that time period, and by “dodgy” I mean “huge war crimes”. The good news is that for now, the show is sidestepping the issue by portraying D Agency as a group with no patriotic links, and just doing the same shit that every other modern country is already doing (with the precise example of the 1922 Washington Conference). Also, they seem to spend just as much time and energy in feuds with other branches of the military as doing any actual spying/counter-spying (the US spy in this first story is as much a pretext as anything).

With that out of the way, this is a peculiar first episode. Most of it is devoted to characters telling Sakuma he’s an idiot who understands nothing about spying. Which is true, of course, but he feels more like someone to be exposited to for narrative convenience than an organic component of the story, at least until the final twist. Even then, I feel like the show may have been better served without him being around. Show, I already think that spying is inherently cool despite the dodgy ethics ; I don’t need a “but spying is EE-VIIL !!” mouthpiece to be proven wrong every couple of minutes.

Now, you might think I didn’t like the show. That’s not true ; there’s a lot to enjoy here, and I definitely plan on watching it throughout. It’s just that I hope that the clumsy writing quickly gets out of the way once the series’ found its narrative feet.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 3

Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igi Ari!)

(25ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of the first two Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney videogames, featuring the trials and tribulation of a young defense attorney.


Phoenix Wright, our protagonist, is just fresh out of law school. Not everybody would start off their career with a murder trial, but he insisted because the defendant in this case is his childhood friend…

Larry Butz. Let’s be honest, he’s a complete idiot with terrible luck and even worse manners. But he claims to be completely innocent of the murder of his top-model girlfriend (who totally hadn’t just dumped him), so what else can his best friend do but try and defend him ?

Mia Fey, head of the Fey & Co Law Office, and Phoenix’s boss. She’s here to be the helpful mentor who pushes Phoenix to make the right deductions. Don’t get too attached, though, she’s only here for the tutorial case.

Because clearly this is merely an appetizer before meatier cases ; the culprit’s identity is revealed from the start, and the whole thing is resolved under twenty minutes of screentime.

Production Values

Not very good, unfortunately. The animation is bare-bones, the character designs haven’t aged that well, and there’s a lot of awkward staging. I’m a bit puzzled by the choice to use exactly the same introduction boxes as the game ; it doesn’t look very good. At least the random dynamic character insets work a bit better. And they seem to have nailed the body language (that bit with Larry sitting was genuinely funny), which is essential in a show that could easily devolve into talking heads. Decent update and expansion on the game’s score, too.

Crunchyroll have made the interesting choice of providing two different subtitle sets, with our without translating character names. On the one hand, the American localization of the games is rightfully iconic (which is why I’ve been using it above), especially considering the pains they’ve taken to translate the punny names for everyone. On the other hand, even they started to run into trouble with their attempts to relocate the setting to Los Angeles, and this is compounded in this show, with many distinctly Japanese establishing shots, to say nothing of the victim’s plainly Japanese passport and her trip to New York (exactly 14 hours of timelag away) being major plot points in the case. This simulcast can’t just subtly alter the visuals like the games did, and so a “straight translation” subtitle track makes a lot of sense, especially with the more localized one as an alternate option.

What did I think of it ?

I’m a die-hard fan of the games ; of course I’m going to watch this to the end, regardless of actual quality. Especially if it spawns sequels for the later games.

It certainly could be worse. It’s utterly faithful to the games, covering every nook and cranny of the murder trial’s argumentation and somehow managing to cram the whole first case into a single episode without feeling too rushed. It even found the time to seed some flashbacks in that won’t be actually explored until the fourth case, as well as fit in a few additional character bits here and there. It’s also nice to see more thought given to how the AA trials actually look like beyond the limited perspective of the games.

There’s no way this could be as fun as actually playing the games, and frankly it could have been a lot more polished, but it’s decent enough for my purposes.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 2

Winter 2016 Capsules

Sushi Police has exactly one joke : an elite police task force regulating the quality and authenticity of sushi. Unfortunately, the execution is rather dismal : few of the gags land, and the animation style is an acquired taste at best. You probably shouldn’t bother seeking it out.


Old Man & Marshmallow is an office romantic-comedy about a middle manager who loves marshmallow. One of his underlings keeps teasing him about him in a way that makes it clear she’s flirting with him ; he’s oblivious. Nothing great here, but it’s paced decently, mildly funny, and rather okay overall. I may stick with it.


Oh, and I’m giving up on Assassination Classroom. The first season had huge pacing and consistency issues ; mostly, it wasn’t that funny. So this new season really had to hit it out of the park to keep my interest… It didn’t. It’s a below average episode with nothing particularly interesting happening ; it might have worked partway through the season as a breather, but something much more punchy was needed at this stage.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 2


I’ve given up on writing a full review for Divine Gate. This is an adaptation of a smartphone game where characters aligned with six different elements fight against each other. The show makes it darnedest to try and build up my interest into the token plot and make it look visually interesting, but I just don’t care. I just can’t summon the energy to take interest into whatever is going on here, and the characters certainly aren’t appealing enough to carry the show.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 3

Sequel watch !

Durarara!!x2 had a very good start for its last third. Most of it is taking stock of the story so far, as Celty desperately tries to get an explanation of what the heck is going on and WHAT ARE ALL THOSE PEOPLE DOING IN HER HOME, but superbly executed. Izaya & Shizuo also get good scenes, so I’m perfectly content with this.

Koyomimonogatari are the latest instalment of the -monogatari franchise, this time around as shorts only available on a mobile-app. (So ready your eyepatch if you want to watch it.) It adapts a bunch of short side stories, so it’s not that great a loss if you miss it. “Koyomi Stone”, the first one, is set before Bakemonogatari and fun enough, as an insight into Ararararagi’s early character development.

By the way, Snow White with the Red Hair is still as fun and engaging as before the break, it’s the one bright spot on Mondays.

I’ve Had Enough of Being a Magical Girl is basically a similar premise to Nurse Witch Komugi R, i.e. a magical girl parody, except as 3-minute shorts and actually half-way engaging. Nothing to write much home about, though.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 4


(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Yet another iteration of the sprawling Muv-Luv Alternative franchise, this time adapting a bunch of prequel light novels. And by this, I mean “with different characters and set in a whole other continent”, so this should be accessible enough for anyone new to the franchise.

This is nominally set in East Germany in the 1980s, although with the massive invasion of nasty aliens since the 1960s, it’s basically alternate-history science-fiction, with mecha thrown-in for good measure. (Yeah, I’m as weirded out as you by a franchise that started out as standard dating-sim visual novels now churning out grimdark milSF.)


Theodor, our protagonist, is a young mecha pilot in the elite 666th unit (the titular Schwarzesmarken). He can’t have been here for long, as he’s still chaffing around basic orders like “don’t be a dick, protect your teammates !” This is at least semi-understandable given how he’s experienced first hand the brutality of the Stasi (the East German political police), with his whole family but him dying in a botched escape attempt to the West ; this isn’t an environment conducive to trust.

Irisdina, his team captain, doesn’t help matter by infamously being an informant who reportedly sold out her own brother. She claims she’s trying to turn a new leaf in atonement, but he doesn’t trust her at all. Once burned, twice shy.

Katia is a West German pilot they rescue on the anti-alien front. Despite this accident of fate being rather suspicious, Irisdina makes the choice to trust her and recruit her for the 666th. Katia is enough of an East-fetishizing idealist (“the war against aliens would go so much better if the West and the East worked together !”, yeah don’t say this too loud in front of the Stasi commissars) to accept… Although there’s obviously more to her than that. Which makes it all the more a pain in the ass for Theodor, who’s stuck training her after being the one to rescue her.

Production Values

Decent enough ; the aliens certainly look very freaky, and alien indeed. The show itself doesn’t go overboard with fanservice despite the design for female pilot suits it’s stuck with in this franchise… but the ED clearly milks it for maximum titillation.

Overall Impression

This is a happy surprise ; instead of being fetishized, East Germany is depicted as awful a place as it should be if you’re bothering to set a story there. The only weird bit is that they somehow have a competent army in the 1980s despite the politics being even more awful than in reality, but I take this as a genre convention.

I’m also pleasently surprised by the tone ; yes, this is quite dark indeed, but there’s a point to it, and the show is in no hurry to kill off massive amounts of main characters right off the bat for shock value (unlike Total Eclipse). Indeed, it wisely focuses on East Germany itself rather than the actual fight against the aliens, giving the characters a chance for a decent resolution of their story despite this being a prequel (after all, the aliens will still be around for the sequels).

On the other hand, it’s everything but subtle, the main characters are more than a bit annoying, and I’m just not in the mood for grimdark milSF. But hey, nice try.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 4

Dimension W

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a sci-fi manga series.


Kyoma, our protagonist. In the future, everyone has switched to the clean and unlimited “coil” power. (Cue technobable about how they’re powered through Dimension W.) But not him ! He’s one of those rare relics who keeps a gas-powered car, despite the prohibitive price of its fuel. Not because he thinks the coil monopoly of “New Tesla Energy” is shady (although it definitely is), but because he hates the technology itself, for whatever reasons. He makes a living as a bounty-hunter subcontractor, helping out NTE’s crackdown on contraband coils in the margins.

Dr Yurizaki was the scientist who invented coil technology in the first place, but had a very bad falling out with NTE. “Whole family dead” bad, so you’ll understand he has a bit of a grudge. He hides out in a decrepit building, working on his mysterious final project, by now being at the article of death (especially with his fancy pacemaker in dire need of a fresh coil).

Schumann is the new chief of NTE’s local forces (+ some history with Kyoma), and is ready to acknowledge that his highers-up screwed up in the past. But surely we can all get past that and enter a more agreeable working relationship. So no hard feelings, eh, Doctor ? Er, can you step off the ledge and not push the big red button you’re waving around madly ? Oh, crap. (Cue an EM pulse that fries everything coil-powered in half the city.)

Mira was the Doctor’s helper android, although clearly he had bigger plans for her than merely looking around for black-market coils for his pacemaker. She’s surprisingly human-like in her behaviour, to the point that it’s obvious to anyone with a bit of knowledge that only one person could have built something this expensive and complex. Kyoma captured her after they squared off for a bit and he took advantage of the pulse disabling her. After rebooting her, she desperately asks to help out on the black-market-coil crackdown… and I don’t think that’s for her maker’s health. (It’s obvious he got some new orders to her during his suicide.)

Production Values

Quite nice indeed ; there’s a lot of attention to detail so that nearly every gadget is clearly coil-powered. Also, I’m not enthused by the camera taking a disproportionate interest in Mira’s ass (especially in the ED sequence), but it could be way worse.

Overall Impression

It’s okay ? There’s nothing wrong with the execution, but it doesn’t really grab me. Mostly because Kyoma is more than a bit of a jerk, and I don’t find Mira particularly compelling as a character either. Since they’ll be carrying the show, that’s a bit on a issue.

I’m giving it another episode to change my mind, but I think my time is better spent elsewhere.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 4

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

(13 episodes, at least the first one of which is 46-minute-long)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of an award-winning josei manga set in the late Showa era (the 1970s) about rakugo performers. In case you’re not aware, rakugo is an old and codified form of Japanese theater that involves a lone actor sitting down and acting out all the characters of his chosen routine.


“Yotaro” (a nickname for a good-for-nothing in rakugo slang) used to be a lowlife and is just now getting out of jail, with nowhere to go. But he’s vowed to go straight, as he’s been touched and inspired by a rakugo act performed during his time in prison. Rakugo is now going to be he way of life, and thus to learn the trade he throws himself before…

Master Yakumo, the unrivalled 18th master of the art. He’s famous and respected enough to have thousand-place venues sell out, and his records are regularly played over the radio. At first he seems like a haughty jerk who only takes on Yotaro as an apprentice as a joke (never bothering to teach him anything), but there’s clearly more to him than that. He certainly can’t have been performing in prisons for the money. Also, he’s acutely aware that he’s not getting any younger, and the artform may die out with him. And then there’s the whole case of…

Konatsu, his ward, and the daughter of his former rival, who died in a mysterious “accident”. While the then young girl jumped to conclusions after seeing a bloodied Yakumo cradling the corpse of her father, there can be more charitable readings of that brief flashbacks. Especially as he took the young orphan in and lets a lot of her provocations go. It’s never explicitly stated, but the obvious reason why he never took an apprentice until now is because he wants HER (despite women rakugo performers not being a thing in this age), but she’s too proud to ask. Heck, taking in Yotaro can be seen as another provocation in that direction, as he won’t explicitly ask her either.

The elephant in the room is obviously Konatsu’s father. A big point here is that he had a completely different style from Yakumo’s, joyful and hilarious when the current master is colder in its precision and awesomeness. Konatsu has trained in that style in secret, and Yotaro is picking up on it thanks to her being the only one willing to help his training so far. (It may also be better suited to his natural talent, however much he admires Yakumo’s style.)

The next episode preview promises a flashback to Konatsu’s father & Yakumo training under the former master, which should both be instructive, entertaining (since it’s Yakumo narrating), and clear the air so that everyone’s character arc can progress further.

Production Values

Studio Deen has become a bit of a running joke over the last decade, with terrible adaptations marred by poor quality control. The good news is that not only do they have some proper budget for this project, but they’re also using their one good director they poached off SHAFT to do Sankarea. Now, unlike his previous show there’s nearly nothing SHAFT-like here ; it just wouldn’t fit the material.

Rakugo is a very stylised artform ; the performer can’t move too much, and is limited to a few standard props for sound effects. The whole piece must be conveyed through body language, facial expression, and masterful voice-acting as they keep switching between characters. This show manages to reproduce all of this perfectly through exactly the same means. Also, it would be all to easy to depict all the character switches through jump cuts, Smeagol/Gollum style ; that device is used with restraint, and only after the animation has taken the time to actually depict the performers switching characters.

It should also be mentioned that we’ve got veteran voice-actors at the top of their art. Akira Ishida turns one of his best performances in ages Giving the appropriate maturity and gravitas to Yakumo. Tomokazu Seki is well within his usual niche as Yotaro, but performs splendidly. And I just can’t wait to hear Yuu Kobayashi perform some actual rakugo, as she’s one of the finest comedy voice-actresses of her generation.

Overall Impression

I expected this to be very good, as a premise so off the beaten path (adult characters, in the 1970s, and all about the beauty and joy of acting) doesn’t get adapted to anime without strong source material and a will to convey it properly. I didn’t expect it to be THIS good and enthralling, to the point that it took me a while to notice how long the first episode was.

By the way, this length was the right choice to start off the adaptation. Not only does it carry the story towards a stronger catharsis, but it also gives ample room to have the characters actually perform rakugo, and show off how awesome a spectacle it can be. Yotaro gets to perform a full “Burglar Goes Straight” routine, and it’s never boring. Ditto for Yakumo’s “Vengeful Woman” skit. (And if the choice of those pieces feels a bit on-the-nose… Well, that’s obviously on purpose from the characters themselves, who put a lot of themselves into their performances and often have a point to make. Ditto for Yakumo’s offscreen performance of a “scare ’em straight” piece in prison, of course.)

This is one of the strongest starts for a show this season, with a depth, a heart and sheer quality of execution that’s to a whole other level compared to nearly everything else. I want to see more of these fascinating, pluridimensional characters and their struggle against the impeding death of their chosen artform, so I will definitely watch this to the end.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 2

Active Raid : Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit (Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei)

(12 episodes, with a second season already scheduled for Summer)

What’s it about ?

The director of Code Geass does Patlabor, basically. I.e. we’re following a dysfunctional police unit dealing with mecha-related crimes.


Asami is a teenage genius fresh off the academy (and some abroad internship) who’s tasked with “inspecting” the 8th unit. The unspoken assumption is that she’s supposed dig up enough evidence to shut down this embarassment of a squadron ; she sees it more as a personal challenge, and aims to straighten them all up by herself.

Now, at first the 8th does look like a collection of screw-ups :
– The neat freak who despises his co-workers
– The operator who’s too shy to communicate with her other than with text messages
– The petite and genial woman who turns out to be the chief, but certainly doesn’t act so
– The technician on loan from the partner mecha companies who’s way too creepy and touchy
– And of course the asshole who pickpocketed her phone on the train, and arrived late to the operation (with a bemused unrelated perp in tow)

The case of the week involves two teenagers holding up a bank with a pair of mechas (and dumb enough to tweet about it), as well as the ensuing protracted chase scene… Wait, this is way too well-planned a heist to be that simple (a drone airplane passing by just at the right time so that they can hitch a ride ?). The two mysterious people talking in riddles early on are probably involved in this.

The big idea here is that while the 8th at first look like a complete mess operating like cowboys, there’s a method to their madness, and they turn out to be surprisingly efficient as an unit considering how much they squabble. When Asami tries to school them on proper procedure, not only do they already know all this crap, but they also know how to navigate through all the cracks in the red tape and avoid the worst of political landmines. Frankly, given the insane constraints they’re under (can’t do any collateral damage / controlled blackouts HERE because a random building belongs to a prominent politician, and so on…), it’s a wonder how they can operate at all, let alone keep track of their quarries and successfully neutralize and arrest them.

Production Values

The character designs leave a bit to be desired, and that sure is a lot of stock footage for the “suit-up” scenes, but the important thing here is that the directors know how to pull off an extended chase scene with lots of twists without losing sight of clarity nor characterization. Being reunited with the Code Geass composer, who can jazz up an action sequence like nobody else, certainly helps.

Interestingly, the main bit of fanservice here is the two male leads being in speedoes for half the “suitup” sequences.

Overall Impression

Uh oh. There’s a lot to like in the concept and many of the details, but the execution doesn’t quite pull it off. It feels a bit too rushed and busy, trying to cram too much exposition and too many characters in at the same time. It’s also not helped by a very unlikeable point-of-view character ; it’s a wonder such an entitled little snot as Asami manages to be even halfway sympathetic at all. Not that the rest of the cast are much better.

And still… I could see this working, if it were to slow the heck down and leave more room for the characters to breathe. I really want to like it, and thus am willing to give it some rope, but it’s not quite there yet.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 2

Macross Delta

What’s it about ?

This is another iteration of a franchise that’s three-decade-and-a-half old at this point, but hasn’t had a proper TV series since 2007. Also, this won’t actually start until next Spring, but a “preview special” with most of the first episode aired over the holidays, so here we are.

For added fun, I’ve never actually watched any Macross ; I assume that by now there isn’t any particularly tight continuity beyond the general framework of “space opera with mecha and idol singers”, and this should be relatively accessible on its own terms. (Similarly to how Gundam reinvents itself every few years.) If not, well, it’s the show’s funeral.


Hayate, our male lead, is a slacker who’s just got fired from his slave-wage material handling job on some random backwater planet. Since this is his last day, he might as well enjoy it, and so he decides the best way to unload containers from a starship is to have his workplace mecha dance to the tune of super-famous idol unit Walkure’s greatest hits. As you do.

Freyja, our heroine, is a stowaway he finds in an apple container. She’s a HUGE Walkure fangirl and came here because there’ll be auditions for a fifth member in a week. Except she got to the wrong planet. Oops. For added fun, security forces are on edge because of random outbreaks of the “Var Syndrome” plague, which makes people suddenly go berserk and wreak havoc out of nowhere. Obviously, an illegal immigrant like Freyja is seen as a big security and sanitary risk. Cue chase scenes, with a somewhat befuddled Hayate helping her out because hey, what the hell.

As it turns out, Walkure are also undercover on this planet right now, investigating the Var outbreaks. They’re not just idol singers, but also the key members of a military unit fighting the plague off. The idol thing is way more than a cover : they’re basically magical girls fighting the plague with the Power of Song ! (With their bodyguards providing support from fighter jets and/or mechas.)

It’s obvious from the start that Freyja is indeed quickly going to become a new Walkure member, with Hayate as her bodyguard ; the preview stops just after a cliffhanger that gives a clue of how that’s going to happen. (Also, it’s plain to see that, in the same way that Walkure’s songs soothes the Var victims, it’s someone else’s song that also starts the plague in the first place.)

There are also a bunch of dudes who start bombing Walkure out of nowhere. Presumably they’re going to be explained in further episodes.

Production Values

Very good. Sure, this isn’t the entire first episode, and we’re still missing proper OP/ED sequences, but it looks great, the action sequences flow well, and the animation has tons of energy.

Also, for a series built around idol songs, it actually sounds quite good ; Walkure’s last song as the credits run is quite catchy indeed.

Overall Impression

This is an impressive start. I have no prior knowledge of the franchise, and this didn’t impede by enjoyment at all. It’s got fun characters, a fun premise, and enough energy to carry my goodwill along without breaking a sweat.

I’m totally watching this when it actually comes out, in April or something.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016

Fall 2015 capsules

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.)

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015


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.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015


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.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 2


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.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 2


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Osomatsu-kun was a 60s family-friendly gag manga which got an anime adaptation at the time, then another one in the 80s. This year would have marked the 80th anniversary of its creator, so here’s another go at it. But freshening it up for a modern audience is by all measures an uphill challenge, for reason I’ll get into just below.

You can just hear the producers behind this revival loudly shouting : CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.


So, the gimmick here is that Osomatsu is the eldest of sextuplet teenagers. And the gag was that they’re indeed all identical, with only their voices and personalities barely helping the audience to call them apart. Well, that and their really dated 60s-pop-culture-derivative catchphrases. Let’s even politely not talk about the supporting cast, a bunch of ridiculous-looking stereotypes. There’s no way modern audiences will want to watch this, right ?

But then, what are you going to do ? Stunt-cast A-rank voice-actors, the likes of Takahiro Sakurai, Hiroshi Kamiya, Jun Fukuyama & Daisuke Ono, to play the sextuplets ? Turn them into a colour-coded boys’ band attending (*snicker*) “BL Academy” ? Have them act out awful cliché personas that are wildly out of character for them ? Have the supporting cast turned into more “cool” clichés, such as the delinquents or the Awesome Rival who’s totally not the French caricature from the original show ?

This naked commercial grab is a complete disaster, as the characters end up being completely exhausted and direly long for the commercial break to come. Even the most gratuitous Attack on Titan parody ever, or downright blatantly copying famous shonen shows, can’t stop this from falling apart. It’s just… not what them, you see ?

And so the show ends with the sextuplets still grasping for an answer to their conundrum. And they’ve been at it for so long that they’re now all in their mid-20s ; which is a new status quo that should give the writers enough rope to tell new stories.

At least, they really hope so.

Production Values

Studio Pierrot have outdone themselves here. The fake-retro opener, in a B&W 4/3 format with tons of artefacts, feels true to the original show. The parody section that constitutes much of this first episode both feels true enough to work, while still having enough weirdness in the background to sell that this is all a sham. And the final designs it settles on are decent modern upgrades that feel true to the source.

Overall Impression

For the record, I don’t believe this episode is really indicative of what’ll come next ; it’s here to make a point about how anime has changed over the decades (and not always for the better), while acknowledging that just slavishly copying either what was done in the 60s or what’s popular now just wouldn’t work. It’s the writers clearly stating that nostalgia alone can’t carry the show.

It’s also absolutely hilarious from start to finish, with impeccable comedic timing, even when they have to deliver bad jokes on purpose. This is metafiction on steroids, but done really well. And since it’s a gag show, they can totally get away with it.

Now, there are worrying signs. The joke may have gotten a bit overextended to fill the whole episode ; not all of the gags land. I still can’t tell too many of the sextuplets apart. (There’s Osomatsu, the “leader” ; Choromatsu, the straight man to most of their ramblings ; and maybe Todomatsu, who’s the “youngest” one ? The others are still a bit of a blur.) And most importantly, there’s no evidence yet that the writers have solved their central quandary, i.e. how to tell modern stories with these characters without losing their soul in the process. Can this premise actually support a full season ?

But hey, this first episode was fun enough that I’m willing to give them a bit of rope to see them try.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 3