Myriad Colors Phantom World (Musaigen no Phantom World)

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Already our first “magic school” light novel adaptation ? Well, at least its premise is introduced by an actual fun infodump (followed by a less fun and kinda unneeded second one, unfortunately) : you know how our eyes are tricked by optical illusions. Well, imagine a world where people’s eyes were readjusted by a random global accident that allows them to see all the “phantoms” they couldn’t see yet. Oh, and the teenagers born since then can even fight them, because this is a battle anime of course.


Haruhiko, our male protagonist and point-of-view character, is the kind of super-nerd who feels the need to exposit at length about the setting to random classmates who already know all this stuff. In other words, supremely annoying. He takes part in after-school phantom-hunting activities to bring a bit of dough in, but he’s not too good at it. He’s partnered with…

Mai, who’s a very good if messy phantom fighter. It’s just a shame that her casting magic involves massaging her own body. Also, any of the bounties they’d win are negated by her tendency to leave off massive collateral damage on her path.

Reina is a random shy and reserved classmate Haruhiko befriends after he sees her eating messily a whole bunch of phantoms at once. Mai is all for including her in… and at this stage, you can agree with her wondering what Haruhiko even brings to the team anymore.

Ruru is a cute little phantom girl Haruhiko has befriended/tamed. She doesn’t actually do that much besides being a bit obnoxious.

There’s another girl stomping off the activities room in a huff, and she’s featured prominently enough in the credits that she’s probably joining the team soon.

Production Values

Oh, dear. You can tell that KyoAni took delight in animating the shit out of that three-minute exposition sequence at the beginning that explores in a visually appealing way the high concept behind the series, because after that their talent is wasted on way too detailed shots of Mai’s torso as she casts her magic. Urgh.

Overall Impression

Presumably you know by now that any show in the “magic battle school” genre faces an uphill battle with me. This one hurts its case by starting semi-promisingly and then falling off a cliff into the same tired old clichés, bothersome exposition, and creepy fanservice. It’s also self-aware enough to make it worse.

Urgh, I’ll pass. I have no time for this crap.

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

Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Euphonium)

(12ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

No, this isn’t KyoAni revisiting their past glory of K-On!. After all, instead of a slapstick 4-panel manga, it adapts a novel featuring what looks like a “save our club” dramatic storyline.


Kumiko, our heroine, used to play the euphonium (a sort of smaller tuba) in her middle-school’s brass band club, but she’s more ambivalent about it right now. For one, she’s clearly trying a bit too hard to reinvent herself for her high-school debut. For two, this school’s band club sucks. And for three, she kinda wants to avoid the likes of…

Reina (trumpet), one of the most serious members of her middle school’s brass band club, and the one most broken up by the club narrowly failing to qualify for the national gold prize. Things got a bit awkward between her and Kumiko after the latter blurted out the wrong thing while trying to console the former. Anyway, for some reason she’s in this mediocre high school too (despite Kumiko thinking she could have aimed for better), and she joined the band club in a heartbeat.

That Shuuichi (trombone), Kumiko’s childhood friend with whom she just had a nasty break-up (despite him trying to play it like nothing happened), also joined the club doesn’t help. She really doesn’t want to revisit that drama.

What changes her mind are her new friends : Sapphire Midori (contrabass), who hates her embarrassing name, and Hazuki (an enthusiastic newbie who’s apparently going to take up playing the tuba). Both of them manage to remind her enough of her initial enthusiasm at playing an instrument to convince her to give the band club a try.

There’s a dude wandering awkwardly while listening to music in a few scenes that have no connection with anything else (aside from him having the same taste in music as Kumiko) ; I presume he’s going to be the club’s new advisor or something.

Production Values

It’s KyoAni ; of course it looks gorgeous, with impressive attention to detail. No shortcuts while showing people playing music here. And hey, brass band music is awesome.

Overall Impression

Well, it’s the tried and true “Save Our Club” formula, mixed with a strong narrative focus on Kumiko herself. There’s nothing wrong with that, and she does come off as having some hidden depths, but it’s not exactly earth-shaking either. It’s perfectly okay and watchable, but that’s it.

On the other hand, I like this kind of music, and it’s not like there’s anything else to watch on Tuesdays, so I’m probably going to stick with it.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2015 – Page 3.

Amagi Brilliant Park

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of the latest light novel series by the creator of Full Metal Panic!. Think Fumoffu more than the Second Raid, though.


Kanie, our protagonist, is an obnoxious narcissistic dick, and I’m sure that name is a coincidence. The late reveal of him being a former child actor explains it a bit, though.

Isuzu is a girl from his high school who invited him to the titular theme park. At gunpoint. (Where the heck does she pull those rifles from, anyway ?) Her having done plenty of “research” on him isn’t creepy at all, either.

Amagi Brilliant Park has seen better days. Most of the attractions are either dilapidated, lame, dangerous, or all of these at once. The staff are bored or at times even hostile to customers. A mascot is described as “a walking copyright infringement”. (It looks like Bonta-kun.) Honestly, the love hotel next door looks more fun and family-friendly.

Latifa, the park’s manager, eventually explains it all to Kanie : they want him to bring the park back to solvency. It’s not particularly clear yet why him in particular, although he’s been there when he was younger (cue disparate flashbacks of him meeting Latifa then), and he’s clearly by now more upset by the state the park’s in than by Isuzu forcing him to come here.

And then comes the actual twist : Isuzu’s regular assertions that Amagi is a place inhabited by magic creatures aren’t keyfabe. They’re really refugees from a magic world. (Which certainly explains why Latifa doesn’t seem to have aged a day in 10 years, or how Isuzu can pull those guns out from nowhere.) And they really don’t want to end on the street. So, help them, please ? Latifa’s even giving him a bit of magic as a goodwill gift.

Production Values

As you’d expect from Kyoto Animation, this is teaming with funny background events and attention to detail. Only them could make the park look this crappy in such an all-too-realistic way.

Overall Impression

The good news : the central joke is very well-executed. There’s something about Isuzu deadpanly reciting the attraction descriptions (in sharp contrast with their decrepitude) that just never stops being funny. The final reveal makes it even more hilarious.

It’s a fun premise, and I’m always up for work-coms. I’m thoroughly sold.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2014 – Page 4.

Beyond the Horizon (Kyoukai no Kanata)

(13ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

Self-aware urban fantasy.
Very obviously adapted from a light novel series (if you’re familiar with the tropes).


Akihito, our protagonist. He tries his hand at Kyon-style sarcastic narration, but doesn’t quite have the charisma to pull it off. And I can’t quite call him a generic high school student, since we learn very quickly the twist : he’s immortal, due to being half-demon.

Mirai, a new student at his school. He first meets her as she’s about to commit suicide… wait, no, that’s just a trap to lure him in so that she can stab him with her blood-sword. She’s the last heir of a demon-hunting clan with that special technique, you see. She tries again several times in the following days. He’d very much like her to stop : it doesn’t work, but it still hurts like hell. Especially as he’d find her cute if not for the stabbing thing.

Misaki, the other member of the Literature club besides him. Also the heir of the local demon-hunting group, who have an understanding with him and instead focus on the people-possessing demons who actually do some real damage. They also seem to include one of their teachers. Anyway, they don’t see the new troublemaker’s arrival with a good eye.

Production Values

It’s KyoAni : of course it’s gorgeously animated.

Overall Impression

Am I so jaded that I have a hard time enjoying any of this ?

Part of the problem is that it often feels like the main characters suffer from acute chuunibyou. Yes, the supernatural stuff is real, but it feels so off-the-shelf and generic that it’s hard to get too invested in it. The constant snark and self-awareness doesn’t help one bit : sure, it’s mildly funny, but it completely undercuts any gravitas the plot might have.

I’ll give it one more episode to try and make me care, but it’s not off to a good start.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 4.

FREE! – Iwatobi Swim Club

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Sports show about FREESTYLE SWIMMING ! Well, whenever they actually get around to restarting the swimming club, presumably.


Haruka, our lead character. Utterly obsessed with swimming, to the point of wearing a swimsuit (and often not much else) at all times. Unfortunately, his current high school doesn’t have a functional pool, let alone a swimming club. And it’s too cold to dive into the ocean yet. Not that he’s got much competition drive at this point, anyway. If only he got some spark…

Makoto, his best friend from way back. The kind of childhood friend that’s totally comfortable with entering his house, finding him in his bath, and gently scolding him for being late. It’s pretty obvious that Haruka is mostly ignoring him, but Makoto can’t take the hint. He’s the guy who acts as a straight man in all conversations.

Nagisa, who used to be in the same swimming club back in elementary school, and only just came back in town, joining the same high school. He’s kinda miffed that his old friends aren’t doing any competition swimming anymore, but as the enthusiastic one he doesn’t let that stop him from convincing the two others to break into their old (abandoned) elementary school at night so that they can retrieve the trophy they had left in a time capsule.

Rin, formerly the fourth member of their relay team and Haruka’s rival ; he’s just come back from Australia, but has enrolled into the super-elite school nearby with the top-class swimming club. His mere reappearance (checking in on the buried trophy too) is enough to start reigniting Haruka’s competitive drive.

Gou, Rin’s sister, is in the three others’ high school too. She doesn’t seem to be very close to her brother, and I highly suspect she’s going to be their inevitable swimming club’s manager or something. (Also, in keeping with the running joke that all the boys have girl-ish names, she has a boy-ish one.)

Their new homeroom teacher is presumably going to be important too (club advisor, most probably), as a point is made to mention that teaching was her second-choice career. Three guesses what she tried to do before that, and the first two don’t count.

Production Values

This features KyoAni’s usual attention to detail regarding backgrounds and animation of body language… which in this case means much focus on those young muscled, supple half-naked bodies. But hey, it’s not that much different from your usual testosterone-ladden sports show.

Speaking of testosterone, I love the ridiculously gung-ho rap tunes that start playing whenever Haruka & Rin are in the same room.

Overall Impression

The question was on everyone’s mind after those trailers : is this just trolling, or is there a proper show in there beyond the homoerotic subtext ? Well, the good news is that this does have a perfectly serviceable premise… but it doesn’t rise much above the sea of clichés inherent to the genre. It also has no subtlety whatsoever. (The naming joke mentioned above is spelt out explicitly, for example.)

But hey, I have a weakness for sports shows, and I have no problem watching one that’s in about the same league as, say, Kuroko’s Basketball. (Well, a bit prettier, maybe.) I’m probably going to keep with it, although I really don’t expect it to be great.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013 – Page 2.

Tamako Market

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The local shopping district is awesome ! Also, a talking chicken.


Tamako, high school girl and heir to the mochi bakery. Energetic, a bit clumsy and well-liked in the neighbourhood.

Mochizou, her childhood friend and heir to the rival store next door. Very self-conscious about being friend-zoned.

Dera, an obnoxious talking bird who shows out of nowhere and sticks around at Tamako’s household. Supposedly he’s looking for a princess or something, but the mochi are so good he quickly forgets about that mission. Not that he can even fly anymore at this point, anyway.

The cast is rounded up by Tamako’s friends (the carpenter’s daughter, etc.) and the colourful other shop owners. (Wait, is the florist supposed to be trans ?)

Production Values

Very nice, although KyoAni went for the cuteness overload even more than usual.

What did I think of it ?

Well, I wasn’t quite expecting this. Obviously the talking chicken sticks out like a sore thumb, although most characters take this supernatural element in stride after a brief moment of WTF. This is a very cheerful series indeed, with even the neighbour squabbling being in good fun.

I’m not sure the joke really works, though. Sure, it brings a smile, but some of the early transitions are jarring and I’m not sure how this premise can support 11 more episodes. Still, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and time for it to find its legs.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 5.

Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date! (Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Chuunibyou : a syndrome in which middle-schoolers with an overactive imagination act out a fantasy life, which wrecks most of their chances at a social life as their classmates have no time for those antics and shunning them. Apparently it’s a thing in Japan.


Togashi, our protagonist, used to think of himself as the DARK FLAME MASTER (cue Jun Fukuyama doing his Zero voice). He’s now thoroughly embarrassed by this, and trying his best to distance himself away from it. This includes entering a high-school quite away from his home just so that he can avoid anyone who knew him in middle school, and make a fresh start.

Unfortunately, Takanashi, his new neighbour, is still very much in this phase. He’s dismayed to discover she’s in his class, has found out about his dark secret (not that he’s much good at hiding it), and seems stuck to him whether he likes it or not.

Also introduced this episode without much development : the Togashi family (mother apparently working a lot, two little sisters) ; the mandatory lecherous new best friend ; a homeroom teacher who’s happy to rely on Togashi to deal with Takanashi ; and the perfect class representative who’s probably hiding something.

Production Values

Standard KyoAni fare, although in their lower range : good animation and attention to detail. (When Takanashi’s antics make a cupboard half-fall, it stays that way the whole scene.)

There’s a show within the show that shows up here and there, including taking over the ED ; it’s a cute parody of the kind of angsty nonsense those kids are obviously riffing off.

What did I think of it ?

The “guy takes care of a socially-inept girl” subgenre is always fraught with peril and unfortunate implications, but KyoAni dodge most of that minefield by focusing first and foremost on its protagonist, making it clear that he was suffering from the same problem mere months ago (and that he’s not entirely over it yet). It helps that they’ve got Jun Fukuyama, a voice actor with enough talent and charisma to sell every aspect of the character.

Obviously the topic at hand can be a sore one for the geek audience, but it’s to this show’s credit that it’s not really patronizing or insulting. It pokes fun at its characters without mocking them, which is a tricky balance to achieve. So far, so good.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2012 – Page 2.

Hyouka – You can’t escape

(21 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A high school detective club.


Houtarou, our protagonist. He’s usually a partisan of minimum effort, but here he strong-armed by his sister (an alumni of this same high school) into reopening the “Classics Club”, which had no members left. He’s actually quite a clever guy once you get to know him (if you’re not rebuked by his unwillingness to do anything unnecessary).

Satoshi, his best friend for years. He’s very obviously the exposition guy, and relishes in it (calling himself with pride “a database of useless knowledge” at one point). He’s not above starting rumors on his own, either.

Chitanda, a girl they found in the clubroom, and who’s very interested in it. (And so, Houtarou immediately dumps the presidency onto her.) She’s fascinated by mundane mysteries, school urban legends and the like. She’s a bit gullible, to say the least.

Whatever the club is actually about (it apparently has something of a reputation), they never get around to going into any Classic Litterature in this episode ; instead they obsess over several of the most low-key and low-stakes mysteries I’ve ever witnessed. Although it’s mostly an excuse to showcase each character’s personality.

Production Values

You can tell this is a Kyoto Animation production : the animation is wonderfully fluid, and there’s a marvellous attention to detail in the body language and the backgrounds ; every single walk-on extra feel like they have a personality and a story of their own. (Witness in the opening scene that dude desperately trying to do some homework in the deserted classroom and getting progressively more annoyed at Houtaru and Satoshi talking so loudly behind him !)

This isn’t the most visually creative show of the season (aside from that fun little “mystery of the door” sequence and the random fantasy scenes “demonstrating” Houtarou and Chitanda’s chemistry), but it certainly has the best production values by far. (Yes, better than Fate/Zero.)

I’m not a fan of the soundtrack yet, but I could see it grow on me.

Overall Impression

In any other hands, this would have been a forgettable low-key mystery show. But the impressive care put into every single detail pays off at the end, when Houtarou gets to display some impressive sleuthing skills in a way that takes advantage of those details and is perfectly in line with his stated philosophy. And the solution to the “phantom club” mystery is a strong enough piece of writing to make me trust this is going somewhere. (I’m not spoiling it, because I loved getting surprised by it.) Also, I’m now sold on Houtarou (Yuuichi Nakamura is impeccable as always).

I’m definitely going to follow this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2012 – Page 15.

My Ordinary Life (Nichijou)

(26-ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

High school slice-of-life surreal comedy.


Mio, the blue-haired “central” character. A bit of a straight man to everyone else.

Yuuko, our Tomo clone. Loud, obnoxious and clumsy.

Mai, the quiet glasses girl, who gets to do outrageous things as punchlines.

Hakase, whom we only ever see at home with her long-suffering robot servant Nano. You can tell Nano is a robot thanks to the huge winding key sticking out of her back. (Not that it serves any actual practical purpose – Hakase put it there because she’s a jerk.)

A couple other girls and teachers show up, but I’ve already forgotten about them.

Production Values

Very disappointing for a KyoAni series. “Minimalistic” would be the charitable way to put it.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. A comedy series that is barely funny at all.

Now, I did laugh a bit to Mai’s hijinks and most of the Nino/Hakase scenes. But there’s a lot here that I just didn’t care for.

(If I really wanted to be mean, I’d say that this is KyoAni trying their hand at the surreal SHAFT-ish comedy… and completely failing. But that’d probably be a bit unfair.)

I’ll probably try one or two more episodes to see if it gels together, but I’m not optimistic (and this is a busy season anyway). I’ve watched the OVA, and it’s basically more of the same.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011.