Big Order

(10 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of manga series by the same people who brought you Future Diary.


Daisy is a weird fairy/hallucination who goes around and turns random people into Orders, which basically means that they get super-powers based on whatever they were wishing for at the time. She seems to be mostly doing this for shits and giggles, as she expects to be entertained by whatever interesting things the Orders will do with their powers. And in that regard, she’s been rather disappointed by…

Eiji, our teenage protagonist, who somehow got powers so incredible that he basically wrecked the world by accident when he got them. Ten years later, the scars are still visible all around, and he’s trying to keep as low a profile as possible. Other compelling reason to never ever use his powers again : his little sister is in the hospital because of his past outburst (and his inner monologue makes it sound like she’s barely got six months to live).

Rin is the pretty new transfer student into Eiji’s class, but of course that’s just a front, because it wouldn’t be a Sakae Esuno story without a sadistic redhead stalking the protagonist and being very creepy indeed. She’s an assassin nominally working for a secret council of weirdoes supposedly running what’s left of the world, and tasked with tracking Eiji down. Of course, since her parents died in the catastrophe, she quickly ditches her recon job and goes straight for the kill. Also, she’s an Order with regenerative powers, so she’s basically immortal.

Eiji spends most of the episode whining and panicking, but Rin straight out stabbing his little sister is the straw that broke the camel back. Together with Daisy putting a big range limiter on his ability (so that he can use it without risk of wrecking the whole world), this spurs him into fighting back. Especially as Daisy clarifies that his power isn’t actually to break stuff. He’s really a reality warper, able to bend the world (and people) around him to his will. (With a range now limited to at best the size of a building.) See, his wish as a kid was patterned after his favourite cartoon character, who was about conquering the world for its own good. So hey, Eiji might as well go and conquer the world… starting with the council of assholes who went after him. And Rin is his first draftee, whether she wants it or not.

Production Values

On the one hand, this is very raw looking indeed ; studio Asread isn’t known for producing polished shows, and this is the case here too. On the other hand, there are some great visuals for the initial catastrophic event, with the world just getting broken and fractured in a very unsettling way.

What did I think of it ?

This was certainly a very rough start. The episode spends most of its runtime being miserable and without much direction, spending more effort on histrionics than coherent storytelling. But it all comes together with the final reveal, which gives its protagonist a much-needed agenda, interesting powers that he’s already using creatively (lol at Rin healing Eiji’s little sister without even noticing it for a while – “Wait, why the heck am I doing this ?”), and dynamics with his supporting cast that promise to be fascinating.

This show is of course very derivative of something like, say, Death Note, but there’s enough energy and ideas here to keep it fresh. I’m willing to watch where it goes for a while.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 6

My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The latest adaptation of a Weekly Shonen Jump manga series, this time around centered about a superhero high-school.


The big idea of the setting is that from a given point, most people started being born with superpowers ; we’re now (at least) in the fifth generation, and 80% of the general population has powers. Only a minority become actual superheroes (or villains), of course, but it’s obviously the preferred career choice for kids growing up, to the point that the elite UA school, which apparently has this as its main focus, has become a dream for many.

Enter Midoriya, our pointy-haired protagonist. He’s a rare kid who seemingly doesn’t have any powers, and is thus the bullied laughingstock of his middle school. That doesn’t stop him from dreaming and applying to UA anyway, though. And he’s a complete fanboy about superheroes, and keeps comprehensive notes about all those he’s encountered. His true idol, though, is…

All Might, one of the top and most famous superheroes around. Midoriya has been obsessing about the Youtube vids of his exploits for at least a decade. When he finally does get to meet him in person, there’s something not quite right, though. (Not that our kid notices.) At the very least, he’s hiding some health issues (how long has he been operating, anyway ?).

Bakugou is a kid who’s been bullying Midoriya for years, although I don’t think we quite get to see what his powers are yet. He’s the only other person in his class who’s set his sights as high as UA, and takes the powerless dweeb aiming at it too as a personal insult. In short, he’s a complete asshole ; but at least he’s a moderately entertaining one.

The opening credits features tons of clips of various superpowered people, who will presumably be introduced properly when the story actually gets to our hero and his rival entering UA.

Production Values

Quite good ; the superheroing action looks fine, and the character designs are striking enough to get the “bigger-than-life” feel the story requires. On the other hand, I’m less fond of some scenes getting a dark filter that muddies up what’s happening for no good effect.

What did I think of it ?

Eh. This has the misfortune of coming hot on the heels of One Punch Man, which built itself off similar concepts but in more striking ways. Here, it looks like we’re going into a well-trodden school setting instead, and the generic earnest Jump protagonist is already getting on my nerves.

I’m giving it a second episode, but it really needs to pick up the pace and sell me on the actual Hero Academy before I lose my patience.

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

Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Wait, you thought you could have an anime season without the gratuitous fanservice-ladden boobfest ?

There are a couple of upcoming videogames tying in with this, but with different narrative focus ; this is basically its own thing.


Tokonome was an ordinary girl with merely an unfortunate surname (it can also be read as “Virgin”) until she got snatched by MIBs and stranded on a mysterious island where people keep attacking her. Or assaulting her.

It quickly becomes clear that the place is a gathering place/academy for super-powered girls. Half of them are “Exsters”, who turn into weapons when aroused ; and the others are Liberators, who do the arousing and can wield them. And they gang up on the newbie as a way to test her strength.

This is actually way more organized than it sounds ; the women supervising the whole island set up the whole thing, and there’s even betting between the numerous bystanders over who will win.

A Mysterious Girl shows up just after our heroine (wait, were they all sent by missiles ?), and they quickly partner up. Unlike Tokonome, she actually has a clue about their abilities and what’s going on ; she forces Tokonome to transform so that they can handle the S-M duo sent against them. Also, she’s so stoic and silent that her finally actually speaking in the last scene of the episode is quite the shock.

Production Values

Of course it’s studio Arms at the wheel ; and this is even more softcore-porny than their average, with exposed boobies, clothing damage that barely covers the crotch, and onscreen lesbian sex. Also, nobody seems to be wearing a bra.

Overall Impression

On the one hand, props to the writers for putting a bit of thought to their excuse plot, which is way more elaborate than necessary. On the other hand, this is still crap, with annoying main characters, even more annoying antagonists, and a deep sense of unease throughout that makes this feel very unarousing indeed.

One episode was well enough, thank you.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 4


(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Oh, it’s our old pal Jun Maeda of Key, once again collaborating with studio PA Works to produce something that’s not an adaptation of his visual novels ! And we’re clearly closer to Angel Beats territory than the likes of Clannad, as it’s all about the madcap comedy and looks very unlikely to go too much into melodramatic tragedy.


Yuu, our protagonist, has got a limited but surprisingly useful superpower : he can possess the body of anyone in his line of sight (with his own body slunking down in the meantime) for a maximum of 5 minutes seconds. He takes advantage of it to cheat at exams, get into the best high school of the country, and woo the prettiest girl there. He barely has the self-control to avoid mwahahah-ing all over the place. He’s a despicable sleazeball, but quite an entertaining one.

Nao is the student council president from another school altogether who gathers enough evidence to blackmail him into transfering there. (Her own “invisible to one person” power makes it rather easy.) She’s made a personal mission to gather all the super-powered teenagers causing mischief, and enrols Yuu into her crusade. His power should make it quite useful indeed.

Takajou, the stern vice-president, has harnessed his own limited teleportation powers to become quite good in a fight, so it’s not like Yuu can escape.

To complete the humiliation, Yumi, the pretty girl he had wooed, makes it pretty clear she has no wish to pursue him halfway through the country if he can’t give an explanation, and dumps him.

The one person who is happy about the sudden transfer is Ayu, Yuu’s younger sister, who’s excited about getting into a new school too. To his great displeasure, she hits it off immediately with Nao.

Production Values

Very nice indeed ; you can always rely on studio PA Works to provide scenery porn and an impressive attention to detail with body language. Given Yuu’s power, the latter is key to selling the jokes.

Overall Impression

I always approach Maeda’s works with trepidation, as his penchant towards contrived melodrama can be a bit tiring. So I was quite glad to see this seems to be nearly entirely drama-free, instead focusing on his other strength : very well-timed absurdist comedy. This is filled with laugh-out-loud moments, and I’ve enjoyed it from start to finish.

If it can sustain this level of energy for the whole season, then this could be one of the funniest shows of Summer.

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

#41 : Sci-Fi Harry

(20 episodes)

What’s it about ?

More paranoid sci-fi ! Adapted from a short 1995 manga series.


Harry, our title character, is a complete loser. The somewhat nerdy guy at the bottom of the feeding chain in American highschool. And it’s not like he has a winning personality to compensate ; he’s the shy dude in the corner who’s a smoldering little ball of resentment and anger.

Catherine, one of the popular girls, has caught his eye… not that he’d ever act on it. She’s way out of his league, with one of the jocks being her kinda boyfriend. What’s more intriguing is that she actually seems to have some interest in the geek (to the bemusement of her “friends”).

John, said boyfriend, seems to be a decent guy. He stops some of his teammates from beating Harry up after he messed up during basketball practice, and he’s genuinely worried for Catherine after a bunch of hoodlums steal his car (with her still waiting for him inside).

What saves her from being raped and murdered, though, is Harry stumbling on them… and having some emerging telekinetic powers he can’t really control. Harry is terrified by the state he leaves the assholes in ; Catherine is fascinated.

There’s no way this can end well.

Oh, and there’s a couple of cops investigating a number of bizarre murders in the neighbourhood that look suspiciously like Harry’s latest outburst. Wait, had Harry’s power incontinence already killed a few random people, or are there other people like him roaming around ? Neither option sounds good…

Production Values

Grey ! Brown ! Because we can’t do paranoid sci-fi without drowning in murk, right ?

Points for the character designer going out of their way to make everyone look American, though.

Overall Impression

How do you manage to make a 20-episode anime series out of a 1-volume manga ? By stretching it out a lot, apparently ; this is far for swiftly paced, and it looks like it’s only going to get worse from now on. Still, at least this allows the show to lay out the atmosphere very thick, and on that level it succeeds. This is creepy and unpleasant, as it should be.

I’m tentatively curious enough to continue watching at some point.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 12

#11 : Gate Keepers

(24 episodes)

What’s it about ?

This adapts a Playstation RPG videogame. The overall plotline is classic “vaguely governmental agency recruits superpowered teens to fend off alien invasion” fare, with the oddity that it’s set in 1969, with Japan still busy rebuilding itself after WWII.


Shun, our protagonist, is your typical teenage hothead, angry at his dad for getting himself killed and leaving Mom with a serious case of depression and two brats to feed. Aside from that, he’s quite a decent dude, getting on well with the supportive neighbours. He’s the kind of guy who refuses a place on the kendo team (and the potential scholarship attached) because he’s rather start working part-time right now and put some food on the family table. On the other hand, he instantly loses points for constantly comparing his life to a sports manga. (Which is too cute to be funny the first time around, and gets more aggravating as it goes on).

Ruriko is the first superpowered teenage agent of A.E.G.I.S. (the good guys), but they hope to recruit more down the line. Her core powers involve healing, but as that’s not enough she can also channel them to fire white arrows of death at the enemy. Her mission here is to escort a bus transporting some big macguffin, and of course it goes sideways just as Shun happens to be passing by. Obviously he had dormant powers, and after she kickstarts them he’s able to destroy the immediate threat. (Also, he then realizes they were neighbours ten years ago, because what’s one more gratuitous plot contrivance at this point ?)

I’m not really sure how the logistics of the alien invasion work out. Apparently they’ve infiltrated every layer of society and are ALL THE ASSHOLES ? (The punk harassing honest business-owners, the boss firing his secretary after having his fun, and so on…) But then they all go out in bright daylight, transform, and combine into a massive black ball of weaponry that attacks the goodies ? The heck ?

The OP & ED sequences showcase a few more members of this nascent teenage brigade, but they’ve yet to show up. This first episode is busy enough already, after all.

Production Values

Unfortunately, this is a production which lacks the budget (and maybe the visual creativity) to support its ambition. Everything looks slightly too cheaply animated, and way too often the director substitutes a dutch angle or a random close-up on eyes for actual movement. (And not in the aesthetically pleasing way Akiyuki Shinbo has become famous for.)

And of course, a good chunk of the character designs (especially Ruriko’s “modern” student uniform) look completely out of place for what starts as a period piece.

Overall Impression

I think I can see what this is going for. Rather than taking itself seriously, it’s a madcap romp that keeps upping the batshit insanity. Of course none of this makes any sense ; who needs coherence when the good guys have a tourist bus (with their elite field agent as the guide) that can convert into a super-armoured tank, chased by a big ball of combined aliens ? This is stream-of-consciousness delirium.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t click for me. Part of it is the clash between the madness and the relatively grounded world surrounding Shun at the start ; the show can’t quite pull off the contrast. Indeed, the set pieces often feel like they’re missing the design sense needed to really bring them to life. And then, there’s the protagonist who actively drags my enjoyment down whenever he shows up.

As a concept, nice try ; too bad the execution is so lacking, and discouraging me from pursuing it any further.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 2

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a series of comedy light novels.


Jurai, our male lead, is the most annoying member of the high school literature club. The neighbours are complaining all the time of the screaming over his chuunibyou antics. Seriously, could he give it a rest ? It’s not like he’s going to manifest actual super-powers… wait, what’s that thing in his hand ?

Six months later, the various members of the clubs have gotten the hang of their newfound superpowers (and are baffled as Andou keeps providing commentary to the camera). Of course, they provide semi-ironic contrast with their personalities :
– Tomoyo, the tomboy, got time-stop/modulation powers ;
– Hatoko, the wallflower, got summoning and manipulation of the major elements (water, fire, wind, etc.) ;
– Chifuyu, the unexplained elementary student, got broad “creation” powers (and if I got it right, her plushtoy allows her to teleport) ;
– Sayumi, the black-belt and wilful club president, got vague “healing” powers ;
– As for Jurai, he got the ability to summon a small ball of shadow… which everyone points out has no practical use whatsoever.

Mirei, the student council president, is snooping around ; everyone assumes she’s just investigating the noise complaints (which have gotten even worse now that they’re fooling around with their powers), but Jurai, as chuunibyou as ever, is convinced that she’s a spy trying to chart out their powers. Amazingly, he’s right !

I hope I’m not supposed to take the dude purportedly orchestrating Mirei’s actions from afar seriously, because darn does his hanging upside down from a tree make him look stupid.

Production Values

Don’t expect any of studio Trigger’s distinctiveness ; this is a very generic-looking anime indeed. But it’s decently done enough ; it sells the powers as impressive enough, and it’s got good comedic timing. (The music is particularly good at emphasizing and deflating Jurai’s chuunibyou rants.)
Surprisingly, the fanservice level is relatively tame.

Overall Impression

Hey, this is actually quite funny ! There’s quite some mileage to the joke of those bozos getting superpowers and carrying on their regular activities regardless. And it makes really good use of its obnoxious male lead to convey exposition. Since he’s the butt of most of the jokes, he’s way more bearable than you’d expect at first.

I wonder how long the joke can keep going without being bogged down by an actual plot (as it’s part of the premise that nothing is taken seriously), but for now it’s quite entertaining.

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

Tokyo ESP

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a manga series about mutants ESPer terrorists trying to take over Japan.


The Brotherhood of Evil Espers have launched an attack against Tokyo, which involves multiple bombing and stuff like stealing the Diet. You know, the whole building housing the Parliament. (And obviously that makes a lot of hostages.) The Doctor, our Magneto figure, has illusion powers ; his right-hand-woman teleports around, which makes her swords even deadlier. They have various other members in the building and on the ground.

The authorities’ reaction is rather lackluster. All those tanks deployed everywhere beforehand ? Completely useless. The attempts to parachute special forces onto the flying Diet ? The copter can’t even get close enough. Section Four of the Anti-Esper forces are the only one shown as remotely badass (yay bike-fu !), and they can barely manage a fragile draw against one esper.

It’s thus not surprising that most people are pining their hopes on the return of the White Girl, who apparently showed up in previous crises to save the day. It’s just too bad that the anti-Esper ban covers her too. But come on, like that’s going to stop her.

The episode does a good job of building suspense around her arrival. Instead, most of it is devoted to her band of usual associates stepping up to help out, however little they can. (It’s not like the psychometric and precognitive kids can go hand-to-hand against the baddies.) They haven’t been in contact with her, but surely she’s coming any moment now, right ?

This is apparently set in the same universe as Ga-Rei: Zero, and its heroines have a gratuitous cameo right before the shit hits the fan. I’ve not watched that series, but their one minute of interaction and the overall writing quality at play here have bumped up my list.

Production Values

Very impressive. A lot of budget is spent on making the superpowers look cool, and it shows. (They really didn’t need to make the teleporting effects look so elaborate, but I’m glad they did.) It’s a big spectacle show, and it delivers.

Unfortunately, this is also the kind of world where super-powered women have their suits’ zippers down to their navel for no good reason. Oh, well.

Overall Impression

Well, that was fun. It’s not exactly high art, but it’s well-filmed superheroics with some strong atmosphere and a decently-rounded cast. Good soundtrack, too. Sometimes it gets a bit too stupid for its own good (lol the normal dude who wields two guns at once, like that ever works), but most of the time it looks cool enough to get away with it.

I’m game for this.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014 – Page 5.

Soul Eater Not!

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a spin-off manga from Soul Eater. Not that the original series is required reading/watching : the premise is reintroduced from scratch, it focuses on new characters, and this seems to be set around the start of the main story anyway.


Tsugumi, a girl who discovers she’s a weapon. So she goes to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning Death Weapon Meister Academy, where she can learn to control her newfound abilities and save the world. Sure, Death City and the academy are quite overwhelming as places, but she’ll be fine, eh ?

Meme, a weird girl who seems to have memory issues. She’s on track to become a “meister” (the people who wield the weapon-people, with totally no sexual subtext whatsoever to their teaming-up, no siree). She’s nearly immediately assaulted in the corridors by a couple of sleazy assholes ; Tsugumi, who had befriended her a bit, finds her resolve and runs back to help her.

Anya, a rich/noble girl who’s come to study as a meister and mingle with the plebeians. She can’t overlook the attack against Meme, so she offers to wield Tsugumi and get rid of the two jerks. They make a pretty good combo… which is a bit awkward, as Meme wants to partner up with Tsugumi too. That’s not the kind of triangle she was expecting to be in the middle of…

A good chunk of the original series’ cast drop in to make cameos. Of most significance : Maka, as the experienced upperclassman Tsugumi takes for a role model, and Pr Sid, who presides over the welcome course.

Production Values

It’s studio Bones, so of course it looks nice and the action sequences are impeccable, but as a whole it looks much more generic and ordinary than the Burton-esque original series. The jerk sun is still around, but it looks a bit alone. It’s especially weird as the plot still calls for demented designs – there’s a dude who can turn anything but his head into a knife !

Also, no more Taku Iwasaki music. The replacement’s not bad, but it’s just not the same.

Overall Impression

This is a nice angle for a spin-off ; the original series never really bothered with world-building, rarely giving any sense of how DWMA was supposed to work and fit into the world. Here it’s front and center, free from the constraints of any wider plot. I already get a much better understanding of DWMA than I ever did before ! (Like, that Death City is supposed to be in America.) And the new main characters form a good framework to explore all of this.

I’m on board.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 6.

Black Bullet

(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel set in a semi-apocalyptic future where super-powered teenagers are the main defense against a virus that transforms people into monsters.


Rentaro, our male lead. A badass fighter, his guns are loaded with bullets made of the rare metal that harms monsters. (Hence the title. How can he afford these ?) He’s part of one of the many small private companies that sell their anti-monster service to the authorities (who are otherwise complete redshirts).

Enju, his partner, looks 10 at best. The idea here is that she’s one of the “cursed children”, who got partially infected by the virus but resisted it enough (thanks to a heavy drug administration) that they can live a relatively normal life, and then more : they’ve got super-strength and are able to destroy the monsters at hand-to-hand combat. Aside from that, she’s an annoying brat with a crush on Rentaro.

Kisara, the head of the company, and his obvious love interest. Have I mentioned yet they’re both still attending high school ? (This is a very relaxed apocalypse indeed.)

The cast is rounded out by a creepy professor doing lab work in the basement. I don’t want to know what she’s cooking.

Oh, and then there’s Mysterious Masked Dude, who lurks around being ominously amoral.

Production Values

This is an action show, and the fights have some good animation indeed.

Overall Impression

This is quite competent on a scene-by-scene basis, but as a whole it doesn’t quite click for me. Is is the bizarre juxtaposition of the horror-style virus apocalypse and the mundane lifestyle of the protagonists ? Some of the characters being very annoying ? The clumsy exposition that’s often completely out of place ?

It hasn’t managed to make me care about these people. I’m not giving it another episode to change my mind.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 6.