vampiresmechaShow by RockSailor Moon
Anime 1st episodes 2016: S
Including: Sailor Moon Crystal: Death Busters, Scared Rider Xechs, Schwarzesmarken, Scorching Ping-Pong Girls, Sekkou Boys, Sengoku Choujuu Giga, Servamp, The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War, She and Her Cat: Everything Flows, Shelter, Shin Atashinchi, Shounen Ashibe GO! GO! Goma-chan, Shounen Maid, Show By Rock!! Short!!, Show by Rock!!# Season Two, A Simple Thinking About Blood Type, Snow White with the Red Hair: Season 2, Soul Buster, Sound! Euphonium 2, Space Patrol Luluco, Super Lovers, Sushi Police, Sweetness and Lightning
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2016 >>, << Sailor Moon >>
Keywords: Show by Rock, Akagami no Shirayukihime, SF, fantasy, anime, alternate universe, mecha, magical girl, reverse-harem, historical, vampires
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 23 first episodes
Website category: Anime 1st eps
Review date: 24 February 2018
Listed under "C": Seisen Cerberus, aka. Cerberus
Listed under "D": Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan, aka. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
Listed under "D": Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, aka. Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Listed under "F": Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara, aka. Food Wars! The Second Plate
Listed under "G": Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu, aka. Girls Beyond the Wasteland
Listed under "H": Sakamoto desu ga, aka. Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto
Listed under "I": Shuumatsu no Izetta, aka. Izetta: The Last Witch
Listed under "M": Sangatsu no Lion, aka. March Comes in like a Lion
Listed under "M": Soushin Shoujo Matoi, aka. Matoi the Sacred Slayer
Listed under "M": Stella no Mahou, aka. Magic of Stella
Listed under "T": Sansha Sanyou, aka. Three Leaves, Three Colors
Listed under "T": Sousei no Onmyouji, aka. Twin Star Exorcists
Listed under "U": Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut, aka. Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
Didn't watch: Sekaijuu de Shutsudou Kaishi! Powerpuff Girls
It's a film: selector destructed WIXOSS (but as it happens I have watched it and it's very good)
It's a film: Sinbad: Mahou no Lamp to Ugoku Shima
It's a film: Shimijaro in Bookland, aka. Shimajirou to Ehon no Kuni
It's a film: Shin Gekijou-ban Initial D Legend 3 - Mugen
Sailor.Moon.Crystal
Sailor Moon Crystal
Season III: Death Busters
Episodes: 27-39
24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: it's Sailor Moon
I've since finished it and... it's the best Crystal season yet. 1st half okay, 2nd half packs a punch.
Sailor Moon is great. Unfortunately this is Sailor Moon Crystal, i.e. less great, but I'm still guaranteed to be watching all of it. (Crystal is the 2014 anniversary revival that's more manga-faithful and doesn't make Usagi quite as much of a lazy, stupid, gluttonous, immature crybaby. Thus it's less funny, although the good news is that they've still got the great Kotono Mitsuishi giving Usagi's voice a hint of Donald Duck.)
Anyway, this is the start of the Death Busters arc. There's a new supervillain (introduced right at the beginning) and there will be a Monster of the Week. Haruka and Michiru get introduced, although at this stage the show's still pretending that Haruka's a boy and hence Michiru's boyfriend. (The end credits aren't trying very hard to hide the truth, though, putting both characters in skirts.)
It's a standard Sailor Moon episode, really, but setting up the new story arc. Our heroines are being allowed to be goofier than usual for Sailor Moon Crystal, which is nice. (Chibi-Usa in contrast is being the mature one, effectively playing mother for her own mother, which is an amusing use of the character.) All five transformation sequences are played out in full, as was probably obligatory, thus reminding you once again of the Noodle Limb People criticism. A purple/black egg grows out of a girl's back. I'm happily looking forward to seeing the series unfold.
reverse harem
Scared Rider Xechs
Scar-red Rider XechS
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: boys in robot suits fight aliens
There's nothing here for me. It's not necessarily that bad, but I bounced off it hard.
The character designs suggest an artist who's only interested in drawing one body type. They're all very tall and thin, with plastic legs. They look like dolls. Even the girl in tiny shorts looks androgynous, while I didn't really get any sense of emotion or human life from most of them. (The voice actors are contributing more than the artists, mind you.)
It's set in a world that's on the brink of destruction and under attack by aliens. A school appears to have been shot full of holes, for instance. Tall boring boys have to fight giant mud monsters. One of the boys isn't boring, but that's because he has a particularly annoying way of mixing English and Japanese in his dialogue (e.g. "me-tachi no generation") and I wanted him to die. I don't even understand the title. The "Riders" don't ride anything and "Scared" doesn't seem to mean scared, scarred or anything else I can guess at.
Apparently it's based on an otome game, i.e. romantic wish-fulfilment with lots of boys for the female protagonist to choose between. That makes an odd kind of sense. I can't imagine it being anything else, because it's rubbish as an alien invasion action story. So far, though, I can't even imagine this being a good otome game adaptation, since the boys all struck me as indistinguishable, boring and/or annoying. Don't take my word for it since I'm the wrong person to ask about this genre, but personally I wouldn't even recommend this for its target audience.
Schwarzes-marken
Schwarzesmarken
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: Cold War communist regime (East Germany) vs. alien invasion
I've since finished it and... I wasn't disappointed at all.
This could be pretty cool. This particular episode is only okay, mind you, but what I like is the idea.
In 1973, aliens invaded Earth. It's now 1983 and we have a three-way hostility. East Germany is at war with aliens, but it's also burning with hatred towards: (a) the West and (b) itself. It's a totalitarian communist regime where the Stasi line up people against a wall and shoot them in the back of the head. Meanwhile one of the main characters might have turned in her own brother. Don't trust anyone. Don't trust your comrades.
An idealistic girl tries to defect from the West to the East. "If the East and West worked together, we could beat the aliens!" "If they heard you saying that, the Stasi would arrest you and kill you."
So far, the only downside is purple boob bubble bodysuit uniforms. I'm definitely continuing with this.
Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume
Scorching Ping-Pong Girls
Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: schoolgirls playing ping-pong
The title amuses me. However the title sequence is full of girls and ping-pong. (I suppose that shouldn't be surprising.) Lots and lots of ping-pong, in fact. It looks as if the show plans to be serious about its ping-pong. Clearly I won't be watching it, then. I never even watched Masaaki Yuasa's 2014 anime (called Ping Pong), despite thinking the first episode was very good and being a fan of that director. I'd had every intention of continuing the show, but... well, it's ping-pong. It just kept slipping down my to-watch list until I eventually realised that I just wasn't going to get around to it.
That 2014 show was far, far better than this.
It starts badly, with the apparent intention of making all the cast unlikeable. A champion school goes into shock because they got hammered in the first round by a no-name school in a tournament! The way they freak out about that makes them look like snobs, but I wasn't wild about their opponent's gloating either.
After that, we switch to a completely different school that's strong enough for regional tournaments but lacks that X-factor that might get them into the national championships. One of their players is called Boobs-Boobs and has big boobs. This wouldn't be so bad if the other girls could shut up about it. The club ace (Agari) says things like "I couldn't care less about a tournament I didn't play in" and is motivated by her love of being worshipped as the best.
Then a new transfer student arrives (Koyori) and she's an airhead. The first time we see her, she's straddling the school gate, saying, "I got up here but I can't get down; please help me!"
That said, though, the episode improves thereafter. Koyori turns out to be nice and even a bit lovable, although definitely an idiot. (She's superb at table-tennis, but goes to sleep in class and on being woken will stand up and shout "I love ping-pong!") Agari's quite nice too, if you haven't challenged her ego. (Koyori has no ego whatsoever.) It also looks as if "scorching" is just in the title for laughs and/or sporting fervour, rather than sleaze. The episode's second half was fine, actually, but it's still a ping-pong sports anime. (Or was it table tennis? I know there's a difference...)
sekko boys
Sekkou Boys
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 8 minutes
Keep watching: um
One-line summary: boys' idol show where the boys are stone statues
I've since finished it and... it's an amusing throwaway, but it's okay.
It begins with a boys' idol concert. The boys sound just as you'd expect, i.e. a waste of good target practice. I'd already filed this show under "do not watch".
We then meet our protagonist, a former art student called Miki Ishimoto who's just joined an idol agency. She's going to be managing the Sekkou Boys. On being asked about this career change, she says, "because art school is not a place that nurtures artistic talent". I was surprised. That's more cynical (and funnier) than I'd expected from a boys' idol show. We then see Miki's background, in which she learned to hate sculptures because that's all her tutors ever gave her to draw.
We then learn that the Sekkou Boys are sculptures. They can sing and bicker like idiot teenagers, but they're stone sculptures. You've got to lift them on to a trolley to get them to their gigs. "Sekkou" in Japanese means... no, not "sculpture", but "plaster; gypsum; calcium sulphate". This boys' idol show just got a lot more surreal.
Theoretically this is a funny idea. In practice, though, will it just turn out to be yet another show about annoying narcissistic boys (but with the twist that they're statues)? I'm suspicious, but they're only eight-minute episodes, so I might give it a go.
Sengoku Chouju Giga
Sengoku Choujuu Giga
SENGOKUCHOJYUGIGA
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: I quite enjoyed it, but no
One-line summary: conversational comedy with 16th century historical characters
"Sengoku" means the Warring States era (1467-1603). "Choujuu" is "birds and animals", i.e. wildlife. "Giga" is "caricature, cartoon, comics". This episode stars famous warlords from that era (Nobunaga, Ieyasu, Hideyoshi), drawn as animals in traditional Japanese sumi-e style. (What's on screen is monochrome line drawings on sepia paper, with no solid areas of inking or colour.) They have an amusing little scene together. Nobunaga wants to try out his new gun, so he tells Ieyasu and Hideyoshi to play rock-scissors-paper. They don't like the sound of this. You can imagine.
It's quite funny, but it also doesn't really matter. It's only three minutes. I enjoyed it and I thought it was pretty good (as well as having interesting visuals), but I didn't particularly feel the need to watch all the other episodes. I approve of it, though.
ser-vamp
Servamp
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: silly vampires
I've heard that the show gets better after an uninspiring start. They're right about the latter, anyway. Also its cast is full of implausible and/or irritating boys, so I won't be continuing. (Would I have continued had they been girls? Probably. Yes, I am scum.)
Our hero is Mahiru Shirota, who lost his parents when he was young and had only one relative who could be bothered to look after him. Today, he's a high school student who likes doing unpopular drudge work that everyone hates. In his mind, it's more annoying not to do those jobs. All that I'm fine with, but unfortunately he gets a montage sequence where he does lots of jobs for his class while repeatedly saying a catchphrase. He also cooks big plates of cookies for his class while they're taking too long to decide who'll do what during the school festival. Grrr. (Okay, yes, it doesn't actually take long to make cookies, but even so I thought that moment felt stupid.)
Anyway, one day he's walking home and sees a cat. He picks it up and takes it home. (He doesn't seem to think it might have an owner.) This cat is actually a lazy ramen-eating shapeshifting vampire that thinks everything is annoying. His name's Kuro and amazingly he's not the most irritating vampire in the episode. That would be Belkia, who'll be showing up later.
I don't hate this episode. I liked Mahiru, although he's being badly presented. (In addition to the catchphrase montage, he seems surprised to be disbelieved when telling his friends that his new pet cat is really a vampire.) The vampires can drop dead as far as I'm concerned. The show's rules of vampirology are both contrived (the "temporary contract" plot device) and inconsistent (Mahiru and Kuro can't leave each other's sides, except when they can). The thing about turning into a cat in sunlight is so goofy that I quite like it, though, while more importantly the show has a hard core of attempted emotional truth that's trying to dig deeper than you might expect from a simple plot summary. This is the kind of thing I could probably slog through if I really wanted to, but I don't think it would have appealed even if the closing credits hadn't been bombarding me with pretty boys. Mind you, I'm not the target audience.
nanatsu no taizai
The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War
Nanatsu no Taizai: Seisen no Shirushi
Season 2
Episodes: 4 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no, but I enjoyed it
One-line summary: fun shounen adventure
It's pretty good, actually. I enjoyed the episode and I'd probably recommend the series. It's just another shounen adventure anime, of course, but it's fun and it has a lively cast who by now have well-developed relationships with each other. Some of their conversations together are among the episode's strongest and most meaningful scenes, actually.
That said, though, this is just a four-episode interlude to tide over the fans before the real Season 2 arrives in 2018. Besides, it doesn't really matter. It's another bouncy adventure series where the hero's a ten-year-old boy (apparently). This episode's plot involved everyone looking for a magically shrunken pig who eventually comes back all by himself. It was amusing and quite well done, but I don't really feel I'm missing anything important by not continuing. I remember watching the start of Season 1 in 2014 and not being tempted to continue then either.
Two things struck me about this show:
1. The art style. You can feel the original manga artist coming across, instead of looking the same as almost all anime. I quite like that, even though it does make the show look as if it's for children.
2. The ecchi content. This might sound inappropriate in a children's show, but I presume it's predominantly there for humour. (a) The ten-year-old hero (Melodias) tends to say hello to Elizabeth by bear-hugging her legs and shoving his head into her groin. He does this twice and no one tells him to stop. (b) There's a female character in a tiny shirt that's not buttoned up at the front, with only wishful thinking to hold it in place. (c) That shrunken pig scrambles inside a girl's minidress while she's still wearing it, so she asks her two male companions to help extract the intruder.
I think it's good, for what it is. I'd have probably enjoyed it if I'd kept with it back in 2014. Not to be confused with a much sexier 2017 anime with nearly the same Japanese name.
Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko Everything Flows
She and Her Cat: Everything Flows
Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows
Season 1
Episodes: 4 x 8 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: gently melancholy but nice slice-of-life
I've since finished it and... it's excellent.
A cat is in a dream field, looking at a magic door. He thinks in a man's voice. "I'm looking for her."
After that, the episode is completely realistic except that it's narrated by the cat. There's no drama, but merely close observation of gently unhappy but nice people. "I don't understand anything any more." Our narrator's owner, Miyu, is losing a flatmate and will perforce be living on her own, which worries her mother.
The cat loves Miyu, though. He loves her smile. He understands there's nothing he can do, but he thinks she's beautiful and kind. "I am her cat." I'll be continuing, of course. It's such a delicate piece that there's almost nothing there, but it's sensitive and the right kind of melancholy.
sheltaa
Shelter
One-off music video
6 minutes
Keep watching: n/a
One-line summary: girl creates worlds
The funniest thing about this anime is the now-dead online controversy about whether or not it's anime. (It is, by the way.) There's a moderated Anime subreddit on Reddit. Shelter got posted there and the mods took it down. It got reposted. The mods deleted it again, then set an automated bot to delete any post that contained related words. Things then got even sillier, including death threats. (The mods ended up backing down.)
REASONS WHY IT'S ANIME: it's animation made in Japan by a Japanese studio, with a Japanese voice actress who's speaking Japanese. It was first broadcast in Tokyo and it's been drawn in traditional anime style. It looks like anime.
REASONS WHY IT'S NOT ANIME: it's a music video for an English-language song that was commissioned by the song's non-Japanese creators (Porter Robinson and Madeon). You might also want to erase from reality all older anime with non-Japanese creators, e.g. Studio Ghibli films that are based on Western novels. Taking this argument to its ultimate conclusion, I presume you'd be wanting to conduct DNA tests on everyone involved in the production of an Alleged Anime Production to verify that it passed your standards of racial purity.
The moral of this story: mods can be knobs.
The actual film itself is only six minutes long, though. It's nice. Lots of people like it. There's a girl in bed who hasn't had any messages for 2539 days. Later this rises to 2578 days. All she has is (a) her computer, (b) the ability to create virtual landscapes and (c) her memories of her father. It's a gentle, melancholic-but-upbeat little piece. Nothing to change your world, but worth a look.
Atashinchi
Shin Atashinchi
Season 1, but it's a sequel to a 662-episode original
Episode 13 of 24
23 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: silly anime sitcom
It still doesn't do anything for me. It doesn't look bad, but I'm not tempted.
It's a domestic comedy about the Tachibani family, with crude art. Mum looks like a deep sea fish, or perhaps something you'd stick on the top of a pencil. Curiously, though, she's usually the only character with pupils. Dad's eyes are hidden behind spectacles, Mikan's eyes are empty white circles and Yuzuhiko's eyes are usually closed.
This time they're talking about New Year and its Japanese traditions, as seems reasonable of the first episode of 2016. Mikan still fancies Iwaki-kun. There's some chat about New Year cards, which are a big Japanese thing, and we learn that the Tachibanis are really bad at being formal. They try saying "Happy New Year", but they only really get the hang of it when there's money involved. After that, Mum tries to beat mochi and Mikan tries to catch up on all her accumulated TV and manga.
It's sort of okay. It seems inoffensive enough. I wouldn't warn anyone off it. One of Yuzuhiko's friends is called the Japanese word for aubergine and has a head shaped like an aubergine. By all means give it a whirl, but it's the kind of show that's aiming mostly for "relaxing".
Shounen Ashibe GO GO Goma-chan
Shounen Ashibe GO! GO! Goma-chan
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 9 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: cartoon about a little boy and his pet seal
The art style tells you immediately that it's for small children. Ashibe goes out looking for his mother and finds a baby seal. It falls off a lorry. He and his dad assume that it's a big fish and are going to kill it and eat it, but they abandon the idea on realising it's a seal and hence cute.
All that's okay. Likeable and fun. However it now becomes unwatchable for adults as Ashibe's dad tries a string of half-witted deceptions because he's afraid that Mum will see the seal and cook it for dinner. (He doesn't bother saying "look, it's a seal" or "don't kill it". That would be too easy.) This broke the show for me and would probably do the same for anyone over nine years old. Ashibe's dad has the mental age of a pre-schooler.
As it happens the rest of the episode was quite good. Ashibe makes friends with the boy sitting next to him at school and finds a cool way to handle some attempted bullying. That charmed me. The end title song is also amusing. The episode is almost all good, but I'm not the show's target audience and the whole thing's too simple and kiddified to make me want to fight past the one bit I disliked.
shonen maid
Shounen Maid
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: ten-year-old orphan gets a job
I've since finished it and... it's surprisingly lovely
It's about a ten-year-old boy who works as a maid. Yes, in a frilly maid's outfit. This could have gone in all kinds of worrying directions, but as it happens it's funny, entirely inoffensive and giving its cast more depth than I'd expected.
Chihiro Komiya is a ten-year-old orphan. His mother, Chiyo, has just died and he has no other relatives. You might be wondering if Chiyo might have done anything to prepare for this eventuality, but: (a) it was heart failure, and (b) a letter she left him suggests that she was a happy-go-lucky space case anyway. Chihiro isn't letting this slow him down too much, though. He's a practical lad who likes hard work, e.g. cleaning, cooking and general housework. His friends at school call him a housewife, albeit in a friendly way.
Madoka Takatori is the uncle Chihiro never knew he had. Chiyo cut all ties, but Madoka is going to try to do the right thing. If he doesn't step in, Chihiro will be out on the streets. Unfortunately though Madoka usually gives the impression of having a mental age of eight, taking nothing seriously and talking as if he's just floated off on a cloud. He's like his sister, but more so. He's not completely incapable of acting like a grown-up, but you'd need to stalk him with hidden cameras for weeks to get the proof of that. Chihiro refuses all his offers and would rather live on his own than accept charity from the family who rejected his mother, but then he sees the state of Madoka's kitchen and goes into a cleaning frenzy.
Keiichirou Shinozaki is Madoka's personal secretary, i.e. it's his job to organise him. Good luck.
It's pretty good, I think. I'd been expecting some kind of pseudo-harem silliness, but no. All the cast are male (although a woman will join the cast in ep.2). There's no slapstick, no inappropriate jokes and not even any attempt to make fun of Chihiro in a frilly maid outfit. Everyone's taking the situation seriously. Yes, even Madoka. In his own way. I believed in it. I liked everyone and I'm looking forward to this show a good deal.
show.by.rock!!
Show By Rock!! Short!!
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: light-hearted fun with the Show by Rock!! cast
I've since finished it and... it's short and fun
If I hadn't already watched Show by Rock!!, I don't imagine I'd have continued with this. It's throwaway. Light-hearted three-minute fluff. However as it happens I think the parent show's fantastic, so of course I'll be watching this too.
This episode's about the Plasmagica girls: Cyan, Chuchu, Retoree and Moa. They're on a TV chat show. Cyan says "nyan" and the hitherto shy and uncomfortable Retoree goes into cute fetish overload. The show's host makes the girls show their tails to the camera, but it's not (quite) as bad as you're imagining because that isn't a euphemism. All four have tails. Cyan's a cat, Chuchu's a rabbit, Retoree's a golden retriever and Moa's a sheep.
And that's it. Pretty much the definition of non-essential, but I already loved these characters.
Show By Rock!!#
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: YES YES YES
One-line summary: animal-people play rock music (and probably fight the Queen of Darkness)
I've since finished it and... I LOVE IT
Show by Rock!! is awesome. It hadn't sounded like my kind of show at all, but I watched Season 1 on a whim and fell head over heels for it. A girl got sucked into a rock music dimension where everyone was an animal and would sometimes transform into cute CGI versions of themselves when performing on stage. Some of them were adorable, some of them were brats and some of them were self-obsessed melodramatic posing halfwits who were mesmerised by their own badass images. (That's Shingan Crimsonz and they're just as funny here too.)
Oh, and they'd also fight evil. It's just something they sort of found themselves doing in between rock concerts, but there are some surprisingly heavyweight baddies in the Show by Rock!! universe.
It was mental. I already loved the show, though, so obviously everyone who hasn't seen Season 1 needs to start by going away and watching it right now. Having already done this preparation, though, I thought it was brilliant. I'm so happy that it got this second season. Having watched its first episode, am I disappointed? Not in the slightest.
It starts with the Queen of Darkness destroying the world, although on closer examination the planet itself might still be okay and maybe she just trashed Midi City. That's still bad news for our heroes, though, who all live there. Let's go back in time! Shingan Crimsonz still made me laugh. Plasmagica have been reduced to a three-girl band since Cyan returned home, but they're still playing. They have a show coming up, in fact, but then... EVIL! (No, not Mega-Cleavage Eyepatch Secretary. She's nice, actually, if a bit scary.) Midi City will soon be destroyed! (Yup, we know. We've just seen it.) There's a plan to destroy music, but our heroes must prevent this with the power of music!
Dagger's back. Am I meant to remember him? Probably. It's been too long since I watched Season 1.
Then... Cyan! In the real world! And a GIANT ROBOT!
The end. Show by Rock!! is the greatest thing ever.
Ketsuekigata.kun
A Simple Thinking About Blood Type
Ketsuekigata-kun!
Season: 4
Episodes: 12 x 2 minutes
Keep watching: still no
One-line summary: little faceless figures representing the personalities that correspond to each blood type
It's more comedy from the anime based on blood type personality theory! Little cartoon people live up to the personalities that are popularly ascribed to the main four blood types. That's if you're in Japan, Korea and nowhere else, obviously.
I saw two episodes of this last year. This is more of the same. There are blue cartoon people (male) and pink cartoon people (female). One of the blue people is silly about a lottery thingumibob. This would probably be more meaningful to me if I were more familiar with the blood type personality stereotypes.
I'll give this a miss.
Akagami no Shirayukihime
Snow White with the Red Hair
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: obviously
One-line summary: romance with a herbalist and a prince in pseudo-medieval setting
I've since finished it and... it's happy and comfortable
Yay, Shirayuki! I watched Season 1 and liked it a lot, so of course I was going to watch Season 2. It's still good and still an easy recommendation.
Shirayuki is still living in a pre-industrial society that I might, reluctantly, concede might have to be called "fantasy". I can't think of a better term. It's not a historical, but it has no fantasy elements either. Instead it has:
(a) Shirayuki, a clever, straightforward expert in herbal medicine. Her name means "Snow White", but she has red hair. Hence the title.
(b) Prince Zen, who's sort of Shirayuki's fiance except that first they're going to have to sort out the social status thing.
It's been a gentle, reassuring series, but the start of Season 2 is shaking that up a bit. Prince Zen isn't top dog, you see. That would be his big brother, Prince Izana, who's a slightly sinister bastard and capable of ordering around not just Shirayuki but even Zen. Here he orders her out of the country, for a social engagement with a man who'd previously tried to make her his concubine. Charming. Zen isn't allowed to go with her. We also meet a man who'd tried to kidnap Shirayuki, who's telling a story of a mysterious pretty boy on a ship who also seems to be targeting her for reasons unknown.
This is all worrying. However Shirayuki is super-sensible and I'm sure she'll be okay. She's also got the best possible boyfriend in Zen, who's going to send his personal bodyguard with her. Overall, I'm happy. There's enough danger in the air to keep me interested, but it's still basically a warm, pleasant, likeable show.
soul-buster
Soul Buster
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 13 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: so far, it looks like a Fate/stay night rip-off
It's another Chinese attempt at anime, so I wasn't expecting much. This opening episode is basically Fate/stay night. Humans will fight each other, assisted by magical partners who are also famous historical figures. (The "historical era" is the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.) The protagonist is a high school student who spends a fair chunk of the episode having dream sequences and will say things like "history has no connection to my life". Other genius hero moments include:
(a) "Do you vow to defend that card with your life?" asks an inhuman being in a magical realm. Our hero replies, "Yeah, okay."
(b) On being woken up by a teacher in the library, he tells the teacher about the card in his dream. Why? Does he tell everyone his dreams?
The plot's okay. The episode actually manages not to feel rushed. Stuff happens at a sensible pace and the dream sequences add a sense of mystery. What the episode lacks is character work. Our hero is generic and a bit stupid. The antagonist is a cackling "look at me, I'm evil" baddie. On top of that, though, even the art's ugly. There's some kind of scribbled pencil filter on the real-world scenes that's a bit like looking through a dirty window. I should probably watch a few more episodes before passing judgement... but I can't be bothered. One of the dream worlds looks cool, but otherwise it just all seems uninspired.
hibike euphonium
Sound! Euphonium 2
Hibike! Euphonium 2
Season 2
Episodes: 13
Minutes: 48 minutes for ep.1, then 24 minutes each for eps.2-13
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: high school band
I've since finished it and... it's still a quality show, but slightly weaker than Season 1
It's a Kyoto Animation show, so I was always likely to watch it. What's more, Season 1 was very good. Sober rather than splashy and wacky, but good. So far I see no indication that Season 2 isn't going to carry on the good work.
It's about the Kitauji high school band club, which has just won the qualifying tournament and has been chosen to represent Kyoto in the Kansai region competition. Everyone's excited, obviously. The episode also doesn't forget the musicians who hadn't been chosen for the competition line-up, who come in as Team Monaka and play a fun little piece to make us all happy.
It's about the characters and their relationships. My favourite things were little moments such as the fleeting looks on people's faces, since the KyoAni animators are as usual creating the scene in enough detail to reward that level of attention. The look of surprise on "early?", Oumae's little smile after "always?", a face on "yo" and so on. There's a girl who comes in intimidatingly early to practise the the oboe and she doesn't know if she likes the instrument. None of this is comedic, although I enjoyed it and it's capable of being amusing. It's not fluffy fun like K-On!. It's a calmer, more realistic look at band players who are going to have to work very hard if they're going to succeed at this new level.
Also, importantly, it's very good.
Uchuu Patrol Luluco
Space Patrol Luluco
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 8 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: schoolgirl and reluctant space police agent
I've since finished it and... it's high-energy mental fun
It's by Studio Trigger and it looks like Kill la Kill. So far it's also as entertaining as Kill la Kill, which is to say "very". Luluco is a normal girl. She approves of this. This is because she's normally normal like normal people, which is great because it's normal. Her dad's a space cop and she lives in the world's only alien/human town, but that's not going to stop her being normal.
More problematic is accidentally turning her dad into a popsicle (whoops) and breaking him, then carrying the pieces into his workplace and getting recruited by Inferno Cop (?) to be Space Patrol Luluco. This gives her a light on her head that might trigger her uniform transformation during class at school. This makes her skirt fall off. Luluco isn't happy about this. She'll also transform into a gun.
Studio Trigger rules.
super-lovers
Super Lovers
Season 1
Episodes: 10 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: yaoi anime with an eight-year-old boy
It's based on a Boys' Love manga, i.e. the characters are gay men, but written by and for women. I haven't read or watched many of these, but I've seen enough to know that they can be a bit worrying. This may or may not turn out to be of those, but I'll be steering clear anyway.
Haru is returning to Canada on his eccentric mother's request. He lived there with her until he was eight, but these days he lives in Japan with his father's family and hasn't had anything to do with his mother for years.
It seems she's acquired a new pet: Ren, a savage eight-year-old boy who's basically a dog. (This metaphor is extended quite far, e.g. the namecheck of White Fang, the Jack London novel about a wolf who gets domesticated.) Ren's idea of saying "hello" is to bite you. Haru's mother didn't give birth to this boy, incidentally. She just found him at the orphanage, took him home and decided to foist him on her estranged son on another continent. Nice one, mum! Let's examine this.
IT'S A GOOD IDEA BECAUSE:
Haru is a nice guy who's patient with Ren and manages to slightly humanise him.
IT'S A BAD IDEA BECAUSE:
Haru invites Ren into his bed and kisses him on the mouth. "I'd like it if you'd sleep with me."
Oh, and Ren will technically be Haru's brother. This isn't by blood, but it hardly improves the situation. What's confusing, though, is that I don't think I'm meant to be seeing anything wrong in all this. Haru's the hero. Ren's the difficult boy he's clearly fated to heal. Nothing happens between them in bed (except literally sleeping) and I think it's meant to be romantic or something. Look at Usagi Drop or Astarotte's Toy, for comparison. Both are deeply wrong, but in each case the author doesn't seem to have realised and seems to be writing from some level of personal fantasy that if it happened in real life might have neighbours calling the police.
As it happens, my anime-watching friend at work has watched this series. He says it doesn't broach scary territory and instead stays perfectly tolerable, although he did add that Ren is particularly annoying in Season 2 (which he hasn't yet finished). However I'm happy to move on and watch other shows instead.
sushi-police
Sushi Police
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: CGI anime about sushi puritans
There's lots of bad sushi out there! It shouldn't be allowed! Well, now it isn't. With a zero-tolerance attitude towards improper cuisine, some fairly silly CGI policemen are... ugh, no, wait, stop stop. I'm not talking about cel-shaded CGI that's trying to look hand-drawn. This is full-blown kiddie cartoon CGI, as in a Pixar film but done on a budget that might, if you're lucky, be enough for a hamburger and cola. You'd have to haggle, though.
Amaama Inazuma
Sweetness and Lightning
Amaama to Inazuma
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: a widower, his four-year-old daughter and food
I've since finished it and... it's a pleasant slice-of-life
There's a man, his tiny blonde daughter and a high school girl. I know that because they're in the title sequence. At first I assumed they were related, but they're not. Kouhei is a teacher and Tsumugi is his daughter. I'm assuming she's four years old, or maybe three. At any rate, she's young enough that Kouhei has to explain time by saying where the big and little hands will be on the clock when it's time to go out. Kouhei's wife died about six months ago and Tsumugi doesn't really understand that, at one point asking dad to write mum a letter.
The high school girl is Kotori, one of Kouhei's students (although he doesn't recognise her at first). They meet in the park as she's sitting under a tree, unobtrusively crying.
All this probably sounds melancholy, but it's not. It's rather sweet. Kouhei doesn't have either the time or the culinary proficiency to cook for Tsumugi, so he's always buying convenience food. Eventually he decides to take her out to a restaurant, but it's late at night. The chef is Kotori. Unfortunately Kotori can barely even cook rice, but she keeps the shop open after hours so that she can try her best for them anyway. It's a charming little story and I'm looking forward to seeing more of the show.
My only reservation involves Rina Endou, who didn't convince me as Tsumugi. I hope I'll get used to her in time, but I don't think the character quite works with her doing the voice. I see she's a child actress, born in 2005. Hmmmm. Significantly older than this role, but too young for it to be reasonable for me to expect any real acting. Well, it's still ep.1.
Endou aside, though, the show looks lovely. I enjoyed this episode more than any of the series I'm currently halfway through. I'll definitely be continuing.