- Listed under "G": Fune wo Amu, aka. The Great Passage
- Listed under "H": Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu, aka. The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi
- Listed under "M": Fukigen na Mononokean, aka. The Morose Mononokean
- It's a one-off TV special, but I've watched it anyway: Fate/Grand Order: First Order, pretty good (broadcast 31 December 2016, so it just squeaks into this year)
- Fairy Tale Zero
- Fairy Tale ep.266
- Fairy Tale Season 2 ep.91
- Fairy Tale Zero ep.1 of 13
- 24 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: Fairy Tail prequel series
It's a long-running hit shounen manga and anime. This is ep.266, but also the start of a thirteen-episode arc called Fairy Tail Zero, based on a one-volume prequel manga. It's set 100 years before the main show. That's a good jumping-on point, although personally I won't be jumping on. It's fine, though. Nothing wrong with it.
We start with a seven-minute pre-credits sequence of present-day Fairy Tail characters travelling to a grave on an island. (I've just googled them. Apparently they're the protagonist and his best friend at the start of the series.) There's a man called Natsu and a flying, talking cat called Happy, whose ears look like gills. They're on a training trip. Nothing happens unless you count Natsu getting stung by bees, although I was surprised by a reference to them having been in suspended animation for seven years.
These scenes seemed amiable, but pointless. Then the opening credits roll and we jump back 100 years.
Zero's protagonist is a saintly six-year-old called Mavis, who's the dogsbody in a bar full of badly drawn customers. She's bullied by the owner and his spoiled daughter, Zeera. She puts up with it, though. She's clever. She loves knowledge and books and she'd love to be allowed to go to school. Plot summary: "Mavis is noble and forgiving while dei ex machina happen around her." It's sweet and nice, but not actually that interesting.
Then there's yet another timeslip, jumping forward seven years. (Again seven years!) Almost immediately the credits roll.
Overall, it's a perfectly watchable episode. Looks okay. I'm not fussed about the slightly budget-strapped art quality. Mavis is likeable. I'd have no objection to continuing, but that's about the limit of my feelings about it.
- Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei!
- Season 4
- Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: OBVIOUSLY
- One-line summary: come on, it's Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya
- I've since finished it and... as predicted, I loved it!
I was absolutely guaranteed to watch the full series of this. Reviewing ep.1 like this is almost irrelevant, since it was probably impossible for the episode to be so bad that it put me off the series as a whole. In fact, of course, I enjoyed it a lot.
It begins with Ilya in Siberia or somewhere. A snowscape, lots of trees and no clue where she is.
We then jump back to normality, picking straight up from the end of 2wei Herz!. The girls are leaving the Edelfelt mansion and thanking Miyu for her help in the homework party. Unfortunately Ilya's a bit loose-lipped and her friends start wondering what kind of secret she's keeping from them. (We had a smidgin of this in 2wei Herz! too.) Tatsuko imagines something demented and Mimi imagines something age-inappropriate.
We then get Magical Ruby getting bored and trying to inject Ilya with a date rape drug. In other words, fairly normal comedy with our heroines. Ilya actually talks about how peaceful it is right now and how nice it would be if this could continue forever.
This doesn't even last five seconds.
We meet a blonde amazon with a sword and her sadistic fanged subordinate. The latter is carrying a warhammer that could crush trains. A mountain gets de-cratered and the sky cracks open... yup, it's Siberia time. Things then get even worse.
3rei has a reputation for being darker than earlier seasons, incidentally, although I don't know if that's just the manga. I'll find out. Doesn't bother me much. I'll be watching this no matter what.
- First Love Monster
- Hatsukoi Monster
- Season 1
- Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes + a 13th OVA
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: 15-year-old dates 10-year-old
Kaho Nikaidou is a spoiled rich girl, but she knows it and it's given her self-esteem issues. "I'm sorry for being alive." She doesn't know enough not to run out in front of trucks and she's never had anyone angry with her. That's why she's moved away from her family and is going to the city to live alone and try to grow up. She's also only fifteen and quite small.
Kanade Takahashi is half a metre taller than Kaho. He's cool, handsome and looks as if he's at university. (However the title sequence suggests that he's going to have competition for Kaho, this being a shoujo anime with lots of men surrounding one female protagonist.) He saves Kaho from that aforementioned truck and shouts at her, whereupon of course she falls in love with him at first sight. (She's been sheltered.)
She tries to ask his name and takes it badly when he's not interested in her. "Now I've been dumped, my life is over. Clearly no one will want the likes of me as long as I live." (This might make her sound self-pitying, but in Japanese she says "watashi nante" when talking about herself, which is harsher than you'd get from those English subtitles and makes it clearer that she's quite damaged. Kaho's the best thing about this episode, actually. I wanted to watch more about her.) Fortunately, though, she'll get another chance to speak to Kanade and even manage to confess her love!
He agrees to go out with her, if that's really what she wants. However he's ten years old.
The rest of the episode is marked by the audience's jaws hanging ever further. Kanade has two school friends like him. They're all ten years old and look twenty. However they generally act their age, which means lots of silly shouting about their penises.
In short, ten-year-old Kanade agrees to go out with fifteen-year-old Kaho. They're dating. A fifteen-year-old is dating a ten-year-old, albeit one who's tall, handsome and sometimes gallant. (Does his ridiculous apparent age make what the show's doing worse or better?) Gender-flip this premise and you'd have a high school boy and his curvy, smoking hot girlfriend from primary school who's more than happy to date him. No no no. There's worse anime out there, but that's no defence. Besides, the show is actively playing on the boys' extreme immaturity even as it's setting up the budding Kaho-Kanade romance. I still like Kaho herself, but gyaaaah.
- Flip Flappers
- Season 1
- Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: ...yes
- One-line summary: dimension-hopping schoolgirls
- I've since finished it and... it's deeper than its mad, energetic surface
I'm a bit nervous of this one. The story feels almost improvised. The characterisation's quite strong, but for a while I couldn't tell what this show was about or what it was trying to do. It's very nice, though.
COCONA is a clever girl with blue hair. She's doing her mock exams and trying to decide which high school to go to, while being told by her friend that she's good enough to go to any one she likes. She's also clever in practical ways. When Papika drags her to another world (see below), she checks her phone signal and leaves markers in the woods so that they can find their way back. She's good at noticing things. However she's also a bit negative, liable to be perplexed by Papika's fun-loving enthusiasm and obliviousness to fear.
PAPIKA is an energetic girl with orange hair. She doesn't really believe in thinking, but she loves life and will react positively to anything. Drop her into another world and she'll start playing with it. Leave a trail of intriguing things behind you in the woods and she'll eat them. (This confounds Cocona.) She also tries really, really hard to retrieve Cocona's glasses when they're taken by monsters, even when Cocona herself keeps telling her to come back and stay out of danger.
...and that's it. The episode doesn't feel character-driven, although in fairness it's studying its characters quite closely. (Those aren't the same thing.) What happens? Real world. Transport to magical world, which Papika calls Pure Illusion. Play around. Come back. The end. There are baddies in the post-credit sequence, which is an encouraging sign of narrative momentum but still no guarantee that the show won't end up feeling as if it had been written by its animators. That said, though, I've decided to stick with it.
- Flying Witch
- Season 1
- Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: yes
- One-line summary: trainee witch slice-of-life
- I've since finished it and... it's nice. Worth a watch, although you won't feel the need to buy the DVDs.
It starts out completely ordinary. No fantasy elements. Real people in the real world. A high school girl called Makoto Kowata with a poor sense of direction and lots of luggage is moving to live with her second cousins in Aomori. There's Kei Kuramoto (male, same age) and his little sister Chinatsu (several years younger and initially wary of this stranger).
It's all very low-key and everyone seems nice. Half the cast is initially suspicious of Makoto, but they soon see that she's a good egg.
The witchiness creeps in gradually. Its first sign is Makoto talking to her cat, which slightly alarms Chinatsu. (The cat doesn't talk back, though. It's a one-sided conversation.) A less ambiguous indication is Makoto choosing a new broomstick from the local bargain store and giving it a test flight to see if the bamboo handle makes any difference.
It's not a dramatic show, but a quiet, soothing one. There's absolutely nothing unmissable about it and I might easily have decided to pass on it, but what the heck.
- Folktales from Japan
- Furusato Saisei Nippon no Mukashi Banashi
- Episode 195
- 24 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: children's anime with folk tales
It's the usual format. Three mini-episodes, each telling a Japanese folk tale with child-friendly animation and no guarantee of a child-friendly message. Watching this show gives me the willies. I'm always slightly on edge throughout. Fortunately though, this time, Part 1 was the only one I found disturbing. Part 2 is sweet, if weird, and Part 3 has some idiot plotting. Darn those traditional folk tales!
PART ONE: "The Man Who Bought a Dream"
Two merchants lie down on a bank. The taller one falls asleep, whereupon a horsefly climbs out of his nose, flies out to sea for a while and then eventually returns to climb back up his nose again. No, really. The guy's got a horsefly living in his skull and it's a big one, too. (Wikipedia says they can be up to an inch long.)
The shorter merchant sees this happen and freaks nearly as much as I did. The taller merchant seems fine, though. He wakes up and tells his friend about his dream, in which a horsefly was telling him about a pot of gold.
Our shorter hero believes every word and offers to buy the dream. What in all the heavens? How do you buy a dream? What does that mean? Will the taller merchant have the memories sucked out of his head, or is he just granting his friend the exploitation rights? I'm not sure these merchants know either, but they're merchants and maybe they're just used to doing deals. The dream is duly sold and so the short merchant seemingly abandons everything he has, goes looking for the place mentioned in the dream, gets a menial job there and sticks at it for two years. (He stays longer than expected because the flowers after the first year are the wrong colour. No, I'm still not joking.)
After all that time, eventually he finds the tree in the dream, digs under it and duly finds a pot of gold. Don't ask. It's a folk tale.
Having stolen a huge fortune from the gold's rightful owner (quite possibly his current employer), our hero quits his job and says he needs to go home. His employer thanks him for his two years' faithful service and pays him very well. Our hero takes this. No, he doesn't say "No, I'll make do with what might be your life savings." He accepts the extra loot as well. Later, though, his conscience starts pricking at him. Should he perhaps split his stolen gold with the tall merchant? Oi, oi, oi. Ahem. Might I suggest that his conscience perhaps should have been pushing him in a more obvious direction right now?
Both merchants are now rich and live happily ever after. The end.
PART TWO: "The Badger of Eagle Mountain"
Our hero is an orphaned badger who decides to stalk a little girl and her mother. (The word they use is "mujina", which is an old word but probably does mean badger.) Specifically, our hero is yearning to jump on the mother's back. It looks warm. The little girl looks happy when she's asleep there. The badger fancies sleeping there too.
The badger talks to the mother about this, as you do. Badgers are clever in Japanese folk tales. The mother says "okay", so the badger starts regularly hurling itself bat-like at the mother and clinging to her back like grim death.
However this is heartwarming. "For the first time, the badger felt a mother's love." It starts leaving the family gifts of food, then some time later starts a badger family of its own. I liked this one.
PART THREE: "Ishibumi-sama Heals Illness"
There's a bloke with a soba stall. Unfortunately there's an unlucky stone in front of it. Everyone trips over this stone. People, animals... they all go head over heels. Our hero tries to carry the stone away, but it's too heavy even for all the young men of the village. At this point, his correct action is clearly to put up a sign. Or paint the bloody thing red. Or build a little fence around it. There are any number of options, but none of them occur to our idiot hero. In fairness he also tries to dig the stone up, but not only is it super-heavy but it's also really big and extends underground.
Trying to dig up the stone makes it glow in a radioactive-like fashion and make him ill. PUT UP THAT BLOODY SIGN, YOU IDIOT. KEEP PEOPLE AWAY FROM IT. Does he does this? Nope. Instead he gets visited by a god, who wants to complain about people tripping over his head. "If you stop everyone from going over my head, then I will heal all their diseases!"
The wording of this makes it seem guaranteed that our hero will mess up his promise, let someone trip over the flipping stone and incur a god's wrath... except that he doesn't. Our hero actually handles it sensibly. He goes to the village headman to tell his story. "The headman was very surprised, but decided to believe him." As you do. One might have expected the headman to want a bit more evidence, but no. They then build a shrine over the god's head and establish a massive tourist industry. The end.
- Food Wars! The Second Plate
- Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara
- Season 2
- Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: shounen fighting series, except that they're cooking duels with foodgasms.
It's set at cooking school. The hero cooks food. People eat his food, then have reactions suggesting nirvana, group sex and/or really amazing drugs. Obviously we're not meant to be taking this seriously and instead the point of the anime is to make us laugh at how over-the-top it is, but my problem is that the whole show's based on a near-religious fervour about food.
I have friends who raved about it, but I don't get it. It's food. I like eating, but it doesn't make me tear off my clothes and roar to the sky with clenched fists while a mighty white spurt proves my passion.
There's a chef battle tournament going on! The judges are all male, so the foodgasms aren't as fanservice-laden as the last episode I saw of this show, but they start at "intense" and escalate to "brain melts in ecstasy". An old geezer imagines himself to be gambolling through a meadow with Disney tweety birds and the golden light of heaven. Mighty ocean waves appear behind the judges and crash down. Everyone discusses packed lunches.
The end. It's a very silly show.
- Future Card Buddyfight Triple D
- Season 3
- Episodes: 51 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: trading card battle game
It's the third season of Future Card Buddyfight. Disappointingly, Season 2 wasn't called Double D.
There are lots of shows like this, all aimed at trying to separate small boys from their pocket money. Mind you, pretty much all anime these days is trying to sell merchandise. The only question is whether it's trading cards to children or Blu-rays to otaku.
This show's gimmick is apparently that you become a monster's partner and fight alongside it. The show's protagonist (Spiky Red Hair) provides an example to the audience by spending all his money and going into debt to his parents in order to buy as many booster packs as possible! Hurrah! Sell yourself into poverty trying to find a Buddy Rare, kids! Unfortunately he finds one. (It would have been a better moral lesson if he'd ended up living under a bridge and drinking meths from a brown paper bag.)
Surprisingly, Red Spiky's new card turns into an egg. He vows to help it hatch. It then grows legs in the classroom and runs up a fence. This is quite funny, actually. Future Card Surrogate Mother Egg-Hatchers would have been a show worth watching. However it turns into a little monster-baru that adds "baru" to every-baru thing it says-baru. (This is called "gobe" and something you have to put up with in Japanese if you're watching kiddie anime or anything else that's trying to be cute.)
Spiky Red is then challenged to a fight by the world's strongest Buddyfighter. Spiky Red will win, of course. Eh? The second half of the episode is just one big fight, so you'll be fast-forwarding through that. Bizarrely it appears to be a real fight that works on trading card game battle rules, so all the fighters' moves involve pulling out some new card. There are two commentators: (a) a girl in a flying saucer, and (b) a cute comedy Frankenstein's monster.
Overall, it's normal for its genre. I quite liked the egg-hatching scenes and Spiky Red isn't too macho. If you fast-forward through the pointless fighting, you'll have something that's not too painful (and pleasantly short). I've seen much worse. That's the nearest this show is likely to get to meaningful praise, though.