- Listed under "L": Warau Salesman NEW, aka. The Laughing Salesman
- Listed under "M": Wo De Tian Jie Nu You, aka. My Cultivator Girlfriend
- Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter
- Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou
- Season 3
- Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: a more realistic idol show, showing the less glamorous side of the industry
This franchise until now had comprised three films and two series in 2014-2015. Now, though, it's returned! I actually quite liked this episode. It's still an idol show, I'm afraid, but it's taking a mature, sober approach and I like the message it's sending. However I won't be continuing with it, mostly because we're already on Season 3 and I'd already decided not to watch it once back in 2014.
"Wake Up, Girls!" is the name of a seven-girl idol group. They're the heroines. They've come a long way since their slightly dodgy beginnings and they're now professional idols who've even won a idol competition, but they didn't have a fairy tale ending. They're doing a low-budget regional TV show and, when we meet them, getting sweaty in animal costumes. "In this day and age, not even idols can get the numbers," says its producer. Other idol groups are disbanding or shutting down some of their operations, including more famous and successful rivals. Our heroines are being run by a tiny management company that operates from grotty, unglamorous offices. The company boss is a high-handed, long-legged woman who seems fairly good at her job but doesn't care about either warmth or tact. She'll explain the facts of life to your face and our heroines can't even disagree. "She's right. I'm sure most people don't know our individual full names."
It's a pretty shoestring operation, in a show where failure is always at your shoulder. One of our heroines makes the group go on slightly late for a live TV appearance, which gets its presenter being rude to them on live TV. The girls afterwards are supportive, but don't expect much warmth from their rivals. "How long are you going to keep acting like newbies? You're not fit to be professionals."
The show's not as grim as all that sounds, mind you. It's not gruelling or anything. The girls are all nice and upbeat, helping each other and enjoying their jobs. However this is still very much an antidote to all those vapid idol shows that relentlessly sell the myth to little girls who deserve better. It's a shame they won't be watching it. The show looks pretty good, but I'd never call it a must-watch and it didn't quite manage to drag me back into a franchise I'd already opted out of once before. It wasn't far away, though.
- Season 5
- Episodes: 44 x 10 minutes (?)
- Keep watching: I couldn't watch it in the first place
- One-line summary: gentle children's show, probably
This is a pretty low-profile anime for Western fans. It's been running for ages and it looks as if it was drawn by a ten-year-old.
The most important character is a stooped-over grandmother with a head like a TV. She's accompanied by a pair of false teeth with little legs and eyes on stalks. The internet tells me that Washimo
is the name of that robot grandmother, who was built by Hiyori's father to console her when her real grandmother died.
I managed to find this show on YouTube, but unfortunately without subtitles and dubbed into a language I don't speak. It looked nice, though. It's broadcast on NHK for children and I know Natsuki watched it when we were last in Japan. He thinks it's good, if that helps.
- Welcome to the Ballroom
- Ballroom e Youkoso
- Seasons: 1-2
- Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: ballroom dancing
I'd heard bad things about this one. Even before starting this episode, I'd been assuming that I wouldn't want to continue. See the two "This Week in Anime" discussions on this series on Anime News Network, particularly attacking the unpleasant characters, distortion of its chosen sport and off-putting message on gender roles (even though the original manga-kan is a woman). I should say immediately that I haven't watched the show and I can't vouch personally for any of that, but... well, I read it. It didn't sound good. It's also a 24-episode show, so that's another strike against it. (Double the time investment, but you still won't enjoy it!)
That said, though, I still watched ep.1 to see what I thought. It has good aspects, but no.
The biggest problem, so far, is that it's a sports anime. Ballroom dancing is "dance sports" and the show looks as if it's going to unfold like any other sports show. Competitions! Tournaments! Can our hero be the best? I'm not the target audience for this kind of thing, be it cycling, swimming, baseball or whatever, and I have to admit that I started clock-watching even here when Sengoku started teaching waltz steps. That's my problem, obviously. There are lots of people who love this kind of thing and I approve of that. However I'm not one of them.
The hero's a nice chap and willing to work very, very hard, but he also makes some bad and irrational decisions. Sengoku knows he's the best and is a bit of a dick. "Well, it's me. Of course I was awesome." However there are girls too and I presume they'll be more prominent in later episodes, since ballroom dancing by definition should have a perfect 50-50 gender split.
The best thing about the episode was the visuals. Nasty, grotty things like bullies or our hero's messy apartment have been realised vividly and convincingly. In contrast, the dancers are almost disturbingly elegant and glamorous, with giraffe necks. They don't quite look human. However the actual story looks as if it belongs to a genre that doesn't do anything for me, while also on top of that not seeming particularly pleasant. I can't say I was tempted by this one.
- Wo Shi Jiang Xiao Bai
- I'm Joybo
- Season 1
- Episodes: 12 x 20-24 minutes
- Keep watching: no, but only due to the language thing
- One-line summary: gentle, mature-looking
It's a Chinese anime and I was watching in Chinese with Chinese subtitles. I don't speak that language, so this won't be a very in-depth look at the show.
That said, though, I quite liked it. The tone's good. It feels mature and real-world, with ordinary people interacting realistically. It's nice to spend time with them. It feels like the kind of show I'd have enjoyed if I'd been able to understand what they were saying.
We see a bloke we'll call JoyBo in a hospital bed. A moment later, though, some time appears to have elapsed. He's getting up in an ordinary apartment, going outside and saying hello to lots of friendly neighbours as he goes to work. On the train, he studies a glass marble with stars inside. (Dunno what that is. An indication of future SF twists?) Then we meet his workmates, who include some normal-looking people and an attention-seeker in a pink shirt and a red bow tie. Give them time and the former will bitch about the latter.
Later a red-headed girl flies into the airport. JoyBo will meet her and have conversations that I couldn't follow at all.
Google suggests that this series is a romance with an amnesiac lead character and a long-lost childhood friend he can't remember because of the accident. Also its story isn't wrapped up with its last episode, but instead in a separate epilogue episode on the 2:10 Animation's YouTube Channel. Looks quite nice. (Well, except that it's got CGI animation that's sort of okay but still looks as you're watching someone play a computer game.) Dodgy visuals aside, though, I'm sure it's good.
- What Are You Doing at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?
- Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka?
- Season 1
- Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: yes
- One-line summary: apparently fluffy light novel fun in a very dark fantasy future
- I've since finished it and... it blew me away. Bloody hell.
Ooooh. This looks good.
It starts with the "happiest girl in the world" jumping out of a plane with a sword. No sign of any flight equipment.
We then visit Island 28, where almost everyone's a animal person. We only see two exceptions, both apparently human. There's a girl (Chtholly) who chases a cat and nearly gets herself killed when it knocks her off a ledge and a boy (Willem) who catches her and saves her life. The townspeople turn nasty when they realise that Chtholly's not furry. Willem saves her and takes her on a tour of the town, which is curiously done as a montage to the soundtrack of Scarborough Fair. That's a haunting song. This ends in a manner suggesting that Chtholly might (possibly) now be taken away and killed, although she's cheerful and positive about it.
Willem goes off to a bar. A goblin man offers him a job with the military, which Willem rejects even though he's a powerless skin-faced outcast who's living on debt. He also can't fight or use weapons. He gets talked into accepting it, though, and learns that he's going to be the caretaker of some special military weapons.
So far that's pretty dark, even without the post-credits sequence which goes into more detail about humanity getting wiped out centuries ago. On the other hand, though, things are about to get happier. There's a beautiful, buxom, motherly lady who also happens to be a troll. (She's an old acquaintance of Willem's who's promised not to eat him without permission, but she's also liable to pester him to give it.) We have excitable little girls. We have Lovecraftian character names. We have fairy wings (in the closing credits). It's quite light-hearted and fun by the time we reach the end... but there's still the question of the setting.
Oh, and there's also the title. Like Girls' Last Tour, this is a 2017 anime that's playing with the Japanese double meaning of "shuumatsu" ("weekend" and "conclusion, termination, ending").
It took a while for the episode to play all its cards, but in the end it grabbed me. I was tempted to spend all morning just watching this and not bothering with any of the other shows I'm in the middle of. I'm looking forward to it.
- World Fool News Part II
- Season 2
- Episodes: 12 x 10 minutes
- Keep watching: yes
- One-line summary: slightly deadpan comedy about a local TV station
- I've since finished it and... it's good fun. I enjoyed it.
Somehow I missed the first series of World Fool News in 2014, but here's Part II. I think it's a comedy, but that's a potentially misleading statement. It's the kind of relaxed, low-octane "is this a comedy?" show that's happy to do joke-free news stories about bungee jumping or homing pigeons. The humour is slow and liable to be lurking in the character interactions and subtleties of pacing and reaction shots. The funniest bit in this episode, for me, was actually a non-reaction.
The music's cool. That theme music made me want to watch more episodes.
There's a unembarrassable female newscaster and her male colleague. They have slightly weird mouths. There's a "new weather girl" who's a meandering granny who loves talking about her late husband. That's an amusing idea. Joke-free so far, but likeable.
We then meet the production staff, plus an executive with lame rebranding ideas. There's also a bloke in a cowboy hat who watches a wall of TVs while clicking his fingers. This isn't a "laugh out loud" show, but I was amused enough for ten minutes. Besides, I like the theme music.
- The World YAMIZUKAN
- Sekai no Yami Zukan
- Season 1
- Episodes: 13 x 5 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: horror anthology with non-animation
I like horror anthology shows, but I'm dropping this one. It took me three episodes to reach that decision, though.
It's not even semi-animated. There's no animation at all. It's like a telesnap reconstruction of lost animation, with at best the camera panning across still pictures. There's also a narrator, since the visuals are so cheap that otherwise you couldn't follow the story.
The episode's about a woman wandering off into the woods, followed by her husband. Her state of undress gets ever more revealing, but the art quality guarantees you won't care. (That's fine in horror, though.) What is a problem is that the story's ending is so lame that my first thought was to wonder if it was really an ending at all. (It's a UFO!) Does the story continue in ep.2?
Answer: no, it doesn't. That really was just a bewilderingly lame ending.
I'm guessing this one's set in Russia, based on the names and hats. A small boy makes a snowman, but his unpleasant father destroys it. This story was okay, actually. The snowman comes alive and talks with a woman's voice, which is both mildly charming and sinister. The father gets pushed off a cliff and everyone's happy!
...but then comes the story's punchline, which is lame in the same way as before. The only difference is that it's "a big hairy monster!!!" instead of "a UFO!!!" (This twist even manages to create an apparent continuity clash within a five-minute story, since we'd just heard it talking with a woman's voice. Well, maybe yeti can do that.) So far I wasn't impressed with the show at all, but I decided to keep going anyway. They're only five-minute episodes and there's lots of room for variation in a horror anthology.
This story was slightly better, but still not great. A hitch-hiker in America gets picked up by a hot blonde in a cowboy hat. There's less narration and more dialogue (which is good), but again I found the horror twist uninteresting.
I'm dropping this show, but I nearly continued. They're super-short. What have you got to lose? Every episode has its own art style, for what it's worth, and there's probably an episode or two in there that's good. Apparently the intention was to evoke the retro atmosphere of 1960s and 1970s pulp horror stories and to explore real-world myths, legends and forteana, e.g. cryptids, spiritual experiences, urban legends, etc. I'm fine with all that. I just didn't think the episodes I watched were much good.