Japesland – 6/10
There’s really not too much to Flying Witch as a creative work, which means my review will be similarly brief. It’s relaxing, entertaining, and generally competent at what it attempts to accomplish. That, however, is as far as it goes: competent. Characters? Good. Pacing? Good. Setting? Good. Everything else? Yeah, probably good.
My favorite anime going into this season, Flying Witch is still a fun entry in the slice-of-life genre, but just not a remarkable one. While I enjoyed the witch aesthetics, much in the same, lighthearted way I enjoy them in Kiki’s Delivery Service, that just wasn’t enough to last me the entire season. A 6/10 coming from me is still a positive rating, don’t get me wrong, and considering its competition this season, it’s hard not to recommend Flying Witch. That said, for those interested in a similarly laid-back slice-of-life in a Japanese rural setting, the far superior choice is Non Non Biyori.
Bungou Stray Dogs
Bungou Stray Dogs
Emdaisy1 – 8/10
Episode 1 of Bungou honestly made me fear for the show. It was just completely, well, weird, overall. However, episode 2 made it clear that episode 1 was just setting the stage for the show – a brief, general overview to give us an idea of the events up until the start of the show’s plot. So, what’s Bungou about? The MyAnimeList description makes it sound like a quirky, weird group of people solving mystery cases (they are technically a detective agency, after all). That description would not be wrong. At all. However, that description doesn’t address the really messages the show portrays about sense of self, self-value, atonement, and struggles for power and acceptance, among other things. Those were all pulled off in such a way that they didn’t feel forced and instead felt sincere. Those also didn’t turn the whole show into an intense self-evaluation – it was still peppered with really great, funny moments (e.g. Atsushi reading about Kunikida’s “ideal woman”, or Dazai’s pranking Atsushi). It was awesome. A great blend of light-hearted laughs and more serious plot points.
The show lost some points for a totally unnecessary brother-sister relationship with the sister continually fawning over and flirting with her brother… it’s only in 3 episodes, briefly, but it’s still annoying. Some of the characters in the show are supposed to be messed up and this is portrayed rather well at times, meaning the show does have some darker or off-color moments (e.g. implied torture from a sadistic doctor, light-hearted comments about wanting to commit suicide). There’s also some pretty graphic violence scenes (people being shot, impaled, etc.)… So, if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, I’d steer clear of the show because it may bother you. However, it’s fanservice-free and I honestly can’t recall any foul language. Other than losing the 2 points for becoming really dark at times, and the annoying bro-con moments, it’s a great show! The ending set it up beautifully for a second season, as well, which I will be eagerly awaiting until it comes out, and watching excitedly when it does!
Medieval Otaku – 6/10
Usakame certainly fulfilled its mission as a short: to make the audience laugh. However, it is an easily forgettable anime. The anime short which spawned it, Teekyu, is much funnier to boot. Still, I did enjoy watching it.
Annalyn – 6/10
What I expected: an exciting anime that follows new spies as they train and take on their first missions. What I got: a not-so-exciting anime that’s very difficult to follow, but at least has Lt. Col. Yuuki as one character to sort of tie episodes together. The episodes jump around in time (Episode 3 takes place in 1940; Episode 12, in 1939). There is very little training shown. The spies’ perspectives are rarely given, and then only partially, because most—if not all—of their own personalities are so deeply hidden, I doubt even they remember them. This is a fantastic trait for a spy, but not for a character. At least in the first two episodes, we have Lieutenant Sakuma, a liaison from the military and thus an outsider among D-Agency spies: the perfect guy to relate to. Unfortunately, his time in the show’s spotlight ends after Episode 2. From then on, we only have two anchors: the repeated intro about D-Agency’s history, and the agency’s commander, Yuuki.
I must admit that I’m biased against episodic anime in the first place. In addition, I watched this show with someone, so I was less focused than usual, and I might have missed details that would have helped pull the anime together. But even after re-watching a few episodes, I’m left unimpressed. The visuals are decent. The characters are forgettable (again, great quality for spies, but not for characters). Without a single central character spread throughout all twelve episodes, the audience is left to identify its own guide through the show, and for me, that didn’t work out too well. I got lost, and frequently. So what does this show have going for it? It has spy-related mind games, which are interesting enough. And some themes are repeated, especially in the first and last episodes, which lends an element of symmetry… and confusion, because the central characters in the pilot and finale are just similar enough to be mixed up, if you haven’t been paying close attention. That’s pretty much all the good stuff I can come up with for this show. So I give Joker Game a 6: It’s average at best. Worth your time if you like mind games, episodic anime, and history. But probably not for you if you’re a fidgety action and comedy fan like me.
Lynna – 6/10
For those of you who read my episodic reviews, you’ll know that Kiznaiver gave me a lot of mixed feelings. The characters, despite being a little archetypical, were great. The plot? Not so much. There were some great concepts and character arcs, but it all falls short at the realization at how much better it would have been if it hadn’t been stuffed into twelve episodes. The plot was particularly weak in the last four episodes, with the middle being the strongest part of the story. The last episode barely squeaked by in providing closure and satisfaction.
Despite this disappointment, it was definitely an enjoyable show. The character interactions were often very well written, and the music, character designs, and animation were regularly good. Though it absolutely should have lasted two seasons, I did enjoy it for what it was, and believe it to be a solid, just a bit better than average show.
Crane Girl Games
Crane Girl Games
MRNewman – 7.5/10
I have a fondness of short-form anime, so on a lark I decided to watch an episode of Crane Game Girls. I’m glad I did. The series follows three girls who are want to become idols. They are hired on to work at a game store and train fervently on crane games because, as statistics would have you know, Idols are much better at crane games than the average person. In reality, them playing these crane games using various techniques for winning prizes is powering lasers which are knocking off-course asteroids which are being hurled at the planet by some unknown source. Also, their boss is a good gorilla they only talk to through a tablet. Seem confusing and nonsensical? That’s because it is. Yet, as a short-form series it works.
Humor lies in the ridiculous nature of the show. The fact that the characters are powering lasers that are knocking asteroids off-course by playing crane games to learn to become Idols is silly. The interactions between the characters who are all taking their roles way too seriously are silly. Attempts at seriousness fail delightfully and are played up for laughs as the teen girls make silly quips and jokes about what it means to be an Idol. The animation is simplistic, but vibrant and colorful. The style works for this silly show. The ending leaves many questions as opposed to answers, but for me that’s fine.
Going into this with no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised at the silliness. It was a series I actually looked forward to watching every single week. I’d recommend it and, frankly, if you don’t like it, you wasted less than half an hour of your life…
1.5;">Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?
And you thought there is never a girl online?
stardf29 – 6/10
This is the show this season that I went into with very low expectations, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it throughout. While everything about the premise screams teenage boy wish-fulfillment, I do have to give credit to the show for trying to tell a decent story with its contrived premise. One major point in this show’s favor is that it is actually not a harem anime; while the male lead does get surrounded by various female gamers, the show keeps the romantic attention focused squarely on his in-game wife, Ako. This not only gives them a romance story that is actually pretty cute to watch, but it also allows the show to have development of platonic friendships with the other girls and the male lead, something that is pretty rare and very welcome in anime. Not only that, but amidst all the antics, we also get some decent stories involving real gamer-related issues such as social withdrawal and online hacking. While these issues aren’t explored to the depth a more serious show could do, they do help make this show somewhat better than an average fanservice harem anime. It’s still a very light, wish-fulfillment show with a fair amount of fanservice, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking or life-changing. However, I would say this show did enough things right to warrant a light recommendation for those looking for a gamer-related romantic comedy.
1.5;">Ushio to Tora Season 2
Ushio and Tora Season 2
Medieval Otaku – 9/10
Ushio to Tora stands as one of the best recent shonen anime. I hope the screen capture above conveys an idea of some of the hard hitting action in the show. The youkai hero of this show, Tora, and Hyou the Chinese exorcist out for revenge are by far the best characters. Similarities abound between Ushio to Tora and Inuyasha, and one can be certain the former inspired Rumiko Takahashi’s greatest work. (Feel free to debate me on that point!) The show features plenty of messages about hope and courage, which some might find corny; but, they made the show all the more enjoyable to me. By the end, they even managed to redeem the despicable scientists Marco and Nicolaus, who, having given their last full measure in the fight against the Hakumen no Mono, go to their demise whistling “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
Less commendable was their effort to redeem the Hakumen no Mono. Essentially, the author does this by casting the Hakumen no Mono (excellently played by Megumi Hayashibara, by the way) as a creature of Yin, while Ushio, Tora, and the rest are creatures of Yang. Hakumen no Mono envies the creatures of Yang and wishes to be like them but can’t, because it would be against its nature to be good. You see, the reason hating the Hakumen no Mono is wrong lies in the fact that it cannot act otherwise. This determinism subtly undercuts the heroism of the heroes: if creatures of Yin must obey their nature, then must not creatures of Yang merely be fulfilling their destiny by acting heroically? I hate determinism, and it slightly marred my enjoyment of the show–almost enough for me to rate it an 8/10 instead of a 9/10, but I’ll let this philosophical flaw pass.
1.5;">JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Diamond wa Kudakenai
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
Kaze – 7/10
The manly anime that’s too manly for even R86 to watch is back with part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable and all of the glory that is Jojo. The first cour of this 3 cour series has been great but has yet to really get into the actually amazing parts which I’m very much looking forward to. The craziness of the characters and situations is even more entertaining than previous seasons, and the foreshadowing of certain spoilers has been excellent. Coupled with a great soundtrack and superb voice acting (Noto’s Yukako was a beautiful thing to listen to), this season of Jojo is shaping up to be one of the best anime of the year, but that’s basically true of every Jojo anime since this adaptation has started. Either way, definitely look forward to the true origin of Stands be revealed (until the next retcon) in this awesome show about manly men punching each other.
Thanks for reading as always! Feel free to comment below.