I watched so much anime over the last two weeks, readers. More than I think I’ve ever tackled during the start of a new season. You may recall that I reviewed a handful of titles for Anime Feminist during the Spring season. That handful rocketed up to a whopping seventeen titles, running the gamut from pretty awesome to huffing the fumes of existential despair.
I’m including bite-sized impressions here, and links if you want to check out the full coverage. Happy reading!
As fantasy stories go, this one is quite pretty to look at thus far. The characters aren’t even loathsome or anything. Ernesti is a loyal friend in addition to his robot fixation, and his earnestness keeps him from being impossibly obnoxious. Nobody else is nearly as fleshed out a character, though, and that could be a problem. There could be many problems.
What leaves me uneasy is the knowledge that this series is based on a light novel. Even that’s not an inherent evil, but it puts a person on guard for several warning signs…and this premiere displays just about all of them.
“Comedic germaphobia” is not a good way to endear me to a series. So color me as surprised as anyone that I walked away from this one feeling endeared. A lot of this show’s potential hangs on whether it can keep up the thoughtfulness it displays in its premiere, but it started off on an awfully good foot.
As I began watching this premiere, something funny started to happen – time was slowing down around me, until even the most infinitesimal sigh of non-anticipation stretched across the crossroads. Seeing this, I realized that the only way to guide my way back to a semblance of reality – to another world, where I could be watching literally anything else – was to mark the time stamps of the episode that caused this strange phenomenon. I leave them here for your perusal.
Are you looking to watch a gently comedic slice of life show about supernatural creatures? Because this is another one of those. It’s inevitably going to draw comparison to Natsume’s Book of Friends, a comparison it almost certainly can’t live up to. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad series. Rather, it’s just Another One. If this is the kind of genre that appeals to you, it’s well executed enough that you’ll probably have a good time watching. If it’s not your scene, this one isn’t doing anything revolutionary enough to change your mind.
Here is a confession from me to you, readers: I generally don’t go for high school anime. I don’t hate them on any kind of principle, but they have to work harder to woo me than a series about adult professionals or even shows about teenagers that take place outside school. It speaks well of Fastest Finger First (pleasingly abbreviated FFF, with Crunchyroll dropping the 7O3X part of the Japanese title) that it hooked me enough to be curious about the next episode.
Y’all, I promise I did my best to watch this premiere without comparing it relentlessly to Free!. I swear. It’s just that the show wants me to make that comparison, is the thing.
Altair takes place in the land of “Türkiye,” you see. The conflict of this first episode (and implicitly the whole series) is kicked off by the assassination of some dude named “Franz,” a nation named Austria-Hungary Balt-Rhein is hoping to pin this assassination on Tofurkey, there are a bunch of assassins running around in black who are definitely not the “Black Hand,” and all of this led to the Just Okay War. (No, but really, they call it the Great Rumeliana War. See? They put a word in between! Totally different!).
There are children’s choirs singing ominously. There’s a totally unironic use of “Ave Maria” on the soundtrack. There’s a horizontal rain of stigmata blood stylized to look vaguely like rose petals. There is the most moment-killing laughter I have ever heard. There are swooping camera shots around a giant, poorly rendered CGI crucifix. The credits seem to contain actual footage of Vatican City with an anime character layered over the top. A statue of the Virgin Mary cries—but just regular tears, though. This show has restraint.
In a shocking turn of events, the most highly anticipated anime of the summer season is real good. There’s not a lot of competition for Best in Show so far, mind, except for maybe Made in Abyss (if it can avoid the worst excesses of its source material). But Ballroom is more than that. It has the vibrant promise of an all-time great.
Fuck you, Hitorijime. And good job, Amazon Strike. Your blatantly anti-consumer practices have successfully snagged one series which deserves to be buried at the very depths of the ocean.
For three years I’ve mourned the ending of Samurai Flamenco and its creators’ decision to torch their own house following the series’ abysmal sales. And at long last that series has returned to me under a new name, with all its heroic enthusiasm and queer attraction intact: Action Heroine Cheer Fruits!
After being lukewarm on the show for twenty minutes, the closing lines of the episode deliver a fantastic hook (which aaaaaalmost sells the clumsy backstory spillage from earlier) that may have tempted me to return for more. Ultimately there’s enough on my plate this season that this one will probably fall by the wayside, but there’s a compelling tragic underpinning here that could punch some guts if it doesn’t get subsumed by episodic adventuring.
Minor bones of contention aside, this has the makings of an engaging and poignant action title. Princess Principal starts strong with a car chase sequence that wouldn’t be out of place in Lupin III(look if the show wants to have a jazz-influenced soundtrack and an anachronistic samurai whose team role is “cuts stuff,” I’m gonna make comparisons), introducing both its steampunk and magical elements in an active, showing-over-telling sort of way.
Y’know that moment where Charlie Brown runs toward the football and Lucy pulls it away, like a boot stomping on a human face forever? This episode was that for me.
If you want a series about pervy assholes where the show at least knows what’s up, you might as well rewatch Welcome to the NHK. If you want a glimpse into the Gal subculture that actually gives a shit about its female characters, check out Super Gals! This show belongs nowhere but the uttermost depths of a garbage pit.
Classroom of the Elite thinks it’s a lot smarter than it actually is. This is a show that opens with a quote from Nietzsche (which is slightly more or less stupidly pretentious than quoting Rand, depending on who you ask) and ends on La Rouchefoucald. Simultaneously, I had guessed its end-of-episode twist by about the five-minute mark. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, because there are several hints of genuine intrigue here, but is certainly sets a tone.
I am as surprised as anyone to find myself wanting another episode of GAMERS!. Given how hit or miss club shows can be, combined with the infamously toxic atmosphere that is actual gaming culture, the show had an uphill battle ahead of it. But skin my flesh and call me a newb if I didn’t walk away endeared.
I’m going to sleep for a solid three days now.