Sunday, April 07, 2019

Anime roundup '19Q1

For the first time in over a decade, there were a dozen new titles this season that I felt like trying.

Wrapping things up from the backlog, Frame Arms Girl remained a harmless fluffy series of toy commercials masquerading as Pantsu Witches meets Angelic Layer to the end; and ClassicaLoid S2 was just more of the the same sit-com, including another reboot/reset ending point after the big story finished.

On the rewatch front, it was long enough ago that I'd forgotten most of the actual story in Dennou Coil (as opposed to the "Illegal of the Week" sequence), so it was like watching it from fresh and it was still a delight. That moment, though, when you realize that Searchmaton is using Grid Fixer Beam (it's super effective!). Real Drive got left behind in the new season rush, probably indefinitely.

Added from the backlog and completed, Hoozuki no Reitetsu S2, which delivers the same deadpan humour as before, only this time with more Evangelion references.

Of the continuing titles, JoJo Vento Aureo has ended up far enough down the queue to count as dropped, but Index III was entertaining enough in its ideas, if not in the bursts of chuuni nonsense, for me to follow to the end.

And speaking of chuuni nonsense, Boogiepop (2019) has that in spades, at least enough to have lost out to the competition and be backlogged.

More thoroughly dropped were Virtual-san Looking, after checking that, yes, it does do Evangelion references, and The Promised Neverland, which I'd tried, despite being a long running shonen, because it was a noitaminA slot series -- alas, it looked too much "jaw, jaw", and not enough "war, war" to to be worth it. Also, dishonourable mention for Kemono Friends 2, which failed the 3-episode test for being merely a cargo cult version of the original (and I hear very bad things about how it turned out in the end).

The most disappointing title of the season was The Price of Smiles, which started off with a couple of strong episodes before making a controlled descent into terrain with its stupidly naive pacifistic punchline. It was with wry amusement that in the epilogue, I saw that the protestors against what had been done were shown as Yellow-Jackets -- how very contemporary!

Surprises of the season were Girly Air Force, which delivered some jet-fighter action with only a minimum of harem antics (he says, damning with faint praise) albeit with an open "read the LNs" ending; and Endro~!, a "cute girls do JRPG adventuring" series with a great deal of heart, some RPG cliché gags that actually made me chuckle, and a surprisingly well done ending after the Hero's party have their fated final confrontation with the Demon Lord.

In the "mostly harmless" tier for the season, Grimm's Notes was the expected fairy-tale (with a generous interpretation of the term) fluff; and Pastel Memories provided the otaku in-jokes and parodies, sufficient that the second episode ("Is the order a rabbit an eel?") got pulled after the show aired for being rather too close to the original.

Being stuck in a run-down Akihabara when not actually entering anime parodies, PasuMemo made an innovation by having the ED sequence stand in for the obligatory beach episode (Anime girls with hips? What is the world coming to?)

As expected, My Room-mate is a Cat provided cute cat moments as a stray adopts/is adopted by a hopeless socially anxious shut-in, even if Haru does come over rather too solicitous of her person when we see things from her perspective.

In total contrast, Magical Girl SpecOps Asuka was actually one of those 80s Hollywood action flicks about some ex-cop/marine/special force/CIA-guy being called back from retirement to save the day, just with some mahou shoujo frosting. Indeed, it was self-aware enough to make some appropriate movie references in the interrogation scenes. And when your mascot critter goes all in with flak jacket and John Woo style dual wielding, you can be sure we're not in PreCure now.

At this point, you realise that dodos cannot fly

And topping off the season, The Magnificent KOTOBUKI delivered way more dog-fighting action than I had expected, in a sort-of Western that was more than just the Cowboys-and-Indians/Pony Express sort of story I'd been expecting. But then I should have realised that this was from the same director as GaruPan, so of course there'd be urban warfare sections as well. The 3DCG for the main characters, rather than just the aircraft, took a bit of getting used to, but once accustomed, was entirely fine.

And that leaves the short anime titles Mini-Toji and Manaria Friends as potential fillers for what is looking like a quite barren season upcoming.

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