It’s week three of the spring anime season, and I guess if you aren’t ten years old hyped up on the latest anime fad, you’re probably trying to find something else to tide you over between the spoonfuls of sugar the anime industry claims helps the medicine go down. Well, I’ll be fair, it’s not all that bad, some of these shows are actually quite decent, but let’s face it, you go into every season hoping to be blown (or scissored?) away like Joss Whedon fans, but like Joss Whedon fans, you end up being blueballed and left to cry alone in a corner as he walks away smiling with more of your cable package dollars. Thanks, Writer’s Guild strike!
Alas, here is a quarterly-ranking of what I am watching this season in order from best-to-worst. This was hard. Really. But we’ll get through this together. It will be Fall soon. Log Horizon will come.
#1 Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
“Boy Meets World”
I’m sure most people think this is another Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, but as I alluded to in the preview, this is exactly what Mahoraba: Heartful Days was in 2005, and that alone makes this absolutely fantastic. Granted, Kawai won’t likely turn out like Kozue did, and Usa is quite different from Ryuushi, but almost all the same archtypes are there, modernized for today’s moe-tastic environment.
Because, frankly, on it’s own, it’s pretty much just another romcom with a straight-shooting main male lead and a shy-tsundere girl looking to break out of her role as the Library Girl Next Door. Unfortunately for her, the two much more interesting female characters in this show in Mayumi and Sayaka more than carry the show’s need for bullshit female antics. Add Shirosaki’s antics and throw it under one roof and you get something that resembles what holidays are like with my wife’s family. No, seriously, it’s pretty rad.#2 Seikoku no Dragonar
“Here by dragons.”
Dragonar plays like Zero no Tsukaima and Machine-Doll, but decided that Sacred Seven and Seitokai Yakindomo also needed some additional representation in this show in the forms of armor and student councils. Unlike Machine-Doll, where the male protag tried to offset “Wimpy Male Lead” syndrome by trying to play an anime version of MacGuyver, Ash Blake actually tries to play the the anime version of MacGuyver, and just ends up looking like a goth kid on the school bus who confuses conformity for the required-by-law haircuts of North Korea. His dragon sidekick,
Well, frankly, it’s working. I’m not quite sure how or why yet, but it’s working. At least compared to the rest of lot this season, it’s providing me with enough character, story, and Rebecca boner material to passively enjoy it. The problem is, I forsee the story continuing to track Ash more than Eco, and that means that this forshadowing of harem that I got from the third episode has validity. Certainly, Ash will not take Raishin’s nonchalant attitude about being the chick magnet either.#3 Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka
A couple seasons ago, we had Non Non Biyori, which was simply a fantastic slow show about cute girls in the countryside. Gochuumon picks up from that with cute girls in a European-like small town centered around an exchange student and a cafe. I did not initially plan to pick this up, but considering Inugami-san turned out disappointing and short, I decided to run with it. Good choice indeed. I appreciate simple shows because it doesn’t require me to give a shit to watch. It’s simple fun. Not much else to it than that. Grandpa Rabbit through is an interesting touch. Wonder what will come of that. #4 Soul Eater Not!
“Moe Eater Way”
The newest spin-off of the Soul Eater franchise is sort of a double-edge sword. As I spoke of before, Soul Eater aired before much of the moe revolution, and rode Bleach’s stained asshole so much it hurt. But where Soul Eater made up for that Bleach lacked was decent axillary characters and story arcs that made sense, at least until the cocked up ending that no one in their right mind really should have accepted standing up. Not will not give you any of those badass Maka moments, or wild and crazy Black Star, or OCD Death the Kid. Instead you will get what Soul Eater might’ve been if it aired a year or two after it did, made to appeal to the same sort of people who thought Maken-ki was a good show.
But surprisingly, Not is actually pretty good as a stand-alone product. It’s like how everyone dismissed NCIS after it spun away from JAG and then realized the characters were worth a shit. Tsugumi, Meme, and Anya actually work well together in this ménage à trois, assuming Tsugumi is the man here. Or maybe Meme? Hard to tell. Regular characters from the show are seen, mainly secondaries like Ox Ford, but Maka appears from time-to-time, and we’re not talking scowl-face badass Maka, we’re talking KYUN-KYUN-MOE Maka. Imagine that?
Me either.#5 Hitaugi no Chaika
“So magic. Few words. Wow.”
To compare Chaika to Doge is pretty accurate, I’d say, and maybe even a sign that Japan finally realized that Doge was their fault. Rather, Hitaugi no Chaika isn’t terrible, and I say that mostly from a story point of view. The animation is weird. Weird as in Chaika’s face weird. I suppose there is a reason for it, but her face just seems off in every shot in some way. I think what I like the most about this show is that Tooru and Akari are saboteurs, and you just don’t hear that word very often anymore. People old like me even remember saboteurs as being those little jail-striped dudes that looked like the Cookie Crisp mascot that were featured in Cracked Magazine issues in the 1990s, of which I still have a couple in my footlocker in the basement. It’s pretty accurate, given Tooru’s penchant for breaking things, and his special abilities is something I look forward to seeing explained eventually about as much as the magic Chaika uses. All in all, it’s a semi-interesting show. Nothing amazing. Just good. #6 Akuma no Riddle
“The Lesbian Games”
Akuma no Riddle is basically nothing short of a Battle Royale-style series that dresses itself with the idea that not everyone dies, as they can just fail and leave, but assassins tend to assassinate people, even if it is other assassins. So chances are, like Mirai Nikki before, which is what this show more closely resembles, someone is going to die, and the Power Couple Tokaku and Haru are going to be in for some fun. It has some promise to it, but it feels like almost too much depth is being forced into Tokaku when there doesn’t need to be. I know that sounds weird, because I usually advocate for better characters in action shows, but if she is going to play the no-kill straight girl to Haru’s crazy-eights when it should logically be the other way around, she needs less background than Haru. I’d like to know more about Haru by mid-series than Tokaku, because she is just the meat shield who might be in love with Haru. We deserve to at least know why Haru seems to get the attention of one of the girls. Then, at the end, I want to know why Tokaku made that choice. That is when her character should be revealed.
Or, you know, they can just try to kill each other.#7 Black Bullet
“Twilight: The Gastera Chronicles”
I couldn’t put it better than this when it came to describing Black Bullet to the letter, and that is nothing short of a piece of Mary Sue fanfiction. Listen, I do like shows that portray humanity “on-the-run” from things like aliens, zombies, The Empire, the state of Alabama, or anything that involves devastation. But there is a difference between Zombieland and Black Bullet. One find the unintentional humor in a shitty situation. The other just makes a shitty situation out of forced humor. The opening suggests that Rentaro is a person who seeks to resolve his quarrel with the alien bastards who took away his life, but instead he is portrayed as this bumbling everyman with a super-powered sidekick he is trying to humanize while fighting Big Bad. But what is worse is then the show goes and tries to pile on the praise for them, that they’re the “saviors of humanity” before promptly reminding you that RACISM exists against the Cursed Children. Guess this isn’t fanfiction at all then, more like Tumblr SJW: The Anime.
The sliver of hope that keeps me watching is that I kind of want to see how far our masked man goes to break Rentaro of his romcom persona and drive this show into being something more than just a floppy excuse to dredge out some Bill Cosby life lessons about pretending to give a damn about yourself when you’re being politically told not to.#8 No Game No Life
“Global Thermonuclear War”
Want to hear a joke?
Mondaiji, SAO, and Shingeki walk into a bar. Shingeki gets tossed by the bouncer because fanbase is twelve, SAO squeaks it and Mondaiji in on a fake ID even though Mondaiji is legal. They buy a few drinks and have some fun, but before Mondaiji can try to gracefully exit, SAO slips it a roofie, drags it back to their place, and has their way with it. Nine months later, No Game No Life is born, but not before the cops arrest SAO for rape. Trial pending.
Okay, that wasn’t so much a joke as it was a possible plot for an episode of Law and Order: SVU, but that’s what this shit is, Mondaiji without anything that made Mondaiji great, and shittier everything, except Stephanie Tits. What makes Black Bullet slide above this show is that Rentaro has a higher chance of at failing. Talk about Gary Stu fanfiction here, this show can do no wrong, at least for now, and Stephanie reinforces it by constantly hamming them up, even if she is doing it unwillingly. It’s not all bad, parts are pretty good, and we’ll have to see what sort of games show up in this show, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say Mondaiji is certainly the victim here.
Oh, trigger word, rape. Shit. Forgot to say that sooner. My bad.
#9 Selector Infected WIXOSS
I am not much for these kinds of card games, really. I played a little MTG back in the 90’s, then Star Trek’s early CCG game. These days, the only card game I play is Munchkin, and it is less MTG-style and more of a board game with cards that still costs a fortune with all the expansions. WIXOSS seems to play like MTG with an avatar that channels your shit. But as ol’ Jinx noted, WIXOSS has yet to actually tell you how WIXOSS works. We assume it works like Magic, because it seems to have monsters, a power source, and modifiers, but then so does Plants Vs. Zombies and fifty-two other games. But then, how do the special selector cards work. Actual magic? Sorcery? Silly hats?
The real problem is, WIXOSS falls apart story-wise if you remove the card game from it. At least with Angelic Layer, outside of the layer, you still had a story of Misakichi and gang trying to do things outside of the arena. WIXOSS would rather engage all of its meaningful dialog inside the game world, because there is no better way for JC STAFF to remind you that they’re in charge than to spend a bunch of time doing nothing in their show, right?
OH EAT A DICK FORTY-FOUR.#10 Mekaku City Actors
Each season we lampoon the shows adapted from LNs and books, for being generally shitty, but to be adapted from music.. well, that takes some skill. I mean, I know Lady Gaga wants to be SUPER EDGY COOL and put Hatsune Miku on stage for a few concerts, not even in Japan (take that, Japan!) but for SHAFT to open up another Monogatari series with some NEET kid and his computerized Waifu.. oh wait, did I say Monogatari? There must be a mistake here. It’s not? Really?
Because no one could honestly tell. All the same visual cues, all the same archetypes and silliness. All the same abstract visuals and colors. Might as well be another Monogatari. I liked Monogatari. So why is this second-to-last?
Because, frankly, the anti-hype, pro-hipster, sarcastic-asshole in me has to undervalue this until it proves me otherwise. The first episode was decent, but nothing stellar. Monogatari was good because it had some good characters. The rest was visuals and scenes that got dragged out too long at times and were frankly boring. SHAFT is capable of their visual style with more pace. I’d like to see that more often. This isn’t a Joss whedon show.#11 Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san
I really should know better.