We’ve finished watching Ore Monogatari!! (which translates to ‘My story!!’). It’s a high school romance. The main characters are the gentle giant Takeo and the petite (and unfortunately, squeaky-voiced) Yamato, and their romance. The oddly matched pair obviously love each other, and that’s that.
And most high school romances then start messing with the relationship: one or both lovers are manipulated by jealous others, misunderstandings grow into real problems, family interferes, or whatever. It’s like a relationship shouldn’t work out because you need drama to keep your audience engaged, right? But OreMono proves that you do not need to mess with the couple to create an engaging series. Whatever happens, the feelings these two have for each other are genuine and unshakeable, and nothing that happens can ever shake that. Most of the people close to the couple are very supportive, maybe because it’s so obvious the two really love each other.
That doesn’t mean the series is boring — each and every of the 25 episodes is interesting and funny! But every plot gets resolved in at most two episodes, which means it’s always fresh. And every episode had us laughing by some funny situation as well.

If you like the genre, then you will really like it.

I lied… sort of.

So it turns out there was a single series that started really late, and I did not write reviews of some of the series that we did see… So this post is to rectify that.

Kakegurui: At this private academy, money is pretty much everything. And the kids attending the school have set up a major gambling operation: if you’re not ridiculously rich, then participating in the gambling is pretty much the only way to get ahead. Then a transfer student comes in, and she likes high stakes gambling so much, she immediately threatens the school’s hierarchy.
Did not enjoy this — there is not a single character in sight that you could have any sympathy for. It looks good and is well animated (though there’s not much action in a gambling scene), but it turned us right off.

18if: This guy wakes up in his dream — but it’s not his dream, but the dream of a lonely girl who lives out her power fantasies in her dreams. It falls on him to comfort her to escape her dream and wake up in his own life again — but that doesn’t happen.
Quantum Leap-like stuff, but then not interesting. And it seems like the writers thought: “Oh, it’s a dream anyway, so anything goes!” Meh.

The Reflection: So there’s one scene set in Japan, and then the narrative switches to New York where there is a battle between mutants/super-heroes going on. There has been an event called ‘the Relfection’ which gave people super-powers, and there’s some kind of special police force to round up any super-villains.
I think that the designs are meant to evoke super-hero comic books, but it is really super-ugly. And I don’t now how you could make a fight between super-powered individuals look slow and boring, but that is exactly what the director did. What should have been very exciting just bored us to tears. Not even having Stan Lee do the next episode narration can help this trainwreck.

Fate/Apocrypha: Another offering in the Fate franchise. This time, there is a group who normally participate in the Grail Wars, but this time they go like: “We will have our own Grail War!” Of course, others want in on that sweet, sweet Grail War action too!
This pre-supposes you know all of the Fate lore before jumping in, and since we don’t and it’s going to be all Dark And Mysterious, we’ll give it a skip.

…and that’s the real wrap!

Last new anime

Last batch of the anime reviews of this season! I did manage to stay on top of it, which helps: if it’s not a huge mountain of reviews to write, it’s easier to start (for some reason).

Dive!!: The Muzuki Diving Club is set to be shut down if none of the boys make it to the Olympics. A new coach arrives to set them straight — but being on a strict training regime is hard for teenage boys…
A Noitamina sports series, that’s always something. This one took us two episodes to see if we liked it enough — there’s very little action involved, but on closer inspection there are some conflicts brewing right underneath the surface too…

Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou: Yuushi lost his parents and now lives with his uncle’s family. He wants to move out as soon as possible, because they seem to regard him as a nuisance. His chance is to attend a highschool with dorms, but then the dorms burn down! He does manage to find a cheap room to tide him over. There is only one catch: about half of the inhabitants are ghosts, spirits and monsters, and they co-exist with the human tennants.
This, too, took us a second episode to see what it was like. The verdict is positive: the first episode is mostly Yuushi being scared of the youkai, but he gets used to them quickly, and from then on it becomes much more interesting to see how the humans and the youkai intersect and influence each other.

New Game!!: Second series for New Game!, which kind of starts up slowly because the studio doesn’t have a project they’re working on, so there’s some time to evaluate the previous release — which gives a nice way to re-introduce the characters. It’s more of the same, so it should be good — though I would have appreciated a little less focus on underwear in this first episode…

There are two series that I did not review. One is Fate/Apocrypha, but since we’re not into the whole Fate franchise, I felt it was safe to disregard. The other is Hajimete no Gal. I did download that, but when there’s an uncensored version and it starts with a close-up panty-shot, you know enough.

More new anime

Keeping up!

Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou no Kyoushitsu e: The government has create an elite school where exactly 100 students per year are admitted. They live in dorms and get a lot of points that translate to cash each month to cover their living expenses. Kiyotaka enters this school, keeping to himself while his classmates play around with this new-found wealth. He only talks to Kikyou, who is actively anti-social, so that doesn’t help either. When one month has passed, the reality of how this school works is starting to set in…
It all looks gorgeous, but the main characters are unlikable — and the ones that go out of their way to be friendly seem untrustworthy. I’m not sure what the writers are going for, but they will have to go without us.

Mahoujin Guru Guru: A remake from a series from 1994, a parody of 8-bit RPGs with their pixellated overland maps and standard plots. Nike has been groomed by his parents to become a hero, and when the king announces he is looking for one, he is pushed to answer the call. He is also paired with a girl his age, who is the last magician of the forbidden Guru Guru magic school — and she doesn’t have any common sense knowledge of the world.
It’s very… energetic. It’s fun, but it’s really, really ‘shouty’. It has some good puns (some of them non-obvious visual ones), but all in all one episode was enough zany-ness for us.

More new anime

Vatican Kiseki Chousakan: Priests Nicholas and Hiraga are special ‘miracle investogators’ from the Vatican. They get sent to South America to investigate a nun’s virginal pregnancy: the nun claims she was impregnated by God. She lives in a large complex with a church, hospital and boarding school — but there are more things going on than meets the eye, and one of the priests of the church is murdered in some ritual demon-summoning attempt…
The palette is quite dark and drab, and we get lots of long shots of overwhelming architecture, which serves to emphasize the smallness of humans, I guess. The two priests go about their investigation quite straight-faced, but it is immediately apparent that everyone they meet has a dark side to them that they try to hide. And that’s supposed to be really dark and edgy I guess, but it just didn’t grab us at all.

Konbini Kareshi: Two friends start highschool, and of course they meet girls there. And they also meet them again in the convenience store close to the school.
Super-slow, unnecessarily long shots, the male faces lack any kind of expressiveness, stilted animation… Sure it’s a romance, and I can stomach slow-moving romances quite well, but this is just overly bland and doesn’t ‘sparkle’ anywhere.

Shoukoku no Altair: Mahmut becomes a Pasha in an Ottoman analogue, just before the prime minister of the much larger Austro-Hungarian analogue is found in the border area, shot with Ottoman arrows… This is a prelude to war, and the Ottomans can’t win it — twelve years ago, things went wrong, and there are many Pasha who are desperate to avoid more bloodshed. But Mahmut is a clever fellow and he sees through the machinations of one of the Austro-Hungarian ministers and manages to defuse the situation.
Such a lush setting, with lots of little details and an interesting political system. But Mahmut lacks any kind of personality, so it’s like you’re watching two-dimensional card-board cutouts move through super-detailed backgrounds. It did not grab us.

Gamers!: Keita is a total game otaku, so when the ‘school idol’ addresses him when he is shopping for games, he loses his composure. Turns out that she is an avid gamer too, and she wants to recruit him for the gaming club. He joins her and another guy from their year, and it turns out that the gaming club is filled with ‘sweaty tryhards’, who play games not to enjoy them, but to win them. That’s not Keita’s style, so he declines her invitation — which might make him the pariah of the whole school…
So yes, the gaming club is a bunch of gaming nerds, but they want to win and want to train to get better. So it’s not like Genshiken at all, but more e-sports. Could be interesting in a low-key way.

More new anime

So far, I’ve managed to keep up to date with the reviews. (That is, up to date with writing the reviews after we watch the episodes, not keeping up with the new episodes as they appear.)

Nana Maru San Batsu: Shiki is a shy boy, a real bookworm. And because he didn’t dare speak up, he even didn’t get the class librarian position! But the Quiz Bowl Club president gave him a paper with 100 quiz questions, and he knew all the answers. And his classmate Mari, who he’s interested in, is really into the demonstration that’s given during club orientation. She convinces him that he should join, together with her.
So it’s probably a sports anime, but since it’s a non-traditional subject, it feels quite fresh. The designs aren’t that detailed, and it’ll probably not be as good as Chihayafuru, but it’s worth giving it a chance.

Princess Principal: A gravity-nullifying mineral is found, and it’s used in massive airships, giving the Kingdom of Albion a massive advantage. But then there’s a revolution, and the empire splits into the Empire proper, and the Commonwealth. Five girls, one of who is the princess of the Empire, attend a prestiguous boarding school for girls in the Empire — and they are all spies for the Commonwealth. Using their abilities and their covers as schoolgirls, they conduct sensitive missions.
Pure steampunk with lots of political intrigue and (at least for the first episode) a really clever plot. It looks gorgeous too. One to watch.

More new anime

Trying to stay on top of the queue…

Koi to Uso: The Japanese government has decided to do something about the low birth rates. So when you turn 16, you get a partner assigned to you, based on various characteristics — and romance with anyone else is forbidden! So what should you do when you, like Yukari, fall in love with your classmate? And then she confesses she loves him back? He gets his notification on his cellphone, and to his absolute delight it’s her name! But when he gets the official notification on paper, there’s a different name on there…
I really like how grown-up this is (“should we kiss? let’s kiss” without any of the two freaking out) and I really like the romantic set-up. The character designs are very good as well, with lots of little details. I want to see more of this.

Made in Abyss: Riko and her friends live in the Guild Orphanage, raised to become spelunkers in the enormous Abyss — 1000 meters across, depth unknown, and filled with strange creatures and artefacts. What they find is used to run the orphanage, but Riko has a tendency to keep things for herself. Especially when she finds a robot boy during an expedition!
If there was an RPG based on this setting, I would play it. It’s such an interesting place, the characters are interesting, the set-up is interesting, and the designs are really cool. Can’t want to see more of this!

More new anime

Hitorijime My Hero: Masahiro is always alone at home, so he spends most of his evenings roaming the streets. He falls in with a group of no-goods who use him as their errand boy — until one evening the group is targetted by the so-called “Bear Killer”, who defeats them all. Turns out that this is the elder brother of Masahiro’s only friend, who makes him promise to drop out of the group and start high school like a good boy. And then later, it turns out that he will be their math teacher at their new school.
It’s almost refreshing to watch a yaoi series, since there’s not a single female in sight — there are enough series where this is the exact reverse. But the characters are kinda bland and these stories never go anywhere anyway.

Jikan no Shishaisha: There’s a rumour that if you make a wish at the clock tower in the old graveyard, you can wish for time to be reversed. This is very attractive for Koyuki, who lost her older brother a few years ago. But she is stopped by Victor and Kiri, a pair of Mysterious Men who battle the time demons. Where Kiri is serious, Victor is playful — he has his reasons for making the most out of every day…
So, this is probably supposed to be adventurous and action-packed and mysterious, but I was completely uninterested. Bland designs, bland characters, bland story — we’ve seen this all before. Snoozefest.

Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni: Touya gets accidentally killed by a lightning bolt. As an apology, God will allow him to take his smartphone to the fantasy world where he will be reborn (or actually, transported as-is). He also ups Touya’s stats quite a bit, giving him quite the edge. He makes some new friends (two girls, obviously) and they form a party to earn some cash. They can also teach him about magic.
Even though it quickly becomes apparent that Touya is a hypercompetent in this world, he approaches the situation sensibly and with humility. It’s not slapstick like Konosuba. With some careful plotting, it might retain its freshness.

More new anime

I’m trying to keep up with the anime we’re watching and not get the backlog of reviews build up too much.

Ballroom e Youkoso: Tatara doesn’t really know what he wants from life — there’s nothing that excites him. Then one day he ends up in a dance studio, and he is intrigued — especially since one of his schoolmates attends there too. He watches a DVD of a competition, and he is smitten: now he wants to learn how to dance! What he lacks in ability, he makes up in bull-headedness.
The detail in the character designs and the animation is astonishing, and it’s fun to see how Tatara is slowly finding his motivation. Of course it will turn into a sports anime, and there is some danger of Tatara turning out to be a ‘miracle rookie’, but I’ll forgive even that to see the bland Tatara turn into an expressive dancer.

Tenshi no 3P: Kyou is a hikikomori, and he spends his days composing and making music to accompany illustrations that are sent to him. Then one day he gets an e-mail from an admirer, which turns out to be a grade school girl — three of them, to be precise. They are orphans and they want Kyou’s help in putting up a concert in their orphanage. Luckily they have a secret basement that is stocked with vintage instruments, and they can play quite well.
What’s wrong with anime these days is that it is apparently ok to have a harem anime with a highschool students as the protagonist (true to form he’s a total dweeb) and having him surrounded by three ten-year old girls. It’s not as bad as some other series, but the setup is certainly cringe-worthy. And it’s not even interesting either.

More new anime

Knight’s & Magic: A software engineer, who also happens to be a total mecha otaku, dies in a car accident. He is re-born in a fantasy world where there exist mecha powered by magic — his ultimate dream! He decides he wants to pilot one, and he starts learning magic like a mad-man — since it’s procedural magic, knowing software engineering from a previous life makes it easy to get really good at it in a short time. And that allows Ernesti to attend mecha design classes too, starting to think of design tweaks to allow him to get into a mech early…
Ok, so this is another ‘hypercompetent‘ character, but at least he’s likable and I find it easy to empathise with his desire to ride a mech… Also, he’s not snooty: he tutors his friends who get to be awesome magicians too, so he shares the love.

Action Heroine Cheer Fruits: There is an initiative for “local heroine fighters” — like female sentai figures. Mikan’s younger sister Yuzu really wanted to see the Kamidaier show, but it was cancelled for some reason. Mikan enlists the help of Akagi to stage a show of their own, and they draw the attention of their classmate, who wants to re-vitalize the town by enlisting the pair as the local heroines.
It’s not bad, but it’s not inspiring either. And there are some squeaky voices too, so we’ll give this one a miss.

Centaur no Nayami: This series just starts in the middle of things. We see Himeno and her friend Nozomi prepare for the cultural festival play, and there are some complications in that. And we see them run the school marathon together with their friend Kyouko. You know, like a regular high school anime.
That’s all fine and dandy, and we’re supposed to politely ignore that Himeno is a centaur, Kyouko is a satyr and Nozomi is a dragon. But of course there are differences between them, and that’s used to great effect to emphasize that this is different. It’s a lot of fun.