Tag Archives: 2018

SSSS.Gridman

Type: Super Smokin’ Sexy Style

Synopsis: Ya know, the one with the chick with the thighs. I know, I know, that’s not fair to Rika. She’s a well developed character. Well, not “well developed” in that way. Hey! come one, you kn-know what I meant. Lets, ah, get back to the subject at hand. We were talking about thicc thighs right? Oh crap! I shouldn’t have said thicc! Oh crap, I shouldn’t have said thighs! Oh crap! I certainly shouldn’t be contributing to the oversexualization of women in the anime industry by making light of it…it’s too hot today.

Pros: SSSS. Gridman is an anime adaptation of the 1990’s tokusatsu show, Gridman the Hyper Agent.  As such, this anime utilizes a lot of elements from the old “Giant Hero” shows. You have a human doing poses in order to transform into a giant hero. Every episode ends with the hero fighting a kaiju wrecking the city. And your ultimate bad guy is some nebulous embodiment of evil. Also, sometimes you get to see the hero use awesome accessories that are usually sold separately. These elements are well executed, but the show really shines in it’s human interactions. The show has four main characters: Yuta (Gridman), Sho, Rikka, and Akane. Each have their own views and feelings towards Gridman and the Kaiju that appear. Sho’s overenthusiastic reaction belies a his feelings of inadequacy. You get the sense that without all this, he wouldn’t have a lot going on personally. On the flip side, Rikka’s apprehension to getting too involved with the “Gridman Alliance,” despite her many connections to it, showcases a desire for normalcy. I should also mention that Rikka probably has the best scenes with each character, especially with Sho and Akane. Akane, the antagonist, is probably the most interesting to watch, as the show slowly starts focusing more and more on her motivations and desires, all which reveal a deep seated loneliness. Meanwhile, Yuta is Yuta. A good, but not great protagonist. Things get super interesting early on, when our protagonists and antagonist learn about each other, as every conversation they have with each other turns into a very tense situation. Speaking of which, the show does a very good job with atmosphere, utilizing shadows whenever the humans are speaking, casting the world in an almost melancholy haze whenever Gridman isn’t around. Overall, you can just tell that a lot of effort and attention went into this show.

Cons: Right off the bat, the tokusatsu endings may turn you off. They are mostly authentic, which could seem a little silly and even childish to some viewers. Especially when Gridman’s action figure accessories join the fight. That being said, I don’t think that the Neon Genesis Junior High Students were all that necessary, and didn’t do much outside of add in some lore. I also wasn’t a fan of Anti, though I understand that his use as rival character fufilled a tokusatsu troupe. Finally, I don’t feel like Akane’s final story beat was earned. It was a little rushed, and I think her story line would have benefited from maybe one more episode (P.s. I think that Ep.04-05 are notably weak episodes, as one is just for jealousy and the other was just for fan service).

Watch it?: A very well made show about giant monsters (5/5)

MVP: Akane

There are a lot of theological questions to explore here.

Best Episode: Ep.09 “Dream” (What if a god was your friend, but also kinda depressed?)

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Skilled Teaser Takagi-san

Type: Also know as “Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san” or horrible bullying

Synopsis: I mean, I know it’s not suppose to come off that way. It’s suppose to be super cute that this middle school girl teases her crush on a daily basis. Even though this has cause the boy to develop feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and obsession. It just doesn’t seem right.

Pros: Troubled feelings aside, this show is kinda cute. The characters are all middle school age, so their first love story told through teasing can be endearing at times. Nishikata’s overthinking is paired nicely with Takagi’s calm demeanor. You kinda get why she likes to tease him. And to be fair, most of the games they play are harmless. And the various quite hints that Takagi likes Nishikata make their segments come off as more aww than mean.

Pros: In fact, my main gripe that kinda soured me on the whole concept was a segment in the library. Takagi offers to help Nishikata study for an important test, only to reveal that everything they studies that afternoon will not be covered on the test. This just seemed more cruel than romantic. Ever since then, I lost interest in the show. There’s funny, and then there’s mean. And that was just mean. Also, this show does sexualize Takagi a little. I mean, sure, having Nishikata stare at her as she sits or leans in is one thing. But having an episode where Takagi literally models swimsuits in front of Nishikata is another. I guess that could also be considered taking teasing a little too far. Plus, Nishikata, learn to read some signals! Damn boy. Has reading all those romance manga taught you nothing?! Aside from that, there are these three side characters that aren’t really interesting or funny. I kinda skipped their scenes with no consequence.

Watch it?: Enjoyable enough. (3/5)

MVP: Nishikata

Neurotic is a word you can use here.

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Letter/First Day of School/ Seating Arrangements” (a nice collection of everything).

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Cells at Work

Type: Why would cells have blood?

Synopsis: Fun fact, according to Google, the average life span of a Blood Cell is 100-120 days, and the average life span of a White Blood Cell is 13-20 days. Assuming that Google isn’t lying to me (because why would anyone on the internet ever lie?), we are either witnessing a very tragic love story between two cells, or a body that is possibly close to dying every single day. Or this is all just a cute way to teaching people about the human immune system.

Pros: It was so hard not to make an Osmosis Jones reference! But if you MUST know, Osmosis Jones was a 2001 animated comedy starring Chis Rock, David Hyde Pierce, Laurence Fishburne, Brandy, and Bill Murray as the human body. The film depicts the rebellious white blood cell Ozzy teaming up with the by-the-book pill suppressant Drix as they fight against a deadly virus. I think Cells at Work: Black and Training Day were both inspired by it. Anyway, now that I satiated your thirst for early 2000’s Chris Rock vehicles, we can finally talk about Cells at Work. The anime depicts a rebellious white blood cells teaming up with a by-the-book red blood cell to–Ok, ok, the bit’s not even funny. Cells at Work is an anime that about a Red Blood cell with a bad sense of direction and an exuberant White Blood cell that she always runs into. The show mainly depicts how the human’s immune system deals with different threats (just look at the episode titles). The show falls under the “edutainment” sub-genre of anime, similar to How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? Only this one goes more more for the cute route than sexy route. If your interested in the immune system, or just want to brush up on your high school biology, then this is a great resource.

Cons: Kinda a monster of the week show. Most of the bacteria aren’t that interesting to look at. Except for the Cancer Cell episodes. Those were incredible. Since the show explored the body’s responses to different threats, it’s very episodic.

Watch it: For some reason, I am very interested in the Human immune system right now (4/5)

MVP: Red Blood Cell

All 30 trillion of them!

Best Episode: Ep.7 “Cancer Cells” (How the hell are you making me feel sorry for cancer!??)

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How Not To Summon a Demon Lord

Type: Helpful PSA or Lewd Cartoon?

Synopsis: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Pros:  How Not To Summon a Demon Lord is about a shut-in computer nerd that gets sucked into a facsimile of his favorite video game. He was accidentally “summoned” by two cute anime girls that double as his personal slaves and grow to love him both emotionally and sexually. The narrative is all too familiar and does nothing to dispel the stigma of Isekai anime as male power fantasy. In our story, the protagonist is the strongest character in the game, he is basically invincible, and everything he says is re-translated into something intimidating/heroic. But the biggest issue is the anime’s portrayal of women.

The story both infatilizes and sexualizes each female character almost to the point of absurdity. Rem, who by all accounts should be the second most powerful character as she houses a demon lord within her, is literally an svelte cat girl who is obviously meant to invoke someone much younger. Not only does she look young, but she has no way to access her powers, and must rely on the protagonist to remove her power through tactile sexual penetration. Putting aside fiction’s general problem with women with power, Rem has no agency in this story. Her biggest decision was summoning the protagonist. The story also revels in scenes where Rem is in pain, which reveals a lot about the author’s sadomasochistic tastes. Then there’s Shera. Shera is the story’s main source of fan service. Where Rem is underdeveloped, Shera is overdeveloped. She is an adolescents, or immature man’s, ideal woman. Bubbly, large breasted, scantly clad, and abundantly amorous. Shera is the story’s biggest missed opportunity. Her entire story arc centered on her decision to break off the the shackles of her culture’s expectations of her to forge her own path. Although she struggles, oftentimes comically, her desire to become an adventurer instead of becoming a queen to bear hears was admirable. Or, at least it would be, if her actions weren’t negated by the story. Because after Shera shares her convictions with the cast and audience, she is immediately brainwashed and kidnapped by her finance, who is also her brother, who tries to break her by having a monster sexually assault her. She only escapes because the protagonist rescues her, and the story even has the gall to make Shera cry for her brother/rapist.

Is How Not to Summon a Demon Lord a sexist show? Yes. This story demonstrates a very problematic view of male and female roles and dynamics. It shows women as weak, childish, sexy, and often times all three. The ultimate example is Klem. THE most powerful being in the story. The ruler of all demons. Who is really a prepubescent girl who loves cookies, yet still wears next to nothing. Her demon form even has large breast in the design, and the protagonist could still hold her off single highhandedly! I know that here is a tendency to give anime the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the sexualization of women. But the excuses of “it’s a different culture,” or “westerners are too prudish,” were trite a decade ago, and cannot detract from what this show truly is: a power fantasy with clearly unequal social hierarchies and unrealistic and problematic sexual relationships.

Cons: [Exhale]…So yeah.

Watch it?: I mean, it was really easy to watch. It binged it in two days. And the show never pretends to be something else. You know upfront what your getting. But the more I thought about it, the creepier it got. (2/5)

MVP: The voice actors

The stuff they had to act through. God bless ’em.

Best Episode: “The Demon Lord Act” (cat ears).

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Goblin Slayer

Type: Basically anime Batman

Synopsis: Now hold your horses. I know what your thinking. Your thinking “But Genetleman Otoku, Batmans good! He’s not an edgelord that focuses on controversy!” To which I point you to: The Dark Night Strikes Again, Joker, The Killing Joke, All-Star Batman, Hush, etc. Now your thinking “Yeah, whatever, but Batman works with other heroes to protect Gotham.” To which I remind you that Goblin Slayer consistently works with a Priestess, a Ranger, a Dwarf, and a Lizard Man. Now your thinking “*%&$ you! At least Batman’s not a sh%#% harem show!” To which I also remind you of: Catwoman, Talia Al-Ghaul, Vickie Vale, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn (sometimes), etc. Face it, if you like Batman, you also like Goblin Slayer. May god have mercy on your deviant soul.

Pros: OK, aside from the fact that I know way too much about Batman despite not really resonating with the character, the stand by my analogy. Goblin Slayer really did remind me of Batman (with some Punisher thrown in there). The protagonist is a overly driven tactician/warrior who specifically focuses on goblins due to a mixture of trauma and pragmatism. He experienced a goblin raid, lost his sister, and now has a genocidal urge to kill every single Goblin in existence. Replace goblins with criminals, sister with parents, and kill with beat-up, and you have the caped crusader. Heck, one of the main throughlines of the show is Goblin Slayer learning to open up to others despite his loner nature. Like Batman, Goblin Slayer’s single mindedness and preparedness are what make his fun to watch. Also like Batman, it’s funny to see Goblin Slayer totally ignore world ending plots, like an apparent Demon King uprising, because local issues are more important to him. His relationships with the other characters are also key in softening his image, as this story could have gotten very old, very fast, if it was literally just killing goblins.

Cons: The show’s biggest problem is in its use of rape. The rape depicted in this show cannot be ignored. Nor should it. In the story, goblins are rapists, and this plot fact is used to make killing the goblins acceptable and ever gratifying. This series got into trouble when it’s first episode depicted the rape of one of it’s characters. The show never goes that far again, so don’t expect this to be another Elfen Lied or Kite. However, rape is still an underlying theme of the show. Every time the goblins appear, the show reminds us that they are rapist, usually with still images of them ripping the clothes off terrified women. Several characters are also affected by this. Goblin Slayer developed a hatred towards goblins because his sister was raped in front of him. The Elf ranger is barely survives an attempted assault by goblins, leading her to develop similar hatred. The priestess also witnessed a goblin assault first hand. And the Shield Maiden manipulated the Goblin Slayer and his party into killing a nest of goblins due to a previous goblin attack that she survived.  The thing is, this character trait for the goblins was not necessary. Them just being murderers would have been enough. Killer goblins would have sold the world of Goblin Slayer as a dangerous one just as well. But making them rapists just makes the show harder to watch. It wasn’t a necessary plot point, and therefore a mistake to use.

Watch it?: It depends on what kind of viewer you are (3/5)

MPV: My Batman comparison

Yes sister, I shall become an edgelord.

Best Episode: Ep. 05 “Adventures and Daily Life” (No goblins slaying, just a nice time in town).

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Back Street Girls

Type: Alright!

Synopsis: Whose your favorite? Personally, I like Aj. I know, me and bad boys. But I think that I could change him, ya know? Anyway, the anime Back Street Girls is about idols or something.

Pros: The gimmick behind Back Street Girls is that three yakuza members are forced to become women by their crazy boss, or Oyabun for you normies. Every subsequent story revolves around the comedic premise of tough yakuza men having to pretend to be teenage japanese idols. This anime is on the edgier side, so a lot of the jokes come from the protagonists having to deal with creepy fans, or bathroom jokes. Although the show is short (10 episodes), there are multiple segments within the shows that help flesh out the stories and characters.

Cons: Production wise, this show seems to have had a tight budgets. Most of the scenes are stills, with slight mouth movements. There is no real story, other than the protagonist having to deal with idol life. A short story arc develops towards the end, but gets resolved without the protagonists even doing anything. The show is also a lot meaner and cruder than your regular anime fare. It’s also not very nice to the idol industry, basically portraying them as a slave market that caters to gross and lonely men (I mean yeah, but still). Finally, the whole premise of “hehe, look at these men in women’s bodies!” is a trite. It’s a little transphobic to be honest.

Watch it?: Only if you want a mean joke (3/5)

MVP: Those surgeons in Thailand.

Apparently, they are at the top of their field.

Best Episode: The Gokudolls Support Group Arc (Around Ep.7-9)

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Zombie Land Saga

Type: And they say comedy is dead!

Synopsis: Thank you, I’ll show myself out.

Pros: The anime is about a group of zombie girls from different times brought back to life to become Idols for a small Japanese prefecture. Saga is apparently a real place, though I don’t know how hard up they are for tourists. I hear their chicken is pretty good. Anyway, this show is known for being one of the best comedies of 2018. The comedy comes from three sources: The clashes of personalities between the girls, the brash nature of their manager (Kotaro), and the shows love for abrupt jokes. I mean, when the opening joke of a girl getting hit my a truck becomes a meme, I think you know what kind of show your getting into. The show has a strong cast, and I especially liked Sakura’s anxiety, Saki’s rudeness, and Yugiri’s slapping ability. If you want just pure comedy, I would say focus on episodes 1-5, which show the girls getting into idol-related situations as a group. From doing a silly commercial to trying to land a promotion deal, Franchouchou’s hijinks do a lot to sell the ensemble nature of the show. And the show does get very silly. The animators were clearly having fun at some moments. Tae bursting into a room will never be not great.

Cons: First off, this is an idol show. Zombie gimmick aside, a lot of the stories revolved around being an idol. So if you aren’t digging the rise of idol shows in anime, this probably won’t change your mind. This is because two of the show’s main characters, Ai and Junko, have story arcs the specifically revolved around being idols. Being only actual girls with idol experience, the show explores Ai and Junko’s hesitation to join another group. The show actually does a lot of character work, despite having a reputation as a irreverent comedy. Episodes 6-12 gives each of the characters (except Yugiri and Tae) spotlights episodes exploring their pasts in some way. Ai and Junko have a philosophical disagreement over idol-fan interactions. We learn how Lily and Saki died, and the people they left behind. We also get a three-episode exploration of Sakura’s character as the season finale. While all this is great, is does take away from the comedy of the earlier episodes. So from a comedy scale of Adam Sandler to Adam Sandler, I’d give this a Adam Sandler in Click (2006). Solid, but some of the emotional beats don’t quite mesh well with the comedic nature of the story. (p.s. Those 3D performances were also not great!)

Watch it: Better than dying, resurrecting, then becoming a singer (4/5)

MVP: The Rap Battle in Ep. 2

With one season out, will I live to see season 2? The way the anime industry is going, I don’t know….

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Go Go Neverland SAGA” (Apparently there was some controversy over Lily being trans, but honestly? It’s a very sweet and funny story. Father-daughter stories get me ever time).

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Dagashi Kashi (Season 2)

Type: An anime about nothing!

Synopsis: Nothing but the slow decline of an outdated business and melancholy over the loss of a potential lover.

Pros: Dagashi Kashi season 2 isn’t the off the wall comedy that the first season was. It’s actually a bit more dower. Early in the season, the show’s resident manic pixie dream girl, Hotaru, leaves without warning. This leaves the show to depict what happens with the manic pixie dream girl disappears. Turn out, it results in bouts of depression. That being said, the show fills Hotaru’s vacancy with a new character, Hajime. Hajime is an older woman (21, what a geezer!). Hajime gets to play the irresponsible older sister type to Kokonostu’s straight man. It was a fun new dynamic to contrast the first season’s more usual wacky cute girl vs. protagonist jokes we got last season. (p.s. I once again realized that the artists of this show are really good at inserting fan service without actually showing any skin).

Cons: This isn’t really a knock, but you do feel Hotaru’s absence. Like, when Hotaru isn’t in a scene, part of you asks “Where’s Hotaru?” I also don’t think that the show did enough with the owner of the new convenience store, Beni. His store is a serious threat to Kokonostu’s candy shop, but nothing ever really comes of it. The crew even go to the store every now and then! The biggest thing about this season, however, is that it’s less silly than the first season. With Hotaru gone, the show focuses on Kokonotsu’s motivations, which characters like Hajime help nurture. It’s fine, just not as funny.

Watch it?: Still worth a watch (4/5)

MVP: Hajime Owari

Sometimes you just need an older sister in your life.

Best Episode: Ep. 7 “Hajime Owari, Chocoball, and…” (Nee-san to the rescue!…I’m so sorry).

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That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime

Type: It was awful I tell’s ya!

Synopsis: Unlike this anime, which is actually delightful. Its kinda like an RPG where your goal is to create alliances with different factions. There’s goblins and orcs and ogres and all sorts of magical creatures. This is the point were I’d make a “joke” about fan service, power fantasy, or a reference to a 1970’s tv show. But to be honest, it’s a really nice show.

Pros: Watching this show made me realize that I really like Isekai that focuses on factions and town management. The other anime that I like in this subgenre are  Overlord and Log Horizon. Overlord, however, is more like a faction RPG with the player taking a “renegade” or “evil” route, while Log Horizon focus a lot more on town management. That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime is a happy compromise between the two. It takes Overlords premise, but deals with it through Log Horizon’s outlook. In the anime, the protagonist Rimuru helps each faction out of a sense of general politeness. He’s basically neutral good bordering on lawful good: he helps when he can, but isn’t out to save the world (as opposed to overlord, who is neutral evil bordering on lawful evil). The best part of the show is seeing how Rimuru and his growing cast of allies interact with new factions, and how their initial conflicts transform into beneficial partnerships. It’s a great show.

Cons: Being an Isekai with a light-hearted tone, you know that the stakes aren’t going to be very high. Despite being a slime, Rimuru is set-up to be an ultra powerful character from episode one. Thus, he won’t really face a challenge he can’t handle. You never really see him worry or stress unless its for comedic effect. His supporting cast might have a hard time, but Rimuru is always there to save the day at the end. Therefore, if you like stories with cliffhanger endings that leave you at the edge of your seat, maybe go watch something else. However, I personally liked this show because if the fact that its stakes were so low. Sometimes you just need a story where the good guy always wins, ya know? Plus, a lot of the emotional highs come from character interactions, not battle resolutions. Speaking of personal tastes, one last little nitpick I have concerns the series’ poster girl, Shizue, or “Shizu.” In the story, Shizu is basically Rimuru’s Uncle Ben or Gwen Stacy. She’s an incredibly influential character whose legacy influences a lot of the story arcs. She also dies very early on. I liked Shizu, but I didn’t like that she was plastered in the show’s OP, ED, and most promotional material. It get the feeling that this was only done because marketing really wanted a Japanese woman as the cover girl (even though the show doesn’t really get started until after she dies! (for obvious reasons)). P.s. I didn’t like that the show was split up into two segments mid season for no real reason.

Watch it?: It’s not a bad slime show! (4/5)

MVP: Shion

I really like her in the manga as Rimuru’s girl friday.

Best Episode: Ep. 09-14 The Orc Lord Saga (I’m actually thinking about reading the rest of the light novels to get caught up. I like the story that much.)

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Hinamatsuri

Type: It’s not really a farce

Synopsis: It’s more of a slice-of-life comedy with silly bits hiding the real story. I’m of course talking about Anzu, a sweet girl who save from delinquency by a group of kind homeless men. When a new law forces them to move out of their camp, they leave Anzu to a restaurant couple be-sniff-because they know the streets are no place for a kindhearted girl like her. J-just, just go watch it ok?

Pros: This anime is can be divided into three distinct parts. One third deals with the the show’s namesake, Hina, and how she blackmails a Yakuza named Nitta into becoming her guardian. Hina is an incredibly powerful psychic, and also a mostly lazy kid whose selfish demands for food and entertainment fluster and frustrate her guardian to no end. The Hina/Nitta stories are usually a mix of silliness and sentiment that tackle what life must be like for a parent raising a teenager. Another third deal with Hina’s friend Hitomi, whose inability to say no accidentally leads her to fumble her way up the ladder to success. Hitomi’s stories are the more fascicle, so they are the funniest all around. The last third deal with Anzu, and this is where the largest amount of emotional story telling is concentrated. At first you think Anzu is going to become the angry rival to Hina’s emotionless power. But she really becomes more of a “good girl” character who cares deeply for all the people. And while we’ve see this character before, I can honestly say that if anyone made Anzu cry I would personally hunt them down, shove my first down their throat, and pull out their stomach so they could choke own their own vile. But that’s just me.

Cons: This is going to sound very contradictory, but the Anzu stuff does feel out of place in this show. The manga pulls this off a little better. It was a jarring to go from Hina being the bane of Nitta’s existence, to Anzu making the adults around her cry with joy at having such a great kid around. There’s also the matter of Hina’s other classmates. A few times, the show will focus on 3 of Hina’s school friends who I guess are mostly there to react to weird stuff. I kinda get why they exists, but it doesn’t mean I have to like them.

Watch it: A swell watch with a few surprising tear-jerking moments (4/5)

MVP: Anzu

Did someone say…SPIN-OFF!

Best Episode: Ep. 6 “Nitta-san Has a Dandy Dad” (We should all be a lot more grateful for what we have)

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