Tag Archives: 2018

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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Overlord III

Type: “The Isekai where the protagonist is playing as a renegade” –Digibro

Synopsis: I wish I could come up with original material, but it’s 2019.

Pros: But really folks, this quote manages to perfectly summarize why Overlord is different from other Isekai anime. It’s an anime where the main character is playing as the bad guy. Is Ainz’s a bad buy himself? Kinda. Neutral Evil to be honest. This season does an excellent job at demonstrating exactly what kind of campaign Ainz is playing. For example, we return to Carne Village, the first village Ainz visited and defended when he entered the New Word. We get to see how these villagers view Ainz as a benevolent master. On the other hand, we also get a story where Ainz brutally dispatches a group of adventurers after we get a whole episode getting to know. Not to mention his political manipulation of an entire empire to further his own ends. It was in this season that I finally realized that Ainz still sees his current reality as a game, which explains his coldness towards some characters, but warmth towards others. That’s why he’s Neutral Evil. He will destroy anyone to further his own ends (just like a player will kill a character to advance the story), but he still holds some respect and admiration for others.

Cons: If I was going to say anything about this season, its that it goes by very quickly. But I’m not sure that’s really a negative. Season 3 fixes Season 2’s problem by having a coherent narrative all the way through. It’s doesn’t break up the story flow, and each mini-arc goes into the other very well. This season is maybe a little light on action, but I really liked the stuff in Carne Village and the scenes in the Empire. The one real downside, and I do mean downside, is that this season cannot work for you unless you’ve watched Season 1 and 2. It simply has too many characters and storylines that you need to be familiar with to fully enjoy it.

Watch it: A great end to Act 1 of Overlord. (4/5)

MVP: Enri

Hail General Enri!

Best Episode: Ep. 6-8 The Worker Arc (I enjoyed every arc, but this one reminds you what characters we’re really dealing with)

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Overlord II

Type: Lizard men and Bandit killing

Synopsis: We have two main campaigns here. First is the Lizard Men campaign, where our noble heroes have to defeat a united lizard army. Can our heroes’ vast armies and infinite strength stand up to a bunch of reptiles with pointy sticks? You’ll just have to watch to find out! Second is the 8 Fingers campaign, a side-quest for a butler, a damsel in distress, a couple of bumbling swordsman, and one shade throwing maid. Can they ever get along? You’ll just have to watch to find out!

Pros: Overlord season 2 is a protagonist-less story arc. Think the Shikamaru arc in Naruto, or the Doctor-lite episodes in Doctor Who. This means that our mmorpg nerd/underad lord main character, Ainz Ooal Gown, doesn’t really show up this season. He’s more of a supporting character in these stories. The first half of the season involved a group of Lizard Men who have to deal with Ainz’s forces invading their lands. I liked this arc because it was very reminiscent of older fantasy stories involving alliances between warrior tribes, magic swords, and outcasts heroes. The second arc revolved around Sebas, Ainz’s head butler, as he makes gets caught up in fighting an underground crime syndicate after saving a slave from death. This story was way more of a modern fantasy story: you have a young knight, a weary swoardsman, a sly princess, political games, and a gentleman hero who I may or may not have developed a crush on. Overall, a solid season.

Cons: I forgot to mention, but whoever did the English dialogue deserves a raise, because I loved the proper manner that all the character’s spoke in. It really helped convey a lot of their status and upbringing, as well as they’re regard to certain other characters. That being said, the action, while there, isn’t really something to write home about. It’s pretty generic fantasy fighting. A few swords slashes, a magic spell here and there, but nothing amazing. I can also imagine that some people won’t be syked that Ainz takes a back seat this season. I think it works really well, but people do watch this show to see the Overlord, not a bunch of lizards of their butler. In addition, the story doesn’t to a great job transitioning between story arcs. One episodes ends one arc, another begins the next. It’s a little jarring. However, this show does an incredible job of juggling new characters and giving them each a personality you can care about.

Watch it?: It’s would be an afront to the great Ainz Ooal Gown not to! (4/5)

MVP: Sebas

Daddy. (D-Did I do it right?)

Best Episode: Ep. 5 “The Freezing God” & Ep. 8 “A Boy’s Feeling” (one has the best joke’s I’ve seen in a while, and the other makes me want a spin-off)

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Pop Team Epic (Anime of the Year)

Type: Is this a joke?

Synopsis: No really, is this a joke?

Pros: Pop Team Epic is…Pop Team Epic started as…f#$% it. Pop Team Epic is weird as s#$%.

Cons: Whether or not you like Pop Team Epic will depend on what you think is funny. There are 6 main types of skits. First, regular skits based off the manga. Second, Bob Team Epic, which uses disturbing looking animation that will haunt my nightmares until my last breath. Third, a lovely 3D runner in french. Forth, 8-bit bumpers that parody video games. Fifth, puppet shows and songs. Sixth, the rest. Apparently, the show had various animation studios and voice actors work on it throughout production. The show is actually 15 minutes, but it runs for 30, repeating the episode with different voice actors. The next episode preview is actually parodying love comedies that looks surprisingly disconcertingly interesting to me with “Hoshiiro Girldrop,”

Watch it?: Pop Team Epic isn’t a meme anime. It’s a sh#$post entity given life by our collective consciousness. (5/5)

MVP: Alien Cat

GET OUT OF MY HOUSE ALIEN CAT!!

Best Episode: Not ever going to try (too hard. too weird. f##$ you.)

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