The weekend of several new premieres has finally passed. Although we are getting a rather late start with at least half of the anime yet to premiere, I already have a lot I want to say. Disappointments and delights have already occurred in numerous forms, and I’m on the desperate hunt for the standout original anime this season, as Death Parade was to me last season. The rest of the premieres will be covered in my Week 2 write up next weekend! New anime, line up! It’s time to see where the potential lies this exciting Spring season. I’m counting them down in order of preference from worst to best! And remember, there are two pages!
I watched the trailer and came away with an uncaring outlook, but I wanted to see some wicked gunfights so I watched it anyways. By the time it was over, I still had an uncaring outlook, and I saw some wicked gunfights. Judging by the fact that I was almost nodding off by the time the episode ended, I’m guessing wicked gunfights just aren’t enough.
Gunslinger Stratos is a small part sci-fi mystery, large part mess of an anime. It’s based on a Japanese arcade game, so form your own judgments on that. Rage of Bahamut proved that it doesn’t matter what your source material is. In the hands of a good team, any anime can become impressive. But Rage of Bahamut this is not. Gunslinger Stratos Is hardly distinctive, memorable, or profound in any way. That instantly takes my investment and throws it out the window.
Our main character has a nightmare about a mysterious girl scribbling notes on the ground, and some shadowy man shooting him. Therein lies the entire mystery element. Who is the girl, and who is the guy? Our hero isn’t all that notable. Funnily enough, that’s kind of his mantra. Do nothing to get noticed, and no one will antagonize you. As such, he makes an effort to seem like a complete nobody, but we learn, predictably enough, that he’s pretty good at combat, only that he pretends to lose. There’s a love interest. A really boring one. And her brother hates the main character, thus acting excessively angry all the time. Then there’s the second girl who idolizes the angry brother. Yeah, every character feels paper-thin right now.
The world design is the only thing I found refreshing. It’s a futuristic city where Japan used to stand, so there should be all kinds of cool gizmos. We have buttons that rest within the skin that control functions in your house. Trays of food that instantly boil causing a plastic bubble to expand from the tray. Little robots that clean up your plates. So at least they got the science fiction part right which didn’t make this entirely worthless. There’s a ranking system that decides the citizens’ potential. (Because we always have to have a metric way to measure people rather than true character development.)
In the world, there are people disappearing from existence, and within the first episode, you see where those people are going. The mysterious girl who scribbles things seems to be from that world, and my guess is she’s calling people, or just our hero, towards it. After a pretty cool trip through an unseen part of town, he ends up falling into a weird hole that ends up spitting him out here:
An alternate version of our 2015’s Japan. The only difference is there are crazy ass gunfights going on between a guy who looks ripped straight out of Jojo’s, mechs, espers, and I’m sure there will be more. The story thus far has been purely a means of bringing a character into a new world and setting up the mystery of the girl from his dream. It’s all very broad, in the bad sense. It’s too general, making this story have nothing unique to this anime so far. The twist at the end wasn’t enough to keep me invested. Tohru having another version of himself in the world he was transported to is hardly original. That’s not really a bad thing…but when it brings nothing new to the table, or doesn’t present something already brought to the table in an innovative way, there’s just not much else to really make me want to watch it versus other anime.
The visuals are weak. I’m very surprised that A-1 produced this, but perhaps this is just one of their smallest projects of the season. A-1, if you don’t know, just finished animating Your Lie in April, which looked absolutely phenomenal, making this look like colorless, featureless pudding compared to that. There’s hardly any movement in conversations scenes, and the fights looked thoroughly boring too. The character designs come off as uninventive, and typical. Sometimes, this is ok as long as their personality shines through, but our characters here don’t have anything like that. There’s enough here to basically go, “he’s the angry one, he’s the shy one, and she’s the girl.” The music is also very standard. A run of the mill orchestra mix for heavy moments, and boring jingles for the downtime.
There just wasn’t enough here. I had to dig through the episode to find interesting things to talk about instead of favorably recalling them from memory. While the sci-fi attention to detail is nice, the forgettable characters, story, and poorly animated, unexciting fight scenes ultimately made this episode a generic bore. Dropped.
Ultimate Otaku Teacher
Well, it’s very clear that this isn’t going to be a serious anime about reforming ones life and becoming a teacher. Instead, this single episode has demonstrated that this anime is all about just how incredible and “ultimate” this otaku teacher is. He’s basically a superhero in teaching form. And with Assassination Classroom airing alongside this, they will definitely be competing for the best teacher anime.
We open up with a very upbeat look at this guys stay-at-home lifestyle. Rather than being emotionally void, and full of subtle signs of depression, this guy is absolutely happy just doing what he’s doing. He takes this teaching job only because his sister is threatening to break all of his collectibles. I know I would do the same. Our main character is a young genius. Someone with the potential and fame to be a leading scientist, but instead, he prefers to update his anime blog and engage with the not-so-noble arts of life.
It seems we’ll be taking a rough student-of-the-week format, so this week we meet a girl student who wants to become a voice actress. I actually liked her. Her childlike dreams echoed well in combination with the teacher. However, we soon learn that she is bullied by some other girls in class. I’m thankful that the reasoning was deeper than “only because she likes anime.” They were friends she had a fallout with, and they haven’t quite forgiven her. However, as far as bullies go…they are still hardly good characters.
It’s here that we get to see what this anime will really be about. It will all revolve around this question: What will the Ultimate Otaku Teacher do to solve this student’s problem? The means he goes through to help his students are all geeky in nature. He hacks websites, makes troll pages, references anime and manga, and uses it all to concoct elaborate plans befitting of a true cyber super hero. It’s all rooted in the realism of today’s social media era, but is still highly improbable by our standards. So we just have to suspend our disbelief and get carried along his wacky plans. He’s supposed to be a caring bad-ass, but he doesn’t effectively come off as so. I have yet to really respect this guy, mainly because of his pretentiousness doesn’t quite mesh well with his other traits. I mean, if he’s sympathizing with someone who’s bullied, why does he act so arrogant?
Besides that, the aesthetics were nothing special. The teacher has a unique look only because of his strange hair color/style and his glasses, but every side character looked very generic. The animation quality is minimal and does nothing to improve what’s happening. The main strengths of this anime are simply the clever ways this teacher handles his business and the allure of what kind of things he’ll do next. I will give it another episode, but this will most likely be dropped after that.
Food Porn. Orgasmic food over synthetic. Fan-service restaurant. The number of ways you can spin this anime into a clever description about both food and sexual overtones still won’t amount to the number of times this anime plastered people having orgasms from food across my screen. Food wars is ridiculous. A contradiction of Shounen by having the most inappropriate depictions of men and women contrasting with the young, innocent dreams of a young boy. Or perhaps, this is secretly more Shounen than you think as young boys will eventually dream like this once they hit puberty.
Regardless of all that, there is, without a doubt, no way this anime will ever speak to me on a deep level. It’s immediately NOT going to be one of my favorites. There is too much gratuitous fan service, and the premise isn’t ingenious. However, that’s not to say this anime isn’t exciting, enjoyable, and hilarious. It’s one of those anime that you just watch because it represents so many of Japan’s most zany aspects in one piece of media. And despite the fan-service, the cooking scenes are actually quite breathtaking, as only anime can accomplish.
Our main character is a young chef aspiring to surpass his father and take over their family restaurant. Capable of making both wondrous entrees and disastrous lumps of rot, he still has certain things to learn, but he’s clearly very capable for his age. As a young boy with unextinguishable motivation and feisty spirit, he’s good for the main character. For what this anime is, you don’t really need much more. His father is kind of like every other father in most Shounen, in that he’s there…and then he disappears for almost no good reason.
We already concluded our first villain in the first episode, and god was she unbearable. I’m glad she wasn’t staged as the menace behind the curtain in which the whole season would lead up to some final confrontation. I wouldn’t have forgiven this anime for how badly written she was if that was the case. Because she was wrapped up in one episode with little to no effort from our hero, it’s clear that this villain is just cannon fodder. But the future characters better be more interesting, and I’m confident they will be.
I really appreciate that even amongst all these ludicrous presentations, the anime explained the details and ingredients of the cooking with actual thought. This isn’t like he’s making a miracle dish, but they actually explain the cooking process in ways that anybody could come to understand how it would taste so good. We are teased with an extremely elaborate and grandiose university that looks more like a gated off mountain castle grounds where our hero will most likely come face to face with his shortcomings. I think the main objective is to make the super strict instructor orgasm. That has to be it. I don’t know if I’m looking forward to it, but I’m continuing in spite of that. I am excited to see this school and basically see just how far this story takes the concept of extreme food service. Just cause anime’s pretty entertaining like that sometimes.
The art, and most notably, the execution of the partaking of food is where this anime is making a splash. It’s literally gross and bewildering. I don’t like it when I think about it. But when I don’t think about it…it’s pretty damn amusing. Anime that require me to let go of my mentality to get swept away into it’s chaos are never my cup of tea. The art quality in itself is decent. It’s not elegant by any means, but there isn’t any shoddy animation going on either. It’s very energetic, expressive, and upbeat in style and tone. The music was better than I expected actually. They make certain scenes more striking with rigorous medleys accenting the drama and operatic scores making the exaggerated scenes have a little bit of grace, but it’s still nothing to get blown away by.
In the end, this anime isn’t for me. But it’s so memorable for both good and bad reasons, that I do enjoy talking about it, and I am genuinely curious to see what cray shenanigans are planned for future episodes. Therefore, off of excitement alone, this anime barely nudges a pass from me to continue the series.
6/10 (7/10 if you’re hungry)
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
This anime was better than I expected, but that’s partly because my hopes were pretty low. Despite that, there’s enough here to warrant interest with a cool level up system for our video-game esque characters and a love interest that isn’t entirely dumbfounded! Is it wrong to enjoy Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? …NO! And before we go any further, that title is absolutely exhausting to type, so I will now refer to this anime as Dungeon Girls.
We start with a narrated introduction to the world. A classic way for fantasy anime to begin. We learn that deities have descended to earth to experience tribulation and struggle instead of their boring perfect lives. That’s pretty interesting. I think this anime will avoid delving into the the more profound subject this premise could cover and stick to the fact that it’s merely an excuse to have magical beings existing along side humans. In this world, people can become a part of a deity’s family by receiving their blessing, which basically turns them into servant explorers capable of leveling up RPG style thus gaining the feasibility to fight monsters.
The main character came off as indescribably poor, but as the episode progressed, he quickly showcased all of his personality and by the end of it, he became perfectly likable. He’s not deep or anything, and he’s basically just in love with a girl who saved him in a dungeon, but we got to see his resolve pushed to the limit within the first episode and it portrayed his determination quite admirably. His, erm…deity. She needs to go. A fan-service target who has a strangely depicted crush on her servant, she can NOT be the basis of a love triangle, which is exactly what looks like will happen. The love interest herself is a stoic, silent type. I kind of dig that archetype. I’ll take that over the fumbling, bumbling moe type. She seems noble and respectful, highly reminiscent of Saber from the Fate series.
Useless is right! Anyways…the world is also quite refreshing, though we haven’t seen much of it. Primarily a dungeon and it’s nearest city where our hero resides. It’s got the old classical fantasy aesthetic where old towns have outdoor markets and everybody is friendly because there’s nothing else to really do. The level up system is a neat twist where your progress is represented by marking on your back that your deity has to update, or whatever they do to them. I’m excited to see just how intense the dungeons get, and if we’ll ever zoom outward and see more of this world.
The romance, given the title, is what I preemptively deemed most important. If any anime about boys picking up girls doesn’t offer good chemistry…I’m out. Luckily, the chemistry started off a bit more complex than I expected. Our hero gets to see his savior-crush before he’s even ready to meet her again, and is shocked to find out that she may have saved him for another reason, thus shattering his perfect daydream and causing him to train even harder so that he can impress her not as a weakling, but as a man who can handle himself. I like this, but I hope it’s not the guy doing ALL the work. Romance is a two-way street, and this guy is the only one with his foot on the gas. Of course, he has to win her over, but I’m already partly of the mind that this guy deserves better. Also fortunately, I think his crush is a proper woman and seems like a deep-thinker, romantic type…so I’m hopeful that their bonding will be equally satisfying for both ends.
The art is very warm, at least with the setting. Usually shown at sunset, and it’s a village made primarily of stone with a neat homely layout nestled in the wilderness. The character designs aren’t anything sharp, but the characters are easily distinguishable and I am very glad the main character has my favorite combination of silver hair and red eyes. The animations isn’t the best. Making it look a little worse in motion then when sitting still, but I’ve seen worse, even amongst this season, so this quality is satisfactory at least.
It doesn’t feel like a romance yet, nor a completely exhilarating adventure, but the potential is there, and they didn’t really screw anything up apart from that god awful, well…GOD. A true budding romance that risks breaking due to the fan service would be a horrible mistake to me. I’m still enjoying this and look forward to seeing our hero get his dungeon girl.