Fall 2020 First Impressions

Three seasons down, one to go. 2020’s given us plenty of great anime as compensation for the, uh, [gestures broadly at the world], and now we’ve got one last slew of offerings trying to make their mark and give us some light in a trying year. Which shows do we frankly regret wasting time trying? Who are the seasonal frontrunners? And which shows simply stuck the landing for the time being? Find out below, as Yata and Haru take you on a retrospective of 22 of this season’s premieres!


ADACHI AND SHIMAMURA


Summary: Loners have ways of finding each other, and the second-story bridge of the gym room is where social ghost Sakura Adachi and relative introvert Hougestu Shimamura first met and continue to hang out, until their friendship develops into something more than just friendship.

Yatahaze:
From the brain who brought us Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl and the director who brought us The Quintessential Quintuplets comes Adachi and Shimamura. I unfortunately had to look that up, because almost nothing about this pilot indicated any distinctive personality present. And that’s fine, I suppose; not every down-to-earth romance needs a zany introduction to get people to stick around, but this one…this one could’ve used something. We almost got it, courtesy of a shiny, small spacesuit in the final minutes of the episode, but that oddity was too late and too mundane to qualify as a hook. Adachi and Shimamura’s pitch is all up to its namesake duo, and while both characters seem nice, if shy to a fault, “nice but shy to a fault” was not ideal in this specific circumstance.

Maybe if one of the two characters wore that crown, it’d work, but there’s so little meat to this premise its attempts at subtlety almost make it a non-starter. The narration of this adaptation just feels sluggish and evasive, perhaps intentionally, but in effect it just makes for a drag of an episode. If I had to guess, this is probably faithful replication’s fault, as the dialogue seems more suited for the individual pace of a reader’s mind as opposed to the dictated timing necessitated by video. Is the couple-to-be cute? Sure. Are they charming together? Hard to tell, since getting a handle on their chemistry is significantly hindered by how slow this all goes by. I get it’s the start of the show and they’re kicking this timid relationship off from a decidedly trivial encounter, but look…

I was bored. I could be proven totally wrong, and my friends all seem to be predicting that AdaShima will blossom into a seasonal contender both nuanced and sweet, but I couldn’t gauge that from its pilot alone. Nothing about this production looks in danger of sinking the show, but it’s not picking up the slack that these two quiet lovebirds are leaving unspoken or on the cutting room floor. One gratuitous and really grating “lol look at us wacky girls, grabbing each others’ tits” scene aside, Adachi and Shimamura left almost no impression on me whatsoever. Y’all like yuri? Y’all need seasonal filler?. It probably won’t be the greatest thing you’ve ever seen, but if you’re in its target audience, go for it. I was left wanting more than it seemed to willing to give, though. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong later on and be compelled to give it a second chance.
Final score: 6/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

AKUDAMA DRIVE


Summary: In a cyberpunk Kansai, law and order don’t amount to much: the police have at last caught a serial killer nicknamed Cutthroat, but four more elusive criminals, or “Akudama,” have been informed the first of them to break him out before his public execution will receive a huge bounty. They’re all certifiably overpowered, and also all probably insane, and in the thick of it all, one poor girl who just wanted to buy some dinner instead stumbled into an orchestrated death game. Mondays, am I right?

Yatahaze:
Thursdays, actually, and I bothered to look that up because beyond my wildest imagination, we got a new original anime written by the fuckin’ Danganronpa creator and I’m…

I’m kind of into it.

KIND OF. God knows how late this article will come out, but as I write this, only one episode of Akudama Drive has even premiered, and if all goes according to plan, the next one won’t be out by the time punctual readers lay their eyes on these words (editor’s note: lol). That leaves me with an awkward judgment call: trying to determine if Akudama Drive has the narrative bite to back up its showy bark. That I sat through all of Danganronpa’s first season in high school and enjoyed the schlock for a cour only to forget about it forever is both a good and bad omen: presuming Kazutaka Kodaka can get struck by industry lightning twice, the intrigue of Akudama Drive may never trail off, but at what point will it turn from genuine excitement to “just seeing where it goes?”

To be clear, Akudama Drive’s pilot is genuinely exhilarating, albeit in a super ostentatious, corny way; this Blade Runner-ass rendition of Kansai isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, but the animation present here is notably more polished than most shows of this ilk can manage. The lighting is thick, glaring, and sells the scenery, and the voice acting juxtaposes our heroine’s sincere, flabbergasted shock against the villains’ gleeful psychopathy well. It isn’t trying to present itself as something it isn’t; Akudama Drive seems to fully understand it’s a derivative, indulgent premise, and it usually (the censored shots are admittedly lame) owns up to it with enough charisma and visual flair to feel fresh regardless. That’s where the series’ strength comes from right now, and also what its future longevity hinges upon: how long can it keep doing this before my senses dull? Can it one-up itself to oblivion? Can it reveal hidden layers to contrast with its propensity for dumb violence? Can it keep me guessing and wanting to see if I’m right?

It’s too early to tell for all of that, but I’m cautiously hoping it can do at least one of those things, if not all three. The premiere’s tone gives me a pretty good sense of what I’m getting into and my expectations can meet the show’s on its own terms. I hope that come mid-season, I’m still getting a kick out of its bullshit.
Current score: 7/10
Still watching after 1 episode.

ASSAULT LILY: BOUQUET


Summary: Humanity is under attack by mysterious beings known only as “the Huge,” but thankfully a bunch of schoolgirls have taken up arms CHARMS, a combination of weaponry and magic, in order to fight them off and keep the rest of us safe. Such girls are known as Lillies, and idealistic klutz Riri Hitotsuyanagi finally got off the waitlist to become one, but her naivete may soon be tempered by what the task entails.

Yatahaze:
If you think you’re missing some pieces with that summary, don’t worry, Assault Lily: Bouquet won’t let anything slip by you. Do you prefer your stories drenched in intrigue? Too bad, you get Exposition City up in here, and you still won’t totally get why this ridiculous scenario came to fruition, just some pointers on the jargon that’s about to bombard your ears for the rest of the pilot. Not the best foot to start out on, but hey, the character writing is, uh…

…serviceable, I guess? Look, it’s a Shaft series with “magical” girls fighting monsters and an ignorantly blissful pink-heared one leading the narration from the get-go. Whether or not Assault Lily: Bouquet “deserves” to be compared to Madoka Magica is a moot point: it has been, and it will be, and it does not even begin to match the latter’s lofty standard of quality.

How could it, to be fair? Riri’s airheadedness feels artificially cute but there’s no pretense of wisdom underneath, and the rest of the cast just fulfills its easy to pick out assortment of archetypes, from the traumatized idol who got more than she bargained for, to the haughty ojou, etc. I can’t actually see where Assault Lily: Bouquet is going, and that’s something worth celebrating, I guess, but I also can’t see myself enjoying the company of these characters long enough to invest in whatever it’s still got hidden up its sleeve.

That said, of the shows I’m dropping early this season, Assault Lily is easily one of the better productions; its animation is fairly sparse, but the character designs’ smoothness lends them well to simple expressive motions, and the CG fight sequence at the climax of the pilot wasn’t that bad, all things considered. The backgrounds are pleasant and the shot direction is generally decent, the voice acting, while nothing special, certainly imbues the cast with some perkiness, and the incidental worldbuilding could easily overshadow the explicitly-outlined material if Riri could, you know, Not Talk for a few minutes. Regardless, it’s alright, but also the sort of thing that doesn’t look like it’ll surprise me or keep me hooked by simply playing its cards straight and well. I’ll pass.
Final score: 5.5/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

BY THE GRACE OF THE GODS (KAMI-TACHI NI HIROWARETA OTOKO)


Summary: After dying in his sleep at age 39, overworked salaryman Ryouma Takebayashi is offered an opportunity by a trio of gods to be reincarnated into a fantasy world where he can finally lead an enjoyable lifestyle. Waking as a young boy, Ryoma spends his newfound lease on life taming and researching slimes.

Harubruh:
With the start of another run of seasonal anime, so too do the isekai anime adaptations keep rolling out. Given that I’ve pretty much solidified my reputation as For Great Justice’s isekai simp since the trope took the anime and manga world by storm a few years ago, you just knew it’d be my turn to handle the token isekai seasonals once more, right?

True as that is, Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko, or Kamihiro for short, has been one of my favored isekai titles for the last couple of years, and been one of the top series on my “I want this as an anime” wishlist. As I mentioned before, I tend to enjoy isekai stuff, despite the trope catching a somewhat deserved bad rap for their rather derivative nature.

Sure, taken at face value, KamiHiro’s setup follows the standard: average schmoe passes away and gets reincarnated with OP abilites into a new world that takes after elements of your standard JRPGs. With Ryoma given power, physical strength, and the ability to learn all of the elemental magics of his new world, it definitely fits the bill here.

You’re probably thinking something like “cut to the chase, what makes you insist KamiHiro is more than just an average isekai, Haru?”

Well, what endeared me to the original light novels and the manga, was Ryoma, his slime partners, and the path he chose to take upon reincarnating. He decides to live a relatively quiet, peaceful life in the wilderness, taking up taming slimes and researching the properties they spontaneously develop in their environment. Depending on their diet, the slimes develop abilities to make materials like adhesives, potions, antidotes, or the ability to clean filth and grime. I particularly appreciated the simple yet practical explanations for the slimes’ specializations, as so many isekais love to ramble on about their needlessly complicated magic systems. Sometimes, simple really is best.

As for Ryoma himself, despite a harsh upbringing and a generally depressing life as a salaryman practically working himself to death, remains kind and honest at heart. After living a largely thankless life, he could’ve easily gone about his new life with a chip on his shoulder and a sense of entitlement, but that he remains a selfless person just happy to help people out makes his story far, far more bearable. That’s probably what the source of my enjoyment of KamiHiro is; that it’s less of a “power fantasy,” and more of a “comfy fantasy” story, and I’m always down for some comfy, especially in this hellyear.

I do kind of wish that the production was just better in general for this show. To my knowledge, Maho Films, the studio animating Kamihiro, has three credits to their name, with two of them airing this very season. Between this and I’m Standing on a Million Lives, it’s kind of surprising to me that such a new studio is pulling double duty so soon. I mean, the only other credit I’ve seen for Maho Films is the “I’ll defeat the demon lord for my daughter” show that dropped last year, which I didn’t watch, so I had no idea what to expect. The “quality” has been alright—not outstanding, but not terrible, either. I’d definitely say this got more love from the studio than Million Lives did.

Anywho, this isekai simp is sticking around for his favorite comfy wholesome slime taming show.
Current score: 7.5/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

THE DAY I BECAME A GOD (KAMISAMA NI NATTA HI)


Summary: It’s the end of summer break for high school senior Yota Narukami. With upcoming university entry exams weighing heavy on him, a young girl suddenly appears before him, absurdly claiming to be an omniscient god by the name of Odin. The girl tells the understandably doubtful boy that the world will end in 30 days, and erases his doubts by making predictions that all come to pass. Things happen, and now the self-proclaimed god moves into Yota’s home.

Harubruh:
I may poke fun at the stuff that Jun Maeda and Key turn out, but I’ll be damned if their brand of slapstick humor doesn’t get a chuckle out of me, and boy, was there were plenty of that to be had for this show’s pilot. Maeda’s new show did the Maeda things, with a handful of absurd personalities bouncing off each other, supernatural occurrences, and of course, it just wouldn’t be a Key thing without some fucking baseball in there. Hell yeah.

I especially enjoyed Yota and Odin’s back-and-forth banter, which provided for an absurd amount of humorous reaction material. Natsuki Hanae and Sakura Ayane delivered rousing performances as their respective characters, with Hanae really delivering for Yota’s surprisingly expressive moments.

Kamisama was also fairly par for the course with regards to the production quality. P.A. Works tends to deliver above-average visuals, and this show’s pilot was appropriately crisp, with a degree of care shown in depicting some of the local beauty of Yamanashi, the setting of the show. P.A. Works has always loved to illustrate the sights of its locales, and I continue to adore their preference to set their “real-life setting” shows in unorthodox locations throughout Japan.

As much as I enjoyed how fun Kamisama’s pilot was, I can’t shake that feeling of dread that hangs over me upon watching another Jun Maeda anime. While I still generally like what Charlotte was shooting for 5 years ago, I’m still a little burnt by how hard it self-immolated in its conclusion. The pure insanity of that attempt to shove a season’s worth of plot into Charlotte’s final two episodes remains my biggest gripe about the show, and forced me to re-examine how much I liked the prior Maeda/Key works I’ve watched. 

One episode isn’t a whole lot for me to form an informed opinion about Kamisama, but the pilot was everything I expected, and I’m a glutton for punishment when this show takes the likely dive into that Maeda/Key brand melodrama. Sign me up.
Current score: 7/10
Still watching after 1 episode.

GOLDEN KAMUY SEASON 3


Summary: The third season of historical adventure-comedy Golden Kamuy, picking right up where the previous season left off: the gang splintered apart after the siege on Abashiri Prison went awry, and Sugimoto, Tanigawa, Lt. Koito, Sgt. Tsukushimi, and Cikapasi have banded together to chase down Asirpa, Shiraishi, Ogata, and Kiroranke on Sakhalin Island.

Yatahaze:
Ohohoho yes, it’s back. The most homoerotic adventure anime since (and perhaps including) JoJo’s couldn’t be vanquished for long, and with a wild goose chase that’s far from over, Golden Kamuy didn’t waste any time getting back into its groove.

“But Yata,” you might ask, “how is brawling with a bunch of Russians shirtless ‘the plot?’”

To which I’d of course retort, “have you been paying attention?” This franchise peaks and dips, but that’s its rhythm; we get serious developments every so often, and we get a bunch of goofy, kinky shit in the interim. That cannot be separated from the series’ identity at this point, and as long as Golden Kamuy eventually delivers its thrills, this downtime isn’t just a gift, it’s the hallmark of a show knowing when and how to take itself seriously. Its peaks are made all the more powerful for how nonsensical the acts in between are, and with the core group currently split in two, if I can’t get Sugimoto-Asirpa content, then Horny Brawling In the Russian Wilderness is just about the next best thing.

I don’t have much else to add, really. Come riveting historical drama or lowbrow toilet humor, Golden Kamuy’s shtick is right up my alley and essentially nothing about its crew, tone, or quality has changed compared to its first two installments in 2018. It’s business as usual, and I’m eager for that for as long as they’ll continue to pump it out.
Current score: 7/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

THE GYMNASTICS SAMURAI (TAISOU ZAMURAI)


Summary: It’s 2002 and men’s gymnastics Olympian Shotaro Aragaki’s heyday is long over. He’s still passionate about the sport, but his performances lately are lacking, he’s nursing a shoulder injury, and his coaching skills aren’t particularly helpful. Now’s the perfect time to retire for good and become the family man he’s already comfortable being…or at least that was the plan before an encounter with a strange foreign LARPer changed everything.

Yatahaze:
Yeah, you thought you knew where that summary was leading you, right? Think again: though The Gymnastics Samurai appears at first glance to be a simple sports/family drama hybrid, it also seems ready to burst at the seams into one of the most eccentric shows of the year.

Well, sort of. In all fairness to its opening scenes, Shotaro gets in his head throughout and second-guesses often before the point of no return whether or not he’s comfortable walking away from his career, but every time the picture gets a bit too plain, something bizarre pops up. Beyond the father-daughter duo and Shotaro’s coach, every additional character introduction—the freakishly large pet bird, the stalking, cartwheeling ninja gaijin, the posh, smoking elderly woman—exaggerates Gymnastics Samurai to a wilder degree, and if the dazzling, ostentatious OP is any indication, we haven’t seen the last of its cast yet either.

There’s just one problem: the show doesn’t really move well. To call it “stilted” would be an understatement, and only in the pointedly kinetic gymnastics scenes does any sort of laudable animation occur. The character acting is almost entirely reliant on solid voice deliveries and narrative unpredictability. Since the setup is still fresh, it works, but I’m seriously worried about the show’s longevity if the pilot—the act of the show where your animation should flex most—is already this stiff. Sure, MAPPA’s also overseeing Jujutsu Kaisen this season and that show needs the stellar animation it’s got in order to captivate, but watching this one, I can’t help but get the sensation that in better circumstances or more capable hands, Gymnastics Samurai would be an Anime of the Season contender as opposed to just “watchable, I guess.”

However, for as long as it’s got this charming cast and uplifting, positive energy on its side, it is watchable, and I intend on tuning back into it in the weeks ahead. With just one episode to judge and a world of possibilities at its disposal, the real trick here will be managing to impress in spite of the obvious visual mutedness it’s working with. I’m not sure the series will ever escape the shadow of the more polished and expressive production it could’ve been, but if the product before us still manages to make me scratch my head, lean into these characters’ emotions, and laugh, then fuck it, it’s time well spent. So far, so good for Gymnastics Samurai.
Current score: 6.5/10
Still watching after 1 episode.

HAIKYUU!! TO THE TOP 2ND SEASON


Summary: Continuation of the volleyball anime Haikyuu!! To The Top, following the Karasuno boys’ volleyball team’s journey through the Nationals.

Harubruh:
I’m gonna keep this one fairly brief, because I’ve pretty much exhausted my comparatively limited vocabulary gushing about Haikyuu in what seems like no less than a hundred different ways. I mean, this series rightfully deserves every bit of praise I’ve showered on it, as I can’t really think of a sports anime that’s been this consistently good for as long as it’s been.

Which brings me to probably my one tangent on this new season: that obviously massively outsourced second episode of To The Top’s second season. While I saw a handful of the sakuga crowd of anitwitter go into red alert for a weekend, I didn’t really mind it all that much. Don’t get this twisted though, this episode was by far and wide the shoddiest animation work I can recall from Haikyuu’s whole run, but despite the jankiness of it all, it still looked as good or better than most sports anime tend to look. It’s not a terribly high bar, as TV sports anime look jank more often than not, but I digress, not a big deal considering how the hellyear has affected anime production industry-wide.

But enough of that tangent, because Haikyuu is still my Hype City show, and the Karasuno vs. Inarizaki match is already looking to be a classic even among some of Haikyuu’s greatest matchups. I’m enjoying the straight hot-blooded competitive vibe of this match over the grudge matches that were our boys matches against Aoba Johsai or Shiratorizawa.

Also, Haikyuu still isn’t missing with its OP and EDs, with this season cranking out another hype set of bangers. This show’s just cruising as it always has, and I can’t wait to see how this match plays out. I expect this ship to right itself with regard to the production quality, so while my score is lower than usual, I don’t think it’ll stay this low for long.
Current score: 7.5/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

HYPNOSIS MIC ~DIVISION RAP BATTLE~ RHYME ANIMA


Summary: The female-helmed Party of Words has ascended to power in Tokyo, and their first order of business is abolishing all weapons manufacturing! Well, aside from microphones. That’s right, if you wanna fight now, you’ve gotta fight with words. Are the following rap battles a simple ruse to get filthy men to take each other out by diverting attention away from the new reign of women, or does the Party have some grander plan up their sleeve?

Yatahaze:
I’m not sure if there’s a person reading this blog who got through that summary with a straight face, but if you managed to, well, take one glance at this pilot episode and tell me Hypnosis Mic isn’t a joke. It has to be, right? I mean, sure, there are plenty of reactionary misogynists out there who think women really are scheming to take over the world and punish them for their masculinity, but are those the same people who also want to see bishounen spit corny bars surrounded by B-roll background explosions? I doubt it. Who is this show for?

If the answer is “no one,” (and for real, take in those special effects. Why are the lyrics stamped across the screen? Why do whole palettes of colors splatter into sight at every climax? Who hurt this show’s character designer?), then the answer is actually “everyone.” That’s the idea, anyway, but my inability to determine if Hypnosis Mic is So Bad It’s Good or So Good It’s Bad is kind of a problem. This specific hodgepodge of ideas is only really entertaining on a metatextual level—the mechanics of its world are confounding beyond convenience, its artistic choices so unappealing I cannot divorce my experience of the show from the fact that it seems board room-tailored to be as Not Yatacore as possible. I shudder to think someone meant any part of this pilot sincerely. I also shudder to think I might give them the benefit of the doubt long enough to see if there’s more to this than first meets the eye.

In summarizing nearly everything I find lackluster about gangster anime, mens’ idol anime, and textbook right-wing imaginary misandry, Hypnosis Mic is a one-of-a-kind mess, an amalgamation of ideas so creatively bankrupt that they almost rotate full circle into being amusing through their combined absurdity.

Almost.

Either way, at this juncture of my life, my brain could stand to hang onto every cell it’s got.
Final score: 3/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

IKEBUKURO WEST GATE PARK


Summary: Ah, Ikebukuro. Business district by day, disputed gang territory by night, never a dull moment in that neighborhood of Tokyo, or at least that’s the case for Makoto Majima, a simple fruit vendor who happens to have ties to just about everyone in the area, from vigilante “anti-junkie” squad “The G-Boys” to the chief of police. Through his connections, can he get to the bottom of crimes petty and prickly?

Yatahaze:
This is the part where I’d say Ikebukuro West Gate Park is just poor man’s Durarara!!, right down to the locale, but that isn’t quite accurate. This anime may be coming our way a decade after the latter took a corner of the community by storm, but IWGP as a franchise not only predates DRRR, it does so by almost a whole extra decade. This property began as a series of late 90s novels, spawned a manga and live action TV adaptation in the early 2000s, and was then promptly forgotten about. I’d never even heard its name until researching its background for this reaction.

I’d like to think there’s a reason for that, and IWGP’s pilot sadly laid plain what it was: it doesn’t seem very well-written. Its “seedy, urban” aesthetic is laughably at odds with its protagonists’ self-serious, D.A.R.E.-ass mission to take down druggies, and because this is Japan, we’re not talking briefcases of cocaine or anything, God no: these “heroes” are going around vandalizing back alley weed stores. In one scene our detectives stumble into a marijuana prep room and look completely baffled at the sights before them.

Y’all, I don’t smoke pot. Never have, probably never will, but the cultural dissonance here is astounding, and IWGP barely knows what to make of itself, which results in a doubly confusing experience for me, removed from both the era and place where these arbitrary lines of right and wrong were drawn.

And look, I’m not even the slightest bit upset that Makoto rocks a corny “Smoking kills.” shirt for the majority of this episode, but it all serves to illustrate the point that IWGP is out of its depth in trying to convey a city’s grimy underbelly. There’s absolutely no nuance, and furthermore, little to no character rapport to speak of given how damn stoic the main cast is at all times. Add the stiff animation, the tired, uninspired voice acting, the lowest common denominator set design and there’s basically nothing to recommend about Ikebukuro West Gate Park. I don’t know who asked for more of this in 2020 (or if this particular adaptation just sucks compared to its source material), but whatever the case, we don’t need it. You don’t need it. Go watch Durarara. Have fun.
Final score: 4/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

I’M STANDING ON A MILLION LIVES
(100-MAN NO INOCHI NO UE NI ORE WA TATTEIRU)


Summary: Yuusuke Yotsuya is your fairly average loner, remaining friendless after his family moves from the boonies to Tokyo. One evening after class, he and two stragglers in his classroom are summoned to another world by a mysterious Game Master to complete a task, with the trio’s survival and the safety of their original world hanging in the balance.

Harubruh:
I bet y’all thought this was another isekai-ish thing for me to champion before it was even out of the gate, but you’d be wrong, I hadn’t the slightest clue what to expect from this series, and little desire to start on it. With a title like that, it totally seemed on its surface that this was the kind of edgy bullshit I tend to read one chapter or watch one episode of before dropping. 

I decided to give Million Lives a good ol’ speculative whirl after Yata asked me to take up writing this blurb for it, with him mentioning that this show seemed like something I’d probably enjoy. All things considered, that can simultaneously be decent praise for a decent pilot, and a perhaps accurate appraisal of my comparatively monkey-brained tastes in anime lately. His bet ended up being on the money, though.

There’s the bullshit edgelord power-trip show that I expected Million Lives to be, and then the surprisingly entertaining show that the first couple of episodes turned out to be. While we spent the first part of the pilot being subject to Yotsuya’s cynical perspective on life and his utter disillusionment with life in the city, the development that followed nearly gave me a case of whiplash.

Upon being summoned to a fantasy RPG-style world by the faceless Game Master to complete a timed quest, Yotsuya is assigned the underwhelming class of Farmer, equipped with a meager sickle and a hoe. A couple of girls from his class are also there with him, but they have comparatively stronger classes of Mage and Warrior. Seems like we’re all ready for Yotsuya and the girls to have some OP isekai antics, right?

Well, not quite.

In what ended up being a saving grace for this show, it turns out that the “Million Lives” our characters were standing on were, in fact, their own lives. Yotsuya’s occupation is so ill-prepared for fighting monsters that he ends up dying nearly immediately after a futile attempt to take on some goblins. Fortunately for him and his equally futile comrades, they come back to life 30 seconds after croaking, but there’s a big catch: if all three of them die at once, they die for real.

*clap clap*

“It’s a fucking SAO reference!” slightly inebriated me exclaimed, watching this with bemused excitement.

To add insult to injury, the party’s task is to slay a troll that they are hopelessly outmatched against at first, but they eventually figure it out and clear the Game Master’s task. In a surprise twist, Yotsuya and friends come to back in their classroom, where the girls explain that this wasn’t their first encounter with the Game Master, and that they ostensibly picked Yotsuya for his athletic ability, having apparently mistaken him for another classmate with the same surname. We learn that Game Master will soon summon them once more, and that their world faces destruction should they fail the tasks given to them.

So yeah, I went into this expecting some grimdark edgelord power fantasy isekai, and what I got was a surprisingly funny and entertaining tongue-in-cheek game show that spares no opportunity to dunk on its protagonist’s bleak outlook on life. To be fair, it does seem the boy’s even somewhat aware of how off-putting his disposition is. What probably sold me on Million Lives for the time being is the quality voice acting, which carried the show and helped some its goofier jokes land a tad stronger.

I went into Million Lives totally expecting an immediate and unceremonious drop, but it’s turned out to be a surprisingly palatable watch so far. Your guess is as good as mine on whether it remains this endearing, but for now, count me in. 
Current score: 6/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

IWA KAKERU! SPORT CLIMBING GIRLS


Summary: After abandoning a hobby of competitive puzzle gaming to focus on getting into a good high school, freshman Konomi Kasahara needs a club to join, and she might’ve found her calling by chance—Hanamiya Girls’ High has its own competitive rock climbing club, and with a little taunting from a fellow freshman, it turns out the same strategies she used in her gaming days pay off when it comes to finding routes up a wall.

Yatahaze:
In a season with surprisingly few “niche girls’ club” fillers, Iwa Kakeru does a serviceable job at establishing its thing and running on autopilot with it. Is the writing fine, all things considered? Sure. Are the animation and storyboarding competent? Of course, this ain’t a GoHands production. Is the final product engaging, though?

Let’s put it this way: I had no problem following Iwa Kakeru’s pilot, and part of that is because it follows the same tried and tested “joining a sports club” formula that almost every middling show of this ilk does. With the actual concept and visual aesthetic both average at best, the one area it had the chance to stand out in was character rapport, but it gave me little to hook onto in that regard as well; Konomi is…fine, the two senpai mostly just commentated so far, and Jun, portrayed as something of an experienced but no-nonsense foil to Konomi’s naivete, was just not a pleasant personality to be around. Some more internal voice from any of these folks about something other than the immediate task at hand would’ve been welcome. Without that, Iwa Kakeru is just skating by on an absence of dealbreakers as opposed to a presence of strengths.

So on that note: you like muscular anime girls? This might be the show for you. Or—stay with me—you can wait for some fanart on Twitter and spare yourself the actual journey. I may not have the confident foresight Konomi does, but even I can see where “it’s fine” filler leads to from the ground. Gonna be a pass from me.
Final score: 6/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

JUJUTSU KAISEN


Summary: Yuuji Itadori’s having a rough week. A teacher rewrote his club application in order to mooch off his inhuman athleticism, his grouchy grandfather just passed away, and now a cursed, disembodied finger he found is wreaking havoc on campus. Interception from jujutsu (sorcery) masters failed, and in a last-ditch effort to save his classmates, Yuuji eats the finger, causing him to host the mind of its dangerous ex-owner, Sukuna. Just one weird thing: Yuuji somehow retains control of his body, and the Jujutsu guys, who were chasing all 20 of Sukuna’s fingers (don’t ask) have a plan: let Yuuji find them all, then kill him and Sukuna in one fell swoop in order to banish his evil from the world.

Yatahaze:
Only the weirdest of shows necessitate a full paragraph for a summary, and for the time being, Jujutsu Kaisen thankfully lands on the good side of that spectrum, not just because it’s a unique, well-directed, and lusciously-produced action-comedy romp, but because it managed to cover all that ground in two episodes and leave me walking away from it with a firm understanding of the stakes, actors, and causation it’s dealing with.

Furthermore, though it does take the near-entirety of its first two episodes to get viewers up to speed, its acceleration is a fucking ride in and of itself. I know I’m not exactly a shounen nerd, but Jujutsu Kaisen feels like a breath of fresh air compared to most adaptations that have come our way lately. It boasts and smoothly controls a tone of comic nonchalance alongside conversations of mortality, curses, and exploitation. Its cast could go full terror one minute and then share some laughs the next, and it’s in that fluctuating, facetiously macabre space where the series practically jumps out of the screen. Background gags accompany important exposition. Characters frequently mumble over each other. There’s a looseness here that means not a second is wasted, and even the fight scenes (which see The God of High School director Sunghoo Park bust his chops with an intact narrative for once) illustrate detail about the world without active dialogue.

It really can’t be understated just how fun that makes this series. It picks up the slack when Yuuji reminiscing about his grandfather or Fushiguro being a sulky dork makes the show meander. Every addition to the cast has only shuffled the character dynamics to a more interesting version of what came before, and as one more main character looks poised to join the squad in the next episode, I can’t imagine it’ll falter there. It’s got too much style and restless energy to dawdle, and even if it decides to, it has a full 24 episodes to ride out its mojo. The endgame has already been stated: Yuuji will help his new squad in locating and rendering dormant Sukuna’s fingers until he either succeeds and is executed or dies trying. With a boisterous cast, accomplished visual direction, and a wide open book ahead, Jujutsu Kaisen’s got the biggest ceiling of anything debuting this season. Surrounded by skippable competition, sticking with this one is a no-brainer.
Current score: 8/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

LOVE LIVE! NIJIGASAKI HIGH SCHOOL IDOL CLUB


Summary: It’s a Love Live series, and you know what that means: there’s a school idol club in danger of disbandment and new faces eager to keep it alive. Specifically, two second-years, Ayumu Uehara and Yu Takasaki, witness an idol in their school’s uniform perform on campus one day and try tracking down the club itself, only to discover that its existence is in peril due to conflicts of interest and student council meddling.

Yatahaze:
Once again, it’s a Love Live series, and you know what that means:

…it’s fine.

I could chalk my prior indifference with this franchise up to genre tastes and nobody wants to hear me nitpick it, even myself, so I’ll spare us. Fact of the matter is I was compelled to watch both prior (but chronologically unrelated) adaptations of Love Live about a year ago, and while they rarely exhilarated me, there were plenty of enjoyable gags and some touching character beats. I found neither the music nor the premise of the franchise particularly interesting, but there was nothing offensive about it, and I expected more of the same with Nijigasaki High. Was I right?

Sort of—if you eat, sleep, and breathe all things Love Live, nothing about this new season will be a turn-off, and likewise, if nothing, and I mean nothing about Love Live previously grabbed you, you’ll probably be in the same boat as before. Something is different this time around, though, and it couldn’t have come soon enough: the CG is loads less awkward, and in turn, the character designs, not just in the heightened performance scenes, but throughout the whole show, feel more in their element and cohesive with the backgrounds than they ever have before. After just two performances, one an imaginary performance and the other through the perspective of an attracted fan, it’s hard to tell if Nijigasaki High is also batting higher than its average at its songs or just frontloaded itself with great ones, but they’re about the most into corporatized idol muzak I’ve been able to get with the franchise yet. The character writing is a bit stiffer and repetitive this time around, perhaps because I’ve Seen This twice already, but in both OG and Sunshine, it took a while to really get the ball rolling, and I anticipate I’ll grow to like these kids more the later the series gets in its run.

So yeah, you already know whether or not you’re watching this one, and I don’t think my word is gonna convince anyone to change their mind. Nijigasaki High is alright, and it may get even better, flop later, or stay about the same, but if my friends are here for it, so am I—and this time without the burden of unfamiliarity working against me. That’s a small victory, but it feels less like an obligation watch and more like a fresh chance for Love Live to win me over more wholeheartedly. I’ll gladly gave it the chance to.
Current score: 7/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

MORIARTY THE PATRIOT


Summary: Hey, you know Sherlock Holmes? And how he has an archrival named Professor Moriarty? Right, well, what if the Professor were actually three bishie brothers? This is their story.

Yatahaze:
I’m not the most well-read person in general, and despite Hyouka giving me a small window into some Holmesian lore, I’ve never knowingly read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works. If you’re in a similar boat, I won’t say Moriarty the Patriot operates on the assumption you know the canon backstory, as its first episode was a self-contained investigative piece intent on giving us insight into the Moriarty brothers’ dynamic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sherlock superfans find more to appreciate in the show (or more to begrudge it for) than the average viewer.

That said, if you want a classic “mystery” anime this season with the Victorian trappings of the genre’s bread and butter, this is the title for you, and its pilot takes a hot minute to piece together its twist on the franchise that spawned it. Here, the Moriarty bros. are “crime consultants,” that is, a group for hire (or of their own accord) who orchestrate acts of vengeance, presumably from those of wronged lower classes, against the hard-to-touch elite. In this first “case,” several villagers’ sons have gone missing, and the Moriartys use their collective connections, brains, and brawn to set up one of the fathers of the deceased to take out the perpetrator. Unlike something from the perspective of Holmes and Watson, Moriarty The Patriot doesn’t ask that you “solve” its mystery before the protagonists do, but lures you in by asking “how” the Moriartys will ensure they’ve got the right criminal and facilitate a means for the real victims to get their revenge.

It’s a solid enough premise and the series’ pilot likewise goes through the motions fine. But it’s not impossible for a mystery series to lead strong only to fall apart later, and I for one want a firmer guarantee we’ll get some depth from the brothers themselves before investing further time into this. It’s planned to be a split-cour 24-episoder separated by the winter, and I could see myself perhaps returning to it and marathoning it if its reputation shifts from “decent genre filler” to “underdog standout.” As is, the show’s whole aesthetic isn’t my preferred cup of tea, though, and so I have no reservations about saying “I’ll pass” here and simply giving it a second look if it attracts more buzz.
Final score: 7/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

OUR LAST CRUSADE OR THE RISE OF A NEW WORLD
(KIMI TO BOKU NO SAIGO NO SENJOU, ARUIWA SEKAI GA HAJIMARU SEISEN)


Summary: A prolonged war has raged for centuries between the technologically advanced Empire and the magically endowed Nebulis Sovereignty. The Empire’s prodigal swordsman Iska, and Alice, the heiress to the Sovereignty throne, fight to a stalemate before retreating. The two coincidentally cross paths at a neutral city, where they come to realize they have a surprising amount of common interests, most importantly their mutual desire to end the conflict.

Harubruh:
It’s a brand new season, and that means it’s time for Silver Link to unleash yet another anime with an insanely long title on the world. Mercifully, I’ve found there’s a conveniently abbreviated title for Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World, which I’ll refer to from hereon as “Kimisen.”

I remember reading about a volume’s worth of Kimisen’s manga about a year or two ago, and my top-notch memory has held on to precisely zero material from that read, save for a “oh yeah, I remember this part” at Iska and Alice’s first encounter. Having all but forgotten most of what I read, I went into the anime mostly blind expecting it to be far edgier than it actually turned out to be. 

Instead I got a world record speedrun of the “Sworn Enemies Become Star-Crossed Lovers” trope, and you know what? I think I might be alright with that.

Following her first encounter with Iska and friends, Alice takes a trip to a neutral city to attend an opera. Seeming to have an avid interest in the arts, Alice is instantly engrossed in a performance depicting a (surprise, surprise) romance between enemies turned lovers. In a tearful emotional heap towards the end of the recital, she’s offered a handkerchief from the person seated behind her, who (surprise, surprise) turns out to be Iska, who’s also attending the opera on his day off.

It was so goddamned predictable, but damn, was it kind of cute.

Following further “surprise” run-ins at a local restaurant and an art gallery in the neutral city, Iska and Alice seem to have unwittingly developed feelings for one another, with the two keeping themselves awake at night thinking of their meetings with each other. Seriously, it’s kind of cute.

Yeah, there’s bound to be drama ahead, as there always is with the “Enemies Become Lovers” plotline, but as long as Kimisen tries to somewhat balance it out with the adorable pseudo-dates between the protagonists, I think I can see myself sticking around with it. I probably couldn’t care less about the actual fights, but the circumstances of the world, and their effects on Iska and Alice, and the impact their budding romance could have on the world, seem interesting enough for me. So yeah, I’m sticking with Kimisen… for now. While I’ve definitely stuck with worse shows than this, we’ll see if the cute couple charm fades for me.
Current score: 6/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

SLEEPY PRINCESS IN THE DEMON CASTLE (MAOUJOU DE OYASUMI)


Summary: In a truly unexpected twist of fantasy lore, a princess has been captured by an enemy force and the hero is on his way to rescue her. In reality, our princess protagonist Syalis doesn’t need much rescuing, though; she’s being catered to, untouched by the guards, and is basically just a hostage to lure the hero out. And since she has no idea how long this wait will last, she does what she can to pass the time quickest: sleeping. If only she could get a decent minute of shuteye in these parts…

Yatahaze:
Sleepy Princess had a solid premiere. Fun, simple set design, voice acting that’s playful but hides a little edge, a pleasant visual palette, competent direction, and a nice twist on the formula at the core of it all. The tiny little princess is not only unafraid of her captors, but instills fear into the Demon Lord’s subjects by terrorizing their cartoonish bodies? Sounds like a good time, and it was, proving on nearly every front that there’s quality hands on deck.

A good premiere ultimately does two things, though, and Sleepy Princess’ failed the more crucial of the two: giving viewers a reason to come back. Unless you vibe really hard with Syalis (and, let’s be honest, I love sleeping more than seemingly all my Twitter mutuals and I still didn’t feel much here beyond “ha. mood.”), the show only seems to have one joke, and that joke has a shelf life closer to 20 minutes than it does 12 episodes. To earn my eyes again, this series is gonna have to branch out with its characterization and flesh out the other inhabitants of the Demon Realm instead of treating them as just comic relief. Syalis herself may be worth some chuckles, but she cannot carry this idea singlehandedly. There’s just not enough there beneath the surface. Until I hear that it does, like, anything else, Sleepy Princess falls into “good joke, but what else ya got?” territory.
Final score: 6/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

TALENTLESS NANA (MUNOU NO NANA)


Summary: Due to the emergence of supernatural abilities in the general population, individual lawlessness and civil war were once rampant. As a result of this struggle, special isolated academies were developed to train the overpowered young and ensure they develop into good heroes. Or so they think…

Yatahaze:
That’s a summary left intentionally bland, and if you have any interest in Talentless Nana before reading this, I highly suggest that you, uh, don’t keep reading this. Early twist spoilers abound and for the show to do its magic, you really should go in as blind as possible. Continue at your own risk.

For those of you who don’t care or have already seen its premiere, here’s the soup: our titular heroine isn’t here as a transfer student who can read minds as she claims, she’s actually here to assassinate every threat on the island, which is to say, basically every other superpowered student. Humanity saw once how quickly shit hit the fan if they let people with superpowers just do whatever they please. At the end of their war, their solution wasn’t to let peaceful Talenteds remain in society and cast the criminals away, but to completely isolate them upon recognition under the façade of hero education. Taken a step further, whoever put Nana up to her task isn’t satisfied with simply being distanced from the Talenteds—they want them completely gone once and for all.

It’s easy to be impressed at the role reversal, in part because the show Talentless Nana was before then was pretty unappealing; it was never quite a one-for-one HeroAca ripoff, but it had that vibe going for it and about half the cast was basically Bakugo. It was obnoxious. The shock of Nana being the “villain” wasn’t as refreshing as the follow-up twist that her villainy was acknowledged as heroic. These kids are full of themselves, kinda stupid, and have no convincing inclination towards justice. I almost felt belittled for thinking the show was asking me to buy that, and to say I’m glad it did a 180 would be a massive understatement. I wasn’t entirely sold, but I had no qualms about giving the series a second episode to work its magic now that the veil had been lifted.

After that second episode, however, I’m freshly frustrated. There’s certainly a market for a “brainier” take on life-or-death classroom whodunnit shenanigans, and Nana having no backup or power to rely on other than her intuition means that she can’t just go on a rampage and have that be the end of the story. Several of her targets haven’t revealed their powers yet, and so she has to tip-toe around them, befriend them, and figure out what their limitations are naturally. This is where the show’s writing shines best—and the fact that she knows that approach has a limited lifespan signals the writers are staying a few steps ahead of simple shock value. As a thriller, the show works. As social commentary, well…

Look, maybe the pacifist in me is a bit too strong, and in the grand scheme of things, if a bunch of people suddenly accrued unthinkable power with no checks or balances holding them back, I’d be in a hurry to distance myself from them too. But there’s surely an allegory in that for fearmongering of the “other,” and the total lack of nuance surrounding it isn’t just disappointing, it’s really uncomfortable. I don’t want to read into it too much, but I also feel like I have to, given how big-brained the show is in every other aspect. While these kids are annoying (and c’mon, they’re bratty kids) I don’t think all of them are irreversibly on the path of evil. I wouldn’t put it past Talentless Nana to pull back on its initial twist and have Nana become the bona fide villain again by series end, but it could just as easily lean into its current dynamic and ride that out. I really have no way to predict how it’ll play this setup, and it’s a really thorny one to juggle when at present, neither side of the struggle seems 100% justified in their course of action. Who the hell knows how many other non-students on the island (the homeroom teacher, unseen restaurant cook, etc.) are in on the masquerade, too.

So here’s the deal: Talentless Nana has a tremendous ceiling of potential, but it’s potential that’s also very easy to squander or point in the wrong direction. As is, I don’t feel invested enough in the characters themselves to hop along for the ride, but if I hear come December that it’s delivering on the more ambitious possibilities laid before it, I’d be down to give it a thorough watch. For the time being, I’m passing on it, but I eagerly await word on whether or not it remains a cult seasonal underdog. I sincerely wish it the best.
Final (?) score: 7/10
Dropped for now after 1 episode.

TONIKAWA: OVER THE MOON FOR YOU (TONIKAKU KAWAII)


Summary: While debating his entrance exam options, Nasa Yuzaki sees the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen and in trying to get her attention, gets them both hit by a truck. He’s severely injured (she’s miraculously fine), but instead of going to the hospital, he just keeps tailing her, asking for her to go out with him, and she confesses she’ll straight-up marry him if he lives. He does, and once they reunite a few years later, the two teens wed.

Yatahaze:
I don’t think that summary conveys just how dumb ToniKawa’s pilot is. I also don’t think the show understands just how dumb its pilot is. We’re talking Romeo & Julietlevels of “love at first sight” bullshit with no teeth to it. Nasa is vaguely relatable in his everyman blandness and cowardice. Tsukasa, his new missus, has nearly no personality to speak of and it takes ToniKawa until the second episode to even give her a quirk: she’s a restless sleeper. Equally timid, unimposing, and still too unknown around each other to hit it off, the couple at the core of this story is a farce, and ToniKawa hasn’t planted its foot down yet so we can even tell if it’s self-aware of this or not. It’s a spineless, dull show made for losers without girlfriends who have never put in the work to get one or even be an interesting person.

Fortunately, I’m Losers Without Girlfriends Who Have Never Put In The Work To Get One or Even Be an Interesting Person. I’m enjoying ToniKawa!

I won’t even rtry to sell you on it other than add that its completely inoffensive opening episodes seem like a front for which another shoe has yet to drop, and its genre tag “science fiction” on Wikipedia has me wondering where the science and fiction are, as so far the most unrealistic thing in the show is Tsukasa not getting injured in the truck incident. The character writing is so vapid I’m almost mad I don’t mind it, and until—or if—that changes, the real appeal here is watching the show be so aggressively “normal” about all this that it circles back around to feeling abnormal. I can’t escape the sensation I’m being led on a ruse, and if I am, then Nasa sure is too. He has his suspicions, but he can’t verbalize them beyond “did I seriously just marry a woman I’ve known for less than a day?” You did, bud. She already deserves better.

This title treads on unstable soil, but if it can get, you know, weirder, I think I’ll be down for it, and I reckon it’s worth a shot to see how far around the corner that change of face is. Until then, well, like I said: I’m Losers, and this is my completely nutrient-free comfort food of the season.
Current score: 6.5/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

WANDERING WITCH: THE JOURNEY OF ELAINA (MAJO NO TABITABI)


Summary: From a young age, Elaina, a modest, hardworking girl from the countryside, aspired to be a witch. Now she’s the youngest ever to graduate to the apprentice level, but she’s having a hard time finding a more powerful witch who will take her under her wing long enough to reach the highest class of the hierarchy and go on a journey of her own.

Yatahaze:
That’s the summary for the pilot, at least, and I’m delighted to say that it’s not only a good enough premiere that I stuck around for the second episode, but that the series moves at a comfortably brisk pace without sacrificing sufficient character detail. In the first episode, we see Elaina as a young girl, a 14-year-old finally securing an apprenticeship, and an 18-year-old leaving home to start her journey, all with ample space for wonder while establishing some basic mechanics of how this world operates. It’s an economical premiere, but there’s plenty of heart in it too, and as I reckon Elaina might be the best new protagonist of the season; she’s smart, a bit of a smartass, but still warm-hearted and eager to explore the world.

And thanks to the series’ second episode, so am I. Though Wandering Witch appears to be an episodic series, this follow-up proved that overt worldbuilding takes the backseat to “take it as it comes” immersion, and that the show’s pilot was no fluke when it comes to one-and-done character arcs. In the case of both Fran, Elaina’s mentor, and Saya, her own lonely, conniving apprentice, our heroine vows to one day reunite with them, but not at the expense of her own livelihood. She wants to travel, and whether or not the connections she makes will come back at the end of this story doesn’t currently matter to me: as a device to see this world and a vessel through which to adjust to it in real time, Elaina and her surroundings can carry the series on their own. The padded-out side characters so far are just icing on the cake.

If that formula doesn’t do the trick for you, your mileage will likely vary here, but I for one am loving the lack of an “enemy” so far; these first two episodes weren’t without conflict, but it’s never as black-and-white as “the good guys” and “the forces of evil;” Wandering Witch has magic-users and normal humans, those of higher class and those of lower, and apparently a little segregation here and there, but it’s all organically infused into the story so far with tact, giving me hope that it will eventually explore such themes in greater detail. Even if it strays from those heftier subjects in favor of simple iyashikei shenanigans, it also scratches that itch better than anything else airing this season. I’m solidly hooked on this one. It can stay.
Current score: 8/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.

WARLORDS OF SIGRDRIFA


Summary: After mysterious beings known as “Pillars” began driving humanity from their cities, world leaders needed a miracle; their weapons weren’t working and they looked at their wits’ end until Odin (not a cloaked middle-schooler this time) suddenly appeared before them, insisting that use of his “Valkyries” could save mankind. The form? Chosen young women who pilot magic aircraft. It’s anime.

Yatahaze:
Sigrdrifa kicked off with a 47-minute premiere, and it kind of needed to: the lengthy first chunk of the episode served to vaguely establish the predicament this world finds itself in, while the last half-hour gave us some characters to latch onto. So far the show seems to specifically follow “The Grim Reaper” Claudia Bruford, a newly re-assigned S-class Valkyrie making her way from Europe, where her ace combat skills coincidentally led to her teammates’ deaths, to Japan, where she’ll be replacing a recently fallen pilot. Upon arrival, her new teammates were surprisingly chipper, and for someone as downtrodden as her, that leads to a bit of culture shock.

The same could be said for me as well, honestly. After its opening arc, I was hopeful Sigrdrifa could stick the “this is a serious problem and a serious world” landing only for it to brighten up with squeaky anime girl dialogue. It’d feel out of place if I earnestly expected the show to do anything else, but this isn’t my first rodeo with Ways to Make The Military Appealing to Otaku, and the second Miyako and co. made their introduction, I knew the vibe Sigrdrifa was really going for; too grim at moments to be pure popcorn, too obnoxiously cutesy to be a (derivative) drama, it’s trying to do a few too many things at once and not really accomplishing any of them.

Don’t get me wrong; if you enjoy this sort of dynamic, there’s plenty here to enjoy; for a double-length premiere, the runtime rarely felt limp, the animation has its highlights and doesn’t shit the bed when it’s not going full throttle, and Claudia herself would make for a great protagonist in a show that had its priorities sorted with a little more originality and tonal control. As is, however, I can’t envision myself sticking around for more of this one. Just enough things that Aren’t Really My Thing to counterbalance the few highs it has.
Final score: 6/10
Dropped after 1 episode.

YASHAHIME: PRINCESS HALF-DEMON
(HANYOU NO YASHAHIME: SENGOKU OTOGIZOUSHI)


Summary: Sequel of Rumiko Takahashi’s acclaimed manga and anime InuYasha. Yashahime follows Towa and Setsuna, the twin daughters of Sesshomaru, and their cousin Moroha, the daughter of Inuyasha and Kagome.

Harubruh:
2020 has certainly been a chaotic year, but I definitely did not have “Inuyasha sequel anime” written on my Crazy 2020 Bingo Card. Goodness, that announcement made me feel old.

Like many other members of the generation that came of age during the era of Toonami and Adult Swim anime, I still carry a deep fondness of the original Inuyasha anime. In a way, shows like it, and other anime than ran alongside it on those blocks served as the bridge between my childhood anime fandom of shows like Speed Racer, Voltron, Pokemon, and Digimon, and my current anime fandom that’s managed to stick with me through thick and thin.

While it was at one time my very favorite anime, I can’t say for certain if my enthusiasm for the original series still remains. That said, Yashahime’s pilot was certainly quite the nostalgic ride, reintroducing us to the original cast with a battle against an unsealed demon seeking revenge against the priestess Kikyo, obviously unaware of the events that have unfolded in its years of captivity. Curiously, save for an older Kohaku, none of the other original cast appeared in the follow-up to the pilot, but I suppose there’ll be plenty of time for them to appear soon enough.

I’m not sure if I’ve got the patience to stick weekly with a long-running series anymore. The near-constant diet of one and two-cour seasonals for nearly the whole last decade has kind of burnt out my attention span for anything that runs longer than that, with cases in that point being My Hero Academia and Iruma-kun, both shows that I got decent enjoyment out of, but couldn’t be arsed to catch up on once I fell too far behind. In my opinion, the Fruits Basket reboot’s probably been the best handled long-haul show in recent memory, with a season or two of break time in between those two-cour runs.

That said, I’m doubly unsure if I’m buying all the way into the “Wild Goose Chase for One or More Supernatural Jewels” bit. I’m far more fascinated with the circumstances of Towa and Setsuna’s reunion, with the latter sister’s memories of her twin having all but faded away in her decade of absence. I’d probably bet that the rainbow jewel hunt is gonna somehow roll into the twins’ situation, but that’s just pure speculation on my part.

Also of note, while I’m not terribly fond of the opening credits, Yashahime’s ending credits are among my favorites of the shows I’ve seen this fall, striking that nice balance of enjoyable song with decent visuals. Anywho, I’m on board with Yashahime for the time being—though sticking with this if it ends up being a long-haul show is probably unlikely. For now, I’m along for the ride.
Current score: 7/10
Still watching after 2 episodes.


And that’s all for us this time around! What were your favorite premieres of the fall season? Did we let anything essential slip by? As always, feel free to reach out in the comments below or over on Twitter, and until next time, thanks for your continued readership. See you then!

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