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Anime Review 2019 Round-up II

Anime

Anime Review 2019 Round-up II

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (2018, CloverWorks)

"Rascal" Sakuta Azusagawa is a blunt high school boy who is shunned by most of the other students at school after he supposedly got caught up in a violent incident. One day while at the library, he comes across one of his older, fellow school mates Mai Sakurajima who also happened to be a popular actress on haitus. Mai was dressed up in a revealing bunny girl suit but no one seems to take notice of her or even see her. Sakuta soon learns Mai could no longer be seen when she is in certain areas and that was why she was wearing a bunny girl suit. He believed it had something do with what was was rumoured as the "Adolescence Syndrome", a phenomena when certain supernatural things happen to people and those around them due to their terribly troubled mind and mental state. Both he and his own little sister had experienced such painful phenomena once before. As Mai's existence becomes worse by the day to the point where she can't even buy food for herself, Sakuta becomes the only one she can depend on. As time goes by, Sakuta soon becomes involved in other cases of Adolescence Syndrome and having experienced how painful it could be, he decides to help anyone he comes across who suffers from it.

This show is based on a light novel series called, "Rascal Does Not Dream of..." by Hajime Kamoshida best known for The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. The show covers about six out of the nine that's been published so far starting with the show's title "Bunny Girl Senpai" followed by "Little Devil Kohai", "Logical Witch", "The Idol with A Sister Complex", "The Sister Watching The House" and "The Girl". If you pay attention to the OP, you can actually the the titles shuffling around before it ends up at Bunny Girl Senpai.

One look at the poster for this show and you'd probably be thinking, "Another brainless harem show for the guys," and that was the reason I wasn't going to watch this. Then I saw the hype on Twitter and decided to go for it. Turns out it's still a harem show but it isn't filled with mindless sensual fan service. It's there as usual with most Anime shows but rare and feels like a natural part of the show mostly apart from your opening bunny girl suit. Well, maybe the odd awkward camera angle too but again, very rare. Funnily enough it even takes a brief look at the subject of objectifying the female body.

Right from the very first episode I was already impressed. It has its serious moments that can be really relatable if you're the kind of person that finds it hard to get along wtih others. At the same time, just as it feels like it's getting serious you'll find yourself laughing because it effortlessly slips in a lot of dry humour. Daru from Steins;gate probably has a contender as far as the "perverted gentleman" is concerned. It has a good balance of humour, seriousness and mystery despite the silly idea of Adolescence Syndrome but just look at how silly Haruhi was and how popular that grew. In fact, the two shows feel very similar. Both have girls in bunny suits and mysterious supernatural things happening including a time loop similar to Endless Eight with jokes to break things up when it gets a little too serious. However, this show probably has the more witty dialogue and it's quite heavy on romance too. Romance fans will probably enjoy watching the relationship develop between Mai and Sakuta as the two open up, tease and support one another.

As expected from A1 Picture's branch studio, their 3D still needs work and art's not great to look at. 2D art is nothing impressive either with the odd quality drop such as characters looking oddly out of ratio but nothing too drastic like in the Anime adaptation of Persona 5. Nothing stands out in the music either - well, apart from the ending which changes characters depending on the scenario. If the overall presentation was better this show probably would have been perfect. Image here is a wallpaper from the official site.

If you enjoyed the supernatural wackiness of Suzumiya Haruhi but want something a bit more toned down, less fan service with some friendship, family themes and more romance, you'll probably enjoy this. It has some great moments that'll either leave you laughing or watching with a smile so, don't let that bunny girl poster fool you into thinking it's just another harem fan service show. The odd episode after the second half of the show has extra scenes after the ending so don't miss them. Not that you would if you enjoy finding out who appears in the little gathering that changes with each new scenario.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Worth A Watch

Boogiepop and Others (2019, Madhouse)

A number of girls have been disappearing from high school, rumoured to have run away or worse. Urban legend has it that a being known as "Boogiepop" is out murdering girls once they reached their peak moment of beauty and he was dressed in a dark robe with a top hat. One day while Keiji Takeda is out waiting for his date he comes across someone of that exact description but to his surprise, it was his girlfriend Tohka Miyashita. When Keiji finds her at school again, he approaches her only to find "Boogiepop" who claimed to be Tohka's split personality and only appears when the world was in danger. Keiji and his classmates soon learns there are hidden threats within their school that are alien to society and Boogiepop is there to help resolve them before they get out-of-hand.

When you see the name Madhouse you'll probably be expecting a decent show but I can't say the same here. Sometimes the animation suddenly feels like it's stuttering or in slow motion. Art doesn't look that great either with faces reduced to little dots or emoticon-like simplicity. There's a lot of more dialogue than there is action. It's slow paced but when there is it does get quite gorey. The art, music and direction actually gives off a Parasyte The Maxim kind of vibe which was another show Madhouse produced.

The story itself focuses on humans that have evolved differently than the average human, granting them some sort of special power but also making it hard for them to fit into society. It's kind of like a mix of alien, supernatural from Parasyte with the different PoVs approach of Durarara where characters end up crossing paths. Just less action, comedy and much more dialogue. It's basically one big story told from different perspectives, like a jigsaw puzzle slowly being pieced together with each new episode. As some mysteries get cleared up, new ones appear which keeps you intrigued. It's  also probably why its characters doesn't shine as well as Durarara apart from Boogiepop. They don't get much of a role other than introducing some kind of new power and helping paint a slightly clearer picture of who Boogiepop really is.

Even though the show reminds me of Parasyte it's not an action flick because there's more mystery and the fight scenes are short with a little gore. Usually gore means it'll have its fair share of explicit male targetted fan service and there kind of is because girls are shown as if they're in body suits during "topless" scenes. There is some romance in it and casual mention of sexual abuse. The language gets quite disgusting.

You just follow through hoping to learn what's going on as each new entity appears but unfortunately, you won't find some clever mind games here that will end up impressing you. Nevertheless, Boogiepop was an interesting character to follow and the show does stick to its title, both the English and Japanese ones.

Boogiepop and Others

Worth A Watch

Midnight Occult Civil Servants (2019, Lidenfilms)

Arata Miyako had just signed up his new role with the Midnight Civil Servants but it doesn't quite turn out what he had expected. It was a team of people that dealt with various supernatural beings you would usually see or read about in folklore and myths, otherwise known as "Anothers" in the team. Their job was to keep them troubling humans during their everyday life. As his new colleagues bring him to his first encounter, not only is he not afraid of them but he discovers he could also communicate with them using the "Ears of Sand" no other member has ever possessed. As Arata continues his job and re-unites with an old friend from the past, the "God of Disaster", his mysterious lineage of Omyouji begins to catch up with him. Will ability help bring humans one step closer to co-existing with the Anothers?

Being a fan of the class Gegege no Kitaro and Natsume Book of Friends, I just had to give this show a go when I read the Youkai, supernatural beings from Japanese folklore were involved. The Manga it's based on by Yoko Tomotsu is serialised in the Anime NewType magazine and you'll immediately see it's aimed at the ladies with its full cast of bishounen, "pretty boy" cast and hints of gay men relationships. So, the Youkai themselves aren't scary looking either (with the odd creepy moments. It's mostly cute, comedy and love. A bit cliche really until mid way when stories spread multiple episodes then it really picks up with its scenarios.

Other than that there's little to be impressed by. Art is average and sometimes characters look off proportions. Arata just happens to be voiced by Jun Fukuyama best known for his role as Lelouch from Code Geass. It's got a good OST and the first episode was pretty entertaining even though the scenario's been seen over and over before. On the other hand, the theme songs and art isn't so great. The colours are really flat and animation rough.

There are also 2 special "unaired" OVA episodes that got exclusively shown on Hikari TV too which are officially numbered as 14 and 15, oddly skipping the number 13. The two episodes focus on Theo which kind of rounds up the series better since he was the only one out of the trio that didn't get any back story.

As a short series, it gets quite good but for the long run, I would recommend watching Natsume Book of Friends which has both Youkai and similar themes but overall better direction, tales and cast of characters.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants

Worth A Watch

Doraemon: Nobita's Chronicle of the Moon Exploration (2019, TV Asahi / Shin-Ei / ADK)

An explorer sent to the moon by Japan briefly captures footage of a pair of white long moving organisms before losing contact. When this makes the headlines, Nobita's classmates debate what it could be - maybe it's aliens or just a faulty lens. Nobita on the other hand, thinks it's what adults have always been telling them, rabbits on the moon. After being ridiculed for being so childish, he seeks Doraemon's help to make it a reality. One day, during Mid Autumn when locals could enjoy the full moon, Nobita comes across a mysterious silver-haired boy who becomes his new classmate. When they decide to let him tag along to their new made up rabbit city, they find themselves on a whole new adventure as they meet a new civilisation.

During the early days of feature length Doraemon Manga Fujio's Chief Assistant, Shintaro "Mugiwara" had suggested the Antarctic and the moon as possible settings but never made it. After continuing Fujio's legacy of writing those stories, it wasn't until 2017 when the Antarctic finally got its own movie and now it was the moon's turn.

The new original movie kicks off with your usual Nobita crying out for help from Doraemon and frankly, it wasn't too exciting since I'm not a big fan of cast revolving around a world of cute animals. After around the first half hour of the movie, things do get interesting as it becomes more gadget filled, action oriented adventure rather than just quick simple jokes for the kids. As with all the remakes and new originals it becomes more character centric too which isn't a bad thing. It's always fun watching what new special accomodation Doraemon comes up with for their adventures and this movie doesn't disappoint. Their weaponry never changes though.

Good ending credit roll and theme song, "The Gift" by Dai Hirai too. A fun watch.

Doraemon 2019: Chronicle of the Moon Exploration

Worth A Watch

Iroduku: The World in Colours (2018, PA Works)

In a world of magic, Hitomi Tsukishiro is from a family of mages in Nagasaki. She hated magic and blames it for losing her sense of colour leaving her in a world of monotonous grey. One night, her grandmother Kohaku Tsukishiro suddenly sends her 60 years to the past by using time magic she had saved up over the years to meet her younger self. After arriving in the past, Hitomi finds herself completely, unsure of what to do. Fortunately, a group of students from Minamigaoka High's photography club helps her locate the magic shop she stayed at and her relatives decide to let her stay with them, believing her story of time travel.

As Hitomi begins her new high school life in the past, she finds her grandmother was quite the energetic student, stirring up trouble every so often but everyone liked her. However, Hitomi's arrival doesn't let her off on a good start as someone had caught her sneaking out of their classmate Yuito Aoi's room. As the two clear up their misunderstandings and the photography club friends continue to welcome her indiscriminately, Hitomi soon starts to open up adapting to the not so magically advanced past. She soon discovers Yuito's painting of a golden fish becomes her key to seeing colour again while her grandmother and new friends reminds her of the joy that magic can bring.

I think the first impression you'll get from this show are the beautiful backgrounds of Nagasaki by Studio Easter and how colourful it is. It might not be Shinkai's level of lighting and detail but they still look great. In fact, episode 8's art and direction just reminds me of Your Name. The show is just filled with background art shots. The artists seem to be particularly fond of taps because there's lots of still shiny shots of them. You'll also notice the odd 3D being used but they're done better than other studios that try to use it seamlessly. The music is very serene too and there's a bit of humour with your usual mischievous high school students and your usual mix of Anime personalities.

Interestingly enough, Hitomi's voice actress Kaori Ishihara also happened to voice young Shouta Magatsuchi from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. Very different characters!

There are the odd moments the show reminded me of PA Works' other title, A Lull in The Sea - especially the ending theme's direction which also happened to be sung by same singer, Yanaginagi. Maybe because they're by the same director, Toshiya Shinohara. Only here, there isn't a lot of tense drama, just a bunch of open minded friends willing to accept anything and having fun together while Hitomi is growing through her new experiences. There's no fan service in this show and of course, your youth drama show can't be without your romance which is more the cute kind than episodes of heart wrenching bitterness.

Iroduku Sekai no Ashita kara

Miss

Sora to Umi no Aida (2018, TMS/Double Eagle)

Fish has become extinct and can no longer be bred on Earth. Now humans have taken to breeding them in giant globes in space. Clumsy, happy-go-lucky Haru Soramachi is due for her first day of space fishing training as part of an all girls squad but ends up being side-tracked. Along the way, she meets the troubled Namino Murakami and Makiko Maki who are just missing one member before they could go space fishing. Haru just happens to walk into their office during their dispute and ends up thrown into space for the first time. Things do not go well for her however and new team mates end up getting off to a bad start. As the girls continue to get ridiculed by men in the male dominant industry of space fishing, they become ever more determined to prove their worth by becoming the first ever space fisherwomen.

Theme songs are catchy and background art by Studio Jack looks pretty good. The overall presentation of the show is good even though you'd be expecting a low budget for an Anime based on a game that isn't from a big name game studio. Animation feels a bit lacking sometimes but the art is consistent. I play a lot of Japanese RPGs and I've never heard of ForwardWorks but they seem to have some big titles going as mobiile games such as Disgaea and Everyone's Golf so I guess they had some fair financial backing for this show.

The idea of a show based on a mobile game is probably enough to explain how silly and shallow the world setting is. As with most Anime shows these days it's full of girls with your common cute moe character designs. You've even got fishermen summoning digital "deities" using special skills to help capture giant fish so it's not really that original of a world setting. Other than that it's a cheery, action comedy show with your usual Anime character interactions, which is again mostly the girls doing silly things or bickering at each other. It's a very cliche show complete with your obligatory fan service beach episode.

There's little compelling about this show other than the cute silliness. Most of the scenarios feel like they've been done many times and nothing is done to make them better. Most of the episodes are spent watching the girls overcoming their fears but, there's not enough build up for you to actually like the characters to emphasise with them. They also try to stress women can also do what men can but with its equally silly and unoriginal world setting, you have to wonder what was the point of putting in such a serious modern day theme into this mobile game based show. They might as well have just gone all out silly and cute like Kinmosa when they decided to add a character like Ruby, your usual careless cheery and open half-Japanese foreign blonde girl.

On a brighter note, the show had to potential to wrap up well but ended up full of cliches and rushed. There's lots of hints to show it's more of a promotion attempt - play the game to find out what happens to the gang.

Sora to Umi no Aida

Why not take a break?

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