Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (2018, A-1 Pictures)
Wotakoi / Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii
A slice-of-life romcom that started off as a comic on the Japanese online artists community Pixiv before being serialised as a web comic. 26 year old Narumi Momose seems like your average optimistic cheery girl but she has a secret. She doesn't want anyone to find out she's an Otaku (geek) because guys always dump her when they find out she's also a "Fujoshi [rotting girl, word play that refers to women/girls]" - a girl who is into "Boys Love (explicitly illustrated fiction featuring gay men relations)". After her last boyfriend left her, she decided to start afresh at a new company and tries to keep her Otaku nature a secret but she soon finds out she wasn't the only Otaku there. Her childhood friend Hirotaka Nifuji who isn't a fairly socialable gaming Otaku also happened to be working there and there was also fellow Fujoshi, Hinako Koyanagi who cosplays as male characters and was a fan of her self-published BL. Hinako's rash, angry looking but considerate boyfriend Tarou Kabakura is also a bit of an Otaku too but hardly shows it.
As Narumi and Hirotaka catch up she reveals how she doesn't have any luck with guys. She never makes a mistake in dating sim games so she doesn't understand why it never works out but, doesn't want to date an Otaku who might be more accepting of her because she considers them disgusting. However, when Hirotaka points out he can be really accepting of her Otaku habits and always be with her like in an RPG, Narumi decides to give him a chance. And so, a new relation begins for the new Otaku couple but as they hang out together with Hinako and Tarou, they feel like something's not quite right.
When you think of an Anime about Otaku you'd probably think of classics like Genshiken but this show feels quite different. Probably it's set pass the stage of uni clubs and right into working adulthood. It's a cute show with an opening that features a dance with fun hand gestures. Narumi has cute expressions and it's always entertaining when she's trying to help people around her. It's fun watching the couples get caught up in each other's little fights or just supporting each other too. Geeks watching this will probably be able to relate a lot to the show right away. It's filled with emoji since Hirotaka isn't very good at expressing himself. There's even features footage from Monster Hunter X on the Switch.
Actually, you'll see a lot of product placements in it, no parodies like the usual Anime and lots of references to other Anime shows like Macross, Evangelion, One Punch Man and Maison Ikkoku. Part of the fun is recognising them all so unless you've seen a lot of shows or played a lot of games then you'll probably miss a lot of the references.
Some of the not so clear references that would have been hard to translate are as follows which is a few minor spoilers.
During episode two, Hanako says "よろしい、ならばクリークだ [Then krieg is what you shall have]" to Narumi when they were having an argument. It meant she was declaring war but is a reference to a line used in Hellsing when a 13 page speech was given in the Manga - in other words, a fierce argument ahead. Episode 3 use the phrase "夜戦るルートの完全回避 [You avoided the night battle route!]" refers to Kantai Collection game when players are happy they don't have to do battle during the night because it wastes a lot of ammo just before a boss fight - in this case, they have plenty of beer. Episode 4, Narumi says "Gevanni" when Hanako proudly says she processed a large bunch of photos in one night. This is a reference to Death Note's Stephen Gevanni from the Manga who managed to duplicate a bunch of notes including the exact handwriting in one night - means wonderfully done.
There's also a fair bit of Otaku lingo too - a bit like the time when Densha Otoko was released and there had to be a glossary except there's none here. Some examples: ガチ勢 [gachi-zei] hardcore gamer, 推しキャラ [oshi kyara], a character you like or support. すこ [suko], which is the typo for suki (like). 把握 [ha-aku], same as "wakatta" in net speak (which is why Hirotaka gets fined). 今北産業 [imakita sangyo] - short for "I just got here, please summarise what's been going on" on 2ch forum.
There's a YouTube video that explains all the lingo and references used although some you might be better off not knowing if you're a guy because some are Fujoshi related...
There's nothing too explicit in this show but since it stars two Fujoshis, there are times you hear and visually see what they're fantasising about men in gay relationships so you might not like it if you're a guy. Thankfully they rarely occur - I've only seen it happen once in the entire series. Show looks great, nice clean art like most of A-1 Pictures slice-of-life shows and the music's mostly cheery too.
So if you're not bothered by the odd Fujoshi fantasy going wild, it's mostly a straight cute romcom that isn't overly mushy. Don't miss out on the extra scenes after the ending. The show just gets better as it progresses.
Looking forward to a season two!
Sagrada Reset (2017, David Production)
Sakurada isn't your average town. Its inhabitants and anyone who moves to the town are granted a special ability but they're limited in such a way that the user can't benefit from it and if they left town, they'd forget they even had such abilities. Kei Asai is a righteous high school student who takes things seriously and won't do anything without purpose. One day, the student council president Sumire Soma lures him to the rooftop to meet the emotionless Misora Haruki who goes about her life based on logic. Sumire was hoping their similar personalities will allow Kei to befriend her because she had no friends. Kei soon discovers Haruki had the ability to reset time for up to three days in the past as long as she created a save point. Problem was her own memories are reset too so she never remembers if she ever used the ability. On the contrary, Kei has a perfect memory allowing to recall even the tiniest detail which ends up protecting his memories from her resets.
After learning of her ability, he thought they'd be able to help many people rid of sadness if they teamed up. As a result of Kei's efforts, Haruki opens up and finds herself more expressive. She agrees to team up believing that as long as she's with him, they can make the world a better place. They soon discover their abilities aren't omnipotent and can't help everyone but that ends up motivating Kei even more to study abilities and use them for good. Two years later, the Bureau that govern abilities grants them permission to use their abilities on others as the "Service Club" and under the condition they they will be constantly monitored.
Based on a seven volume light novel series By Yutaka Kohno, the show has your cliche high school setting and the supernatural. Despite all the special abilities it's a strangely relaxed show most of the time with the characters leisurely chatting away with little to no tension at all. I think you could compare it to the likes of Natsume Yuujinchou where the scenarios run at a slow steady pace with the odd bit of comedy, brief scenes of action and of course, the supernatural. There's no sci-fi time travel or leaping involved since Haruki's ability basically just reconstructs the world around her... It's kind of like a group of teenagers playing super heroes except not quite at the same time since everyone has their own abilities. They're mostly sent on assignments helping others who are troubled by their own abilities but of course, there's always a bigger plot which gradually unfolds so you can play along with the mystery. It actually reminds me of From The New World in this regard and it always keeps you guessing.
There are quite a lot of peculiar abilities but, Haruki's reset ability alone is already interesting enough with the rules it works by. Kind of like loading a saved file in a game except there's an expiry time and it disappears after loading so it's not all powerful. I like how Haruki always reports the time after saving so that Kei knows when to search his memories. The abilities themselves end up being the surprises of the show as you don't know what the next one they'll discover is next. Some of them end up fun silly ones while others are more interesting. The odd times it can get pretty violent and gruesome because Kei doesn't show any restraint when he's relying on the reset ability. It's good to see the characters trying to resolve problems with something that's more realistic and achieveable within their current abilities (literally) rather than trying to come up with the perfect solution to not hurt anyone. It has its cute moments with its rare moments of romance while the calm witty dialogue mostly between Soma and Kei keeps conversations interesting. There's also a little fan service (not just for guys) but for the most part of the show there's none to ruin it.
Background art's clean and simple. You could say the same for the characters but animations smooth and consistent. I guess the slow pacing and resets helps minimise the amount of animation needed so, they can spend more time on quality. The show kind of makes you think Nestle sponsored them with the product placements in this show. Maybe you'll notice the old book store from Jinbocho too that also appeared in Persona 5. As for music, it's quite good and matches it's mostly tranquil mood. Opening's music and visuals kind of reminds me of Nagi no Asukara (Lull in The Sea) although there doesn't seem to be any staff in common. Funnily enough, Kei's voice actor Kaito Ishikawa voices Kihara Tsumugu from that show while Haruki's voice Kana Hanazawa (Mayuri from Steins;gate, Akane from Psycho-Pass) also voiced Manaka Mukaido.
If you watched Natsume Yuujinchou or even From The New World and liked those shows then the chances are you'll like this. Just that there's no cute chubby mascot around and the moral at the end of each sub-story is more of a riddle to solve. The show is one big mystery that takes it time to unwrap slowly and does an excellent job of it with its well developed characters.
Hyouka (2012, KyoAni)
Hotaro Oreki is your unmotivated but intelligent high school student whose motto is "if I don't have to do something then I won't do it or if there is, I do it quickly." However, that changes when his sister asks him to join the Literature Club to stop it from being abolished due to the lack of members. A cheery, energetic and inquisitive girl Eru Chitanda joins in and decides to offer help to fellow students in an effort to boost their club's popularity. As a result, Oreki is dragged into Chitanda's wild imaginations as all the requests turn into more dramatic mysteries than they really are.
I'm not really a KyoAni fan but decided to watch this show when I saw it advertised during my trip to Takayama. This show is based on a mystery novel series apparently. Apart from your quality animation and your usual cute, lively character designs it's an interesting mystery show. Rather than focus on big crime based mysteries, the mysteries are mostly self-contained and are focused on everyday trivial matters that no one would give a second thought about like why are students borrowing a book and returning it on the same day? Definitely not your regular mystery show and fan service is mild too.
The interesting part is how KyoAni decides to use some serious, creepy music you'd usually hear in a thriller with these not so serious mysteries and it's done so well, you end up feeling tense as you watch. But at the same time, you've got your comic relief coming from characters like Chitanda that just lightens the mood when it just gets a little too tense. By the end of the show you'll probably have learned the Japanese phrase "ki ni narimasu!"
Oh, and pay attention to Satoshi's bag throughout the show because he changes it almost as often as Haruhi changes her hair (one of KyoAni's more well-known show besides K-ON and Lucky Star). You'll even see them all gathered in his room at some point - talk about attention to detail.
Worth A Watch
Yuru Camp (2018, C-Station)
Rin Shima is a regular off-season camper who enjoys the quiet time alone. While camping out at one of the popular five lakes around Mount Fuji, Lake Motosu one day she comes across cheery but also klutsy, overly naive Nadeshiko Kagamihara who just moved into the area nearby. Nadeshiko had just happened to sleep through the day near the camp site while trying to get a view of the mountain. Fortunately for her, she meets Rin and manages to get some food before calling someone to pick her up again. Mesmerised by the moonlit view of Mount Fuji, she is determined to go camping again and so she joins the Outdoors Club at her new school Motosu High where Rin just also happens to attend.
Art and animation itself is a bit average which is also the same for the backgrounds. Sometimes the character proportions can look a bit off and the 3D animation isn't well blended like other studios. A lot of the time places are completely desserted too so there isn't as much to render and animate. Quite a low budget show. Other than that, I think the only other thing stopping me from recommending this show is the setup which is your commonly used group of girls doing silly funny things.
Just like the title says, it's a very laid-back show based on a Manga of the same name. There's no drama unlike A Place Further Than The Universe, just a group of girls camping and chatting away leisurely with your usual funny reactions so it's a great show to wind down with. It's also a bit of an edutainment show where you end up learning about camping which is always a bonus when watching Anime. You'll also see this show's interpretation of Lake Suwa in Nagano which was also the same lake Lake Ito from Your Name was based on. There is the odd episode of fan service with your usual obligatory hot spring/bathing scene but that's about it. They're really brief and don't have any awkward actions or camera angles to spoil anything.
Beware of the blankie monsters.
Worth A Watch
Record of Grancrest War (2018, A-1 Pictures)
A historical marriage to symbolise peace between the two main warring factions of Atlatan, Factory Alliance and Fantasia Union falls apart. Treated as an assasination, it was now known as "The Great Hall Tragedy" and conflict continues between nations. Having witnessed the incident during her graduation, Siluca Meletes the prodigy mage was now reluntactly going off to serve a new lord. However, a group of mercenaries from the opposing faction stops her during her journey there and just then she meets the wandering Theo who comes to her rescue. Not knowing Siluca's abilities, he fends off the mercenaries. Theo had created his own Crest from the dark Chaos energy that leaked across the country allowing demons to appear from another dimension to raise terror. The Crest's power allowed humans to battle with them but, the lords who possess them had long forgotten their purpose and now it was more a symbol of status that they fight over for.
After learning Theo wanted to strengthen his Crest so he may free his poverished town from tyrannic rule in Sistina, Siluca decides to help him and make him her new ideal lord. He had the potential to help her own ambition of restoring peace and destroying the Chaos energy that threatened the lands once and for all. After taking over the Crest from the lord that attacked Siluca, Theo now gained the status he needed to achieve his goals but he still had a long road ahead of him before they could both achieve their ambitions.
The show gets off to an interesting start. Your heroine Siluca isn't one that's just a damsel-in-distress but the one pulling the strings and ends up being the important support behind Theo, who starts out as a naive average skilled swordsman. However, he isn't completely outshone since his chivalry and compassion wins over many allies. It's cute watching the relation between the two blossom out of mutual respect and grow to achieve their ambitions which, feels natural instead of your "hero gets the girl" kind of direction. Yes, there's romance in this show but it can be devastingly heart breaking as it can be warm and fuzzy. There's a fair bit of drama and you kind of sympathise with characters caught up in the politics and conflict. Their responsibilities and lineage often force them to take desperate and drastic action which usually ends up in tragedy as they deny themselves of their own personal interests. It can get quite dark and brutal. Some have compared it to a rushed Japanese version of Game of Thrones.
Fantasy world based shows usually don't differ by much and this show doesn't stray far from it with the usual roles, your nations at war but, it does have a few things that help give the world setting a bit of originality. The demonic beings are actually intelligent and play a role in keeping the world safe which is better than your usual mindless monsters added in just to be slain. Even witches are differentiated as black or white. However, the way the Crests work feels like levelling up in an RPG which kind of detracts from the world setting's charm. Sometimes the show can actually feel like a cutscene out of a really bad JRPG.
Action scenes are interesting with your grand battles and a bit of gore which is probably expected in a fantasy show but I've seen worse. Character fight scenes are good and I probably wouldn't have expected less from the studio behind Sword Art Online. There's a lot of focus on body language such as movement of the eyes and hands during dialogue. Sound effects and music do a good job of bringing out the atmosphere although there weren't any tunes that really made an impression. Art's not too bad although you can clearly see some quality drop in the odd episode and, the 3D animation really sticks out like a sore thumb often too stiff looking. The show starts off with little to no fan service apart from the odd alluring attire as you'd expect from fantasy shows but, it does eventually choose some awkward camera angles. There are also some scenes that are just savage so definitely not a show for the younger audience as they can be quite explicit.
As a bit of trivia Siluca's voice actress Akari Kito just happens to be Kaho from Blend S. Interesting how many main roles she's managed to get even though she only started her voice acting career in 2014.
Interestingly enough, this show is based on a 10 volume light novel series of the same name and it's written by Ryo Mizuno best known for the classic Record of Lodoss War. Lodoss is more straight forward with just the good and bad sides fighting it out starring your RPG style party of heroes who turns the tide, no tactics or conspiracy. It's more adventure oriented so not quite as tragic as this and the overall art style is more consistent without the 3D animations. However, this show has better character development which is probably why I found it more enjoyable than Lodoss because you actually feel bad for them when something tragic happens. It also has the better romance if that's what you're after in a fantasy world show.
Overall, it's a fantasy show with a story that can be so good at times but also so ridiculously silly at others. It's filled with action, romance and power struggle at a grand scale just like its title suggests. Be prepared for some really dark moments and don't miss the extra scenes they sometimes have after the credits. Either you'll enjoy this show on the whole with its great cast of characters or end up remembering it for the wrong reasons.
Worth A Watch
Bungou Stray Dogs (2016, Bones)
18 year old Atsushi Nakajima is kicked out of an orphanage during a certain incident involving a mysterious tiger that would appear causing chaos. As he wanders around, he saves the whimsical man named Osamu Dazai from comitting suicide. He turns out to be a detective who was part of a team known as the "Armed Detective Agency" that investigated supernatural cases the police couldn't handle and, just happened to be investigating the very same incident. However, Dazai soon learns the tiger was Atsushi himself and after testing him at their agency, Atsushi is given a place in their team. As Atsushi learns to master his powers he finds their firm caught up with another dark organisation known as the "Port Mafia".
You've seen shows with super powers but they are bit weird in this one such as materialising things drawn in a notebook or reviving someone only when they're fatally injured. Interesting original ideas. Battle scenes are short and intense and, characters have some fairly original personalities. You've got Dazai the most powerful member on the team but constantly trying to commit suicide (in comical ways), Naomi Tanizaki whose obssessed with her "older brother" always trying to seduce him. It actually kind of feels like Kekkai Sensen with its Western buildings and giant font move names.
First season is a good intro to each character's background while the second starts to pick up on the main story between the agency and the mafia. The TV series is mainly based on the Manga up to volume 11 with some material from the light novels that got released afterwards. There's a movie that's based on a separate spin-off Manga of the same name and takes place after season two where a "gifted" is seemingly going around making other gifted commit suicide using their own abilities and an apple is always left behind. Not a bad movie although it feels like a filler episode that brings back the gang rather than any significant progress in the main story.
Season three sees no drop in quality as we see more back story for Dazai and other characters, still with the same intense action and comedy.
Worth A Watch
Orange (2016, Telecom Animation Film)
One day, Naho Takamiya receives letters that claim to be from herself ten years in the future, each letter describing a different day and what she must do to prevent her "biggest regret". At first, she thought it might just have been a prank but just as the letter described, Naho and her friends befriend the new transfer student named Kakeru Naruse who joins her class. As other events occurr just as the letter said they would, she starts to believe the letter was real and starts to follow instructions, slowly falling for Kakeru while unaware of what the big regret will be.
The show sounds like it's sci-fi but it's mostly romance and friendship. Most of the time the show is really happy and cheery - a little over-exaggeratedly so and I think they go overboard with the friendship too. I think the idea was to portray the strong ideal friendship where everyone would do and give up everything to save a friend's life. We see how Naho's friend Suwa has feelings for her but instead of trying to win her heart, he actually tries to spur Kakeru and Naho on. Seems a bit too much even if it did give a reason for Kakeru to live on. There could have been better ways while they kept the competition fair.The whole time leap idea with letters seem shoehorned in too since it isn't given much focus on how it happens like in Steins;gate.
On the other hand, the visuals and music are really good. This show is probably one for anyone into heavy friendship themes with a little romance thrown in. If you do find yourself liking it, there's also a one hour movie sequel subtitled "Mirai" which recaps on the TV series from Suwa's point of view. It's actually quite a good filler and wrap up for the TV series.
Worth A Watch
Dagashi Kashi (2016, Feel / Tezuka Productions)
Kokonotsu Shikada and his father runs a small store selling "dagashi (cheap snacks)" in the rural countryside. One day a mysterious girl named Hotaru Shidare appears looking for the potential employees that are well-versed with the world of Dagashi and Kokonotsu seems just the person. However, his father refuses to let his son join unless Hotaru could somehow convince him to take over the store first. As Kokonotsu refuses and instead aspires to become a Manga artist, the Dagashi obssessed Hotaru is determined to change his mind.
When I first heard this title I thought the title was a word play on "da ga, shikashi (but however)" but, it's all about cheap Japanese snacks that you'll probably have come across if like me you grew up with a lot of Japanese food. It features a lot of real world snacks like whistle candy but, the jokes themselves are horribly done and doesn't make sense. Only fun is watching Hotaru's goofy expressions although it does sort of return to the regular scenarios like romance etc.
The second season picks up on the series well as a new rival convenience store appears. Hotaru has left and a new character moves in. None of the wackiness (and fan service) from the first season is left out.
It's filled with fan service but, it's fun learning about how the various snacks came about and might even make you pick some up next time you're in a Japanese snacks store. Who knew there used to be a "Super Mario-kun Comic Gum" candy that came with a mini comic? Or that the drink "ramune" got its name from the Japanese mishearing the pronunciation for "lemonade"?
Otherwise, if you don't care about cheap dagashi snacks or ramune then best avoid.
Worth A Watch
Record of Lodoss War (1991, Madhouse / AIC)
Lodoss-tou Senki, Eiyuu Kishi-den (Chronicles of The Heroic Knight)
Thousands of years have passed since the war amongst the two gods of dark and light had ended which, broke off a piece of land from the main continent and the island "Lodoss" was formed. Now the forces of darkness brews once again as the dark ruthless armies of Marmo begins to invade and threaten the inhabitants of the island. After his village is attacked by a a horde of strangely behaving goblins, the badly untrained and rash Parn is sent out to investigate the source of the darkness. Joining him is an unruly party of six each journeying for their own reasons - his priest-in-training and friend Etoh who chose to accompany him, Ghim the dwarf in search of his daughter, Slayn the self-taught mage who sees potential in Parn, Deedlit the curious High Elf and Woodchuck a thief they rescued during a raid. Soon they discover there are much greater forces at play.
This show is based on Ryo Mizuno's 7 volume novel series which are actually a novelisation of recorded Dungeon & Dragon gameplay sessions. Think RPGs with pen and paper without any electronics, just dices to determine what happens. As such, the setup is very RPG-like with your party member of humans, elves in their familar classes such as mage, warrior etc. It's very much your classic Western fantasy world setting filled with legends and the simple plot of a party setting out to adventure to vanquish the evil that leaves a trail of ruin wherever it goes. Complete with the evil laughs too.
OVA's art is good and suits its fantasy setting. I think the character designs are beautifully done and aren't done as fan service like most shows these days. You do notice the repeated animations used during battles and how short duel scenes are but, with the amount of work involved in doing cel animation you'd probably give them some slack for it. You can also see the lack of animation sometimes such as when a troupe of knights are moving like a cardboard stand. The emotional "twinkly eye" animations feel overdone and overly used and, there's a bit too much flashing of scenes sometimes. There's lots of blood but little gore.
You could say the 13 episode OVA is roughly based on the first half of the novels but has its original ending as the novels were still ongoing at the time. This was then followed by the TV series "Chronicles of the Heroic Knight" which rolls back and covers the rest of the novels. You could say it picks up after episode 7 of the OVA and follows the party members as they grow up, facing new enemies that threaten Lodoss as well as the aspiring new hero, Spark hence the title. Art's not quite as detailed which is usually the case for longer running TV series but character designs more or less look similar to the OVA. Some of the voices don't sound as well matched. It's kind of aimed at a younger audience with its "Welcome to Lodoss Island" (horrible) mini shorts which is probably why there's no blood in it and more joking around. I actually found it a sleeper most of the timebecause it doesn't have the same build-up towards each event like the OVA did and the threats just don't have much impact. Not to mention the silly shorts just ruins the mood afterwards although the show does have an epic ending if you get that far. The only other highlight would probably be the OP "Kiseki no Umi" by Maaya Sakamoto (Mari from the Evangelion Rebuild movies). It's even better once you've journeyed through the show.
As a bit of trivia, Spark's voice actor Kenji Nojima also happens to voice Nobuchika Ginozawa from Psycho-Pass and Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon Crystal.
I think overall the character development is lacking. Sure you'll notice Deedlit's fallen for Parn but it's a given and it hardly shows any romantic moments or any major events that lead to that stage. Parn grows up from a wannabe knight who didn't even know how to handle a sword to a legendary hero but you don't actually see much of that process. The same could be said of Spark where the trials don't really have much impact and feel dragged out. It's kind of like once an event's over, that's it for the characters. Then it's a time skip and onto the next event but that's fine. RPG fans should find the fantasy premise itself entertaining as it is with the familiar battle scenarios and party setups but personally, I'd just watch the OVA with its original ending and forget the TV series.
Dorei-ku The Animation (2018, TNK / Zero-G)
A retainer-like device known as the "SCM" is being sold on the internet and rumours have it if you wear it and challenge another person that's also wearing to a duel, you can turn them into your slave when you win. Ohta Yuuga comes across Eia Arakawa one day after dumping her best friend. After discovering how daring and smart she is, he requests she becomes his insurance partner. He knew the risks of the device but wanted the thrill it would give him during duels while he tested his own abilities. However, he also wanted to be prepared for the worst case scenario and that was for Eia to win him back if he ever lost. Despite having just met, Eia thought she understood what he meant and agrees to join him but ends up finding herself caught up in a battle for slaves between masters.
I think this show is another one for the masochists who enjoy seeing others suffering. And as with most masochist shows, there's sex involved (and rape in this case). The show is based loosely on a Manga with a slightly different name, "Dorei-ku: Boku to 23 no Dorei [Slave Region: The 23 Slaves and I]". Direction feels a bit like Death Note or even King's Game because you see brief flashes of rules that the SCM operates on but that's about it. Doesn't have any depth like the mind games Death Note had. Maybe a bit better than King's Game because it isn't filled with gruesome deaths but there is a lot of pain and suffering. It tries to lighten up the mood with a few jokes but mostly crude ones.
Of course, the characters aren't your average person. Mostly people who are most likely under a lot of pressure like hostess and hosts that keep clients company in red club districts, people bored with their daily life including your common dominant little kid character. Games used for duels are also very simple like your usual rock-paper-scissors so no riddles or mystery to join in here - some just there for a joke while some are just messed up.
Each episode basically focuses on someone different. Or something... Their stories intertwine but I think it tries to do too much in such a short series. Characters end up with too little of a role in the main story so you don't empathise with them too much and the plot ends up wearing too thin. It kind of tries to be clever as it alternates between the different masters so you're trying to guess how they managed to outsmart each other but, their schemes aren't very grand to make an impression. It's also odd how the slaves from different walks of life are just suddenly friends instead of trying to find a way out.
It might have been an alright show if it didn't feature abuse but, I guess it doesn't have "slave" in its title for nothing. Art isn't anything impressive and character designs feel a bit off. I don't think there were any OST tracks that caught my attention but the OP "Karakara no Kokoro [Parched Heart]" isn't too bad.
Death Note would probably be a much better alternative to this show with its dark theme and mind games if you haven't watched it already. Just without the abuse.