The fall season is finally upon us as the 2018 year winds down! Within weeks of airing, Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Senpai and Goblin Slayer snag our attention, but other shows like Run With The Wind, Tsurune, and ZOMBIELAND SAGA all have surprising charms to them, making them worth a try. Check out some of the staff’s highlights for the refreshing, original fall season.
Bloom Into You: Blossoming girls’ love
As a high school student who dreams of being swept away by a love confession, Yuu finds herself feeling nothing when one finally happens. Meanwhile, her senior, Nanami, is famous for her student council position and for the number of students – both male and female – she has turned down, due to their confessions failing to stir any emotions within her. Both the leads basically have apparent difficulties in feeling love, but that changes – for Nanami at least – after a lewd case of hand-holding, which prompts the senpai to give a love confession of sorts.
Aside from the confession feeling a little sudden (especially considering how Yuu is held by Nanami), Bloom Into You is a mostly satisfactory product. Following the footsteps of Citrus and Kase-san, it’s a well-made adaptation of a yuri manga. The technical aspects are well-done; the pleasing art – the backgrounds are especially lovely and eye-catching – is complemented by music that conjures a magical and dream-like atmosphere. There are also a couple of dramatized scenes that stand out stylistically without feeling overly melodramatic. As for the characters, however, it would be nice if the leads stood out a little more, especially since the pacing is somewhat slow.
DAKAICHI -I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year- (Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu): Never underestimate a good-looking angel
Overshadowed by the new and upcoming superstar Junta Azumaya, twenty-nine-year-old show-biz veteran Takato Saijou is dethroned from his position as the Sexiest Man of the Year, ending his 5-year streak. But how could a veteran like Takato be led on a string by some newbie like Junta? When the two are paired to work together in a drama, Takato is determined to use the acting skills he’s developed over a lifetime to the test as he mentors Junta. However, in a drunken stupor one night, Takato soon realizes that his number one rival is not only his number one fan but also a lustful, hungry angel…
Although it has its cringe-y moments, most of the DAKAICHI’s episodes are relatively toned-down with suggestive erotic scenes sprinkled in with each episode. At times, Azumaya’s advances are far too rough and overbearing, but, alongside the blossoming romance between the men, the funniest parts lie in their conversations and interactions as Junta has an unyielding love for Takato. While Takato is less likely to display his affection, Junta’s straightforward way of declaring his love starts to rub off on him… As a seductive romantic comedy for the fall season, DAKAICHI is definitely one for the fangirls.
Goblin Slayer: Get ready for savage
Goblin Slayer starts off with a young lady referred to as Priestess who recently left her home to join the Adventurer’s Guild to take part in missions. This may seem like a familiar trope to start with, but as the episode progresses and her very first guild party is defeated ruthlessly, you’ll see this story is anything but stereotypical. She is saved by an armored man referred to as the “Goblin Slayer” who explains that his mission in life is to kill all goblins. Couldn’t have guessed that one, huh?
Don’t be fooled by the colorful art because the themes are dark and feature uncensored bloodshed and rape. The violence realistically depicts the risks that an adventurer carries in their line of work. As the story progresses, we can expect to see how the relationship develops between the Goblin Slayer and Priestess as they start working together. Brace yourself for action that showcases unique physical abilities and efficient logic to outsmart and defeat these creatures. The CGI may be obvious when Goblin Slayer first makes an entrance, but it achieves the terror it intends to evoke. This show has been compared to the likes of Berserk and Kingdom, but it remains to be seen whether it will rise up to meet expectations.
Golden Kamuy Season 2: Sgt. Tsukishima is the new emote
Ah yes, the Yubari arc… Probably one of my favorite arcs in the entire series. It sets the stage for the amount of weirdness that’s to come in the future, so I advise everyone to see the rest of the season in an isolated room with no one around for ten meters. You thought Edogai was the worst with his strange costumes? Yeah, good luck. On a more serious note though, the plot is still the same: Sugimoto and co. are hunting for the tattooed prisoners, skinning them alive, and trying to find the gold. But there’s definitely a lot more at stake now, thanks to all the new content in season 2. What could all these pieces and clues possible lead up to? Will Asirpa ever find out who killed her father? Find out in the next episode of Golden Kamuy!
Though the animation has pretty much become a meme in the community at this point, I cannot help but applaud at the other aspects of this show. Namely, Kobayashi Chikahiro’s voice acting of Sugimoto (which continues to broaden and convey so many of his character’s hilarious moods), the exhilarating opening, and the introduction of my favorite character: Sergeant Tsukishima Hajime. He’s already made an appearance as a side-character in the previous season, but Golden Kamuy’s season 2 really kicked it off with Tsukishima passively taking in all of Edogai’s antics with a deadpan expression. I absolutely can’t wait to see more of him and this constant mood of his for the rest of the season. Or, to see if there’s any kind of change in his mood.
Hinomaru Sumo: Fighting spirit in the ring
At first glance, Hinomaru seems to have all the qualifications to be a yokozuna, a grand champion sumo wrestler: the drive, the skills, the strength, and the stamina. But there’s only one thing holding him back from joining the professional sumo wrestling league, his height. As the shortest member of the Oodachi High School sumo club, Hinomaru is unable to challenge the pro-scene because he does not meet the height requirement. Nonetheless, Hinomaru doesn’t let anyone discourage him from achieving his dreams. Instead, with his selfless actions and his love for sumo wrestling, he brings together a rag-tag team to officially compete in high school sumo wrestling competitions.
As one of Japan’s oldest sports, Hinomaru Sumo is a show that sheds light upon the Japanese contact sport that follows strict tradition since ancient times. While the show definitely exhibits the elements of the shounen genre, Hinomaru Sumo is full of vitality, passion, and soul. Much like the fiery opening and ending, Hinomaru Sumo ignites the flames in the hearts of its viewers to not turn the other cheek in the face of adversity, but to take it headstrong just like the red-haired protagonist. What makes Hinomaru Sumo stand out is its sincerity and seriousness in the portrayal of its characters, story, and the sport overall. There’s no blatant fanservice, nor does it deviate from the typical shounen sports anime formula — but it’s not just all about buff, practically naked guys wrestling each other in the ring. There’s more to sumo than what meets the eye.
IRODUKU: The World In Colors: A picturesque experience
Towards the end of The World In Colors’ first episode, a fish within a drawing tablet wriggles into our world. The petals of color it scatters in its wake enthralls our teenage protagonist, and soon, the monochrome world she sees is transformed into a land of gorgeous pastel-like colors. Behind her, a school of fish swims by, their form resembling a moving rainbow. For P.A. Works’ visual efforts to be pretty good is probably no surprise, and their latest work certainly lives up to the studio’s pedigree.
What I was more concerned about was the content beneath the visuals, as most of the studio’s post-Shirobako shows failed to strike a chord with me in the story and character department. Thankfully, this isn’t like those shows. Set in a world where a slight bit of magic exists, the show follows Hitomi Tsukishiro, who is unable to see colors. Thus, she is sent to the year 2018 by her grandmother Kohaku, a witch, in order to visit Kohaku’s teenage self. How this time travel business will help Hitomi is a mystery so far, as is whether the interplay between Hitomi and her grandmother’s high school friends will excel or fall flat. But the cast makes a decent first impression, and most remarkable is perhaps Hitomi herself. Despite her pretty emotionless personality, she isn’t boring at all. My only worry, though a small one, is that Hitomi’s interactions with her ancestors will outshine the teenage stuff that seems to be the core of the show.
Rascal Does Not Dream Of A Bunny Girl Senpai: Is the order a rabbit with feels?
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a saying that applies well to Rascal Does Not Dream Of A Bunny Girl Senpai. While a healthy dose of risque and high-spirited content is suggested by the poster, the show actually features a serious and melancholic atmosphere, though it has a nice share of witty throwaway lines as well. It is a drama with a hint of magical realism, starring two loners and pretty engrossing dialogue. Judging by the beginning and the way the story is framed, there may be some heartbreaking or bittersweet developments on the way too.
The star of the story is Sakuta Azusagawa, a snarky high school student who notices a senior of his wearing a bunny outfit in a library one day. Oddly enough, he is the only one who can see this girl, an actress named Mai Sakurajima. Sakuta believes her condition is related to the mysterious Puberty Syndrome, something which can only be described as bizarre for now. While the mystery behind the Puberty Syndrome might play a big part in the grand scheme of things, it’s thus far the exchanges between the characters, especially the leads, that stand out, which is not a bad thing. There were initial concerns about the art and animation, but both are ultimately adequate.
Run with the Wind: Kageyama and Oikawa’s story with marathon running
Sports at a collegiate level! I came into this series thinking it was going to be some Haikyuu! plot with a slice of Grand Blue college comedy. But really, Run with the Wind is a much less romanticized version about college sports and more about mature characters getting caught in a college scam. That’s right, a college scam. In the second half of episode 1, 4th-year Kiyose Haiji requests that everyone in the Chikuseisou college dorm participate in his dream: running the annual Hakone Ekiden Marathon. As a former track athlete, and the dorm’s prefect/resident chef, Haiji uses everything in his arsenal to coerce his roommates. He’ll bribe people with his cooking, promise to help with job searches, and even bring a girl to their practices to motivate everyone. While everyone slowly starts following his pace, 1st-year Kurahara Kakeru remains unfazed and believes that amateurs can’t run the race, no matter how much they train.
At first, there’s this sense of whimsicalness that’s very reminiscent of bygone college days: students coming up with dumb ideas and trying to follow through with said dumb ideas, no matter how much of a mistake it is. You would think that the plot would lapse into something repetitive and boring, but surprisingly, the formula changes up a bit in each episode because of Haiji’s unpredictable nature. There’s also a sense of desperation from both Haiji and Kakeru, who still want to run and make their mark on the world, which I sort of identify with as a student who entered collegiate sports scene rather late. The show has its light-hearted moments of comedy, but compared to other sports shows around the high-school era, Run with the Wind is more poignant.
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san: The Diary of a Skeleton Bookstore Employee
Ever wonder what it is like to work at a bookstore? Or how a novel ends up on a shelf? Fear not, Skeleton Honda brings you the daily adventures of working at a bookstore that sells novels and comics, not only for Japanese people, but many foreigners and business people as well. Rushing between placing novel orders and sorting the books on the shelves, Honda and his fellow costume-like co-workers run back and forth to keep the store up and running.
Each 12-minute episode of Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san is roughly divided into two short segments. From the daily shockers of what people get at the bookstore to getting the most accurate recommendations for the customers, one can see how hard it might be to work at a bookstore like Honda’s. Overall, this short anime series, driven by real-life encounters, can seriously make one chuckle after every segment as there are various references to real-life comics and novels.
SSSS.GRIDMAN: 2018 Ultraman in Action
Access Flash! TRIGGER’s latest production, SSSS.GRIDMAN, draws influence upon its predecessor, Gridman the Hyper Agent and the Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad. Despite its roots, SSSS.GRIDMAN is also very much a standalone due to its newfound originality and collection of characters. If anything, SSSS.GRIDMAN is worth a watch simply because of the SSSS-tier action and mystery.
While the main character, Yuta Hibiki, and his memory loss are barely worth mentioning, the true mystery lies in the female characters of the series: the antagonist Akane, and her reasons for creating kaiju to kill people, and Rikka, whose character development truly outshines her male counterparts. Moreover, how does Gridman make everything turn back to normal? Who are those guys in black suits that claim to be Gridman’s allies and weapons? Why is that junk computer in Rikka’s store the only way for the crew to contact Gridman? Questions like these are what draw me in to tune into SSSS.GRIDMAN every week, and I can’t help but awe at the mecha-like fight scenes that just get keep getting better and better. Gridman Alliance out.
Tsurune: Revisiting Japan’s ancient martial art of Kyudo
Tsurune is an anime that hyped me for one reason: nostalgia. I used to do international archery as a hobby a few years back, and the mere mention of archery is enough to make me remember those happy memories. In Tsurune, however, our focus here isn’t international archery, but Japan’s ancient art of archery, known as Kyudo. Why the name Tsurune? It is the sound that the bowstring makes when a bow fires an arrow. It’s precisely this sound that gets our protagonist, Minato Narumiya, into the art of Kyudo.
In the first episode, Kyoto Animation wastes no time and introduces our five characters early. When approached to join the Kyudo club, Minato politely declines, despite being an experienced archer. It’s later revealed why: his mother, who’s hinted to have sparked his interest in Kyudo, passed away when he was a 6th grader. But his friend Ryohei is having none of that and even offers to help with housework just to drag him to the Kyudo club’s orientation. Though the Kyudo orientation at school doesn’t go well, Minato discovers an off-the-road archery dojo on the way home and meets the mysterious archer shooting there before the episode ends. This starts Minato’s journey on rediscovering Kyudo, and himself as well.
Looking at the episode, I’m definitely looking forward to how the friendship develops between the five characters because it’s evident they have such different personalities that it’ll make for an amusing journey. I also hope to see how the Kyudo club will be revived through these youths, and how they will come out stronger and more resilient as a team. As a fellow archer, I’d say, “Once an archer, forever an archer!”
Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc to Renkin no Kishi: Better than your history lessons
Jeanne D’Arc is set in 15th century France during the Hundred Years’ War with England. We are introduced to four young nobles – Montmorency, Richemont, Charlotte, and Philip. They are a group of friends who want to remain loyal to each other despite the possibility that their futures might force them apart as enemies. Montmorency, our only male lead, is obsessed with alchemy as an alternative means to end violence and war. He’s willing to go to any length to protect his friends, even if it means summoning a faerie and pulling a seven-year all-nighter.
This anime is a historical fantasy with some powerful names like Jesus Christ and Otto the Great which casually receive some honorable mentions. The characters are distinct from each other both in personality and design which makes for interesting interactions. Richemont, in particular, boldly stands out with her beautiful sword choreography. Jeanne is introduced in the second episode as a child who prays for bigger boobs and for the war to end. She meets Montmorency and, in a strange twist of events, transforms into a ruthless killer. We have here a background of politics, religion, alchemy, romance, and action. This anime is bursting with potential, so let’s hope it makes the best of it!
ZOMBIELAND SAGA: Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the idols
I wanted to watch this show for two reasons. First, I love Mamoru Miyano. Second, there was very little information about the show when it was announced, and that mystery intrigued me. All the material leading up to the airing of the show made me think it was going to be a dark show that had a saccharine layer of false sweetness on top to lull you into a false sense of security, a la Madoka. So I pulled up the first episode with some friends, expecting some scary zombies and a little bit of mismatched humor. That is not what I got.
In the first 90 seconds of the show, the main character gets blindsided by a truck and dies. This is when I knew that any expectation I had was wrong. The abrupt change in tone had me laughing until my sides hurt.
To describe ZOMBIELAND SAGA would take me much longer than one AniBitez to describe. Despite that, I will try. Minamoto Sakura is a former girl and current zombie. Tatsumi Koutaro, a producer/necromancer/makeup artist, is making a regional idol group for Saga prefecture out of zombies and has “recruited” Sakura into his group. Hilarity ensues as things (obviously) don’t go as Sakura expects.
That description still feels lacking, but how do I explain this show concisely? Each of the first three episodes is so different! Episode one depicts idols doing death metal. Episode two involves a freestyle zombie rap battle. And episode three has the standard idol CG dance routine, but the CG is so bad, and the dance routine is so robotic, that I can’t tell if the budget dried up or if the show is making fun of other idol anime! Almost every episode gave me a kind of tonal whiplash that would normally piss me off, but I find Koutaro’s flippant nature and the incredible voice acting from the entire cast make the sudden changes fun rather than irritating. Also, I love the opening theme. The singing by the cast is very fun to listen to, and any upbeat song with a strong, well-written horn section is almost always a winner in my book.
I am most definitely going to finish this show to see if it will end up as a clever parody of the idol genre, or just end up becoming what it set out to mock. Either way, I think ZOMBIELAND SAGA still has a few more tricks up its undead sleeve.