The first Spring of the decade is here, and we have an exciting lineup waiting for us! From Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 2 to our crow-friendly Sing “Yesterday” For Me, check out what our writers are watching this season!
Ascendance of a Bookworm Season 2: Our bookworm is now part of nobility intrigue
I finally binged both Season 1 and the released episodes of Season 2, and can only say that, like Myne, I cannot live without books. As a child, I would sneak books underneath my school table to read during class. Now that Myne can properly access books, that is where the story truly begins! It continues where the first season left off, so curious watchers should finish the first season before going onto the second one or you’d be lost.
Myne is now a blue-robed (noble-rank) apprentice due to her potent ability and large reserve of magic within her. Under the care of the Head Priest, Myne finally has unlimited access to the books of the kingdom! However, nobility is a complicated world, where a caste system is delineated and Myne knows this. Master and servant are to speak and act according to their roles, which isn’t easy for Myne who is originally a commoner. Even though Myne is now considered noble-rank, discrimination is still rife, especially with the Bishop clearly looking down at her. Fortunately, the Head Priest seems to truly care for her and Benno still gives her advice and help. It is a relief because Myne will need protection in a world full of politics and backstabbing. I definitely will be glued to my seat as I await seeing Myne navigate such a tricky world while she pursues her love for books.
Arte: The woman who refused to back down
Arte was an anime I picked up because I wanted to review something but wasn’t sure what. After watching the first episode though, the series’ main character reminded me of last season’s Smile Down the Runway’s Chiyuki Fujito.
The titular character, Arte, is a 15-year-old noble-born woman whose greatest passion is painting, but due to her father’s recent death, her mother wants to marry her off to secure the family’s finances. Painting was considered an intellectual pursuit for men in 16th century Florence, and it is clear Arte faces considerable discrimination and prejudice as she pursues her love for art. Ateliers refuse to accept her as an apprentice despite her talent. One even says outright, “It is because you’re a woman,”. Luckily, a painter named Leo accepts her after giving her an “impossible” test. It honestly hurts to hear that her gender is a massive obstacle, although I know it was normal at the time.
Yet I say she is much like Chiyuki because they both share the same determination, perseverance, and drive to achieve “unrealistic” dreams. She refuses to back down even after people use her gender against her, which takes much courage to do in that era. I do want to see her progress and develop as a character as she learns more about the world of art and the Renaissance period. The only gripe I have is that her expressions sometimes don’t match the atmosphere of the moment, but we will have to see how things go.
Diary of our Days at the Breakwater: I hate big living things but I somehow like fishing now
From the studio that brought you Asteroid in Love, Doga Kobo is back with an anime about fishing! Our protagonist Tsurugi Hina just moved to the rural areas from the city, and she loves handicrafts. The area she moved to is not unfamiliar as she used to go there during her summer breaks. It’s a scenic place — the glittering blue sea with boats docked at the pier makes for a feast for the eyes. There’s only one problem: she has a massive fear of bugs and anything living.
That fear leads Kuroiwa Yūki, the president of their high school’s Breakwater Club, to “trick” our pure Hina into joining the fishing club, in exchange for taking an octopus off Hina’s legs. Hina wants to leave the fishing club for the safety of the handicrafts club, but she becomes more accustomed to the idea and starts to enjoy fishing after getting her first catch of a young horse mackerel. Considering her fear of huge live things, it’s jarring to watch her suddenly change from handicrafts to fishing, but it paves the way for comedic moments in the episodes. It’s a pity that the anime’s episodes will be delayed to a later date due to the pandemic. However, it’s a niche anime to enjoy if you’re interested in fishing or food sources in general. Expect your catch to be comedic and filled with nuggets of fish-related information, because Hina and the gang are out to fish for the freshest catch of the day!
Gleipnir: Mascots and… underwear?
There used to be a time where I’d check out an action anime simply because it had action. I’m a bit more particular nowadays, which is why I’m slightly surprised at myself for checking out Gleipnir. It’s the kind of anime where I’d normally take a glance at it and think, perhaps unfairly, that it probably wouldn’t be any good. At the same time, it’s got a bizarre premise where the high school hero has the power to transform into an animal mascot, while the heroine can unzip his back and get inside him while he’s in this form. There’s no way I wouldn’t be at least slightly curious. Was that curiosity well-rewarded though? Well, not really.
Our hero Shuichi Kagaya is a high school senior who doesn’t understand how he came to have his mascot power. He’s generally a nice guy, and he uses his power to save a girl from a fire. I say generally, because that power also gives him heightened senses, and his enhanced smell causes him to almost assault the girl after saving her. I guess the show will provide a reason for that later, but the girl, Clair Aoki, is pretty unfazed by this, and she seems to know something about Shuichi’s power. Clair tries to recruit him for her own purposes, which is when an enemy with a similar power shows up and they begin to fight. It’s watchable fare, but given the premise I expected something more unique. I know it feels weird to say that given Shuichi’s mascot form and its associated body horror, but that by itself is not enough to make the show feel special to me. Mascot form aside, the only noteworthy aspect the first episode has is the fanservice, which doesn’t add anything to the show. Clair’s moral ambiguity and manipulativeness could make for a delicious narrative later down the line, and if the show can weave meaningful sexuality instead of unnecessary panty shots into the plot, then all the better. For the moment, however, it’s just decent 7/10 fare. There’s nothing wrong with 7/10 shows, but I expected a bit more from this.
Kaguya-sama: Love is War 2nd Season: Today’s Battle Result: MARRIAGE!
Kaguya-sama last aired a year ago, but I’m glad that it’s returned for a second season. Kaguya-sama: Love is War is a cutesy love story revolving around the top two students of a school and their fellow friends at the student council. The President, Miyuki Shirogane, and the Vice President, Kaguya Shinomiya, are madly in love with each other. However, their pride forbids them from confessing to the other. The two have been at each other’s throats for the past season, and I look forward to seeing more of their battle for dominance in this sequel. Of course, this series wouldn’t be Kaguya-sama without mentioning the return of Japan’s king of love songs, Masayuki Suzuki, for another catchy opening that will undoubtedly be in everyone’s playlists for a long time. The theme song exudes the playfulness of the cast in the series. This is reflected in the student council doing various activities within the school, like checking each other’s fortunes or giving out romantic advice to other students. Within these moments, the cuteness never ceases. It feels less like a war now but more like a battle of the two tsunderes, Kaguya and Miyuki. You can’t help but scream at the two to just get married already, and yet the anime shows them in a wedding scenario, which is already a dream come true for me.
Coming off from the first season, there wasn’t much change to the form of adaptation. Although it isn’t in chronological order, a series like Kaguya-sama can do this since it doesn’t have much of a story to follow, aside from a few arcs. This way, anime viewers can still enjoy a fresh experience, even if they’ve read the manga. A-1 Pictures, as usual, hits it out of the park with the eye-catching visuals alongside the internal monologue. They even gave a certain blue tank engine a little cameo in one of their gags. I’m also hoping for a Chika Dance 2.0 or possibly a Hayasaka (who is my favorite character in the series and deserves more love) ED. There are plenty of romantic comedies out there that may tickle your fancy, but if you haven’t tried Kaguya-sama: Love is War, then I highly recommend it! It’s worth the binge up to the second season.
Kakushigoto: Meet Mangaka Clark Kent
Kakushi has a strict schedule he sticks to on a daily basis. He sends his daughter Hime off to school and then walks in the opposite direction with his suit and suitcase. Normal, right? But as soon as Kakushi reaches his secret clothes shop, he switches his office attire for a white-tee, shorts, and lifebuoy seat cushion. His actual occupation is an adult manga artist, and he goes to great lengths to prevent Hime from ever discovering the truth.
Kakushigoto is a pleasant and funny slice-of-life anime. It really reminds me of Sweetness and Lightning and Barakamon, because like those shows, Kakushigoto is wholesome, silly, and extremely cute. I can’t wait for the next laugh I’ll have in watching the quirky characters and their daily adventures.
Princess Connect! Re:Dive: KonoSuba’s relative
I don’t usually watch mobile game adaptations, and a title like Princess Connect! Re: Dive didn’t strike my fancy. But then I watched the PV, and I thought that the show actually seemed rather entertaining. And no wonder, given that the director is Takaomi Kanasaki, who also directed both KonoSuba seasons and the movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Princess Connect! is basically KonoSuba in a different skin though. It’s not as riotous, and the main characters aren’t as crazy. The insomniac protagonist Yuuki, seemingly a reincarnated adventurer, is an all-around nice guy unlike Kazuma and, surprisingly, barely speaks at all. If I had to guess, this is the show’s take on the silent video game protagonist trope, and the way he has things explained to him – he doesn’t even remember what money is – is evocative of a video game tutorial.
Still, there are moments of silly humor that remind me of KonoSuba in a good way. The first few minutes had me chuckling at a completely unexpected joke involving ravenous googly-eyed wolves, which is later reused as an effective recurring gag. Not all the jokes are as funny, especially the scenes involving hungry warrior Pecorine, but for the most part, the show is efficient in mining humor out of its characters’ unwitting inefficiency. The first episode introduces Yuuki, his guide Kokkoro, and Pecorine, with final spellcaster member Kyari yet to join the group. According to the synopsis, the four will form a Gourmet Club. It doesn’t sound like the set-up for a comedy, and the jokes in Princess Connect!’s premiere aren’t as constant as I’d like. However, I had enough chuckles to convince me to stick with Yuuki and his party, at least for now.
Sing “Yesterday” For Me: What to do with life
One of Sing “Yesterday” For Me’s main characters walks around with a crow perched on her shoulder. She’s the eccentric-girl-comes-into-protagonist’s-life kinda girl, which I wasn’t expecting from this adaptation of a manga from the 90’s. Still, the show is remarkably grounded as a whole. There’s no stylized comedy or over-the-top shenanigans here (aside from a mildly melodramatic bike crash), and the colors, while not dull, aren’t of the warm and vibrant variety. The pace is slow, although the dialogue ensures that the show never drags. There are other grounded anime, of course, including the third season of Oregairu that’s also premiering in this season (edit: it’s been delayed.) Despite the fact that it looks destined to be somewhat under-the-radar, I’d say that Sing “Yesterday” For Me still stands out among the Spring 2020 catalog for its groundedness.
Sing “Yesterday” For Me is more of a low-concept affair, and in hindsight, it’s pretty apt that I’m not sure where the story will go yet. Protagonist Rikuo Uozumi is a college graduate who, owing to a lack of ambition and desire, is content with his job as a part-time convenience store worker. His routine is livened up a little when the aforementioned crow girl, Haru Nonaka, enters his life, and when his college crush Shinako Morinome returns to teach at a local high school. However, discovering a direction in life, or developing the desire to do so in the first place, will likely be the crux for his journey in the series. There’s also his relationships with Haru and Shinako, who we get to know a bit in the premiere, but they still have mysteries behind them. Haru dropped out from high school due to an incident, and Shinako’s occasional forlorn expressions, seemingly Rikuo-related, leave us guessing about her thoughts. The premiere didn’t blow me away like I expected it to, but I’m still invested enough to want to see how Rikuo’s life turns out, and how his relationships with Haru and Shinako develop.
Tower of God: Battle Royale, Tower Style
Climb the tower, and everything will be yours. Adapted from the popular South Korean webtoon, Tower of God enters this season as an original collaboration between Crunchyroll and Webtoon. Tower of God tells the story of Bam and Rachel, who are separated when Rachel heads off into the titular tower for unknown reasons. Bam, whose only goal is to find Rachel, has to take many tests to climb to the top of the tower and fulfill his wish. How will Bam and other adventurers survive? The only way to know is to make their way up, one level at a time.
The show wastes no time in introducing the world as the audience is thrown right into the fantastical world full of mysteries and adventures. Many magical elements exist throughout the Tower, ruled by the “residents” within. Low-level residents must climb the tower by passing tests and defeating monsters in order to make their way to the top. Although the animation style looks a little rough with the line art and bold color choices, these aspects complement the fantastical elements of the show. Additionally, the stacked voice acting cast and ever-evolving and suspenseful background music materializes the tense moments in the anime.
Wave, Listen to Me: Alcohol Gives Birth to a Radio Star
When you meet a drunk woman at a bar, usually your first impression wouldn’t be “Radio Personality,” but that is exactly how a radio station director scouted our main character, Minare, in the first place. Wave, Listen to Me! is a comedy anime with more mature elements. Since the characters are adults, most of them can be seen smoking, drinking, or dishing out dirty jokes.The story goes about Minare’s life as a regular curry shop worker and is centered around her struggles to maintain her jobs and keep a stable income. She would often go out drinking to rant about her relationship woes when she met a radio station director. The director becomes impressed with her ability to spit out words like a fast typewriter that he offers her a job at his company. This is a story about Minare Koda’s journey to becoming a radio host extraordinaire. I picked up this show because it featured radio stations, and I always listened to the radio growing up. Similar to how Shirobako gives me an in-depth perspective of how an animation studio operates, Wave, Listen to Me! features how a radio station goes around doing their business. If you enjoy series that go behind the scenes on certain industries, then I’d definitely recommend this.
Of course, we have to give credit where credit is due— Minare’s voice actress, Riho Sugiyama, fits the character to a T. You’d think Minare was a professional just from listening to her first on-air improv segment. Her words are blunt and her mannerisms are hilarious— there’s something about Minare and her voice that makes me want to listen to her all night long. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be as invested into the show as I am now. I look forward to seeing Minare hosting her own radio show and how her life turns out after that.
Till next season, everyone!