A big stack of first looks this week, and then it’ll be time to make decisions about what to add for the regular weekly commentary. Those of you worried about the absence of Attack on Titan, fear not– there have just been announcements that it’ll be streaming at both Crunchyroll and FUNimation, and I’ll have a report on the first episode next week.
Space Brothers #52 – And so it’s goodbye to “Goodbye Isaac” and hello to another regular feature of the season change: the recap episode. It’s a chance to introduce new viewers to the story, review important details for regular viewers, and give the production staff a break. One of the reasons I like to recommend Space Brothers to new viewers is that you can really drop in anywhere without needed a whole recap episode, but hey, tradition!
Hunter x Hunter #74 – On the other hand, Hunter x Hunter‘s studio has already announced that it will be flouting tradition by changing over to its next story arc later this month, rather than right at the season change. But Hunter x Hunter has a big and solid audience at this point that it can act like it’s special and the rules don’t apply to it, so it’s free to spend this episode letting Gon and Genthru beating each other up.
With Genthru defeated and Battera no longer interested now that he has his money, that clears the field for Gon to take his best shot at beating the game. And beat it he certainly will, because it’s clear by now that his Bartle type is Explorer, and the triva contest is made for explorers.
- (A) Creep! Time to call the cops!
- (B) Creep! Time to kick his butt!
- (C) Potential boyfriend! Tell him your life story and strike up a relationship!
If you’re in a supernatural romance, the correct answer is of course (C). Throw in some idiot plotting (How long is it going to take for him to figure out to try his special scissors? If whoever-they-are want him to stop visiting that badly, how about they, say, post a guard or two??), and it may turn out that, contrary to the meme, this is not actually a better love story than Twilight.
International stream: Crunchyroll (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
Humanity is locked in a desperate war against the alien Hideauze (the “Hideous”?). As his fleet retreats from a failed sneak attack, Ensign Ledo is knocked loose in the temporary wormhole the fleet is using to travel. Six subjective months later, he wakes from hibernation inside an unknown vessel inhabited by primitive humans speaking an unknown language. As he tries to take control of the situation, he discovers that not only is he not in space and nowhere near the war, he has in fact found his way to the legendary birthplace of humanity.
So for the second time in the last few days, a soldier escapes a climactic battle by jumping into the unknown, winds up on Earth, and is going to have to figure out how to make his life there. And for the second time, this looks like one of the better series of the season. There’s a lot of worldbuilding on display already, from the physics of the space war to the administrative details of the Earth ship. The “life of peace” described in the previews doesn’t look all that peaceful and boring, if the Earth people have an arsenal like that lying around, and it’s been hinted that something alien may have come to Earth with Ledo anyway. Throw in top-notch visuals, and this looks like the best sf show of the new anime season.
International stream: Crunchyroll (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa)
Karneval first look – This was like two different shows stuck together. In show A, our young hero Nai is chained up and enduring the attentions of a villainess who thinks he has something to do with the mysterious organization Circus, when the two of them are interrupted by explosives-wielding burglar Gareki. This upsets the captor so much that she starts transforming into some kind of eldritch creature with way too many arm joints and eating people alive. Nai and Gareki escape and fall into show B, which is a more typical action-movie plot involving a bomb aboard a hijacked train. In this show they meet two actual members of Circus, a nattily dressed commander and an acrobatic fighter whose costume seems specifically designed to flash her underpants every time she makes a martial-arts move.
I would definitely recommend you check out show A if you can. Show B, it depends how you feel about action movies.
Arata the Legend first look – As the only child in the matriarchal ruling clan, Arata is forced to pretend to be a girl so that he can ascend to the throne. Instead, he sees the outgoing ruler killed by her chief bodyguard and escapes into a legendary forest which is said to devour people’s memories.
As it turns out, the forest swaps people with their alternate-universe doubles– so now another Arata, from Japan in our world, is forced to take the rap. Only he has something the original Arata didn’t: the ability to tap the mystical powers which shape the alternate world…
Our Arata was a high school freshman who has been mercilessly bullied since displaying a talent for competitive running in middle school (another skill which is bound to serve him well in the alternate world). But now he’s been replaced by a much more assertive Arata who’s used to being treated deferentially…
This one really is two different shows stuck together, and it’ll be interesting to see how it balances the high-school drama with the sword-and-sorcery story.
International stream: Crunchyroll (US, Canada)
Red Data Girl first look – Izumiko is a shy girl who lives apart from her parents at a shrine and avoids electronic devices because they mysteriously break in her presence. Looking forward to high school, she decides she needs a new hairstyle, gives herself a haircut, and nearly every adult around her promptly freaks out about it. All of a sudden she’s being whisked off to a hospital for tests and presented with a boy her age who she’s told is now her destined servant and protector.
Yes, it’s yet another story where a teenager has a hereditary duty to perform and apparently no one thought to tell her about it until now. That bit aside, this looks like something more than your standard kill-the-dark-lord story. According to the prologue, Izumiko’s powers have something to do with a book of endangered species, and an incident at school shows her starting to develop some kind of ability to interface directly with the Internet. I think it bears checking out.
Valvrave the Liberator first look – This looks like the sort of show aiming for a nice comfortable spot in the younger male demographic. There’s a war breaking out which is presented with moral clarity so you know who to root for (Dorussia, the threatening neighbor which finally invades for no reason = China; JIOR, its peaceful, prosperous neighbor = Japan). A high school student is the only one who can save everyone. The only female character given any real personality so far exists to die so the hero can have motivation.
It’s like that until the last minute. And then…
I’m not going to spoil the surprise, but let’s just say this does not look like a Gundam ripoff at the moment, even though it’s happy for you to think so for a while. More like something trying to pick up the thread from Evangelion. In retrospect, the scene where Haruto is attacked after climbing into the robot, which looks an awful lot like Shinji’s first fight in Evangelion, is not laziness but rather the first warning.
So, what makes the cut to continue? Well, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a keeper no matter which way you slice it, and Valvrave the Liberator just earned itself at least a look at the second episode.
Karneval, Red Data Girl, The Devil is a Part-Timer!, and Arata the Legend all look worth checking out if you can, but there’s the problem. None of them are being streamed outside of North America yet. This column wishes to provide a discussion space which global fandom can participate in, and so anything with that limited a release is out.