Before we get started, there’s some news about a show premiered in last week’s column! Tokyo Ghoul is going to be available to the British Isles after all, in this stream at Wakanim.co.uk. That means it’s available in all the main countries that Amazing Stories‘ readership is based in, and episode two will be included in the column next week. But first, there’s the rest of premiere week to get through…
Sword Art Online II premiere – The first Sword Art Online series was a huge hit two years ago. It followed the adventures of Kirito, a player among thousands trapped in a virtual-reality MMORPG facing a challenge to either win the game or die for real.
In fact, it was such a huge hit that the sequel doesn’t feel it needs to explain any of what happened before to new viewers. Instead, we get a brief look at a new featured game, Gun Gale Online, where once again someone appears to have been killed by an in-game event, and the rest of the episode is spent talking. First Kirito walks and talks with his friend, and then he eats some cake while his boss talks to him, and then he’s sitting and talking with his friend some more. Various invented terms are thrown around and past events are alluded to, but not in any way that really helps you catch up.
If you saw the first show and loved it, then presumably you don’t care and are going to watch anyway, but if you didn’t, this provides no justification for you to start.
International streams: Daisuki (Americas, Europe except for French- and German-speaking countries, Middle East, Oceania, Asia except Japan, China, and Korea); Wakanim (Canada, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia)
Momo Kyun Sword premiere – In the old Japanese folktale, Momotarō was a boy born from a peach who grew up to be a hero, defeating a band of oni with the help of a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant. In this version, Momotarō is replaced by a girl named Momoko. Not only is she well-trained with a wooden sword, she can invoke a spiritual power to merge with one of her animal friends and become an even more powerful fighter. Momoko, the animals, and the oni are beautifully rendered, and the action scenes are solid.
…um, and it’s actually about boobs. Momoko, some sort of spiritual guardian who contacts her at the end of the episode, and the gender-swapped renditions of the Four Heavenly Kings are all outfitted for maximum cleavage and bounciness. The business plan for this show is apparently to sell a lot of plastic figurines with huge racks and blushes or sunburns or something in the weirdest places to a highly selective otaku niche.
It’s a shame they decided to go that way, because the plot hasn’t descended into stupidity (yet– well, it is a light novel adaptation) and the production values are more than enough for a decent watch.
International stream: Crunchyroll (Americas, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
Black Butler: Book of Circus premiere – In contrast to SAO II, here’s a series continuation which can be bothered to stop and explain its premise. In the Sort Of Victorian Era, young noble Ciel Phantomhive’s family were attacked and his parents were killed. Near death, he reached out in deperation to a demonic power and made a pact for revenge in exchange for his soul. Until he can have that revenge, the demon serves as his butler, helping maintain the appearance of a normal household.
This episode is a self-contained story walking through a day in the Phantomhive manor. Sebastian, the butler, keeps everything humming along smoothly despite the comedic idiocy of the other servants until Ciel’s guests for dinner arrive. One of those guests is plotting kill Ciel– but then the story jumps back and shows what else Sebastian has been up to that day…
It’s much better than it appears at first, and if you don’t mind a very vague level of historical accuracy, this could be the show for you.
International streams: FUNimation (US, Canada) (combined with earlier seasons, the premiere is numbered episode 38); Daisuki (Latin America, Europe except for French- and German-speaking countries, Middle East, Oceania, Asia except Japan, China, and Korea); ADN (France)
Terror in Resonance premiere – Two mysterious figures stage an audacious heist at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, making off with a batch of radioactive material. Six months later, they’re posing as ordinary high school students, using a field trip to the seat of Tokyo’s metropolitan government as cover for a shocking act of terrorism.
But there is a snag. Lisa Mishima, the class outcast, dealing with bullying and a neurotic mother, catches the eye of one of the boys, and that inadvertently draws her into their plot. Before the episode is over, she’s been given the choice of becoming their accomplice or dying.
What she’s an accomplice to is murky. The boys, Nine and Twelve (I guess calling them Nine and Eleven would have been a little too obvious), want to wake the world up to something, and they stage their attack so as to cause minimal loss of life. We see that some years ago, they led an attempted mass escape from some kind of institution for children like them (whatever that means), but they were the only two to make it. Nine has become a brooding introvert, still haunted by nightmares about it. Twelve, on the other hand, seems able to shrug off any horror.
Twelve is a big part of what lifts this show out of the ordinary. At first he seems to be so out to lunch that he’s having canapés on Jupiter. But in his interactions with Nine and Lisa, he shows a strong compassion and understanding beneath the sunny, careless exterior. For those who have seen Kill la Kill, he’s the Mako Mankanshoku of child terrorists.
Although Terror in Resonance has shown only a couple of its cards so far, it’s already justified the attention it was shouting for in the pre-show publicity. This one is definitely worth your time.
International streams: FUNimation (US, Canada); Wakanim.co.uk (UK, Ireland); Madman (Australia, New Zealand); Wakanim (Canada, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia)
Invaders of the Rokujyoma!? premiere – Kōtarō Satomi is a high school student who just wants a cheap apartment to himself. Unfortunately, this is a harem comedy and so fate will force him to share it with a bunch of sexy but easily offended girls. By the end of episode 1, he’s already collected a ghost, an inept magical girl, an invader from some kind of underworld, an alien princess, and the princess’s chaperone. Also around, but not forced into the apartment yet, are the cute class president and another girl who has been in suspended animation for centuries allegedly waiting for Kōtarō. Also his landlady is another high school girl who appears to have powers of some sort.
If you’re reading this and have never seen a harem comedy before, you may think I sound unduly unenthusiastic for something which clearly has wacky comedy potential. It’s because this is a well-worn subgenre with absolutely no way to bring anything new into it. And the comedy, such as it is, mainly consists of accidental boob grabs, boob insults, and the like. Following the general form, it can be expected to soon escalate to constant idiot-plot misunderstandings where the girls all think Kōtarō has picked one of the other girls to be his girlfriend.
Look if you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
International stream: Crunchyroll (Americas, UK, Ireland, Europe except for German-speaking countries, Turkey, Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand)
Tokyo ESP premiere – So, remember how the advance description of this show said something about a girl chasing a flying penguin and goldfish and then acquiring psychic powers? This is not the show that was advertised. Well, we do get a few truly magical images of eldritch goldfish swimming through the air among Christmas lights, but then the story shifts to an attack by espers who want to subjugate humanity. They’ve kidnapped the Japanese parliament, building and all, and the populace hopes to be saved by reappearance of a famous hero known only as the “White Girl”.
While she doesn’t show, she has some teenaged helpers who do. One has short-ranged foresight, and another uses psychometry. Their adversaries include a teleporter and someone else who can make forcefields. There is also a special police unit for fighting criminal espers. Lots of characters whiz by with brief introductions.
It’s hard to make a judgement about this one yet. I have the feeling the show decided to start in the middle of the story, and next time it’ll jump back to the beginning and do a proper introduction. It’s not bad so far.
So, to start setting the lineup:Terror in Resonance is a keeper any way I look at it. Tokyo ESP and Black Butler deserve a second look at least, so they’ll join last week’s survivors Aldnoah Zero, Tokyo Ghoul, and Sailor Moon Crystal next week, and we’ll catch up on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and take a look at Hunter x Hunter‘s new story arc besides.
Oh, and there’s one premiere to go– Nobunaga Concerto. Which probably won’t be a candidate for continuation, but this season is turning out so well, you never know. Right now, I don’t know how I’m going to cut this list down to a maximum of five shows for the rest of the season.