Chaos Dragon premiere – And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: do five famous writers add up to brilliance? No. No, they do not. Instead, the result is a mishmash of “but wait, I want a scene with my viewpoint character in this episode too” interspersed with horribly forced plot developments.
Insofar as there is a connected chain of events, they focus on Ibuki, hidden heir to the throne of Nil Kamui, which is basically Steampunk Fantasy Japan. Relatively recently, it was invaded by Steampunk Fantasy China, while Steampunk Fantasy The United States stuck to defending only its local bases. The people chafe under their new overlords and in their overdesigned, uncomfortable-looking trousers. Ibuki’s manservant/bodyguard/general/whatever contrives to place him where an artifact that can link him with the red dragon which is Nil Kamui’s guardian will fall into his hands, but the dragon demands a sacrifice first. Luckily, Ibuki’s best friend is there, with “I’m in this show just so I can die a tragic death” written all over her.
But, the dragon assures us, she’ll live on as some kind of spirit attached to Ibuki, so it’s okay! It’s not okay. Nothing about this show is okay.
Castle Town Dandelion premiere – Akane is a princess gifted with a superpower that lets her affect the weight of whatever she touches. She can fly to school, stop a robbery along the way, and be the center of attention just for existing. Unfortunately, Akane doesn’t want to be a public figure. This problem becomes more acute when the king announces that his nine children will be participating in a reality-show competition where a public vote will determine the next monarch.
It’s fun watching the royal siblings go all out with their powers in the first round of the competition. Several of them have abilities that the good guys don’t normally get, because they would tend to wreck conventional superhero stories. And Akane is, so far at least, endearing in her shyness, and in the way it leads her to a motivation for trying to actually win the vote. This might be a good one.
International streams: FUNimation (US, Canada)
Snow White With the Red Hair premiere – Once upon a time, a beautiful girl with red hair captivated a prince. Except in this case, he’s just interested in collecting her as a temporary mistress, and she has a fulfilling career as an herbalist and doesn’t want to be anyone’s wife or mistress anyway. She flees, and through an amazing series of coincidences finds her way straight to a much nicer prince.
This is supposed to be medieval Europe, or at least fairytale Europe, but worldbuilding is at the can’t-be-bothered level. The characters are modern people with modern lifeways, living in material abundance with a well-developed bureaucracy.
There is no way to recommend this show to anyone.
Overlord premiere – Momonga, as he is called in the game, is alone watching the last hours of his favorite MMORPG count down. As he takes one last tour of his impressive guild hall, he muses on the friends that used to gather there and the things they achieved. But when the clock counts down to zero, he finds himself trapped in the world, with the NPCs guarding the guild coming to life and heroes approaching…
There are some highly effective decisions here that make this a lot better than your average light novel adaptation about people trapped in a game. We never learn anything about Momonga’s real-life identity, other than he isn’t your standard otaku hero, because the RPG guild only accepted people that were productive members of society. In fact, there is nothing shown of the physical world at all.
Momonga and his minions have a good working relationship, except that he decided to edit the personality of one of them on a whim just before the switchover, and now he’s stuck with a second-in-command who’s madly in love with him. The most unfortunate part of this episode is that this almost immediately starts playing out in the most creeptastic way possible.
The RPG itself is a pretty standard fantasy anime RPG. (You know what I’d love to see? A story about people stuck in a MUD at the low end of the amateur range, where you have a patchwork of areas in wildly different styles, executed with wildly different amounts of competence, some with wild amounts of pop-culture copyright infringement, like the one where you kill characters from, say, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) This averages out to a decent, workmanlike show, but it doesn’t quite make the cut.
Sky Wizards Academy premiere – This show comes across like the result of a challenge to include as many light novel harem comedy cliches as possible. At the center is a decent, super-capable guy who through various contrivances winds up convincing all the major female characters that he some kind of perverted weirdo. The girls all wear bizarrely tailored clothes with a bad case of static cling. In one particularly impressive sequence, the show manages to cram Girl Running With Toast In Her Mouth, Accidental Boob Grab, and Boob Size Argument into jsut a few seconds.
For the setting, we have the trope of humanity forced to abandon Earth for space, except since this is fantasy instead of science fiction, they stay within the atmosphere and get to fight mighty aerial battles with giant insects that explode for no apparent reason when killed. Our hero is a fighting ace assigned to teach the worst cadet squad in the school, made up of The Fiery One, The Delusional One, and The Shy One.
If I haven’t managed to turn you off this show by now, I don’t know what I can do.
SCHOOL-LIVE! premiere – Forgetful but energetic Yuki is our guide to a club where the members love school so much, they have a club for living at school! The club consists of Yuki and three other adorable girls, plus their advisor and a cute puppy named Tarōmaru. Tarōmaru is a curious puppy who has figured out how to open doors, and as a result, Yuki and the ruder but more competent Miki wind up spending the day pursuing him all over the school rather than attending class.
So it’s an episode of cute girls doing cute things, until the final couple of minutes when the show drops a huge development the likes of which I haven’t seen in a first episode in a long time. Even if you know that this is going to be about the School Living Club surviving the zombie apocalypse, it’s building up to one whopper of a surprise.
It’s too big a twist to spoil. I can only say that it’s done so well that it alone would be enough reason to watch a second episode, even if the girls weren’t a likeable bunch that seem like they really do have what it takes to survive the zombies.
International stream: Crunchyroll (Americas, Europe except German-speaking territories, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, North Africa, Middle East)
God Eater premiere – Lenka Utsugi has joined a special fighting force which is humanity’s last defense against monsters. In due time, there’s no one available to muster against a surprise attack, so he tears off his jacket in slow motion and heads out to kick monster butt on his own, with the aid of his super-extra-special powers that allow him to transform his ridiculous weapon into something even more ridiculous but at least useful.
There are hints of a tragic backstory, and there are introductions for some other generic characters who will probably be important in the story. There are some decent action scenes, although those who hate CGI character animation should be warned that there is heavy use of it.
If you just want to see some evil monsters getting blown up, I guess it’s serviceable. You’d probably have more fun playing the game it’s based on, though.
– The Heroic Legend of Arslan #13 –
By the rules of this column, I should go as far as the first episode of the new season before dropping this show, but it turns out to be a recap episode (not surprising after #13 showed up late), so it’s one and done.
Our heroes do finally make it to Peshawar, where the long-foreshadowed plot point awaiting in Vahriz’s letter turns out only to be what the audience already knows and Narsus and Daryun had nearly figured out anyway. The garrison at the fort apparently doesn’t believe in keeping a proper watch, so Hermes is able to show up to chew the scenery and threaten Arslan directly before being driven off. Meanwhile, yet another army is galloping up to claim the whole area for Fantasy India.
And I don’t care. I don’t care about the main characters. I don’t care about Pars or Lusitania or the new bunch. I don’t care where the story is heading from here because it’s been a tedious waste of time since about episode 3.
Since this is an adaptation of an adaptation, I’m willing to leave room to believe that the novels this is ultimately based on are much better than this show. In fact, I’ve got to believe that. Goodbye!
And there goes another premiere week, by and large. Kurayami Santa might still turn out to be one of those unannounced licenses on Crunchyroll’s lineup. No surprise that Dragon Ball Super didn’t get a simulcast, as it’s probably heading straight for a broadcast dub deal.
For the final elimination round, we’ve got a good mix with Gatchaman Crowds insight, Charlotte, Rokka, SCHOOL-LIVE, Castle Town Dandelion, and Ushio & Tora. We’ll catch up with all of them next week and set the lineup for the rest of the season.