Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy premiere – So here’s what we’re actually getting: The “Despair Arc” is episodes 1-12 of this show, and the “Future Arc” is episode 13 onward. The story appears to have taken a linear progression between them, but airing them alongside each other allows some interplay between the arcs.
For instance, actual episode 1 features a young woman who has returned to her old high school to take charge of a classroom full of unruly super-talented students. In episode 13, she and her mentor are part of an organization trying to stop an apocalypse that has devastated most of the world. Which is kind of a neat trick considering that the very first scene in episode 1 shows her being killed.
In the spirit of the original Danganronpa, both halves are loud, tasteless, and stuffed with characters who would have to stretch to even be considered one-dimensional. Also like the original, the “Future Arc” is setting up a story that gleefully kills most of them off by the end of the show. The characters in the “Despair Arc” have a different but still awful fate awaiting them.
This is not recommended to most of you, but if blunt-force humor is your thing, then this show looks like it will be delivering hard. However, I strongly suggest looking up the first Danganronpa series before diving into this one, because this contains major spoilers for the original.
International streams: FUNimation (US, Canada); FunimationNow (UK, Ireland); AnimeLab (Australia, New Zealand); Wakanim (Canada, France, Belgium, Monaco, Switzerland, Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Nigeria, Sénégal, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique)
Active Raid Second
premiere – In future Tokyo, the lovable bunch of misfits known as Unit 8 fight advanced criminals with their own high-tech suits known as Willwear. Once again, someone is tricking people into donning Willwears to commit criminal acts, only this time they’ve upped the ante with a plot to blow up the biggest train station in town at a busy time of day.
If you watched the first Active Raid, the bad news starts with the revelation that the two most interesting characters in the unit have both retired from police work (though one of them will be dragged back into it for contrived reasons by the end of the episode). Some intriguing details of the future world are dropped here and there– a wave of suicide bombers originating somewhere in Africa, a higher immigration rate leading to foreigners dominating menial jobs– but there were intriguing details teased last season too, and never any payoff.
If you like battlesuit fighting action, then it’s still pretty solid on that front. But I don’t see anything here that suggests it’s going to improve on the ending of last season.
International stream: Crunchyroll (worldwide except Asia)
And that’s it for the premieres! Now we’re going to switch into more spoilery commentary mode as we check back with a few shows and decide which ones to follow the rest of the season.
Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! LOVE!
#2 – That was possibly the best episode of Cute High ever. It is firing on all cylinders and raring to go.
This week’s opponent is a guy with Sailor Moon hair who is taunted as a geek. Well, a very specific kind of geek – what his classmates are actually saying is that he has chūnibyō. Sometimes translated as “8th-grader syndrome”, this is a disease of anime characters where they imagine they are the hero of some kind of magical action series rather than trapped in a comedy.
The twin villains turn out to be a pair of high school pop idols, referencing an anime subgenre which has been popular lately. I find myself wondering where exactly they claim to be exchange students from, and whether it might be the same place that the student council has gone off to study. Oh, it probably is, and we’ll probably be learning more about it, because we are definitely following this for the rest of the season.
Re: ZERO – Starting Life In Another World
#14-16 – Remember those carefree, halcyon days at the end of last season when all Subaru had to deal with was the girl he loves telling him she didn’t want to see him again, after he was beaten to within an inch of his life? Boy does the author have it in for him now.
Trying to get back to Emilia, Subaru gets to meet the cult of the Jealous Witch, whose local leader is dedicated to sloth, because anime really loves dragging the seven deadly sins into fantasy works. The Bishop of Sloth is an evil, sadistic bastard, but it sure is fun to watch him give a speech, thanks to some fantastic directing. Also helping out is some kind of huge phantasmal shapechanging creature, possibly the witch herself.
So Subaru desperately tries to take them on himself, and then to rally some allies to help, and all he gets for it is chapter after chapter of an extended dissertation on Why Light Novel Heroes Are Kind Of Dicks. Because he is acting like the hero of a generic light novel, the world is refusing to cooperate.
Sloth started off by asking Subaru, “Are you Pride?” Perhaps the reason why the Jealous Witch selected him for the resurrection spell was that she saw some potential for him to become a cultist. Or, since she seems to be fighting her own daughter, at the very least she saw that he could help drag Emilia down.
And so the question is: can Subaru accept that fixing this mess requires him to get over himself? Let’s keep watching and find out.
Orange #2-3 – Naho has a very, very important decision now facing her: whether to make lunch for Kakeru. (This is a common way for girls to express their interest in boys in anime.) This is ground that has been covered by a bajillion teen dramas, but few have done so well as Orange at pulling the viewer into the world of a sixteen-year-old where making the cute guy lunch or not is literally the most important decision ever.
Of course, in this case, it does have momentous consequences. If Naho doesn’t handle this right, then (at least according to future her), Kakeru dies.
I like how it’s continuing the story with 26-year-old Naho as well, making it a two-way communication between her past and future. It’s not just a teen drama, it’s really about the reflective process that happens in adulthood.
One thing I do hope changes over time is Naho trying to be essentially Kakeru’s new mother. There’s got to be a point at which she helps him stand more on his own. I think this is a smart enough story to realize that, so let’s continue with it.
Mob Psycho 100 #2 – So here’s what it looks like the show is really going to be about: Mob navigating the perils of middle school and adolescence. This goes some way toward a likely explanation for the ongoing “progress toward Mob’s explosion” updates. At the current rate, the explosion should happen right around the end of the season.
The business with the telepathy club looks like it’s setting up some antagonists for him, and I’m sure they can make Mob’s life hell even without any actual powers. Add in the attempt to win back his friend Tsubomi, and the conflicting demands of a club and a job, and this show looks set to have plenty of comedy material. The animation’s going to be fun to watch too. Not much potential for deep analysis here, but this show is absolutely good enough to deserve watching the rest of the season.
The Morose Mononokean #2-3 – The pattern of the first episode holds for the next two. Hanae blunders into things, Haruitsuki berates him and then sends him off to do something, Hanae blunders more, Haruitsuki has to rescue him and show that there is a heart beneath that gruff exterior, or something. Along the way it’s all but said outright that Haruitsuki is a yōkai himself trapped somehow in human form.
The yōkai are interesting, but the stories are sticking to the exact same shade of melodrama every single time, and way too much time is eaten up by going through the motions of Hanae and Haruitsuki arguing and Hanae overreacting to everything. It’s still pretty good, but nah, I think I’ve seen enough.
Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars
#2 – Now that Rena has been located, Yui has to explain what’s going on to her Cabinet. Rena then lets slip her connection to the “Fall of Rimgarde” – the events of the prologue, which somehow resulted in the instantaneous disappearance of an entire big city’s population. Upon hearing this, absolutely no one asks her, “So what actually happened?”
After demonstrating that the show needs idiot plotting to keep the suspense going, nothing else much matters. Yui and Rena have to fight another mech, or “Regalia Gear”, which is somehow related to Rena but not the same thing. This one is themed around magic tricks because, I dunno, the director thought it would look cool or something.
So no, it’s not going to turn into anything special. Just another “cute girls + X” show. If you’re desperate for a mecha fix, at least it isn’t terrible, but that’s it.
Servamp #2 – Mahiru finds the vampire he’s looking for. Not only is Tsubaki a crazed murderer, he’s the sort who’s willing to give a helpful lecture about how the world works before trying to actually kill his enemy.
Did I not just say that anime loves to drag the seven deadly sins into fantasy shows? Anime loves the seven deadly sins. In this case, they’re personified as the seven servamps, with Kuro as Sloth. Only there’s now an eighth one, Tsubaki, representing depression, which implies that depression is a moral failing, reinforced by Mahiru’s lecture which amounts to “Just snap out of it!”
Right, time to be serious for a moment. Your reviewer would like to remind you that depression is unequivocally a medical condition, not a failure of willpower. If you are experiencing it, you totally deserve to tell your friends, and/or your doctor, and/or your local crisis hotline. In fact, feel free to do it right now, because all that happens in the rest of this review is I dis this show for another paragraph.
I think after that, I will actively dis-recommend this show. Re: ZERO is doing a much better job with sloth, and Orange looks like it’ll do a much better job with depression, and I’m sure you can find some better vampires. Off the list it goes.
Our lineup for the rest of the season is: Orange, Re: ZERO, Cute High, and Mob Psycho 100. Not a great season for highly descriptive titles, but it should be a good one otherwise.