As you might’ve guessed from yesterday’s entry, the anime bug has bitten me again. I’ve been getting up earlier and I find, in addition to coffee, nothing gives me quite the necessary kick in the morning like the peppy opening theme of a new anime series. So here are a few other 2018 shows I’ve been watching lately:
Revue Starlight, 少女☆歌劇 レヴュー・スタァライト
A bit like a cross between Glee and Revolutionary Girl Utena, this Shonen series follows an ensemble of pretty teenage girls led by the initially clumsy and awkward Karen (Momoyo Koyama). There’s a Slice of Life quality to the series but it has too much of a plot to belong to that genre of anime. It’s set in a musical academy for teenage girls who train and compete in ballet and opera and where Karen one day finds a secret elevator. It leads to an underground arena in which ballet and opera are combined with sword fights presided over by a sentient giraffe whose catch phase is, “Understand?” Anyone familiar with Revolutionary Girl Utena will recognise the set-up but where the sword fights made a kind of sense in that classic series—Utena is an athletic girl who challenges the captain of the kendo team in the first episode—the introduction of swordplay in Revue Starlight is abrupt and the characters oddly don’t seem to remark on it, at least not in the first three episodes that I’ve watched. The injection of surrealism with the giraffe among other things also doesn’t sit as well with the show’s average visual design in place of Utena’s distinctive aesthetic. But there’s a supporting character named Banana who makes me laugh, mostly because she’s named Banana. Revue Starlight is available on HIDIVE.
A Place Further than the Universe 宇宙よりも遠い場所
This one is on most of the American “Best Anime of 2018" lists, usually at number one, with good reason. A Seinen series, A Place Beyond the Universe follows a group of teenage girls whose ambition is to go to Antarctica. No, it’s not At the Mountains of Madness for school girls, sadly, at least it doesn’t seem to be two episodes in, but it is produced by Madhouse and it has the top notch animation and design associated with that studio. Like a lot of high school anime series, it’s unabashedly about nostalgia and its central protagonist, Mari (Inori Minase), has the kind of passion about experiencing her youth to the fullest that one suspects generally only comes from someone who’s not young anymore. She’s enthusiastic but shy about simple transgressions like skipping school. Then she meets Shirase (Kana Hanazawa) who has a burning desire to get to Antarctica because her mother, a scientist, disappeared there. The show’s sweet and the characters, who endeared themselves to me very quickly, feel less like stock types than usual though there is still with some light fan service. The series is available on Crunchyroll.
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord 異世界魔王と召喚少女の奴隷魔術
Here’s one you won’t generally find on American lists. A Shonen and Isekai series that’s very heavy on the S&M fan service, it follows a young man named Takuma (Masaaki Mizunaka) who gets sucked into the world of an MMORPG. Unlike Sword Art Online, all the people Takuma encounters are NPCs, it being an alternate version of the world where death is permanent, which means everyone is very low level. Takuma’s character, named Diablo, is high level even by normal standards so a lot of the humour in the first couple episodes has to do with how easily he beats anyone who challenges him. He’s brought to the world by two beautiful women: an Elf named Shera (Yu Serizawa) and a Cat Girl named Rem (Azumi Waki) (no relation to the Re:Zero character). They both wanted to enslave Diablo but because he wears an artefact that reflects spells it’s the two women who instead have to wear slave collars. But, naturally, Takuma is too shy to take advantage of them, despite the fact that both very quickly want him to. A lot of the humour comes from the contrast between Takuma’s intimacy allergic NEET personality and the worldly, mature persona of Diablo. The beginning of the first episode tells us how he was particularly cruel in Player versus Player situations in which he was challenged by couples who consider their relationship more important than level grinding. Now, wouldn’t you know, it looks like he’s going to have to admit he likes the two gorgeous women who are bound to him by magic, affection, and the attraction inherent in his godlike powers. Fantasy world problems. It’s a softball, to be sure, but it’s fun, some of its humour even reminding me of Slayers. The show’s available on Crunchyroll.
Twitter Sonnet #1159
Internal blanks destroy the papers now.
A shredder baulks at taking plastic cups.
A filed drop returns the cooler chow.
The bev’rage range producer quickly sups.
A random voice averts approaching trains.
In florid names the paper clips present.
A chopping block repaired the sign of gains.
To dogged ink fatigue compels assent.
The reading eye is circled down the ink.
A trial takes the cycle off the bike.
Reforms became the glowing page’s link.
A fleet of shoes conduct the person hike.
In mirror worlds reflections turn around.
The bristles up the mountain brush abound.