Although I’m still catching up on the season just gone, I’ve been doing my best to keep up with this new season of anime. In these weekly roundups, I’ll be going through each show I’m watching and talk about the episode that aired this week. Opening week is always the most important, creating a lasting impression is key to sustaining a hefty audience. Let’s see how this season has fared so far.
Disclaimer: Three shows have yet to premiere in its official western release so they will be covered in the next article. Those shows are: Centaur no Nayami, Gamers! and New Game!! Also I still haven’t caught up with last season’s episodes of My Hero Acadamia yet so that probably won’t be making an appearance on this season’s roundup.
FAST PACED COMEDY OF A DUNCE AND A COLD-HEARTED LONER
COMEDY, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY DIOMEDEA | DIR: KUSAKAWA, KEIZOU
Shows like this are why I’m glad I use twitter because I had never heard of it before seeing it spam my timeline. AHO-Girl is a silly comedy show with a run time of around 12 minutes, following the insane antics of an idiot and her serious friend. First and foremost, the pacing of this episode was perfect. Almost every joke landed perfectly with a literal punchline sealing the deal. Accompanied by its exaggerated use of motion lines and black backgrounds upon impact, this show is not afraid to show some violence.
Primarily functioning as a comedy show, it’s really important that spectators find the plot and the characters funny. Utilising its short run time, the spacing between comedic moments are surprisingly short – providing a hearty serving of highlights. It was tough to choose just one image for the header and I had to use an animation just to highlight how impressive some of these sequences are. Thoroughly enjoyed this episode and look forward to what the next one has to offer.
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
THE THRILL OF GAMBLING PACKED INTO A WELL DESERVED R RATING
MYSTERY, PSYCHOLOGICAL | ANIMATED BY MAPPA | DIR: HAYASHI, YUUCHIROU
I knew this show would be intense but Kakegurui really takes the cake. The only Rated R show on this list, Kakegurui takes place in a corrupt school academy plagued by rich, pompous students. Where money is everything and respect is bought, gambling has become a daily tradition and those who become indebted to their classmates become worthless possessions. In such a sick and twisted academy, who is this new girl foolish enough to challenge the most powerful girl in school?
As I said, the opening alone warrants its rating and was definitely jarring considering the kind of shows I’m used to. That being said, this show’s ability to create such grotesque and unsettling imagery is really a testament to the talent of the staff. The situation presented in Kakegurui isn’t a pleasant one so expecting the visuals to be as such would be silly. This show probably has the most going for it in terms of setting up a gritty and enthralling narrative, so while it’s not quite to my taste, it’s going to be an interesting ride.
Knights & Magic
A GENERIC CONCEPT SAVED BY ITS ‘COOL’ FACTOR
ACTION, FANTASY | ANIMATED BY 8BIT | DIR: YAMAMOTO, YUSUKE
This mecha-fantasy show actually impressed me with how much content they managed to cram into one episode without making any of it feel rushed. Starting in the real world, we’re introduced to a programming genius who is an otaku with a passion for robots models. While crossing the road, he is hit by a car and dies. I say it so bluntly because that’s exactly how it’s presented, the show doesn’t waste time setting up anything unnecessary given that the rest of the series takes place in a fantasy realm.
The whole “adult rebirth into a child” thing is always a bit iffy to me but this show seems to be handling the concept well – focusing mainly on how his experience as a genius programmer can be utilised in his magic training. Once again, these time periods are skipped rapidly year by year so that viewers receive the perfect amount of backstory required so they can fill in the rest with entertaining battle sequences. I really enjoyed this episode, not expecting a fantastic narrative from what’s been setup but it should be an entertaining watch nonetheless.
Koi to Uso (Love and Lies)
WHERE LOVE HAS BECOME CONTROLLED, IT TAKES TEENAGERS TO REBEL
DRAMA, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY LIDENFILMS | DIR: TAKUNO, SEIKI
The premise of this show intrigued me in such a way that made me question how things work in the real world. Within Koi to Uso’s universe, arranged marriages are government law and every 16 year-old receives documents stating who they are to wed and start a family with. Our protagonist falls in love with a different girl and so the romantic drama begins. Unrequited love is as old as love itself but I’m curious as to how this show will present its ideas.
I will happily admit that I’m a sucker for these kind of shows, call it the life of a teenager but even though the first episode wasn’t objectively fantastic, it still sucked me in completely. Something about the way the story doesn’t try to do anything outrageous is somwhat admirable, I knew exactly what I was getting and haven’t been disappointing. This show might not be to everyone’s tastes but I’m eagerly awaiting the next episode.
Made in Abyss
SHRIMPY ORPHANS RISK THEIR LIVES SPELUNKING WITH MONSTERS
SCI-FI, ADVENTURE | ANIMATED BY KINEMA CITRUS | DIR: KOJIMA, MASAYUKI
Upon seeing fellow animation enthusiasts rave about the action sequences in this show, it was inevitable that I would add it to my list. I’m glad I did. Personally, I’m not a fan of the character designs but it’s never too off putting or detracts from the show itself. The small and pudgy designs work well for the animation they undertake so I can’t complain too much. The premise of a group of orphans attempting to rise above their situation would be a dull one if not for the immense world building this show presents.
Although I think there are other shows this season that can convey more beautiful worlds and locations, this show did a brilliant job in building its own. Everything feels natural with the humans and monsters both moulding into the scenarios surprisingly well. Even though the robot boy plays on the whole amnesia trope (which is a personal pet peeve of mine), the world of Abyss encourages spectators to continue watching and has hooked me in to see what else is planned.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride
MY HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK, STUNNING VISUALS AND CHILLING NARRATIVE
MAGIC, FANTASY | ANIMATED BY WIT STUDIO | DIR: NORIHIRO, NAGANUMA
Surprised does not even come close to my response to that first episode, my expectations were already pretty high but The Ancient Magus’ Bride completely blew me away. Right off the bat, the show plays some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard in a long time and continues that standard throughout the rest of the episode. Combining such emotional music with this show’s stunning visuals really do work to create some beautiful moments. I have absolutely no complaints for this episode, every feature worked tremendously and get me incredibly excited for what is to come.
Then the story that came with the latter half of the episode, my goodness I’m floored. Creating such a serene and warm scenario in the first section of the episode was pivotal to the powerful impact the “flashback” provided. In every shot of the first half, windows or light sources instil a feeling of warmth and comfort which is perfectly contrasted to the harsh blues and greys presented in the latter. Through risk of spoiling this near-perfect first episode, I urge all readers to watch it right now, you won’t be disappointed.
Welcome to the Ballroom
FATEFUL ENCOUNTERS OFTEN PROVE THE MOST PASSIONATE HOBBIES
COMEDY, SPORTS | ANIMATED BY PRODUCTION I.G | DIR: ITAZU, YOSHIMI
So I have been excited for this show ever since I first caught wind of its announcement back in 2016 and it’s finally here! One of the main concerns I had was that the manga’s distinctive and detailed art-style would be lost in its transition to anime. Clearly, I was worried over nothing because Production I.G (as you would expect) have knocked it out of the park. There is a great balance of detailed expression artwork combined with a generous amount of fluid animation sequences.
Obviously, recently coming off the behemoth that was Yuri on Ice, these shows are going to be compared to hell and back. Interestingly enough, this first episode has showcased to me that this will be a critically stronger show – I just hope it pulls in as many fans as its Ice-Skating comparitor. Ballroom seems to present a story of a listless student finally finding love in something that he would have never even considered paying attention to. I’m biased towards this show and I know it, the narrative is admirable and the visuals have been impressive so far. I have no doubt in my mind that the only way is up for Welcome to the Ballroom.