In this second week, all the shows I plan to watch have finally began airing and they wasted no time in drawing me in. Although not every show presented such a strong start, this week is one of the key milestones in whether or not viewers will decide to continue or drop a series. With a few surprises and some shows clearly conserving their strength, this week without a doubt had its moments.
Disclaimer: I will be discussing both Episodes 1 and 2 of Centaur no Nayami (Centaur’s Worries) as the show airs every Sunday and I missed it out last week.
IT TAKES SCHOOL CHILDREN TO REALLY EMPHASISE HOW STUPID THIS GIRL IS
COMEDY, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY DIOMEDEA | DIR: KUSAKAWA, KEIZOU
Once again, AHO-Girl’s fast paced over the top comedy has had me in fits. Not much has changed at all since its first episode other than its story being written to include and elude to some new characters to be introduced in the future. As always, the episode is sectioned into four parts – each with their own mini plot and comedic focus. For me, the opening scene in the park was hilarious, truly epitomising Yoshiko’s idiocy and childlike behaviour.
Thankfully, the animation quality has not taken a dip this week as some viewers were sceptical at the realistic consistency of this show’s fluid and hectic motion. Although comparatively lacking in suplexes and uppercuts, this episode presented more traditional situations to show off their animation talent. AHO-Girl is a silly show with insane pacing that continues to make me laugh.
Centaur no Nayami
A CHINESE STUDIO RELIES ON A HORSEGIRL TO REVIVE THEIR STANDING
SLICE OF LIFE | ANIMATED BY HAOLINERS ANIMATION LEAGUE | DIR: KONNO, NAOYUKI
I believe that a high level of eccentricity is not a replacement for vital features in media. Although this show presents a very distinct array of characters, Centaur’s Worries lacks in impact. In its first episode, the narrative admittedly provided some engaging situations with the potential for some impactful moments. Most noticeably in the first half, this show doesn’t wait and build tension, in fear of losing its audience they jump the gun and essentially shoot themselves in the foot. You cannot simply label this as a slice of life and rely on the obscure designs of your characters to carry your show.
Ultimately, this show exists as a concept. We’ve had the monster show, we’ve had the demi-human show now here is the animal-human show. I will be continuing this show as I still believe there is room for growth (and manga readers have assured me that this will improve in time). For me, this show is another example of a somewhat fresh concept executed poorly – often yielding perhaps one or two memorable moments in its twelve episode run-time.
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
WHEN MONEY IS OF NO CONCERN TO THESE PEOPLE, WHAT DO YOU PUT ON THE LINE?
MYSTERY, PSYCHOLOGICAL | ANIMATED BY MAPPA | DIR: HAYASHI, YUUCHIROU
Another episode, another ignorant gambler pays the price. Coming off the back of such a dialogue intensive first episode, Kakegurui doesn’t take the easy out and instead goes on to present an incredibly engaging second episode. As mentioned last week, this show is an incredible test of will displaying some gruesome character personalities and spine-chilling visuals. Kakegurui isn’t even classified as a Horror show but it’s the most mentally exhaustive show I’ve seen in a long time.
With our transfer student protagonist now on the radar of the big names in the academy, the show wastes no time in creating another high-stakes gruelling game of luck. Raising the stakes to much more than the money gambled last episode, this show is getting more creative by the minute – refusing to hold back in its eccentricity of its characters. At this rate, the finale of this show will need a oxygen tank with every viewing as Kakegurui shows no signs of toning down its intensive pacing.
Knights & Magic
AS THE STORY PROGRESSES, THE SHOW GETS EVEN COOLER
ACTION, FANTASY | ANIMATED BY 8BIT | DIR: YAMAMOTO, YUSUKE
First and foremost, commendations to blending such a variety of visually distinct styles into the frame without it being distracting from the action. Finally, the hype built up in the first episode pays off as we’re treated to some high-intensity Mecha fighting. With the monsters fought off in episode one seen as shrimp in comparison, this episode brought a literal behemoth to the stage. With a large amount of character development and focus in the episode prior, this one hones in solely on our protagonist’s natural talent at the helm of a Silhouette Knight.
This show’s over the top outlook on action has proved effective, as the behemoth physically towers over everything in the frame. Playing it safe, none of the main or side characters fall prey to what is described at one point to be the most dangerous class of monster. Although the sequence was entertaining to watch, there was a part of me that yearned for more impact, something important to happen as a result of this catastrophe. Our cast of characters seem invincible right now which doesn’t bode well for building tension later on. Maybe I’m asking too much of an episode so early in the season. Strong episode, highly entertaining moments.
Koi to Uso (Love and Lies)
TURNS OUT THE ARRANGED MARRIAGE MIGHT NOT BE SUCH A BAD THING…
DRAMA, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY LIDENFILMS | DIR: TAKUNO, SEIKI
Proving furthermore than a solid romantic-drama doesn’t need to spread its dialogue across a thousand episodes to make its point, Koi to Uso continues to flaunt its effortlessly efficient pacing. Following directly from the emotional roller coaster of its first episode, we’re already introduced to the girl that our protagonist is set to marry. As we could see in the Opening prior, she’s incredibly cute and seems to be a spanner in the works of Yukari’s love life.
As you’d expect of the genre, the episode was mainly dominated with dialogue of what it means to be in love and how these teenagers are reacting to the stronghold of arranged marriages. Interestingly enough, the characters seem to work well together and the narrative is getting complicated already. Despite only being two episodes into the series, the amount of development has definitely impressed me and I’m anxious as to how this narrative will progress.
Made in Abyss
SLOWING DOWN TO DEVELOP CHARACTERS AND SET UP ONE NASTY CLIFFHANGER
SCI-FI, ADVENTURE | ANIMATED BY KINEMA CITRUS | DIR: KOJIMA, MASAYUKI
First of all, the Opening to this show is so good and its Ending is so cute that I’m tempted to give this show a 10/10 based on that alone. This show is simply oozing with character, every single one in this show is filled to the brim with personality and it shows visually. Kinema Citrus are doing a remarkable job at animating these characters to seem so active and full of life. This episode was a lot more calm than the previous and took time to progress the story line and delve into Riko’s character.
At this rate, this show is going to be the kind of cliffhangers as this one left on the show’s surprisingly strong narrative. I’m not expecting a fantastic story that will floor me, but so far it has been exceptionally intriguing – much more than simply acting as a catalyst for cave raiding adventures. Our main cast of characters have been a joy to watch so far and I’m really excited to see how they tackle such a major cliffhanger this early in the series.
MY FAVOURITE CUTE VIDEOGAME DEVS ARE BACK FOR A SECOND SEASON
SLICE OF LIFE, COMEDY | ANIMATED BY DOGA KOBO | DIR: YOSHIYUKI, FUJIWARA
My favourite adorable game developers are finally back for a second season and I could not be happier. If you haven’t seen my New Game! Review of the first season, this is one of my absolute favourite franchises of all time so I have no doubt that I will be biased for this show. Airing a week later than the majority of shows, this first episode essentially acted as a reminder for viewers of the first season while simultaneously setting up the premise for this new season. As expected, the fanservice was in full force but handled in a tasteful way as in the first season and the characters are just as bubbly and entertaining to watch.
Riding the success of the first season’s game Fairies Story 3, their game development team Eagle Jump are deciding what kind of game to focus on next. With the team open to any ideas and their annual employee checkups underway, this episode worked in so much character focus that it feels like there was no space between seasons at all. New Game! is back and is already a contender for my personal favourite show of the season.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK, HEART WRENCHING SOUNDTRACK AND FLAWLESS VISUALS
MAGIC, FANTASY | ANIMATED BY WIT STUDIO | DIR: NORIHIRO, NAGANUMA
Honestly, it would be arrogant of me to claim that my words could even begin to do this show justice. This post has been completed for days now, all but this section because I simply cannot put into words how perfect episode two of this show was. Once again, this episode showcased its gorgeously whimsical soundtrack, blending orchestral staples into a modern blend. You don’t simply watch this show, it grabs you and keeps you 100% invested in its elements.
The narrative only gets better in this episode, finally getting some character development for the forest librarian Miura and once again displaying a plethora of emotional responses. Unlike most shows of this length, every episode evokes a multitude of emotions and instils not only one response but several in its spectators. As expected, the episode was an honour to view as its flawless visuals actually brought me to tears. I haven’t been that emotionally blown away (purely on visuals) since I first viewed Studio Trigger’s 25 minute movie: Little Witch Acadamia. Once again, there are no qualms with saying that I have no complaints with this episode. Easily going to be the “critic’s best show of the season”.
Welcome to the Ballroom
WE’RE TAKEN OUT OF THE PRACTISE HALL AND INTO THE COMPETITION STAGE
COMEDY, SPORTS | ANIMATED BY PRODUCTION I.G | DIR: ITAZU, YOSHIMI
We’re finally taken out of the practise hall and into a real competition scenario – albeit watching someone else’s entry. Although this episode’s pacing seemed somewhat irregular compared to the last, Welcome to the Ballroom continues to warm my heart. With the already introduced Shizuku dressed up and performing in her bracket, we’re treated to some really high level ballroom dances. Or so I thought, with the majority of the focus on our protagonist’s reaction face and a slideshow of still images, the competition was kind of a letdown in wow-factor.
However, this episode definitely made up for it with Hyoudou’s practise sequences in his own home. With an art style like this where sketchy lines and exaggerated features dominate the frame, observing his movements were incredibly satisfying. This episode honed in on the fact that ballroom is a partner sport and practising solo is only half of the picture. Welcome to the Ballroom so far has been concise, visually stunning and endearing to boot. Not only has its animation techniques surprised me this week, but the thought and care in fleshing out these characters was a real treat – I’m really excited for this show to pan out.