I usually don’t write anything about ongoing anime until the season is over but this time I simply have to vent. Trails of Cold Steel anime is bad. Yeah, we’re only 5 episodes in but I can’t imagine that all of a sudden this show will become better. It has no budget, the animation is atrocious, the way it’s directed you’d assume that it was made by a school anime club, the dialogues are poorly written, the plot is not there yet and the new cast of characters is so unlikeable that it’s simply insulting to any Kiseki fan (yeah Falcom spoiled us). Lavi is a watered down version of Fie who doesn’t have an ounce of Fie’s charm and the rest of the group doesn’t belong to anything with “Trails” in the name. I’m going to continue watching this… product only because I hope we’ll get a minute with the original characters here and there and pray to Aidios that their dialogue lines will be written by different writers.

And trust me, I had to work hard to capture a half-decently looking screenshot =(

Chainsaw Man

I wrote the other day that Bocchi the Rock was a pleasant surprise this fall season, but actually Chainsaw Man was another one. By default I don’t believe that something that’s being hyped a lot is going to be any good (I’m a fucking elitist who prefers classics like Let’s Nupu Nupu to all your modern fancy shows) and Chainsaw Man was one of the most talked about manga recently. I didn’t follow the conversations too closely, but I saw that this name popped up here and there all the time. MAPPA had a tough job to satisfy people who were familiar with source material and, simultaneously, attract new viewers, and I think the studio did a pretty good job.

First of all — the quality of animation is top notch. During the entire season I was like “damn, they spent tons of money on that!” And tons of work. There weren’t any weak episodes animation-wise. To be fair, I can’t recall any anime MAPPA was responsible for that had awful animation, but this one may be their best work (it’s funny that it feels like MAPPA has been around forever, whereas this studio was founded like what, 10 years ago?) Lots of movement, lots of camera angles, lots of action sequences — yeah, it maybe doesn’t have that warm hand-drawn style some shows have but welcome to the 21st century I guess (not so fast, studio Orange, Trigun Stampede still looks questionable).

What Chainsaw Man really does right is its characters. Denji and Power are complete savages and I approve that wholeheartedly. They are the real reason to watch this anime, because, frankly, the plot here is non-existent. Ironically, that’s also why I think I will never watch this story entirely — sooner or later the characters should show some development and my guess is that they will become more “likeable”, meaning they’ll transform into your average shounen characters defeating demons for the goodness of their hearts and not because they want to touch some boobies.

However that will happen in the (probably nearest) future — for now let’s just enjoy a beautifully drawn anime about some insane guys smashing demons left and right =)

Bocchi the Rock

Bocchi the Rock was a pleasant surprise this fall season. Initially I had no idea what to expect. On one hand this is an anime about an all-girls band, so it could be a new K-ON and there’s no such thing as “too much K-ON”. On the other hand this is a yet another show where the main heroine suffers from severe social anxiety, so it could easily become a drag like “Komi-san Can’t Communicate”. Luckily, Bocchi the Rock doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are definitely some awkward moments related to Hitori’s behavior, but nothing facepalm-inducing — and the other characters mostly laugh it off, or even sometimes have fun at Hitori’s expense (even her parents) =) And it’s certainly not a music-first anime — yeah, the girls play some songs here and there, but mostly it’s a comedy with really likeable characters.

What I definitely didn’t expect from this show is how much experimental and weird animation CloverWorks would use. I don’t know if the manga was the same, but every time Hitori falls into depression or goes into her own world it looks like the animators are given a free rein. It’s not Pop Team Epic-level madness of course, closer to something I’d imagine old Gainax could try but it is pretty unusual for such a mainstream show.

To sum up — show good, me enjoyed, second season want =)

I’m not entirely sure what the hell this is but I totally approve. Momoiro Clover Z, heavy metal and the songs about Mazinger (and they seems to be about Dragon Ball as well), what’s not to like?! An interesting fact is that the drummer here appears to be Scott Travis. Yeah, that guy who plays in the unknown small band Judas Priest.

A few years ago we’d laugh at the famous line from Death Note subtitles “Just according to keikaku” but nowadays it’s becoming more and more normal to leave some words without translation even in official (crunchyroll, hidive, etc) subtitles. Who is laughing now? =) Recently we watched an anime where the parents were routinely called Otou-san and Okaa-san because why not, and in the latest episode of Bocchi the Rock the translators decided that everyone knows what seishun means anyway =) I actually think it’s a good idea, that could remove some awkwardness from translations (the same with honorifics, every time I see that -san is replaced with Mister it just feels… wrong, just leave it as is, not to mention attempts to make various Mya-nee sound more or less plausible).

Ataru’s sharing some wisdom!

I know that we’re only 3 episodes in but so far the remake of Urusei Yatsura has been fantastic! I’m so happy that the studio didn’t modernize the show itself, so we still get to see all that old-school awkward jokes but in modern graphics and with amazing seyuu. And Darlings of the world, rejoice — Lum, the best waifu from the 80s, is back!

Summer Time Render

Summer Time Render is an anime that looked all good and dandy on paper and was supposed to be right up my alley. A finished story told in mere 25 episodes, with the pretty standard now but still exciting key idea about time-rewinding, that simultaneously offered a fresh twist on who the opponents of the main characters are. The concept of the Shadows and shadow sickness was fresh enough to keep me invested during the first 10 or so episodes. Truth to be told though, the only two reasons I continued to watch the second half of the show were inertia and the lack of competition.

The first half of the anime is a pretty solid thriller. You have to guess whether this or that person is actually a Shadow and whether he or she already was one at some particular point before; Subaru Shinpei, armed with the knowledge from the previous loop, is trying to get a better outcome for everyone… fun stuff, really! Not groundbreaking but fun. The second part went full EoE though. It became much, much, much more action-oriented and kinda lost those thriller vibes, I don’t think that I had a feeling that I was about to see something unexpected during the last 10 or so episodes. The anime still would throw some facts and rules about the Shadows at you here and there, but I had already lost interest and really didn’t care whether these rules made any sense, so it was difficult to me to appreciate the brains and spunk the heroes demonstrated exploiting those rules in the face of adversity. Also, speaking of characters, surprisingly enough the cast turned out to be pretty bland. You’d think that 25 episodes should be enough to make you care for at least some of them but somehow all the people in Summer Timer Render ended up being nothing more than bunch of walking bullet point lists (“I’m a grumpy but actually nice old dude, whose wife is a Shadow”, “I’m a writer sharing the body with my long-dead twin brother”, “I’m your normal main character”), with no real personality, who didn’t give a single reason to sympathize with them.

Overall, I’d say that Summer Time Render is a disappointment. It’s not bad but it’s just sad that it had all the potential to become a good action-thriller, the one that you maybe won’t watch again any time soon but still will remember (something like Mirai Nikki comes to mind), but instead ended up being a drag.