Black Friday weekend came and went, leaving me a tired, broken husk. Not enough time to really get comfortable, I decided to really sit down during my down time in between some of the heavier portions of work and getting yelled at by Black Friday shoppers to watch a lot of anime I've been putting off. I put some of the more interesting looking anime for this season but held off on watching most of it. By the time I decided to get around to my backlog of anime, I pretty much had 8 episodes a piece to catch up on. Multiplied by 3 or 4 and I could've watched a whole season and a half just catching up to now. But I'm glad I'm finally caught up because it's left me satisfied of good television.
To be clear, all of these are available on Crunchyroll. There is one choice I have no completed but it is not available on any easy to subscribe streaming service.
While I've enjoyed the 4 or so episodes of the now complete Made in Abyss, I absolutely refuse to cop out a second subscription to Amazon. Made in Abyss is only available on Anime Strike for legitimate streaming, and you can only subscribe to Anime Strike if you're a member of Amazon Prime. I like Prime, since I often times take advantage of their prices and the fire and forget nature of its 2 day shipping. But Prime already has Prime Video. The fact that Anime Strike is separate drives me up a wall that it is behind a double paywall. Amazing tech to be found these days in a free market!
But enough about Anime Strike. Here are the currently ongoing anime I want to bring up.
Recovery of an MMO Addict
Every year, there's a new bumper crop of pretenders trying to chase their predecessor's thematic success. Taken created a slew of movies with high octane, dominating special agent chase thrillers. John Wick created it's own brand of lethal, retired assassin kill'em-alls. Ever since Sword Art Online, people have been chasing the next big online mmo aesthetic anime, from finding new properties to adapt from light novels to building them from the ground up. The last series I enjoyed was Log Horizon, which was more a slow burn on geopolitical negotiations the general mystery behind its entire concept.
I decided to start Recovery of an MMO Addict because of the design on its female lead, Morioka Moriko. She was appealing yet obviously also a disheveled NEET. And that's exactly the conceit behind the series. Moriko is a former corporate desk jockey turned voluntary NEET after experiencing some form of corporate burn out. She now plays an MMO 24/7 in an attempt to rediscover some meaning in her life as male avatar Hayashi.
If I wanted to talk about what interests me about the series without spoilers, it’s the fact that a very big theme of the anime is the idea that people are free to play a game however they want, whether they want to role-play as an entirely different personality or even gender. Moriko is a 30-year-old NEET but enjoys the game as a strapping young man and just like real life while you have friends online in a game who they are in real life isn't necessarily who they are online. In real life Moriko is gaming as hardcore escapism, trying to get away from her normal routine as a sort of dreary sad sack who has no interest in interacting with society. Online though she's a real go getter who easily makes friends and looks forward to talking to them even outside of dungeon runs.
It really intriguing to me that the cast is really twice as large as it really like. Sure Moriko as Hayashi meets people like Lily and Kanbe but there are people behind those avatars that are interesting as well beyond how you see them in the MMO.
Every week I saw Jun Taisen, I just want to get online to reiterate the same basic tweet.
Juni Taisen in a nutshell: I'm such a cool guy, here's my backstory oops I'm dead now.
Juni Taisen is a battle royale anime, with 12 people with an almost supernatural amount of skill and strength are pitted against each other in a mysterious and annual tournament held amongst twelve old clans that represent the Chinese Zodiac. The rules differ year to year but the end is the same: be the last contestant left alive and receive one free wish.
So far the series is honestly predictable with the tweet I outlined above but it's still interesting to see just who will be the last one left alive because every episode goes through the trouble of giving each character's backstory. Especially early on as we see the individuals do things that give us an idea that maybe this person is cool enough to stay alive. But honestly fights are often times not long, drawn out, well executed scenes. Most of the enjoyment of what could be considered a fight are just the fighters' internal set ups for how they're going to approach a potentially lethal situation. And really like real life, death is usually just sudden, surprising, and awkward.
In real life, you could just be walking down the street with grocery and next thing you know, a car will hit you. That's how I feel about the morbid curiosity of Juni Taisen. A few characters I feel like they'll definitely survive, only to be proven wrong somewhere down the line. One character may seem like a badass or a noble hero, only to suddenly get stabbed, bisected, or otherwise eviscerated. Even after seeing their complex backstory about how war has hardened them or how they have a family to go back to, they may experience a curveball and get their shit pushed in without warning.
Who will survive? And how will the rest die? That's what's driving me for watching Juni Taisen. I may not describe the series as something amazing, but watching it on the first run is just morbid curiosity.
Haha, just kidding, I dropped that trash fire like a sack of shit.
Black Clover is a shounen ass shounen series and its manga just acts like you know the typical conventions and drives full speed ahead on lean arc. If Black Clover embraces its tropes and runs with it, Blend S takes its own tropes and puts it under a cup where a con artist attempts to confuse you with several other cups as it mixes it up.
Blend S takes place at a theme café where every maid-esque employee plays a specific trope. The people in the café have their distinct, usually unique personalities but it's funny to see them juxtaposed with their "work" personalities. The series introduces us to the concept with Maika Sakuramiya, a Japanese girl by any measure with straight black hair and a proper and polite upbringing. But in an effort to earn her own money, she takes a job as a waitress at Café Stile as a sadistic maid. The good news is that she has knack for that sort of character acting due to her naturally aggressive looking eyes or as I'd call it, "resting bitch face".
I like a lot of the main female cast of characters because they're more likeable as regular people you're likely to meet as opposed to the tropes they portray that you'd think this series was likely to peddle in the first place. Like, how many series have you seen with the klutzy airhead or super series workaholic? Kayo Hinata is one of my favorites cause she's just a friendly, modern high school girl who also really likes to game. But on the clock she's your classic tsundere girl, even if she sometimes wants to break character because her clientele will talk about a new game she's also playing.
I like the characters, but I think I may have also found myself a kink I never knew I had cause I really like it whenever Maika gets that sadistic look on her face.
The Ancient Magus Bride
I first read a few volumes of The Ancient Magus Bride a few years ago. A fantasy/magic series about a young girl who sells herself into slavery due to the hardships of her life, only to be bought by a mysterious mage who intends to make her his apprentice. Being a series rooted in magic and fantasy, particularly conventional western and British folklore magic, the series goes through a great deal of trouble establishing and world building its reality of magic. The magic at work in it is not some fantastical, law of nature defying crap, but rather more a more understandable bending of natural law. Most of all, this series looks to be the type to spend a lot of time faffying about and wasting time trying to establish itself and somehow 23 minutes will pass and you'll learn a great deal of information and see many things.
The Ancient Magus Bride is also one of the more beautiful series of the season. Chise is naturally at the center of all attention with her bright red hair while her master, Elias, is a towering body with a vaguely animal skull for a head, which makes it all the more interesting when put his monstrous look to a calm, polite, if not mysterious and calculating personality.
Things like gelatinous, demonic spirits, flashes of magic, or dancing lights are a visual treat and everything in general just well animated. From Elias' long, flowing robe including the veil over his cow skull head to the almost ethereal quality of the fairy landscapes in the woods surrounding Chise's new home, the visuals are enjoyably different then what I enjoyed last season like in the kinetically animated scenes form My Hero Academia. While the high points were from incredibly energetic animation showing off some incredible explosions and human motion, The Ancient Magus Bride is more like drinking in a piece of art at your local museum as it comes to life.
And those are the major anime I'm focusing on this season. Honestly, I wish something else could catch my eye but these choices already have taken a great deal of well deserved time from me. Are there any series you've been enjoying this past season?