Quarantine brings with it a lot of free time. Hell, even essential workers like myself only go to work (sometimes reduced hours) and come home with absolutely no sidelining. I don’t go to the gym, I don’t go to a café, I don’t eat out, and I don’t hang out with friends. It’s amazing how many hours there are in the day between just work and home. So naturally, not only am I watching anime, I’m trying new streaming platforms even. It’s taken me five years to realize that I don’t use Hulu as much as I think I do. I don’t have much interest in their catalogue beyond the anime and even then they have a 2nd banana contract going on with Funimation, which seems to be up for spring. So, I decided to try Funimation out directly and put Hulu on hold. A lot of my picks from Crunchyroll seem backloaded towards the weekend while Funimation is frontloaded, which is great. Before getting onto Funimation, a lot of my schedule revolved around waiting for the weekend, but now my watch schedule is much more even.
There a few continuing anime which are strangely from anime that had their first season around last year or so, instead of being direct continuations from the previous season like My Hero Academia or a the JoJo du jour. Kaguya-Sama: Love is War picks up on the following semester where the last left off. At this point, the story is definitely dangling more plot motivation over Kaguya rather than Shirogane, and we still haven’t reached the point where the series looks back at how the series started in the first year of high school, but all the comedic antics roundabout crushes and Shirogane’s post-cringe realization still brings a big smile to my face.
Ascendance of a Bookworm also returned, making a strong mark of season two being about her admission as a noble, blue robed priestess for the church. While season one is more about Main coming to terms with her isekai and wrangling her mysterious mana sickness, season two casts the organizational structure of the entire church as an antagonist. While it definitely has the advantage of building off the established first season, having a clear and stark goal in mind, reforming the church, builds a strong tailwind to follow the show on a weekly basis.
Ai Haru Sora, a kind of basic, sports drama of a bunch of delinquents turned basketball players, is also continuing. Honestly, I’m only watching at this point because I’ve been watching it for so long, but it’s not all that interesting, with arcs consisting of one major game and action being animated mostly in stylized slideshows and blurs. But at this point a new, super tall but anemic character has been introduced and Sora is finding his groove as a point guard, so it’s won’t be an entirely uneventful season for this show.
Haikyuu!! is one of the longest running series of exceptionally boisterous boys during amazing volleyball is all about going to the top for their shot at the Tokyo Nationals. It’s been an interesting ride for an anime mainly about volleyball. Key characters who are well known for specific strategies and playstyles undergo training to fundamentally improve themselves before hitting the Tokyo Nationals, where, despite still being volleyball, is an entirely new experience for the plucky Karasuno volleyball team. It’s been a especially fun seeing how Hinata has changed from training, going from a raw sort of animal instincts players to a more refined, prediction-based receiver.
The first new anime I want to mention is My Next Life As The Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! And yes, it is an isekai. But it isn’t an action-fantasy RPG themed isekai, or an alternate world power trip isekai, but an otome dating game isekai. A rich, young, and snobby noble girl trips and concusses herself, bringing back her memories of her past life as a tree climbing otaku. After realizing all the people she knows are characters from an otome game she played and that she’s been slotted into the role of the villainess, Catarina Clase, she also comes to the stark realization that almost every ending of said otome ends with Catarina either dead or exiled. Thus, Catarina devotes herself to changing her probable future by doing everything she for the people around her rather than follow in the destined footsteps of a normally cruel and shallow noble.
An enjoyable isekai is usually about experiencing the power trip and isekai lately has been about adding a quirk to that power trip (Cautious Hero, two-hit milf, I maxed out my defense) but this one is a more wholesome experience, with prior knowledge of a dating visual novel game being the only advantage for the main character. After that, it’s all about Catarina being kind to other people and preventing them from becoming a more twisted version of themselves. This series definitely falls into the category of anime that are enjoyably wholesome: nothing terrible ever daunts Catarina as she bumbles her way into people’s hearts, helping everyone grow out of the insecurities they have of themselves.
If you have your ear to ground for new anime, chances are you might’ve been trampled by the promotional material for Tower of God. Originally a Korean web comic off the wildly successful Web Toon platform, Tower of God follows the story of Bam and his journey to climb the eponymous Tower of God. All we know initially is that he’s looking for the girl who practically raised him, who has gone up the tower for her own reasons, leaving Bam behind.
Tower of God I feel has some similarities with things like Hunter x Hunter or Toriko in that we’re thrown into an entirely new fantasy world which slowly feeds us lore and world building as we gradually make our way through the series. While the building blocks are familiar, we still get to experience a new take on it: floor guardians, shinsou, King Jahad, Black March. It helps that every frame of this series looks like a beautiful illustration at times. This is definitely a slower paced kind of shounen world though, as action is deliberately paced out and when it does happen, it’s about as deliberate as the time you spent waiting for it. Only time with more episodes will tell just exactly how it’ll pan out, as some fights are exciting and others barely happen at all. Still, it’s worth nothing Tower of God is receiving all this push because it’s an adaptation of a web comic. A lot of people know anime as an original animation or an adaptation of a manga which gains attention and popularity through publication, so taking a web comic and taking it to an adaptation is a big step and opens up the possibilities for a lot other adaptations.
Appare-Ranman is some crazy, Wacky Racers kind of bullshit. The first scene takes you to a future moment where a handful of colorful characters in impossible 1920s cars prepare to race out of Los Angeles on cross-country race known as the Steel Ball Run Trans-Continental Wild Race, including our heroes, eclectic engineer Appare and straight man samurai Kosame, riding in what seems to be a repurposed boat.
It’s very rare we see an anime take place in North America, let alone pre-World War America. The first episode introduces us to Appare, a scientifically driven boy with no interest in socializing, and Kosame, a newly appointed master of his kendo dojo with the same disposition as an office worker who doesn’t want to stick his neck out for trouble. An escape from a lynch mob ends up getting the two stranded in LA, where the only way they an get home is by winning the money from the Trans-Continental Wild Race.
Every character that’s apart of the main cast is hilariously obvious. Mundane citizens of LA will walk round in period clothes while members of the main and supporting cast sport bright, pastel colors, ridiculous crop tops, and billowing shirts. And while Appare-Ranman is still introducing and developing characters, I’ve gotten to the point where I wondered why I should care about Kosame and then learned to care. A lot of the characters are very Flanderized, or they hone in on one particular character trait to make it their schtick. But Kosame, a seemingly cowardly samurai, has displayed a hint of his depth. While he does prefer to be non-confrontational, his skill is real. It’s simply been tempered by a hidden personal history. And if this made me invested in a character I thought I was tired of two episodes in, learning about more of the hidden histories of the upcoming characters is sure to be interesting after I get past the high octane, period race cars.
The 8th Son, Are You Kidding Me!? is my junk food isekai this season. Every season I end up watching an isekai that I shouldn't because it's so boilerplate and tropey that the time spent watching would be better spent finishing this post. And yet time and again I keep coming back to it because I like one ultra specific part about it. This show is supposed to be an isekai about a salaryman isekai'd into the body of a young, poor, noble boy who is the 8th son of a rather large family. Being the 8th son, which I remind you is the main selling point of the series I guess, means that his position in life despite being a noble is fairly low, since things like succession and inheritance will naturally come to him last. After we plow through our routine isekai power trip where he's blessed with incredible magic power, the series eventually reveals itself for what it really is and what I actually watch it for: an isekai hero who finds his position of being an isekai hero a pain in the ass.
This annoyance does mostly come from the fact that he is a nobleman, and a noble is saddled with certain expectations, but he's still the hero of his own story and he repeatedly gets tired of whatever new shit he gets roped into. Sometimes the actual story attempts to move forward without him being all that interested in it. Two people will literally argue over him because he's the main character while he's forced to sit still and think about how he just wants to leave.
No, I don't think it's really as good as I think I'm playing it up to be. It's tropey and nothing new, but every time the next isekai plot point happens and the main character goes along with completing it, he's always in this position of not really caring about the fact that he's the main character and does whatever he wants, in defiance to the expectations of everyone else who very obviously treats him like the main character.
No, don't watch this series. Only I may watch this series.
I've heard some people describe Gleipnir as the edgelord anime of the season, and while I hate that term, there's no denying it kind of revels in the brutality of its fight scenes. But there's not a doubt in my mind this is definitely one of the hornier anime this season. For some reason, I know it's definitely a genre to be ecchi and have fanservice but my mind is so pulled forward by various characters' psychological trauma and people getting brutalized that all I can think that this series is just plain horny not because of a genre statement but because it just needs to vent that horny energy in some way.
Gleipnir is a thriller about Shuichi, a withdrawn boy who is seemingly content with remaining a background character in his own life when his is thrust into a life-or-death journey involving his own mysterious transformation thanks to a somewhat crazy Clair Aoki. The crux of the series is people transforming their bodies in monstrous forms, battling over mysterious coins that grant incredible power at a price. And for whatever reason, Shuichi's transformation turns him into a plush mascot character, complete with a zipper on his back and a real gun. The real kicker is that Shuichi's motorskills and view are somewhat muddled in this state, but someone can take perfect control by climbing into him via the zipper on his back and presto, he's actually a flesh mecha.
While we know plenty of things about Shuichi and Clair, we don't know everything about them, as a lot of their history and past is being guarded due to what I'd like to call The Troubles. So not only is this going to be a ride figuring out what's going on with transforming monsters and power coins, but it's also going to be about discovering the motivations at play with these largely troubled characters. Seriously, one look at both these characters in motion and its clear they need some kind of therapy, Shuichi constantly wears and expression of worry and stress while Clair difficult to figure out what she's thinking. Still, the anime has clear scenes displaying her as a normal girl so clearly I'm being drawn into a trap.
The last anime I want to touch on is by far the most normal of all, Wave, Listen to Me! It's simply about a woman making her way through life before suddenly being hired to be a radio host. It's simple in concept but very much driven by Minare's relationships with other people from her old job and the radio station she starts at. But the main thing that shines through is the voice actress' impeccable voice and dictation. Even as a non-native speaker I can tell the actress is doing some complicated sentences without so much as missing a beat.
While it may be difficult to sell with just a description of, "It's about the business of radio," the station does take advantage of Minare's exciting voice to do more than just read the news and change the songs. Since talking fast and clearly is such a marketable feature for her, it's immediately obvous as the show opens in media res (thanks Cosmonaut Marcus for teaching everyone that term) that Minare is taking her talents to do things like read online comments while dramatically acting out a sparring match with a brown bear.
But I may continue watching this because it is distinctly down to Earth and normal. Minare works in a curry restaurant, she juggles living expenses and rent, she deals with relationships, she drinks her emotions away, she rants and raves about her stupid ex, and then she's suddenly thrown into a job in radio. But things are never really dull as long as Minare has the energy in her to talk big and act crazy. Things always seem like a bigger deal than they really are because Minare will blow the story out of proportion or embellish it because of course she will, this story is pretty bland.
And those are my anime for spring 2020. What are you guys watching? Are you continuing to watch the returning series? Or are you watching anything older from outside the spring line up? I'm catching up on How Heavy Are The Dumb Bells You Lift? now that I'm on the Funimation app.