New shoots, new sequels
It’s time again for another batch of anime to hit the tubes, which means it’s time for another installment of the Binge Log, our seasonal roundup of impressions and hot takes on all the latest Japanese cartoons.
As in previous installments, below you’ll find a big ol’ list of Spring’s newest series, and, where applicable, the thoughts Destructoid and Japanator staff had on what they’ve seen so far. This Spring seems to be bringing a heavy lineup of big-name sequels and adaptations, including a new Sword Art Online spinoff, the latest installments of powerhouses like Food Wars! and My Hero Academia, and even many a veteran anime fan’s white whale: a brand-new series based on Full Metal Panic!
Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list of the frankly absurd amount of anime series being debuted this season, but it’s definitely a rundown of the shows we’ve watched so far or otherwise felt the need to comment on, along with some quickie info on where you can begin your spring otaku journey! Head on through to see what we thought, and sound off on what we cruelly forgot to keep an eye on this season!
Note: This list is based primarily on North American streaming and licensing offerings. Where known, other regional providers are mentioned. Check your local listings and services for more information.
My Hero Academia (Season 3)
Airdate: April 7, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, Hulu/FUNimation
The Blurb: Izuku Midoriya and the rest of UA High School Class A return for the latest season of the ongoing adaptation, set in a world where pretty much everyone has superpowers and being a hero is a real job you can have. This time the kids are off to summer camp, to train up and learn to use their powers, while the baddies in the League of Villains have other plans.
What’s there left to say about MHA that we don’t already know from the previous seasons? It’s obvious that the summer training camp arc is up next and that Deku’s inevitable fight will be the centerpiece of the season’s animated fight scenes. Every season features just a few, high-quality animated scenes to really hammer home the show’s focus on the western ideals of comic book heroes. I am particularly looking forward to something teased in the OP: I’m only sure the summer training camp arc will be this season, but the OP very clearly shows the next arc, which involves All Might. If we do get to that particular fight, I’ll be very excited to that in motion. I’m willing to bet a fight to that scale will be to the same quality of Deku vs. Todoroki from season 2.
Ah, there it is, the absolute unit. My Hero Academia‘s certainly earned its place as arguably the most anticipated anime in any season it appears. I’ve helpfully not kept up with the manga, so anything that happens here for me will be a surprise. That’s a plus, as far as I’m concerned, because even if it is pretty formulaic as a shonen hero battler, it’s one of the best in its class at how it executes on the hoary old tropes and themes.
Gundam Build Divers
Airdate: April 3, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, GundamInfo
The Blurb: The meta-heavy Gundam Build franchise continues in Gundam Build Divers, a new series centered around “Gunpla Battle Nexus”, an arcade-based VR MMO game where kids can scan the plastic Gundam models they assemble and customize and pilot them in-game to compete for honor and glory, both as solo duelists and members of “Force” teams that battle over territory in the game world. Riku and Yuki want in on all that, and join the fray with their own newly-built models, the Gundam 00 Diver and GM III Beam Master.
My online nickname is freaking GundamJehutyKai so of course I’ll be watching this new gundam series!! Having said that, my expectations are fairly low for this one. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Gundam Build Fighters and Try (though less so for try) but Build Divers feels like its moving in a direction I don’t agree with. Much like how the NEW Gundam Breakergame makes fundamental changes to the system (like being able to change parts on the fly during missions), This new build divers removed arenas and gunpla model sets in favour for a full VR sessions and minimising the whole “build” part of the title. I’ll still watch it until the end but it isn’t a show I’m anticipating ever week.
When the prologue episode for Gundam Build Divers aired, I wasn’t sure about my stance on the show. The show’s virtual reality angle didn’t seem as cool as Build Fighters’ concept of model kits coming to life, and it felt like it was taking place in a new universe.
With the series being a mix of .hack and Skylanders, Build Divers removes the stakes from its predecessors, since the cast doesn’t have to worry about their Gunpla kits being damaged or destroyed. Compare to Build Fighters and Try, the show hasn’t hit us with a hook to keep us invested yet. So far, it’s just the main characters learning about the virtual game while we meet the future rivals and supporting cast members. The closest thing to an objective is Riku looking up to the current Gunpla champion in the game, along with him realizing his desire to compete with his Gundam 00 Diver kit.
Honestly, his early development isn’t as good as Sei and Sekai, who left us with a great first impression in their corresponding series. Because of this issue, my expressions were neutral during the anime’s first two episodes. At least we got to see more units from Gundam AGE, which might redeem them if Build Fighters gets better. Despite my disappointment with the show, I plan to stick around for the cameos and units. Hopefully, it’ll pick up when the badass weasel makes his debut.
I figured it would take at least one more season for it to happen, but it appears as if Bandai’s decided to go back to the drawing board for the Build Fighters subfranchise, by spinning off Build Divers as a sort of soft reboot of the concept (i.e., to act as an ambassador for the company’s “Build” line of customization-friendly kits).
Rather than the Build Fighters conceit of bringing Gunpla toys to life via magical particles, Build Divers is based on a VR MMO of sorts that scans your built gunpla (shitty quality and all) into the game. This sort of undermines the old sense of stakes, but for my money it’s a more sensible concept that ties in much better to what the target audience actually knows. Who’s the target audience? Definitely children. Whereas the original Build Fighters pandered both to longtime Gundam fans and younger generations, this is definitely angled towards a newer, younger audience. Just look at the scene where protagonist Riku explicitly states that he wasn’t allowed to play GBN before reaching middle school, and even then he’s only allowed 2 hours of playtime in GBN, and only after homework. If that isn’t responsible messaging, I don’t know what is.
I’m not complaining, mind you. Bandai know who they’re aiming at, and making it friendlier for kids would at some point start to compromise its appeal for jaded oldsters looking for a hit of nostalgia. That time has come for the Build line, and its name is Build Divers.
Studio: White Fox
Airdate: April 12, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll
The Blurb: A spinoff of Steins;Gate, Steins;Gate 0 starts in a timeline wherein protagonist Rintarou Okabe abandons his “mad scientist” persona to forget his failed attempt to save Kurisu Makise. The past, though, isn’t quite as forgiving, and before long Okabe is pulled back into fringe conspiracies and time-travel hijinks.
The original Steins;Gate is a favorite of mine. I fell in love with both the visual novel and its animated adaptation. It had a lovable cast of characters, it had a strong sense of urgency and drama, its time travel was handled in a surprisingly coherent way, and it wrapped itself up quite nicely.
Steins;Gate 0, the visual novel, is another favorite of mine. But it’s also very hard to adapt. Unlike the original, the story splits very early on. Character perspective keeps switching instead of sticking to Okabe. This non-linearity, despite the shift away from time travel this time around, gets me feeling like this adaptation will end up losing key moments of the original in the long run.
But let’s focus on what we got for a bit. Steins;Gate 0 is still science fiction centered on Okabe Rintarou and his friends. This time, themes of memory and identity are at the forefront. Amadeus, an artificial intelligence system modeled after the scanned memories of real people, is the main science thingamajig here instead of a time machine. Its unveiling at the end of episode 1 really sets off the tone for what Steins;Gate 0 is like. The main character feels more like he’s along for the ride, just like us. There’s urgency, but no route towards a hero’s triumph. Steins;Gate is defined by its introspection. Its dread.
And yet it still very much feels like Steins;Gate. Characters aren’t the most detailed around visually, but facial expressions really bring the characters to life. The animated PTSD scene gives us insight into Okabe’s psyche in a fantastic way for an anime devoid of internal monologues. What has been shown so far is really solid.
A promising start then for Steins;Gate 0‘s anime. To those who were scared by the choice of director here — don’t be. Let’s hope things stay this way.
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Airdate: April 3, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FUNimation/Hulu, AnimeLab (AU/NZ)
The Blurb: The sequel to Tokyo Ghoul takes place two years after the first, following CCG team leader Haise Sasaki and his Quinx Squad, a special team of CCG agents that have undergone a procedure to allow them to use the same abilities as the series’ signature flesh-eating ghouls.
High School DxD Hero
Airdate: April 10, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FUNimation/Hulu
The Blurb: The High School DxD franchise continues to exist, with a new season under a different studio, apparently to continue off 2015 High School DxD BorN, though in a manner truer to the events of the original light novels. As before, it stars lecherous schoolboy Issei Hyodo and his growing gaggle of supernaturally powered angels, devils, and fallen.
I am watching this show because I think I’m secretly a masochist. There is almost no chance of this show turning out to be anything other than bad, which is a real shame. I’ve been reading the original light novels and the story is actually pretty well done with different mythologies mixed in naturally and a really solid exercise in world building. The fanservice is still there but it’s not a focus.
The same can’t be said about the anime series though and DxD BORN was an absolute travesty when it came to storytelling. I had already read the volumes it was meant to cover and even I couldn’t figure out what the heck they were trying to do (aside from show off more titties). It was one of the worst adaptations I have ever seen, right up there with Infinite Stratos Season 2. Too many storylines and volumes cut up and condensed into a series which was far too short to do anything with it. so sufficed to say, I strongly believe that this show is going to be a garbage dump fire… and I am compelled to watch it burn.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
Airdate: April 8, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, Hulu
The Blurb: A spinoff of Sword Art Online set in the gun-based VR MMO Gun Gale Online(first seen during the “Phantom Bullet” storyline) and starring a new cast, led by LLENN, a pink-clad tiny devil of a shooter. Encountering a fellow combatant named Pitohui, the two join forces to compete in “Squad Jam”, a team-based battle royale variant of GGO’s Bullet of Bullets tourney.
I continue to be haunted by the echoes of the past. Once, a long time ago, I liked Sword Art Online. The first season started interesting, then very gradually sort of… devolved. How did the death march MMO just slowly change into a terrible, weird, harem anime with a terrible, self-insert man hero? It’s hard to approach anything that is remotely branded SAO simply because it is the worst harem ever. There’s the wholesome wife, the non-blood sister, the loli, the good one everyone ignores, and probably more.
The good news is that SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online, moves far, far, FAR away from anything related to Kirito. Not only does it focus on a battle royale shooter instead of the fantasy MMO trappings Kirito is known for, it isn’t even the Bullet of Bullets from the first introduction of Gun Gale Online but instead, the Squad Jam. With a larger focus on teamwork, tactical movement, and the dangers of crossfires in wide open spaces.
Or maybe it’ll be PUBG the anime?
All I know is that I already like LLEN/Karin. When you think about it, the first time in Gun Gale Online was with a sniper, and barely anyone liked that arc and that’s because sniper builds are boring. This time we’ll see Gun Gale Online through an SMG build, and I know I had more fun running around Call of Duty with an SMG.
Persona 5 the Animation
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Airdate: April 8, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, AnimeLab (AU/NZ), Aniplus Asia (SG)
The Blurb: Based on the hit Atlus RPG, Persona 5 follows the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, a bunch of outcast teens empowered by Personas and dedicated to reforming the corrupt by “stealing their hearts”.
It’s a pretty auspicious day for people who played Persona 5. It’s been a year since Persona 5released for its western audience. It’s hard to imagine how the anime will fit this long ass video game into even 26 episodes? We’ve already spent a whole episode on the really slow opening to the game. Sure we’re hot on the heels of the first dungeon already but there’s still a lot to explore.
Still, what’s there to glean from the anime? It certainly looks like it’ll have no problem being framed just as the game did, being a recollection during an interrogation. I was genuinely surprised at how much softer Sojiro is for the animation. I remember during the game, Sojiro absolutely hating me and doing nothing to endear me to him until much later in the game. This time around, Sojiro is much more accepting of the situation and we get the usual glimpses into what’s to come. It’s kind of surprising how crucial scenes and moments play some of the great music from P5 and more, but there are times where the music takes a back seat since the focus of a particular scene is the dialogue.
I’ll keep watching if at least because it’s already teased the Kawakami route. Just know that the waifu wars are going to start again if we’re going to relive P5. In the first episode alone we see Ann, Kawakami, and Takemi.
Now that I’ve seen the first two episodes of Persona 5, this take is gonna be red-hot. I think it’s going to be tough to truly mess up adapting a game where the story is mostly told through cut-scenes. As someone who loves the game, I’ll be most looking forward to seeing what’s kept in and what gets cut out.
The first couple of episodes introduce our protagonist Ren Amamiya, his soon-to-be life partner Ryuji Sakamoto, the exposition dump/sleep enforcer Morgana, and the first arc’s villain Kamoshida.
Maybe it’s just my memories of spending many long hours in the first palace, but the show seems to be moving along at a breakneck pace. Another possibility is the that the script and editing aren’t providing much continuity between scenes. I feel like most scenes aren’t given enough time to play out before we cut to somewhere else – the Velvet room segments, for example, are going to be really jarring to anyone who isn’t familiar with the games.
Outside of that, at least Persona 5 has the right feel. The opening and ending songs are lovely and the overall aesthetic is on point – on par with the Persona 4 anime so far. I’m definitely looking forward to more because I want to see that scumbag Kamoshida get his comeuppance!
Airdate: April 8, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll
The Blurb: Based on the PS Vita RPG released overseas as The Caligula Effect, Caligula stars the game’s protagonist, named Ritsu Shikishima, as he realizes that his mundane, everyday high school existence is anything but. Instead, he and a number of others are trapped in Mobius, a simulation lorded over by μ, a powerful AI idol dedicated to doing everything she can to make everyone happy…so long as they don’t leave.
Between Caligula and last Fate/Extra: Last Encore, 2018 might just be the year for mediocre games that are uplifted by the adaptation treatment. While The Caligula Effect was such a tragic waste of potential that FuRyu committed to a full do-over (in the form of a near-total remake for PS4 called Caligula: Overdose), Caligula the anime is an intriguing, gloriously edgy urban fantasy. Satelight do the right thing by not skipping the preamble, spending much of the first two episodes showing how the illusion of the world seems to crumble as Ritsu and his future buddies come to their senses and see Mobius for what it really is. Plus, they’ve really opted to underline how far up its own butt the show is by having Ritsu act like a full psychology major pedant, constantly dropping psych names and referencing theories right and left. This would come across as thoroughly irritating most times, but for Caligula it works somehow. That said, it’s a bit bold for a show to go two whole weeks without even giving more than one of its major party members their powers, so it remains to be seen how things are going to pan out moving forward. If nothing else, it’s way more interesting to watch this than play it, at least for now.
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
Airdate: April 13, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll
The Blurb: After a thirteen year absence, Full Metal Panic! returns with a new season continuing the main story after The Second Raid. Veteran soldier (and newbie teen) Sousuke Sagara is still adjusting to normal life, while still working as bodyguard to his classmate and friend Kaname Chidori, who is one of the Whispered, a type of mysteriously empowered teen with advanced knowledge of powerful “black technology”. Sousuke’s employer, international PMC Mithril, is devoted to protecting Kaname, but it has a new foe in the form of Amalgam, a new organization with access to its own black technology and sinister plans for the Whispered.
13 years… THIRTEEN YEARS!!! That’s how long it has been since we were graced with the last Full Metal Panic! series in the form of the Second Raid… Not to mention that it has been 7 years since the original light novels concluded. Lord knows why they took so long to make another FMP! series but here we are! …And almost immediately, we have several problems. It has been said that this show will not be a reboot or retelling of the original series, which leads viewers to believe that this will be a continuation of the events of the second raid, but with such a massive gap since the last series, it would be rather foolish to throw viewers into the middle of an ongoing story without any back history. FMP! is quite an old series now so there will likely be many new viewers who have not seen the odd mix of action and comedy which the series (thus far) has been known for nor the relationships between the characters or the complex situations involving the main characters, Sousuke, Kaname and Tessa.
Furthermore, if they are going to continue the story from the second raid then the story is going to get very dark, very fast! I’m going to try to avoid direct spoilers (those interested and not wanting to wait for the anime to reveal the story can look for the translated light novels or the Full Metal Panic! Sigma manga to read ahead). There will be very little humour for the vast bulk of the remaining story and the lack of comedy may work against the show as it really was one of the major pillars holding the title up and made it stand out among other shows. (many fans will likely also say that FMP! Fumoffu, the series that went in hard on laughs, is still their favourite series)
It’s still early days and it may surprise us all but we’ll have to see if the show will be able to please old and new fans alike.
Has it really been 13 years? Every time I think back to how I’ve consumed FMP content, my only thought is, “That’s it? That can’t be it!”
FMP does after all drop all pretense of trying to mix its themes together and made an entirely separate series for all its humor, while leaving its wartime drama on the main thread. There are just a pile of unanswered questions I was left with such as Tessa’s brother, the future conflict involving other Arm Slaves equipped with Black Technology like the Lambda Driver, and the origin of Black Technology in general and the larger conspiracy of the Whispered. As someone who only watched the anime, I don’t believe any of these questions have been answered, and I’ve been waiting 13 years for something. SOMETHING.
Speaking of 13 years, Full Metal Panic is certainly an anime of its time. I can’t wait to see how different FMP will look in 2018.
Studio: Geno Studio
Airdate: April 9, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FUNimation
The Blurb: The “Immortal” soldier Sugimoto survived the Russo-Japanese war, but wants out of the hard life, and to help the widowed wife of his old war buddy. To do that, he wants in on the gold rush to Japan’s newest frontier, the northern island of Hokkaido. To get at a hidden stash of riches before a bunch of crooks, he’ll need to partner up with a local girl, a member of Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu people.
This series has been recommended a lot to me by algorithms and YouTubers. The thing that sticks out to me in thumbnails and trailers is that it doesn’t look particularly flashy. And I certainly think that’s the point because the period between sword-on-sword samurais and World War II is often dismissed in most portrayals in popular media.
But I don’t often get to watch a character like Immortal Sugimoto Saichi. Not only is he a veteran of the Russo-Japanese war, but it involves the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido who I’m beginning to draw parallels to North America’s Native American tribes. We have a character with scars from war and the dangerous beauty of nature coming together on a treasure hunt plotted out across the bodies of several prisoners’ tattoos. I’m very interested in how Sugimoto’s brutal past as a soldier plays out against Ashripa’s role as an Ainu in Japan.
Sugimoto’s design is also really growing on me. I thought he looked pretty flat even with some distinctive scars but after hearing him talk on matters of money and matters of bears, Sugimoto’s a lot more interesting than I gave him credit for as an anime protag with tough guy scars.
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Airdate: April 6, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll
The Blurb: A project set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of landmark boxing manga Ashita no Joe, Megalo Box is a sci-fi reimagining of the concept.
“Junk Dog” JD works his lot in a dystopian cyberpunk future as a Megalo Boxer, which is basically a normal boxer, except wearing a cool cybernetic exoskeleton. When the local oligarchs announce a big tournament to promote the rise of designated champion Yuri, JD finds a reason to reach for the top.
Megalo Box might be my sleeper favorite of the season. Months ago I was rocked by the PV. Hardboiled men, hot-blooded boxing, a gritty and dirty futuristic setting, and did I mention fucking exoskeleton assisted boxing.
On April 6th, I streamed the first episode, expecting to enjoy a good boxing anime. I’m trying to connect the dots on the credits and creators, because I’m obsessed with its soundtrack and visuals. The hip-hop soundtrack playing behind the blown out, urban locales and ghettos really turned my head. But the moment J.D. (Junkyard Dog), feels time slow down in the rain as he squares up against mysterious pro boxer Yuri absolutely sent chills down to my toes, much in the same way J.D. probably felt. It’ll probably go alongside other strong, musically themed anime like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.
There’s still so much to explore in this surprisingly interesting premise. Where do these exoskeletons fit in the universe? Were they originally made for contract work and have found their way into boxing? And what’s up with Megalo Box being on Ashita no Joe‘s wiki page? An original re-envisioning of Ashita no Joe? As long as the beats, both music and fists, keep pumping along, I can’t wait.
Space Battleship Tiramisu
Airdate: April 3, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FUNimation
The Blurb: It is Space Era 0156, and war has broken out all over humanity’s far-flung space colonies. Earth builds and deploys the space battleship Tiramisu to quell the violence, and leading its mecha pilot corps is Subaru Ichinose, who’d rather just spend his time hiding in his cockpit.
Clocking in at under eight minutes an episode, Space Battleship Tiramisu is exactly the right size for me right now, seeing as I can watch it during bathroom breaks at my day job. Beyond that, it’s also a decent gag show that mines the tropes of sci-fi and mecha combat shows to torture its protagonist, ace pilot Subaru. Subaru’s a talented driver, but an otaku and borderline shut-in by temperament. He’d really just rather hole up in the cockpit of his mecha than deal with the crew or anything else, and this leads to all manner of fun shenanigans, like the difficulty of eating breaded pork in zero-G or what to do when you’ve got a Space Chihuahua in the cockpit. Sure, there’s little of substance beyond the jokes, but given that the damn battleship is called “Tiramisu”, it would probably be a bit too much to expect deep ruminations on war or the duality of man or some other bullshit.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These
Studio: Production I.G.
Airdate: April 3, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FUNimation, (original OVAs available on HIDIVE)
The Blurb: Thousands of years into the future, humanity has been divided into two interstellar nations: The Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, both locked into a seemingly endless, 150-year conflict, until the emergence of two genius leaders and strategists, Count Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Empire, and the Alliance Navy’s Yang Wen-li. Their conflict sets the stage for a galaxy-rending confrontation that will change history and the path of humanity forever.
It’s practically a cliche at this point to cite Legend of the Galactic Heroes as a favorite anime, but I’m not kidding when I say it’s one of the best shows ever made. That said, the 160-plus episode behemoth of a series, for decades available to outsiders only via fansubs (and extremely expensive box sets), is being remade under the auspices of Production I.G. for new audiences. While some have cried foul over the changes to the show’s character designs (summarized: Pretty boys look even prettier, older guys look even older) and voice talent (the sexiest you’ve ever heard mad scientist Kyouma Hououin), I see the existence of Die Nueue These as a good thing.
Plus, they might actually be trying something different this time, explicitly noting in the cold open that any similarities to the original are just that: similarities. That implies there will be changes, though the two episodes I’ve seen so far have been pretty faithful bar some mild discrepancies over uniform design and characterization the characters a bit cockier, less formal in their manner of speaking. I’m actually looking forward to seeing where they want to take the show. As much as I love the OG series, it was frequently plodding and had visuals that don’t quite hold up these days. It was also nearly absent compelling female characters, so if nothing else, I’d be definitely open to a few changes designed to rectify that.
One thing I’m not entirely convinced by, though, is the music. The older series preferred classical pieces (My Conquest Is The Sea of Stars might have the best use of Ravel’s “Bolero” ever), and I’ve warmed to Hiroyuki Sawano’s opening theme “Binary Star”, but I’m not feeling the other background bits yet. They certainly work to match the mood of the situation (track how it builds during the battles of the first two episodes), but in my heart I still prefer the more stately, traditional orchestral pieces used in the olden days.
That’s hardly a deal-breaker, though, and anyone who likes operatic storytelling or laments the supposed decline of sci-fi in the modern day owes it to themselves to give this one a try.
Magical Girl Ore
Studio: Pierrot Plus
Airdate: April 2, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll
The Blurb:Saki Uno, one half of the idol duo Magical Twin, greatly admires the older brother of her partner, who happens to be a male idol him. She’d do anything for him, including…become a Magical Boy? Laughs and gender-swapping humor abound as Saki uses her powers to become what peak performance looks like when it comes to fighting evil.
Can we just agree that subversion is just a genre now? Everything about Magical Girl Ore is just subversion or deconstruction or whatever other high concept analysis and thoughts there are. On the surface it looks like any other magical girl anime, with bright colors and soft features, until you realize it’s just trying to fool you with its veneer while it lulls you in to bash your skull in with sight gags and lead pipes. The transformation sequence, the hallmark of any magical girl series, has its own glow of uniqueness as Saki Uno’s petite frame quickly bulges into a hulking musculature. Instead of watching a girl vaguely strip naked and don a cute outfit, she beautifully turns into a sculpted bodybuilder.
Because of course you turn into a shredded man to fight evil. It’s very practical, like bringing a gun to a fight.
Also, I appreciate an expressive comedy heroine. I’m used to a girl playing the straight man in a joke, so seeing Saki go through a range of expressions to really pay off a joke is really fun.
Airdate: April 6, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FUNimation
The Blurb: Nitta’s a Yakuza, and enjoys living the single-man high life in a swanky apartment full of expensive porcelain pots. His routine gets disrupted one day when a weird pod full of a young girl teleports onto his head and demands food, shelter, and clothes. The girl is Hina, she’s from another world, and she’s a powerful telekinetic.
Hinamatsuri might be my low-key favorite of the season so far thanks to its hilarious family show vibe. It reminds me of last year’s Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, though a little more subdued and deadpan in its sense of humor. Most of the fun is found in the way everyone that gets their butts kicked by Hina’s superpowers just yells “Ouchies!”, or watching the gap between Nitta’s own behavior as a party-boy gangster and his newfound domestic bliss as Hina’s adoptive father.
It’s funny. We’re used to thinking about the “dadification” of contemporary video games, as the creators that drive game trends age, start families, and begin exploring their own experiences through their work (poster cases being the new God of War and The Last of Us). Well, that happens in anime, too, and it’s funny to think that a Hinamatsuri made, say, 20 years ago in the ’90s or early ’00s would be squarely in the center of the “magical girlfriend” subgenre, something like Mahoromatic, Hand Maid May, or Please! Teacher. Hina wouldn’t be Nitta’s new kid, but his future wife. Thankfully, though, it’s 2018, making the show have more apiece with the likes of Bunny Drop (sans the ending, hopefully), Sweetness & Lightning, or Alice and Zouroku. That’s a trade I prefer, being a certified Old Person in the eyes of many.
It also helps that the show is surprisingly well-animated, opening with a killer kung-fu fight sequence and showing off a cool art style throughout. Featuring some of the best bodies in motion this side of Megalo Box, Hinamatsuri isn’t one to sleep on, no matter your opinion on having a walking psychic WMD for a kid.
GeGeGe no Kitaro (2018)
Studio: Toei Animation
Airdate: April 1, 2018
Watch it On: Crunchyroll, AnimeLab (AU/NZ)
The Blurb: It’s the 21st century, and people just don’t believe in Yokai, Japan’s folk creatures, anymore. At least, not until a plague of unexplained happenings affects the human world, sowing chaos. Young teen Mana petitions a Yokai post line for answers, only to encounter none other than legendary figure Kitaro himself.
When I first learned about the GeGeGe no Kitaro series, my first reaction was that the character looked like Manta from Shaman King. Of course, the former is way older and the original manga helped create the trend where Yokai appear in Japanese entertainment. Thanks to the ghostly hero getting a new iteration, this gave me a good excuse to give it a shot.
Overall, the whole thing reminded me of the early episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho where Yusuke partook in supernatural investigations. However, the difference is that GeGeGe no Kitaro focuses more on light-hearted horror and comedy than being action packed. As of now, the show’s first two episodes hint at it focusing on a Yokai-of-the-Week format, with the formula likely focusing on the lead Kitaro turning the tables after being defeated during his first bout. Whether this gets old or not will depend on how they handle the later encounters. Since the new anime will run for more than 50 episodes, this angle may make or break it. Fortunately, the cast and the scenarios are stealing the show.
Perhaps the best thing about the new installment is how it had a moment that was likely a glorious middle finger to Logan Paul, which Toei deserves mad props if this was their intention. Either way, it works well in bringing its classic characters to a modern audience as the supernatural incidents involve recent trends, such as idols. At first, my minor gripe was how Kitaro and the Yokai’s cartoony designs clashed with the other styles in the show, but it started to grow on me as I stuck with it.
In the end, it’s nice that we’re getting a spring family series that focuses on the bizarre and silly side of the horror genre. With Kitaro’s recent ally known as Catchick coming off as a cool Yokai, I might’ve found one of my favorite characters of the season. In all seriousness, it got me to look forward to the other good Yokai that’ll aid him later on. That said, the series’ strengths might be its cast, which left a good impression on me so far. Also, it’s amazing that his dad is a freaking eyeball with a tiny human body.