What I Watched This Week – 5/15-5/21

Title image for Kiznaiver. Seven teenagers in street clothes stand against a low blue sky with some red accents.

Kiznaiver – I need to sit down and make a list of every original anime Mari Okada has written the script for and commit it to memory so I don’t try to watch them and waste my time. As far as sci-fi thrillers go, this one was chugging along admirably until Okada’s patented romantic conflicts annoyed the everliving daylights out of me. It’s just like, here you are, in high school, and you’ve been roped into this absolutely bizarre experiment run by some shady quasi-governmental agency that causes you physical pain, and you’re gonna run around and mope about your crush that doesn’t like you back? That’s your biggest concern? I’ll concede that it’s probably developmentally appropriate for teenagers, but Christ, get out of your own way, people. 6/10

Title image for One Piece. The colorful and cartoonish crew of pirates look down at the camera.

One Piece Ep 830-866 – Taking a month-long break from my One Piece adventure seems to have been the right decision, because I got right back into the story and eagerly watched episode after episode wanting to know what was gonna happen next. I really enjoyed the Germa 66 tokusatsu hero show-style episode, complete with unique commercial break screens, and I’m enjoying Luffy’s long battle with Katakuri in the mirror world. I do not love that Big Mom is basically just a whole long fat joke, but it is what it is.

What I Watched This Week – 4/18-4/23

Title image for The Garden of Sinners. A woman in a bright red kimono wields a short sword against a backdrop of a full moon.

The Garden of Sinners 6-10 – Despite having the same writer and being produced by the same studio, it is absolutely wild how this series of movies swung from excellent to borderline unwatchable to just okay and back again. Easily my favorite of the series was the apartment building paradox story, which was a solid urban fantasy thriller with fun twists and turns. The two movies focused on Mikiya and Shiki’s history together and their connection to a series of murders were also great thrillers with interesting antagonists. However, the one that used a violent gang rape to turn a schoolgirl into a telekinetic serial murderer can get in the trash, and the one set in the girls’ school that focused on Mikiya’s younger sister, who was a poisonous combination of in love with her brother and screechy tsundere, was an absolute chore to finish. Other than the short epilogue to the main storyline, which was an incredibly boring wall of text philosophizing like a stoned undergrad, the rest of the movies were entertaining but unremarkable little mysteries. 7/10 on average.

Title image for The Betrayal Knows My Name. Four young men in military-styled outfits stand against a cloudy sky.The Betrayal Knows My Name – I watched this because I want to watch everything currently available on streaming platforms that’s tagged as BL, but the joke’s on me, because this was about as gay as your basic shounen. Had this been on the air in the mid 90s, I definitely could see my teenaged self being obsessed with this series about emo bishounens and their fight against demons who want to destroy the world for some unspecified reason. There is a certain appeal to beautiful boys working through their messy feelings for each other in between fighting demons dressed like visual kei performers. Unfortunately, the fights are terribly written with no sense of strategy or tension or like they’re working towards anything, and the main character is universally beloved, held up and protected as the group’s savior, but is absolutely useless in every situation. It was entertaining in a nostalgia trip sort of way, but the story just wasn’t very good. 6/10

What I Watched This Week – 4/10-4/17

Title image for Kotaro Lives Alone. A young boy stands in front of a small apartment building with two men and a woman who live in the building.

Kotaro Lives Alone – I have a real soft spot for media about people raising children they’re not technically the parent of, so a story about a kindergartener living alone with the help of his eccentric neighbors was 110% up my alley. The story probably shouldn’t work as well as it does, considering how straightforwardly it addresses traumatic subjects like child neglect, domestic abuse, and mental illness, while also being a comedy about a five-year-old living in an apartment by himself. Somehow, though, the parts combine into a genuinely heartwarming story about hurt people helping each other. 8/10

Title image for Space Battleship Yamato 2199. An assortment of uniformed crew members appear around a spaceship styled like a World War II battleship with the image of a woman with long blonde hair in the background.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 – It is a real testament to the quality of this show’s story that I completed it, because Funimation’s video player fought me every step of the way. However, no amount of lagging and buffering was going to put me off a remake of a 1970s space opera complete with a brass and strings soundtrack, space Nazis, and a dash of romance. It is a little funny to watch these post-apocalyptic sci-fi series about humanity banding together to work towards a common goal when the world around me can’t commit to basic public health guidelines to contain an ongoing pandemic, but the fantasy is definitely appealing. I really enjoyed how nobody was really evil for evil’s sake or pure unadulterated goodness, as shows about flawed people making decisions that make sense to them make for interesting stories. 8/10

Title image for The Garden of Sinners. A woman in a bright red kimono wields a short sword against a backdrop of a full moon.

The Garden of Sinners 1-5 – I don’t really want to say much about this series of movies until I’ve finished them all, because it feels like they’re all building towards something and the ending could change how I feel about what came before it. What I will say, though, is that I am just completely out of patience with stories that use violent stranger rape as a catalyst for a female character’s awakening as a vengeful badass. It’s gross, lazy writing.

Title image for One Piece. The colorful and cartoonish crew of pirates look down at the camera.

One Piece Ep.801-829 – I took some time off from watching this after powering through 800 episodes in six months, but apparently it wasn’t enough time off, because I really felt like was forcing myself through this. I’ve left off right before they’re about to crash Big Mom’s tea party, and I think I’ll leave it here until the night where I look at One Piece in my watchlist and go “Ooh! I should watch that!”.

Winter 2022 Anime Roundup

Title image for Sasaki and Miyano. A tall boy with red hair and a brown cardigan stands back-to-back with a short boy with brown hair and a blue pullover. There's a floral filter over the image.

Completed

Sasaki and Miyano – A sweet and funny romance with a fun cast of supporting characters. Easily my AOTS. 9/10

My Dress-Up Darling – A really fun romcom with two great main characters that occasionally included tasteless fanservice. 8/10

Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout – Still surprised that a gender-bender about two guys getting isekaied and one getting turned into a cute girl not only wasn’t a dumpster fire, it was genuinely funny and heartwarming. 8/10

The Case Study of Vanitas – Hot vampires doing hot things, part two. 8/10

86 Eighty-Six – Frederica ruins every scene she’s in, but the mecha battle animation and sound design mixed with the Sawano soundtrack got the blood pumping. 8/10

Sabikui Bisco – Fun, inventive world-building, a fabulous soundtrack, and some great queer subtext, but the fights in the middle weren’t very well written. 7/10

Ranking of Kings – I had this ranked as one of my favorites until the last two episodes made a few decisions I really didn’t like. Fantastic production for sure though. 7/10

Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc – Story is starting to wear on me, but you really can’t beat this show for flashy animated spectacle. 7/10

Teasing Master Takagi-san S3 – Despite their schtick starting to wear a little thin, seeing their relationship progress a bit is pretty darn cute. 7/10

Salaryman’s Club – It’s not really doing anything other sports anime haven’t done, but the sound design is fantastic and you really can’t go wrong with a cast of working adults old enough to drink. 7/10

Slow Loop – A nice, relaxing story about a group of girls bonding over fishing. 7/10

Princess Connect! Re:Dive S2 – An absolute spectacle of color and animation with a much more coherent story than season 1, but still not a particularly focused story. 7/10

Love of Kill – Though this was not the dangerous romantic thriller I thought it was gonna be, I still enjoyed watching the mystery unfold. 7/10

The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt – A fantasy story about a clever crown prince and his various schemes that just didn’t wow me. 6/10

Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department – A really uneven show that had some genuinely funny episodes early in the season, and then went off a cliff and forgot how to write jokes. 6/10

In the Land of Leadale – An isekai about a woman reincarnated as a super OP character in her favorite game that was just aggressively mediocre and a little pointless. 6/10

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom – Literally the worst anime series I’ve completed. The anime equivalent of a college Republican in a bow-tie. 3/10

On Hold/Dropped

She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man – On hold, ep.5. – The story doesn’t make much sense and the visuals are hot garbage. I might finish it later.

Requiem of the Rose King – On hold, ep.2. – I was really looking forward to this, but the animation is awful and the pace of the story adaptation isn’t much better.

Police in a Pod – Unfunny copaganda. Dropped after 1.

What I Watched This Week – 3/27-4/2

Title image for Kids on the Slope. A group of high school kids in 1960s-style uniforms walk on the side of a steep road next to a tall retaining wall.

Kids on the Slope – Not that there are a ton of them, but so far Showa-era-set josei anime about two guys and a girl involved in a niche cultural activity are a hit for me. Instead of rakugo, this time it’s jazz played by two teenage boys in the basement of the girl’s family’s record store in the 1960s. I loved how fleshed-out all of the characters were, with relatable flaws and understandable motives that drove the drama in a really satisfying way. It just about perfectly nailed the intoxicating period of time when you’re not quite a child, but not quite an adult, and the world opens up in front of you as you struggle to get a handle on it and yourself. Whatever the writer intended, I don’t see any way of reading the story other than that of a lonely boy who falls in love with a delinquent boy, a nice girl, and jazz piano, and I thoroughly enjoyed his messy journey. 8/10

Title image for The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat. A boy and a girl in high school uniforms stand against a white background with the shadow of a cat at their feet.

The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat – Harem anime is not my usual fare, but this one looked a little bit like Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches with the blend of harem hijinks, comedy, and the supernatural, so I gave it a try. This was at its best in the first half, when the focus was on Youto’s horn-dog tendencies and the comedy of him trying to get back his discretion along with a girl who lost her ability to show emotions. I thought most of the characters were pretty entertaining, especially the over-the-top siscon captain of the track team, and enjoyed Youto’s growing harem. Where it started to fall apart for me is when the focus switched to the supernatural element, and the more serious drama surrounding a couple of the girls. It just wasn’t willing to be earnest or genuine enough about the characters’ feelings for the drama to move me. 6/10

Title image for Ushio and Tora. A middle school boy with a large spear and very long hair stands in front of a large yokai who resembles an orange tiger. Blue lightning flashes about.

Ushio and Tora (2015) – I pretty much only watched this because it was leaving Crunchyroll at the end of March and, while it was just kind of a basic shonen, I really enjoyed the retro 90s vibe. Our hero is a second-year middle school student who gets into the basement of the storehouse at his family’s temple and pulls a spear from the shoulder of the powerful yokai it pinned to the wall. He then has to run around fighting various yokai drawn to the power of this magical spear, and eventually work with everyone he knows to save Japan from an extra-cranky yokai. The tsundere act between Ushio and Tora and Ushio and Asako got a little wearying, and there’s a icky thread of benevolent sexism that runs throughout the story, but I really enjoyed the cast of characters, the way he gathered new friends and allies on his road trip, and how it all felt like a complete story. 7/10