What I Watched This Week – 6/13-6/19

Title image for Patlabor: The Mobile Police (OVA). A woman in a Japanese police uniform with orange vest stands in front of a giant white mecha.

Patlabor: The Mobile Police (OVA) – I watched the TV series version of this a little while ago, but I couldn’t tell if the Patlabor movies were a sequel to that series or these OVA episodes, so I decided to watch this just to be thorough. It was pretty much the same mix of action and comedy that I enjoyed in the TV version, with maybe a little more purpose to the plot, as some of the characters have slightly more interesting backgrounds in this version tying them up with politics and terrorists. 7/10

Title image for Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East. Several handsome young men stand in a grassy field with a crow perched on the foremost's shoulder.

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – I really don’t remember putting this on my watch list, and didn’t know anything about it when I decided to hit play, but I ended up enjoying this fantasy-set action adventure about eight young men who get tied up with supernatural forces after a brush with death. I liked how the setting was sort of an alternate universe Japan with the mythical beasts of Japanese folklore and a powerful western-style church organization pulling the strings, although I couldn’t quite make out when this was supposed to be set, as the costumes seemed like a mix of Meiji era uniforms and kimonos and modern-style t-shirts and jackets. The show itself does not have any romance or BL elements, but finding out afterwards that it ran in a yaoi magazine and was written by the person who did Super Lovers really explained a lot. 7/10

Title image for As Miss Beelzebub Likes. Various demons in soft focus and pastel colors.

As Miss Beelzebub Likes – While I didn’t dislike this pastel-colored rom-com about various demons working as civil servants in the underworld, it never quite got over the line into like, either. The whole show hangs the comedy on the novelty of demons being cute, liking cute things, and having crushes they’re too clueless to act on, and there’s only so much you can do with that before the lack of progression starts to feel frustrating. If you like cutesy anime girls with giant breasts, you might enjoy it more than I did. 6/10

 

What I Watched This Week – 6/6-6/12

Title image for Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. A high school boy and girl stand on the steps of a Japanese shrine with a giant mecha behind them.

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory – I held off on watching the fourth installment of this series because I just love the characters so much that I didn’t want to watch this and have there be no more FMP to look forward to. Thankfully this season gave me pretty much everything I hoped for. I got some wonderful relationship progression between Sousuke and Chidori, there was lots of over-the-top mecha fighting, and a number of good twists and turns in the action. That middle section with the mecha battling for sport felt like a homage to Armored Trooper VOTOMS, which I appreciated. My only complaint was how it ended where it did, leaving me desperately wanting another season. 8/10

Title image for This Boy Suffers From Crystallization. A high school boy with a crystal hand sits back-to-back with a middle-aged man holding a large crystal.

This Boy Suffers From Crystallization – This 25-minute-long short feature is part of the This Boy/Kono Danshi series of short BL adaptations with pretty low production values, and even though I went in with low expectations I still ended up pretty disappointed. The story was boring and never gave me any reason to get invested in a potential romance between a troubled student and the teacher looking out for him. Coupled with remarkably poor animation and mediocre art, there wasn’t much to like about this. 5/10

Title image for Space Battleship Tiramisu. Space villain steals astronaut's fried chicken.

Space Battleship Tiramisu S1&2 – At seven minutes an episode, I quickly went through two seasons of this and was laughing pretty much the whole time. Parodying everything from Gundam to Evangelion, this gag comedy never takes itself too seriously while placing the main character in various absurd situations. It had some of my favorite voice actors who all did an excellent job of reading patently ridiculous lines with just the right amount of gravitas to lovingly poke fun at space mecha series. 7/10

Title image for Sound! Euphonium. Four high school girls in sailor-style uniforms holding various band instruments.

Sound! Euphonium S1&2 – This series about a high school concert band was very hit or miss for me. Season one hit just about right with a smooth dramatic arc that began with adding new members, then learning to play together, and finally working hard towards qualifying for nationals. All of the drama felt natural and like it was moving the story forward. Season two, on the other hand, felt like it was spinning its wheels a bit and presenting drama as a kind of fanservice rather than as a coherent story. I got really frustrated with how the main girl was constantly in the middle of everyone else’s business for no real reason, and got a little fed up with how they kept baiting that relationship between the two main girls while also pushing one of them towards hooking up with the teacher, which was gross and weird. Both seasons were gorgeous and the music was wonderful, but the story was a bit of a problem. S1 8/10, S2 6/10

What I Watched This Week – 5/30-6/5

Title image for Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE. Five high school boys in magical girl outfits and their patron, a pink wombat.

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE S1&2 and Special – I am not well-versed at all in magical girl anime, but I do like cute and colorful anime boys so I thought I’d give this action comedy a whirl. Although it is, at times, patently absurd, like how it opens with two of the boys debating oden ingredients while soaking in a public bath, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a parody. Many of the situations are silly, the genre-savvy characters know exactly what kind of story they’re in, and their powers are granted by a talking pink wombat, but I thought it stayed true to the genre with an emphasis on friendship, reconciliation, and love. It’s not a high-brow sort of show, but I found it perfectly charming. My only complaint would be how the first half of the feature-length special episode was a lazy compilation of past events with character songs played over it back-to-back and not really woven into the story. S1&S2 8/10, Special 6/10.

Title image for Armored Trooper VOTOMS The Roots of Ambition. A man in a military-style beret looks menacingly at the camera with a boy below him.

Armored Trooper VOTOMS: The Roots of Ambition – My classic mecha kick has not yet exhausted itself, and this week’s entry is a feature-length OVA that takes place before the action in the TV series. It gives us the story of how Chirico came to join the Red Shoulders, the brutal way the squad weeded out the new recruits, and the twisted ways the upper ranks treated the men in their command. It gave some nice texture to Chirico’s character and insight into his background, along with the gritty mecha action this series does so well. 7/10

Title image for Wakako-zake. A lady in office clothes enters a traditional Japanese restaurant, smiling.

Wakako-zake – This was a series of twelve two-minute shorts, so there isn’t a ton to discuss, but if you like food anime this makes for a nice little snack. Our main character is an office lady who loves to unwind after a day’s work by finding tasty food to eat and the best drink to go with it. I enjoyed the cartoony art style that looked a little bit like a storybook, and Miyuki Sawashiro does a wonderful job of making all the food sound irresistible with that smooth voice of hers. I also really liked how it included a lot of food I’ve never seen in other food anime. 7/10

What I Watched This Week – 5/23-5/29

Title image for Classroom Crisis. Several high school students in front of a space craft and a rainbow.

Classroom Crisis – I’ve had this on my watch list for a while now, and the announcement that it was leaving Crunchyroll inspired me to finally hit play and watch it. It doesn’t break any molds or win any awards for execution, but it was a perfectly enjoyable sci-fi drama/comedy with an intriguing plot centered around corporate politics and power games set in a technical high school for high-achieving students living in a company town on Mars. It was fun to watch the class scramble to build their space racing ships after having their budget cut by 70%, and seeing them wrack their brains to innovate and streamline their processes rather than admit defeat was pretty satisfying. I didn’t care for how the main boy could be so glasses-wearing seven-dimensional-chess-playing smug edgy protagonist, and I didn’t like how they took what was a competently written romance with some nice quality kissing and sabotaged the crap out of it by turning it into a cheap love triangle in the last couple episodes. 7/10

Title image for High School Fleet. Six high school girls in red, white, and blue sailor-style uniforms.

High School Fleet – Looking at the art style for this gave me a pretty good idea that I was not going to love it, but again, it was leaving Crunchyroll so I figured that this was my chance to find out for sure. And it turns out I was right, this absolutely was not for me, and it was, in fact, several of the anime tropes I dislike most wrapped up in awkward 3D renderings of WWII-era Japanese battle ships. I really disliked how all the girls were drawn to look like elementary school students despite being teenagers, while also shown wearing frilly, sexy underwear or nothing at all in frequent bath scenes, like they wanted to perv on little girls, but with breasts, which is gross. The plot also was a whole-ass mess from the premise of handing fully equipped war ships to groups of teenage girls to sail on the open seas without any teachers onboard, to an absolutely ridiculous subplot involving genetically engineered hamsters. I can’t really think of anything I enjoyed about it other than marking it completed. 4/10

Title image for Samurai Flamenco. A handsome man in a red hero costume, and a policeman hold a gun.

Samurai Flamenco – The last of the shows I watched before they left Crunchyroll ended up being one of the ones I liked the most. I’m not the biggest fan of Japanese hero TV shows, but I know enough about them to enjoy a show like this that gently and lovingly parodies them. The show is sort of a wild ride, starting out as a story about a male model who befriends a cop after his night cosplaying as a red hero leaves him beaten up and naked in an alleyway, before introducing everything from a girl idol group moonlighting as vigilante magical girls to a shadowy villain organization intent on world domination. At times it’s a comedy, putting our heroes in farcical situations against absurd villains, and at other times it’s a serious drama about the nature of heroism and what it means to be good. As a bonus, I loved how gay it was, with both the heavily hinted at romantic and sexual tension between the two guys, and a few on-screen kisses between two of the idol girls. Be gay, fight crime, I guess. 7/10

Title image for Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked. Distant image of a red robot against an abstract space scene.

Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked – I watched the main series a couple weeks ago and the final episode or two felt super rushed and didn’t make a ton of sense. This movie apparently is what the writers intended to be the series’ actual ending before they were forced to cut it short. It doesn’t magically turn the show into a masterpiece, but it does make the story a lot better and more coherent. I liked its message about the irrationality of war, and how the only lesson war really teaches is that it’s awful for everyone involved. It’s an absolute bloodbath, though, so if you’re sensitive to seeing sympathetic characters from children through adults meet a violent end, proceed with caution. 7/10

What I Watched This Week – 5/16-5/22

Title image for Silver Spoon. A high school boy in a field has a cow tugging on his uniform jacket while his classmates look on.

Silver Spoon S1&2 – This has been in my watch list for a long time, but Crunchyroll’s announcement that it was leaving the platform at the end of this week inspired me to finally get around to watching this slice of life story about a city boy who decides to go to an agricultural high school just because it is a boarding school. It’s written by the same mangaka who did Fullmetal Alchemist, who I believe grew up on a farm, and the genuine love for agriculture shines throughout. It’s informative without ever feeling like an infodump, farming life is portrayed affectionately but never too rosily or idealized, and Hachiken serves as the stand-in for the viewer in learning all about the work that goes into raising crops and animals without being the constant butt of jokes as the lone outsider. It approaches various agricultural issues like coming to terms with processing animals you’ve taken care of for meat and the struggles of farm operators to pay their bills with a perfect mix of humor and seriousness, giving thoughtful answers to difficult questions while acknowledging that’s there’s not always one right answer. 9/10

Title image for R.O.D. Three sisters pose with pieces of paper in front of a blue swirl.

R.O.D. – Before Crunchyroll announced this would be leaving their platform, I had never even heard of this book-themed urban fantasy series, and since it was leaving legal streaming entirely, I figured I might as well give it a whirl. There was a lot I enjoyed about it – I loved the three sisters and their relationship, where each girl complemented the others’ personalities, I thought their power to manipulate paper into anything from weapons to magical beasts was one of the more creative magical powers I’ve seen in anime, and I loved how much the women loved books and bought them whenever they could, no matter how much money or storage space they had. What I didn’t like very much was how convoluted the shadowy organization’s evil plot got by the end, and how spineless and credulous a couple of the main characters remained until even the final episode before getting some character development. 7/10

Title image for Demon Slayer Mugen Train. A boy with a water magic sword swings at a well-dressed demon atop a train.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train – After isolating myself for the past 18 months, my husband and I took our fully vaccinated selves out to the movies to see this sequel that has been breaking all the box office records. As a sequel to the series, I quite enjoyed it. There wasn’t too much of Zenitsu’s intolerable whining, Inosuke was still super amusing, and Tanjiro remains the earnest and kind ball of sunshine we all love so much. The fight animation was as excellent as you would expect from ufotable, and the art was still colorful and stylish. However, I thought the end of the train battle was wildly anticlimactic, and the movie itself felt a little incoherent, like it wasn’t so much a movie as it was five or six episodes of the show presented together without opening or ending songs. 8/10