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Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer 2017 Anime First Impressions Part 1:

Hina Logi:  The Luck and Logic series was just barely watchable, but this sequel isn't.  The main character is one of those 2 year old brains stuck in a teenager's body, acting unusually excited and naive and silly over every little thing.  This is supposed to be cute but it's actually just aggravating, like taking care of any young child would be.  The story isn't very compelling -- "We're teaching you to fight against monsters who were defeated last year so, yeah, you guys have no purpose, oh well."

Random appeals to ecchi try to give some point to the show, but it's nowhere as attractive as Eromanga Sensei so again, what's the point?  Hina Logi not only sucks itself, it makes Luck and Logic as a whole not a good series that can be watched in full.  Fail.

Enmusubi no Yokou-chan:  Another Chinese animation.  It still has no clue what makes anime great or how to write humor, action, drama or anything.  The main character is a sexual harassing thief.  I only watched the first half it was so bad.  Fail.

Knight's & Magic:  If every episode is as good as this one, Knight's and Magic is going to be a great anime.  There's still plenty of space left in my rankings, so this show has a real chance to grab itself a slot.  The art is great, the voice acting is great, especially for the protagonist Ernesti.  The plot is refreshingly upfront and happy go lucky.  There's action, humor, romance. . .  I mean, this is practically Princess Bride level.  If every isekai story is this good, we need to hurry up and convert all anime to this one genre.  This just fires on all cylinders.  Pass.

Battle Girl High School:  This show has some good points.  But the overly judgmental adults are obnoxious, and there's just too much going on for proper story telling.  You can't introduce like twenty characters in the same episode, while showing both their daily life and their intense battles.  It's just too much.  In Vividred Operation they devoted an entire episode per girl's transformation.  That's how it's done.  Since this show isn't taking itself or its craft seriously, there's no reason for me to give it a serious amount of time.  Fail.

Koi to Uso:  This story has a fantastic premise, the same premise as my Changeling novel in fact.  That arranged marriages should be decided well before anyone starts dating so that no one has any sexual or romantic relationships before their fated partner for life.  Studies show definitively that pre-marital relationships are an incredibly accurate indicator of the likelihood of a marriage's failure.  The more relationships, the worse it gets, but even one pre-marital relationship skyrockets the chance of later divorce by 35%.  It's also been shown through studies, though this largely overlaps, that the happiest people have only had sex with one (or perhaps two) other(s) in their lives.  The next happiest coterie is people who have had 0 partners, and after that it's all downhill.  The best path to a lasting love life, therefore, is not finding the exact right person via endless trial and error, like people imagine is the case today.  It's deciding on someone from the beginning and then holding on to them like badgers, from beginning to end.  That creates the security and faithfulness people need to truly dedicate themselves to a marriage and therefore lasting happiness on this mortal sphere.

There is an argument to be made that so long as people are serious about their first romances, they should be allowed to seek out a romantic partner for life instead of an arranged partner.  I actually agree with this reasoning.  The important thing is that people quickly and decisively choose one, just one, lover in life.  If they do it through their own volition instead of government force, I think that's ideal.  This is where Koi to Uso makes its argument.  That these two would be dedicated lovers to each other anyway, so the government should stop interfering 'for their own good.'  It also creates an amazing love drama where the problem is external, not just that these two lovers stupidly can't get along for some dumb reason of their own causing.  But what's fascinating about Koi to Uso is that it doesn't even try to defend the current orthodoxy.  The current orthodoxy is that people are happiest when they are most liberated, and you should try out all sorts of relationships before and after marriage.  You should have tons of lovers of all sexes and genders and transgenders and so on to figure out what you like best, then marry, then have an open relationship after marriage with lots of swinging and swapping and threesomes etc, etc, etc.  Only then can someone be truly emotionally and sexually fulfilled.

Koi to Uso knows that if it had a selfish male or female lead who was given an arranged marriage notice and said, "No, I want to have a thousand lovers, I will never be inhibited from my endless thirst for novelty and sexual conquests!"  People would be sickened and fully support the government stapling them to their marriage partners for life.  But because this guy makes the sympathetic argument that he's been in love with the same girl for five years now, and has already dedicated his life to her via hard work studying and improving his looks, and that he can't imagine being with anyone else than her, and that she returns his purehearted feelings for the same five years running, and since they would be eternal lovers for life, from virgin children till death, the government shouldn't intervene in this one exception, it's actually the exception that proves the rule.  It in fact means that Koi to Uso's world is already 99% better than the current dating scene.

Which means that the delicious pretend support for the status quo in this story is actually a subversive samizdat in favor of forced marriage, arranged marriage, virgin marriage, government supervised and enforced serious relationships that don't break up, etc.  It gives credit where credit is due, and says love is a great thing, true, but only if it's true love.  And most of you don't qualify for that, now do you?

Not only is the plot magnificent, the main girl is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, pretty much the best in the business.  And on top of that, the art style is interesting and new.  It feels more realistic than the average show, which is perfect for dealing with such heavy issues as the ones discussed.

The fact that the arranged marriage partner is obviously an appealing girl makes the frisson all the more delicious.  It's not true that the government is just randomly screwing people over in a tyrannous hellhole.  They actually have your best interests in mind and are doing their best by you.  The arranged marriage partners are people you can genuinely be happy with if you put in the effort.  Subversive, subversive, subversive!  I love it, love it, love it.  If the story maintains tempo and doesn't just start repeating itself because there's nothing left to say, it's going to be in my rankings.  But there is a danger of that happening, so for now it's just a passing grade.  Pass.

Isekai Shokudou:  This is a feel-good story about how food makes everyone happy and we would all get along if we could all just eat good food.  It's also about how great it is for a guy to be rich and powerful because then he can provide for cute impoverished girls.  It will probably end up inferior to Koufuku Graffitti, but that's still a fine level to be at.  Pass.

Netsuzou Trap - NTR - :  This story had a really promising premise, but the execution turned out to just be smut.  The typical sado-masochist play except with the twist that it's also lesbian adultery may as well just be a porno.  If it had been two girls who were surprised to find themselves attracted to the other sex, and drawn to each other inexorably over time against their own wills, it could have been a really interesting story on what makes people gay vs. straight, why it's sometimes okay to break up with your first choice for your second, 'true love,' etc.  All of that was skipped over in favor of immediate in your face sex play.  No subtleties here, nothing about love or the human condition.  Just out of control lust.  Fail.

Nana Maru San Batsu:  This show has a lot of similarities to Chihayafuru.  It's massively inferior, and shonen instead of shoujou, but the idea of listening for phrases and then quickly hitting the answer is all there.  Obviously this can be intriguing content, because Chihayafuru is intriguing, but I just don't know if Quiz Bowl can pull it off.  For a first episode it was decent, and I'm willing to give it some more episodes to really establish itself, but I'm not very confident it will be interesting enough to watch all the way to the end.  Pass.

Konbini Kareshi:  The characters are boring and shallow.  It has all the trappings and all the failings of shoujo comics.  The only twist is that people keep randomly and conveniently meeting each other at this same convenience store, which is supposed to be the 'hook' of the show but just comes off as a deus ex machina, that is when they aren't just literally bumping people into each other in order to get them to have conversations.  Fail.

Ballroom e Yokousou:  A typical shonen story.  A normal boy has a huge dream and starts working hard towards it, with a girl at his side he hopes to impress by eventually surpassing her.  Very History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi, except with dancing instead of martial arts this time.  It seems decently entertaining, despite the fact that I have really zero interest in ballroom dancing.  I guess working hard to achieve your dreams works no matter what the format.  Pass.

Made in Abyss:  A mysterious story with dazzling visuals but a kind of childish storyline.  A girl wants to brave new frontiers in order to find her long lost mother, but first must deal with strict orphanage rules.  Together with her trusty companions, where will our orphan girl venture next?  For a while, the visuals alone can carry this story.  But if it doesn't develop a soul as well, it will eventually grow boring, just like looking at any scenery or painting.  Pass.

Shoukoku no Altair:  It's pretty laughable to have the Ottoman empire be the innocent victim of foreign aggression.  The Ottomans unapologetically levied endless war on all of their borders with everyone.  They even had a special honorary term for people who would raid across the border and burn and pillage and kill their neighbors, 'gazi.'  They believed the whole world was theirs by right and kept attacking random innocent foreigners just trying to live their lives for centuries.  They took millions of innocent seafarers as slaves via pirate attacks, laid siege all the way to Vienna, killed millions of African slaves in the process of making them into eunuchs, and were basically monstrous from the beginning of their reign to the end, where they indulged in a genocide of Greeks and Armenians.  But let's just pretend this is a fantasy world and go with it.  In terms of just a nice story, I have no complaints.  There's nothing exceptionally good about a story of ancient violence and intrigue, but I guess there's nothing wrong with it either.  Pass.

Action Heroine Cheer Fruits:  The cheer fruits part comes from the heroine's name being Mikan (orange).  The action heroine part comes from them being local celebrities via putting on hero shows, a staple in Japan that's especially popular among kids.  Put it together and you get cute girls doing cool things, which is never a bad idea.  Kise and Mikan are surprisingly endearing characters, too.  They made a lot better first impression than the first episodes of most of these shows.  Pass.

Still to come in part 2 of summer first impressions:  Jikan no Shihaisha, Tenshi no 3p, Isekai wa Smartphone, Clione no Akari, Youkouso Jitsuryuku, and Gamers.  There are already two promising shows with lots more to come so things are looking up.

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