Saturday, October 12, 2019

[New][October 2019] TRIPLE FEATURE POST! Covering: ORESUKI, High School Prodigies in Another World, and Ascendance of a Bookworm.

Alright! Finally got two episodes of each of these down, time to review. I do not feel like throwing down the gauntlet and making the fully detailed post, and from my ... less than stellar performance on keeping up with posting, let's say working in bulk sounds like an efficient idea. I actually was planning on saying I only really cared to write a full post for one of the three...but having just watched the last set, I think we have two promising prospects at the moment. On with the show!

For all three shows,
Last Seen: Episode 2.

First up, we have:

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Also known as...seriously? *checks other titles* god damn. I guess this is a trend for this set, but whatever, titled in "romanji" it's known as
(Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen)
That is one hell of a mouthful. Anywho, now that I've got that out of the way, lets just establish that I'm going to list the full title for the shows only once, and then after that it's all shorthand nicknames okay? Okay. Okay!

Summary: Paraphrasing MyAnimeList:
"Motosu Urano, a book-loving college student who just got her Librarian certification and was supposed to enter the job of her dreams after graduation, was killed during a massive earthquake crushing her underneath a pile of her own massive collection of books.
Wishing for reincarnation in order to read even more, she got reincarnated to a world with a low literacy level and very few books, limited only to the nobility of the world. As she reincarnated as 5-year-old daughter of a lowly soldier, Main, no matter how much she wants to read, there is no way there are any books around. If there are no books then what do you do? You make them yourself of course... With her goal of becoming a librarian no matter what, and to live a life surrounded by books."

(Aside okay really though, why do both websites get the spelling of the name wrong? One is Myne, the other is Maine. Even if they wrote it before episode two showed us it in writing, surely a little more effort to spellcheck via studying couldn't hurt? Or at least patch it after the fact! I know Crunchyroll could have, they got it right in the subtitles! Aside end)

There's actually a bit of a fun personal fact to throw at you with this set of three: I've had them sitting on the shelf for a while, explicitly waiting for them all to have 2 episodes ready so I could get a better read on them for making posts here. Initially, the ones I was most looking forward to were Bookworm...and maybe hoping that Prodigies didn't bomb out instantly. Instead, now that I've actually watched them, Bookworm is going first's actually the one I'm expecting the least from.

My Opinion: Now, It is by no means bad. Just...not my personal style. The core plot point is a very interesting sell on its own rights, the Another World bandwagon is steaming ahead unmolested in japan it seems, so I'm not going to comment on that any further. Instead, I was most interested in the fact that a simple librarian bookworm, even if she had read and perfectly memorized tons of knowledge, would not have the means to actually implement and apply that knowledge in a new, lower tech world. Unless they explicitly framed them studying medieval techniques, but that's just dismissing the challenge instead of meeting and surpassing it for profit. Fortunately, they didn't take that's just...

The first episode wasn't really to my tastes. It goes out of its way to really deeply establish just how not-serious a tone they're going to have in the show, which is great! Honestly, it really is best to get your tone set right away, unless you're planning a half-way point shocker tone-flip. I doubt that for this show, but getting back on point. It's a bit too...blunt? for my tastes I guess I could say. The main character having to adapt to a new world and all the conditions that come with it is...more or less just hand-waved away in the first episode. Not in sum-total of course, just...cherry picked. Like they went through and said, "okay THIS problem we'll address, and THIS problem, but THESE problems we're just going to drop in the bin and hope no one notices." Most especially it rubs on me the wrong way that the main character doesn't seem to be doing anything at all to try and hide her out-of-character personality shift.

That's right, they didn't just show up in this world with their own body, nor did they spawn in with a personal fresh body, they reincarnated into someone else's body. Yet, they never seem to pay much attention at all to trying not to act out of character or giving away their new personality. I will take my usual probably-reading-too-deeply route, and take a guess based on the fact that the few times you get her alone to herself, and she broods on the problem, things are a bit...more interesting. I'm going to guess that the source material spends more time fleshing out the "there are two voices" thing that we start out hearing in the first episode. I'd like to talk more about my theory, but spoilers, they're a bummer right? So!
Instead I'll just comment that I'm much happier with the show and the way its progressing as of episode two. Like, immensely. I'm not sure of the blunt methods of the first episode weren't deliberate for comedic effect or not, but I much more so loved the pace and tone in the second episode, so this one doesn't get a recommendation, but it's also not getting any negatives from me, just personal nit-picks. You should absolutely check it out if the premise interests you, and you don't mind that it isn't going to be super detailed and serious.

On to the next Show:

High School Prodigies in Another World: Also known as: *takes a deep breath*
(Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!)

Summary: Paraphrasing Crunchyroll and MyAnimeList:
"Seven high school students are involved in an airplane crash. When they woke up, they found themselves in a parallel world where magic and beastmen exist.
But they do not panic at their current situation?None of them is a normal high school student, each of them are super human high school students that stand at the top of Politics, Economics, Science, Swordsmanship, Illusions, Espionage, and Medicine!
This is a story of a dream team that possess earth's greatest wisdom and technology, that without any self-restraint bring a revolution to a different world with over-technology!"
My Opinion: In case you missed it in the first shows talk, I was half expecting this show to just bomb itself out in the first episode from reading the summaries. But, I give everything a shot after all, for I have no Humanity left to lose!


Getting back on point. This show was...a roller-coaster for the first opening minutes of the first episode. Probably just for me.
They start out by really beating you over the head with a massive underline on the statement that our seven protagonists are amazing and so on. Not with monologue, no, instead each of them gets their own personal introduction, explanation, and a small on-screen demonstration of what they can do. It's basically the first thing they do in the episode, and it is one hell of a janky introduction. Really though, that mostly just made me bored. No, where we really get into the up and down is when our first member of the Seven wakes up, and proceeds to start unpacking the situation, only to be interrupted by some...ah...Nursing? from their resident member of the village looking after their wounds. On my honor of No Spoilers, I'm just going to sum up the emotional nuclear explosion that scene caused by saying that literally the only thing that saved this show from going right into the bin was:

A) the main characters level headed reaction highly appropriate to his position as a Politician, and
B) That it was interrupted from a Round Two.

Let me put another underline on that. Literally the only thing that saved it. Having said that...

I'm actually rather invested in the show so far, from episode 2. Clearly, they're not playing this one very serious either, on account of the fact that
*Spoiler White Out*
[One of the characters literally has an American Football sized NUCLEAR REACTOR in their luggage!]

ahh right no spoilers uh...well. Let's just say that for whatever reason, Crunchyroll's translators couldn't figure out that a more accurate translation for this shows title than "prodigies" would have been "Super-humans". Like, their knowledge and expertise literally borders on super powers. Also, as a matter of course, two of them are a samurai and a ninja. Because why the fuck not, it's japan!

More seriously though, there's a reason I edited the summary to say "Espionage" instead of ninja, because while she does occasionally make that stupid "Nin-nin" sound, and it makes me want to throttle it out of her every time she does it, they frame it that she is basically just a super powered journalist/spy. Which I appreciate. They haven't had much time set for fleshing out the "samurai" yet, but from the OP and ED animations I can guess that she's basically going to file down to the 'muscle' of their team, in terms of combat power. She quite literally has had nothing going for her character yet besides "is really good as swinging a katana". Yet, somehow, I haven't held it against the show.

I think that draws back to what I said just above here, about how its very important for you to set your tone for the audience in the first episode. Oh boy, and did they ever make sure to set the tone in this show as WAY crazy over-the-top ridiculous. Wanna know just how ridiculous but aren't sold on watching it? Go ahead and highlight the whited-out spoiler line. You literally cannot understate how absurd this show is going to be after that line.

Anyway, I'm still kind of worried about the fact that the uh...'Nursing' scene was laid out to us so fast, but if it's handled with the same levelheaded'ness as that each time...well I'll begrudgingly give this show an early

You should at least check it out, just be braced for impact on how insanely over-the-top it is.

Finally, last, but certainly not least:

ORESUKI Are you the only one who loves me?: Also known as:
(Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo)

Summary: Paraphrasing Quoting Crunchyroll, (good job for once crunchy!):
"Question: What would you do if a girl you liked asked you out on a date? Now imagine it’s not one, but two beautiful girls, the cool beauty, Cosmos, and the cute childhood friend, Himawari!! Of course, you would make plans with both. Except for the “feelings” they confess to you are… Asking me for "romantic advice," since they’re both in love with someone else. Hahaha… That’s it! I’m not gonna take it anymore! I’m giving up on this obtuse, harmless persona and going back to my true self. But I can’t give up hope here. If I give them my advice, at least one of them may fall in love with me!"

Okay so yeah, let's draw attention to the fact Crunchyroll did a great job writing the summary for once. Just saying.

My Opinion: This was the show I was expecting the least from, now, instead, I'm giving this show a whole-hearted


You should absolutely be watching this show, this season, every week.

By the end of the second episode, it was literally a case of

and I'm not even joking, that was the exact meme that popped into my head as the episode cut to the ED animation.
This show strikes a very delicate balance between rehashing the same gag, and ingenious undermining of expectations. Despite laying out the entire plan for you pretty much from the start, it's the little ways they sneak in unexpected tweaks that has you rolling in laughter.

Honestly, I don't frame this show as a comedy, for all that it had me in stitches laughing. Instead, I think 'Drama' would be a tidy fit. That genre title tends to imply a lot of baggage that I'm not fond of, but at the very least, you can take my word for it that while I suspect this show is going to have at least one, if not more, emotional sucker-punches in it, for the most part it's going to be a pretty level-headed and engaging affair.

You should absolutely start watching this show. I know it's probably not going to be for everyone, but don't be thrown out by it being the standard high school 'Rom-Com' setup, it is anything but standard, and you'll only need two episodes to be sure. I guarantee it.

Also, by the third time our main character is asked to "please, have a seat" you'll know in your heart of hearts, who the true antagonist of this show is going to be, and you'll be looking forward to each and every one of their appearances.

I would like to point out that you should eyeball those tags. Yes, look at that nonsense. There is literally not enough room for me to put in english copies of the names, or even my usual Recommended tag for when an show earns one, because there is a 200 character limit for tagging. God Damn.
[Aside end]

Friday, October 4, 2019

[New][End][July 2019] Isekai Cheat Majutsushi (Another World Cheat Magician)

You are literally the only one that was expecting to fail here.
We know what's up.

Last Seen: Completed

Summary: Paraphrased from

"High schooler Taichi Nishimura and his childhood friend Rin Azuma, are on their way to school one morning. A glowing light suddenly appears beneath Taichi, and despite him shoving Rin out of harms way, she jumps back in with him, and it transports them to a fantasy world full of magical creatures.

Upon their arrival, Taichi and Rin are attacked by a monster. They are saved by a group of adventurers, who advise the pair that traveling unarmed and inexperienced makes them vulnerable to the recently increasing monster attacks. Taichi and Rin are directed to the Guild, where they can determine their magical aptitude and register as adventurers. However, the test produces strange results: It gives a very strange reading for Rin, and Taichi straight up breaks the device! They suddenly find themselves changed from typical high school students to the ultimate cheat magicians.

The Guild calls in a specialist to help Taichi and Rin learn to grasp the full extent of their powers and familiarize themselves with their new world. However, while the duo seeks to uncover the reason behind their transportation and a possible way back to their original world, unexpected trouble lurks in the shadows."

First Impression: Favorable, and sustained my interest. Absolutely a better story than Another World Smartphone. (don't mind me, trying to start a new version of the "a better love story than Twilight meme").

My Opinion: I remember saying something while talking about Abandoned Sacred Beasts, to the effect of "I feel like I would have liked this more as a book than a show". Let me go ahead and refine that even further with this show: I am certain that I would like this show better as a book, especially more than as an Anime in particular.
I think I've pinned down what it was that was off-putting about Sacred Beasts...and that is, unfortunately, the medium. Sacred beasts is very much so a rather gritty and grim setting, meant to be more depressing than anything else really...but that is not something that the conventional art style of Animation lends itself to. Quite the opposite really.

It was much easier to notice and pinpoint this time around, because I had the opportunity to watch this series in bulk, filling in blank days where I didn't have new episodes coming out during the week.
Cheat Magician suffers from its art style choice to be animated. Despite what the initial impression of the story and setting presents, (hell it has >Isekai< in the title right up front, that's not really a good sign these days), it has a good deal of thought and value in it.

I think that it's fair to say that if one wanted an example of an Overpowered character presented well without using One Punch Man's method of comedy, this show is probably as close as I've ever seen...or at least can recall. At least on the point of the character being ridiculously overpowered right out of the gate, almost all anime protagonists eventually become brokenly powerful, but that still can mesh with a typical Heroes Journey style writing archetype. From a literary stand point, starting with your character having the power they would normally only acquire at the end of their journey, right from the start, presents a lot of interesting and unique challenges. Challenges that, if done correctly, can be overcome to make a unique and fascinating story. I believe Cheat Magician pulls this off...

It's really really jarring to have the characters and voice actors trying so hard to be serious...and the art style just completely undermining it. I remember this briefly from Slime Reincarnation as well, it may just be a Japanese industry standard of some kind. They shied away from showing any kind of disfigurement of one of the main characters, despite their horrible burns being rather a potent part of their character. Similarly, in Cheat Magician, Rin ends up with what the show clearly wants you to believe is a serious burn wound...but just looks like someone bruised her with something covered in glitter. It was the first time I've ever experienced such a jarring disconnect with a scene that wasn't already a train-wreck to begin with.

Having said that, I'm going to do something...unusual. I looked it up, and this was indeed an adaptation from a Novel series rather than a Manga or other source. So, I'm going to present this show with a

Conditional Recommendation,

To check out the show, and if you like what you see after the first few episodes, maybe consider changing over to the Novels instead.

I'll be the first to admit, I am acquiring an ever larger preference for Novels over Anime the older I get, and I can't really keep that under a rug anywhere while presenting my opinions.
This show however, was the first time where it was very clearly obvious that the normally light-hearted art style anime typically has was under-cutting what the scenes were trying to present.

To wit, I can think of a few examples where this was used to great effect: The Saga of Tanya the Evil is an amazing one. There, the cutesy style of anime is actually to the strength of the show, because it's such a contrast to the main characters true nature, and helps the audience see her the same way the world around her does at face value. It then frames it for our enjoyment of that stark contrast.

To a slightly less effective example, I would present: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: There, the idea is to mislead you into thinking it's just another normal light anime show...before the show then goes out of its way to make sure you're as completely confused and off balance as possible. I'm not sure that the art style necessarily lends itself to any great effect after the big twist is delivered, but its not like you could (reasonably) drastically change the art style mid-season, not without a budget that would make most companies collectively shit every one of their employees pants I'm sure.

I'm almost certain there was another example I wanted to make, but instead I'll just bring it back to Sacred Beasts. There, the studio seemed to be a lot more self-aware of the difficulty of the presentation they wanted to make. The backgrounds and character designs strike a stark contrast if compared to the art in Cheat Magician, they very clearly made the effort to make things as sombre and grounded as possible. That's probably why I could never pin down what was so off-putting. Now, it rather makes sense. The reason I found Schaal so grating and she seemed to stay overly-naive for so long can likely be attributed to how anime's art style probably made her appear far more frail and meek than the author probably wanted her to appear after a certain point in the story. It doesn't help that as a character that wouldn't be prone to monologuing to begin with, a live-playing medium like a TV show isn't going to let you just listen in to a characters thoughts like you can get away with in a book, to really understand how a character is interpreting events and maturing.

In particular, I want to go out of my way to point out how amazingly mature the main characters in Cheat Magician are, especially for being high schoolers. These days, I'm as liable as not to just throw out any anime that says the main characters are high schoolers if they're even remotely annoying in the first episode or two. I've just had far too much of that.
I think a lot of it may be attributed to how well they play off of each other, and that they really do present to the viewer as actual human beings, rather than cartoon characters playing out tropes. They even had the token "walked in on a girl in the bathroom" scene, and I literally sat back in my chair, un-clenched, and thought "...yeah. that is actually how it would play out in real life. Bonus points for this show."

For all my misgivings about the choice of medium, I really do recommend the story on display here. I think it's a good balanced presentation of an overpowered character, and it loses nothing from pulling from the "Isekai" trope that everything in Japan seems to be bandwagoning on. Give it a go, I say it's worth your time.