As we approach toward the second week of the season, we tend to see the favourites pop out during the 3rd quarter of the first ep premieres. Statistically speaking I tend to pull numbers out of my ass when typing those introductions with an increase in the odds in part 3 and 4, so please bear with me here.
Made in Abyss
Delightful. Just simply delightful. Within a short time frame it successfully sets up the dungeon, the mystery, the character dynamics, all while keeping a darker undertone underneath the fluffy appearance. It maintained a good adventurous spirit, and that final shot leading into the endless abyss evoked both a great opportunity, and basic primal fear for the unknown. It didn’t waste time to tell the audience it’s not just going to be all simple picnic in the park as there’s already mortal danger within the very first episode. The characters are all adorable, and the creature design looks fantastic so far. The sound is also great in this episode. Now the question moving onward is, how much “heeling” will there be. I’m fully prepared, it cannot surprise me anymore.
Hype Level: 4/5
This is just simply psychedelic without being impressive to the sensory. The first episode is disorientating without having interesting scenarios. It’s either “look at all these quirky things thrown at you” or incredibly boring segments. As of result it just came across as being random for random’s sake and lazy. The director tried to spice things up by throwing in some extra gimmicks in the storyboard including frequent spinning camera, and 16 frames from different angles of the same entity. Though it’s safe to say that none of them managed to make the episode more interesting. It’s just quite disturbing how understated this everything is, especially how the protagonist sleeps in outdoor clothes. Without a consistent theme to the fascination other than “lol so random”, it just failed to garner my interest. The OP sequence is easily the best part of the episode.
Hype Level: 2/5
Vatican Kiseki Chousakan
Supernatural incidence investigation with heavy religious overtone, suffice to say that I was genuinely surprised by this show. The first episode didn’t really give us a clear idea as to what type of message it is trying to convey in those types of miracle vs science cases, as the first case really isn’t solved immediately here. After learning that it was adapted from written format it becomes clear that we shall have 3 to 4 cases to sample with this season. While I had some minor issues with the adaptation of the character design in that they are too angular and forcing the bishonen aspect a tad too much, I do appreciate the overall mystical atmosphere that gradually gets more and more chaotic as we proceed. Depending on the final message at the end of this arc and the methods to get there, this could be a highly interesting series or a quick drop. As for now, I’m actually quite intrigued.
Hype Level:4 /5
Don’t let the fact that the manga was in Jump+ fool you. This is a Chinese IP with the usual downfall in its writing. Braindead scenarios, outdated humour, disruptive tempo, and just overly chuuni. You can see the anime studio trying its hardest to improve on the story despite their own limitation, but that just makes the flaws in the story even more glaringly obvious. Barring some fancy camera works, the battle is done in an extremely boring turn-based basis. The setup took influence from the like of d-Gray man and Ao no Exorcist, without building a proper characterisation to them. All its attempt at trying to build emotional stake just fall flat with lack of completion and cuts away too early, and don’t make me rant about the horrible attempt at comedy. It tried to have a big reveal at the end of the episode, but by then my care cup is already empty.
Hype Level: 1/5
Shoukoku no Altair
When something plays too straightforward and shonen-y style, with retarded conspiracy and low intelligence enemy and allies just to make the protagonist seen smart, it just makes me roll my eyes too often. While the middle eastern style backdrop is definitely something not commonly seen in anime, so far it is too early to see what impact it will have on the story than just flavours. For a manga that started 10 years ago there’s no doubt some dated scenarios, yet at the same time for it to receive adaptation 10 years later there’s no doubt there is some really remarkable things about it as well. The first episode isn’t flash by any means, but who knows what it’s truly capable of once it reveal its cards. As expected of MAPPA, it’s still fairly high quality in terms of polish.
Hype Level: 3/5
I was having a hard time decipher if it will go into shonen-ai territory or not. At its core it’s about a highschooler trying to run away from the past when he hanged out with gangsters, with several helpful male friends on the way. It’s a youthful drama set at the age of adolescence, that is yet another setup that could easily work as live action. After the initial confusion with the character age through all those back and forth time-jumps, the plain character design serves to emphasis that it’s a story about your normal people. On technical level it’s nothing too outstanding, yet still serviceable for this type of story. I do like the idea of idolising the heroes in life, but can’t really see much they could do with that sentimentality other than going deeper into relationships. It’s fairly simple and down to earth.
Hype Level: 3/5
Ballroom e Youkoso
Long necks aside, this series has a scruffy art style focusing on the prominent bold lines in its character design. With ballroom dancing as its main focus, this show wastes no time highlighting the emphasis on the beauty in posture and confidence. Unfortunately it failed to grasp my interest during the demonstration scenes, leaving me with only the perseverance of the protagonist as the only foothold for my attention. For that aspect it plays fairly standard in terms of scenario and progression, in that the story beat doesn’t stray from the norm of “this guy can probably do it” climax at the end of the episode. It could get amazing later on, as the setup and the execution has shown a lot of focus and a clear idea as to what it wants to achieve. It just hasn’t really grab me yet after the first episode. I just happen to landed right in the limbo between “knowing enough that the initial presentation doesn’t wow me”, and “not expert enough to be excited of what’s to come”, unfortunately.
Hype Level: 3/5
Centaur no Nayami
Underneath the casual monster girl casual slice of life shenanigans is a dystopian world that showed glimpse of 1984. On the surface it’s just very light female student dominated affair, with school performance, and with school marathon. The typical trio dynamic is there. Overall it just seems really harmless with the scenarios not pushing for high interest barring some really concerning moments here and there. I don’t expect the rest of the episodes to stray away from the established formula here in the first episode really. Everything about it felt like a rather low budget affair with limited passion to it. I did have a huge scare when I saw it’s the Chinese studio heading the production, before the actual staff listing credits the Japanese assistant studio doing the heavy lifting.
Hype Level: 3.5/5
Arguably the most stylish show this season. Steampunk, spyworks, and cute girls. In some way it’s also a pandering show, but in a good way because this setup allows for both interesting scenarios and flashy actions to happen. The first episode is an isolated case which established the rather sombre tone nicely. We have yet to know all the cast, and their motivations, but the atmosphere in this one is superb and gripping. It’s highly polished and confident in the presentation, and the story hasn’t pushed the envelop too much yet despite showing off its ruthless trait. The English language credit listing during the OP did threw me off quite a bit. While I’m slightly discerned at the writer’s track record, before this gets derailed it is one of the best offering this season so far.
Hype Level: 5/5
- 1/5: Chronos Ruler
- 2/5: 18if
- 3/5: Shoukoku no Altair, Hitorijime My Hero, Centaur no Nayami
- 4/5: Made in Abyss, Vantican Kiseki Chousakan
- 5/5: Princess Principal
A surprisingly more balanced spread if not for the fact that I don’t want to put HMH in the same ranking as 18if. At the same time I feel like only MIA has the most quality assurance despite not being the most flashy of the shows so far. This is an odd batch, to say the least, once again.