I believe in miracles. Ice Ice Baby.
A cursed heroine being rescued by a phantom thief and his prettyboy merry gang, and then some political movements in the background. It’s telling the story from the point of view of the damsel in distress, which makes it even easier to recognise its otomege root. Everything looks polished even though it’s not really that adventurous. All the character designs cater to the usual tropes, but they don’t really offend me. The characters are all named after famous figures, making it easier to infer their characteristics. It plays up the gentleman meets lady moment, and has a heartpounding scene as its first climax. The show is also set in a steampunk style Europe without much thoughts into the integration of the rotating gears itself. Otomege stories tend to have that shoujo fanaticism towards romance, and this doesn’t stray too far from the stereotype. It’s beautiful looking and has quality production value, but it’s my innate scepticism that’s pulling me back from having any proper enjoyment to this series.
Hype Level: 3/5
Houseki no Kuni
I always love it when a first episode surprises me. Animorphized gem people warding off constant extraterrasteral threats that will reduce them to the most primitive states. While the first episode didn’t go into exposition dumps regarding to the world building as a whole, we are left with enough clues and false reassurances to keep us wondering. It is more focused on the characters and their sense of purpose instead, and capped off with a strong character mini-arc involving the weakest gem on the hardness scale. Helmed by studio Orange, it’s also one that boasts great full CGi series. The original character design is full of glitter and androgynous slender legs, and they all translate well to this new format. I could imagine being able to chip into all the characters as the series progresses on, pun unintended. The premise also enables quite a number of on-screen violence without going too much into the gore aspect. I was pleasantly surprised, and in some way it reminds me of Kemono Friends, but with gems.
Hype Level: 4/5
Despite having no prior experience with the original iM@S, episode 0 made me fell in love with the Jupiter trio within one single episode. Their goal and passion was clearly demonstrated within the short time frame, setting up the origin of the new Production company with their own story. Episode 1 went back to the standard origin story with the new trio, and how they pass their first assignment together by working as a proper unit. It’s not as fantastic as episode 0 but it did give us a proper look at the new protagonists. Unlike other male idol shows, there’s little to no unnecessary pretentious fanservice. Having a male Producer, it also removes the whole potential otome aspects of many other shows. Most importantly, the gags are amusing, and the CEO of the company is one funny charismatic dude. This series doesn’t alienate either male/female audiences by playing it straight and focuses on the core values of idols. It is steadfast, but after the drop after ep 0 I do hope that the entire series climb back up to the height that was demonstrated in episode 0.
Hype Level: 4/5
Essentially the only sports show of the season, and it’s about female sidecar racing. That setup allows for both the tag-team aspect and the thrill of high speed to play into the story and the presentation. Throw in a large group of nice looking ladies and in theory it should be a hit. The first episode somewhat fell flat on that regard. There was drama between the two protagonists but that took somewhat of a backseat during the pivotal moments. The storyboard for the racing is also lackluster in that we never get to see the full picture of the race itself. There are plenty of ass shots given the nature of the sport, and seeing girls in tight jumpsuits is always welcomed, but other than that the story itself is lacking. I understand that this is more of an introductory episode, but execution was lukewarm at best.
Hype Level: 3/5
The overall concept is simple: a CGDCT show set in a fetish cafe where it caters to the usual character tropes (tsundere, doS, imouto…etc). (Un)fortunately enough, I’m a sick human being who gobbles those up easily and with pleasure. It’s highly polished looking, and despite the tropey focus on the character design so far they all slot in seamlessly to the setup of this workplace comedy. All the characters are fun to watch thus far, especially the angry cook in the kitchen who kept throwing in well timed harsh lines to juxtapose this crazy wish-fulfilling setup. It can be guilty pleasure, but at the same time it’s so well done, the only concern is the longevity of the jokes. Given that we’ll be seeing more casts joining later on as hinted by the OP, it’s unlikely that it will happen early. It’s cute, it’s adorable, and it’s sexy. For a relaxing show that makes you smile like an idiot, it has done its job.
Hype Level: 4/5
Mahoutsukai no Yome
A gorgeous world that’s full of magic, and a cursed/gifted girl is picked up by the caring evil magus to become his disciple and wife. The dynamic is fun to watch, and it’s a start of an interesting relationship between the two. It goes back to the usual orthodox fantasy magical setting, ones with fairies and various other creatures. It’s comforting, and yet there’s this consistent niggling feeling of something really off at play. Visually it looks stunning, and they suck you in nicely. The initial story may not be the most engaging, but it sets up main couple. At this point I’m more interested in the magus’ naive and laid back approach than the heroine herself. It definitely has a lot of potential going forward, both in the sense of the world, and in their relationship.
Hype Level: 4/5
Imouto sae ireba ii
This is adapted from a light novel series about a siscon Light Novel writer who has no sister, and a colleague that loves him unconditionally. It’s another one of those pseudo harem, but the first episode didn’t make reference to that, given that the pairing is practically set in stone. At the same time it’s not exactly a typical romance story by the look of things. This show is both mocking the whole imouto trope and those people who are deep into their siscon tendencies. The initial 100 seconds is one of the craziest trips you’ll see this season, and that obvious satire gets its humour style across. Ultimately this shapes up to be yet another generic series, even if the final few minutes presented a nice tale of inadequacy within the reciprocal feelings in a relationship.
Hype Level: 2/5
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond
The abnormalities, the chaos, the monsters, the music, and ALL THOSE BLOOD EVERYWHERE. Daily Lives at Hellsalem’s Lot is back and it’s as funky as ever. The first episode did a tremendous job reintroducing the huge colourful cast to the audience without being bogged down on the details. Sometimes just seeing their special powers is enough of a reminder of their arcs and subsequently their characters. The episode wrapped up the crisis nicely while giving a glimpse at a bigger conflict in the background. It’s as stylish as ever, and the script itself even made a nod to that. The series is at its best when it just does whatever it wants to do, with the cast that’s fun enough to support that.
Verdict: Double X
- 5/5: (N/A)
- 4/5: Houseki no Kuni, iM@S SideM, Blend S, Mahoutsukai no Yome
- 3/5: Code:Realize, Two Car
- 2/5: Imouto sae ireba ii
Seriously though, go check out the first 100 seconds from Imoutosae at somewhere safe. It’s one of the most trippy clip I’ve seen in this season so far, and I’ve watched Osomatsu-san.