Japesland – 7/10
I didn’t seem to fall in love with Shirobako quite as deeply as the majority of the Internet, but what I did truly appreciate about it was its realistic take on the anime industry (realistic is relative, of course). While Girlish Number takes its own creative license, just as Shirobako did, it does a better job of representing the good and bad of the Japanese voice acting scene than any other anime that have attempted the same (at least in my experience).
Girlish Number still utilizes the character tropes that make it distinctively anime as anime can be, making it enjoyable as its own individual piece (albeit with one of the most infuriating main characters, character growth aside). However, viewing it as it is meant to be viewed, as an inside view of an industry that many in the West don’t understand.
Annalyn – 5/10
Nanbaka centers on inmates who have escaped from jail so often, there’s nothing left but to lock them up at Nanba, the most secure of prisons. This doesn’t stop Jyugo, a lifelong prisoner, or his cellmates from trying to escape anyway, just for fun. They bond over it (because prison is about making friends and finding yourself). And why wouldn’t they choose escaping as their favorite pastime? After all, they won’t get locked up in solitary for trying to escape, fighting a guard… or, really, anything less than launching a monstrous attack on a fellow inmate with the intent to kill. And see the screenshot above? That’s a shot of inmates and guards watching a big prison tournament, waiting their turns to participate. They even get to fight each other in that tournament. Yeah, you really have to suspend disbelief for this one.
This is an outrageous comedy, but there are intriguing, rather serious, and even occasionally dark elements as well. It swings between extremes, trying to keep it lighthearted most of the time, then suddenly plunging into a character’s painful past. At one point, the anime abandons an important battle for an entire episode to focus on something more lighthearted. It’s difficult to reorient to the battle when they finally return to it. That alone loses the show points for pacing. The story will continue with another season, and if I keep watching, I hope to see the intriguing parts properly expanded on—though honestly, I’m not sure I have the bandwidth to continue with these wacky characters, sparkly animation, and yo-yo moods.
R86 – 7/10
This industry never fails to surprise me by coming up with a sport that I’ve never known to be the subject of an anime series. All Out!! introduces us to a struggling high school boys’ rugby team aiming to develop at least acceptable playing skills. As is often the case with sports anime, the team has no lack of colorful personalities: from the intimidating captain Sekizan, to the boisterous veteran Ebumi; from the tall but shy Iwashimizu, to the small but determined Gion. And when their new coach Komori shows up, seemingly from nowhere, to mold them into players who can actually achieve their goals, one begins to feel along with the boys that they might actually have a chance now.
Casual fans of American football such as myself can expect to be confused. Rugby certainly has some resemblance to American football, at least superficially: the ball is egg-shaped, the players try to tackle their opponents before they can get the ball over the goal line (this is known as a “try” rather than a touchdown), and runners need to hang onto the ball zealously so as not to lose possession. However, the resemblance ends there. There are no passing plays as such, nor is there a player that corresponds to the quarterback. Any runner may pass the ball to a teammate, but these passes are all what we’d call “laterals” or “pitches.” It is also legal to kick the ball right in the middle of a running play, in order to score the equivalent of a field goal. And let’s not forget that the players wear no body armor whatsoever apart from a helmet.
While I must admit I’m mostly still trying to figure out how the game works, even while enjoying the comedy and the strong personalities of the players, I keep looking forward to this show each week. And for what it’s worth, the episode always seems like it’s over too soon. So in any case, I can recommend this show to anyone who enjoys sports anime involving boys, or rugby in general. Whether the series continues to be this interesting remains to be seen of course, but I certainly hope it does.
Hibike! Euphonium 2
Sound! Euphonium 2
stardf29 – 9/10
The first season of Sound! Euphonium is one of the very few shows I would rate as a 10/10, and is one of my favorite shows of all time. The main reason I cannot give the sequel the same perfect score is because while the first season was a tightly-plotted single-cour story with an incredibly strong sense of progression and development, the second season, with its split focus on multiple side characters, feels more like a collection of side stories. (I believe this is more the fault of the novels that the anime is adapted from.) However, they sure are an incredible collection of side stories. The characters are all very complex and their interactions make full use of that complexity, resulting in relationships that feel just a bit more realistic and affecting. They also play into this season’s stronger focus on themes of personal intimacy and barriers to such. The production values, including both visuals and music, are still absolutely amazing, too. Overall, this season has only cemented Sound! Euphonium‘s place as one of my favorite anime of all time, and if you loved the first season (and aren’t too invested in the Kumiko/Reina pseudo-ship, because this season makes it clear who Reina’s heart still belongs to), then the second season is absolutely a must-watch.
Emdaisy1 – 7/10
Seiseki! Fight! Had to say it, haha. That’s quickly become the show’s anthem in a sense. Anyways, I enjoyed DAYS and eagerly look forward to the next season. While it’s no Haikyuu!! it is definitely helping with my Haikyuu!! withdrawal from that 10-episode season 3. The re-use of some of the same music over and over bugged me, along with some 3D CGI style scenes that just looked awkward and out of place compared to the rest of the art in the show. A few completely unnecessary sexual joke-type moments added nothing to the show (except some momentary awkwardness on my part). Additionally, some plot points were too obviously done just to push the story forward, so those elements felt a bit forced. However, I still looked forward to this show each week. Why? For one, it felt like a good balance of serious and humorous moments. The main reason, though, is that I adored watching the characters develop and change. I’m excited to see how they progress in season 2!
3-gatsu no Lion
March Comes in Like a Lion
Kaze – 7/10
Sangatsu has a seemingly boring premise, and indeed, the show lacks any sort of action or tension in the traditional sense. While Rei the protagonist is a professional shogi player, the show focuses very little on the actual matches. Instead, it focuses almost entirely on Rei, his inner struggles, and his awkward but honest attempts at interacting with those around him. In this way, the tension of the show is derived from his relatively weak personality and how he must overcome himself to respond to the love of those around him. But Rei is not the only character who struggles, and the show does an excellent job of painting many other characters as very real people who are just trying to do their best while dealing with the hand life has dealt them. Even so, like all people do, we see them break down at times when it becomes too much to bear, only to pick themselves back up and continue moving forward. The fickle nature of life is depicted well with SHAFT’s trademark use of scene cuts, and as you learn more about the subtle aspects of the characters’ lives, you can’t help but think of how it relates to your own. As an unfinished series, I can only see my opinion of the show rising as it continues.
Shakunetsu no Takyuu Musume
Scorching Ping Pong Girls
stardf29 – 7/10
In a season full of shows about sports both real and fictional, Ping Pong Girls is the sports anime fandom forgot about. It really should not be, though, because it is plenty good as a sports anime. It does have some notable flaws: its attempts at the usual cute girls anime humor is lacking, and the overall plot is somewhat thin as the show itself never gets to any major tournaments, with its major competition simply being a practice match. However, as a character story about girls discovering what ping pong means to them, this show works quite well, with lots of fun characters and plenty of moments of character growth. The sports action itself is also quite fun, as the show’s otherwise passable production values get bumped up several levels to present flashy matches with awesome electronic background music. If you like sports anime or cute girls, and aren’t completely repulsed by the idea of combining the two, I definitely recommend trying this show out.
Nobunaga no Shinobi
Ninja Girl and Samurai Master
Japesland – 7/10
I’ve often felt that several minute shorts are relatively worthless, only really worth watching because, well, they’re so short (duh, Japes). Why not?
However, after watching Nobunaga no Shinobi, I actually had to take that sentiment back. Nobunaga no Shinobi is not a masterpiece by any means, but it absolutely makes the most of its short-form format. Important Japanese historical events are told in hilarious fashion, historical figures caricatured in such a way as to represent some historical accuracy while being hilarious (and tropey!), and all of this is done to great effect.
If you like Japanese comedy, and you have any interest in Japanese history, you can’t go wrong here.
Emdaisy1 – 9/10
I didn’t think I’d enjoy season 2 of Ajin more than season 1. Yet, I totally did. Season 1 now feels like a steady base or introduction for the events – the real story – taking place in season 2. My complaints about season 1 included the art style, some rather gruesome parts, and certain plot points that felt really stretched. Watching season 2, either because of actual improvement or me growing used to it, the style grew on me. The show still has gruesome elements but I feel it would genuinely detract from the series to remove those elements. Additionally the plot was for the most part more believable this time. This show has been compared on MyAnimeList to Tokyo Ghoul, one of my favorite anime. I enjoyed them both for the same reasons. While taking a dark approach, these shows both have a very interesting and dynamic cast of main characters (no clear cut “all good” or “all bad” characters) and both tackle interesting topics about “what makes us human?”, “what is the value of human life?”, and “does the end justify the means or not?” As I said in my review of season 1, I’d recommend this to people who enjoy psychological thrillers and don’t mind when the show is rather dark.
Look forward to our upcoming reviews tomorrow!