Competitive Candyland Tournament and Winter Season Rundown

December 31st, 2018

At least idol shows aren't a plurality… yet.

You'll notice that I've slimmed things down a little bit to maintain my sanity, and may have also skimped on the double checking of info. It also helps that this is another sequel-heavy season, things I've given up on noting nine months ago when a full 26 shows were sequels/reboots. We'll see how Spring does in three months and if it can surpass that. This season only has a mere half dozen or so; Mob Psycho, 3D Girlfriend, Kakegurui, BanG Dream, Date a Live, Piano Forest, B Project, and Morose Mononokean, plus about as many of those particularly uncanny valley CGI things that Japan seems to have settled on. How people stomach that without being terrified continues to baffle me. Even Reboot wasn't that robotic, ironically enough.

Friday

Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh
http://boogiepop-anime.com/
Studio: MADHOUSE
Genre: Action
Premieres January 4th (one hour)

Show Premise: 
People are disappearing, and it's rumored that a ghostly reaper called Boogiepop is behind it.

Random Thoughts:
If you harken back to the turn of the century, you might remember a series called Boogiepop Phantom, which was a completely original spinoff of these light novels (well, mainly just the first one) taking place 5 years later. Like Kino's Journey's not long ago, this is the "Doing original things is BAD. This time we'll make an adaptation that rigidly adheres to the source in all ways, like GOD INTENDED," vein of things. I did watch the old Boogiepop, but so long ago that my only real memory was thinking "This is weird" and probably going back to playing Baldur's Gate II. The promos aren't too promising though. They're about 80% shots of scenery or people milling about on streets, often without faces drawn on them. Lest you think "yeah, sure, it's supposed to be a sort of mystery thingy," unlike the first series, each LN is about discovering some cabal of secret monsters/aliens/government agents/clones (or more frequently a mix of those four things) in their midst and then fighting them. There is some punching up (also with and without faces) in the promos, but not much, leaving vague intimations of nostalgia and divine right of not having any of that filthy attempts to adapt rather than copy/paste being the main thrusts of the marketing. Staff is high profile though (key people from One Punch Man, Space Dandy), and I would have to assume it'll be mountains better than the last thing they made together, ACCA. Yeah, remember that show? Of course not.

Preseason Swing Rating: 
 
Special power is silly hats.

Domestic Girlfriend
http://domekano-anime.com/
Studio: Diomedea
Genre: Drama
Premieres January 11th

Show Premise: 
Natsuo has a crush on his teacher, but then has a one-night stand with a random girl. Surprise, both are his new stepsisters.

Random Thoughts:
As frequently as romance in Japanese media would be improved if characters would just bang, that's a stand-in for "and just get the hell on with it." Mincing and wallowing about their feelings and spending a billion chapters just to work up the courage to say "I like you, oh, but what will the PTA think!?" is only marginally better, and any gain is oft erased by getting extra melodramatic and soap opery, as things like Scum's Wish are wont to do. The source here isn't quite as hammy or histrionic as that, but it's still a bunch of pills mostly waffling about how important and dramatic these relationships that they're not having are. The B-Cup Sex Girl show did it right. A relationship can certainly be the centerpiece of the show, but not if all characters involved are tedious bores, and boy, do the promos sure have nothing but morose teenagers gormlessly staring at nothing, no doubt to be followed in the actual show by ample scene chewery. That also seems to be the specialty of all keys staff; shows about dullards nearly indistinguishable from wax statues. Also, idols.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

The leaky pipe of angsty drama never stops.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka
http://magical-five.jp/
Studio: LIDENFILMS
Genre: Action
Premieres January 11th

Show Premise: 
A magical dimension begins bleeding into Earth. A war breaks out, but five magical girls from differen countries bring it to an end and protect the planet. Three years later, conflict is returning as every country is trying to take advantage of the power of magic.

Random Thoughts:
The promos have their head in the right place, even if the animation is perhaps a little lacking. Yes, guys, there is a such thing as too many speedlines. The international magical girl battle royale thing isn't the most creative selling point, especially with adults taking advantage of magical teenagers, but again, the promos do seem to understand that the fun part's the fighting, giant monsters, etc, not the asinine background information. A lot of ado seems to be made that the main character has PTSD, but none of that is on display as she sadistically grins while slicing people up. The speedline thing though is concerning since Lidenfilms is fairly low end on the production scale and its action shows are things like Killing Bites or that show about an idiot Chinese wizard girl hanging out with bishies in a cafe that was such a flop that its BDs were canceled. The rest of the staff's best action thing all put together is Strike the Blood, also less promising than the promos.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

How special could they be without cardboard boxes?

Saturday

Kaguya Wants to Be Confessed To – The Geniuses' War of Love and Brains
https://kaguya.love/
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Genre: Comedy
Premieres January 5th

Show Premise: 
Kaguya and Miyuki are the elite of the elite, and both have a crush on each other, but are too proud to admit it first.

Random Thoughts:
Yes, the full title is necessary. To get a glimpse at the comedy here, let's summarize one of the promos. Kaguya says "Oh, those are two tickets for a possibly romantic thing. If you are offering them to me, that must mean that you like me. If you like me, that means I win." The joke here is not that everyone left halfway through that tortured monologue or even "Ma'am, this is an Arby's." It's that she has so disarmed him that he's drenched in sweat and having a pointy-chinned panic attack, so she moves in for the kill with "U mad!?" Presumably the entire coffee shop then applauded. It's another thing that thinks brevity is the opposite of wit. The longer it can overexplain the simplest thing, the funnier the joke is. No quick back and forth here. Witty repartee? Nah. Overwrought exposition. Because you can't find that, or awkward teenagers refusing to admit they like each other, in any Japanese media anywhere. Most of the 'competitions' end with someone wandering in, delivering a nonsequitur, and both going "WOE, I AM UNDONE." It's funny because nothing ever develops or goes anywhere in any way. Apparently. On the upside, apparently this director has worked on quite a lot of straight up porn. Moving up in the world!

Preseason Swing Rating:
 
Not in lesbians with this.

W'z
http://wz-anime.net/
Studio: GoHands
Genre: Action
Premieres January 5th

Show Premise: 
Teenagers with music based super powers fight.

Random Thoughts:
This is another GoHands original show in the same vein as K and Handshakers, meaning very pretty teenage boys staring against excessively detailed cityscapes, some overanimated action and oozing with eye-melting 'style'/glow, and probably also utterly incomprehensible. Other than the promos which are about equal parts of the aforementioned things, virtually nothing about the show has been announced, even a staff list. There's just a rather expansive list of musicians who will be contributing towards it. I like fighting. I like good music. Even if it is all pretty boys (and one of the few things they have said is that it's explicitly targeted towards women, so yeah, PRETTY BOYS). I don't imagine it'll buck the usual GoHands trend though.

Preseason Swing Rating: 
 
I can't stop this feelin'

Colorful Pastrale – From Bermuda Triangle
https://colorful-pastrale.com/
Studio: Seven Arcs
Genre: Idiocy
Premieres January 12th

Show Premise: 
Mermaids are idols.

Random Thoughts:
Technically, this is a spinoff of Cardfight!! Vanguard… the actual TCG which the kid's anime thing is based on, not the anime, although I suppose the lines are blurred. Apparently, the mermaids in that franchise are idols. Or maybe the idols are mermaids? Mainly, apparently there was some kind of expansion set featuring idol mermaids, and this is where the marketing budget went. Anyway, no cards or fighting or whatever it is they do in Cardfight are to be had here. It's just an idol show, except with fish tails instead of legs, and they don't need to both animating them walking. The don't even really swim in the promos, just drift around upright in regular people cities with a vague ocean theme. They wear regular people clothing. Some of them are wearing pants. They just… don't have legs. That's it. That's the whole difference. They're not even wet while under the ocean for god's sake.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

Smells like catfish.

Endro~!
http://endro.jp/
Studio: Gokumi
Genre: Comedy
Premieres January 12th

Show Premise: 
Girls go to school to learn to be adventurers.

Random Thoughts:
Bold new territory here, Gokumi. This is an original thing, and the promos are only cute girls making cutesy faces or flapping their arms while flustered with mathematical symbols in place of eyes. No, not the fun ones like ↯ or ℵ. Staff's well versed in the subgenre of "girls exist and hang out." It'd be a pleasant surprise if this took a weird or subversive trend akin to something like Macademy, but since the jokes seem to be more along the lines of "she's an elf, but she sucks with bows," don't hold your breath.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

Kill everything, let someone else sort it out.

Monday

Dororo
https://dororo-anime.com/
Studio: MAPPA
Genre: Adventure
Premieres January 7th

Show Premise: 
Hyakkimaru had all his organs and limbs stolen as a baby by demons, but was saved and raised using prosthetic enhancements. On his quest to recover all his body parts, he befriends the child thief, Dororo.

Random Thoughts:
The provenance of this one is a little interesting. It was originally a kind-of goofy manga by Atom Boy's Tezuka Osamu, but was abruptly canceled after a short run with an infamously weird "50 years later, the quest was complete and they reunited. Also, Dororo's actually a girl." Yeah, spoiler. From the 1960s. It's had multiple iterations since then, mostly taking a more serious tack to infant dismemberment and cyborgization, including even a PS2 hack'n'slasher that got localized under the title Blood Will Tell, but that could also just be removing the ball kicking jokes and making its child murders not marshmallow people with 'X's for eyes. I don't anticipate too many people mourning an adaptation away from that artistic style. The action promo looks sharp. The story one, less so. Mappa usually goes a solid job on production, and the staff is well versed in action shows (albeit many quite bad). It seems like it'll be a solid enough adventure thingy, assuming it sticks to the action and demon killing.

Preseason Swing Rating: 
   
Fear the gall bladder demon.

The Price of a Smile
http://egaonodaika.com/
Studio: Tatsunoko Production
Genre: Who Knows
Premieres January 7th

Show Premise: 
Yuki is a princess. Stella is a soldier. They both think it's important to smile.

Random Thoughts:
Another completely original affair that seems particularly schizophrenic. All the character and story descriptions are saccharine crap about friendship. Meanwhile, the promos are mostly giant robots fighting. I guess it's supposed to be a Macross-like affair. It has all the same key staff as the very similarly themed Love Song For a Pilot from 2014, except instead of being about superficial romance, being superficial friendship. It's hard to even tell where the mechs fighting comes in though as they're not even so much as mentioned virtually anywhere. The main character army unit is the Buerger Squad though, so that's something. Sort of?

Preseason Swing Rating: 

Inexplicable object.

Pastel Memories
http://www.pastel-memories.com/
Studio: Project No.9
Genre: Boobs
Premieres January 7th

Show Premise: 
Top heavy girls run a café and fight monsters.

Random Thoughts:
Coming off of Spyce, a show that understood to eschew the banal aspect of "girls use super powers to protect the city," the promos for this smartphone thingy that are almost entirely focused on girls staring blankly into space in waitress outfits isn't overly exciting. Sometimes, they do things to make their massive jugs jiggle, like move their head slightly, or blink. There's also a shot of the antagonist being launched into the sky ala Team Rocket. The staff's collective resume is filled with T&A fanservice stuff like Ladies vs Butlers, although this director's never been in actual charge of anything before. Project No 9 is no stranger to the trashy fanservice drek, and there's little reason show to think this'll be anything but that. Oh, and did I mention it exists to advertise a cellphone gacha game where you're managing a stable of VR otaku idol girls? Because there's that too.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

Boob. Boob. Boob. Boob.

Tuesday

Circlet Princess
http://cirpri-anime.jp/
Studio: Silver Link
Genre: Drama
Premieres January 8th

Show Premise: 
Girls compete in a VR fighter.

Random Thoughts:
People with super powers fighting is old and tired, especially for cellphone RPG adaptations. Instead, let's limit it to only in a specific place, planned, with consent on all sides, and nothing at stake but pride. Yeah, now it's cool! This is far from the first show with this brilliant thought process, nor will it be the last. It's not IMPOSSIBLE to make a good story and/or characters out of that, but why intentionally cripple yourself so much? Especially when you have an uphill battle to begin with? Judging by the promos, despite at least one somersault into the camera for a screen covered 90% in spandexed crotch, this isn't going all-out on either the action or the fanservice. It's being written by the same person as the similarly themed sports girls-fighting-but-not-really-fighting Aokana, and the director's done a few low end action shows (eg Dragon Crisis, Machiavellism). Silver Link doesn't seem to have put much effort into the promos though, so I have a really hard time seeing it rise up to the high standards set by things like Frozen or Sekirei that don't try to raise the stakes by lowering the stakes.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

Real women look more sexy when they roll.

An Angel Flew Down to Me!
http://watatentv.com/
Studio: Dogakobo
Genre: Being Creepy
Premieres January 8th

Show Premise: 
18 year old Miyako falls in love with her 10 year old sister's classmate.

Random Thoughts:
It's cute and silly like that "Happy Sugar Life" show last season, not creepy like that "Maid is Annoying" sh… Wait, I think I got my anime culture cards mixed up here. Right, this is the creepy one because the adult predatorily keeps trying to come up with excuses to touch, fondle, and grope the little girl while panting and drooling. Wait, huh. Four panel thing. No jokes, but someone makes a stupid face in the fourth panel each time. Hmmmmm… It's Dogakobo and a bunch of the staff from the braindead New Game show, so I guess it's probably supposed to be cute. Certainly ain't trying to be funny though.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

It's cultural!

Wednesday

The Rising of the Shield Hero
http://shieldhero-anime.jp/
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Genre: Adventure
Premieres January 9th (one hour)

Show Premise: 
Naofumi is summoned to a fantasy world to be the legendary Hero of the Shield, but a woman accuses him of sexually assaulting her and he's cast out of the heroic party and has to start from nothing.

Random Thoughts:
If you like harem light novel fantasy things, but are bugged by how they don't objectify and degrade women enough, then great news, because here's your paranoid misogynist power fantasy taken up to 11. The main haremette is a slave he buys who proves her worth to him by standing by her owner when he's mocked. He takes his revenge by using his magical god-RPG powers to rename the woman who wronged him to "Slut." And did I mention that he has a god-shield that can kill anything, but it's powered only by his own personal anguish? And that the popular kids who ditched him are eventually driven mad from jealousy of his greatness and desire for his loyal haremettes? It's like an onion of incel fanfiction, each layer making you wonder more and more if it's supposed to be a parody.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

Also, all females are chattel.

My Housemate is on my Lap, Sometimes, on my Head
https://hizaue.com/
Studio: Zero-G
Genre: Drama
Premieres January 9th

Show Premise: 
Subaru owns a cat.

Random Thoughts:
The gimmick here is that each story (to be very loose with the term) is told from the dude's perspective and then again from the cat's (or vice versa). The actual content is about 15 pages of a sad sack having a panic attack because someone said the cat should have a name, and then 15 pages of how the cat thinks the name means food. Now here's the same thing about buying a collar. And petting it. And sleeping. And buying a cat bed. So on and so forth. If the vapid excuse for total lack of ambition in characters and writing that is termed slice of life were to completely vanish from the world tomorrow, I would not mourn its passing for even a moment. The staff is well versed in this kind of drek. The promos promise nothing but dude and/or cat staring blankly and/or being comatose, although do seem to amp the melodrama a bit with some kind of bizarre dream sequence visit to heaven. Probably just a metaphor in the OP, cause The Good Place, this ain't.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

I know how this goes.

Meiji Tokyo Love Song – Crescent Moon Serenade
http://origin.meikoi.com/
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Genre: Drama
Premieres January 9th

Show Premise: 
Mei gets sent back in time to the Meiji era, where she's taken in by a noble pretty boy and all his pretty boy friends.

Random Thoughts:
This would be a boy harem visual novel franchise affair thingy, that has had multiple games, not to mention multiple film adaptations already. I'm always sad to see this director because he does almost nothing but girly romance drama things, but the one time he didn't, we ended up with Jubei-chan. Unless you're a fan of sparkling boys set against pastel backgrounds, the most exciting thing in the promos is some horrifying CGI ballroom dancing. Even for one of these shows, everything looks incredibly cheap, and these are the bloody promos.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

But I'm sure the OP will be FABULOUS.

Thursday

Five Equal Brides
http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/5hanayome/
Studio: Tezuka Productions
Genre: Comedy
Premieres January 10th

Show Premise: 
Futaro gets a job tutoring five of his classmates, quintuplet airheads.

Random Thoughts:
Also known by its renamed title "The Quintessential Quintuplets" because the actual Japanese title was deemed Not Great for some inexplicable reason. The manga source even starts out with a flashforward to his wedding about how he's boning at least one of them, possibly all. Nothing interesting about the staff, and the promo is just the expected rundown of each girl, each with a token cleavage shot, upskirt camera angle, or deep blush. I included boob jiggle in that list originally, but upon further review, they're all just wearing form-fitting boob accentuating shirts. You'll have to wait until the actual show for the jiggles. It's probably supposedly a comedy, but the jokes are things like "They're all so rich, they think nothing of buying expensive food," and "He walks in on one of them undressed." I'm not sure where the punchline is. Probably needs a cowbell or gong. The humor is clearly not the selling point anyway.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

How it feels to chew five gum.

Girly Air Force
http://gaf-anime.jp/
Studio: Satelight
Genre: Drama
Premieres January 10th

Show Premise: 
Plane girls fly planes to fight alien planes.

Random Thoughts:
You'd think this would be another cellphone thing in the vein of KanColle, but it's more like the inbred imbecile child of KanColle and Strike Witches with a light novel origin. Given what I can glean from the reviews, it seems to mostly be an advertisement for plane models. If you're hoping for dogfights, don't. The promos do have some ugly CGI planes zipping through speedlines, but more girls running alongside the beach or smiling for the camera. I expect better from Satelight than this, although it does have the crappy later seasons of Symphogear's crappy director in charge, so maybe I shouldn't.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

Is there anything they won't anthropomorphize as teenage girls… fewer than five times?

Grimms Notes
http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/grimmsnotes/
Studio: Brain's Base
Genre: Adventure
Premieres January 10th

Show Premise: 
Everyone is born with a book that details their fate. Chaos Tellers rewrite the stories in those books and change destiny. Heroes have to restore them.

Random Thoughts:
A gacha game thingy, basically the fairy tale character version of Fate/GO's historical figures. I'd have no issue if it was actually just goin nutso with a battle royale with the fairy tale stuff just some thin excuse to come up with powers, but we all know that never happens. Brain's Base is fairly low end, and the promos promise basically no magical powers at all, let alone using them, fighting, adventuring, anything whatsoever except some pinheaded ninnies standing around a forest or village, gaping like beached fish. These are really feeling like the new Girls In a Club shows, except that those haven't gone away either.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

How about that fairy tale with the donkey that poops gold?

The Promised Neverland
https://neverland-anime.com/
Studio: Cloverworks
Genre: Drama
Premieres January 10th

Show Premise: 
Children in an orphanage discover that they're actually being raised as food for demons.

Random Thoughts:
This has a Jump pedigree, so it's cerebral in the same way that Death Note was cerebral, which is to say too-clever-by-half Xanatos Gambit upon Xanatos Gambit padded out by people panning dramatically for the camera. This is Cloverworks instead of Madhouse though, so without the excessively overanimated pen flourishes, I think that just means that all you're left with is mugging for the camera and long explanations about how clever everyone is. Except the audience, obviously, because they need every iota of the plot spelled out and reviewed for them for pages on end. An entire chapter on "we need to pretend like everything's normal," complete with panic attacks and flopsweats every time someone asks "Is everything not normal?" Yeah, real geniuses at work.

Preseason Swing Rating: 

I think we're in the wrong Neverland, Tink.

Wrapup:

Yes, there are no new shows on Sundays, just that Piano Forest thing, and some CGI thing about plane girls. That's right, there's multiple plane girl shows this season. I'm tired of this trend and ready to go back to magical girlfriends in magic school. Somehow, that seems more ambitious than picking some random theme for naming/costuming characters and calling it a day. As long as we keep the idol shows under 3-4 a season, it's probably a step in the right direction though. My overlong vacation ends tomorrow, so it's back to work and afternoon weekday coverage of things when things begin on Friday. I may have another post on some translation things (not things that I've done, because that set remains empty) in the next few days, but I've been trying to write this post for about a month, so I'm mostly hoping that saying something publicly will spur it to completion.

Posted in Season Preview | 9 Comments »

9 Shouts From the Peanut Gallery

  • Roger Marco says:

    >I may have another post on some translation things … in the next few days…

    <3

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous says:

    a series about a guy and his cat? AOTY 2019 came early

    [Reply]

  • kwerboom says:

    Could you please give “The Promised Neverland” a chance. I like the manga and hopefully the anime is equally as good. I’m normally not game for a horror-esque series like this, but the characters are really good, the world its set in is unique, and the mechanics around the villains and situations doesn’t break immersion in the story. Its a bleak story full of hopeful kids. The hope spots come maimed. I’ve kept following the manga because the story is moved forward and I want to see ‘how’ the cast gets out of every near impossible situation and ‘how many’ of the cast are allowed to live. This isn’t your typical Jump power fantasy as the protagonists have no power levels to raise. Most of the fun is in seeing the kids leverage the arrogance of the way-over-powered villains against themselves.

    [Reply]

  • anise_punter says:

    “gokumi… the promos are only cute girls making cutesy faces or flapping their arms while flustered with mathematical symbols in place of eyes”

    hell yeah sign me up

    Otherwise not really too interested in anything… except that promo pic for girly air force that I’m gonna stare at for like 30 minutes with full expectation that the show will be terrible

    [Reply]

  • NeclordX says:

    not particulary excited with this season

    [Reply]

  • ark noir says:

    the genre’s have a wide spectrum don’t they? teh sequels may be the highlights this season.

    aroduc, have you watched that Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon XXI an ikiitousen western wolves? horizon made no sense to me.

    [Reply]

  • jgoi says:

    Gave boogiepop a chance, it feels like one of those modern mystery anime not like boogiepop phantom. So I’m sticking to Jojo part 5.

    [Reply]

  • The Phantom says:

    Yea at least less reverse harems and idol shows this time.

    [Reply]

  • v1cious says:

    Happy Sugar Life was actually summer season, but semantics…

    [Reply]

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