Well springs new anime have well and truly sprung, and my simulcast list is full to brimming with many random, entertaining and wonderful shows – enough that I’m going to be splitting the series reviews off into their own posts and doing the roundup as it’s own special little ray of sunshine for all three people who visit this blog.
This week I got up to speed with Log Horizon, and sampled the latest episodes of Witch Craft Works, Wizard Barristers, Seitokai Yukindomo, The Pilot’s Love Song and Nobunaga the fool.
…This may take me a while.
Log Horizon eps 1-15.
I will concede, I was a little sceptical about Log Horizon. In concept, it seemed to be rather similar to Sword Art Online which – if you’ve been here before – has taken taken a firm place as one of my favourite series of all time. In Log Horizon, thirty thousand Japanese players of an online RPG named Elder Tale find themselves transported into the world of the game where they inhabit the avatars they had created there.
It’s not a new concept, admittedly. I’m pretty sure the “Warped into a videogame” trope started with Tron nearly thirty years ago, but the way Log Horizon has handled it’s story has kept me intrigued. The three main characters are all at the top of their game already, so theres no bandying about with weak enemies, they’re thrust straight into conflict with other characters. So far, the show has dealt more with Shiroe and the gang learning to survive as people in this new world rather than video game tropes. They have access to a MMO style interface, but that’s about it.
Initially, I was worried that the fact that the characters can’t actually die would be an issue – one of the key parts of SAO was the fact that death was a genuine threat, and this gave it a sense of peril, but instead death has been treated as a punishment by baddies in the show. We’re now up to episode three, and the story is starting to very much come into it’s strength, although there are a few pacing issues. The action scenes are well done, but pleasantly Shiroe as the main character often focuses on finding non-combat solutions to problems. Character wise, the three protagonists are well balanced between light-hearted and serious, with tank Naotsugu and Ninja/Love interest Akatsuki providing different voices to the viewer. The relationship between the three has various layers, and looks to build on it’s storyline as the series progresses.
At times the show is a little slow moving, but it makes for compelling watching, and I’m looking forward to see where it goes as the weeks go on. This one is a keeper.
Moving onto new and updated shows:
Strike the Blood ep.13
Yet another lady has wandered into Kojo’s life this week in the form of his childhood friend, Yuuma Tokoyogi, who has turned up for the islands annual Halloween festival, presumably just to give someone else for Himeragi to gawp at and wonder about. To be fair, this episode was a little slow, with more being made of Yuuma’s introduction than the plot in general. If the show continues to follow it’s four-episode pattern, it will pick up next week.
The biggest part of the plot was that a couple of witches turned up and kicked the living bejeesus out of the island’s security staff, and various characters are starting to translocate when they go through doors. Naturally this leads to embarrassment for Kojo when he warps into a bathroom where female characters are washing because some tropes simply cannot be ignored.
I do enjoy Strike the Blood, but there are times, admittedly, where I wish it would move a bit faster. Despite some accusations of this being a harem anime from some quarters – because apparently any anime with more than one female character is a harem anime these days – Lance-wielding combatant Himeragi has been clearly set up as the love interest. What I’d really like to see is more exposition about how Kujo came to be the mega powerful vampire the 4th Projenitor, and more movement with the core characters. I’m willing to bet good money this show is pegged for more than one series at the rate it’s currently moving, especially with slow arc-opening episodes like this.
Seitokai Yukindomo ep 2.
Okay, honesty time. I know I said that if a plot didn’t develop in this show I wasn’t gonna bother with it, but anything that manages to string together this many dick jokes into a single half hour period is just too enjoyable not to watch. There is literally no plot to speak of, but I don’t really mind. It’s staying on the list.
The Pilot’s Love Song ep 1.
Set in a steam-punkish world with floating islands and world war two style aircraft, The Pilot’s Love Song was always going to appeal to me, if I’m honest. That being said, I don’t really have an awful lot to say about the first episode. This isn’t intended as disrespect to the show, but it was one of those series openers that was very intent on introducing us to a rather large cast of characters in as efficient a time as possible. We were introduced quite quickly to amusingly named protagonist Kal-el Albus, his sister Ariel Albus and love interest Claire Cruz in short order, and a setting was established in the shape of a pilots academy for young wannabe flyers.
Visually, the show is striking and the designs of the planes and characters is certainly enough to make me come back for episode two. Where the plot will go is too early to tell, but I look forward to finding out a bit more about this world.
Witch Craft Works ep 1.
I added this to my simulcast queue on a whim, and I have to say I’m glad I did – it’s not often that I enjoy the opening episode of a show as much as I did this one. Centring around high-school student Takamiya Honoka, Witch Craft Works is the tale of a supposedly normal guy who gets caught up between battling witches, one of whom, Ayaka Kagari declares themselves to be his protector. An added dimension is that Kagari is the most popular girl in the school, and Honoka’s sudden proximity does not go down well with his classmates.
With only first episode under it’s belt, it’s difficult to build an ongoing impression of Witch Craft Works, but thus far what I’ve established is that it’s pretty damn good fun. At the moment, I have not idea why Honoka is so damn important but if the first ep is anything to go by it’ll be nothing short of entertaining finding out.
Wizard Barristers ep 1.
Straight from the off, Wizard Barristers is one of the most visually striking anime I’ve seen in a long time. Theres a crispness to the animation and use of CGI that is genuinely excellent and had me hooked pretty much instantly. Thankfully, the show backed this up with an intriguing opener that kept me hooked throughout.
Set in 2018 in a world where wizards and humans live alongside each other, Wizard Barristers revolved around the lives and adventures of a magical law firm who defend wizards in magical court. The main character is the newly hired barrister, 17 year old Japanese-Canadian Cecile Sudo.
We’re also introduced to a couple of cops who deal with magical based crimes and the workings of the magical court – which are decidedly unforgiving.
Amusingly, the first episode felt a little bit like Law and Order: Hogwarts, but there were enough tantalising hints of what’s to come to make me look forward to episode 2 – not least of which that the first episode ends on a bastard of a cliffhanger.
Nobunaga the Fool eps 1&2
The first episode of Nobunaga the fool slipped in just after my deadline for this roundup last week, so we’ve ended up with both episodes together for this week.
I’m going to sum up the first couple of episodes for you: Humanity is based on two worlds seperated by space – one eastern, one western. On the Eastern star/world, Oda Nobunaga has been dreaming of Jeanne d’Arc, who has similarly been having prophetic dreams about him. Jeanne is hired by Leonardo Da Vinci to travel with him to the Eastern Star on the ship of Admiral Magellan at the behest of King Arthur on a starship carrying one of the giant Mecha that are used as weapons by the two worlds. After fortuitously meeting up with Oda and fighting off some of Magellan’s soldiers, we flash back to the Western Start where King Arthur sets General Julius Caesar the mission of launching an expedition to the Eastern Star, which is about to blow up into civil war.
And no, not a single word of that was me bullshitting you. Someone actually took a look at that concept, read through the proposals, and greenlit it.
In all honestly, and wikipedia-breaking names aside, this is a pretty regular mech-based anime. As one of the approximately two billion Oda based anime out there at the moment, it can be forgiven for the moderately ridiculous concept. The action scenes are largely cgi’d but are entertaining enough for what they are. At this early stage the plot is still largely nebulous, but it’s mindlessly entertaining enough to be worth watching, and we should start to see some story movement in the coming weeks. If you like your Mech anime, it’s certainly worth a look as with the ending of Valvrave there isn’t much else out there right now.
Tune in this week for series reviews of Occult Academy and Myself; Yourself!