AIIKBA’S TRIP: THE ANIMATION (episodes 1 & 2)
Hello Darkness, my old friend. Gonzo is probably not the studio that I would ever give a project to, especially a fanservice-based one like this, but hey, I’m not the one in charge here. I also probably wouldn’t have told the staff to make the characters not even remotely resemble the characters in the game they’re adapting (compare this with this). But, that’s where we are: an anime adaptation of a fanservice-y video game that looks nothing like it’s source.
Luckily, the show has enough stupid charm to work. The show plays it’s absurd premise as straight and seriously as it possibly can, but I should note that’s not a lot. The show is a goofy romp that is, at least, aware and absolutely indulging in it’s stupid aspects (be it the weird excuse for the show having everyone being defeated by being naked, that the lead character is completely uninterested in the situation he’s stuck in beyond staying in Akihabara, to the second episode’s reveling in the fat military otaku being stripped and evaporating into nothingness). For a self-consciously stupid show like this, this is probably the best approach they could’ve taken.
While I want to blame the animation on Gonzo, the blame unfortunately has to go to Konosuba, that show that this takes many visual cues from. Konosuba, rather infamously, does not look good, but it’s kind of on purpose, with the off-model animation and awkward designs helping to sell the completely irreverent tone the show went for. Aikba’s Trip is what would happen if someone went for that legitimately (some speculate that Konosuba looks like that because Studio Deen didn’t want to spend any money on it). The colors are bright and the action is vibrant, while the consistency and actual animation quality are low. The show looks like only one other show this season (which I’m also covering), so it is unique. However, if you wanted this to actually look good, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Overall, these first two episodes gave me exactly what I wanted out of this stupid concept and thoroughly entertained me. If fanservice just rubs you the wrong way by existing, well, maybe avoid most of anime, but this one in particular is one to avoid. Otherwise, it’s good, stupid fun.
FINAL GRADE: B
MASAMUNE-KUN’S REVENGE (episode 1)
Who wants to see a bunch of high schoolers act catty, vain, and generally mean to each other? Hey, you, get back here, that question was rhetorical, you can’t refuse to watch?
Well, after checking out the manga (which, just to comment on my manga reading habits, yes, of course I’ve read this one), I can say that it’s exactly how I expected it to be. I mean that in every way possible, good and bad. The animation is just very bland, with no defining characteristics, while the direction is very standard. It’s not bad, but it’s boring. (On an unrelated note, I think the director might have a leg fetish, since the camera loves showing off the legs of both of the main girls, while the manga art didn’t focus nearly as much on them.)
But none of that is what you’re here for, so let’s get to what you’re all interested in hearing about. This show is about a high schooler who was fat as a kid and became good-looking for the sole purpose of humiliating a girl who rejected him as a little kid. Both the lead and the girl, for the record, are vain assholes and there really isn’t a reason we should want them to ultimately hook up at the end (because of course that’s how it’ll end). The world around them only exists to help validate their awful behavior. It’s like a romcom version of Mean Girls (for the record, coming from me, any comparison to Mean Girls is an insult, I’ve never liked that movie and never even understood why other people do like it).
I know that I mentioned reading the manga, but I like hate reading manga and this seemed entertaining. As an anime, however, it’s a bland adaptation of mean and catty teen behavior.
FINAL GRADE: C+
HAND SHAKERS (episode 1)
What the hell did I just watch? No, really, what is this? Why did this turn out this way? Why are the companions to the guys called nimrods (not joking, they actually are, it’s actual terminology for this)? Why are you using those CG chains? Why is the antagonist stepping on his nimrod, with one shot showing him stepping on her crotch specifically? Why does the camera love to keep panning around the awfully designed and animated scenes? Why does the show have boobs bounce like they do? Why is this anime-original plot written like a crappy light novel adaptation? Why is there a tarot reading out of nowhere? Why does the hero have a dead little sister backstory? Why does holding hands with his nimrod give him super powers (I mean, I know the reason, but beyond the studio’s name)? Why is that one scientist character the way he is? Why will she die if he lets go of her hand? Why is the antagonist blatantly use his chains to sexually torment his nimrod? Why is this a variation of the plot of Future Diary? How do many floating gears equate to a planetarium? Why is the antagonists called Bind and Break? Why is Bind (the nimrod) orgasming while summoning these awful CG chains? Why is there a gear sword? Why is this this terrible?
Okay, I need to explain a lot, so bear with me. This is an anime-original series created by GoHands, a studio whose output is typically trash trying to look stylish, but comes across as very ugly with confusing and bad plots attached. A few years ago, they made their first anime original series called K, which I saw and did not like. Hand Shakers, a show made to celebrate an anniversary for the merchandise store Animate, is an attempt at a show like K, but targeted at male otaku, as opposed to the fujoshi crowd K was made for.
Comparisons to K are important, because the two share a lot in common. Both involve vague powers and a conflict within the ranks of these powered worlds. Both are primarily set around a futuristic high school. Both involve a bland protagonist and a mysterious white-haired girl. Both use the camera to emphasize the sexual appeal of the characters to the audience. Both look like garbage, but think they look great. Both are nigh-incomprehensible when it comes to understanding anything.
A while back, I reviewed a series called No Game No Life, which I called a guilty quality of mine. While part of it is the sheer stupidity of that series that made me laugh almost the whole way through, it was mostly because I really, really liked how it looked. From the color choice, the character designs, and completely thrown-together-yet-still-fits-together setting, It’s an anime I can easily point to as being an aesthetic I like. GoHands, as a studio, wants to have a house style that has a similar color scheme, but the CG, the filters, and the rough character designs show how that color scheme can turn really bad really fast. It works with soft character designs and bright locales, but Hand Shakers uses very outdated character designs (right out of 2004) and mostly darker locales, so the colors do not mesh at all and make everything look even uglier. And that’s not even bringing up how badly each character moves.
This is, with no sense of exaggeration, the worst anime of the season. I don’t know how people decided to green-light this, but here we are. I’ll keep an eye on this, as it could turn out to be so bad it’s good, but it’s very unlikely, especially with this writing.
FINAL GRADE: F, accompanied with a skeptical shit-eating grin
FUKKA (episode 1)
So, obvious puns that I’m going to attempt to avoid aside, this is one of the two Shonen romance character dramas this season. This one is based on a manga and is apparently a sequel to a series I’ve never seen or read. Being a sequel doesn’t seem to really factor too much into it, though, because it’s mostly a stand-alone story.
A Twitter addict is transferring into a new school when a girl with headphones bumps into him and smashes his phone because she thought he took an upskirt photo of her. At the school the next day, after handing in his paperwork, he runs into her on the roof and she causes him to lose his loaner phone after believing he was taking another upskirt photo of her. He then tries to stop what he thinks is a pushy guy trying to date her. They then go to a movie together and the girl declares it a date right before leaving.
This episode shows a pretty rote and standard character dynamic, as well as some early chemistry between the two. The animation was bland, but the writing, while not strong here, was quite good.
Now, why I’m interested is the opening and closing, which imply that this series will be music-based. While there are indirect nods to music in this episode, I’m hoping that the show will get to the point that the opening promised (a band performing and being an actual band that does band things). So, while I’m not really enthusiastic about this, I am eager to see where it goes.
FINAL GRADE: B
SEIREN (episode 1)
And the winner of the first ever “Bobduh Boring Show That Isn’t That Bad, But Makes Me Want To Gouge My Eyes Out” award goes to this, the other Shonen romance character drama this season. While it’s probably the stronger of the two, it was also the least interesting of the two. Fukka at least gave hints at a music plot and had some energy. This doesn’t.
The most interesting thing that happened is that the protagonist stares at his desk after a girl sitting on it gets up from it (and the animation shows where she was sitting on it after she gets up, so you know that’s what he’s looking at). Aside from that bit of weirdness (though, given camera focus and the art in the OP and ED, it’s not something that will be out of place here), there is really nothing here to grab onto. A story about a high school boy with no direction trying to find some could be interesting, but the characters involved need to be interesting for us to care. Every personality here is subdued and somewhat mellow, so there isn’t really any characters that you can attach to. If this is trying for more realistic personality types, then the writer forgot that they don’t work unless they’re presented in a scenario or story that can carry them. As it is, I would rather watch paint dry than watch this.
FINAL FRADE: C-
MISS KOBOYASHI’S DRAGON MAID (episode 1)
…………………………..is this really a KyoAni show? Like, is this really the studio I spent so long writing a long-winded and rambling editorial about? I mean, it’s a show about adults, a lesbian crush that isn’t just teasing, is gross and weird, and isn’t ashamed at any of them? Well, it took many years, but KyoAni has finally done something that doesn’t even remotely resemble their house style. I jump for joy!
Well, here’s the premise: a drunk office lady ends up in the mountains one night, begins a conversation with a dragon, and ends up asking the dragon if it wanted to come back to her place. The dragon, the next day, takes her up on that offer, remembers that she said she likes maids, and offers to be her maid. Oh, and the dragon is interested in the office lady sexually (It’s finally setting in how much of this season is based in romance or soft fanservice like this show). Anyway, this premise is just to set up that this is a goofy comedy and is hysterical.
KyoAni has always tended to have a talent for goofy comedies (see Nichijou, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu, and Amagi Brilliant Park for proof), but tend not to do them that often, instead focusing on boring high school nostalgia fests (Sound Euphonium, Free, K-On!, Hyoka) or high school melodrama (Haruhi Suzumiya, Love Chunnibyo and Other Delusions), so an excuse for them to get wacky is always welcome. That this comes with being their first series about adults makes this even more shocking (Clannad After Story doesn’t count, they begin as high schoolers and it’s a sequel to a high school story). But I don’t care. This was just really funny. I can’t really explain why (the folly of good comedy like this is that you can only ruin the joke by explaining it), but take my word for it, it’s probably the best new series this season.
FINAL GRADE: A-
KONOSUBA SEASON 2 (episode 1)
Oh friend, it’s been too long. After a quick stab at insulting the protagonist, the episode does a Star Wars crawl over clips from last season to explain the show (side note: it’s really disorienting on Crunchyroll, reading subtitles over a text crawl). It then shows our hero, Kazuma, being arrested at the end of last season. The scene actually showing his arrest is then shown with the girls accompanying him telling the prosecutor that he’s innocent because either he only does small crimes like sexual harassment (wait, that’s minor in this show?) or because he lacks the guts to force himself upon Darkness (oh, this show and it’s weird sex ideas). Oh, and then everyone (except Darkness, who’s a masochist, if you didn’t already know) abandons him when the prosecutor says she’ll arrest anyone who supports him. It’s really been too long.
So, since I never talked about it on this site, the first season was my second favorite anime of last year, so I was really looking forward to this. And it was everything I could’ve hoped it would be. Konosuba continues to be a comedy of awful assholes being jerks to each other because they get on each other’s nerves. The animation is still as bad as ever, if not slightly worse, while still remaining charmingly ugly and bright. The voice acting is still phenomenal. Every serious aspect is just as insanely cheesy as last season. Despite being based off of a light novel series, this anime feels like it never took any time off at all.
The episode has Kazuma arrested and put on trial for accidentally blowing up a nobel’s estate during the finale of last season. Aqua’s escape attempts for him fail because, well, she’s Aqua. Then, Kazuma is put on what is revealed to be a kangaroo court trial by the nobel, who just wants to kill him for damaging his estate. That he makes it out of there is mostly a result of luck and serendipity, but the ways the prosecutor tries to paint him as guilty through proving that he’s a pervert is kind of amusing. It fits with the show’s emphasis on how petty everyone (and I mean everyone) in the show is.
Honestly, I’m just glad that this is back and we’re getting more of it. This is probably the brightest spot in this relatively bleak anime season.
FINAL GRADE: A
All shows mentioned are available streaming at Crunchyroll. Aikba’s Trip, Masamune-Kun’s Revenge, Hand Shakers, and Fukka are all licensed by Funimation and will be available as simuldubs on their website.