Busy busy season. Only doing very brief comments for each show.
[Standard disclaimer: Not spoiler free.]
1. Flip Flappers [◄new►] – 3 eps, 9.5/10 – [99% import]
I don’t understand how this show is real, but it’s got masterpiece-tier potential. Every once in a while these industry talent showcases come along, but they’re typically things I have little to no interest in from a premise/format standpoint, like Space Dandy or Mob Psycho or the Animator Expos. Flip Flappers, however, is so incredibly my thing.
The bond developing between Papika and Cocona is the one stable element binding together three episodes that have taken us through a series of bizarre, abstract, hyper-inventive, and stunningly gorgeous landscapes. The third episode in particular is one of this year’s highlights. Flip Flappers is about something, some quest to obtain some artifact from some strange dreamscapes… but that doesn’t matter right now. The core of this show is and hopefully will continue to be Cocona’s experience of being thrust into these new worlds alongside Papika, the girl who had tuned her life upside down and inside out. They’re coming to depend on and care about one another under the strangest of circumstances, and at a speed neither one of them is able to process in real-time. Watching their brains try to catch up to the physical experiences they’re going through mirrors the audience’s struggle to comprehend what the hell is going on.
I haven’t the slightest idea where Flip Flappers is headed, but I do know that it’s a treasure too good for this world.
2. Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume [◄new►] – 3 eps, 9.0/10 – [95% import]
A shockingly well put-together sports drama. The initial draw for me was how squarely within my character strike zone Agari is, but it’s handled both her and Koyori as co-leads really well. Koyori’s rise up the ranks and Agari’s reaction to a challenge to her personal space have been deftly executed. So have the table tennis matches. It’s not an animation showcase, but there’s a lot of great angles and impressive climaxes to the matches. Episode three dialed that all up to 11 with the Agari vs Koyori match. It intensity was reflected both in their physical states (heart pounding, heavy perspiring, deep breaths) and emotional states (they establish an intimate connection through competition that they couldn’t they establish through words). The music drove home the feeling and the whole thing climaxed in the most satisfying way. Agari’s walls were broken down, Koyori’s love for the game hit a new peak, and they were finally able to reach one another.
It’s intense stuff. Takkyuu Musume hasn’t missed a single beat so far.
3. Shuumatsu no Izetta [◄new►] – 4 eps, 8.5/10 – [90% import]
Izetta and Fine is one of those relationships I become instantly and deeply invested in. If anything bad happens to either of them – or the show pulls something idiotic with a sudden male love interest, I’ll be devastated. Their relationship is the center of gravity around which the rest of the show revolves. It’s not that the rest of the show isn’t interesting, although it does have its flaws. It’s that I’ll never be able to care as much about military operations and political machinations as I will about Fine and Izetta’s happiness together. They’re such immediately endearing and sympathetic characters that all else seems to fade away. Sure I want an interesting story to frame their relationship, but as long as everything that happens ultimately serves the aim of telling their story, I’m almost indifferent as to how the exact plot beats play out.
4. Vivid Strike! [◄new►] – 4 eps, 8.0/10 – [90% import]
Hoooo boy, Rinne’s flashback is the episode I watched just before this. It’s… something you have to see for yourself. The Nanoha franchise is a bizarre animal. Five seasons thus far, which could essentially be four different franchises: 1st/As, Strikers, Vivid, Vivid Strike. All so similar in some ways, and so very different in others.
I’m intrigued about where they’re going with Rinne now, that’s for sure. I’m also digging Fuuka well enough as a lead. She can never be Nanoha, but this has always been a series that thrived on duos anyway. I also appreciate the show’s meta humor in teasing at but never confirming its place, if any, in Nanohaverse continuity. If the Nanoha franchise is surreal clusterfuck these days, might as well embrace that.
5. Gi(a)rlish Number [◄new►] – 2 eps, 8.0/10 – [80% import]
It’s annoying to be behind on this one, so no thanks TBS for delaying the legal streams by a fucking week. That’s how you convince people to watch fansubs instead. I’m waiting for the streams now (hence no ep 3 yet), but if spoiler-prone stuff starts happening I may need to change that.
Thus far it’s a just sarcastic piss-taking gag after sarcastic piss-taking gag. Chitose is a indefensibly smug garbage baby with a rotten personality and no regard for other people, and that’s exactly why we love her so much. It’s taking shots at directors, producers, light novel authors, production committees, music labels, on and on and on – it’s playing inside baseball with its humor but damn it work. Having the most attractive character art of the season is a pretty solid plus too.
6. Lostorage incited WIXOSS [◄new►] – 4 eps, 8.0/10 – [80% import]
WIXOSS RETURNS. The existence of male selectors is a truly awful development I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would greenlight, but the old Wixoss staples of rigged games and impending despair around every corner are back, baby. I mean, Chinatsu’s life went to hell at a speed that would make Aki-Lucky dizzy. And when Suzuko and Chinatsu reunite next episode, I have no doubt it’s gonna get very ugly before it gets any better. Lostorage’s game’s rules actually manage to be even more rigged and unfair than Selector’s which is saying something. Still, Chinatsu and Suzuko’s reliance on and feelings for one another have been the undercurrent of the show thus far, and I can only hope that at the end of all the despair they’re able to save each other. Don’t think I could stand to see anything else.
7. Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Kekikaku [◄new►] – 4 eps, 7.5/10 – [40% import]
Ah, what I wouldn’t give for fans to just let shows exist without comparing them to some more famous example of the genre. Yes, Mahoiku is a dark mahou shoujo with deadly stakes to its competition that drive conflict between magical girls. But the Madoka comparisons feel shallow already. I think it stands on its own just fine – it’s no masterpiece but I’m having a lot of fun with it. I find myself a little worried about it knocking off some of the more interesting girls too early, but it’s been doing it in interesting enough ways (goddamn, Swim Swim) that I’m excited to see how each new episode plays out.
8. Natsume Yuujin-chou Go [◄new►] – 3 eps, 7.5/10 – [40% import]
Three episodes in and it’s hit all the franchise’s main beats: vaguely-threatening youkai incident with Reiko flashbacks, heartwarming yet fleeting and bittersweet human-youkai interactions, and exorcist-related plot-focused shenanigans. Natsume has always been a fairly interesting mixture of calm iyashikei and more intense youkai folklore stuff, and I’m content for it to continue along those lines. Part of me does want to get some movement and closure in the overarching story, but the other part expects to like those plot-heavy episodes less (unless we get a lot of Reiko). So I’m not sure exactly what I want. I’ll just let it do its own thing.
9. Keijo!!!!!!!! [◄new►] – 3 eps, 7.0/10 – [10% import]
Charmingly idiotic. Behind the Vacuum But Cannons and boobology classes is perhaps a semi-serious sports drama but if you can’t get a kick out of the absurdity that drives every scene, you won’t last long. Personally I find the main four a lot of fun (especially Miyata ♥), and it’s not like we can object to the fanservice as feeling “out of place” in a show literally about battling butts and boobs.
10. Stella no Mahou [◄new►] – 2 eps, 7.0/10 – [50% import]
Cute and relaxing, though rather by-the-numbers. A very average production means we can’t rely on superior craft to elevate the mundane material, so it’s going to have to live or due by its characters. Then again, that’s the most important aspect of any show. There’s not a lot of spark in the cast at the moment, but I don’t dislike anyone, so that’s fine. Yumine resulted in episode two being stronger than episode one, so the more involved she gets the better it’ll be for the whole cast, I think.
Higher import chance than some above it because I’m morally obligated to do all I can to support Manga Time Kirara/Houbunsha adaptations.
• Kemono no Souja Erin – 36 eps, 6/10
• Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken: Diamond wa Kudakenai – 29 eps, 6/10
There are three shows this season with a serious shot at a yearly top 5 position. Izetta holds both the most potential reward and biggest risk, so it’s the one I’m the most apprehensive about. Takkyuu Musume is quite “safe”, it’s just a question of whether it can pivot from the literally flawless execution of its opening arc to the larger competition. And Flip Flappers… yo I don’t even know, it’s just gonna be what it’s gonna be, I’m just along for the ride, clinging on for dear life.