Reloading the Seasonal Anime Shotgun – Spring 2021

I’ve done it again. I’ve fully enveloped myself in the seasonal dumpster once more, looking for something unique, something worthwhile. Winter 2021 let me down, but Spring 2021 turned out to have promise. It originally started as me getting in a hot take on Nagatoro-san but it evolved into something bigger. No more digging for scraps. We got quite a few shows that might be worth taking a look at. I got 13 anime lined up for ya right here. All the spicy Capes hot takes you could wish for in a single post.

86: Eighty Six
Something tells me these guys won’t be around for too long.

You’re going to have to believe me when I say that there are plenty of beloved anime I’d be willing to watch from this season. This won’t be like Winter 2021 where I relentlessly dunk on everything. That being said, I’ve been dealt a rough starting point. 86 looks to be one of the more highly acclaimed shows from this season. Most writers seem to love it. The first episode is filled with drama, snippets of action, and many different character interactions, ranging between many different emotions. It seems jam packed, so forgive me for starting this list out with the contrarian take. 86 has so many hack writing red flags in episode 1 that I can’t ignore them.

The premise is insultingly hamfisted. A majority of the guys on the top of society are completely irresponsible and arrogant, the people on the bottom act like real humans and are treated like trash. It’s David Cage style ‘class division’ writing. Also, the cast. We get introduced to many characters right away, because they are going to die. Our buddies are gonna get killed in the war. That’s why there’s so many of them, so quickly into the story. Even aside from these problems, the script isn’t looking great, either. The setting is constantly bouncing around from character to character, from time period to time period, giving little time for the viewer to orient themselves. It’s not clever writing to switch back and forth during the scenes often. That too is David Cage’s bread and butter. Sure, the story and characters in this are probably better than the ones in Beyond Two Souls, but it’s not looking promising.

Fumetsu no Anata e [To Your Eternity]

This is an interesting followup to write about after 86. While yes, this does also have high user ratings, many writers seem to hate this one. Is it because they like their dramatic moments to be suffocated in between mountains of overstimulation? Eternity is very different, putting the emotion right up in front of you in steady, understandable terms. Though it isn’t always spelled out for the viewer, the tragedy that gets told over the course of this first episode is easy to foretell. As simple as it is, it is nonetheless effective. It made MY heart ache, so I certainly wouldn’t call it cheap, even if it all unfolds in a brief amount of time.

Additionally, we’re left with an open-ended chapter where the future of the series is left completely out of our hands. Either way, I want to leave the mystery of the remaining episodes for both you and me to discover on our own time. The synopsis of the show hints at the evolution of our main character, though it’s beyond me where he could end up.

Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. [Higehiro]

From the very first episode, I can tell that this is likely to be more interesting than every show that I wrote about for Winter 2021. Higehiro has the characters down right from the beginning. Yoshida is our respectable, but imperfect protagonist trying to make it day to day at his office job. Sayu is our estranged high school dropout, similarly trying to make it day to day, but through living on the streets. The two meet, where Yoshida proves that he isn’t a complete scumbag by not taking advantage of her. Then, for reasons he doesn’t quite understand at first, he decides to let the girl stay at his place until she gets her shit together. 

A story like this has many places it can go, though the important part is that it has something to look forward to. I don’t expect an actual romance between the two characters (nor would I want to see one), though it’d be nice to see how the two develop together. They make for an interesting duo of characters in need of a purpose.

Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san

Whose fantasy was this? Isn’t this the anime where that one translator made Nagatoro say “When the imposter is sus!” with her giant shit-eating grin while our main male shame-insert character crumbles down in tears? That’s beyond fucked up. Nagatoro would NEVER say ‘sus’. You know why? Because Nagatoro is not a fucking NERD.

YOU ARE.

You and all your dirty online friends… We Are All The Main Character Of This Anime. I mean, if a popular high-school girl called me ‘sus’, I would absolutely fucking LOSE IT. But thankfully, this anime is just a fantasy, and nothing like this would ever happen with real humans in the real world. But if it ever did, I gotta wonder if that sort of experience would develop into some kind of complex where you WANT girls to kick you and piss on you and then you’d end up wanting to watch an anime like Nagatoro-san.

It’s another one of those ‘12 episodes of this?’ kind of shows that you just know is going to completely fold on itself. Nagatoro is the only character who can hold this up, but she sure as hell can’t hold up the whole rest of the cast by herself. There is no hope for our frail and bitter protagonist. Imagine watching HIM for 12 episodes. No thank you! Either way, I’m happy for Nanashi. There’s gotta be a place in the world for weirdo artists like him. And if HE can be successful, just maybe there IS hope for a loser like me after all! In any case, Nagatoro-san goes into the Nagatoro trash can!

Kyuukyoku Shinka Shita Full Dive RPG ga Genjitsu yori mo Kusogee Dattara

Every little laugh I can get during my seasonal adventures have to be savored. With so few comedy anime to sit back with, Full Dive gives me a bizarre dark comedy genre mixture that I absolutely was not expecting. Every ‘virtual reality video game life’ anime I’ve ever heard of has the fan given tagline of ‘Sword Art Online… except it’s good!’ But Full Dive isn’t that at all. It’s crystal clear from our main character’s first day in the virtual world that Full Dive is aiming for a completely different experience.

Hiroshi doesn’t understand the realistic mechanics of this game, and within the first few minutes of playing, he accidentally, BRUTALLY kills his NPC best friend in front of his friend’s own sister. This in itself is quite funny, but after running away from the problem, he’s globally labeled as a ‘BEST FRIEND KILLER’, which is even funnier. His problems don’t get any better as he runs away from the NPC’s sister as she tries to avenge her brother’s death. Whatever happens next in this story is completely up in the air, though I’m curious to see what happens.

In addition to this is a ‘real-life’ counterpart story where Hiroshi is getting bullied, which might play into the VR story in a reasonable way. Hiroshi needs to exercise in real life in order to get stronger in the video game, so perhaps he can kill two birds with one stone? I’m not interested in the whole real-life portion of this story, though it might not take up too much of the focus. Despite its low ratings, I might want to take a second look at Full Dive sometime, and I recommend giving the first episode a shot.

Mashiro no Oto

This first episode is fully enveloped by character conflict, both internal and within relationships. Relatives die, couples break up, our main characters travel around Japan, and it’s all decorated with sparkly visuals. But with this, the very skeleton holding all the pieces together, the script, is struggling to juggle together the avalanche of drama that is being dumped into the viewer’s eyes. Too many things happen in this first episode, too fast for the viewer to make any meaningful sense out of it.

The central point of this anime lies in our main character, Setsu, trying to find his own sound through his shamisen playing. You can call it ‘introspective’, though all the self-reflection in the world isn’t going to make a good story pop out of thin air. As the show puts it, Tokyo really does have a lot of noise going on at once. This includes the many characters that get quickly introduced and dragged around within these 20 minutes. Setsu ends up at a model’s apartment, she lets him stay with her, and by the end of the episode, she’s gone already. Just one of the many lives that blur past Setsu, with his emotional attachments hardly changing as a result. Sounds good on paper. Doesn’t work in motion.

ODDTAXI

This seems to be the writers’ choice for this season. Despite my aversion to anthropomorphic animal designs, I figure I’ve seen enough trash from the world of anime that it isn’t too big of a deal to sit back and let this one play out. The designs are simple enough that it’s not worth making a fuss about, anyways. Personality-wise, the characters are a bit silly in a modern, realistic kind of way. The jokes in here nudge at current Japanese culture, though beneath the layer of sarcasm is an unwinding mystery. It’s hard to tell what exactly is happening through the obscured details of the first episode, though we find out at the very end that police collusion is involved with the case of a missing girl. Other hints are left for the viewer to try and piece together, but you’re left guessing at the end of the episode. Oddtaxi certainly takes a different approach to storytelling than a lot of these other gimmicky seasonal shows, but it’s clearly for the better.

Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Love Come [Osamake]

Character designs by… Shigure Ui?????????????????? Might as well end the review here, because that’s the most interesting thing this show has to offer. One problem, though. Compared to Ui’s light novel illustrations, the characters in this anime are as bland as they come. But wait, it gets worse! The scriptwriting in this anime is a complete mess! The scenes and their accompanying emotions bounce around like a pinball while the viewer tries to figure out what the hell is going on. Characters fly into the show so quickly, you’ll be wondering whether you started on the wrong episode or not. It doesn’t help that the characters have no depth either. At this point though, the very structure of the show is wobbling around like it’s going to fall over. And this is on episode ONE. This is how you’re going to try to start a romance triangle? You’re going to try making your own Nisekoi out of this? I don’t think so.

Shadows House
Leave it to Capes to use NAKED GIRLS to hook in readers

In my head, reading the synopsis for Shadows House, I knew I would have nothing meaningful to say about it. But, I have a stubborn tendency to try and review whatever I think I can’t review. And truly, Shadows House does not give me much to work with in the first episode. It focuses on a shadow and her doll, both being connected in appearance but separated in personality. The shadow acts more stern and the doll is more playful. They are mirrors of each other. The shadows live in the house and the dolls take care of them. Does any of this mean anything? Probably not. It’s cute, but as I always say, that isn’t too hard to pull off in the world of anime.

Slime Taoshite 300-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level Max ni Nattemashita [I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years]

Us anime watchers, especially us seasonal anime dumpster divers, don’t come to expect originality from most shows we take on. By this point, the Isekai genre has become such a standard template, I can’t even feel bothered when I watch the show steamroll through the whole death/reincarnation tale as quickly as possible. The pre-fantasy backstory has never mattered less than it does here.

Besides the predictable Isekai outline, other characteristics ring familiar bells. Laika is a cutesy dragon-human reminiscent of the Dragon Maid cast. Azusa, the main character, has built up ridiculous strength through basic training, similar to One Punch Man. The peaceful setting and all-female cast is also comparable to the works of KyoAni. And of course, it has ‘slime’ in the title, just like the OTHER isekai shows with ‘slime’ in the title. At its core, however, this is a ‘cute girls’ anime, which doesn’t require much originality to keep things enjoyable. It does need some good characters, however!

Within the first couple of episodes, only a few characters are introduced to the audience. I have to give it credit for good pacing, though this also means my seasonal blitz approach has prevented me from seeing the demon girl in episode three. I didn’t feel like I needed to see the third episode to get an overall impression of the show’s style… but it’s a DEMON girl, bro. It’s killing me, but I need to move on. This anime is cute and laid back. It doesn’t go hard on the comedy, and the characters fit the setting well enough. I can’t imagine wanting to watch more than the next couple of episodes, but that’s better praise than most of the previous season!

Super Cub

It’s difficult not to be cynical about entertainment with a brand slapped on top of it. The first thing I think of next to the term ‘brand’ is the word ‘advertisement’. Advertisements come with rules, usually preventing any sort of implied negative connotations, realistic or not. So when I see the Honda logo in an anime that centers around a Honda vehicle, I can’t help but feel skeptical. Yet, it’s not like vehicles haven’t made a name for themselves in anime before. Initial D gets credit for popularizing the otherwise plain Toyota AE86, yet I wouldn’t ever call ‘Initial D’ an advertisement for Toyota.

In the same vein, while Super Cub does revolve around a single vehicle, calling it an ‘advertisement’ would be an insult to all the artistic decisions that went into throwing together this little gem. Everything about this anime exudes realistic simplicity. The soundtrack is very quiet, with a couple Debussey pieces accenting some transitional moments. Every character in this first episode comes off as a real, peaceful human being. Our main character’s simple life falls right into the middle of it. She has little purpose in her world, but she really likes that little Honda of hers.

This first episode even includes the whole process of getting a license and buying the bike in the first place without it feeling unnecessary. The Honda in question is only 10000 yen, because it has apparently ‘killed three people’ already. Yet, that doesn’t slow this girl from buying it as quickly as possible. Later, she runs out of gas and has to read through the included booklet to figure out how to use the reserve fuel to get back home. Despite its simplicity, Super Cub is very detailed. It’s a cute, peaceful little show that I don’t have any complaints for.

Tokyo Revengers

It’s one thing to have an interesting first episode, but Tokyo Revengers manages to fit more of a captivating story into one episode than most new anime can fit in an entire season. Funny enough, I wrote about three of this studio’s works from the last season (Cells at Work, Boonies, Urasekai Picnic) and I would not have expected them to put out a big hitter like this.

What’s not to like, though? We have an interesting fallen-off main character with a rebellious past. The story has cool time travel bullshit and it’s hinted that we’re gonna get more of it, soon. It’ll be fun to tap into Takemichi’s rebel phase again, and to get another look at his past girlfriend, Hinata. During this time warp, we get a glimpse of Hinata’s brother, another plot-centric character. He’s the first to get invested into this time travel fun. It’d be hard to predict where a story like this would go in a 2-cour runtime, but that’s part of the entertainment. I’m sure you don’t need me to recommend this show to you given its popularity, but I can confirm that it looks interesting.

Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
Explosions are fun!

Here’s your crazy bullshit show, everyone. You know you love it. I love it, too, I won’t lie. I like Mirai Nikki. I like School Days. I like Danganronpa. Explosions, time travel, human massacre, fuck it! We got it all RIGHT HERE in episode 1! It’s hard to find a place for all this insanity without slipping into ‘overkill’ territory, and I think Vivy might have the right idea. The character dynamics are funny, the scenarios are entertaining. It’s just surprising to me that a show with such a violent kickstart could rack up such a high rating on the good ol’ user aggregates. Seems like there was a lot of hype going into this, but after skimming some reviews, I guess I was expecting a little more tact in my viewing experience. But who needs it! I probably won’t watch this myself, but I’m not gonna knock it for what it’s trying to do.

So you know what? I DON’T hate anime anymore. This season proved to have a surprising amount of highlights, and there are multiple shows that I genuinely want to continue watching. And if that isn’t praise enough, then I don’t know what to tell you.

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