Onigiri – 01 (First Impressions)

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 1.44.18 PM

Goddess Amaterasu’s seals have been broken and monsters are ravishing the land. Nuke-style explosions spread across earth and only five beautiful ladies and one guy can stop the destruction!

At least, they could if they could agree on how to divide the experience points…

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 1.45.04 PM

Onigiri is a cute, if not entirely clever, tongue-in-cheek comedy about RPG conventions. The male character isn’t voiced, the killing blow is the most important for loot and XP, and the enemies all look the same and are mostly there to grind.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 1.47.20 PM

The comedic timing is decent, the character designs are silly and revealing without being obscene, but there’s not much to it beyond that.

16rating_6

Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game – 01 (First Impressions)

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 1.28.10 PM

After 75 seconds of credits, I learned this short format anime is about idols who would secretly save the world from an asteroid using a crane game. Also, their manager is a gorilla…or is s/he?

This show is essentially…not animated. In fact, the movements are so rare, deformed and mechanical that the only possible explanation I can think of is this intentionally mocks arcade claw games!

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 1.24.06 PM

The voices tread close to fingernails-on-chalkboard cute. I lost the will to live long before the 4 minutes were over and it stopped playing.

This is how the machines win. #JohnConnor #skynet2016

16rating_1

Sousei no Onmyouji – 01 (First Impressions)

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.50.53 AM

Within its first two minutes, SnO leaps from a wounded boy apologizing to a burning pile of children-corpses, to a young girl taking a bath while a Ranma 1/2 style ‘micro old woman’ talks to her about foreboding exorcist politics, to an over the top confession/rejection scene on a school playground, which ends with Rokuro running head-first into boobs.

SnO is the definition of jarring, awkwardly composed, tone deaf anime.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.03.04 PM

Even the character name text boxes are over active—they literally pulse into life, zoom the camera, wiggle, and morph out. It’s an interesting play on the convention of having characters named graphically and avoids expositional dialog but it feels out of place during the setup scenes.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.08.28 PM

What’s the gist? Rokuro was a super prodigy exorcist but he lost a lot of friends in a monster fight gone wrong and now he refuses to be an exorcist. Benio has been the best of the best in her small world outside Tokyo, where she’s been summoned for some meeting.

Several monster fights ensure, first at a train, then when kids are stolen by the river. Benio is super good but not good enough to beat the final boss, which Rokuro obviously beats with one punch, a bunch of angst, and roll credits.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.25.42 PM

The fighting is stylish and character designs are okay, if not slightly over designed and slightly generic. The way the monsters laugh and occasionally eat each other is pretty rocking too.

But SnO’s real hindrance is Rokuro & Benio: his obnoxious, girl crazy, ‘tragically wounded’ archetype isn’t likable and her stoic yet selfish, self-indulgent superiority complex isn’t likable either.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.59.28 AM

In short, SnO is paint-by-numbers anime. It’s well-built visually, it keeps the T&A relatively tame, and its easy to follow. But you’ve seen the show before and can predict almost every line of dialog as it comes—you could even snap your fingers on cue for the boss to arrive or Benio to bump into Rokuro for the first time or for Rokuro to win the day and say his pithy ending line.

If that’s good enough, that’s all it has to offer.

16rating_6

Kagewani: Shou – 01 (First Impressions)

horror2

There’s a Twilight Zone episode where (the actor who plays) Captain Kirk is on an airplane being attacked by a goblin, except he’s the only one who can see it and everyone thinks he’s crazy until the plane lands and work crews see all the damage.

This episode of Kagewani is like that, except the monster is inside the plane and has already eaten all the passengers and a reporter and ground crew are trying to figure out what happened after the fact.

horror1

Apparently this is the first episode of the second season but, given how much ground short format shows generally cover, you’ll be fine starting here.

Yes, this is another 7-minute short format show worth your time, but not just for its spin on the horror genre. Kagewani is visually unique: characters appear to be water-colored ink stills that have been animated in post process. It also employs what I can only describe as ‘Shaky Cam’.

horror3

I am absolutely certain the overarching plot is idiotic. The hero/villain introduced in the end has that ‘hardcore dude in the shadows’, too-cool-for-school vibe that we can all roll our eyes at.

Regardless, as an individual episode, this was engaging, visually interesting, and broke my expectations. Have 7 minutes? Give this a watch!

16rating_8

Space Patrol Luluco – 01 (First Impressions)

cpl1

Luluco is an normal high school girl with just below average grades. She lives with her dad in a Ogikubo, earth’s only town reserved for extraterrestrials. Her life is anything but normal.

At 7 minutes, UPL wastes no time getting to its mad cap antics: Luluco’s father quickly gets in trouble, which quickly gets Luluco drafted into the Space Police force for use as an undercover agent at her mostly ET populated high school.

cpl2

This is Panty & Stocking/Dead Leaves-style animation but with half the budget. It’s over the top, delightfully quirky and unpredictable.

And its cheapness is embraced by the writing and dialog. Jokes like Luluco being transformed into a space gun are punchy, well timed and totally unexpected.

cpl3

Verdict: Trigger (with SANZIGEN) has pulled off something very special with UPL. It’s a rare case where visual styling and charm overcome the limits of cheap animation. It’s FLCL but pocket sized and I can think of nothing more deserving of your time!

16rating_9

Endride – 01 (First Impressions)

endride2

The gist: Asanaga-kun is your average, gem-obsessed high schooler from a near future earth who falls into an alternate universe one evening while trying to bring his workaholic father home for a birthday dinner.

Meanwhile, Prince-kun is trying to murder his foster father for killing his biological father, and former king, but fails and is thrown in the dungeon…

endride5

Asanaga-kun appears in the dungeon, learns about ‘Relic Swords’ that some people can summon from their chests with emotions, fights a beast man, and eventually ends up helping the prince escape.

In short, Endride is a hilarious run-on sentence of cliches, terrible pacing, bland character design and discount animation.

endride3

Endride’s pacing is mind-blowingly ill-conceived: Asa’s introduction is full of narrated school montages showing his friends and obsession with gems, interspersed with expositional scenes with his mother and gem store owner.

Meanwhile, Villain-sama and Prince-Kun exposition at each other, only for Endride to show us what they just talked about via flashback.

And don’t get me started on how drawn out the escape sequence is, with all its false starts and stops and meaningless fight sequences.

endride1

Asa's mom was an "archaeologist", which is why SHE knows so much about gem stones… (ugh)

Don’t get me wrong, I was laughing at this show all the way through. Asa is one of those protagonists with an IQ of 75. He’s constantly asking stupid questions and adds literally nothing to any scene.

His character design, which includes a hard to see shoulder bag that he even wears to dinner, is exactly what my dad thought ‘cool teens’ would wear in the 90s.

Meanwhile, Villain-sama’s Relic looks like serrated folding chair and Prince-kun has a hooked knife with a pony in the handle…which I don’t even understand why he’s using since he also has a Relic. Absolutely none of the visual styling looks good or makes any sense at all.

endride4

The dialog is terrible, the animation is cheap and Endride’s first episode spent so much time over explaining the basic details that it crowded out a sense of the world.

Verdict: Endride is so bad it is funny but, in a season with so many good shows already, that isn’t a good enough reason to watch it.

16rating_3