Mr. OldSchool’s Summer Season Quick-Fire Reviews

Granbelm – A kind girl stumbles into a magic girl battle royale with super deformed style Gundam. The art style is visually striking and the action is top shelf’ish. Too bad Granbleh’s kitchen sink of tropes is delivered in such a loveless and generic way. 7

Maou-sama, Retry! – A game developer is sucked into the fantasy MMO he created in the moments before the servers go dark! Now he is a super powerful demon lord and looks like a yakuza! Zap! Loli! Art with zero style and story without originality or substance! 5

Kanata no Astra – Space High schoolers get lost in space; must show grit (and team work) to overcome crisis. Crisp animation and competent narrative construction save it from an underwhelming cast and middle shelf art style. If a kid dies next week, my opinion will move higher. 8

UchiMusume – A young adventurer adopts an orphaned demon girl he finds in the woods. There’s a potty joke! It’s charming but very safe and gives all the hints that it wont go anywhere by the end of the season. 8

Joshikousei no Mudazukai – A girl realizes she picked an all girls high school and she just. can’t. even. The comedic timing is on the money… but humor kinda whiffs? Mid shelf artwork makes it watchable but not remarkable. 7

Araburu Kisetsu no Otome – The literature club tackles sex in literature… AND LIFE! Reading train schedules and draping penises on girls’ heads play out in this earnest, bashful, slow burn. Looks to be Summer’s sleeper hit. 9!

Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? – A high school girl gains weight for comedy. Goes to gym for comedy. I got bored and stopped watching. 6

Sounan Desu ka? – Girls wash up on a beech. Panty shots. ¯\_()_/¯

Tejina-senpai – A boy must choose a school club and meets a girl into magic. 12 minutes of humorless antics ensue. #Skippable 5

Enen no Shouboutai – A boy with a tragic past starts his first day as a Magic Firemen fighting demoney fire people. There’s a churchy vibe and Soul Eater art style. The animated fire is fantastic but the production costs must have been too much for the studio. (scenes linger) Worth a watch though. 8

Katsute Kami Datta Kemono – A squad of super human monsters turn evil shortly after winning an alt US civil war. Bad guys laugh like evil bad guys and tragic love interests die for motivational purposes. It’s lower shelf animation and writing with some blood to tide viewers over. 5 #shitshow

Dr. Stone – Suddenly everyone turns to stone. 3,700 years later, two teens break out and start to figure out the stone-age world around them. With style so jarringly OTT my brain can’t tell if I love it or hate it, and a narrative construction so bat shit crazy I have to keep watching. 8 #WTFFTW

Wasteful Days of High School Girls – 01 (First Impressions) – An Interesting Woman (Or So He Says)

Wasteful Days picks up on the first day of high school for three friends who have been together since middle school (and possibly longer). Particularly for the liveliest of them, Tanaka Nozumu (voiced by the always-energetic Akasaki Chinatsu), this is supposed to be the start of their amazing high school lives; the pinnacle of youth. She hoped to become popular with the guys. The only problem is, they attend an all-girl’s school.

The only guy is a teacher who makes it clear he’s only into college girls, and manages to creep out the entire class. From there, Nozumu seeks out advice from her classmates, assigning them nicknames in the process, from from “Serious” (the girl who regularly checks stocks) to “Loli” (self-explanatory). No one is of any help, particularly her two friends, Saginomiya Shiori (a listless Toyosaki Aki) and Kikuchi Akane (Tomatsu Haruka).

The veteran all-star voice talent and the pacing of jokes somewhat make up for the fact that only a few of the jokes land, and I particularly liked the various cutaways and instances of characters reacting by just…walking away. But the full episode length makes it feel like there aren’t quite enough jokes to fill the space—a 12-minute runtime might’ve been a tighter affair. As it is, my mind often wandered.

There is a nice sequence of “possible” (but highly contrived/far-fetched) scenarios in which Nozomu encounters a hot guy, but they’re all in her head, and all are rejected as absurd by her friends, neither of whom have much energy for her antics. That being said, you get the feeling these three stick together anyways, as friends tend to do, due to pure inertia, and in the absence of strong new bonds.

If nothing else, this show captures the ennui and irrelevance of high school life as much as O Maidens captures the drama and angst. The fact it’s early in the Summer season means I don’t have a full plate yet, so this will stay on my list for now. But as tends to be the case, if better shows come along in my wheelhouse, it may signal the End of (Wasteful) Days.

Magic Kaito 1412 – 04

kaito43

Magic Kaito 1412 is simple good fun, with emphasis on simple. Episode 4 seems to go out of its way to make this point clear: the detective who’s chased Kaito for years doesn’t know how tall he is or even his gender, let alone any esoteric details that would be necessary to actually identify Kaito off the crime scene.

Likewise, Kaito himself relies on balloon decoys, gas bombs, and flying machines almost entirely. The occasional Mission: Impossible-style mask aside, “real police” should be able to deal with him by now. It all feels cheap and silly.

kaito42
“The truth will always come to light”

Worse, Kaito himself is terribly obvious about everything he does. He’s even in class with a master detective who’s out to get him but somehow stupid enough not to notice “Kaito” acts exactly like “Kaito Kid”.

Also, Really? The police chief’s son is a world-class detective transfer student to Kaito’s class? I know this show is aimed at a younger audience but this just feels contrived and silly.

kaito41

So…Here we are 4 episodes into the series and Kaito’s shine is starting to wear. Yes, it’s still a cute show that plays an up beat cat and mouse game. Everything is easy to understand and the goofy magic tricks Kaito pulls off can be fun to watch.

That doesn’t give me much to actually review though and, presumably, critically reviewing a show (not just summarizing events) is why you read them. Sadly, I’m dropping it. Sorry Kaito, your time is up.

5_ogkdrop_ogk

Magic Kaito 1412 – 03

k3_0

Kaito takes a break from his quest to solve his father’s murder and thwart the mysterious forces seeking the fountain of youth to shut down Gramps’ bar’s biggest competitor. That bar is certainly owned by some villainous jerks and Kaito is technically  grabbing an amazing pool cue Gramps’ used to own but lost in a bet, but this week’s heist is pretty shallow.

Who knows? Maybe Kaito just wanted to show off to Aoko and/or get her really drunk for fun?

k3_1

We start off with a Yakuza giving Gramps crap over how poorly his bar & pool hall is doing and getting Kaito caught up on Gramps’ backstory as a pool shark and how he lost his most valuable possession to another shark years ago. That shark played fair, but his boss, the owner of the Yakuza’s club bar and pool hall, cheated by doing something nefarious to Gramps’ cue chalk.

It’s small stakes, but Kaito was having fun (totally sucking at pool) with Aoko and Gramps’ Legendary Cue is covered in jewels…so? Reasons?

k3_7

So Kaito, Aoko and Gramps go to “the American” and, like the dreary lounge music playing there, pretty much everything that follows is forgettable.

Kaito and Aoko, who are under aged, have to dress up and pretend to be married college students to get in. Aoko gets drunk on no-alcohol-free alcohol-free drinks. Kaito pretends to be terrible at pool (and maybe he is?) but pulls a final shot victory after losing all night.

Everything you would expect happens — Kaito even uses dummy decoys again — and the good guys win back the prize by the end. Ho hum.

k3_3

This week wasn’t so much terrible, as forced. Kaito is intentionally playing a clown — figuratively playing the clown that his father talks about in a flash back — for most of the hustle. It’s grating and impossible to imagine his opponents tolerating it as long as they do, nor seeing through it as an act.

I mean, if someone sinks no balls for many games straight, then challenges you for the prized item in an all or nothing game, a hustler has to know the hustle is on.

k3_4

Also in the ‘forced’ category was the actual criminal activity perpetrated by the mobsters. Really? You smuggle guns by hiding them in the pool tables you play on? What could possibly go wrong?

It’s no wonder the police got there in seconds as soon as the baddies guns were drawn!

k3_6

At least the visuals stepped up a notch. Generally, Kaito’s colors were brighter and the palette had more depth. Add in the pool-hall haze this week was Kaito’s most striking visual. Seriously! It had a cool vibe, even if the show is way too silly to actually be cool.

In the end? It was cute but more than a little wonky. Even by the genre’s standards, Kaito did a terrible job covering his tracks. I mean…he’s standing next to his own body double dummy surrounded by totally disinterested police.

Kinda meh.

6_ogk

Magic Kaito 1412 – 02

Kaito2_5

If you want to give me a hard time about it, you could draw comparisons between Magic Kaito 1412 and Aketsuki no Yona and Nanatsu no Taizai and ask why I like this show, yet dropped the other two?

And you would not be out of line. Kaito is also kinda-ugly, it’s Lupin the 3rd style plot is by definition unoriginal, and Kaito-kun’s own infallibility toes the line of being blandly god like. However, where Princess Yona is a downer of a spoiled teenager turned war princess eventually and Captain Sin is an emotionally empty hentai who’s skin is soaked with the blood of so many jokes that weren’t funny that he makes me feel dead inside, Kaito-kun is upbeat AND rather grounded at the same time.

TL;DR? Kaito gives me a smile.

kaito2_1

This week we catch up with Kaito after his first few jobs. He’s still high as a kite on how well he’s doing and how much fun it is to do it. His tricks are rather simple, ultimately, and often rely simply on dropping a blow up decoy or wearing a basic disguise.

However not everything is going flawlessly in Kaito’s life: Nakamori-chan is furious her dad is getting so little sleep. (and that he’s basically forgotten she exists)

kaito2_11

Kaito doesn’t help his case by teasing Aoko about her physical attributes, without mercy. Sure, he does a few pretty magic tricks for her, but let’s be honest: Kaito’s a bit of a jerk. (even by popular high school standards)

In a vague attempt to make her feel better, Kaito promises to attend Aoko’s birthday party. But he’s gonna be late. (since he’s already on for a jewel heist at the same time)

kaito2_2

kaito2_4

The heist goes as well as any of these world-class-thief animes let it go. Kaito pulls some neat tricks (some very simple ones too) and encounters plot advancing elements before turning a surprise reversal on his enemies and gets away scot free.

Details? Erh, an evil syndicate probably killed his dad because they also want to steal jewels because one special jewel will cry under moon light and the tears are the fountain of youth. Erh, or something like that.

Kaito2_9

Kaito learns this and defeats the baddies using the tracking device the police were using to track him and, at the stroke of midnight, makes Aoko happy with a phone call and a fireworks show.

Magic Kaito 1412 doesn’t take itself all that seriously but it’s not like it doesn’t take itself seriously at all either. Everyone is having fun — even the frustrated police detective — and that carries a lot of weight for me. It’s charming and up beat BUT NOT SACCHARINE! For all of that, mad props, Kaito. Now here’s your seven out of ten!

7_ogk

Level E 13

Level E goes out on a lofty note, which is not surprising considering the high level of quality it has sustained. A somewhat inocuous cliffhanger last week instantly comes into play: and more signs that the princess is not who she says she is surface. What follows is an intoxicatingly entertaining and confident story of intergalactic political intrigue and cerebral (and physical) cat-and-mouse.

As per usual, this story never lets you see all the cards it’s holding until the very end, but you’re having so much fun, you don’t have time to scratch your head. Things are always kept nice and breezy, even with the fate of earth on the line, but the lack of serious drama is never a problem. When Prince’s brother – who turns out not to be his brother, but then again, actually is – attacks him with a sword, we see perhaps for the first time what a truly slippery bastard he is.

But that double-twist – that his brother and bride are impersonating imposters to attempt to trick him – is perfectly executed. His brother may not be a match for him, but the princess is at least a match for him in the brains department – and perhaps even someone worth falling in love with. Thus in this final arc, Prince’s whole purpose for being on earth – to find some exploit worth his time and effort – would seem to pay off. And the final twist with the cat…nice touch! Rating: 4

Series Mean Ranking: 3.500