Yo! Daitouryou Trap-kun (First Impressions)

The Gist: Donald Trump shows up as an exchange student who raps, is vile, and horrifies all the Japanese around him. Episodes are 60 seconds long, with the first introducing him and ending with a reveal that his head is a bento box and the second focusing on gym class and that his hair is a 5 kilogram stone weight. There’s censored nudity.

You may find Yo! Daitouryou Trap-kun interesting if you want to see what another country thinks of the US president. The rap is pretty good, if a little simple, and the same can be said for the art style. It’s expressive, gross, funny, and terrifying in equal measure.

You may find Yo! Daitouryou Trap-kun (trump kun?) unacceptable if you are one of his supporters. While it fits Trump’s image as a loud, unapologetic sociopath that makes excuses for his inadequacy, it does feature the president peeing into the air and landing bare-ass naked on a little girls face. Subtle this is not.

The Verdict: if this wasn’t about Trump, no one would notice it at all. The art style is primitive, the 60 second format is too short for more than the most bizarre of sight gags, and the humor itself is as shocking and nonsensical as can be.

Since it is about Trump, and since it is from a non-US source, it’s interesting to see as a snapshot of our world. Beyond that? It’s not especially worth hunting down a copy.

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Little Witch Academia – 06

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The Gist: Akko continues to struggle with magic and is forbidden to attend the school’s banquet for heads of state. So, Akko attempts to visit a forbidden magic location on campus instead.

Along the way, she meets Andrew, a handsome boy who considers magic outdated and is totally her love interest. Together, they are chased by a polar bear, saved by that professor who is totally not secretly Chariot, and gain an the understanding that magic takes hard work and dedication.

Roll credits…

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While this week continued LWA’s streak of filler episodes, it did contain a few gems. I loved that Akko’s transformation spell, which requires the caster to ‘imagine what the result will look like,’ literally turns Andrew into an Ass. The story also benefited by Andrew having no interest in Diana, thankfully removing any love triangle distractions from future episodes. It was also nice for Akko to finally get a reality check, which may allow future episodes to be framed with greater purpose.

On the down side, the episodes narrative points were heavy handed. Seeing Professor Ursula’s hair change from red to blue makes it obvious that she is Shiny Chariot. It was also unnecessary, because her interaction with Akko immediately after Akko witnesses Chariot’s school-days-montage already implies that to the viewer. I’d argue the entire chase scene with the polar bear was superfluous too, because it only results in the viewers seeing the Ursula/Chariot reveal, and gives no real development for Akko/Andrew.

And that’s saying nothing of Frank, Andrew’s friend who’s existence in the plot serves no purpose at all. Between Frank and Andrew’s father, and the uneventful moments of the banquet, not much happens. Rather, those non-scenes isolate Akko and Andrew’s argument about magic scene and the polar bear chase scene in a way that makes them feel ‘not enough’ to float the over all episode on their own.

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Are the twin dark-complexioned girls an homage to Harry Potter’s Pavarti twins?

The Verdict: The image above captures my frustrations pretty well. There are a lot of characters, few of which we know or care about, standing around doing nothing. The world is full of details, but we are told nothing about them (presuming the different color details on each witch’s costume means anything).

Akko and Chariot are the only central characters who get screen time this week, and Chariot was and still is a compete enigma. Why is she hiding? Why does she care about Akko? (beyond having a similar backstory) Why should we care as viewers when Akko’s narrative purpose is barely more than ‘she will learn magic?’

This would matter less if the show was just a slice-of-life piece, but that would require stronger relationships between the characters, and a greater emphasis on day-to-day living in the world, which LWA does not really do (Lotte’s episode was the closest we’ve seen of that…and half the reviewers didn’t like it).

In closing, I’m pretty disappointed with LWA. It’s well-animated, has a potentially interesting setting, and characters that could be charming. However, its focus on Akko is structured too much like a destiny piece to let that world grow, but isn’t focused enough to feel like an epic journey and the characters come and go from each week’s story in too disposable a fashion. You just can’t care for a character if they aren’t there.

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Little Witch Academia – 05

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The Gist: Akko and Amanda are at each other’s throats this week, which quickly lands them in detention. Fortunately, or not, this positions them perfectly to witness a flock of dragons fly off with the Sorcerer’s Stone, which leads the adversaries to pool their collective trios for a witches verses dragons chase.

Along the way they meet Lord Fafnir, an ancient but financially forward thinking dragon, get into a robot dragon fight complete with shotguns and rocket-propelled grenades, free the school from its debts (via Diana) and land back in detention. Akko and Amanda even become friends…at least, for a short period of time.

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Akko-centric ‘outbursts’ aside, this week was all about story at the edges…

Unfortunately, this week is far less than the sum total of its parts. Despite Akko’s wonderfully elastic facial expressions, her squabbling with Amanda just isn’t interesting. Similarly, when Akko flips Amanda backwards out of her chair and spends detention scowling and belligerent with everyone, our ability to empathize with her plucky underdog status is greatly reduced. Combine that with Akko’s lack of impact on the plot, her story doesn’t feel like it had any purpose (She is the reason for the six students to witness the plot’s resolution, nothing more.)

The addition of Amanda, Constanze and Jasminka to the plot presents its own issue. What value does a third trio of student witches add to the narrative? Sure, Constanze’s inventions are cute, and her mechanical broom is a plot device to get the girls to the dragon’s hideout, but she and Jasminka aren’t actually characters. Beyond their physical characteristics and plot-devices, they don’t speak and do not physically interact with the rest of the cast. This lack of presence prevents them from even serving as counterpoints of Akko’s Sucy and Lotte or Diana’s lackeys.

This is a very strange choice for characters that get as much screen time as Amanda this week. It’s too much exposure (and design work) to serve the background role they otherwise appear to have been asigned.

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Lord Fafnir, in front of his stock exchange monitors…

The Verdict: If this week’s purpose was to not have a purpose, then it succeeded. More precisely, several of the episode’s elements are best described as ‘not being important in the first place.’

Diana revealing the school’s debt is a lie? Despite being mentioned in every previous episode, its rapid resolution with no zip or humor saps any fun from the payoff. Not that the dragon was built up in any previous episode, nor has the core cast suffered due to the financial conflict. So the debt, itself, was not a consequential conflict in the first place.

Akko x Amanda’s relationship reset? Amanda has barely been in the show so far, and her only contributions have been Akko x broom rides related. So who cares?

Ultimately, competent visual design and quality rendered action give it just enough to be watchable. It’s the power of ‘stuff happened coherently and it looked good’ but not much more. Compared to last week, which I enjoyed more than Preston enough to take over reviewing it, color me not pleased…

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Little Witch Academia – 04

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We’ve got ourselves a Lotte-centric episode, with Akko and Sucy simply along for the ride. After Akko steals a tart (not a pie; she wants that made clear) from the kitchens, all three roommates are punished, and Lotte’s weekend plans to attend a new book release are dashed.

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Akko comes up with a very simple plan to sneak the three of them out of school and into town, and Lotte’s fully on board because this is a can’t-miss event: the release of volume 365 of night fall, which is a pretty blatant (and only intermittently humorous) parody of Twilight and the crazed fandom that surrounds it, a world which Akko and Sucy are decidedly not a part of.

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While some of the ridiculous snippets from the bowels of night fall’s vast milieu elicit a chuckle or two, and Akko learns there are people who don’t simply try to become those they idolize, but are content to support them…but it’s a pretty thin premise, and the episode lacked the visual panache and, more importantly, the heaping helpings of Akko-moxie that characterized the first three.

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To Be Hero – 10

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The Gist: Yamada, Data-link, Older Prince and yes, even Min-chan are all destroyed by the Evil Emperor as Old Man looks on, unable to fight. As Min-chan’s book about Old Man being a hero falls to the ground, the question must be asked: will he rise to the cliche or will he fall to this crushing turn of events?

Verdict: I’m not sure what else To Be Hero could have done with itself by this point? This week followed the poop humor path (young prince fires urine balls at the emperor and older prince’s toilet simulates urinating on various characters) and the super evil villain kills everyone while the hero is down cliche, neither of which is very interesting…

Unfortunately, the animation was sub par too.

To Be Hero has some great highs but, over all, the characters are by the numbers when it comes to emotional connections and plot developments to invest in. What isn’t generic is poop and urine and anal related. If that’s fine with you, you may enjoy the moments between the tightly scripted humor sections. Otherwise, save yourself!

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To Be Hero – 09

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Trying to commit suicide with a fish earns best scene this week. Maybe the only humor in the whole episode…

The Gist: Lots of poop jokes knit Old Man and the Space Princes’ various antics at the dinner table together. Or not, depending on your tolerance for poop jokes.

However, the ultimate result is everyone accidentally drinks to water of despair and wants to commit suicide. Meanwhile, Min-chan, the only person not to drink the water, discovers an old notebook in her box of treasures and it contains childish drawings of each weirdo currently making her life crazy — including her father, who is a super hero in the drawing.

Then Space Emperor arrives through the roof. Roll credits

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Verdict: The needle of quality swings wildly again for To Be Hero and, even though the reveal of Min’s book adds some interesting mystery to the show, I can’t even be charitable. Way way wayyyyyy too much of the episode was dedicated to poop and characters acting stupidly. The older of the Space Princes even drinks his own trap while talking about it because… Plot I guess?

Watching To Be Hero is maddening. Some episodes are tightly scripted laugh factories. Some episodes have heart amidst crude and inept characters. Yet some episodes are just gross, pointless wastes of time. In it’s own way, this means there’s something for everyone, but also something to annoy anyone trying to watch the whole thing. At this point, my rating is shifting down to a 5 from the average 7 just because I do not actually enjoy (or even want) to watch a significant portion of TBH’s run time.

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To Be Hero – 08

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The Gist: Big Prince unleashes his plot to defeat Earth by winning Min-chan’s heart. This starts with a refreshing water mellon, which leads Min-chan down a string of anime conventions where each male archetype has been replaced with a mellon. It’s delicious nonsense and it’s barely a fraction of the episode.

The lion’s share of narrative is dedicated to the Great Emperor’s backstory, which involves many female archetype love interests dying on him, a sham-marrage, the origin of his sons, and the reasons why he’s trying to destroy all romance in the universe. It is non-stop hilarious.

Meanwhile, Team Old Man is about to unleash its plot to prevent everyone in the world from using the toilet at a single moment such that Old Man can return to his parallel earth.

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“Shut Up and watch the Flashback!” – the Emperor’s Minions

Verdict: To Be Hero nails a near perfect score for absurd humor and punchy, dialog. It’s crisp, moves briskly, and never strays into poop humor.

Mind you, it doesn’t really move the story along in a meaningful way but I’m not sure there’s a story to move along in the first place? Old Man was barely even in the episode and his arc from last week, attempting to get back to HIS Earth, may not even be a real thing.

Don’t care. Too busy laughing!

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To Be Hero – 07

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“Those wonderful memories are mine!” – Old Man

The Gist: Old Man is confronted with the fact that he isn’t the ‘Old Man’ of this Earth but, rather, a parallel Earth and the Hero Agency just sent him to the wrong place. Except this may not be the case, since we quickly learn that the Old Man doppleganger is, in fact, Prince’s older Brother, hatching a plot to destroy the world.

Too bad Old Man is busy dealing with the recently revived snake lady, who’s plugging into Perv has created a FemiPerv variant. Uh… that’s about it.

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“That’s a terrifyingly delusional plot twist, but it makes sense for some reason” – Old Man

Verdict: As always, Old Man’s dialog is the strongest aspect of To Be Hero. When it’s not poop humor, the dry absurdity of his lines, and his casual dissection of how idiotic the world of hero shows is around him, genuinely bring out the lolz.

The rest of the show, not so much…

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To Be Hero – 06

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The Gist: despite its obsession with toilet humor. episode 6 nails its satire of mid season twists this week. Prince’s attacker turns out to be a spurned lover and a double surprise backstory for why he came to invade earth. The lover, a barbed tail like creature that anchors to the butt of a ‘battery’ that looks like a girl, immediately forms a second loop to this show’s love triangle (because Yamata gives her CPR… without knowing the ‘girl’s’ mouth is actually her anus)

Prince has fully rotated into the hero camp and Old Man has accepted him, even the point of accepting Prince’s love for Min-chan.

Then Prince’s bother shows up as the new villain, only to immediately be cliff-hanger over shadowed by an Old Man look alike showing up at his apartment door. Dun dun duunnnnn

 

Verdict: The dialog was snappy, entertaining, and not as purely gross as it could be. Yes, there were some butt-sucking jokes, but they were much less drawn out than I expected. That said, this fell way short of To Be Hero’s strongest performance.

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To Be Hero – 05

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“I’m a superhero, y’know? What’s with this treatment??” – Old Man

The Gist: Old Man flashbacks show us how the stress of his career slowly ate away his marriage and turned him from a loving husband to an empty womanizer. Returning to the present to find Prince has been choking him all night, we get a string of potty-humor before Min-chan arrives in need of a plumber.

The tub faucet is leaking and, as an extension of their rivalry, Old Man and Prince compete to fix it. Prince actually tries to drink the whole water supply, while Old Man just uses plumber’s tape, which Min-chan identifies as a lazy fix like her own father would make…

It’s a whistful experience for Old Man. Looping back, this leak was the turning point in his marriage — when he stopped caring — and Min-chan was right there in the tub when it happened. This causes Old Man to reveal his family connection to Prince, which seems like a bad idea but Prince has already transitioned to a quasi-good guy.

Then Prince’s father sends more aliens after him, one of which appears to be standing right outside the apartment…

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“This guy’s quite good at Japanese even though he’s an alien…” – Old Man

Verdict: The looping backstory element was nicely done, with decent emotional resonance. Some of the humor was good too, usually Old Man’s responses to the absurd world around him.

However, Perv’s ‘naughty’ jokes are bland, and the obvious attempts to make non-sexual scenes look like sex scenes don’t add anything to the show. I’m not sure why it’s supposed to be funny to see Prince holding the tub faucet down while Old Man tighten’s the washers, with water ‘jacking’ over his face? I’m not sure why a younger viewer would want to watch the non-naughty parts of the show?

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To Be Hero – 04

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Fortunately, our Hero is completely invulnerable…

The Gist: after a moment of surprise, Old Man discovers that his can not be harmed for more than a moment. Not even by blood loss, which does occur when he is ‘penetrated’ by Prince.

Things get boring fast, so Old Man picks his nose, which leads Price to believe boogers are Old Man‘s weakness. So Prince eats one and makes a giant booger ball but, before the showdown can happen, Old Man’s little girl shows up and beats ‘the perv‘ to a pulp.

…which reminds Prince of how his mother used to beat him, and how much he felt loved back then. Roll Credits!

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Yes… that is a giant ball of snot the Alien Prince is holding…

Verdict: This week would probably appeal to an 8 year old. The opening gag (where Prince keeps stabbing into Old Man yelling “but I put it in you from behind” type lines that Old Man calls out as creepy sex references) seem tailor made for that audience. However, the whole gross section devoted to eating/smearing boogers, seems fit for an even younger audience. Who knows who the child abuse gags were meant for…

Like the second episode, which spent more time being gross than funny or intelligent, episode 4 fell totally flat. I mean I get it. The aliens are dumb and dumbfounded by our world, and the humor doesn’t hold its punches but watching people get covered in animated bodily excretions isn’t appealing to me.

Shrug? Given the bipolar nature (and shorter episode length) of this series, I’m happy to tune in next week but man are the review scores going to be all over the place!

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To Be Hero – 03

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It is as we feared, we are all male and can not fight the female ‘globers’

The Gist: The aliens have studied humans and believe the race is divided into two types. The male type has tiny globes that are useless and the female type has a broader range of globe sizes, that indicate their innate power. Unfortunately, the Aliens discover they are all male and nosebleed/boners guarantee they can not dominate our world.

Not only is the diagrammatic scene that explains all this hilarious, details like the the alien king growing an ever more absurdly tall boner while chastising his men for panic, had me in stitches.

To overcome this challenge, the aliens create the perfect love weapon… and the result is a guy with an emoji’ head who drives a rapping yellow muscle car called BumbleZ… who’s arms and legs are too short to attack Old Man and is quickly defeated.

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“I’m Earth’s hero but you got a fancy CG transformation scene?!”

Verdict: The dialog was slower and less base than last week and it all worked very well.

From timing, to 4th wall breaking gags, to cynical views on what people find attractive, this week was pure comedy gold. More than that, it snuck a slightly thoughtful moment of drama in at the end AND cliff-hangered us with the evil emperor putting his hands right through Old Man’s chest.

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To Be Hero – 02

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The Gist: Old Man is trapped living next door with his nudist neighbor… but the alien threat keeps on coming. This week a chicken man and a pink bearded muscle man are undone in comical, but extremely quickly spoken dialog. Yet by the end, sadly, Old Man is still trapped in a fat perv’s body…

So this week followed the pilot’s template. The humor is odd and well timed, for example the cutting of Old Man and the Pink Bearded alien makes it look like they are about to confront each other at the door, only to be at the wrong addresses, which causes the pink alien to kill himself accidentally in embarrassment… humor is hard to talk about!

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To be Hero’s humor at it’s finest

Oji’s Verdict: The back story of chickens being an alien race and the repeated jokes about the nudist’s family leaving him were all cute but good gracious dialog zipped by at break neck speed. I’m not sure that really helped and, in all honesty, the ‘potty humor’ aspect isn’t very… sophisticated.

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