For the first time ever, I'm actually gonna be covering a slew of shows that are actually relevant to the now. I'll follow this up with a few shows from 1999 later—I just wanted to talk about some newer stuff for once.Goblin Slayer
Ep. 1: "The Fate of Particular Adventurers"
This is an adaptation of a D&D-inspired light novel about a priestess girl who teams up with a "badass" knight (the titular Goblin Slayer) after her party gets brutally slaughtered by goblins on their first mission.
My favorite thing about this show has to be that it perfectly encapsulates everything I hate about anime in about 20 minutes. I could theoretically end my journey here. If anyone ever questions why I hate anime again in the future, I can just point them to the first episode of this show and be done with it—but alas, I already know what kind of reaction that will receive, so I must trudge on.
The unfortunate semantic satiation of the word "edgy" makes it difficult for me to find a more fitting term to describe the show with, so I'm just going to use it anyway. I realize there's nothing inherently wrong with edginess—most of my favorite anime are, indeed, quite edgy—just understand that when I use the word in a pejorative sense, I'm referring to a specific type of tryhard
edginess that I cannot stand.
Hoo, boy—If you've found yourself in the market for some pure, flaming hot, tasteless edgelord garbage, then do I ever have the perfect show for you. Enter Goblin Slayer, the most embarrassingly pathetic and tryhard attempt at creating a grimdark fantasy world for "mature" audiences I've seen since Berserk—but perhaps that's an unfair example, because I've even seen Berserk fans shit on this show, which... doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to me, but whatever. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that even a Berserk fan's IQ isn't low enough to enjoy something like this is a testament to its sheer quality.
The premise is simple high concept garbage: Take something extremely popular with all the creepy nerds, virgins, and hikikomori losers in the West (Dungeons & Dragons), play it as straight as possible so the show can have a cute and novel little gimmick which feels similar to how the actual game is played, only—and this is the most important step—give it a nice grimdark twist with a lot of softcore gore porn as a
cheap and lazy clever and original way to set it apart from all those other gay-ass light novel adaptations that are pervading the industry right now.
This ain't your fat fucking SJW sister's fujobait show—this show is mature as F*CK, and you better watch your goddamn step, because there's no BABIES allowed beyond this point, motherfucker. You think you're in for some normie-ass Sword Art Online-type bullshit? Think again. This show is epic, hardcore, and balls to the wall, and if you're too much of a pussy beta cuck bitch to handle some mature themes for based adults like me, I suggest you mosey right along. The door is right there. Try not to touch me with your flapping vagina on the way out, you nutless faggot.
The main character is a soft-spoken 15-year-old blonde girl (very hardcore) playing the role of a priestess in some dull D&D-inspired stock fantasy world. Of course, even though she's only 15, they do make it a point to say she's considered an "adult" in this universe, so that you don't have to feel guilty about masturbating to her. Fucking BASED.
They briefly set up a few basic ground rules, like roles, ranks, levels, and how many times our protagonist is able to use her spells in battle—Wow, this is just like my Japanese RPGs!—Then she meets up with three other low-level randos, to whom we barely get to know anything about before she automatically joins their party for no discernible reason. I think it's because our main character is a genius.
The rest of the party is pretty smart, too, because they all collectively decide to go hunting for goblins without preparing for battle first. One of the characters remarks that they didn't even buy potions or other supplies before taking on the mission, because they're only dealing with weak little goblins anyway. As a True Gamer, I found this scene incredibly relatable, and I could just feel
the indigestion my personal score for this anime steadily rising in my gut.
Imagine my shock when—SPOILER ALERT!!!—it turns out that the goblins are actually WAY too strong for our greenhorn heroes, and they wind up getting slaughtered one by one. The tone suddenly shifts from lighthearted and adventurous to gruesome horrific, and it's not corny, poorly paced, or shoddily executed at all.
In fact, this show is getting a lot of buzz right now because of one particular scene here, which I will proceed to spoil in its entirety, so skip the next few paragraphs if you care (which I'm sure you do). Anyway, after a lingering shot of a goblin's knife being jabbed into the stomach of one girl in the party, they proceed to rip her clothes off before one of them literally rapes her. And it's shot like a scene in a hentai.
Sarcasm mode off for a second: Ethically speaking, when it comes to rape scenes, I genuinely don't have any inherent ethical quandaries about them—so long as they're not meant to be erotic. Horrible things happen to people in this world, and it's perfectly okay to show these things in art. Rape is no exception; I only ask that it be done right. This makes the filming of rape scenes an extremely delicate matter, but not one that I find intrinsically unacceptable. Some of my favorite movies, such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, feature rape scenes that I would describe as "brutal and dehumanizing—yet honest, and with purpose," which are the only four some-odd words that I ever want to use to describe that type of scene. If I have to use other words, like "erotic," "exploitative," "dishonest," or "purposeless," then the scene has failed to convey anything useful or meaningful with respect to its grander narrative.
The rape scene in Goblin Slayer serves one purpose, and I wouldn't consider it an honest or valuable one—it exists to create a veneer of maturity, projecting a notion to the viewer that says, "This show is super dark and edgy, therefore it's cool and good." The fact that the scene utilizes a few standard techniques that are often used in typical pornography—you know, something that's designed to be enjoyed—does succeed in making the scene more off-putting, but I can't help but feel as though the animators were intending for certain people to find a sick sense of eroticism within it. Anime fans are depraved degenerates, after all—and everybody knows it—so it wouldn't be surprising at all if the show was trying to exploit that.
That's what makes it a "bad" rape scene to me, because it's not there to serve any unique purpose that would be derived only if the goblins had raped her. The goblins may as well have just tortured and/or killed her, and it would've made the same difference from a narrative standpoint. But no, it HAD to be rape, because rape is a very touchy and "ballsy" subject matter, which is going to create a lot of Internet buzz if we include it in our otherwise bland and boring-ass show that has absolutely nothing else worth talking about in it. And the fact that I'm even talking about it here, giving the show more undeserved attention, means I'm part of the problem. What a conundrum.
And if we're being completely honest with ourselves, I don't think an anime can get any more BASED than that.
After that, the show just devolves into mindless softcore gorn, with little else going on except screaming and people you don't care about dying and getting killed and blood and gore and screaming and more blood. Very badass and very hardcore. This show makes me feel like the intellectual adult that I am. Eventually everyone dies, except for the protagonist who gets rescued by the titular Goblin Slayer, a silver rank knight who proceeds to effortlessly slaughter every goblin in the cave. He speaks with these stock one-liners typical of your stock low-key quiet badass, and every time he kills a goblin, he counts them—it's really fucking lame. Also, his animation is like 2 frames per second, and he's made up of really bad CGI. Loathsome. And because the show is so hardcore, there needed to be a scene where the Goblin Slayer ruthlessly kills a bunch of baby goblins, "because it has to be done." It's not even that I disagree with him—it's that I find it hilarious that the show needs to keep reminding me how hardcore it is. It's just so pathetic, and I hated every second of it.
You know what's funny? Just before things go awry, there's actually a bit of dialogue where someone remarks, "Oh, goblins are nothing to worry about, I've scared some of them away before!" and another character adds, "That's not even something to brag about." Which is true, that's not anything to brag about. Goblins are weak—the only reason they got destroyed is because they went in so unprepared and cocksure. With that being said, what the fuck is a guy running around calling himself the GOBLIN SLAYER for? Is that supposed to make him sound tough? It sure seems like it, given how hard they try to paint him as a badass in the show. I just find that so fucking hilarious.
This is one of those shows I was doomed to hate from the premise alone, because the very idea of a D&D-inspired anime could only ever result in me despising whatever the fuck it ends up being. I don't see the appeal in taking something that's meant to be a fun game you play with your nerdy friends and turning it into something like this—especially when it's written by manchild Berserk fans who have such a childish conception of what mature and dark content is, so it just winds up being an embarrassing fuckfest that only stupid people could enjoy, with absolutely nothing of value or substance to found.
Uh, I mean, it's fucking based. Totally awesome. AotY 2018. Anyone who doesn't like it is just a little pissbaby who can't handle adult content. Check it out, but only if you're man enough.
This show is for stupid edgelords and bored Berserk
fans who need something else to help them compensate for their lack of maturity by making them feel cool for watching something that has bloody murder and rape in it. Except you're not cool at all. Enjoying shows like this, in fact, makes you a fucking loser.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Ep. 1: "The Storm Dragon, Verudora"
This is an adaptation of a JRPG-inspired isekai manga about a 37-year-old guy who dies after getting stabbed on the street by a random thug, only to be reincarnated in a fantasy world as a slime—as in, the stereotypical weak enemy at the beginning of every Japanese RPG ever.
Despite the isekai genre being an extremely tired one, I actually found the premise of this one a little intriguing, but I ultimately found myself most impressed with the show's visual presentation—especially all the trippy sequences during the reincarnation itself, and when the protagonist is trying to get used to his slime body.
One thing I definitely wasn't into was the sheer amount of time it took for the show to explain all of its expository details and rules regarding the main character's abilities and shit, owing to its RPG-inspired premise. Maybe it's because I watched the episode in the wee hours of the morning, but the way it prattled through all its exposition, it seemed to be going at a breakneck pace—I think I wound up asking myself, "Wait, what just happened?" at least two or three times. There's also a bit of gamer/otaku jargon thrown in there at certain points—not enough to feel overbearing or cringeworthy, but enough to make me roll my eyes a little bit.
The setting may be pretty generic, but I think that actually works out in the show's favor. It's the familiarity of the setting that helps sell the gimmicky premise, because anyone who's played an RPG knows what a slime is, and understands the humor and absurdity behind becoming one. It just makes it feel all the more novel, I guess.
The character designs teased in the ED make me feel a little worried about the show's direction going forward, but I'm still willing to watch at least one more episode of this before I decide to drop it.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Ep. 1: "My Senpai is a Bunny Girl"
This is a boy-meets-girl light novel adaptation about a high school senior with a case of "adolescent syndrome"—a vaguely supernatural force that preys on anxious young people going through puberty, and affects them differently depending on what's making their lives the most difficult. Or something like that.
In Sakuta Azusagawa's case, he meets Mai, a girl in a bunny outfit at the library—she struts around and waves in a bunch of people's faces, but even though she happens to be a famous and recognizable actress, nobody can see her except for Sakuta. It seems that, as a result coming back to school in the middle of the semester, failing to make any friends, her adolescent syndrome has developed to cause her to disappear in the minds of everyone she tries to interact with. Yearning to get to the bottom of this, every time Sakuta and Mai spend time together, he writes everything they do down in a journal he keeps in his room, so he can read all about it the next day—lest he forgets that she exists, too.
This is not really
my kind of show—at its core, it's just a high school romance that at least tries to have a unique premise and interesting characters. It's like if Makoto Shinkai (or a budget facsimile) directed a TV series. It bores me, but there's a couple things about it that I don't dislike. The dry wit and sharp tongues of our two introspective main characters is pretty enjoyable—it's the kind of humor that won't make you laugh out loud, but chuckle on the inside. Their dialogue is pretty unnatural, and filled with the sort of philosophical musings and wisdom bomb-drops you wouldn't expect from high school children, but I understand it's just there to give you a sense that these kids are thinking
people. Which is fine, but at times, it makes all the bloviating conversations feel like they've been ripped from a John Green novel or some shit, which is a slight turn off. That probably only bothers me, though.
Still, the title and premise and poster made me think I'd absolutely hate it, but I didn't—so that's a good sign. By the end of the episode, the viewer is left with a lot of unanswered questions—namely, how could an attractive actress girl have no friends in high school?—which I can't vouch for, since I'm not really sure if I'm even gonna bother with the rest of this show or not. Maybe one more episode, since MAL tells me there's only 13 scheduled.
Iroduku: The World in Colors
Ep. 1: "Where You Belong"
Another isekai, but this one is totally original and not based on any light novels for once. It's about a young and world-weary witch girl called Hitomi who has been rendered an emotional vacuum on the account of her lifelong colorblindness, which seems to have sucked all the joy out of her life. Feeling sorry for her, she gets sent back in time by her grandmother to the Current Year so that she can do... SOMETHING, which is never really explained to us, other than getting to meet her grandmother as a teenager. The reason why is, as of yet, a mystery.
This was fucking boring as shit, and I don't really know what to say about it. Pretty much nothing interesting happens at all, and I'm struggling to think of what I liked about it. Perhaps unlike Reincarted as a Slime
, the show's fantasy setting is much more low-key. Magic exists, and people use it for a variety of purposes, but it's treated very casually and it's never really spoonfed to us as to why or how that is. It's just an element of the story that the show knows we can generally accept, rather than assuming we need too much explained to us.
The show is also visually... pretty, I guess? But only in the most uninteresting way possible. Hitomi's design is "beautiful" in a factory sense—she ticks all the boxes on how to create the perfect quiet/cute/shy girl, but with no standout features that make her design feel remotely curated. As a result, she grosses me out ever time she's on screen.
My biggest problem with the episode is that NOTHING happens, which is kind of a problem when it's the first one. I don't know why it's so difficult for writers in the anime industry to just write a first episode that actually hooks you in somehow, but it's such a common problem that it's part of the reason why I refuse to indulge these types of shows further in hopes that they "get better later." Why do shows have to get better later? Why can't they just start out good? And chances are, that notion is bullshit anyway. I've never seen an anime that wound up "getting better" after a shitty first episode. It just doesn't happen. Every show I ever wound up enjoying had a gripping introduction that gave me a sense, like, "Yeah, this show is starting off at a slow pace, but I can tell things are gonna pick up."
That's the message I want to send here—you can have a slow-paced episode where nothing much happens, but if you're gonna do that, you need to have elements that actually give the show a sense that it's gonna go somewhere. This show doesn't really have anything of that sort. It just wants to dazzle you with its pretty pictures and feelsy premise and hope you get caught on that alone—and I'm afraid that's not quite enough for me.
Ep. 1: "The Curtain Rises"
This is a shounen manga adaptation about a kid named Masaru who inherits his father's wealth after he dies in a purported car accident, after which he starts getting tracked down by a bunch of creepy puppets in suits. He tries to get a guy in a bear suit called Narumi to help fight them off, but because he's just a kid who doesn't understand that he's not actually as strong as a bear, his efforts prove ineffectual—but they quickly form a bond together anyway. It's not until Shirogane, Masaru's true guardian and a capable fighter, arrives to finally rescue him later.
Pretty typical shounen right here—very action-packed with an emphasis on cool character designs and adrenaline-fueled fight sequences, with enough fanservice and goofball sense of humor to appease the younger audiences it's meant to appease. What sets it apart is the circus theme. The enemies are all wooden puppets, and Shirogane fights by controlling a complicated stringed marionette called Arlequin, which is pretty cool.
Overall, it seems OKAY if that's the kind of show that you're into, but it's not really for me. I don't really care much for it. Shirogane is a pretty cool character, but her "skintight" outfit (by which I mean, it's basically not an outfit at all—they drew a naked woman and colored her skin with polkadots) bugs the shit out of me for obvious reasons. I'm a 23 year old guy who's not really that interested in ogling big pairs of cartoon breasts. Okay? I'm sorry.
Unfortunately, the sex appeal of that one character is probably the only reason people would ever bother continuing with this show—it's so transparent, it hurts. I can't say I'll be continuing on, unless I'm told something really cool happens later.
I'm really excited to talk about these shows, because I actually wound up enjoying most of them. Perhaps it's just the new strategy I've concocted recently for watching new stuff, but 1999 seems like it's going to be a great year for anime.
Do keep in mind, though—this is first episodes only. I'm really good at detecting quality shows from the first episode, though. I'm confident that these will all end up being fairly consistent in quality throughout. I'll be very disappointed if I'm wrong.Great Teacher Onizuka
Lesson 1: "GTO - The Legend Begins"
This is an adaptation of a manga about an ex-gang member called Eikichi Onizuka, 22 years old, who abandons his life of crime to become a student teacher at a local high school—but pretty much only so he can get laid. It sounds really bad at first, and it takes awhile to get going, but in the end, I think I'm intrigued enough to continue watching. In fact, I was specifically requested awhile ago to watch more than just the first 50-minute pilot episode—which is asking a lot out of me—but fortunately, I probably would've kept on watching anyway, because I did wind up enjoying myself a little.
Genre-wise, it's kinda difficult to classify, which is always a good sign—the best I can do is "seinen comedy with ecchi elements that actually gets kinda dramatic and feelsy at points." It reminds me a lot of Golden Boy
, albeit not nearly as insane or fast-paced. It's also directed a little bit more maturely, which doesn't feel like the right word to use at all, but it's true. Sure, the goofball perverted horndog stuff is there—when the very first shot of the series is an escalator panty-shot, I already know very well not to take the show too seriously—but overall
, it's still played at slightly a lower key, which places a greater emphasis on character depth and drama, which Golden Boy
was lacking in.
If you don't fully understand my tastes, and you watch a show like this, it might not be immediately apparent to you why I didn't automatically hate this show—if you think Verb hates anime just because it has pervy stuff in it, you're half-mistaken. My eight-word philosophy on art has always been this: DO WHAT YOU WANT; JUST DO IT RIGHT. There's virtually nothing to me that doesn't have any place in art. If I don't like something, I probably have a more nuanced reason for disliking it than simply "it's there." You can have a show with a likable perverted horndog protagonist so long as you actually do it right—and the way you "do it right" is gonna vary depending on the show, as well as from person to person. Great Teacher Onizuka
is a show that, in my opinion, does it right.
That said, looking past his degenerate tendencies, Onizuka is a really cool protagonist. When he first starts teaching, unfortunately for him, he only sees one girl he's interested in—the rest of the class is comprised of delinquents and shitheads. However, because of his chops as a gangster, it's not long before he's able to straighten them out in the only way he knows how. His particular methods of teaching important life lessons often go, shall we say, beyond the purview of the traditional curriculum. They rarely make sense, and are often against the law—but nonetheless, he always seems to succeed in educating his students and making them better and stronger people. He's a degenerate, and he thinks with his dick on occasion, but he's not unintelligent and he does have a heart of gold, which is deftly shown throughout his actions over the course of the episode.
I'll try not to spoil anything, but it wasn't until I saw the ultimate resolution of the first episode that I decided to give this show a positive score—but only a mild one, because it did take quite awhile to get to that point. It's just such
a gloriously cheesy and over the top resolution, but it's presented in such a way that it actually feels surprisingly poignant in spite of its ridiculousness. It was the main catalyst in getting me to want to watch more, but on top of that, for this to be rated #39 on MAL's highest-rated shows list makes me extremely curious to see what's next. I hope I won't be disappointed.
Crest of the Stars
Ep. 1: "Invasion"
This is an old light novel adaptation that briefly the void left behind by Legend of the Galactic Heroes
when it finally ended—not that I particularly care for that series, but this show is cut from the same space opera cloth. Naturally, there's several plots going on—the grander narrative involves a bunch of typical space politics, with a technologically superior race of elf-like beings called the Abh threatening to destroy humanity. On the microscale, the father of our boy protagonist, who happens to be the president of his planet, betrays humanity by selling his world to the Abh in exchange for a high position in their empire's ranks, fucking everyone else over. The first episode follows an associate of the traitor as he swiftly drives his son, Jinto, to a place where he won't get killed.
That's just the surface. It's densely political, and there seems to be a lot of other heavy shit going on, but it's honestly difficult for me to gauge if it's ultimately worth my time from the first episode alone. The backgrounds, music, and atmosphere are pretty cool over all, but the character designs and general art style are pretty dated looking. I'll keep watching it, I guess. I'm mildly intrigued with the plot so far, even if I don't fully understand it.
Now and Then, Here and There
Ep. 1: "A Girl Admiring the Sunset"
Okay—don't let me get your hopes up, because I've still only seen the first episode. But of all the shows I've discussed so far, this is probably
my favorite. I'm getting some really good vibes out of this one.
This is an original concoction by AIC—on the surface, it's an unassuming setup to what appears to be your typical shounen anime, with Shu as our typical boyishly confident, determined, and optimistic protagonist. His hobby is kendo, and he wants to be the best at it—nothing out of the ordinary, with only a few minor subtleties that could potentially suggest that I've gotten myself into something great: the direction, pacing, and low-key superb animation. Still, at this point in the show, I'm thinking to myself, "Eh, this is noticeably well-animated and all, but I don't really see it going anywhere."
And then it does
. Shu comes home one evening to spot a weird girl about his age sitting up high on a smokestack. Intrigued, he tries to climb up it to join her, but the ladder is busted—so he climbs up another one, which is a little shorter and further away from hers. He tries to call out to her, but she doesn't talk. She just gazes at the (beautifully illustrated) sunset, and points at it every now and then whenever he tries to ask her anything. Since she looks odd, he asks if she's a foreigner, to which she gives an indifferent response. And even though she doesn't seem all that interested, it's clear that she doesn't mind his company—so Shu proceeds to blab on and on to her about all the nice shops he likes to visit and all the nice people he knows, and how much nicer it would be for her to just come down from there, rather than sit up there alone, watching a boring old sunset.
It was during this scene that I realized, "Wait a second... This is actually dope." The pacing, the music, the atmosphere, the dialogue—it's all kinda coming together in a really nice way, and even though the conversation is mostly one-sided, it feels incredibly warm and genuine for reasons I'm still trying to parse out in my head. I don't know—this scene just really resonated with me for some reason, and I really liked it. The serenely gorgeous shots of the two of them just sitting up on the smokestacks stick out to me in particular.
Conflict strikes when the world suddenly freezes, and a couple of foes appear from another dimension (or something, I don't know, I'm just assuming) to capture the girl. There's a sinister-looking woman who appears to be the leader, and an elderly foe in a small mech—and they brought these interesting mechanical dragons with them that trap the kids by spiraling around the smokestacks. Once the girl (whose name is Luluru, by the way) is taken, Shu immediately jumps into action, which eventually results in the two kids being transported to a desert world following a crisply animated action sequence.
This is everything I want in a pilot episode—the show knows it has a boring premise, so it needed to find a way to hook me in, and it succeeded by having this extended quiet scene that beautifully serves as a calm-before-the-storm sequence before we get introduced to the antagonists, giving me the sense that the show is gonna have a lot more under the surface than I initially thought.
I'm definitely gonna keep an eye out on this one, because my good anime senses are tingling on this one pretty hard.
Ep. 1: "Suddenly, I'm a Girl!"
This is an adaptation of a fantasy/comedy light novel about a selfish and loudmouthed antihero called Gokuden who steals what he thinks is something valuable from an old fortuneteller, but it turns out to just be a worthless pebble. Frustrated, he tosses it against a wall, causing it to shatter—releasing a hidden genie inside. Gokuden immediately tries to wish for the most self-indulgent things possible, but the genie refuses, and instead gives him a long lecture on the evils of materialism and vanity. He insists that he wishes for something else, and until he does, he'll never be able to leave his side (but he transforms himself into a girl to keep him on his good side). Zany hijinks ensue.
This is a highly cartoony show with a lot of silly shit going on. It's humorous for what it is, but not exactly the type of thing I'd want to sit through for 25 more episodes. I like how expressive and energetic it is, but I can see it getting pretty grating after a while.
The Big O
Act 01: "Roger the Negotiator"
Another really strong first episode. This is a show that combines various aspects of film noir, sci-fi, and mecha to create one very unique and original show. Taking place exactly 40 years into the future, following a catastrophic event that resulted in everyone losing all their memories, it follows Roger Smith—a negotiator who provides a "much needed service" to the people of Paradigm City—and is basically a hybrid between James Bond and Bruce Wayne.
If you're a fan of Batman: The Animated Series
, this might just be the show for you, because the artstyle and overall tone and feel of it is heavily inspired by that show. The animation is very slick, with a lot of clever... "cinematography," or whatever the animation equivalent of that term would be, thrown in. There's also android girls and giant robots, and everybody seems to like giant robots. Even if you don't like giant robots, they're not really the main focus anyway—so there's something for just about everyone.
This is a great example of a show I would've appreciated knowing the existence of several years ago, but nobody ever fucking told me it existed. Regardless, I'm definitely gonna watch the rest. There's virtually no chance it'll end up going to shit—especially when I recently discovered that the lead writer was Chiaki J. Konaka, who is known for the wonderful and heady Serial Experiments Lain
. While this show doesn't come across as "heady" to me, it still seems pretty cool.
1999 is looking to be a really solid year for anime in general, because The Big O
has one fantastic pilot, and I've seen several other shows from this year that also have fantastic pilots. As I said before, I'm gonna go ahead and put my full confidence in these shows—I won't speak of them again until I've finished them all.