[Review] Hakumei and Mikochi – Episode 1

Hakumei and Mikochi, with its watercolor-inspired art, intelligent but not anthropomorphized animals, and chill forest vibe, reminds me of nothing so much as a children’s book. Specifically, the English children’s books my grandmother had from her own childhood in the countryside outside London. I cut my teeth on the books of Beatrix Potter and The Borrowers series, and this lovely little premiere does a remarkable job of capturing the feel of them.

[Review] BLEND-S – episode 1

Maika Sakuranomiya is a regular high school student who dreams of studying abroad, though she has one problem. Despite being a naturally sweet and friendly girl, she tends to look scary and imposing whenever she smiles. Having failed to find a job anywhere else, Maika eventually finds work at Café Stile, where the employees all play specific character types when they interact with the customers, such as the playful little sister or the tsundere. Despite her misgivings, our heroine must adopt the dominant and aggressive role of a sadist. Together with the rest of Café Stile’s wacky crew, Maika will work to make new friends and fulfill her dream!

[Review] KONOHANA KITAN – episode 1

Kokohana-tei is a hot spring hotel located in an inn town between our world and the other world, where many people go to visit. The story portrays the lives of fox spirits, who take the form of girls and work at the hotel. Source: Anime News Network Within the first five minutes of Konohana Kitan, newcomer Yuzu is forcibly stripped and scrubbed by two of her coworkers as one girl comments on the size of her breasts and the camera pans jerkily from her curled toes to her flushed face. I begin with this one-two punch of fanservice and “comical” assault because (1) it doesn’t match the soothingly cute tone of the rest of the episode at all, and (2) it immediately soured me to a series I think I’d have otherwise found at worst harmless and at best kinda charming. But, alas, someone thought this nonsense needed to be included, and here we are.

[Review] Angel’s 3Piece! – episode 1

Kyō Mekui is a high school student who tends to skip school due to a trauma in his past. Kyō secretly creates songs using vocal song synthesis software as his hobby. Three girls who just entered fifth grade — the crybaby Jun “Jun-tan” Gotō, the strong-willed Nozomi “Zomi” Momijidani, and the somewhat sleepy Sora “Kū” Kaneshiro who takes life at her own pace — email Kyō. These three girls, who were raised together like sisters since childhood, want Kyō to help them break into music. Source: Anime News Network I like to go into premieres blind, so I knew nothing about 3Piece beyond the cover art. “Eh, worst-case scenario, it’ll just be a bland cute-girl show,” I thought as I signed up to review it. Such a fool I was. So young. So naive.

[Review] Hinako Note – episode 1

Hinako is poor at speaking, and lives in a rural part of Japan. She wants to improve her speech to be able to talk to people freely, so in high school, she transfers schools to Tokyo and plans to join a theater club. When she arrives, it turns out her boarding house is a secondhand bookstore, and a girl who eats books lives there. Source: Anime News Network This review is going to come off harsher than I mean for it to, so I apologize in advance for that. With the exception of one totally unnecessary bath tub shot (more on that later), Hinako Note is not bad. It isn’t much of anything, really, and I’m a bit bummed about that, especially given that the premise—a high school first-year with social anxiety moves to Tokyo, lives over a bookstore, and decides to improve her public speaking skills by forming a theatre troupe—is right up this bibliophile and former drama club president’s alley.

[Review] Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club – episode 1

Hiromi, the kind of girl who probably still needs marks on her shoes to be able to get them on the right feet, decides to ride a bike to her new school in a new city. She hasn’t ridden for years, but that’s okay! It’s just like, well, riding a bike! On the way she realises she doesn’t know what pedals are or what contribution they make to bicycle movement. Fortunately she meets Tomoe, the kind of girl who will stop everything she is doing and change her entire morning commute on her first day of school to help a girl who crashed into her due to not understanding the concept of brakes. Tomoe notices they are wearing the same uniform and asks Hiromi if she is going to the same school. Hiromi thinks Tomoe is a genius. Compared to Hiromi, she is.

[Review] Long Riders – episode 1

Ami has never really had a passion that she was good at, and one day she sees a girl on a folding bike and falls in love. Her cyclist friend Aoi takes her to some bicycle shops where she is initially horrified by the cost then falls in love with a red folding bike she calls Ponta-kun. Aoi takes her on her first bike ride, with mixed results.