[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] Katana Maidens ~Toji no Miko – Episode 1

Katana Maidens is in a hurry to get you on board. To that end, it’s willing to throw as many things at the wall as possible in the name of finding something that sticks. Do you like para-military fights against kaiju? No problem, here’s our info-dump opening sequence. More interested in battle maiden fanservice shows? Sure, here’s some weirdly plastic schoolgirls and a bath scene. Do you like tournament arcs, everyone’s favorite part of shonen? Conspiracy thrillers? Oh God, please just tell us what you want.

[Review] The Ancient Magus’ Bride – episode 1

Chise grew up being tossed from relative to relative, always isolated by her ability to see things that others could not. Feeling she can find no value in her own life, she sells it to the highest bidder – and is bought by Elias Ainsworth, a strange, bone-faced man who calls himself a mage. Elias claims he wants to make Chise his apprentice, and for the first time in her life, Chise feels like she might have found a home. But the road to mastering magic is not an easy one, and Chise’s own magically gifted nature may still be its own kind of curse. Chise’s apprenticeship will demand personal strength and an inquisitive heart, for the dangers of the magical world are dark and plentiful.

[Review] Land of the Lustrous – episode 1

In the distant future, a new life form called “hōseki” (gems) is born. The 28 gems must fight against the “tsukijin” (moon people) who want to attack them and turn them into decorations, so each gem is assigned a role such as a fighter or a medic. Though she [sic*] hopes to fight the moon people, Phos is a gem who is given no assignment until the gems’ manager Adamantine asks her to edit a natural history magazine.

[Review] Black Clover – episode 1

Asta is a young boy who dreams of becoming the greatest mage in the kingdom. He only has one problem, he can’t use magic. Luckily for Asta, he receives the incredibly rare five-leaf clover grimoire that gives him the power of anti-magic. Even though he can’t use magic, he plans to become the Wizard King. Source: Anime News Network In trying to come up with a pithy way to introduce Black Clover, all I could think was “It sure is a shounen.” And yep. It sure is. That’s not an inherently bad thing, of course, and I wouldn’t call Black Clover “bad” either, exactly. It’s just very rote, is all, full of character types and plot points you’ll recognize if you’ve spent so much as an hour with a Weekly Shonen JUMP title before.

[Review] Made in Abyss – episode 1

An enormous pit and cave system called the “Abyss” is the only unexplored place in the world. Strange and wonderful creatures reside in its depths, and it is full of precious relics that current humans are unable to make. The mysteries of the Abyss fascinate humans, and they head down to explore. The adventurers who venture into pit are known as “Cave Raiders.” A little orphan girl named Rico lives in the town of Ōsu on the edge of the Abyss. Her dream is to become a Cave Raider like her mother and solve the mysteries of the cave system. One day, Rico starts exploring the caves and discovers a robot who resembles a human boy. Source: Anime News Network It’s impossible for me to maintain anything even remotely resembling critical distance with this review, so I’m not even going to try. Made in Abyss is a dieselpunk fairy tale that combines a rich world, curious kids, and energetic adventure with an undercurrent of lurking danger and quiet melancholy. I was over-the-moon in love with it by the 30-second mark and gushing about it to the rest of the AniFem staff before the opening credits had finished rolling. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure Kinema Citrus had this series custom-made for me.

[Review] Altair: A Record of Battles – episode 1

Mahmut is a young member of Türkiye Stratocracy’s council who holds the political and military title of Pasha. The council’s combination of warmongers and pacifists divide it. The threat of war and danger from the belligerent Empire put Türkiye’s safety at risk. As the country’s youngest military leader, Mahmut is determined to keep the peace. But with so much at stake, a long history of enemies and alliances draws the young man far into a political world he hopes to keep in check. The Pasha’s journey is not easy, and war may prevail despite his efforts. Source: Anime News Network It is not a good sign when your show starts off with a gigantic disclaimer worthy of South Park. Not a disclaimer the show itself put on, mind. This was a handy bit of ass-covering laid on by Amazon after the fact. My alarm bells were piqued and got gradually louder for 24 consecutive minutes.

[Review] 18if – episode 1

Haruto Tsukishiro wakes up in a dream world and sees a mysterious girl named Lily. He meets Katsumi Kanzaki, learns of the existence of witches, and gets involved in various incidents. Source: Anime News Network Sometimes the best way to describe an anime is to say “it’s very anime,” and that’s kind of where I am with 18if. Set in the dream-world (or perhaps just a dream-world), this premiere follows Haruto as he bounces from realm to realm, gets rescued and guided by a girl in white named Lily, receives a hefty dose of exposition from Cat Professor Katsumi, dies once?, and eventually confronts the Witch of Thunder who’s been tyrannizing the people here.

[Review] Knight’s & Magic – episode 1

A Japanese mecha otaku dies in a car accident and his soul is reincarnated into another world as Ernesti Echevarria. Eru inherits memories and interests from his previous life, and aims to be a pilot of a Silhouette Knight, a large humanoid weapon that really exists in his world. Source: Anime News Network It’s been twenty-four minutes, and I’m still waiting for Knight’s & Magic to do something meaningful with its hook. The credits have rolled, and I am still waiting. I may indeed be waiting forever, because I don’t think I’m going to watch another episode.

[Review] Seven Mortal Sins – episode 1

The prideful archangel Lucifer disobeys God and is cast into the lowest level of hell as a fallen angel. On her way to hell, Lucifer happens to meet a high school girl on Earth named Maria, who helps her. In hell, Lucifer meets Leviathan, and Leviathan explains to Lucifer about The Seven Deadly Sins, the seven demon king rulers of hell. After The Seven Deadly Sins seal Lucifer’s powers, Lucifer goes on a journey with Maria and Leviathan to defeat them. Source: Anime News Network It….it’s porn, y’all. It’s unabashed porn centered around the deep and probing question, “hey, what if Lucifer was a super hot chick?” That’s what you’re getting here.

[Review] WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? – episode 1

Humans have been driven to extinction by “Beasts.” The duty of fighting the Beasts fall to “Fairies,” who are destined to use their powers to wield “Holy Swords” called “Kariyon” and eventually meet their destiny of death. A sole human being named Willem wakes up after several hundred years, and continues his fight against the Beasts. Source: Anime News Network In case the absurdly long title didn’t give it away, WorldEnd (or SukaSuka, to use its Japanese shorthand) is an adaptation of a light novel (LN) series. In my almost three years of watching every licensed first episode, I’ve seen a lot of LN adaptation premieres, and while I’ve quite liked a few of them (Rokka and Grimgar, for example), the vast majority tend to be, well… remember Amelia’s Akashic Records review a few days ago? Yeah. They tend to be that. All of which is to say I came in to WorldEnd tentatively hopeful based on the wistful cover art, but pretty well convinced it would disappoint me. I left the premiere pleasantly surprised and more hopeful than ever, even if I can’t quite shake my skepticism. This wasn’t just good “for an LN adaptation” (although I was downright giddy when the protagonist caught two girls and didn’t accidentally grope either of them, which tells you how high the bar’s set for LN anime these days); it has potential to be a really solid fantasy series in general.

[Review] Grimoire of Zero – episode 1

Zero is a witch who is ignorant of the world and travels with a half-beast half-human mercenary who longs to be human. Witches who practice sorcery exist in the world, however, in this era no one knows how about the art and study of witchcraft. Zero is going on a journey to search for a magical tome called “The Book of Zero” that hides a power that can destroy the world. The mercenary travels with her as her guard. Source: Anime News Network Grimoire of Zero manages to pack an enormous amount of information into its premiere, most of it laser focused on the two main characters, Mercenary and Zero, and the fundamentals of the worldbuilding most relevant to them. We learn more about Mercenary’s situation as a ‘beastfallen’, the opposite to WorldEnd‘s ‘disfeatured’, from the origins of his species to the day-to-day discrimination he experiences. We are introduced to the difference between sorcery and magic, and given some intriguing details about the connection between names and power, witches and religion. It is an impressive amount of detail for a premiere, delivered at a fast enough pace in a (mostly) natural enough way to avoid losing the viewer’s attention. Perhaps more impressive is that it delivers all this information without scrimping on characterisation. This seems to be the story of an odd couple road trip, found family and marginalisation, told through two distinctive and well rounded leads. I’m already looking forward to episode two.

[Review] Re:CREATORS – episode 1

Sota Mizushino wants to tell stories as good as the light novels and anime he enjoys so much, like Elemental Symphony of Vogelchevalier. While watching an episode on his tablet one day, it flickers to show eerie messages like “You cannot escape from here” and “CHANGE BEFORE YOU HAVE TO”. Suddenly, the world around his tablet disintegrates and he finds himself in the situation he has just been watching – the world of Elemental Symphony of Vogelchevalier, where heroine Selesia is piloting her mecha, Vogelchevalier, to defeat a mysterious stranger attacking her with a barrage of flying swords. Realising Sota is there, Selesia dives across to rescue him. She finds herself in Sota’s bedroom, guard up and confused by Sota’s insistence that she is an anime character. This is my favourite premiere so far, and a serious contender for Anime of the Season (comparing like to like and putting aside the great sequels airing right now). Let’s talk about Selesia first.

[Review] The Royal Tutor – episode 1

Heine Wittgenstein is a pint-sized man given a monumental task. He’s recently hired by the King of Grannzreich to whip four of his five sons into royalty material as their tutor. At first glance, the princes have all the allure and refinement Heine would expect, but underneath their manicured exteriors are four potentially terrible tyrants. Source: Anime News Network There’s a subgenre of anime that I’ve recently become quite fond of, which I like to call “cute girls behaving badly.” The idea is simple but subtly subversive: Take your standard cute-girl character designs and then imbue them with traits that aren’t considered cute at all. No wide-eyed innocence or endless compassion here; nope, these gals are selfish, short-sighted, egotistical, and/or just plain lazy. They’re rarely malicious and they often have redeeming or (sym)pathetic qualities, which makes them relatable or at least funny, but they’re hardly what you’d called heroic ideals. They are, as we’ve talked about here before, trash characters. The Royal Tutor is that, but with pretty boys.

[Review] Alice & Zoroku – episode 1

A group of young girls possess a mysterious power known as “Alice’s Dream,” which gives them the ability to turn their thoughts into reality. Detained and experimented upon, these youths are locked away in secret until one of them manages to escape. Her name is Sana—a girl with the power to ignore the very laws of physics. When this willful powerhouse crosses paths with a stubborn old man named Zoroku, his carefully-ordered life will never be the same again. Source: Anime News Network The most important thing to understand about Alice & Zoroku is that it is two different shows, and the success with which it combines the two is debatable.