[Review] GARO -VANISHING LINE- episode 1

In prosperous Russell City, a conspiracy threatens to shake its world has been set in motion. A man named Sword is the first to hear the earliest stirrings of the plot, and throws himself into a shadow war in order to expose it. His only clue is the keyword “El Dorado.” He meets Sophie, a woman searching for her older brother who left her with only a message with the same word: “El Dorado.” With Sword having also lost his younger sister in the past, both are drawn together by the word, and work together to find out its meaning. Source: Anime News Network

[Review] Dies Irae – episode 0

In 1939 Germany, General Reinhard Heydrich takes one Karl Krafft on as his follower, since he’s a supposed sorcerer who can see the future. Through Krafft’s guidance and a series of encounters with a trio of women who call themselves Valkyries, an odd couple made up of a torture-happy beauty and her priestly companion, and another pair of superpowered oddballs on a rampage, Reinhard is gradually encouraged to throw off his self-imposed limitations and take the world by storm for his own ends.

[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] TWOCAR – episode 1

Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro are two girls who enter the world of competitive motorcycle sidecar racing on Miyake Island. While they are the complete opposites of each other, and often butt heads, they complement each other well during races. The team will fight other motorcycle sidecar teams from all over Japan, each with their own opposing traits, such as honor student and working student, sadist and masochist, and a funny man and straight man.

[Review] DYNAMIC CHORD – episode 1

Production group DYNAMIC CHORD manages several top boy bands, including rêve parfait, apple-polisher, Liar-S, and the popular KYOSOH. The other three groups aspire to be as good as KYOSOH, even as they attempt to adjust to life as an idol – the click of cameras accompanies them everywhere, and Reon of rêve parfait in particular worries that doing commercials and other promotional jobs will tarnish their image in their fans’ eyes. But bigger problems are lurking on the horizon for the boys – KYOSOH’s vocalist, Yorito, was last seen driving in the rain with the top down, and he hasn’t been showing up for practice. KYOSOH asks Reon to fill in for him, but when a magazine announces Yorito’s leaving the band, will Reon be forced to choose between the two groups? Or is this the end for KYOSOH?

[Review] Girls’ Last Tour – episode 1

Civilization is dead, but Chito and Yuuri are still alive. So they hop aboard their beloved Kettenkrad motorbike and aimlessly wander the ruins of the world they once knew. Day after hopeless day, they look for their next meal and fuel for their ride. But as long as the two are together, even an existence as bleak as theirs has a ray or two of sunshine in it, whether they’re sucking down their fill of soup or hunting for machine parts to tinker with. For two girls in a world full of nothing, the experiences and feelings the two share give them something to live for.

[Review] King’s Game – episode 1

An entire high school class of 32 people receive a message on their cellphones from a person known only as the “King.” The messages contain orders that the students must obey, or they risk the punishment of death. With their lives on the line, the students soon find out that the orders are getting more and more extreme as time goes on.

[Review] Just Because! – episode 1

For a group of high school seniors, a chance reunion with a transfer student will change the course of their final year. Eita Izumi has come back to his hometown after four years and encounters some unlikely acquaintances: Haruto Soma, Eita’s childhood friend; Ena Komiya, the photography student who witnesses Eita and Haruto’s reunion; Mio Natsume, whose feelings for her middle school crush still linger; and Hazuki Morikawa, a girl who seems uninterested in romantic relationships. When the paths of these five cross, their fates turn in a way none of them could have seen coming.

[Review] TsukiPro the Animation – episode 1

SOARA, Growth, SolidS, and QUELL are four groups belonging to Tsukino Entertainment Production (AKA TSUKIPRO). The slice of life music anime “PRO ANI” depicting their music overflowing with uniqueness and the drama surrounding their lives begins now! Will you open this glittering treasure box of music? Source: Anime News Network Remember Weiß Kreuz? It seems to be from a bygone era where, if you wanted to have a show that’s entirely a vehicle to promote a band, you at least had the dignity to make them pretend to be assassins in a silly, mediocrely animated series. TsukiPro has no time for this kind of conceit, because it’s busy being as bald-faced as they come.

[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] Infini-T Force – episodes 1-2

Imagine you’re watching The Avengers. You are vaguely aware of the superhero genre, but you’ve never seen any of the previous Marvel movies or read their comics. And while you try to watch the movie, Joss Whedon is sitting there beside you. He smells of smugness, and beard balm. He is constantly elbowing you in the ribs, asking you if you got it.

No, Infini-T Force. I don’t.

[Review] URAHARA – episode 1

Three high school girls are putting together a limited-time shop called “PARK” in Japan’s Harajuku. One day, aliens come to Earth with the intent to steal the famed district’s culture. At the same time, a mysterious girl appears. The three girls band together to defeat the alien threat and protect their beloved Harajuku. Source: Anime News Network If I were to describe Urahara in one word, it would be “pastel.” Adding “as fuck” is up to each individual’s discretion. Given a few more words, I could assure you that this is one of the most frustrating sorts of premieres: the kind that’s a slog until the last five minutes or so, at which point a promising hook tries to tempt you back in spite of the 15 miserable minutes prior.

[Review] SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD – episode 1

Adaptations are hard, folks. Adapting a video game is particularly difficult. And a visual novel? Maybe the toughest of them all. Lots of characters, multiple routes, a protagonist specifically designed to have minimal personality so the player can map themselves into the role… none of that transfers well to the more passive, streamlined medium of television. It’s tough. I get it.

So have sympathy for those tasked with VN adaptations, dear readers. And if ever you find yourself in a position to write the premiere for such an adaptation, think back to the first half of Sengoku Night Blood—and do exactly the opposite of what they did.

[Review] JUNI TAISEN: ZODIAC WAR – episode 1

The 12th Twelve Tournament gets held every twelve years. Twelve brave, strange warriors who bear the names of the signs of the zodiac fight each other for the lives and souls.The victor of this tournament gets to have one wish granted, whatever the wish may be. Source: Anime News Network Say, readers. Do you like guns? How about blood? How about murder poison and empowered bunny men in high heels? Then Grimdark Fruits Basket Royale is for you!

[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] In This Corner of the World

Otakon held a special screening of In This Corner of the World, the new feature film from studio MAPPA (Kids on the Slope, Yuri!!! on ICE), with an introductory talk from producer Maruyama Masao and animation director Matsubara Hidenori. There was also a post-screening Q&A panel with the two creators later that afternoon. The film had already drawn critical acclaim, so a good portion of the AniFem team attended both events, notepads and tissues at the ready.

Now that we’ve had some time to get our thoughts collected and our emotions under control, we thought we’d share our impressions of the film in a spoiler-free series of commentaries, similar to our team recommendations. If you’re in a hurry, the short version is that it’s excellent and we all heartily encourage readers to go see it. And if you’d like a little more detail than that, please check out the write-ups from Dee, Vrai, and Amelia below!