[Review] Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san – Episode 1

Takagi-san is a school comedy with a low-key romantic undercurrent that seems to be skewed towards a middle-grade audience, and it is the most “okay” premiere I’ve seen all season. It is utterly harmless. It is profoundly fine. And I have been staring at this stupid post for 15 minutes now trying to think of something else to say about it.

[Review] Sanrio Boys – Episode 1

There are three things you need to know about Sanrio Boys going in. First, it’s a shameless toy commercial that wants you to shut up and give Sanrio your money. Second, it’s a cute-boy show blatantly targeted at (straight) teen girls in the same way many cute-girl shows are targeted at (straight) teen boys, up-to-and-including a gratuitous shower scene. And third, it is somehow, in spite of all these obvious marketing calculations, charming as all get-out.

[Review] Anime-Gataris – episode 1

Minoa Asagaya is a new high school student in Sakaneko Private High School. Despite being a novice to anime, Minoa’s classmate Arisu Kamiigusa invites her to make an “anime research club” at school. Through conversations with her classmate Miko Kōenji, as well as various anime-loving upperclassmen, Minoa gradually gets hooked on anime. While they stand against the student council’s continuous efforts to disband their club, and they ignore the impending end of the world, they talk about anime, whether in Akiba, or in real-life “sacred place” anime settings, or the hot springs.

[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] GAMERS! – episode 1

Keita Amano is a lonely young man who loves video games; Karen Tendō is the beautiful president of the video game club; Chiaki Hoshinomori constantly fights with Keita; and Tasuku Uehara puts on a facade of being satisfied with his life in the real world, but he in truth loves video games. Source: Anime News Network I am as surprised as anyone to find myself wanting another episode of GAMERS!. Given how hit or miss club shows can be, combined with the infamously toxic atmosphere that is actual gaming culture, the show had an uphill battle ahead of it. But skin my flesh and call me a newb if I didn’t walk away endeared.

[Review] Classroom of the Elite – episode 1

Kōdo Ikusei Senior High School is a leading prestigious school with state-of-the-art facilities where nearly 100% of students go on to university or find employment. The students there have the freedom to wear any hairstyle and bring any personal effects they desire. Kōdo Ikusei is a paradise-like school, but the truth is that only the most superior of students receive favorable treatment. Kiyotaka Ayanokōji is a student of D-class, which is where the school dumps its “inferior” students in order to ridicule them. For a certain reason, Kiyotaka was careless on his entrance examination, and was put in D-class. After meeting Suzune Horikita and Kikyō Kushida, two other students in his class, Kiyotaka’s situation begins to change. Source: Anime News Network Classroom of the Elite thinks it’s a lot smarter than it actually is. This is a show that opens with a quote from Nietzsche (which is slightly more or less stupidly pretentious than quoting Rand, depending on who you ask) and ends on La Rouchefoucald. Simultaneously, I had guessed its end-of-episode twist by about the five-minute mark. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, because there are several hints of genuine intrigue here, but is certainly sets a tone.

[Review] My First Girlfriend is a Gal – episode 1

Junichi “Jun” Hashiba is an uncool high school student who frets about wanting to lose his virginity. Egged on by his friends, Jun gets on his knees and confesses his love to a classmate named Yukana Yame. The confession surprisingly works and the couple goes out. However, Jun finds himself in uncharted waters with Yame, a trendy and fashion-conscious “gal.” Source: Anime News Network “Oh, there’s this season’s obligatory T&A show,” I thought, as the opening seconds of the episode framed a set of censored labia and the opening credits showed off the kind of watermelon boobs that would give an actual human serious back problems. I could’ve called it there, but I kept on—you may all remember that I had a grand time laughing at Seven Mortal Sins last season, so I didn’t want to miss any idiotic gold. The only idiot was me, flying ever higher on wings of wax. Caution: So very, very many NSFW images below.

[Review] Action Heroine Cheer Fruits – episode 1

The “local heroine fighter” of a certain city became popular and a national star. Because of this, “local heroines” debuted in various other places, and their action live events became a hit trend nationally. In Hinano City, high school girl Misaki Shirogane and other girls become local heroines (at the urging of Misaki’s aunt, the prefectural governor) and vow to produce action live events. Source: Anime News Network For three years I’ve mourned the ending of Samurai Flamenco and its creators’ decision to torch their own house following the series’ abysmal sales. And at long last that series has returned to me under a new name, with all its heroic enthusiasm and queer attraction intact: Action Heroine Cheer Fruits!

[Review] Hitorijime My Hero – episode 1

Masahiro Setagawa doesn’t believe in heroes. With his dad out of the picture and his mother just as likely to bring her work (read: lovers) home as to spend all night out with them, he knows that there’s no one to come save you when you’re in trouble. To that end, he’s thrown his lot in with a group of thugs, doing their bidding if only to have a place to belong. Then one night, after the notorious Bear Killer (a man in a weird T-shirt who takes down thugs) attacks his gang, Masahiro meets Kensuke Oshiba in the park with an abandoned kitten. Masahiro helps Kensuke take the kitten home and feed it, only to discover that Ken’s older brother Kousuke is the Bear Killer himself! A year later, Masahiro and Kensuke are starting high school. Masahiro has cut ties with his former associates, become friends with Kensuke, and finally found the hero he’s always wished for in Kousuke. But with Kousuke set to become a math teacher at their high school and Kensuke’s old best friend Hashiba suddenly returning, do the boys have any hope of a normal high school life – or love? Source: Anime News Network   No.

[Review] Welcome to the Ballroom – episode 1

Feckless high school student Tatara Fujita wants to be good at something – anything. Unfortunately, he’s about as average as a slouchy teen can be. The local bullies know this, and make it a habit to hit him up for cash, but all that changes when the debonair Kaname Sengoku sends them packing. Sengoku’s not the neighborhood watch, though. He’s a professional ballroom dancer. And once Tatara Fujita gets pulled into the world of the ballroom, his life will never be the same. Source: Anime News Network In a shocking turn of events, the most highly anticipated anime of the summer season is real good. There’s not a lot of competition for Best in Show so far, mind, except for maybe Made in Abyss (if it can avoid the worst excesses of its source material). But Ballroom is more than that. It has the vibrant promise of an all-time great.

[Review] DIVE!! – episode 1

Since he was a young boy, Tomoki Sakai has been in love with the sport of diving. After years of practice and stalwart determination, there’s no place where he feels more at home than in those brief seconds of flight before he’s submerged into the water. Unfortunately, he and the other boys of the Muzuki Diving Club (MDC) aren’t doing enough to please their sponsors, and the club is on the verge of being disbanded. Enter coach Kayoko Asaki, a fiery woman who is determined to pull the boys of the MDC back from the brink. Her mission: get the MDC to the Tokyo Olympics in one year’s time. Tomoki and his friends have a long road ahead of them as they begin their fight to fulfill their dreams. Source: Anime News Network Y’all, I promise I did my best to watch this premiere without comparing it relentlessly to Free!. I swear. It’s just that the show wants me to make that comparison, is the thing.

[Review] Convenience Store Boyfriends – episode 1

First year high school students Haruki Mishima and [Towa] Honda are looking forward to their new school life. Meanwhile Nasa Sanagi, sole member of the cooking research club, continues with his club activities from middle school, striving to work on the theme that his adviser laid out for him. Second year student Natsu Asumi, although he matured a little since the height of his impudence during his first year, has nevertheless chosen to remain alone this year. Third year students Mikado Nakajima and Masamuna Sakurakoji watch over him with a smile. All of them will pay the nearby convenience store a visit after school. Source: Anime News Network The above description of Convenience Store Boyfriends (can I just call it ConveniBoys for short?) doesn’t seem to tell you much about the series, but it does in fact accurately depict the amount of meandering that happens in this premiere. Two teenage boys start high school. One of them has a crush on a girl he knew when they were little. The other has a crush on the class rep. They run into each other at the local convenience store a few times. Everyone is very bad at communicating. Roll credits.

[Review] Fastest Finger First – episode 1

Shiki Koshiyama is a book-loving boy who joins the quiz club at the urging of Mari Fukami, a girl who is an experienced quiz competitor. Source: Anime News Network Here is a confession from me to you, readers: I generally don’t go for high school anime. I don’t hate them on any kind of principle, but they have to work harder to woo me than a series about adult professionals or even shows about teenagers that take place outside school. It speaks well of Fastest Finger First (pleasingly abbreviated FFF, with Crunchyroll dropping the 7O3X part of the Japanese title) that it hooked me enough to be curious about the next episode.

[Review] Battle Girl High School – episode 1

In the year 2045, the world has been contaminated by Irōsu (mysterious invaders who suddenly appeared), and humans find themselves restricted and contained. Standing boldly against these invaders are ordinary girls everywhere, without a powerful army or even weapons. The Shinjugamine Girls Academy is a school for these “Hoshimori” (Star Guardians) destined to fight the Irōsu. Source: Anime News Network The first 66 seconds of this premiere spend 24 of those seconds introducing 14 young schoolgirls who will presumably become equally important. That’s 14 character introductions in 24 seconds as they sit in a classroom, doing their best to extol the one trait which will tell each of them apart, as their names flash up next to each of them on screen. It’s a lazy, overdone approach to introducing large ensembles, and one which suggests endearing audiences to the characters is a low priority. And frankly, Battle Girl High School is pretty lazy and overdone overall.

[Review] Love and Lies – episode 1

Lies are forbidden. Love is even more forbidden. The time is in the not-so-distant future. In Japan, your marriage partner is selected by the government when you turn 16. Yukari Nejima is a 15-year-old boy who lives in a corner of Japan and has never made much of himself. In grades as well as sports, he ranks below the middle of the pack. However, he conceals a passionate love in his heart. Source: Anime News Network In an alternate-history version of Japan, the effort to combat declining birth rates (a very real concern there, as you may know) leads to a government-enforced system of marriage where people are paired up based on various factors (grades, family, etc.) for the primary purpose of procreation. It’s the kind of nightmarish, dystopian premise that’s overflowing with possible avenues for pointed social commentary, and Love and Lies… uses it to tell a milquetoast high school romance?

[Review] Clean Freak! Aoyama kun – episode 1

The handsome young soccer genius named Aoyama is a Japan representative. His play style is “cleanliness.” He doesn’t tackle and doesn’t head the ball. If he’s doing a throw-in, he’ll only do it if he’s wearing gloves. Source: Anime News Network “Comedic germaphobia” is not a good way to endear me to a series. So color me as surprised as anyone that I walked away from this one feeling endeared. A lot of this show’s potential hangs on whether it can keep up the thoughtfulness it displays in its premiere, but it started off on an awfully good foot.

[Review] Anonymous Noise – episode 1

Nino, a girl who loves singing, made a childhood promise with her first crush Momo and song-composing Yuzu to someday find her voice. The three went their separate ways, but Nino kept her promise and continued to sing. Years later, the three are now high school students, and Nino is drawn into the world of keionbu or band club. Source: Anime News Network I go into most reviews cold, but I had already reviewed the first volume of the manga so was very curious about how the anime would handle its weaker elements. From my perspective, adaptations are an opportunity to either improve upon flawed source material or elevate already strong material, with completely faithful adaptations a missed opportunity at best. Which would the Anonymous Noise‘s anime be? The answer is: a mixed bag. Some positive decisions to make changes, some misguided decisions to stay faithful, some brand new and terrible decisions in their own right, all mashed into an inconsistent, lumpy first episode.

[Review] Eromanga Sensei – episode 1

Masamune Izumi is a light novel author in high school. His artist, known only as “Eromanga Sensei” is reliable but Masamune has never met him and assumes he’s just a perverted otaku. Masamune’s little sister is Sagiri, a shut-in girl who hasn’t left her room for an entire year. She even forces her brother to make and bring her meals when she stomps the floor. Masamune wants his sister to leave her room, because the two of them are each other’s only family. One day Masamune discovers that Eromanga Sensei and Sagiri are one in the same. Further chaos erupts between the siblings when a beautiful, female, best-selling shōjo manga creator becomes their rival. Source: Anime News Network This is far from the most fanservice-laden premiere of the bunch in terms of pure T&A, but let me assure you it makes up for it with a metric ton of skeeze.

[Review] Kabukibu! – episode 1

Kurogo Kurusu, a high school student who loves kabuki so much that it’s annoying. Kurogo yearns to perform kabuki as part of a club at his school, but currently his school doesn’t have a kabuki club. So Kurogo sets out to create a kabuki club, and his first order of business is to gather members. Source: Anime News Network Kabukibu! is naturally going to get compared to modern masterpiece Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju just because they’re both about classical Japanese theatre arts, and that’s a shame. Where Rakugo is a sweeping period drama and character study framed by rakugo’s dying popularity and eventual survival, Kabukibu! is a school story about a young person bringing life, enthusiasm and fresh blood to a surviving art form written off as irrelevant. While I appreciate this is the second time this season I’m saying this (I promise I have seen other anime…) the natural point of comparison is Chihayafuru, which Kabukibu! can certainly match for charm.