The first batch of new shows is out. It’s this time again.
A visual novel where a regular male protagonist meets a cast of strange girls, each with their own personal issues, in a contemporary yet vaguely supernatural setting? Had to check to make sure that it wasn’t the latest Key adaptation, but I’m not a VN connoiseur so maybe this what most of them are like. Either way, I’m expecting a lot of melodrama.
So our main character Setsuna is an adult, but all the girls are suspiciously young. Well, that might sound questionable but hey, maybe it’s just one of those innocent stories where the guy is like an older brother. But then it opens with one of them falling face-first into his crotch. While he’s naked. And later he tries to kiss her. And then he tells another girl about his breast size preferences. No, no, I’m sure we’re just getting the wrong impression.
I think Island really wants to be ~mysterious~ but it’s just clumsily stumbling around. Setsuna lost his memory so he can have foreboding flashbacks at convenient times. He remembers he has to kill someone! And miko girl believes she has to kill him! What could it mean? Also the main girl wears a silly hat and only goes out at night because she believes sunlight will kill her and her mom shut herself inside a room and only communicates through written notes and there’s a library with a supicious note that the Setsuna just happens to find and oh my god I’m running out of breath. Oh yes, and she sings a song. Twice.
The first time, she’s singing while taking a walk on the beach where Setsuna was sleeping and he seems to recognize the song. Okay, that’s fine, I’ll accept it. But then later he asks her to sing the song again. Did we really need to hear the same song twice in one episode? Couldn’t you think of a way to combine these scenes? Anyway the song is apparently so moving that tears start streaming down their faces. Uh, okay? Is the viewer supposed to find this touching, despite having no context whatsoever? It’s so weird. Everything is so weird.
Watchability: I will keep watching for now. Not because I’m expecting it to be good, but because I’m hoping it will turn into an entertaining trainwreck.
I can’t say I care about badminton, or about sports anime in general. But there wasn’t much actual sports in the opening episode. There was drama, though. Lots of drama.
Lead girl Nagisa pretty much goes through an entire arc in this episode. She gets brutally crushed in a tournament, takes out her frustration on her clubmates and tears the club apart in the process, then eventually comes to realize how obsessed she’d become. It gives the show a solid pace and makes it more engaging than if it was just “rookie joins a new club”.
So on one hand, it seems pretty all right. But on the other hand, the new coach is apparently one of those hilarious ‘wacky pervert’ characters. Ohhh boy.
Watchability: I don’t know how much I’ll care about actual badminton, but I’ll give it a shot. May also just insta-drop it if the coach gets too bad.
Mr. Tonegawa -Middle Management Blues-
It’s a spinoff of a character from Kaiji. Now I really enjoyed the first season of Kaiji, and his match against Tonegawa was one of the highlights, but… was he really memorable enough to need a spinoff?
The most noticeable thing about the show is that the narrator is really annoying. He’s hamming it up, but in the worst possible way. And boy, is there a lot of narration. But leaving that aside, I really don’t know what this is trying to be. It starts off with the Teiai gangsters pressuring various people into paying their debts. You get the point by the second scene, but then it just keeps going on and on for no clear reason. The middle part where Tonegawa goes to see the president actually feels like a scene from Kaiji. But then the final part is a vague attempt at comedy. At least, if you think “all the black suits look the same and have similar names” is a good enough joke to stretch out for six minutes. Each of these parts is different in tone and none of them are interesting or funny. It’s just so boring.
Watchability: I have some grass to watch growing instead.
Seven Senses of the Re’Union
I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to VR MMO anime, but Re’Union has shown me new heights. In just under 25 minutes it broke my brain into pieces and flushed them down the drain. I no longer understand what an MMO even is.
Re’Union starts off tame. Characters staring at menus in an extremely generic fantasy setting, rattling off expository dialogue. Some super amazing guild is doing some sort of special extra hard raid that’s only been beaten once before. But then you hear it. The first sign of things to come.
“If your HP reaches zero, it’s game over”
No, he’s not explaining the basics of what HP means in video games. What it means is that if you die, your character gets wiped. In other words, it’s hardcore mode. Now I can’t claim to have played a lot of MMOs, but I’m still pretty sure that no game like this would have permanent character death. Not even in special instances. This is a genre where people spend months grinding their character’s levels and gear. Are you really going to try a raid, get wiped, then start again from scratch?
Now to be fair, hardcore mode has existed in similarly grindy games, like Diablo. So it does clearly have some appeal. But I don’t think people would enjoy that in a social multiplayer game. Also, in Diablo you can play the game normally first to get the hang of it. This raid can only be played in hardcore mode. You get zero practice. You’re almost gauranteed to die because you can’t even know what the fights are like. I dunno, maybe there are some real masochists out there who’d repeatedly throw themselves into the meatgrinder to get just a little further, but it doesn’t seem like a sound business decision.
Anyway, I digress. The guild is called Subaru and they’re actually all grade schoolers. This is a completely irrelevant detail because it timeskips to high school at the end of this episode, and none of them act anything like kids.
They want to take on an even harder raid that no one’s ever beaten before, but before that the two leads, Haruto and Asahi, have a one-on-one meeting. She wants him to make a promise (because of course there has to be a childhood promise), but it’s so secret the audience doesn’t get to hear it. I’m sure it’s nothing and will never come up again.
Along the way, they introduce everyone’s special abilities, which sound nothing like actual skills you’d find in a real MMO. In particular, Asahi’s ability is to see into the future. Uhh, okay? How does that work? Maybe for scripted enemies you can see what they’re about to do, but it was mentioned that the game has PvP and this guild beat up a bunch of player killers at some point. You can’t exactly see into the future when it comes to human players.
Anyway, they fight the boss, but Haruto gets ahead of himself, and just as he’s about to get hit by a laser beam, Asahi throws herself in front of it. The beam passes straight through her, but Haruto remains unharmed. I watched this scene several times and Asahi never actually touches Haruto, so it’s not like she pushed him out of the way. Which means that the beam wouldn’t actually have hit him, and she got herself killed for nothing. Man, grade schoolers are idiots.
But here’s where it kicks into overdrive. This entire event is portrayed as the Saddest Thing Ever, even though it’s literally just someone dying in a game. The screen freezes, sad music plays, and he yells out her name in despair. Get a grip, kid. It’s not like she died in real life.
Oh wait, she did.
It immediately cuts to a dark, rainy funeral while the violin continues playing in the background. “I can’t believe she died after her character died in the game,” says one random adult in the most matter-of-fact way. They say it was sudden heart failure and had nothing to do with the game. What a coincidence. The only way this makes sense is if Asahi killed herself after losing her character and this is her family’s way of covering up that fact. That’s scarily plausible, but I’m not sure if this series has the level of maturity required to handle child suicide. I’ll continue to believe she just randomly keeled over, because that’s more in line with the rest of the show. Even though they said her death was unrelated to the game, it’s mentioned that the game has suspended its service, because… why? Okay. Whatever.
We’re now several years later, and Haruto get dragged into playing another MMO. Union, the old game, is dead, but now there’s a new game called Re’Union. Here’s where it gets really confusing. Apparently not anyone can just play Re’Union. You have to have a special trait called “Sense”. It’s not clear what that means, because the only context in which Sense is used is as a game mechanic. But for some reason Union and Re’Union accounts are linked, so if you played the former you can get right in. If you do really well in Re’Union you will be awarded with benefits like scholarships and the opportunity to become an ‘executive candidate’ for the company that made it. I don’t know how many job opportunities there are for being good at games. Oh and of course Re’Union has permadeath too.
Haruto begrudgingly plays some Re’Union with his friends, but then they’re mysteriously transported to another room with a treasure chest. He opens the chest, and to no one’s surprise he finds a sleeping Asahi inside. Yep, that’s right, this is a show about playing MMOs with your dead friend.
Maybe death was the real friend we made along the way.
Watchability: I can’t wait to see more of this nonsense.
New York street gangs, drugs, and violence. Eh, it’s all right, but it’s missing something to actually get me interested. It leans a little hard on the “everyone is so dangerous” element, and I have serious fears that’s going to get worse in the second episode, as the hapless Japanese reporter’s assistant is taken hostage by some ruthless gangsters.
Watchability: I’ll give it a fair chance.