This one covers Handa-kun, 91 Days, Cheer Danshi, Planetarian and this week’s Kuromukuro.
I think I am grasping my breath on what to watch this season. I originally intended to see 14 shows but the statistics now screams 18. Thankfully, ReLIFE and Honobono Log finished their respective run (the latter is just heartwarming, watch it!) so *maybe* I can still watch two or more additional series at this point. Let’s start?
Handa-kun is simply a letdown compared to the warm Barakamon. First, the titular character is nowhere near his adorkable 23-year old self. I find a disconnection between his 23-year old self’s (endearing) lack of social skills to the one who I see in Handa-kun. Here, Handa just has a misconception that his classmates hate him but he himself separates himself from the class with a pompous stance. Where’s your legitimate social fear Handa? Barakamon fleshed your character well enough that I see a socially inept person at the beginning of the series grew to someone else at the end of it! Worse, the class even adored him for his anti-social demeanor.
The jokes revolving misunderstanding was also badly executed that all I see is a cool brat trying to scare people away from him. Uhh… Insert some bouncy soundtrack to highlight the joke or change the intonation in Handa’s voice for good’s sake! Moreover, Barakamon’s gags also worked because of the side leads but it seems like Handa-kun does not care about giving them actual characterization from this episode. I don’t want another Sakamoto desu ga? this season. The timing of these jokes seemed to be off, or this does not suit my taste at all. Yet that’s not the fatal blow in this premiere. The first nine minutes induced cringe that I pressed the fast forward button until I see Handa’s face. Why did you have to introduce side leads who are ostensibly related to the main character? Not to mention that these breaking the fourth wall jokes are not only unfunny, these are irritating as well. Yeah, I am not going to follow this one.
Let us proceed with better shows, shall we?
I was not aware that there are two Key series airing this season until I saw Planetarian in my Twitter feed. Frankly, Planetarian feels more of a Key show than Rewrite in a way we were thrown death flags waiting to be raised later. The atmosphere also reeks of melancholy and I am fine with it. I quite like this episode because we got two characters that have personality to a certain extent. Yume really acts like a robot and the Junker fits your angry lead with a good heart trope. The latter’s change of heart is subtly presented so I simply smiled when that happened. Yes, I smell character death along the way but I am going to follow this because of my curiosity as to how Key explores a post-apocalyptic world. Planetarian also did a better job in establishing the set up in less than 20 minutes versus Rewrite’s double length episode (well, Rewrite *is* way broader I think). To the negatives, Yume is freakin’ verbose to the point I was in the same boat with the junker for her to be silent. Her brand of humor is mixed as well but that’s forgivable. My bitter aftershock with Plastic Memories is also recurring but I am happy to if I am wrong at some point in Planetarian.
Cheer Danshi is also surprisingly somber in presenting themes for its first episode. Well, I cannot say that it’s a fujoshi-free series since a part of me ships these childhood friends but… I quite like how this is presented. There are no flashy introduction to the leads, they talk and act like real people and we also do not get homoerotic undertones just to appease a certain demographic. It is also kind of refreshing to see an anime series set in college and the absence of incestuous vibes from Haru and his sister. What I am trying to say is Cheer Danshi wants to present itself seriously sans the fan pandering. The subject matter is really weird but who cares if the show was presented this good?
Perhaps the second best in this post, SOME PLOT PROGRESSION ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN KUROMUKURO! WOOHOOO! It took freakin’ fourteen episodes to present a good twist and some engaging action scenes we badly need to fire up this tepid show. Yukihime FINALLY appeared out of nowhere and stabbed our moe samurai for God knows why. The fight scene, while still dragging, is good to be fair. I am beginning to love the character interactions here, especially when Sophie slapped Yukina not out of hate but to get a hold of the latter’s self. You also do not have to ask whether I like Yukina at this point as I can never hate people who sprout golden lines that make me laugh. However, I am still not a fan of Ryota’s group (or the counselor) as I sincerely believe they could be cut in the story and nothing will significantly change. Now balance the timing of presenting slice of life portions and the actual plot movement and I think Kuromukuro could be decent after all.
I saved the best for last and let me gush over how strong the premier of 91 Days was. While nothing new (this is the reason as to why I still prefer orange), the first episode was well executed to the point I was absorbed to its brooding atmosphere. While I am not a fan of its muted palettes, the soundtrack was so on point I was left on the edge of my seat in this episode. Angelo was also an aberrant lead because we know characters wanting for revenge but… his calm stance looms his more deranged self within. Do not expect something like Baccano! here as this series wants to take the dark side of the Prohibition era and present a bloody (and vengeful) tale.
Well, given the good direction and composition of Joker Game (the content is another matter though), it is not impossible to totally enjoy 91 Days and be hailed as this season’s frontrunners. Yet I am still not on board with this one. Remember Gangsta.? Yes, I developed trust issues thanks to its ugly downfall.