Thursday, May 19, 2022

Anime Roundup

It's time for another edition of Anime Roundup! I know, it's only been four weeks since the last one, but I've been trying to cram in as much anime as I can before other shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi (finally!) and the new season of Stranger Things (also finally!) come out.

Spy x Family
A brand-new show with a fantastic premise: a James Bond-ish superspy takes on a mission that requires him to pose as a family man, and so he adopts a young girl - who unbeknownst to him is a telepath - and enters into a faux-marriage with a woman who is actually a master assassin. All three of them have their own motives for staying in this arrangement, and only the girl knows the true identity of her "parents" (but won't reveal anything). I mean, that practically writes itself, doesn't it? Although I do wonder at times just how good of a spy the "father" really is if he isn't at least a little suspicious of his "daughter's" precociousness or his "wife's" amazing hand-to-hand combat skills. Oh well, I'm sure the plot will thicken as the show goes along; it's doing the slow-drip release strategy with only six episodes (out of 25) out so far. Manga readers, don't tell me what happens!

Blue Period
This one is an emotional drama (adapted from an award-winning manga) about a smart but directionless high school student who discovers that his life's passion is making art. The storyline mainly revolves around his efforts to get into art school, while also delving into the dramatic details of both his own personal life and his friends'. I especially liked the show's depiction of one of said friends and their gender identity issues (and the use, in the English subtitles at least, of the pronouns they/them). There are moments of levity here and there and the overall tone is optimistic, creating a nice balance with some of the heavier themes...kind of like a painting, I suppose? I don't know, I'm a writer/musician, not an artist.

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
A vignette-style rom-com about two high school students - the president and vice president of the student council - who have crushes on each other but no one wants to make the first move out of fear that it'll put them in an inferior position to the other (kind of like the whole "hand" thing in the Seinfeld episode "The Pez Dispenser.") I mean, we've all been there, right? Top-notch humor writing, impeccable comic timing, and a ridiculously catchy theme song make this one tons of fun (if you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. Sing it with me now: "Love is war / Love is war / Love is waaaaaaar")

Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense
Don't you just love that title? I did, so I had to check it out. What I found was what I think can be most accurately described genre-wise as slice-of-life meets virtual reality isekai (portal fantasy) - kind of like K-On! crossed with Sword Art Online. Seriously. The main character is a girl with limited experience in video games who, at the behest of her gamer friend, begins playing a VRMMORPG (virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game, say that ten times fast) and, not wanting to get hurt, puts all of her experience points into her defensive stats while neglecting everything else (strength, agility, etc.). It's a strategy that on paper shouldn't work, but when combined with her resourcefulness and general naivete, leads to her leveling up so much that she quickly and almost accidentally becomes one of the game's strongest players. In true slice-of-life fashion, most of the show just focuses on her and her growing group of friends/co-players playing the game and leveling up without much in the way of real stakes or drama - if you die, you just log back in the next day - and believe it or not, it works. (Maybe the stakes get higher later on? Manga readers, don't tell me what happens!)

Den-Noh Coil
Now here's a show that was ahead of its time. It came out in 2007 and depicted a near-future where AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) technology is immersive and commonplace, with most schoolchildren owning and wearing AR glasses that allow them to interact with their environment (while also doubling as phones). In addition, it features other tech that wasn't really established in 2007 but is more well-known now, like wearable computers, self-driving cars, and virtual currency. Netflix recently picked it up and I was drawn to it since my own project Four-D also features kids wearing smart glasses, although they use it not for AR but to see into the fourth spatial dimension (if that sounds good to you and you are an executive producer or investor or someone with deep connections in the entertainment industry, let me know).

Until next time, mata ne!

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