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Anime Fall 2020 Guide


Fall 2020 Anime Staff Viewer’s Guide

As the leaves change so, too, does the anime we have the pleasure of watching.

As the leaves change and the temperature drops we enter into the cozy indoor time of the year. This season provides plenty of top-notch shows to pass the time by with so let’s jump right into it!

(List in no particular order)


Studio: MAPPA
Director: Seong-Hu Park
Main voice actors: Yuuichi Nakamua (Satoru), Junya Itadori (Yuuji)

Despite its early days, JUJUTSU KAISEN is already drumming up “Will this be the next big Shonen” hype. Animated by Studio MAPPA, who have also taken the reigns from WIT Studio for Attack on Titan’s forth and final season, Jujutsu Kaisen melds Shonen staples with splatters of demonic horror to create something special.

Unsurprisingly, JUJUTSU KAISEN is fronted by a teenage schoolboy lead in Yuji Itadori. He’s likable, but I’m awaiting the day a long-running and uber-popular shonen featuring a female or person of color protagonist takes the world by storm. Sadly, JUJUTSU KAISEN isn’t it.

Regardless, JUJUTSU KAISEN nails everything good about its genre. From colorful characters, to ballistic action, to quirky humor; it’s spot on, and conveyed through Studio MAPPA’s stellar animation.

From death, to demons, to dark hallways and the things that go bump in them; JUJUTSU KAISEN presents a more morbid aesthetic than many of its shonen contemporaries. It continues in the efforts of acclaimed works like Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba to refine the shonen formula, whilst carving its own path. Maybe it could become the next big thing, or maybe it’s destined to burn away into the underground of a cult following. Either way, this curse killing romp is bloody good fun! (By Harry Morris)

Rating: High recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll

Golden Kamuy Season 3

Studio: Geno Studio
Director: Hitoshi Nanba
Main Voice Actors: Chikahiro Kobayashi (Sugimoto), Haruka Shiraishi (Asirpa), Kenjirô Tsuda (Ogata)

Golden Kamuy is a special show. It’s often a grisly affair, which is appropriate considering the series heavy subject matter, but it never forgets the inherent humanity within people. The series has a deep compassion that manifests with lighthearted humor, cultural appreciation, and quiet moments. This empathetic center continues with its third season and cements the series as one of the finest anime currently airing.

For those unfamiliar with Golden Kamuy, the series is a historical drama set in Japan after the Russo-Japanese War and concerns a treasure hunt undertaken by individuals searching for a place within the newly changed society. These people come from numerous backgrounds and they allow Golden Kamuy to shine a light on often under-looked cultures such as the Ainu, an ethnic group indigenous to Japan. The resulting attention to detail grounds the proceedings and brings the entire world to life.

No one is one dimensional and every character has an understandable reason for wanting the treasure. Some are fueled entirely by emotional attachments — as they care about those caught up in the chase — while others wish to use the gold to lead a rebellion and create a freer society for either displaced soldiers or the Ainu people.

The newest season of Golden Kamuy wastes no time and immediately jumps back into its narrative, deepening its characters and challenging the audience to empathize with even the most compromised of people. Its a loving, mature series that is all too rare. Do not miss it. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon

Studio: Sunrise
Director: Teruo Sato
Main Voice Actors: Towa Higurashi (Sara Matsumoto), Setsuna (Mikako Komatsu), Moroha (Azusa Tadokoro)

Rumiko Takahashi’s work spans several decades and has had an immense impact on the world of manga and anime. From Urusei Yatsura to Ranma ½ to Inuyasha, Takahashi is a master of her field and an important figure in Japan’s creative industry. So, when a followup to Inuyasha was announced earlier this year, people were excited.

The series starts off with a recap of the Inuyasha gang a few years into the future to get viewers new and old caught up then follows with a quick time jump fourteen years ahead. We’re introduced to the twin half-demon sisters, Towa and Setsuna, and Moroha — a snarky, hot-headed quarter-demon bounty hunter — as they get into demon-killing and time-traveling shenanigans.

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, for better and for worse, takes after its predecessor. There’s an excessive amount of over-explaining and shoehorning that Yashahime does. Each episode introduces some new contrived obstacle that creates conflict without much setup. 

The show is dated, in a charmingly frustrating way. You can see plot developments coming a mile away, but Yashahime tends to play coy and wink towards the audience as they string them along with references to the original series. That aside, the action and writing have their moments, but for the most part are pretty standard shounen fare that you can see developed better elsewhere. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Funimation

The Day I Became a God

The Day I Became a God

Studio: P.A. Works
Director: Yoshiyuki Asai
Main Voice Actors: Natsuki Hanae (Youta), Ayane Sakura (Hina), Ishikawa Yui (Izanami)

The Day I Became a God is the 3rd collaboration project between prominent Shakespearian formula enthusiast Jun Maeda and powerhouse studio P.A. Works, with the other two being 2010’s Angel Beats and 2015’s Charlotte.

When a young girl suddenly breaks into Youta’s everyday life and declares to be a god he is, understandably, a bit confused. The young god, Hina, announces that the world will be ending in 30 days and that she has decided to spend the time left with this baffled high-schooler. Why or how will the world end? Unimportant for now; we have more important matters to attend to like fulfilling Youta’s unrequited love or saving a failing ramen shop.

It’s all presented in a purposefully silly manner as if to say, “Don’t worry about it,” and it works to some extent. Hina’s antics and obsession with being seen and treated as a god are good for a few laughs and she makes such choice facial expression but it’s a little hard to get settled in when something as grave as the end of the world looms, something you’re reminded of with a countdown at the end of each episode.

Charlotte’s main problem was its severe tonal whiplash and it feels like The Day I Became a God could potentially suffer the same fate. At the very least, I do feel like we really are going to get some apocalyptic event when the countdown ends and how that shifts the paradigm of the show will undoubtedly make or break the show. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Wait and see

Watch on Funimation

Adachi and Shimamura

Studio: Tezuka Productions
Director: Satoshi Kuwahara
Main voice actors: Akari Kitou (Adachi), Miku Itou (Shimamura)

Adachi and Shimamura is the newest yuri show championing the genre, a love story slowly taking shape between the two titular delinquent high school girls. Despite both being labeled as such, they come from different backgrounds, have different dynamics at the school, and only one of them has made other friends. They both have the same difficulty in friendships though, where they find it hard to connect and get close with others, and yet the two begin bonding with each other whilst skipping classes.

There’s a lot of philosophical musing aside which often do hit home hard, and having a narrator bear the intricacies of the pair’s mindset like this every now and then brings new depth to the characters. Visual metaphors represented visually, such as “relationships are like free diving,” accent the creativity that bring even more life into the story.

The few characters outside of the main duo (such as Shimamura’s longtime friends, and Adachi’s mother) have their own quirks coming to the surface, and each ties in with the girls’ journey in an interesting way. Plus there’s plenty of embarassing moments between the two as their relationship alters course, and I live for those cute little scenes.

All in all it’s a touching slice-of-life/romance/yuri show that has it’s good share of hilarity and adorable moments. It may not be drawing me in as hard as Citrus did, but it’s a series I and a good few others had been waiting a while for and thus far it’s been great fun. (By Shane Dover)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina

Studio: C2C
Director: Toshiyuki Kuboka
Main voice actors: Kaede Hondo (Elaina), Kana Hanazawa (Flan)

Elaina’s Journey started out promising enough; a spunky young girl trains hard to become a witch then sets off to explore all the world has to offer. The magic and witchcraft is as traditional as it can possibly get which adds a fantastical whimsy to the spells Elaina casts and locales she visits. That was the kind of show I was led to believe I would be treated to at first; a mesmerizing, feel-good journey to unwind with after a stressful day. Recent episodes have demonstrated that is not what Elaina’s Journey is, though.

After the first two episodes, Elaina becomes astonishingly hands-off in her interactions with others. Terrible things begin to happen around her that she has the potential to make right, yet doesn’t attempt or even consider to do so. This awkward disconnect between her actions and personality has led to numerous frustrating moments when I thought The Ashen Witch had something planned, only for her to fly away without looking back at the tragedy she left behind.

This pattern has turned Elaina’s Journey into pure, unadulterated misery porn. Unlike something like Kino’s Journey where dire and nihilistic outlooks served the purpose of exploring profound themes and questions, the vignettes presented in recent episodes of Elaina’s Journey serve no purpose other than to make you feel terrible. It’s not the kind of content I’d enjoy consuming in the best of times, and it’s definitely not the kind I want to consume during these times. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Not recommended

Watch on Funimation

Grand Blues!

Studio: W-Toon Studio
Director: Kenshirō Morii
Main Voice Actors: Rie Kugimiya (Vyrn), Nao Touyama (Lyria), Hiroaki Hirata (Rackam)

Based on a manga adaption of a mobile RPG series about adventures exploring islands in the sky, Grand Blues! is not a series meant for the uninitiated. The manga upon which it is based is more of a gag with only a few panels per issue: a slapstick companion to the game series. As such, Grand Blues! has very short episodes, less than three minutes each. There is no world building, character development, or plot, just quick jokes. For those who are familiar with the games this will probably entertain but others will have no idea what is going on. However, the brevity of the episodes, combined with the wacky humor, makes the series palatable for those looking for some quick laughs as the comedy is genuinely bizarre even if it is unintelligible. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Crunchyroll

Higurashi: When They Cry – NEW

Studio: Passione
Director: Keiichirou Kawaguchi
Main voice actors: Mai Nakahara (Rena), Yukari Tamura (Rika), Satuski Yukino (Mion), Soichiro Hoshi (Keiichi), Mika Kanai (Satoko)

The original Higurashi anime is probably one of the most influential reasons why I got into anime way back in the late 2000’s. Leading up to this brand new series there was a lot of mystery around exactly what it would be. Will it be a 1-to-1 remake? Will it be a new story? Or will it be something else? The answer was kept vague all the way up to release and I’m also going to keep it vague because I think it’s better that way. One thing I will say, however, is that you should absolutely watch the original Higurashi anime or play the kinetic novels before watching this new series.

Higurashi is one of those thriller mystery series that systematically builds upon itself and constantly flips the table and changes your understanding of the events at hand. It can be deeply disturbing at times not only for its notorious violence but also for the unsavory themes it explores such as child abuse and trauma; it doesn’t shy away from putting the viewer in an uncomfortable place and keeping them there in order to make a very important point. 

It all culminates into what is still to this day, the most satisfying ending for an anime series I have ever seen. I can only hope this new series lives up to that legacy and so far it absolutely is. Just take my word and watch the original first. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly recommended for those who have seen the original or played the kinetic novel.

Watch on the new series on Funimation. Watch the original series on HiDIVE

Talentless Nana

Studio: Bridge
Director: Shinji Ishihira
Main voice actors: Hiro Shimomo (Nanao), Rumi Ookubo (Nana), Yuuichi Nakamura (Kyouya)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Talentless Nana is the kind of show you’re best off experiencing as blind as possible.

Talentless Nana is an oddball of a series, but in a good way. Set on a remote island, in a school for superpowered teenagers, Talentless Nana’s first episode is as the meme goes…

“Hey Mom, can we stop at the store for My Hero Academia?”

“We have My Hero Academia at home.”

My Hero Academia at home…

That is to say, Talentless Nana’s first episode is a pile of painfully predictable shonen-isms. However, this is deliberate, and it gives episode one’s ending twist all the more “What the fuck?!” factor. Following said twist, Talentless Nana warps into a boldly unique show, where predicting its later story developments, be they for better or worse, is anyone’s guess.

It’s impossible to elaborate on this dark horse without delving into spoilers, but know that Talentless Nana is worth keeping an eye on. (By Harry Morris)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Akudama Drive

Studio: Studio Pierrot
Director: Tomohisa Tagushi
Main Voice Actors: Tomoyo Kurosawa (Swindler), Yuuichirou Umehara (Courier), Megumi Ogata (Doctor), Takahiro Sakurai (Cutthroat), Shun Horie (Hacker), Shunsuke Takeuchi (Brawler)

Now here’s a show that caught me by surprise. I started Akudama Drive on a whim just because it was the latest to come out but walked out of the first episode utterly electrified. This is a show that reinvigorated the cyberpunk setting for me and has, funnily enough, gotten me hyped for the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game.

Our unnamed protagonist finds herself inadvertently wrapped up in one of the biggest heists the Kansai region has ever experienced, spearheaded by high profile criminals called Akudamas. In order to save her own hide, she tricks them into thinking she’s one of them — Swindler — only to get caught in an even grander scheme where failure means getting her head blown clean off.

Each of the Akudamas is a loveable psychopath in a world loosely built just enough to give them a playground to wreak havoc in. The story progresses at a breakneck pace that keeps your butt firmly planted and wondering what crazy shit will happen next. Bold lines and bombastic color palettes demonstrate how cyberpunk settings are capable of exuding style and complement the high octane fights that are astonishingly well choreographed. Meanwhile, character designs by Rui Komatsuzaki of Danganronpa fame immediately stand out and only amplify each of their individual quirks.

The joy of every new anime season is stumbling across an unexpected gem, and Akudama Drive is absolutely this season’s mud covered diamond. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly recommended

Watch on Funimation

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? S3

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Hideki Tachibana
Main Voice Actor(s): Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Bell), Inori Minase (Hestia)

After a massively popular first season that introduced the world to Bell Cranel and—perhaps more infamously—Hestia, the long-awaited second season last year didn’t quite live up to fan expectations.That’s why I’m ecstatic to report that Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? S3 is just the return to form fans have been hoping for.

A good deal of this redemption is due to how razor-focused the story is on Wiene, a helpless monster Bell encounters on his escapades in the dungeon. Though endearing and adorable on the surface, it doesn’t take long before the discovery of Wiene begins to unravel more sinister plots by familia, continued underhanded tactics by gods, and easily the most significant story revelation in the entire anime thus far. It’s clear that this season is building up to something monumental, and every episode does a fantastic job of giving viewers just enough to keep them hooked and coming back every week.

In short: the pacing is back on track, the story is as gripping as it was in the first season, old and new characters are given enough time to shine, and the implications of what’s been revealed so far are monumental for the series as a whole. Needless to say, this is a must-watch for any DanMachi fan. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll and HiDIVE

TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You

Studio: Seven Arcs
Director: Hiroshi Ikehata
Main Voice Actors: Nasa Yuzakio (Junya Enoki), Tsukasa Tsukuyomi (Akari Kito)

As a fan of harems, shounens, and romcoms go, I’m no stranger to wish fulfillment. However, there’s a distinct difference between seeing yourself in another character and projecting yourself onto them. TONIKAWA takes the absolute worst of wish fulfillment projection and turns it up to 11. Much like Rent-A-Girlfriend’s male protagonist, the MC of TONIKAWA is a pathetically spineless wimpy horndog whose defining personality trait is his overbearing affection for his love interest.

The premise behind the show is as dull as it sounds: Nasa Yuzaki encounters a beautiful girl, Tsukasa Tsukuyomi, who he confesses his love to mere seconds after meeting her for the first time. She agrees to go out with him if he marries her, which he readily accepts. The story follows from there, watching the two as they settle into married life.

To TONIKAWA’s credit, it knows exactly what it wants to be. In some respects, it’s even less frustrating than Rent-A-Girlfriend because it’s not trying to pretend it has some deeper meaning. Nope. It’s a wish fulfillment show about a nerd who got lucky and wow look at this cute anime girl isn’t she cute? Wouldn’t you like to hold hands with a cute anime girl? How about staring at her when she’s sleeping and nearly kissing her without her knowing? It’s okay, she’s your wife and this is just what married people do (who cares if you’ve literally only known each other for a day).

TONIKAWA is unabashedly low-hanging fruit and I guess if that’s your thing, this show’s for you. If you want a fun romcom with interesting characters, look elsewhere. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll

Moriarty the Patriot

Studio: Production I.G
Director: Kazuya Nomura
Main Voice Actors: Sōma Saitō (Moriarty), Takuya Satō (Albert), Chiaki Kobayashi (Louis), Makoto Furukawa (Sherlock Holmes)

Moriarty the Patriot re-imagines the iconic Sherlock Holmes villain into something of a noble anti-hero. An orphan by birth but adopted into an aristocratic family on a whim, Moriarty knows, and despises, the plight of the underclass. He wishes to manage crime in order to destabilize and remake society, doing away with the oppressive British class system.

The show does an excellent job of establishing the context and legitimizing Moriarty’s questionable approach. There are hyperbolic socialite sadists, of course, but the show doesn’t use them as excuses, rather detailing the general repression and then turning to them as metaphors for the larger context. Furthermore, there are kind aristocrats and Moriarty has no interest in blind vengeance, seeing good and evil in all people. There’s restraint and nuance to his approach.

Moriarty aims to recreate society both quickly and carefully, making his violent methods as compelling as they are disconcerting. The series has yet to introduce Sherlock Holmes, and how it does so could determine the ultimate quality of the show, but as of right now there is no denying the immense potential. If Moriarty the Patriot continues on its trajectory, makes Sherlock Holmes a defender of a broken British society, and challenges audiences with Moriarty’s vicious methods, it could turn into one of the highlights not just of the season but the year. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear

Studio: EMT Squared
Director: Yuu Nobuta
Main voice actors: Maki Kawase (Yuna), Azumi Waki (Fina)

You can think of Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (written in the three different types of Japanese characters) as a greatest hits collection of VRMMO isekai tropes. You’ve got your apathetic, loner protagonist who doesn’t care about the real world; you’ve got the fact she one days finds herself unable to logout out while in her real-life appearance; and, of course, you’ve got her over-powered cheat ability that comes in the form of a full body bear costume.

Outside the novelty of Yuna walking around in ridiculous ursine attire, there really isn’t anything unique about this show’s premise. That doesn’t necessarily make it unenjoyable, though. The situations Yuna resolves do genuinely feel dire and while she takes them on rather nonchalantly, the gratitude of the people she helps is devoid of comedic factor and just heartwarming to see. Characters more or less fit into their archetypal roles but occasionally say or do something that catches me by surprise. Not to mention Yuna and her petite little partner, Fina, are just adorable together.

This is pure isekai cotton candy — saccharine sweet goodness while you eat it but no lasting substance, but sometimes that’s just what you crave. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Funimation

Is the Order a Rabbit? Bloom

Studio: Encourage Films
Director: Hiroyuki Hashimoto
Main Voice Actor(s): Inori Minase (Chino), Ayane Sakura (Cocoa), Risa Taneda (Rize), Maaya Uchida (Sharo), Satomi Satou (Chiya)

Watching Is the Order a Rabbit? Bloom is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and settling down by the fireplace. That same signature coziness returns after a long five-year break between seasons and with an entirely new studio at the helm. Encourage Films has done a fantastic job of striking a balance between the series’ signature soft art direction and a cleaner, more vibrant look. Other changes—such as a new focus on exaggerated reaction shots during gags—aren’t quite as welcome, but they’re never distracting enough to hamper the easygoing joy a new Is the Order a Rabbit? season brings.

What continually impresses is how well Hiroyuki Hashimoto has been able to translate the essence of Koi’s source material to the screen over the years. Chino, Cocoa and the gang aren’t static characters; they’ve continued to grow with every passing season, and Bloom has them at their most mature yet. There are still plenty of goofs, of course, and the gang is just as silly as ever, but they’ve also gradually come into their own as Sharo works at conquering her fears and Chino really starts investigating what her future holds.

It’s bittersweet yet reassuring when you can grow up alongside some of your favorite characters. So far Bloom is straddling the line between offering past comforts and showing meaningful character growth, and as a long-time fan I couldn’t really ask for more. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll

Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club

Studio: Sunrise
Director: Tomoyuki Kawamuria
Main Voice Actors: Yu Takasaki (Hinaki Yano), Ayumu Uehara (Aguri Onishi)

Okay, listen. Idol series. You either enjoy them or don’t. Nijigasaki does little to deviate from the Love Live! school idol formula that was started from the project’s conception, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

This new anime iteration of the popular idol franchise follows the titular School Idol Club of Nijigasaki High. At the show’s onset, the group has just been disbanded, much to the disappointment of protagonist Yu Takasaki and her best friend, Ayumu Uehara. After being inspired by a performance from one of the old club’s members, Yu and Ayumu vow to restore the group, recruit new members, and show the world what they can do on stage.

Much like the past two Love Live! anime adaptations, Nijigasaki offers a simple premise for its large cast of characters to play around in. Each of the girls has their own unique quirks and musical styles, bringing an infectiously cute and fun chemistry to the onscreen shenanigans. If you like cute girls doing cute things and singing cute songs, Nijigasaki is another solid notch in the Love Live! lineup.

Of particular note are the musical numbers in each episode which, quite frankly, are extreme bangers with incredibly high quality animation. If you have any inkling towards idol music, this show will not disappoint. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Our Last Crusade Or The Rise of A New World

Studio: Silver Link
Director: Shin Ōnuma
Main Voice Actors: Yūsuke Kobayashi (Iska), Sora Amamiya (Aliceliese)

In a world where two nations battle for control two enemies, turned lovers, will find the courage to stand up and fight for what is right!!!! That is, in a nutshell, Our Last Crusade or The Rise of A New World.

Utter garbage, the series deploys every tired anime trope that has belittled the medium over the years. The protagonist, Iska, is bad-ass fighter whose kind heart makes it impossible for him to do the bidding of his nefarious government. Perfectly suave, and undeniably handsome, he is the guy every teen wants to be, or so this show thinks. Upon meeting the Ice Calamity Witch, a powerful magic user he is sent to kill, Iska discovers she is of noble intent and drop-dead gorgeous with breasts that jiggle in the wind. Taken by his good looks and prowess, the Witch falls for him too and together they join forces to bring peace to their war torn countries.

If any of this sounds appealing go for it but I’d worry for your sanity. Our Last Crusade or The Rise of A New World has no interest in engaging its audience with anything creative or thoughtful, it just wants to titillate your most juvenile fantasies. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation

The Gymnastics Samurai

Studio: MAPPA
Director: Hisatoshi Shimizu
Main Voice Actors: Daisuke Namikawa (Joe), Kensho Ono (Leo), Yuki Kaji (Tetsuo)

Gymnastics Samurai is coming off the heels of MAPPA’s own  Yuri on Ice and, unfortunately, just is not living up to the legacy.

The show starts off very familiarly with former Olympic athlete Joe finding himself in a rut after failing spectacularly in an important competition. While the gymnastics world calls on him to retire he buckles down to prove he’s not down and out just yet. Joe being a single father on top of all this makes him a captivating character and the soul searching he’s done in these first few episodes alone has been pleasant.

The core problem of the series arises with the introduction of Leo, a fully grown man who fully believes he’s a ninja for absolutely no explained reason that everyone around him just accepts at face value. Leo lacks any common sense whatsoever and actively drags down every aspect of the narrative, ruining what’s supposed to be serious scenes while also complicating the story for the sole purpose of stirring drama. Every second of his screentime is excruciating and distracts from the gymnastics itself, of which there hasn’t been a whole lot yet. The little there has been shown has been a mix of great 2D animation and middling 3D CG; just another disappointment following Yuri on Ice’s flowing ice skating. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Not recommended

Watch on Funimation

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle

Studio: Doga Kobo
Director: Mitsue Yamazaki
Main Voice Actor(s): Inori Minase (Princess Aurora), Yoshitsugu (Demon Lord Tasogare), Masashi Yamane (Minotaur)

We’ve all had those restless evenings when a good night’s sleep seems all but impossible to achieve. Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle channels that feeling and turns it up to ridiculous levels of silliness and fun. Princess Aurora has been kidnapped and held hostage in the Demon Lord’s castle, but she isn’t too concerned with all that; all she cares about is sleeping as much as possible. What follows is an endless stream of clever, well-written gags involving an unbothered princess and a lovable cast of constantly befuddled demons.

Each episode is naturally fresh and engaging because the premise and environment fit together perfectly; Aurora needs something new to help her sleep, and the castle is home to all manner of mystical artifacts and creatures she can leverage. Sleepy Princess frequently subverts viewer expectations for bigger laughs too, like making the adorable and innocent-looking princess unafraid to heartlessly murder sentient magical clothes to get the perfect sheets for her bed.

While there are some inconsistencies for the sake of keeping the gags going (some items that Aurora procures don’t carry over to subsequent episodes), the core of the show is entertaining enough to make it forgivable. It’s lighthearted, genuinely funny, and is only getting better as the season goes on. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation

HYPNOSISMIC – Division Rap Battle – Rhyme Anima

Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Katsumi Ono
Main Voice Actors: Subaru Kimura (Ichirou), Sho Hayami (Jakurai), Shintaro Asanuma (Samatoki), Yuusuke Shirai (Ramuda), and A LOT more

Y’know, with the term “rap battle” being around for as long as it has, it’s actually a bit surprising it took this long for a show to take it literally. HYPNOSISMIC takes place in a world where conventional weapons are a thing of the past and all disputes are settled with words, the rhythmic kind. The Division Battle is about to break out in the Chuo Ward of Japan where the top rap gangs will duke it out for territorial dominance.

I’m by no means a rap expert and won’t pretend to be, but I am still astounded by the variety and abundance of rap on display in HYPNOSISMIC. Every group has its own unique style and, as appropriate to freestyle rap, there’s never been a song repeated in any episode so far. The rap battles themselves are like watching your favorite AMV unfold as over-the-top effects and explosions of color fill every corner of your screen and pummel the hapless bad guys. The stimulation overload all too well complements the flamboyant character designs seemingly pulled straight from the latest Paris Week’s Mens.

So far the “battles” have been one-way beat downs on faceless shmucks, though, so I’m still waiting for a true rap battle between the gangs to see how those go down. I have no doubt they’ll still be ridiculous fun. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Iwakakeru!: Sport Climbing Girls

Studio: Blade
Director: Tetsurō Amino
Main Voice Actors: Sumire Uesaka (Konomi Kasahara), Yui Ishikawa (Jun Uehara), Aina Suzuki (Sayo Yotsuba), Miyu Tomita (Nonoka Sugiura)

Some anime are so simplistic that their title gives away the entire plot of the show with no room for surprise. Such is the case with Iwakakeru!: Sport Climbing Girls. It is a show about girls who do sports climbing and there really is not much else to it, aside from some well-worn cliches.

The protagonist of the series is Konomi Kasahara, a brilliant gamer (of course). She has won numerous puzzle gaming championships and upon entering high-school joins the climbing club because her analytic skill translates well to climbing. It’s a ridiculous and tired concept, the empowered gamer is everywhere these days, but to Iwakakeru!’s credit, the show does depict Konomi as actually struggling with her new passion. She has immediate talent, and can quickly ascertain the best routes in a climb, but has trouble learning the difficult techniques that are at the heart of climbing.

Much of the show revolves around Konomi and her new teammates (all of whom fit classic stereotypes) relishing in the specifics of climbing, so for those who enjoy the sport, there is some legitimate joy to be found in the proceedings. Iwakakeru!: Sports Climbing Girls is completely true to its title for better and for worse. There are no surprises, no compelling characters, just pretty girls climbing. However, it does do justice to the complexities of the sport and is competently made. Cliches are popular for a reason, so, if Iwakakeru!: Sports Climbing Girls seems appealing, it’s worth giving a look. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Crunchyroll

Written By

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world. You can follow more of his work at his blog and budding YouTube channel below.

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