Spring Anime Season First Impressions – Round 3

Shachibato! President, It’s Time for Battle!

I’m not one to accuse shows of going through the motions, but it feels fair to say that Shachibato! is aiming pretty much exclusively for one crowd–people who like the mobile game it’s an adaptation of–and nobody else. The ultratypical fantasy series is spiced up with the minor twist that the main character is the president of an adventurer’s guild rather than a hero archetype, and thus has to contend with all manner of humdrum business stuff as well as the usual monsters and mages.

To be honest, what this series mostly has going for it are some neat character designs, high production values, and a certain ease-of-watching. If that sounds like faint praise that’s because it kind of is. I can’t imagine anyone following twelve weeks of this, despite a perfectly inoffensive and pleasant first episode that looks nice and hits its plot beats just fine. The main thing I ended up walking away from Shachibato!‘s first episode thinking was that one of the characters–Akari–looks a lot like Hatsune Miku. It did also make me want to check out the mobile game, so it succeeds as an ad, at the very least. Will the series greatly improve and stage a come-from-behind takeover as one of the best anime of the season? Well, anything’s possible, but it doesn’t seem terribly likely, let’s put it that way.

First Impression Score: Aquamarine Twintails / 10

Wave, Listen To Me!

In an already ridiculously strong season, Wave, Listen To Me! might have the most singular premiere of anything currently airing. Our main character; Minare, an office worker with a drinking problem and the worst-best case of The Rants you’ve heard this side of a pompous rockstar concert intermission. A chance meeting at a bar with a scuzzy radio producer prompts an angry mid-workshift drive to the radio station the next day as Minare finds her bar ramblings being used as cheap airwave drama fodder. Then, our heroine is unceremoniously dropped into the role of amateur-hour radio DJ.

Lead actress Riho Sugiyama talks like a waterfall runs. Insanely, this is only her second main-cast role ever following a run in Franken Family back in 2018. She absolutely makes the show, and her performance as Minare is probably the best single character performance of the season so far.

The series itself is spellbinding, almost entirely because of that performance. Minare is clearly a trainwreck of a person and I’m certain the show will delve deeper into the how’s and why’s later on, but even at this early juncture she’s just fascinating. It’s easy to speak of “realistic” or “grounded” character writing, but Minare is intriguing specifically because she’s so bombastic and rambly. All this is tied together with a distinct look and, fittingly for something about radio, incredible sound design. I don’t think it’s absurd to say that this the most interesting thing airing right now. Watch this.

First Impressions Score: 10/10

Gleipnir

Sigh.

Gleipnir is another manga adaptation, this one coming to us courtesy of studio PINE JAM. I can’t in good faith say I went into Gleipnir’s premiere unbiased. To the casual observer it might seem like a good (maybe even great) first episode of a solid action anime. Unfortunately, I’m familiar with the manga, which I’m on record as thinking is pretty awful. The good news here is that the production values are uncommonly high for a seinen adaptation and the animation and soundtracking work are good throughout the episode (if occasionally bizarre, listen to whatever the hell plays as BGM when Claire is getting changed, for instance). So if you are a fan of the manga, this is going to be a high point of the season for you, certainly.

The real issue with Gleipnir is its scuzzy writing, which shows through even at this early stage. Mostly in the first episode this deals with the treatment of the female lead–the 15-year-old Claire Aoki–as some kind of sexpot femme fatale, but it gets worse in widely varied ways later on. Even if you’re unbothered by that kind of thing on a moral level, it’s incredibly hokey. Male protagonist Suichi Kagaya doesn’t fare much better, being the same kind of self-loathing pseudo-nice guy that stars in the vast majority of the sort of manga that the original series is a part of, squandering his singularly weird superpower of transforming into a Five Nights At Freddy’s reject. It’s a tired archetype.

I can’t in good conscience score the episode too low because of said production strengths, but this isn’t one I can recommend to most people. At best, if you’re the same sort of animasochist I occasionally am, it’s shaping up to be a decent hatewatch to riff on with friends.

First Impression Score: 5/10

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