Spring Anime Season First Impressions – Round 4

Mewkledreamy

One of the most purely un-available shows of the season, Mewkledreamy lacks an official pickup and has currently been subtitled by only a single person who’s made it clear that they’re probably not going to sub beyond the first episode. That said, even if it were more widely available, it’s a little hard to imagine recommending Mewkledreamy to many people.

The core premise of the 48-episode(!!) series is that the Queen of The Sky commits some humans to being “dream partners” by way of a magic stuffed animal. These partners can enter other peoples’ dreams and purge them of evil influence. If you’re looking for a more grokkable explanation, this is basically Precure with the caveat that all of the monsters and such exist mostly in the dream world. With only the stuffed animals (and their evil counterparts) being physically present in the real one.

What Mewkledreamy has going for it is some great expression comedy and a colorful art style. Working against those strengths though is the show’s general flow. It’s a hard thing to peg more concretely but the series’ first episode just feels oddly-constructed, not helped by the J.C. Staff‘s somewhat floaty animation. This does occasionally work in the show’s favor. When we see the first dreamworld in this first episode the sheer surreality of its setting (some kind of office/dance club embodying our main character’s mother’s dueling desires to be a responsible businesswoman and uh, get lit, apparently) is an asset, but elsewhere it just makes the show feel kind of off.

The earlier Precure comparison wasn’t solely on the basis of them both being kids’ shows, as that’s clearly what Mewkledreamy is trying to model itself after, down to the placement of the henshin sequences, design of the mascots, and an all-CGI dance routine ED. The key difference is that Pretty Cure generally has its core thematics sorted from the word “go”. Even the first episode of a given Precure season will clue you in as to what the writing team is going for. Mewkledreamy by contrast feels aimless so far, with even the requisite “buy the toy, kids!” portion of the transformation sequence feeling abrupt and peripheral.

It’s certainly possible that Mewkledreamy will find its footing a little later on, being four cours long, it has a lot more time to do so than most things I’ve been covering in the first impression roundups, but at this stage it really seems like that unless you literally are a Japanese middle schooler, there’s not a ton of reason to watch Mewkledreamy except perhaps idle curiosity.

First Impression Score: 6/10

Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater

“Virtues of rural livin'” stories really are the same everywhere, huh?

Snark aside, Diary of Our Days at The Breakwater (formerly and unofficially known as Afterschool Embankment Journal in the anglosphere) is a pretty simple little thing. Protagonist Hina is a city girl recently moved to the country, where she is roped by lanky redneck Yuuki into joining the Breakwater Club, a line- and rack-fishing club at the local high school.

To lay it all on the table, as someone who lived in a rural town for most of my life, I find stories that focus on romanticizing these locations a bit inherently offputting (it’s why I could never get into Non Non Biyori), so I will never claim to be entering into this particular sphere of subject matter unbiased.

My own life experience aside, though, the series is well-animated and well-composed. Fans of cult studio Doga Kobo (who it feels weird to call that, but it’s true) will find another entry in their oeuvre to enjoy here. To be sure, there’s a lot to like if you’re into slice of life comedies. Yuuki in particular is a great character, and the series even this early on radiates a genuine love for its setting and characters. A lot of the comedy though does lean heavily on Hina getting freaked out by “country folk stuff”, especially in relation to fishing as you might expect given the show’s premise. If you find that offputting, you’re probably better off getting your seasonal dose of this genre elsewhere.

There’s honestly not much else to say about this one. You’ll figure out pretty quick if it’s your thing or not.

First Impression Score: Fishing/10

Princess Connect! Re:Dive

Princess Connect! Re:Dive is a show brave enough to ask the simple question; what if the chosen one sent to save your generic fantasy world was a complete idiot? No no, dumber than that. No, dumber still. There you go.

Princess Connect! is based on a mobage but I don’t know offhand if the series inherits much of that game’s tone. Disguising itself as an impossibly-generic straight fantasy anime for about 60 seconds, Princess Connect! reveals its hand pretty early. The series has pretty much exactly one trick. It will set up a situation that seems like it should be a plot beat in a fantasy series, or have some sense of gravitas, and then let the air out of it by having everyone be, to a man, unbelievably stupid.

Much of the first episode takes place in a typical RPG-style “starter town”. The banner image is from our hero, Yuuki, trying to eat a coin. This is the show’s sole trick, but damn if I didn’t have to stifle laughter every single time it happened. Comedic fantasy anime are nothing new (even relatively recently most people are at least aware of Konosuba), but this is a good one. The show’s sheer stupidity manages to leverage its relatively mediocre visual presentation as something of an asset–I think it would actually be less funny if it looked better. Even later in the episode when a surprisingly well-done fight scene breaks out, it’s undercut by several deliberate matches to less-well-animated cuts for comedic effect.

It is admittedly hard to imagine that this will still be funny twelve weeks from now, but who knows? Perhaps it has some other tricks up its sleeve or maybe it’ll simply keep setting up situations to pull the rug out from under. Either way, if you’re a fan of the truly dumb, this is one to check out.

First Impression Score: 7/10

Shironeko Project Zero Chronicle

Astoundingly artless JRPG adaptation by chronically low-ambition studio Project no. 9. Writing that makes Sword Art Online look profound locks blades with uninspired art direction, mediocre animation, and a lame, hollow, plot that is stuffed with cliches that were hoary 30 years ago. The first episode’s meager positives: two or three (not an exaggeration) competent cuts done by animators who will hopefully find a better studio to work at some day soon, some okay character designs, the writing being so bad that it’s sometimes unintentionally comedic, are vastly outweighed by the general sloggishness of the entire affair. If you want to watch a fantasy shonen this season watch Tower of God, if you want to watch a not-very-ambitious fantasy shonen this season watch Princess Connect or Shachibato. We have only so many years on this planet of ours, and there are not enough to waste time on something this boringly meritless.

First Impression Score: 2/10

Shadowverse

People have been riffing on Yu-Gi-Oh! since it was new, and Shadowverse is no exception. This particular entry in the “card game battle shonen” subgenre is an adaptation of the digital card game of the same name (which, just to point it out, yours truly is in fact a casual player of). Honestly, if you’ve seen any of these shows you’ve got a decent idea of what to expect here. Kid with a funky haircut defeats bullies and villains in card games with the power of friendship and/or a magical artefact of great power. Fans hoping for a straight adaptation of the game’s story mode might be disappointed, but it’s hard to imagine such an adaptation doing much justice to that bundle of oddness anyway.

The animation is solid and fun enough to make up for most of the cliche in the writing, and it’s great to see some beloved cards in animated format for the first time. Although it’s not a great sign that our token girl cast member gets shafted already in the first episode in order to play up the MC’s talents by comparison. Still, this is another one where you’ll know pretty quick if you’re in the target audience, it’s worth checking out if you like this kind of thing or are a fan of the game.

First Impression Score: 7/10

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