Battle Girl High School – Anime Series Review

Episodes: 12

Genre(s): Drama, Comedy

Aired: Jul 2017 – Sep 2017

Also known as: Battle Girl Projectバトルガール ハイスクール

Summary: Based on COLOPL’s school action role-playing game. Set in the year 2045. The world has been contaminated by Irousu (mysterious invaders who suddenly appeared), and humans find themselves restricted and contained. Standing boldly against these invaders are ordinary girls everywhere, without a powerful army or even weapons.

The Shinjugamine Girls Academy is a school for these “Hoshimori” (Star Guardians) destined to fight the Irousu. The player is assigned to this academy to train the girls and take back the contaminated Earth. And so, once again, the chimes echo through the sun-strewn schoolyard to mark the beginning of classes today…

(Source: ANN)

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Action Heroine Cheer Fruits – Anime Series Review

Episodes: 12

Genre(s): Drama, Comedy

Aired: Jul 2017 – Sep 2017

Also known as: アクションヒロイン チアフルーツ

Summary: The year is 20XX. Local heroines are now incredibly popular and can draw in entire crowds if they’re sufficiently skilled. In Hinano City, a high school girl named Shirogane Misaki forms a local heroine group in an attempt to keep the Hinano City Center from being torn down. Can these nine girls save the city center through their heroic efforts?

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New Game!! – Anime Series Review

Episodes: 12

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Slice-of-Life

Aired: July 2017 to Sept 2017

Also known as: NEW GAME!!

Summary: Suzukaze Aoba has now been working at the Eagle Jump game company for a year. With Fairies Story 3 now complete, a company-wide contest is held to determine who will be the lead character designer for the upcoming game. Aided by company veteran Yagami Kou, Aoba ends up winning the competition and becomes the lead character designer for Eagle Jump’s newest intellectual property, a fairy tale game known as Peco. Will Aoba be able to handle her new duties and responsibilities despite being a relatively inexperienced character designer?

Review: I feel like sequels can often fail to live up to the hype presented by the original season and end up falling flat. Fortunately, that isn’t the case for New Game!!, which is a very strong second season that focuses more on characterization and is overall more serious without abandoning the idealistic tone established in the first season.

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It’s hard to deny that last year’s New Game!, while very good, could be considered to be rather run-of-the-mill by certain critics. “In comes just another CGDCT series except it just takes place in an office environment,” they would say. Such statements are very reductionist, however. Perhaps said individuals hold these opinions because the series promotes an idealized work setting (who can get away with sleeping sans pants at work in real life). Aside from this aspect, there were indeed plenty of instances of cute girls doing cute things which provides a degree of validity regarding their complaints.

Be that as it may, New Game!! branches out but in a way that still pays homage to its roots. Yes, there are still fluffy, idle chit chat amongst the female characters within the series, but more sobering topics are touched upon and addressed. Struggling with self-confidence when others achieve better results, coping with feeling left out, chasing after dreams with no familial support – all of these powerful yet relatable moments and feelings crop up and resolved in an optimistic manner. As such, viewers are left feeling relieved and maybe even a bit encouraged to try harder as they watch their favorite characters develop as individuals.

See, what New Game! established was a status quo. Aoba joined Eagle Jump and she had to quickly learn the ropes. In due time, she became one of them and her interactions with her coworkers became comfortable and cordial for both Aoba and the audience. But in this sequel series, the status quo is threatened and then drastically altered by a handful of factors, which includes Aoba’s new role as the lead character for Peco.

In a setting where Yagami Kou has regularly been accepted as the company’s top artistic asset, Aoba’s promotion affects many people. Some people who had entertained a defeatist attitude came to realize that Aoba’s optimistic attitude in the face of defeat is surely a more correct mindset. Others start evaluating their own long-term goals and then begin to make strides towards achieving said resolutions. In the face of a large gap between her own skills and Kou’s ability in a follow-up competition, Aoba’s go-getter attitude is challenged directly and she (as well as New Game!!) sticks to her guns and tries even though she knows she can’t win as she is right now. It’s an admirable mix of idealism and realism and really shows how Aoba has developed as a character – she no longer is content to stand behind her idol but she yearns to be next to Kou as equals or rivals.

And in the middle of these emotional changes, the introduction of several new characters are particularly attention-grabbing. Unfortunately, the two new interns, Momo and Tsubame, really irritated some viewers due to their aggressive behavior towards established fan favorites. I myself was a bit hard on them.

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But they, too, serve an important role due to how they also contribute to shaking up the status quo. Otherwise New Game!! might have turned out to be more of the same. With the inclusion of Momo and Tsubame, however, there are now a few (more) injections of realism. Feelings of pride and spite and rivalry are all feelings that many of us feel – frankly, those are not exactly the nicest emotions so it’s reasonable that people will inherently reject characters who display such sentiments such as Momo and Tsubame. Yet these are common feelings and to deny that these occur in everyday life is to be living in a sheltered world. But, yes, I can see how these two characters are controversial. Be that as it may, they both are shown to have their own reasons and are understanding of others’ intent and feelings, so it’s not like they’re monsters who ruin New Game!! They actually are just agents of chaos who spice things up a bit, that’s all.

Even with all of these changes, however, New Game!! remains the same. Instances of fanservice will pop up from time to time, much like in the first season. But they do serve as a means to lighten the series in-between tense scenarios, so they’re not entirely unwelcome.

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It’s not all perfect, however. While I do ship Yun with Hajime, their shared scenes outside of work don’t really seem to contribute much to the overlying plot or message. As a result, the episodes featuring said scenes seem weaker overall since a portion goes to showing the two girls doing this and that, which unfortunately lack any sort of direct relation to what’s shown to be happening within the office setting. BUT AS A SHIPPER, these moments are golden since it’s clear that Yun’s kid siblings are very fond of Hajime so I can pretend that Yun and Hajime are parents with their own kids or something.

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As for the other ships, the Rin x Kou ship is as strong as ever and is the ship that goes beyond just subtext. However, Hifumi x Aoba seemed to have fallen by the wayside and Aoba x Momo seems to have risen from the ashes. I’m still rooting for Nenecchi x Umiko, however, and my prayers were soundly answered in this second installment.

Verdict

If you’re a fan of the first series, then you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by skipping this sequel series. New Game!! manages to masterfully balance idealism with realism with a strong, focused message about how one should push onwards despite suffering defeat.

Just remember to keep an open mind and to not label a series as “ruined” simply because one or two characters are initially disagreeable. No character is entirely good or bad, after all. Just because one snaps at another doesn’t mean the former is a corrupt and morally bankrupt person. So just sit back and watch a lovely series unfold without taking the series overly seriously.

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Kakegurui – Anime Series Review

Episodes: 12

Genre(s): Psychological, Drama

Aired: Jul 2017 – to Sept 2017

Also known as: Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler, 賭ケグルイ

Summary: A private academy, in which many children of the richest people in the world attend, becomes a gambling den after class. With the arrival of Jabami Yumeko, a transfer student who gambles for the sake of thrills instead of for the sake of victory, the school’s hierarchy and status quo is seemingly fated to change.

Review: The series goes all-out with the shock value and spares little time on the explanation side of things. As a result, Kakegurui leaves the viewer feeling left out and uninvolved at times.

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What I mention the shock value in Kakegurui, I’m talking about the overly-detailed (some would say ugly) faces that some characters make while they’re involved in a game of gambling. With bizarre actions and sudden declarations, the series seems intent on trying to get you feel nauseated or at least surprised. This direction serves to illustrate just how insane and destructive gambling can be and comes across as trying to scare the viewers straight. If I could liken its strategy to something, then it’s similar to how some sex ed classes opt to show “The Miracle of Life” to the participating students which ends up freaking the kids out.

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I’ve talked about this before, but Kakegurui skims on explanations from time to time. Consequently, the viewer might end up feeling cheated, perhaps, because many of the characters within the story cheat and the viewer has no option but to believe what the characters are saying since the viewer is given too little clues to be able to draw conclusions. It’s like we’re reading a mystery novel but we don’t get the clues the detective gleans from the scene(s) of the crime and she / he just tells it like how he thinks everything happens and we all take her / his word for it. There’s little sense of foreshadowing in general. It’s like the author (since this was originally a manga) opted to feature chapters that end with cliffhangers and then was forced to follow up with an explanation that was never properly hinted at so the story can continue. This gets a little better as the series progresses, but one particular episode (featuring idols, no less) felt particularly lazy, especially in regards to animation.

I suppose the most controversial character would be the titular compulsive gambler, Jabami Yumeko. Some people will say her design is refined while others consider to look boring, for instance. And then there’s the aspect with her personality. As stated in the summary, Yumeko aims to get a kick out of gambling, which makes her different from (most of) the others who gamble to win. Despite what I said about the show’s attempt to scare viewers straight, the series also tries to convince readers that gambling is better than sex considering how many times female characters seem to climax as the stakes get raised.

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Despite her insanity, she makes a good point when she states that gambling is the very definition of madness. And underneath her lunacy there’s a recurring theme she supports and preaches from time to time: freedom of choice Ideally, gamblers in real life aren’t tied to the games they play and know when to walk away from the table, so I suppose her personal beliefs aren’t outlandish. However, Yumeko never backs down which sort of contradicts with what she’s telling others. She’s a woman of many conflicting, interesting traits, surely.

Unfortunately, she and the other characters aren’t fully explored since the anime series opts for an anime-original ending. As a result, a lot of details are left unexplained just like the way some of the characters cheated during their matches before Yumeko explains everything to the audience. The manga series is still ongoing, though!

The OP was messy (in a good way. Listening to it always got me bobbin’ my head) and the ED wasn’t bad at all (although it gets a bit out of hand with the fanservice, which is actually rather prominent in the series proper).

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As for the yuri, there are a few ships to get excited for. Yumeko actually gets text (not a text message. I mean text as opposed to subtext) from the one decent male character in the series due to his indirect confession. And there are some steamy interactions between the Student Council President and the Student Couoncil Secretary, but it’s mostly one-sided. There are some moments where characters disrespect the concept known as personal space, however.

Verdict

It’s an entertaining watch but it’s not stellar. Just expect to feel left out as a mere spectator at times. Despite the fact that this series review was primarily just me listing my issues with the series, I had fun watching it. But I enjoyed it more when I started seeing it as a comedy. It’s rather easy to do so if you set your mind to it!

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Princess Principal – Anime Series Review

Episodes: 12

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Action, Drama

Aired: Jul 2017 – to Sept 2017

Also known as: プリンセス・プリンシパル

Summary: Taking place in 19th century London where a Wall has split the country into halves, the series follows the lives of five girls who work as spies. Expect sneaky infiltrations, murders, and unsettling twists as the team members come to terms with themselves and one another.

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Netsuzou TRap – Anime Series Review

Episodes: 12

Genre(s): Romance, Drama

Aired: Jul 2017 to Sep 2017

Also known as: Netsuzou Trap -NTR-, 捏造トラップ―NTR―

Summary: Feeling nervous about her first boyfriend, Yuma turns to her childhood friend, Hotaru, for some advice. In response, Hotaru starts making sexual advances towards Yuma that go beyond mere “practice.” As these girls continue to have secret trysts behind their boyfriends’ backs, the situation gets more and more messy and complicated. What will be the conclusion for this soap opera?

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