The Binge Log: Japanator's Guide to Summer 2018 Anime


’tis the reason for a half-season round-up

The sun is high, and the shows are hot, which means it’s time again for Japanator’s Binge Log, our mid-season look at all our favorite anime series!

This season brings with it no less than three hits each of alternate-world appeal, devastatingly earnest sports shows, and surreal slapstick comedy antics, alongside a slate of returning heavies like Attack on Titanand the continuation of My Hero Academia. We’ve been watching a fraction of what’s out there, and have gathered our impressions below.

Read on for more, and don’t forget to tell us what you’ve been watching (or want everyone to try out) in the comments!

Note: This round-up isn’t comprehensive, and covers mainly the shows we’ve spent a bit of time watching. It’s also based primarily on North American availability. Check your local listings and services for region-specific info.

Attack on Titan Season 3Studio: Wit StudioAirdate: July 23, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, Funimation, HuluThe Blurb: The Attack on Titan saga continues as Eren experiments with his Titan powers to find a way to reclaim the breached Wall. Meanwhile, the Survey Corps is put on the defensive as their link to more Titan secrets is murdered, and a figure from Levi’s past emerges to hunt them down.

Staff Comments:

Josh Tolentino

And we’re back! Attack on Titan wastes no time getting back on track with its story, picking up right after the world-shaking revelations of the last season’s end. The world is starting to seem a lot bigger than the walls, and forces are moving that no one in the Survey Corps can anticipate. It took quite a while, but this is where the mystery-box architecture of Attack on Titanstarts to feel like it pays off, and though I can’t exactly call myself a big fan of the franchise, I’m glad it looks like Wit Studio is committed to seeing it through.

That’s because, frankly, Titanis at its best in animation, where the glorious action scenes and seeing characters spin through the air on the absurd Omni-directional Maneuver Gear makes it easier to distract myself from the franchise’s frankly awful politics, something that is harder to do reading ahead in the much less attractive-looking manga. Attack on Titanremains a living illustration of why critical distance is an important tool for enjoying media.

If nothing else, Wit Studio certainly makes the case for its mastery of the show’s stylized motion, particularly in Levi’s spectacular first engagement with a mysterious group of goons wearing ODM gear that seems tailor-made to murder humans and not Titans. Though I already know what’s going to happen next, seeing it presented this way is an unqualified joy.

Overlord Season 3Studio: MadhouseAirdate: July 10, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, Funimation, HuluThe Blurb:The rise of the Great Tomb of Nazarick continues as Ains Ooal Gown – once a gamer, now a powerful undead sorcerer and part-time adventurer – navigates an unfamiliar fantasy land.

Staff Comments:

Marcel Hoang

I can’t believe how far I’ve gone in watching Overlordfor two seasons. I’ve gone from isekai salary man stuck in an overpowered undead form to piece together his isekai situation to Ainz Ooal Gown of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, conquering the world to spread his name far and wide of this video game world turned reality. Or at least that’s where we’re confirming where we’re going in season 3. The majority of season 2 was an exercise in exploring an extended cast of characters whose lives are altered by the full range and might of Ainz Ooal Gown, but we left off on a tease that maybe we’ll finally meet someone familiar with the depth of power Ainz is capable of as a player character in a world of NPCs.

Season 3 has started with a few episodes going back to a few conquered villages and characters who happily live under Ainz’s rule, but the stage is set with all the major factions standing their ground, from foreign countries, underworld organizations, and major guilds, surrounding Nazarick from all sides but without much of an air of menace.

Also, Overlordso far for me has been the only anime that has always had an OP I enjoyed for every season.

Josh Tolentino

While I’ve got a soft spot for the general concept of “isekai” (AKA the “trapped in another world” subgenre), I’ve liked precious few of them, for the many valid reasons there are to dislike isekai shows. Chief among the isekai shows I’ve liked isLog Horizon, which was a more thoughtful take on how real-world people might behave and react when confronted with the challenge of living in a game world suddenly turned real.

Though I dismissed it at first as another also-ran isekai power fantasy (and it *is* one of those), Overlordworks for me because so far it’s felt a lot like Log Horizon, except it leans a lot more into letting its audience – via the protagonist – feel like they’re playing the bad guys. Whereas Log Horizonspends most of its time with its players, watching them adapt to the new complexities of their game suddenly becoming a real, living world, many ofOverlord‘s most interesting moments and throughlines are rooted in the fact that the world Ains and co. have found themselves in is NOT Yggdrassil, the game they played (whereas in Log Horizon, the protagonists’ game literally replaced the real world, and everyone woke up one day to find they were inhabiting their in-game avatars).

Thus far, Overlordhas spent more time with the natives of the world dealing with the sudden, disruptive emergence of Nazarick and Ains himself. And Ains also remains a reasonably interesting protagonist (at least compared to the personality-free ciphers that populate most anime power fantasies), thanks to the fact that audiences are privy to his inner voice, revealing his true nature as a gamer dope that’s way in over his head. Watching him cope by “role-playing” the stereotype of a scheming ruler-type character is a treat.

How Not to Summon A Demon Lord

Studio: Ajia-DoAirdate: July 5, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, NetflixThe Blurb: Takuma Sakamoto is an infamous player of the MMORPG Cross Reverie, so powerful he acquired a nickname among the other players: “Demon Lord”. But one day, he’s summoned to a world outside his own, by girls that subsequently attempt to enslave him with magic. Good thing the spell backfires, setting the stage for Takuma’s rise in his new setting.

Staff Comments:

Marcel Hoang

Oh no! Not another neet gamer isekai anime!

So why did I click on this show despite taking a wild guess that it probably wouldn’t explore anything new, and in fact would probably lean hard into ecchi and fanservice deliberately? I don’t know! But if I had to guess it’s because I’m a sucker for game based isekai. I want to see an anime have ridiculously thick world building and lore based on video game tropes to be exploited by self-aware characters. Like when we saw a character juggle cooldowns in Log Horizon or the hilarious amount of disarmingly overpowered strength from the characters of Overlord.

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord is like a buried stash of random trinkets. There’s a whole lot of stuff to pick through, but every now and then as you dig your fingers into the dirt and rummage around, you’ll pull out something shiny. Like how the main character Sakamoto has been a social recluse for so long, he falls back his role-playing as a neutral-evil type gamer to talk to people. Or how he totally does exploit video game tropes to spot cliches and important clues a mile away, like how Rem doesn’t talk much about her obviously shameful secret, so obviously figuring out what she’s hiding is an important critical path story plot point!

There are shining spots in this anime, but make no mistake, this is an ecchi anime you’re signing up for. You and I can’t complain since the show is pretty up front about its girls. I will say that the show does do quite a bit to make the girls more than just eye candy. But this is basically how I feel every time Shera’s chest is onscreen.

Josh Tolentino

These days, isekai shows are like the Warriors/Musou games of genre anime: They look identical and unappealing to outsiders, but for those willing to submit to the inanity, subtle distinctions between different entries that can make or break the experience.

I haven’t seen much of How Not To Summon A Demon Lord, but it felt to me like someone thought Overlord wasn’t sexy enough. True, Ains Ooal Gown is practically a volcel in his show, so there is a niche worth filling…maybe. Unfortunately for me, that stuff might be more of a deal-breaker. That said, I mentioned above that I liked the way Overlord gives the viewer a window into Ains’ inner everyman voice to show him as more relatable, and that effect is quite a bit more pronounced in this show. I just wish this aspect of it were used to enhance its strengths rather than make up for its other weaknesses.

Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion

Studio: NAZAirdate: July 11, 2018Watch it On: CrunchyrollThe Blurb: In the 13th century, southern Japan is on the brink of war with the fearsome Mongol empire, as its navy makes for the island of Tsushima. A group of samurai, convicts and ne’er-do-wells led by disgraced retainer Jinzaburou Kuchii are all that stand between the people and the invaders.

Staff Comments:

Josh Tolentino

If you felt this season was too heavy on trashy isekai shows, absurdist comedies, and earnest sports dramas, and too light on Golden Kamuy, Angolmoismight be one of the only shows for you this summer. With a title based on Nostradamus’ alleged anagram for the Mongolians, it’s a straightforward samurai historical drama. That’s kind of great, because samurai fiction set before the sengoku period (i.e. the period of Nobunaga, et al) is fairly uncommon. Furthermore, the Mongol invasions of Japan are themselves somewhat obscure in the eyes of pop media, or at least the parts that have made it overseas.

That’s kind of wildbecause the invasions were huge, involving tens of thousands of soldiers and fierce resistance – both guerilla and conventional – from the Japanese against the Mongols, who were the military hyperpower of their time. And yet most foreigners’ takeaway of the event is that a couple of big storms (the kamikaze) just magically made the armies of Kublai Khan go away. That’s a shame, but with luck, games like the upcoming Ghost of Tsushima(notably being led by western developer Sucker Punch) and shows like this might put a light on that period and mine it for some good spectacle and insight.

As for the show itself, Angolmoismakes for a solid foundation. The action scenes are well-constructed, with Jinzaburou quickly outed as a no-bullshit badass, the tell-it-like-it-is troubleshooter the island needs when invaders come knocking. His counterpart, Princess Teruhi, is in the classic position of being the only one of a mind to do what it takes to save the island, but shackled by her youth and gender. Though I wouldn’t call the show terribly creative at the moment, it definitely scratches that historical-action itch. Also, the opening theme is pretty good for the type of show that’s usually targeted at older viewers (like Hyouge Monoand Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuuwere in their times).

If I’ve got one major complaint, it’s that the visuals are thoroughly undermined by a bunch of ugly CGI filters meant to give the show an aged look. It just doesn’t work!

Mr. Tonegawa’s Middle Management BluesStudio: MadhouseAirdate: July 4, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, HIDIVEThe Blurb:A prequel to the Kaiji TV series starring Tonegawa, the right-hand man of series villain Hyoudou. Years before Kaiji Itou is drawn into the series, Tonegawa, a middle manager at the Teiai group, is ordered to brainstorm “games of death” to keep his sadistic boss entertained.

Staff Comments:

Josh Tolentino

Talk about a series with a high buy-in! Not only do you have to be reasonably familiar with Kaiji, a franchise with little current cultural cachet outside a decade-old anime series and a distinctive character design style, but this is a gag-focused comedy spinoff starring a second-string villain from the first season!

In light of that, I can’t exactly blame anyone for checking out at the entrance, but Tonegawadoes decently with what it has. The first episode spends a large portion of its runtime recapping the two extant seasons of Kaiji, and launches straight into the anime equivalent of dad jokes – a sequence of gags that are best appreciated by working adults -preferably Japanese salaryman-types. For what it’s worth, a few of them landed for me, mainly because of some of the Japanese corporate clients I work with at my day job.

Beyond that, folks curious about what the devil’s up with Kaijiand all that “zawa-zawa-zawa” nonsense would be better served watching Kaijiinstead, then maybe checking this out if they’re still jonesing for some when they’re done.

Chio’s School RoadStudio: DiomedeaAirdate: July 6, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, Netflix, FunimationThe Blurb: All Chio needs to do this morning – and every morning – is get to school on time. That’s it. But life finds a way.

Staff Comments:

Tian Ma

I felt that the first episode of Chio’s School Roadwas missing something. It was charming in how it spun out whimsical situations from a mundane activity (walking to school), but the protagonist Chio Miyamo wasn’t clicking with me. She was too much of a caricature of an awkward nerd. While I could relate to her social ineptitude, the episode didn’t squeeze much humor out of it.

Then something changed in episode two. Another side of Chio was shown – turns out she’s a bit of an asshole! That added wrinkle puts her actions in a new context. Her heroic acts become more heroic, her kind acts become kinder, and the misfortune that befalls her feels humorously karmic.

Episode two also introduces Manana Nonomura, someone who is as petty, self-absorbed, and desperate as Chio. Naturally the two are best friends. Their banter gave me the most laughs out of any of the scenes in the first two episodes. It reminded me of Konosuba, where you could put Aqua and Kazuma in a scene and it would be hilarious even if nothing really happens. It’s not just in the writing; the voice acting and animation for Chio and Manana were on point too. I hope the series will feature much, much more of these two.

Marcel Hoang

The hook for this series is so brutally simple, I had to check it out. Chio walks to school but shenanigans ensue. However Chio isn’t just some jobber schoolgirl who pratfalls into goofy situations. She’s my favorite kind of gamer trope: the borderline addicted, social gremlin who needs to rationalize parts of her life with her gaming hobby in order to scrape by in life. One example is when Chio starts practicing the CQC she saw in a game’s cutscene last night on her friend. She’s got a cringy online handle she’ll default to if she needs an alias (you know, like Striderhoang or Torchman), and she rewrites the rules of a physical activity in her mind into game logic in order to get herself to exert herself. A lot like buying a shirt that says +1 DEF on it or imagining the skills you could use in real life if you were an actual thief class.

I like the distinct approaches you learn to expect from the three main girls. Chio is a trash gamer who wants to stick by a set of social rules into order to stay on the down low, Manana is fueled by desires to get ahead in the social hierarchy of school and will back stab Chio to get there, and Yuki is good and pure and extremely fast and there’s no telling what’ll happen when someone this nice person will just run in a straight line without thinking of the consequences.

This series may not be my favorite comedy of the season but the fact that every story is framed with Chio walking to school, and they will get to school despite shenanigans, has me actually thinking what will actually happen for once.

Harukana ReceiveStudio: C2CAirdate: July 6, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FunimationThe Blurb:After moving to Okinawa, Haruka resolves to form a beach volleyball team with her cousin Kanata, who gave up on the sport thinking she was too short for it. Can sun, surf, and schoolgirl antics bring life back to the beach?

Staff Comments:

Tian Ma

Full disclosure: I have close to zero experience with sports anime. I didn’t pick up Harukana Receive because I was really into this genre or beach volleyball… I did it for the butts.

Harukana Receiveis a big time butt lover’s anime. However there’s also a pretty good story unfolding alongside the butt shots.

The show isn’t just about the game of volleyball (although you’ll get plenty of volleyball action and strategy). It’s mostly about our deuteragonist Kanata using the sport to work through her personal demons. Her character arc is relatable and low-key tragic. A lot of her problems are due to her inability to play volleyball at the high level she used to play at. But the cause is physical – she’s simply not tall enough. The episodes have so far focused on her reckoning with this issue that she can’t control.

Beyond Kanata’s story, I latched on to the entertaining friendships featured throughout. When not developing characters through volleyball, the show’s rather lighthearted and comedic. It’s been an easy watch… especially with the butt shots.

Josh Tolentino

Of this season’s three sports anime, Harukana Receive is the one least likely to be taken seriously thanks to the cutesy character design and swimsuit sexualization. But it’s a decent one, honestly, and shows enough detail in its actual volleyball scenes to be worthy of a watch for fans willing to give a sports show a chance. It’s also almost aggressively pleasant, which can either be a plus or a minus depending on your tolerance for melodrama.

Hanebado!Studio: Liden FilmsAirdate: July 2, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, FunimationThe Blurb: Ayano Hanesaki is a young badminton prodigy, but quit the game for reasons unknown, until she graduated into high school and met Nagisa Aragaki, a tall senior who’s spent all her time perfecting her game after losing to Ayano a while back. Inspired, she takes it back up in time to bring her team forward and encounter some insane rivals.

Staff Comments:

Marcel Hoang

Ever since Haikyuu!!, I’ve been more receptive to giving hot blooded sports anime a shot. Within the first minute, I was bombarded with what I thought to be balls to the wall sakuga or roughly money shots. The OP is energetic, colorful, and the you see muscles like calves flex at the sheer effort of sharp turns and jumps, and the cold open scene before that were two girls moving with such speed and ferocity I thought Hanebadowas going to spend all it’s money before the first five minutes.

Apparently Hanebadowon’t bankrupt itself because the intense badminton action (yes, badminton) is rotoscoped. And asides from the badminton club’s captain having the bust you’re going to notice in high speed anime movement, the series doesn’t lean into any obvious fanservice. I’ve been awakened that fanservice isn’t always just girls with panty shots but can also be quiet shots of incredibly idealized women in tight clothing, so I won’t say you won’t oogle the female form a bit as it moves and sweats in high intensity sports but make no mistake this isn’t just fluffy girls having fun at sports but hot blooded athletes playing hard and competing hard, practicing through blood, sweat, and tears at a sport they are passionate about and stake their identities on.

The first episode lays it cards out on the table with the Hinata and Kageyama of the show, the gifted natural Hanesaki and the hardworking Aragaki, and through the first three episodes, it wraps up the personal problems holding them back that you thought would’ve been a whole arc for a drama anime. But that’s good because the stakes of its first few matches were low. Even with the smaller matches they’ve been having, the movement and animation have been really kinetic, so seeing it pick up the pace with formal matches for the badminton club of the show will really get interesting hopefully the same way I look forward to matches in Haikyuu!!.

Also cool story, community member Michformer is a former badminton player and took the sport back up after watching this show.

Josh Tolentino

The show’s title, Hanebado!, is a portmanteau of the Japanese truncation of “Badminton” and the surname of “Hanesaki”, which is the surname of Ayano Hanesaki. She’s the show’s protagonist, but you wouldn’t know it from the first couple of episodes, which are heavily focused on team captain Nagisa, the tall girl with the unruly hair from all the trailers. She’s super intense about practice and is even driving other teammates away in her frustration.

Things Happen™, and then Ayano’s right there in front of her, having quit badminton and arguing that it’s all pointless. Hanebadoramps up the teen drama and emotion from the get-go, and while that’s not what I come to anime for most days, I find it rather compelling here.

Later episodes move Ayano closer to the center and put the spotlight on her relationship with her badminton-goddess deadbeat mom, but also add blonde and pink-haired rich-bitch rival characters who act like they were imported from a different, more fantastical sports anime altogether. The motion still looks great, though, even if folks who started watching looking for something grounded and realistic might be disappointed by now.

Cells at Work!Studio: David ProductionAirdate: July 8, 2018Watch it On: Crunchyroll, AnimeLab, Animax AsiaThe Blurb:We live in a society…made up of trillions of cells in the human body. One of them is a hapless Red Blood Cell, and another is a grim White Blood Cell. Can a chance meeting of the two in an infected vein lead to true bonds being formed? Find out more in your inner space!

Staff Comments:

Tian Ma

The education system has it wrong. If you want to teach people about something, turn those concepts into cute anime characters and give them a story arc.

The first episode of Cells at Work!alternates between being a casual working-class comedy show and a rather violent action show, complete with bacterial villains who look like they stepped in from The Guyver. I’m not sure if it would work quite as well without its wacky premise, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In fact this is one of the better first episodes of any anime that I’ve seen. It’s not just something to get through to build stock in the characters and world; there’s a complete story that gets you invested in the here and now. While the action wasn’t anything special, the comedic timing and expressive animation were enough to keep me entertained throughout. And the cuteness factor always helps. This one’s definitely going in my watch queue!

Marcel Hoang

I first found out about this anime on my Facebook feed. I always seem to gravitate towards workplace comedies, so turning the whole human body into an anthropomorphic workplace was a neat enough hook for me. Red blood cells are a delivery people and white blood cells are (bloodthirsty) mercenaries.

A little bit of my extended interest will be going towards how they’re going to characterize the utterly mechanical nature of of the human body into animu characters. Lympocytes are hardcore PMCs, a sneeze is a missile loaded with captured germs, and probably the breakout character for a lot of my friends are the platelets which are characterized as preschoolers who are just trying their best.

It may still be schlocky anime. Within the first ten minutes, a white blood cell slaughters a germ and is covered in… blood? And the onlooking red blood cells even frighteningly remark, “Look at that white blood cell! He’s covered in blood!” But at least it’s a feel good, schlocky anime. You’re not going to waste your time, instead learning something interesting about your body, no matter how basic it may be if you’re an adult.

Asides from my enjoyment, I may well just continue watching just to drive Gamemaniac3434 crazy.

Josh Tolentino

Best educational anime ever! Now I want to cut myself to give those cute little platelets something to do.

Banana Fish

Studio: MappaAirdate: July 6, 2018Watch it On: AmazonThe Blurb:Ash Lynx is a cold-blooded killer, raised as heir and enforcer of “Papa” Dino Golzine’s crime family. But he’s abandoned the family to investigate “Banana Fish” the mysterious secret that drove his older brother insane, just as he encounters a nice guy from Japan named Eiji Okumura.

Staff Comments:

Josh Tolentino

I always planto watch heavy crime-drama anime like Banana Fishand 91Days, but never seem to get the time to actually watch them, mainly because I have less of a tolerance for complexity and actual good stories than I used to. I’m glad I made the time for Banana Fish, because it’s a cool show. Based on a legendary manga from the ’80s that strongly influenced the development of the Boys’ Love genre, Banana Fisheschews a lot of the pretty-boy trappings that tend to symbolize the scene these days. What remains is a strong story full of attractive men with tragic pasts being super intense.

That’s reductive, I know, and despite Mappa’s deciding to move the story forward into 2018 and incorporate things like smartphones and the Iraqi occupation, there’s something that feels unavoidably dated about Banana Fish. Maybe it’s the show’s depiction of street gang life as more West Side Storyor The Warriorsthan MS-13, or perhaps it’s the slightly retro character design or a plot that would last one episode if the characters knew how to Google things.

None of this is a bad thing, mind you, it’s just important to remember the story’s original context, and see its diversions from reality for what they are rather than as some weird discrepancy.

Revue StarlightStudio: Kinema CitrusAirdate: July 13, 2018Watch it On: HIDIVEThe Blurb:Karen Aijo is part of the 99th generation of Seisho Music Academy, a performing-arts school that runs Starlight, a musical revue troupe beloved the world over. When her old friend Hikari Kagura transfers to the school after years away, things get weird. Hikari’s a changed girl, and all of a sudden there’s a talking giraffe telling the girls to duel for the title of Top Star.

Staff Comments:

Josh Tolentino

Some years ago, I watched some of Love Live! School Idol Project, and had a realization: I don’t like idol shows, so much as I like The [email protected]specifically. That’s not a really deep discovery as far as revelations go, but if nothing else it served to highlight why I didn’t get deep into that scene despite choosing A-1’s [email protected]anime as my top show of its year.

Revue Starlight, however, might be my next [email protected]It helps that it’s gorgeously animated, and sets itself apart from the glut of other idol shows by being about theater, more specifically about the type song-and-dance musicals performed by Japan’s famous Takarazuka Revue, a century-old all-female show group. The Takarazuka Revue and its reputation for flamboyant, lavishly produced stage shows have inspired a ton of Japanese pop culture works, from Utenato Sakura Wars, and Revue Starlightappears to be following in those footsteps, while injecting the modern smoothness of contemporary multimedia franchising.

What I’m saying is is that the show is great to watch, but can’t quite ditch the lingering sense that it’s trying (or will try) to sell you something at some point. More specifically, I’m referring to the upcoming mobile game and franchise of the same name, owned by Bushiroad, who also own Love Live.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently bad about art that also has commercial goals. There’s plenty of art and meaning to appreciate in Revue Starlight, from the aesthetic pleasures of the rad costume design (I want to shake the hands of the luminaries that decided 2018 would be the time to bring the Pelisse back into fashion via anime) and the cool songs and animation. Starlight‘s themes of talent, its Highlander-style tournament system, where the chosen duel in Auditions to improve their ranking at the school, are no strangers to idol anime, and even sports and action shows. It’s just that knowing that Bushiroad’s got an app coming out this year leads one to notice – or at least suspect – that there are a few rough edges in this thing that were sanded off.

Whether that’s for good or ill in the end is not for me to judge. Maybe that’s not even a relevant concern, seeing as I’m having a great time, anyway.

Planet With

Studio: J.C. StaffAirdate: July 8, 2018Watch it On: CrunchyrollThe Blurb: Soya is a normal highschooler (that just so happens to live with a maid and a silent, anthropomorphic cat he calls “Sensei”) whose city is attacked by a massive, mysterious weapon. Seven powerful heroes flying strange mecha dispatch the weapon, and all is well…until Soya learns that those heroes that just defended the city are his trueenemy! [Ed. note: Thanks to flea friend for catching my goof! -Josh]

Staff Comments:

Salvador G-Rodiles

Ever since I read Satoshi Mizukami’s Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammermanga, I was impressed with his ability to mess with the reader’s expectations. At the same time, it served as a nice homage to Gainax’s previous works, such as Evangelion and FLCL. As Planet With adapts his storyboards into an anime, the end result is one of my top anticipated shows of the summer.

Overall, it came out well as we have a group facing the heroes who’re trying to protect the Earth from mysterious beings called Nebula. While it started off with the lead using a living mecha kitty to rob the defenders of their powers, it breaks away from the usual monster-of-the-week formula in a quick pace. Within four episodes, it shot us with some twists that succeeded in changing the audience’s expectations since it’s at a point where the heroes and the villains’ roles have been swapped.

From the lead’s reasoning for fighting the “good guys” to the truth behind their powers, it continues to show us that its creator can still surprise people with his style. The animation may not be the highest quality, but the stuff J.C. Staff does within their limitations made each fight exciting. It helps that the title’s signature cat-themed Kamen Rider-like robot beats its opponents with a hammer that materializes from its arms and legs.

If things keep going the way they are, I think we may end up with one of the best programs of the Summer 2018 Anime Season.

Asobi Asobase

Studio: LercheAirdate: July 8, 2018Watch it On: CrunchyrollThe Blurb: Hanako, Kasumi, and Olivia – a Caucasian transfer student who was raised Japanese and can’t speak a lick of English – are the members of the Pleasure-Seekers Research Club, a club that was named that way mainly because Hanako wanted it to sound popular. Hijinks ensue.

Staff Comments:

Marcel Hoang

I sometimes look back on all the anime that exist now thanks to K-on!and the rise of the so called moe blob anime. When I saw the thumbnail, I thought it was going to be more soulless moe blob. Turns out after find a better synopsis of the series, the moe blob aesthetic is the hardest juke ever.

Turns out, Asobi Asobasegives me feelings of Konasubamore than K-on!Think Nichijou’s random intensity and humor with the prevailing mood that everyone involved is a dick like Konasuba. Asobi Asobasefollows a trio of girls who have fun and kill time in the Pastimer’s Club. Kasumi looks like the calm and studious type but is actually frighteningly intense when she wants to win. Honda is the idiot character who you’d expect to be the jumping off point for most gags but has more going on then you’d think. And then there’s Olivia, the character who sold me on watching more of this show. Olivia very obviously looks like the blond foreigner character who speaks very broken Japanese. In actuality, she was born in Japan and knows literally zero English, but keeps a front up to mess with Honda.

You see, the show starts because Kasumi wants to do better on her English tests, so obviously she asks Olivia for help. But Olivia doesn’t want to break her facade because who’d want to expose their dirty little secret after living it for a while? So Kasumi challenges Olivia to a game for an English lesson. And there you see where most of the series gets its jokes from before getting into how shitty these girls will become when it comes to winning a game. With games as simple as thumb wars or kicking a shoe the furthest, these girls will go to great lengths to stab each other in the back and win. Despite the overall dreamlike animation, reaction faces are hilariously hideous and grim.

If you want to see comedy that stems from over the top slapstick, reactions, and just a bunch of jerks having fun like Konasuba, give this show a shot. It will get you with just one episode!