New Years is a time for new things for a lot of people. People do New Years Resolutions, and while most are self improvement, sometimes, you want to do something for others (or it could still be self improvement). How do you go about getting…
I’ve gotten a chance to watch a few new anime this year, or new to me. We’ll have to see if they can make the list. But I’ve had fun with what I’ve seen this year, and actually had an anime that I was anticipating the release of, that I’ve started going episode reviews, Afterschool Dice Club, on the website. It didn’t make the list, because I’m only a handful of episodes in, but let’s see what did.
5 – Sword Art Online
#5 was actually the hardest spot to fill, because I have a number of anime that I want to put here after a definite few that are some of my top ones. But Sword Art Online (SAO) is just a solid anime that has had multiple stories through it, regular SAO, Gun Gale Online, Ordinal Scale, and they are all solid. It tells an interesting story in the first season as well, where you have the main character (and a lot more people) who are going into a full immersion video game, like they’ve done before, but the creator of the game is making his masterpiece and legacy and traps them all in the game. And, if you die in the game, you die in real life, but if you can beat the final boss of the game, you can escape the game and free everyone from it. But that means clearing a lot of levels. SAO isn’t a show about clearing levels, though, it’s about how people adjust to living in this digital world and the problems that arise from it. Then the other seasons deal with more virtual reality or augmented reality, but not in the same way as the first season. There’s definitely fan service in this show, but not a ton, and the story can be simplistic at times, but the premise was interesting to me.
4 – Assassination Classroom
A silly anime, it actually ended up having more heart to it than I expected, which I enjoyed. Assassination Classroom is an insane premise, which most anime area, and from the sounds of it should be about a classroom full of assassins, instead, it’s about a class of middle school (maybe junior high) age kids who have been tasked by the government to kill their teacher, a weird yellow tentacle monster. That is an insane premise, but what you get is a classroom of misfits who eventually have to start working together and growing after getting in trouble previously, all of this being led by their weird yellow tentacle monster teacher. I don’t think this anime is for everyone, but I think it did a good job of doing what it was trying to do and tell a compelling story of the growth of the kids.
3 – Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
Long title, good fantasy anime. This is one of the things that really got me checking out LitRPG on Audible, for better or worse (fairly often they were worse), but in Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeons (IIWTPUGIAD (not catchy)), it does a good job of creating an interesting world and an interesting story. And it does a trope that I enjoy, the clueless hero, he’s very earnest, and he wants to do the best possible after being rescued from this magical resetting dungeon by Aiz Wallenstein, this extremely talent female dungeon delver. Then there are a bunch of other characters who may or may not be interested in the main character. It has some of the harem anime feel to it, which isn’t a genre that I care about, but the main character is so earnest and caring that it doesn’t feel as gazy as some of them, but it does still have fan service in it. I also like how it ties in real world pantheons in an interesting way, so it’s not just a generic fantasy setting.
2 – Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is a very immersive space opera that pulls you in not just through the story telling, which is well done, but so much through the music. The music of each episode helps inform the story that is being told and draws you further into what you are watching. It also is really well done and the variety of music throughout the show, because each episode has it’s own feel, is really impressive. This is an anime that has good character depth as well, even with being thrown into the middle of their story, you start to get an idea of who the characters are, and what they have gone through in their lives.
1 – Steins;Gate
This has been #1 for me for a while, this time travel anime is just well put together with a good cast of characters. I really feel like they do a good job of developing those characters as well. And while there are definitely characters that can fall into various anime tropes, they do a really good job of keeping most characters out of them and even the tropy characters end up having more depth than it seems. The time travel is also really well done. Time travel is one of those things that I generally like in concept, but too many shows and movies end up having time travel become so convoluted that it doesn’t work, or too simple that you can poke holes in how they are doing things. Steins;Gate does a good job of making something simple enough that you can generally understand the concept of it, but complicated enough that it doesn’t feel like time travel can be easily solved.
As always there are some honorable mentions that I need to add in as well.
The Devil is a Part-Timer
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K
My Hero Academia
My Roommate is a Cat
There are a lot of anime out there that I want to watch more of that I either can’t easily find on Funimation or just haven’t had the time for yet. But Ancient Magus Bride, Fairie Gone, and Afterschool Dice Club are all that I’ve watched a chunk of and want to watch more that could make it to my list eventually.
What are some of your favorite anime? Do any of the ones I’ve listed here sound interesting to you?
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I’m back again to talk about the next episode, Episode 2 is called: This is a Cockroach! As a quick recap, this is the story about a socially awkward girl who feels like she’s different than everyone else and can’t have fun, but then she…
Whhhhhat, there’s a board game Anime out there! And not only that, it uses actual board games in it. So, I could just write a review of the series, but it’s board games and I want to talk about the anime in a little bit more detail than that, plus I want to talk about the board games that they play or don’t play.
Episode 1: A New World
We start out this anime, in a pretty common way, especially for a school anime. The main character, Miki, is a quiet and shy character who just does her own thing and really doesn’t know how to have fun. That changes when a fellow classmate, Aka, accidentally runs her bike into a river/stream and decides to teach Miki about having fun. Together, they decide to follow their class representative into the “entertainment” district, because that’s expressly forbidden for the students to be there after 6, and it’s night. There they find out that she works at a game shop and the shop owner decides that the girls should learn how to play some board games.
Thus far the anime hasn’t done anything that really stands out, except for the fact that there are board games in there. And not that there are games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Uno, Skip-Bo, etc in the anime and in the game store, there are games like Ice Cool, Marrakech (more to come on that), and so many more in the store. Even the ones that only had the title in Japanese on the game, I could recognize a lot of them. There has clearly been a lot of effort making it seem like an actual board game store and keeping the stock of the store in a modern setting. It isn’t that uncommon to see a random copy of Monopoly or something like that in a show, but for an anime to create a store with that much detail it’s impressive.
That said about the anime, while it might not have set itself apart from some other slice of life animes, it hasn’t been week in telling it’s story. The characters, while tropes, are pretty well done, and the shop keeper of the board game store is amazing. He reminds me of Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop, though, I have to thank Kristen for putting that into my head, but it works wonderfully. And I think that there is going to be room for the anime to grow. It kind of feels like they are using board games to help get their little messages or little bits of character development across, and that’ll be interesting to see how they can tie it all together.
One thing I want to do in these reviews is talk about the games that they are playing in a given episode. In the first episode the game was Marrakech. In the game everyone is a rug salesman trying to get as much money as possible. To do this, you are moving around a character Assam across the board. Depending on where he ends, you have to pay other players for their rugs, if you land on one of theirs, counting the connected pieces. Then you place one of your rugs down, but you can’t fully cover up another rug. The game goes until everyone has played all of their rugs, then you get money for how many rugs of your color are showing, plus whatever you had from before, and the person with the most money wins. This game, from what they showed in the show, seems like a very interesting abstract puzzle with a fair amount of luck thrown in, because Assam moves as few as one space each round, and as many as four, based off of what you roll on the dice. So you can hopefully plan some, but you won’t be able to fully plan. There seems to be good depth to the game, though, as you try and force your opponents or at least increase the likelihood to land on your rugs so that they have to give you money. The game seems like it would play quite quickly as well, which is fun. Overall, this is a game that I would like to try before I’d add it to a collection, but I can see it being a game that would have a lot of cheering moments as you get the roll that you or the opposite on a low roll.
I’m excited to watch the next episode and see where the show goes. I love to see board games show up in more popular culture. Already this year we had Nemesis from Awaken Realms show up on an episode of South Park, and now we have an anime that is completely about board games. If you enjoy board games, and after one episode, check out this anime. It’s streaming through Funimation, and they are dubbing it, so I’ve only watched the dubbed version, which was good.
Let me know your thoughts on this anime. Is there another show that you’ve found about board games out there? Would you want to or have you played Marrakech?
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Anime #2 has been watched this year, first was Dagashi Kashi and now Kristen and I just wrapped up watching Gamers!. So I’m well on my goal of getting five animes watched this year, I’ll probably double it realistically, but five seemed safe in case we jumped back into Fairy Tale.
Gamers! is a cute little slice of life anime about Amano, a big video game nerd who just loves to play video games and have fun with it. He gets invited by Karen Tendou, the prettiest girl in the school, to join the gaming club that she started. However, that isn’t why Amano plays games, and he declines. The problem is that Tendou is head over heals for Amano and the anime follows their relationship as it grows and the meddling of Tasuku, a closet video game nerd, who befriends Amano and tries to help him with his girl problems.
It’s a slice of life anime that focuses on those main characters as well as Aguri, Tasuku’s girlfriend, and Hoshinomori, another girl in the school who is also a huge gaming nerd who just loves video games, but not competing like Amano does. It really focuses on Amano and how Tasuku tries to help him get out of his shell so that he can be part of society. There are all sorts of crazy twists and turns and everyone tries to figure out who likes whom and who to try and set-up together.
What this isn’t is a gaming anime. A more traditional gaming anime like Sword Art Online or Overlord focuses in on the game that is being played. In this anime, though it is called Gamers!, it’s about the people who play the video games and their relationships versus the actual games themselves. The games are really there to bring the characters together, if you go into it thinking it’s going to be about some epic game or focus in on a game every episode, you’ll be disappointed. But what it does, it does well. It really focuses in on the relationships and how gamers aren’t always the best at talking relationships through and saying what they mean. So there are lots of misunderstandings about what is going on and who likes who, it’s a real Comedy of Errors.
Now, is it a great anime? I don’t think so, I don’t think it would likely even hit my honorable mentions list when I do my top 5 (or 10) anime at the end of the year. But it is definitely enjoyable. The characters are all quite sweet, so you don’t have the traditional antagonist in the story. Each character, is, in some ways, their own antagonist, as they struggle through relationship drama. Also, with the relationship drama, it’s never heavy or overbearing drama, it’s almost always the case of someone thinking something that isn’t happening and it just works quite well.
So, would this be an anime that I recommend to people? If they are looking for an anime with a cute story line and some fun characters, it’s a good choice. There is a bit of fan service, heavy fan service in the finale, but for reasons you’ll understand if you watch the anime, so it does a solid job of not going too over the top. This isn’t a thinky anime and it isn’t an action anime, so if that’s more your thing, this one is probably going to seem too fluffy and simple for you.
If you’ve seen Gamers! what are your thoughts on it?
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