Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3 is now over. As much as I miss it, I do like the freedom of not having to go home on Friday evenings to watch anime and write a review for the next day. It really does tie up my going out time. Ever since I started doing episodic reviews I keep telling myself never to do next day reviews…. So OF COURSE, I pick 3 shows for my Saturday post that all air on Fridays… Brilliant!
GRANBELM (Under a Blood Red Moon)
What I knew/thought before seeing the show: I knew next to nothing about the series literally only the title and the Crunchyroll thumbnail. My reasoning for picking it was “I like pink haired heroines”
What the first episode was about: A pink-haired heroine named Mangetsu goes out one evening and gets stuck in a virtual world where magical girls fight with mechas because reasons. She’s very energetic and optimistic about it.
Characters so far: We didn’t get much development since the episode was very action heavy. So far they are pretty shallow but not unpleasant. The two main characters are Mangetsu which is a genki girl archetype and Shingetsu which is a mysterious stoic archetype. I actually liked Mangetsu’s sister the most be we only see her in one scene at the beginning of the episode.
Technical aspects: The designs are cute and I enjoyed the art style. The limited palette establishes a visual identity pretty quickly. I immediately understood something ominous was going on from the colours alone. I was reminded of Yuki Yuna for a while. The voice acting is ok so far and the animation is good but a little jumpy. It comes in spurts.
First Impression: I had a good enough time watching this episode. I enjoyed the first half more than the second but I would continue watching this series based on the first episode. I really don’t have that much to say either way.
Hopes and Fears: I’m enjoying the Magical Girl/Mecha mashup, it’s an interesting genre. The world building has potential and there is a lot of room for this series to grow. I have been lucky with oddball cute girl shows. There is a potential for this show to be very messy though. The first episode did not do a very good job at establishing its world, laws or motivations and my pessimistic side is telling me there’s a big chance everything remains mostly superficial. The fight scenes were a little still and for some reason, I thought this was another mobile game promotion (doesn’t seem to be). Finally, Mangetsu is really striking me as a Mary Sue so far. Let’s see what happens in episode 2!
FIRE FORCE (Playing With Fire)
What I knew/thought before seeing the show: Oh cool! An anime about firemen. Interesting. They’re athletic, maybe it’ll be a little like a sports! anime. Or a work based Slice of Life…
What the first episode was about: A young man named Shira finally accomplishes his dream to become a fireman (superpowered individuals who fight infernals). Some years ago, people started suffering from spontaneous combustion and becoming infernals, something like fire demons. Those who survived gained pyrokinetic powers which get stronger as they are passed along down generations. As a 3rd gen pyrokinetic, Shinra is particularly powerful but has also been seen as a monster and blamed for tragedies. He now wants to prove he’s a hero instead.
Characters so far: Ok, so this is not a sports! anime by any means but the characters could come from one! We only really get to know Shira but he already has a complex back story and clearly established personality, even a fun quirk of smiling manically when he’s nervous. That’s pretty decent development for one episode. I have high hopes for the rest. Sadly, aside from a few flashbacks to Shinra’s mom, both female characters have been used mostly as fanservice charas so far, which is a little disappointing.
Technical aspects: I actually really like this one so far. It’s probably my favourite style of the three I saw. It has a modern anime look with slightly more reasonable proportions and a variety of silhouettes. In a way, it may be the most realistic looking which is hilarious. The colours are similarly rich but grounded. On the other hand, animation is impressive and fluid. On top of that, the director used a few interesting visual tricks, successive jump-cut transitions in the firehouse, use of different art styles for certain scenes, flashback specific colour palettes… It’s a stylish looking show and I am enthusiastic to see more of it.
First Impression: So this turned out to be a fighting Shonen, complete with an optimistic and determined protagonist who has vowed to be a hero and has a tragic past to conquer. It’s not exactly special, but I really liked it. The universe is quite unusual and the characters have a lot of potential. I’m excited for next week and I’m not surprised this first episode is doing so well.
Hopes and Fears: I was impressed by how well the first episode established everything without it feeling like one huge exposition dump. It even left plenty of time for eye candy fights. They keep praying to an unknown god which I found quite intriguing. It sets up a potential sect or religious/political intrigue. Like I mentioned, two main female characters have some type of suggestive scene whenever they are onscreen unless they’re actively being saved by Shines. To be honest I didn’t mind much but it’s the most basic part of the narrative so far. There is a chance that this will turn into a one-man show/monster of the week type series and Shines doesn’t strike me as charming enough to carry the whole thing. There are some MHA parallels. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing but there you go!
Dr. STONE (I’ve loved you over 1000 years)
What I knew/thought before seeing the show: Crunchyroll had been advertising this one pretty heavily and it kept calling it a Shonen. So I thought it might be a JoJo like series or perhaps just a classic Dragon Ball for a new generation. Leth told me it was “insane”.
What the first episode was about: It was “insane’! Taijo is a nice guy who goes to high school, is friends with the eccentric haired Senku (who reminded me of Dexter from Dexter’s lab) and in love with Yuzuriha. On the day he finally chooses to confess, a mysterious event turns all humans into sentient stone statues and they remain that way for 3700 years. When Taiju miraculously revives, the world is a very different place. He finds that Senku has also broken free and together they have to figure out how the restart humanity. My alternative titles for this episode review were “Adam and Steve” but they kind of made the joke in the show so it took all the fun away from it, or “Adventures in Wild Science”.
Characters so far: This one is impressive. Taiju and Senku both have clearly established personalities. Not too deep yet but with some variability. Senku is particularly fun to me as I enjoy a slightly morally compromised protagonist but Taiju manages to play the clear-eyed golden boy without being annoying. Even Yuzuriha has an actual character despite being only given a few minutes on screen and I understand exactly why Taiju would fall for her. The premise and setting give motivation and meaning to all the characters actions. To get this much development and plot in a single episode is quite special. I want t know both these guys better and I want to meet more people as well.
Technical aspects: There’s a sort of classic feel to the character design. I’m not saying it looks old but more like timeless. The very angular lines and hatched shadowing creates a nostalgic look for long time anime fans. The animation seems good although it wasn’t on display so much. Compared to Fire Force, Dr. Stne is much more straightforward in both visuals and direction. I do like that the setting gives us so many lush green panoramas to enjoy. The voice acting was probably the best in this series.
First Impression: They distilled booze. In the first episode!!! I really liked this one. It’s a mix of comedy, mystery, survival and actual science which is right up my alley. A very strong first episode that left me wanting to see the next one right away. I took a note that said only “YAY! Chemistry!” which should probably tell you all you need to know about me.
Hopes and Fears: As you may have noticed, don’t have anything even mildly negative to say about the first episode of Dr. Stone. As far as I’m concerned, if it continues in exactly this way, I will be thrilled. Congratulations Crunchyroll, you picked a good one this time!
Oddly enough, all three shows I picked had all the same general tags apply to them. I would say I enjoy the technical aspect of Fire Force more than the other two shows, but the narrative and premise of Dr. Stone most! Poor Granbelm is the clear loser of these three, coming in last on every aspect but I still enjoyed it.
I’m going to keep watching all three shows but I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep reviewing them yet. Also, what do you think about this format? Should I split it up into three short posts? I know that would get more view but it seems more annoying for the readers. Then again if you’re only interested in one show you may not want to scroll through all the other stuff. Very few people ever comment on my episode reviews so I’m not expecting much feedback here. However, if you do leave some, thank you in advance!