Ahiru no Sora
Short Synopsis: A high school freshman makes a bid to join a delinquent-infested basketball team.
Ahiru no Sora has no interest in reinventing the basketball. That much is clear from the opening scene, where a group of bullies beat up the pipsqueak protagonist under a bridge and take all his cash. He’s short, but he made a promise to himself never to run from a fight; the court is the one place where he feels he can compete; you’ve heard it all before. Even the end of the episode, where he and the aforementioned thugs settle their differences via an athletic contest, is easily predicted. So what does Ahiru no Sora have that other sports shows don’t? The Pillows doing the OP, for one thing, though they sound a far cry from their older, power pop inspired sound. Notable facial features, for another, with protruding lips that make the characters feel a bit less anime. And then there’s the character of Momoharu Hanazono, the part-sage, part-clown brother of the delinquents’ leader. He strikes just the right balance between those two roles, and the tension between the twins hints at something bigger buried in their shared past. I don’t know that I’ll keep watching to discover what it is, but at least the show isn’t totally generic. Just mostly so.
I just can’t get past how forced and familiar Ahiru no Sora feels in general. Right at the very beginning, our protagonist is already cornered by some bullies because apparently he’s easy to pick on due to his short stature. Then things get more heavy-handed from there as he faces one challenge after another in order to push him further away from just freaking playing basketball. Just let the poor kid play the game for God’s sake. It doesn’t really help that the main guy has the most typical personality in sports anime: earnest to a fault and disadvantaged due to his small build, but he triumphs anyways. (Off the top of my head: volleyball’s Haikyuu, sumo’s Hinomaruzumou, football’s Kattobi Itto, rugby’s All Out… amongst countless others). My point is, Ahiru no Sora hardly offers anything refreshing story-wise and character-wise, and we all know that these delinquents will come around as he builds up this team from scratch and gets the heart of that girl in the process. As usual, sports shows take a while until they can really become their own thing, and this show has the slight advantages of multiple cours and above-average animation, so it can pick up more fans along the way. In my case it fails to grab my attention in its first stretch.
Hataage! Kemono Michi
Short Synopsis: A pro wrestler plans to spread his love of animals after being summoned to a medieval world.
I hyped up Hataage! Kemono Michi in the preseason and the first episode definitely lived up to expectations. As I said in my preseason thoughts, this show is going to live and die by its physical comedy. The first episode at least did a great job of introducing a tidy cast of characters and setting up the world – I’m a little less clear on what the central conflict of the show is going to be, but I can at least see the direction the main character is taking. One thing I am concerned about is the propensity to veer towards “furry” love as a comedy vehicle – I imagine that shtick might get old after a while if they don’t flesh out their other avenues for laughs. I also am hoping they keep their fanservice in check, which I think this episode did passably. The main question I ask for any comedy is “did it make me laugh” and Hataage! Kemono Michi did without question. If the animation quality keeps up and the writing doesn’t fall off a cliff, this can definitely be a something like a KonaSuba for this season.
As isekai premises go, this one is pretty far out there, but I give it points for that. Any parallel world that attempts to summon Earth’s “greatest warrior” runs the risk of getting its number one pro wrestler, depending on the specificity of the spell. That he ignores his quest, suplexes the princess, and heads off to do whatever he wants is even better. Beyond that initial innovation, though, is where KemonoMichi gets dicey. Mister Pro Wrestler is an extreme animal lover, which makes for some amusing moments – when he encounters a new type of fantasy creature, for example, we’re treated to a gleeful image of him doing squats or sit-ups while gliding across the screen. It also makes for some terribly weird “comedy,” as in the scenes where he brings a wolf man to orgasm by rubbing his belly, or sniffs a three-headed dog’s anus with a blush on his cheeks. The show isn’t pornographic by any stretch, but you need only read between the lines to understand that this dude is sexually attracted to animals – a fact that will likely be the foundation for many more “hilarious” moments between now and late December. The show looks fine and it’s occasionally clever, but unless this type of humor is within your strike zone, I’d approach with caution.
Honzuki no Gekokujou
Short Synopsis: A bookworm girl dies and gets transported to another world where books are sacred.
Many Isekai start off with high stakes – a hero summoned by a nation imperiled by an advancing demon or some variant. Honzuki no Gekokujou’s heroine’s first hardship of the new world is…global illiteracy. While Dr. Stone seeks to reinvent modern society in the flashiest ways possible, our heroine seems like she’ll be spending at least a few more episodes just trying to find something to read (spoiler: bet it’s with the church). I guess it’s a cute premise and the main character obviously has quite a bit of attention devoted to her. The rest of the world look pretty bland, but I guess that’s expected from a medieval setting. This looks a lot like a simpler version of “If It’s for My Daughter, I’d defeat a Demon Lord” from last season – it will pretty much hinge on character cuteness in a fantasy-lite world. If that’s your cup of tea (“If It’s For My Daughter” was for me last season), this looks stomachable. However, with all the other high profile offerings of the season, this show will probably be a palate cleanser at best.
While Honzuki was in my anticipated list for this season, this premiere unfortunately doesn’t really sell its case. For a show that is designed to be a departure from the isekai genre, it still has the pitfall of over-explaining the new world and its plot (glaring example: “Do you remember your Dad is a guard of the Main Gate?” EXPOSITION!!!). In addition, our girl Myne is so obsessed with books that if you take the book aspect out of her equation, her personality doesn’t have much else. Well, her new body has some kind of illness as well but we know little to nothing about it and the show so far brushes that off as “frail body”. Add to that, I found the fantasy world design is plain and unattractive (looks at the screenshot) and the production so far is below par. The only thing this show offers so far is to see how Myne goes from from zero to becoming an author and opening a bookstore. If that premise still interests you, then you can give it some more episodes. Otherwise, Honzuki offers little else.
The post Some Quick First Impressions: Ahiru no Sora, Hataage! Kemono Michi, and Honzuki no Gekokujou appeared first on Star Crossed Anime Blog.