Short Synopsis: In the middle of investigating pharmaceutical law violations, the cops stumble upon evidence of a much bigger case that involves a current mayoral election.
(Like Mario, I’m only going to discuss the first episode, even if 3 have been released). Coming into the season, Babylon stood out as something different from the 100 billion isekai offerings this season. No one could watch the trailer and not feel a twinge of hope that this might be the next Monster. With those expectations the first episode…was pretty bland honestly. It was well polished, well directed, and had passable 3D animation – it just felt like I’ve seen this setup so many times before. Even the big reveal could be seen a mile off (by apparently everyone but the supposedly smartest guy in the room). I’m hoping the upcoming episodes start to flesh out the story a bit more, but for a show that’s supposed to be all about twists, I think this might turn out quite predictable.
Note that the following review is for the first episode only, as 3 episodes have been released all at once. And as far as this premiere goes, I had a good time watching it. The mystery at heart keeps escalating at the right pace, and at least so far the setup hasn’t fallen into stupid territory or gone thorugh any major leap of logic yet. Penned by the guy who wrote Kado the Right Answer, I was looking for an ambiguous, mature project and everything happening so far ticks the boxes. The Law & Order vibe, and the dark shade of the city fit right to the tone of the show, but at the same time I find those qualities to be competent but a bit on a conservative side. See, looking at this opening chapter in a procedural crime drama’s point of view, it goes pretty much by-the-book. Main character has some solid traits but as a whole this feels more like an action-driven show rather than character piece or thinkpiece. Depending on how the story escalates in later episodes, we’ll see what heights this show aims for. At least this first episode proves that it can serve as a neat crime investigation show (with no superpowers!!!) for anime fans.
Fairy Gone 2
Short Synopsis: A cursed child and a war survivor join a military organization to manage powerful “fairies” and protect order in an unstable political landscape while seeking personal redemption.
On paper I really shouldn’t like Fairy Gone. A political fantasy thriller is not usually my cup of tea – throw in shoddy CGI and no backing source material and it should be an easy pass. But this show punches well above its weight and our first episode back reminds us of it. I think, despite the absolutely awful CGI we saw, the revisit of the Suna village helped flesh out some questions I had from last season. I think the director and composer of this show really do an excellent job with their extremely limited animation resources – even in a recap episode, we saw some lingering issues nicely shored up. Their scene transitions are on point and honestly the VAs were great (and I usually don’t comment on VA or music). I keep looking for an excuse to drop this show and it just keeps bringing me back – this season will probably be no different.
Africa no Salaryman
Short Synopsis: Anthropomorphic savannah creatures try to scrape some enjoyment out of their corporate wage slave lifestyles.
This show reminds me of nothing so much as last year’s Pop Team Epic. They share a raucous sort of humor, though PTE was a stealthy satire whereas Salaryman’s laughs are more sophomoric. Both series used a variety of art styles in each episode, as well; Salaryman shifts between 2D animation reminiscent of Haoliners’ better stuff (To Be Hero comes to mind), stiff but occasionally charming 3DCG, super deformed reaction shots, a crayon-styled kiddie look, etc. This mixed visual approach was the most noteworthy aspect of the show for me, as the humor wasn’t my cup of bush tea. There are segments about girls making false molestation claims, pursuing girls at mixers because their parents are loaded, jokingly trading a donut shop point card for a quickie in the bathroom, etc. These bits aren’t exactly offensive, but they wore on me because they all stem from the buffoonery of one very loud character: the toucan. Here’s a fun fact: toucans don’t live in Africa! Dial down his appearance rate and make the office setting more central to the show, and I might come back for another episode.
Imagine Aggressive Retsuko, but with an African setting and more crude and mean-spirited humor, and you pretty much have Africa no Salaryman. As is the case with comedy shows, humor can be a hit or miss depending on each person. For me, the humor of the show hits when it defies our expectations on certain characters’ archetypes – given they are anthropomorphic cast. It suffers when it tends to be snotty to gets its jokes across. The highschool girls portrayed as “false victims” certainly raise an eyebrow. While at first it appears that Lion is the main character of the trio, the spotlight for this episode instead is given to Toucan, which makes sense since Toucan has the boldest personality. In that light Lion, and Lizard in an extend, still don’t have much room to grow. Visually speaking, while I approve the art styles, it’s the CG animation that makes the show looks cheap and stands out in a bad way. I’ll give this show another episode to see whether to stick with it.
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