Houkago Saikoro Club
Short Synopsis: A shy high schooler stumbles upon an out of the way hobby shop and bonds with other girls over board games.
This series has two things going for it: pretty backgrounds and the allure of a new board game or two to be unveiled each week. Seriously, the background art looks really nice, especially during the exterior scenes, with plants and streams that feel as though someone drew them, rather than using digital assets or slapping some filters on top of a referenced illustration. The layouts are imaginative, and the digital coloring is appealing. The same can’t be said for the characters, who are the same shy/genki/strict trio we’ve seen before in anime. Shy Girl operates on “wears headphones to school” levels of anxiety, while Genki Girl’s philosophy that you can never be lost if you don’t have a destination soured me on her character. Most people will need to head home in the evening, so of course you can get lost, regardless of your immediate goal. The board game they play during the second half of the episode (“Marrakech” – shoutout to Crosby, Stills & Nash) is charming in its simplicity, but that too is sullied by the other characters investing way too much of themselves into helping Shy Girl have fun. It doesn’t feel natural in the least, and I doubt the show will take its foot off the gas in that respect.
It’s a pretty standard start overall. Too standard that it fails to register to me in any way. I blame it on the plainness of the blue hair main girl, who was literally starting to cry while playing a freaking board game. She’s too uninteresting that I feel the way the other girls “assist” her to be forced. The plot also goes pretty much aimless in the first half and only starts to form once the girls get into the board game store. The other aspect of the show, the board games, does a decent job of introducing various board games and that might be the only selling point I find from this show. Houkago is your average “cute girls playing games” show and doesn’t offer much more than that.
Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo
Short Synopsis: A literal potato fails to earn the affections of two anime girls wearing tacky flower accessories.
I watched the first three minutes of this and had to bail. The main character introduced himself by saying that, apart from his name, there was “nothing remarkable about me.” This was a clear sign that the show could be disregarded, as it’s the laziest possible means of creating a relatable protagonist, and also the least effective. I pressed on, undeterred by the show’s upfront admission that characterization was not a priority, and watched with horror as the series used GBA-era sound effects to accompany the appearance of two female characters’ tits and asses. At this point I was done with Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo, but I clicked through the rest of the episode at random and discovered two nearly identical, pitifully animated scenes where a male character cries and softly bonks his head against a wall. The only difference between the two was a different girl watching him each time, staring at him with tears in her eyes as though this fucknugget’s emotional display was the most pressing concern of her life. Also, the character animation is shit and the design work is even worse. Someone please kill me.
The fun of watching Ore wo Suki is to see how it establishes obvious tropes and then slowly derails from these. While normally I’m not fond of meta-jokes, it works in this case because the show uses our old knowledge of such cliche to twist around the head. It doesn’t make the show great or anything (still pretty trashy), but at least now it’s more engaging. The catch here is that our main guy is a scheming, mean bastard and girls he wants to hunt falling for his best friends instead. While I’m enjoying what this episode offered, I am wary about how it goes from now. The production looks average, and with a show like this the moment it goes for standard route it’ll lose its sparks. Let’s hope we have a no hold bar, wacky tale all the way.
Radiant 2nd Season
Short Synopsis: One sorcerer boy fights to end the discrimination he faces and fix the world’s conflicts by killing all of the monsters that made him this way.
Radiant is back! Picking up where last season left off, Seth is off on a new adventure and Draganov, expecting to be executed, got a snowy walk and a promotion. Alma got a prisoner work release program (that she decided herself) and we can start to see the political framework being set up for this season. The biggest takeaways from this episode are a) we’re in for some new characters (and a flying raccoon bat?), b) we’re going to have some definite power creep and c) we’ll get closer (but never all the way) to revealing the mysteries of the world. Speaking of the world, the setting looks great as always – props to the French artists involved. The formula for success here is simple: straightforward plots, good characters (but not not too many all at once plus some screen time for the old ones), climactic fights, and some minor reveals to string the viewer along. I like what I see so far.