Slices of Cake – skylion’s Summer 2017 Roundup

Happy Belated!

Yeah really, it was the “birthday” of the three heroines of the Prisma Illya franchise this July 20th. I think I bring that point up to illustrate the fact that I’m not only not blogging full time this season, but it’s the first Summer since I joined Metanorn, that I won’t be able to blog of that show, cause there’s nothing there to blog? Coincidence?! Yes. Yes it is. But this is, as the title implies, a few slices of the season, so don’t expect full posts for these shows. Heck, some of them are only getting sentences from me.

Knights’ & Magic

Goodness, you cannot kill the beast that is the isekai genre. So long as the imagination reigns, the narrative of escape to another world will always be a large and figurative destination. The past decade or more of anime has shown that as a certain collection of tropes get popular, those tropes will continue to happen in great big old gloopy trends – even if that particular collection is giving long time fans a great deal of fatigue. How much more can you really say with the metaphor? “Oh, I was secretly awesome all along, all I had to do was die and go to another world as my reward?”

Knights’ & Magic, however, is not the show that’s going to anything different. It’s way to breezy and way to easy, and it exists in a world after RE: Zero. It’s early yet, but it looks like it’s built on pure gamified escapism. It’s just kinda there in comparison to other stuff in the genre. The main character learns things because that’s what he is supposed to do, not because there is any compelling reason for him to do so. There is almost no tension or drama or drama as a result, and characterization for what it, is flat. Still, I do love the basic idea and the design, and it’s not exactly something that will tax me melon. I really like seeing the evolution of magic as an actual science that can be explored and innovated on. That’ a good metaphor regardless of the genre it finds itself in, and that’s what I’m watching if for.

But the only reason I even bring this show up is that with the competitive streaming we’ve seen over the past couple of years, everything that is so very very old will become very very new to a new crop of fans. I’m actually quite fine with that. If anything I hope that the past decade or so has given studios the chance to refine their techniques, and present the best they can to long time and new time fans alike. So yeah, this genre, the idol genre, and all the combinations of CGDCTs, etc. can and will keep on keepin’ on.

Isekai Shokudou

OK! So what happens when that world that is being escaped to is our plain and boring old Earth. Stupid Earth, it doesn’t even have wizards. Well, we rather do have them, it just depends on where you look and the definition that you give to magic. For most folk, I think the fine art of cookery might as well be magic. Don’t know how to hold a magic wand the right way? Well, I’m willing to bet that out a good sized sample, most don’t even know how to use a chef’s knife the right way either. But for all that counts, it’s the food that gets to the soul of this outing, and there is definitely something magical and warm about the restaurant in another world.

Out of the episodes I’ve watched the overwhelming focus is on food, so everyone is seeing the same thing I am, right? But there are other places that manage to keep my attention as well. First, it may seem like such an obvious plot point that the simplicity cannot be anything other than what it clearly states that it is. The Special Plot Point Magic Door that only appears at weekly intervals. Much like Gate, this gives that fantasy world a bottleneck so to speak, so we don’t get overwhelmed with these strangers. But this establishes a central and key point that Isekai Shokudou is trying to convey. Food is something that does more than just provide fuel for the body and mind. These dishes are something to appreciate.

But even more than that, the guests also manage to spell out a point that their sheer Koufuku Graffiti and Shokugeki no Souma-like foodgasms don’t really transcribe. I get the feeling that the restaurant in an oasis of sorts among the chaos in their lives. From our perspective, the other world they come from doesn’t have much of a peace dividend, and it’s still taking shape from the chaos that spawned it. So we see a unique yet unified point of view from the patron that had to stop to devour each and every shrimp even though he had urgent business back in his world, to the dragon that cannot seem to do without a pot of stew every week, to the wheat merchant that is part of a long and productive chain of providing good ingredients for sustenance and pleasure and soul. Plus you really can make every single dish they offer. Bon appetit!

New Game!!

It’s good to see one of my favorite shows return for a second outing. I think Doga Kobo would be foolish to not secure a second series of New Game. It was a very well made show first time out, and the response was a complete success in terms of sales all across the board. I think that it was able to rise above its expectations of, “like Shirobako only for games” by using games as a set of figurative language tools. New Game is about Aoba’s slow but steady progression into the adult work of slow and steady progress. We don’t always lead the most exciting of lives, but the hard work and time we’ve invested does pay handsomely in the long run.

I’ve enjoyed !! from its opening scenes to all the progress it has made from that point on. Aoba comes in with the expectation that she will be honoured as a Senpai just by simply being at Eagle Jump longer than any prospective new hire. They burst that bubble rather quick in quite a few ways. I especially like how they reintroduce us to Yagami, perfectly happy to provide fanservice, and to point out that she really hasn’t changed all that much – the grand way we see her every episode. I remarked while blogging for the show last year that they couldn’t do that every time without devaluing it, and I’m glad to see they didn’t do it every episode. Since it didn’t happen the second time this time around, they’re really ready to push the envelope. Or the sleeping bag.

By having the both of them collaborate, we’ve opened the show up to something beautiful By breaking down the creative process, we see that they are going into that series of starts and stops and revaluations along with renewed work ethic and approach. But for that I’ll just point out Marina’s awesome take on the matter.

…and the rest!

Centaur no Nayami/// It’s as light and as fluffy as you would expect from the PV material. But as a school life show it somehow seems a bit dimmer compared to similar fare.  Demi-chan packs more punch with it’s characters being unique among “normal” humans, and Monster Musume mines a completely different territory.

Tenshi no 3P!///  It seems that Project No. 9 cannot stay away from the loli characters. If you had enough of them with Ro-Kyu-Bu then this shouldn’t even be on your radar. It has a much derpier premise than even that show, and so far the characters aren’t even standing out as much. Feel a bit like a step down, actually. You don’t have to watch it.

Aho Girl/// Just watch. It’s a short, it’s silly, and it’s good old brain damaged fun.

Tsurezure Children/// Short and sweet little vignettes about hooking up, failing to hook up, not even trying to hook up, and other such tragedies. Watch it.

Gamers!/// At the outset, it’s a club show, only it’s not. It’s another romance show, and it’s quite good. It’s mostly about unrequited love and what happens after that. Watch it.

…and well, in all honesty, it looks like that’s it for me. To be sure, I’m watching many other shows. This was just a brief look at a few of them. There are some shows on the schedule that ended up being made of pure nope, and since I really didn’t watch much of them, I don’t really have anything to say about them beyond, “not my thing”. So with that in mind, I hope everyone is enjoying the season and I’ll see you around. Please feel free to comment.

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All around nerd that enjoys just about any anime genre. I love history, politics, public policy, the sciences, literature, arts...pretty much anything can make me geeky...except sports. Follow me @theskylion
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45 Responses to “Slices of Cake – skylion’s Summer 2017 Roundup”

  1. zztop says:

    Hope you’re having a great summer, Sky!

    A few opinions on Knights and Magic, as a source LN reader. I agree it has flat characters, no tension/drama, and is escapism. There are some things IMO, that make it different from other isekai WNs.

    It’s early yet, but it looks like it’s built on pure gamified escapism.

    Not games, but more mecha escapism. I believe the story was written mainly to appeal to mecha otaku. Author’s Twitter says he ” loves works with giant humanoid weapons, and will live and die for mecha”, which indicates how his priorities shaped Knights’s themes. It also means instead of sexy/ecchi fanservice, you get robot action + tech developments for fanservice.

    The main character learns things because that’s what he is supposed to do, not because there is any compelling reason for him to do so.

    His compelling reason is because he’s a diehard mecha otaku. He sees his rebirth as the chance to design, build and pilot his own mecha in a new world where the tech exists, a step up from toying with the plastic gunplas of his old life. He’d been studying and training hard to make sure he could get in the mech, plus some programming skills applicable to magic. He’s already got very set goals from the start.

    If you want to see an MC who only does things because the plot dictates it, you should watch Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomi ni. That one’s more atypical of the breezy, easy webnovels from Shousetsuka ni Narou.

    Knights & Magic…exists in a world after RE: Zero.
    Anime-wise, yes. Knights came out in 2010 and published in 2013, much earlier than Re: Zero. (out in 2012, published 2014). Although, Re : Zero’s later release meant its author was familiar with existing plot breeziness which he decided to subvert for Zero.

    • skylion says:

      The main character learns things because that’s what he is supposed to do, not because there is any compelling reason for him to do so.

      His compelling reason is because he’s a diehard mecha otaku.

      There doesn’t seem to be any reason above and beyond his own obsession. The rest of the world falls behind his will with only a few grumbles from the token grumbly dwarf to show any sort of give and take. Maybe that comes later? But for the first two eps? It just feel like steps are being skipped.

      • zztop says:

        But for the first two eps? It just feel like steps are being skipped.

        The 1st 2 eps cover Vol 1 of the LN. Ep 1 in particular rushed through most of Vol 1’s initial setup and steps so they could get to the mecha action in the plot’s later half (1st half doesn’t really feature mecha, the main hook).

        There is no higher reason beyond his obsessions. The book’s like a power fantasy for mecha fans. What you mention about the word falling behind him though, that’s one of its appeal points for some readers (like Mahouka and Super Tatsuya).

        • ProtoSovereign says:

          Lol, the mecha obsession was actually amusing and entertaining for me. I also enjoyed the lack of resistance to his plans since in shows like this they usually give the most stupid reasons to shove in villains and attempt to thwart the hero’s plans. I’d rather that they don’t waste too much time doing that and try treading new more exciting ground.

    • ProtoSovereign says:

      My impression of the first two eps of Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomi ni were, “Wow this is very much a light novel adaptation made with the idea of 100% escapism. The mc literally gets to be the best at everything and has everything handed to him on a silver platter. Poor Kirito would be so jealous.”

  2. Wanderer says:

    Centaur no Nayami/// It’s as light and as fluffy as you would expect from the PV material. But as a school life show it somehow seems a bit dimmer compared to similar fare. Demi-chan packs more punch with it’s characters being unique among “normal” humans, and Monster Musume mines a completely different territory.

    Show ▼

    Comment edited.

    • Wanderer says:

      PS: New Game!! is great. Loved season 1, loving season 2.

    • Wanderer says:

      To the unknown editor… um guys, that wasn’t a spoiler. It was part of the actual content of the two episodes we’ve seen thus far.

      • skylion says:

        It felt a bit spoilery to me, so I edited. I’d rather the post be cautious and I’m willing to make the mistake in doing so.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    Late to congratulate the three heroines of the Prisma Illya franchise on their birthday? The guy who meticulously covered every one of their seasons without fail? Shame on you. 😉

    Goodness, you cannot kill the beast that is the isekai genre. So long as the imagination reigns, the narrative of escape to another world will always be a large and figurative destination. The past decade or more of anime has shown that as a certain collection of tropes get popular, those tropes will continue to happen in great big old gloopy trends – even if that particular collection is giving long time fans a great deal of fatigue.

    I’m grateful for lacking such an inconvenient, troublesome hang-up. I don’t care how many times a genre gets used as long as it has a story I get into. If it’s good, it gets a pass. If not, well, it had its chance but failed. What’s done with the genre is the ruling factor.

    This season, for the majority, is saturated by shows that fall into my “not my thing” waste basket although there are a number of decent ones. Just that there aren’t any I consider “must sees”.

    Knights’ & Magic is among the decent ones. Unimpressed with the first half seeing how the protagonist was in his past life in the real world, it took the whole opening episode to incite giving the series another go. Watching the protagonist instigate a mecha revolution might be enough to see the show to the end.

    Figures you’d talk about Isekai Shokudou. Seeing it on the seasonal list, I was saying in the back of my mind “Yep, this has skylion written all over it”. Isekai Shokudou’s already been labeled a combination of GATE and Shokugeki no Soma.

    Then there’s that other series this season, Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni. Two episodes in and it’s plain to see the protagonist is on track to getting the equal or possibly greater amount of flak as Sword Art Online’s Kirito.

    • skylion says:

      Shame on you

      I never covered the first season. A meticulous search of the website would have shown you that 😉
      That, and I don’t really much follow anime characters birthdays. The image came across my twitter feed and I put it together that, “hey, I’m not covering it this season!weeeeeird!”

      As for isekai and Knights‘? This was literally the first reaction I saw to the show’s description. It’s not a reaction I share for genre’s, much like yours.

  4. zztop says:

    Knights and Magic is among the decent (isekai) ones…then there’s that other (Smartphone) series.

    Knights’s major appeal is the MC’s tech revolution and mecha action. If you enjoy those, then it’ll be a fun show to watch.

    Smartphone’s issue, IMO, is that it lacks a strong foundation hook that sets the theme and tone of the story onwards. For example, Knights’s author is well aware he wants an action-packed yet fun story about a mech otaku improving his new world’s tech, and sticks with it.
    Smartphone’s author is less certain about using the smartphone as the main hook, so he puts in all these other elements (cute girls, OP magic powers etc.) because everyone else on Narou’s using those elements.
    Plus, it means there’s less of a clearer goal for the MC to acheive.

    • zztop says:

      Meant to reply to Blackbriar for this one.

      I think Spammy has caught one of my early comments?

    • Highway says:

      IMO, Smartphone’s issue is rampant soft sexism that there’s no excuse for. I mean, episode two has Touya making a minor contribution to saving the princess, yet he’s the only one the Duke approaches and talks to, while the women are stuck over at the kiddy table, even though they’re the only ones who contribute anything substantive to the conversation. And it’s not shown as a point of “Hey, this is something that I want to fix in this world in my newfound role as the chosen of god”. It’s just the way everyone accepts things as being. Ugh.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Knights’s major appeal is the MC’s tech revolution and mecha action. If you enjoy those, then it’ll be a fun show to watch.

      Hmmm…. Where personal taste is concerned, my enjoyment would be at a moderate level. As opposed to Fosh, I don’t have an undying love for the mecha genre as it’s on the mid to low part of my genre list. To me, mecha is more a means to an end to carry the story.

      The MC, however. You can tell he’s feeling relief unloading all the excess ideas he’s been storing in his head and getting ecstatic for being able to realize them. But at the same time, they’re feeding his addiction. Quite a vicious cycle.

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        I’m not a die hard mecha fan either but the mc’s enthusiasm is contagious. Especially considering the voice they cast for ‘him’ XD

        • BlackBriar says:

          By the way, what are you a fan of?

          Rie Takahashi… Hmmmm…. The feeling isn’t mutual. She doesn’t have enough roles that would make her notable in my mind. The only ones that stand out for me are Keijo’s Rin Rokudou and Re:Zero’s Emilia.

          • zztop says:

            Megumin of Konosuba. That’s what they think of when they hear about Takahashi Rie.

            • BlackBriar says:

              I never saw Konosuba, so that info’s gone over my head.

            • ProtoSovereign says:

              Yeah She’s famous for Megumin from Konosuba and for voicing Emilia. And yes her voice acting really makes the show more fun than it would otherwise be.

  5. Highway says:

    To me, Centaur is a show (and manga) that the concept gets way ahead of the execution. Some of the parts are fine, but as a total it’s just an incoherent, inconsistent mess. Like that whole explanation of the 4-limbed and 6-limbed evolution, saying that of course 4-limbed evolution died out, but I can’t see how Kyouko has 6 limbs. It goes to a lot of effort to explain ridiculously minor points that nobody cares about, and leaves gaping backstory holes in its wake.

    Plus, I don’t know who thought having Haoliners do the anime was a good idea, but it’s not. Every Haoliners show I’ve tried to watch has been a narrative disjointed mess. Hitori no Shita, Reikenzan, Fox Spirit Matchmaker (which kind of benefits from being all over the place and wacky as hell, I hear, but not for me). And the manga for Centaur is already disjointed and hard to follow, so it’s hard to tell if it being that way in the anime is because of Haoliners adding more to it, or just the manga’s quality “shining” through. Either way, it makes it difficult to care what’s going on in the show.

    • skylion says:

      Once I can process that Haoliner’s has done it, my mental filters can take over and create an “it all comes out in the wash” sorta thing. But that filter can get clogged, so who knows how long I can put up with it.

      • skylion says:

        Also, did you ever make a peep about exo versus endo skeletons in spider people in Monster Musume?

        • Highway says:

          I don’t recall them spending a lot of time talking about exoskeletons in Monster Musume. Centaur spent 5 minutes going over this explanation of “it seems possible that 4-limbed beings could have evolved, but they didn’t” when people like Kyouko, unicorn girl, and the Chi* sisters in episode 3 don’t appear to have 6 limbs…

      • Highway says:

        If they keep it as vignettes they way they have been doing, then it probably won’t be too bad. If they try to tie things together too much, that’ll be when it can come crashing down.

    • Smiley says:

      To me, Centaur is a show (and manga) that the concept gets way ahead of the execution. Some of the parts are fine, but as a total it’s just an incoherent, inconsistent mess. Like that whole explanation of the 4-limbed and 6-limbed evolution, saying that of course 4-limbed evolution died out, but I can’t see how Kyouko has 6 limbs. It goes to a lot of effort to explain ridiculously minor points that nobody cares about, and leaves gaping backstory holes in its wake.

      Agreed. The attempt to contextualize the animal features as part of the 6-limbed evolution felt like the show was grasping at straws

    • Wanderer says:

      Like that whole explanation of the 4-limbed and 6-limbed evolution, saying that of course 4-limbed evolution died out, but I can’t see how Kyouko has 6 limbs.

      The manga made this much clearer, with a detail on the diagram that the anime omitted. It simply had lines drawn pointing to the torso of the image for the seemingly four-limbed Humans (catfolk, goatfolk, etc.) which was labeled “Middle Limbs (Vestigial)”

      Simply put, in those races the middle limbs have regressed to the point of no longer being externally apparent.

      • Highway says:

        I guess that’s “clear”, but that’s even more of a pile of crap than just ignoring it. I mean, that’s just stupid. At that point, just drop the whole idea, and not put that in your manga. But I’m getting the impression that the author gets what they think is a good idea and just goes with it, even if it’s really not that good of an idea.

        • Wanderer says:

          0_o …He wrote an explanation that isn’t expected to hold up to real-world logic of “this is what would have happened under these circumstances,” but which is sufficient to hold up to fictional logic of “this is what could have happened under these circumstances.” This is a staple of fiction writing: science fiction in particular, which this technically could fall into. There is nothing wrong or stupid or “a pile of crap” with doing this. It is tried and true and perfectly valid writing formula.

          • Highway says:

            No, it’s a pile of crap because it’s indicative of falling far too in love with one idea, and then using a really stupid method to try to deal with the internal contradictions it sets up with your own previously loved ideas. In those cases it’s just better to leave it alone and not write yourself into a corner where you feel you need to do something so weak and contrived. You’ve already got people believing well-enough in a world where you have horses, bats, birds, snakes, goats, cats, and all sorts of other animals that branched off way before sentience. Just leave it at that. What does it matter, unless you’re doing some Animal Farm “Six Legs Good! Four Legs Bad!” thing. And even if you’re doing that, it’s more of a special exception thing.

            It’d have been better just left alone. It’s overwritten and poor.

            • skylion says:

              This is where my heart lies as well. It’s pretty obvious that the designs are pretty much decorous. It does set up some really weird questions like, what is the manufacturing principles behind making a k-car for a centaur? But then again, why have that argument in the first place when there is never going to be a clear answer.

              It’s figurative language after all.

            • Wanderer says:

              The author isn’t doing it to write an excuse. He’s doing it because he loves writing a large-scale, complex, internally consistent world that is both drastically different and yet quite similar to our own. After each chapter in the manga there is an extra page that goes into detail on genetics, biology, history, mythology, culture, tradition, dociology, or some other significant detail of the world, revealing a great deal of complexity and thought that has been put into the series, all of which remains consistent throughout the series.

              You are obsessing over this detail and calling it poor writing, but as far as I am concerned that is a failure of imagination on your part, not any failure of writing on the author’s part. The author wrote this detail this way for a reason. While some element of that reason was to give a semi-scientific justification for the races that exist in this world, that is not the sole reason for it. Even if it was, it is hardly “weak” or “contrived.” On the contrary, just accepting that people are that way “just because” or that “magic did it” would be far more pathetic, but you seem perfectly ready to accept those justifications.

              The author went to deliberate effort to make this world make sense. You have chosen to blind yourself to that effort by getting upset about it rather than actually look at it properly. That is your failure, not the failure of the series.

            • Highway says:

              I think the show’s actually been really clever with the accommodations for different body types, and just showing them, not explaining them. That stuff works – where they bother to do it. Other times they just ignore it, like the normal biped stairs in Hime’s house. Trying to come up with some post hoc scientific explanation for the evolution of all these different animal types is just unnecessary and confusing.

            • Wanderer says:

              Hime’s house is old and was not built for Centaurs. There’s a part in a later chapter where her mother comments that they really should look into either remodeling or buying a new house, because that one has issues for their family, like the stairs.

    • Wanderer says:

      Hey guys, Spammy seems to be being a brat again, can someone rescue my comment from him?

  6. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Forgive me Illya-sama! I forgot to get your presents! T_T

  7. ProtoSovereign says:

    Oh Skylion your comment about Aho Girl is so true XD

  8. Foshizzel says:

    Knights’ & Magic: Whoa is so my story! It’s like the author is talking to me, but yeah so far I’m enjoying it even though the dumb “guy died and gets reincarnated” trope is getting out of hand! We’ve had that theme for what the past four seasons? Couldn’t they have just done a Break Blade setup instead where the MC has always lived in the fantasy world and IDK have him find plastic models in some time capsule thing that “unlocks” his love of giant robots? That said its still enjoyable and ill take whatever mecha series I can get while I wait for the next big Gundam series that isn’t 5 minute episodes…

    Aho Girl: OMFG that show cracks me up! Right up there with Gintama, Nichibros and One Punch Man in terms of side splitting comedy.

    Tsurezure Children: YES YES YESSSSSSSSSS as a manga reader I LOVEEEEEEEEEE this short because it doesn’t focus on one couple, but multiple couples some being serious, dramatic and hilarious! Definitely a refreshing take on romance since the last few “romances” have been really serious or tackled darker tones.

    Gamers: Loving this one as well due to the comedic elements and the focus on an actual video game club and not the usual lets make a game club, but its actually a romcom that works really well! Similar to the art club has a problem which I know was more about the misunderstanding between the main characters and played up for the lulz.

    • skylion says:

      where the MC has always lived in the fantasy world and IDK have him find plastic models in some time capsule thing that “unlocks” his love of giant robots?

      Or, have him be born into an influential family that guides the development of that world’s giant robots industry? Oh…wait…

      The whole isekai thing is a gimmick, and I think I was more channeling the perceived rage that some fans have about it. I’m fine with it, and if any other story reason is as good it is, than it is as good as any other reason.

      Both Aho and Tsurezure are perfect.

      Gamers! is perfect as well. Everyone is friendly to everyone else’s GF or BF and vice versa and that just causes glitches, and it’s beautiful.

    • ProtoSovereign says:

      tbh I’m kinda worried that Knight’s & Magic will ruin itself with terrible villains and their annoying plots as is common in fantasy light novels.

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