1) The Aquatope on White Sand (白い砂のアクアトープ, Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)
Aquatope is currently Pywackett Productions favorite number 1 for the Summer season, and it may well end up as our favorite of the year, of course depending on how it ends.
Aquatope is an absolutely delicious enjoyment. Beautiful art work, excellent music track, mysterious goings on, with intrusions of dream worlds, sprites, and even Fish head eating gnomes or shrine spirits. There is a persistent Slice of Life pace, and yet there are clear objectives to be sought.
Fuuka is a failed Tokyo Idol who fled the big city, and her family, to escape to Okinawa, knowing absolutely no one there. She stumbles upon the Gama-Gama Aquarium and strange things begin to happen. The gnome steals her hat, the world of the fish, dream-like, surround and envelop her, and then she meets Kukuru, a girl her own age, who is managing director of the Aquarium which might be going out of business. Fuuka pleads for a job, and Kukuru and her grand parents take her in.
Kukuru is trying to save the Aquarium, but it does not look good. And her inexperience shows as she makes many mistakes. But Fuuka has pledged to help her, and soon a bond begins to form between the two girls.
But mysteries begin to accumulate. Where is Fuuka’s straw hat? Why did the gnome steal it? Where are Kukuru’s parents? Who is in the picture placed in the grandparent’s shrine? Why did the fish die? Who is the mysterious man who comes to the Aquarium?
As in all good Slice of Life stories, the characters are all important, and this cast has some wonderful, loving and caring people who actually step up and help each other without even being asked. If you are a fan of this SoL genre, then there is a high probability that you will be in thrall to Aquatope!
2) Kageki Shojo!! (かげきしょうじょ！！, Kageki Shōjo!!, Stage Girls, or Opera Girls)
Trailer on youtube
Kageki Shojo!! is a fairly generic all girls school type of story, and of course, presents typical girl’s problems like sexual abuse and the self-loathing of body image, eating disorder, male stalkers, insensitive teachers, and the vicious attitudes of girls towards girls.
What is not typical at all, is that this school, Kouka School of Musical and Theatrical Arts, is the most exclusive school for the arts in Japan, accepting only unmarried women with the objective of eventually appearing on the Kouka Stage. Of course all of this is pure fiction, except that it is modeled on a real Japanese theater, The Takarazuka Revue, which works much like the Kouka school and stage in the story. For more information on The Takarazuka Revue, please see The Takarazuka Revue.
Ai Narita, a failed Idol, is accepted into the Kouka school and she is matched with Sarasa Watanabe as her room mate. Sarasa is forward, direct, and outgoing where Ai is private, and alone. On her first day at the Kouka school, Sarasa declares to all, that she will become a top star at the Kouka, immediately alienating most of the other students who all have the same driving ambition. Sarasa can’t read the room to save her life! But the daggers are being drawn as in Revue Starlight.
Ai is at first repulsed by the blunt and direct Sarasa, who wants to make Ai her friend. But through many problems and difficulties, Ai learns to warm to Sarasa. One comedy element is that Ai keeps trying to say Sarasa’s first name, but cannot do it.
But this couple is fated to at least have a professional relationship together, and to be good friends to each other, something Ai has never known.
One outstanding problem is that the current anime is budgeted at only 13 Episodes and there is no way that they can tell the story in this short amount of time. And yet there has been no announcement on additional episodes. So this story may get to the end of 13, and just stop! That would be such a shame.
3) Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (小林さんちのメイドラゴン, Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon)
Trailer on youtube
OP for Season 2 on youtube
OP for Season 1 as comparison
This review is specifically for the Anime Season 2 known as “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S” currently airing.
PYWACKETT COMMENTS HERE
This second season is fairly much like its first, but because of the tragedy to Kyoani, a completely different production team is producing Season 2.
We certainly are enjoying S but not quite as much as Season 1. The pacing in S is intense and the number of story arcs which they cram into each episode makes the pace even crazier. For instance there is an arc about the neighbors who appeared briefly in Season 1, but considerable amount of time is spent on them here with Tohru learning death metal guitar from the rock dude. This seems like a waste on such minor characters.
S1 was relaxing and somewhat meditative in the SoL mode, which one cannot say about the frenetic pace of S2.
One cool aspect is that the Dragons come forth, and admit that they like Human Beings. Still, this is our number 3 for the season, and it is enjoyable.
4) My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (乙女ゲームの破滅フラグしかない悪役令嬢に転生してしまった…, Otome Gēmu no Hametsu Furagu Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijō ni Tensei Shite Shimatta…, lit. “I Reincarnated into an Otome Game as a Villainess With Only Destruction Flags…”), also known as HameFura (はめふら) for short
Full Episode 1 on Crunchyroll
Villainess is an exceptionally cute Isekai work, and an even cuter premise. This is Season 2 and continues the charming cuteness of Season 1.
Wikipedia says the following about our lead
Catarina Claes (カタリナ・クラエス, Katarina Kuraesu, nicknamed “Bakarina” by fans)
Voiced by: Maaya Uchida(Japanese); Jeannie Tirado(English)
A 17-year-old high school student/otaku who has been reincarnated as the villain character of the game Fortune Lover after she was hit by car while heading to school. Having extensive knowledge of Fortune Lover, including the fact that all the routes in the game lead to either her death or exile, she takes drastic measures to avoid such outcomes, such as trying to establish good relationships with her peers and taking up gardening as a profession should her exile come to pass. Her kind nature leads to many of the other characters falling in love with her, but she is generally oblivious to their affections. Despite attempting to learn magic, the only magic she can perform is creating bumps in the ground. In later volumes of the series, she gains a darkness attribute dog familiar she names Pochi, which allows her to become an employee at the Department of Magic alongside Maria. Catarina also learns that the character of Catarina Claes would have returned as a villain for the sequel game Fortune Lover II, in which Catarina would utilize dark magic in order to seek revenge against Maria for being banished. She discovers this by way of dreams and a piece of paper outlining the game’s basic plot and love interests that was tucked into a book she received from Sophia. She has been given the nickname of “Bakarina” by fans due to her obliviousness, using the Japanese word “baka” in place of the first few syllables in her name.
The shtick here is that Catarina is supposed to be the villain of the game/story, but she is just too nice, and she knows the game she is in, and that her character will be destroyed. So she avoids her doom. What is humorous is that all the other characters in the game/story expect Catarina to be evil, and they are thrown for a loop, when she is so nice, and lovable. Its like their programming does not expect Catarina to be so wonderful, but they have no alternate programming to fall back upon. So all the characters in the story both male and female fall totally in love with Catarina and form a Reverse Harem around her, always interfering with each other’s attempts to turn Romantic
In Season one there was a very humorous plot arc. Some ladies at court frame Catarina, but this is found out, and revealed. The ladies run off saying, “We don’t even know why we did it!” Their parts in the story were to frame Catarina, and that failed, and the ladies were just following their roles in the story where Catarina is a villain. Very funny!
Also it is quite heart warming to watch the ladies around Catarina so very much in love with her.
5) Sonny Boy (TV series)
Official Trailer 1
Official Trailer 2
Sonny Boy is perhaps the strangest entry on our list. An entire High School is transported to an alternate dimension with no explanation as to why or where for. Logical connectedness is not the point of the story, apparently. And things happen without explanation or follow through.
While very creative, this leaves a viewer in limbo, not knowing how to react to the events on the screen.
If you are a fan of Monogatari series, then Sonny Boy has some similarities to that franchise, and its dangling story arcs.
Still a very interesting and mysterious story!
6) Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan (うらみちお兄さん, Uramichi Onii-san, “Big Bro Uramichi”)
Very, very funny if somewhat cynical take on Children’s TV programs in Japan.
Uramichi Omota (表田裏道, Omota Uramichi) is a former world class Gymnast who has fallen on hard times and has taken to smoking and drinking and generally wallowing in his self-regret and extreme cynicism. But he can put on a good false face for his audience of children.
This is rather dark comedy, but it can on occasion, be very funny bordering on depression, and sadness. Uramichi is very alone, and has no one in his life, but he is stuck in this job of being the lead in a little children’s TV program.
Where this story is going and how it will get there, is anyone’s guess. It could self destruct and fall off a cliff! Because Uramichi is so depressed, one wonders how he will escape his fate. If any anime this season has the potential to fail, and flail miserably at recriminations on one’s fate, Life Lessons could do just that!
But so far, we at Pywackett intend to ride with it, and see where the story is going to take us.
7) Love Live! Superstar!! (ラブライブ！スーパースター!!, Rabu Raibu! Sūpāsutā!!) (2021)
Official Trailer with fan submitted English subtitles
The project is the fourth installment in the Love Live! franchise after
Love Live! School Idol Project (2010), Love Live! Sunshine!! (2015), and Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club (2017). “Love Live! Superstar!!” television series premiered on NHK Educational TV on July 11, 2021.
Totally and obviously formulaic, a by the numbers construction. Follows all the same tropes, and cliches of the previous works in the Love Live! Franchise and nothing new is introduced here in Superstar. But you know what? For Pywackett Productions, all of them work and end up producing a very satisfying story. Of course, your mileage my differ greatly from ours so beware. If you have seen one of the previous works, and liked it, then there is a high probability that you will like Superstar.
If you know nothing about the world of Love Live, its the same plot device “Let’s make it in show business! Through determination, grit, and hard work.” A group of High School girls do just that in their School Idol Project, which in actuality, is huge in Japan.
But the formula is refreshing, the girl’s determination is admirable, and their problems working together is highly educational.
It may be just a formula but if it works for you, as it does for us, then you will enjoy Superstar.
8) Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy (月が導く異世界道中, Tsuki ga Michibiku Isekai Dōchū, “En Route to an Alternate World Guided by the Moon”)
Official Trailer 2
This is your standard, boiler-plate Isekai, and while not as funny as KonoSuba, Moonlit does have its charms and giggles.
Makoto Misumi (深澄真, Misumi Makoto) is translated to another world by the Moon God, Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, but the goddess of that world (who is unidentified) thinks he is too ugly for her world, and banishes him to the wastelands where only monsters live.
Makoto defeats a dragon who becomes his familiar as Tomoe (巴), a Female Samurai, and then a giant spider who falls in love with Makoto and also becomes his servant as Mio (澪). And of course, both are jealous of the other and both want Makoto for herself. Tomoe and Mio are very humorous characters, and extremely powerful (over level 1000) in this new world. They get into fights with each other, and destroy an entire town.
So far, we here at Pywackett have enjoyed Moonlit
Live well and thrive!
All Anime listed are in-process and we all know how excellent stories can crash and burn (shades of WEP or Darling in the Franxx) so there are no predictions as to how these will eventually end, but at least to this date (August 13, 2001) all are fully RECOMMENDED
© 2021 Folwine P. Pywackett (mox018)