More first impressions featuring this season’s historical shoujo anime and Trigger’s new… LN adaptation.
Donten ni Warau
That’s right. Yuki Kaji, who played Kou from Ao Haru Ride last season, is back in another Shoujo anime playing a character that looked and sounds exactly the same. I found this resemblance particularly eerie because Kaji’s character, Soramaru Kumo, has a fixation on gaining the approval of his older brother that is similar to Kou, though the details of the situation are entirely different.
Once I had gotten over this initial shock of hearing Kaji, the first half of the episode ended up being total nonsense. The older Kumo brother, Tenka Kumo, got overly jealous when he heard that his youngest brother, Chuutarou Kumo, was taking an interest in a girl at school. He decided to try and spy on him using a completely inane cross-dressing disguise eventually resulting in a gag comedy routine at the school, none of which really landed for me.
However, the second half of the episode was much more interesting. It touched on some of the social issues present at start of the Meiji Period, specifically the ban on swords. And it went to great lengths to articulate Soramaru’s core character conflict of coming of age in this period and seeking the approval of others, specifically his older brother. Though it wavered a bit on the side of melodrama, I thought the message worked pretty well.
I did find it strange that this show is tagged as a Shoujo because is mostly about the relationship between three brothers and their struggle to find their place in the world. The only girl in sight is Chuutarou’s teacher and the story is not being told from her point of view. Overall, Donten ni Warau is by no means bad, I would say slightly above average. Unfortunately, I plan to stop watching here though I would give it another episode or two in a less crowded season.
Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de
I complained at length about how I thought this show looked like a LN-adaptation cash-in in the season preview and this first episode did very little to change that opinion. That’s not to say there was anything expressly wrong the episode, by my overall reaction was muted as it didn’t seem to go much beyond standard light novel beats. In particular, it feels very similar to Chuunibyou if you remove KyoAni’s charm and make the super powers real.
I didn’t think there were any real “laugh out loud” moments which I usually expect from shows like this. The joke of Jurai Andou’s super power in comparison to those of the girls was well delivered but didn’t really do it for me (possibly because I had read the manga already). I did appreciate Trigger’s self-references and dramatic shots, but at this point I can’t tell if these are supposed to be throwaway jokes for Kill la Kill fans or if they actually represent the studio’s artistic style going forward.
I plan to give it another episode or so to see if it breaks its own mold, but this may be because of misplaced novelty at Trigger doing a show like this or irrational fan boy loyalty to the studio.