Hello again Lusi-readers and welcome to the Autumn season of anime. The anime seasons are generally broken into seasons the same way as the weather, meaning Summer Autumn Winter and Spring, with the year beginning on the previous Winter season. This means that this is the last season that will be qualified as 2017, even though at least half of the Winter season will take place there. It has been an odd year for anime. There have been some great titles, and some very mediocre ones, as well as some titles that started out great and became increasingly more disappointing as the season went on. For the most part, there has been at least one anime that has managed to be good in each season. With that said, the previews for this season had so many possibly strong shows that it was hard to pick just four to include in the review series! For the record, this reviewer typically prefers to let a show finish and then binge watch the whole thing in a couple sittings, or one if there is enough time. That is why the review series does not cover more of the season. That, and even with just four shows, the posts end up being quite long as they are. Fortunately for this season, there was input from the other members of the Lusi-staff in terms of what anime they were looking forward to, which made picking anime for this season much easier. The anime selected and curated by this reviewer and the staff will be as follows. First, with a dip into Nazis and the Occult, we will be looking at the anime Dies Irae. Dies Irae is presented by the studio A.C.G.T, a studio with only a few titles under their belt. The second series will be Black Clover, which comes from Studio Pierrot. Studio Pierrot is responsible for some rather major shonen series, including both Bleach and Naruto, as well as some more classic series like Great Teacher Onizuka and Yu Yu Hakusho. With titles like this under their belt, one would hope they could bring another shonen series forward very well. The third series will be Sengoku Night Blood, coming from the studio TYPHOON GRAPHICS, another relatively new studio with only a couple of shows to their name. The final series for the Autumn series of reviews will be The Ancient Magus’ Bride, from Wit Studio. Wit has put out some pretty decently animated stuff, with Attack on Titan being the main star of their library (for animation quality, obviously not for story). Each show has had promising information about it on display, but that does not necessarily guarantee quality. With so many relatively new studios involved, it could be a chance for those studios to shine, or it could lead to disastrous adaptation. the only way to be sure is to begin diving in.
Dies Irae Episode 0
In something of a rare move, this series begins with an Episode 0. The act of an episode 0 is not in itself uncommon, but usually, they are released far before a series starts airing, or afterward as something of an extra. Instead, A.C.G.T. has decided that the 0 Episode should be the beginning of the series, which is an odd decision. The purpose of an episode 0 is usually to fill in some backstory to the beginning of a situation that the audience is already familiar with, a way to get an idea of things that were happening before events that have already taken place for the audience. As such, this episode is very confusing and does not explain much of anything that is actually going on. Instead, it introduces the Nazi side of the cast, which one can assume will be the villains, shows some of the magic that will be in the show and for a moment reveals what appears to be a floating golden city over Japan in modern times. The only real coherent moment of the episode involves a young German officer approaching a man named Karl Krafft in a cell who is considered to be a mage and feared for his power in hopes that the man can help Reinhard (the German) rebuild the Reich, which has been suffering major losses. Krafft agrees, and from this point in the episode onward it is mostly just a showcase of the villains, or at least it seems that way. Most are not named, and the only real reveal they get is some sort of montage toward the end of the episode. There are two that appear to be immortal, on boy and one boy in a dress (it is assumed), A large breasted redhead who has an apparent lust for violence, a priest/mad scientist, some characters that do not even feature in the episode but appear in the montage towards the end and of course Reinhard himself in all his Aryan glory. Hopefully, in the next episode more of the actual plot will be revealed, but as it is now at least there was some shiny animation, and some of the villains definitely do look cool. This reviewer nearly did not include this episode as it does not feel like it will actually have anything to do with the series as a whole beyond some extra shiny bits, but at least now anyone who watches will know what to expect.
Black Clover Episode 1
Black Clover has several things going for it right out of the gate. The setting is a very interesting world where magic is so commonplace that nearly every single person in the world can use it to some degree. The animation is quite pretty, which is to be expected from Studio Pierrot, though there is definitely a B team for some episodes of some shows where there is a noticeable dip in quality. Even the premise is pretty good for a shonen series. Two boys are left on the porch of an orphanage and raised as brothers in a world filled with magic, and both hope to one day become the Wizard King and are rivals because of this. The two are pretty generic as far as shonen series goes, with the lead character being annoyingly energetic and bouncy but having zero magic potential, and the other character being tall, handsome and aloof, and of course a magical genius. The episode goes about how one would expect a series like this to go, with both heading over to a ceremony where they will be awarded grimoires that allow them to fully access their magical potential. Yuno, the child genius, is awarded a grimoire that has a four-leaf clover on the cover. In the lore of the world, the three leaves of a clover represent faith, hope, and love. The fourth leaf is extremely rare and represents luck. Thd last Wizard king had a grimoire with a four leaf clover on it. Asta is also present at the ceremony, but he is not given a grimoire at all. After they exit the ceremony Asta runs off in disappointment and Yuno is accosted by two other boys from the ceremony who had hoped to be the stars of the show but were outshined by Yuno. Since Yuno comes from nothing and they both come from wealthy families they feel they need to teach him a lesson by burning his grimoire. Yuno beats them without even needing to use his grimoire, but then all of the boys are attacked by an ex-knight who hopes to steal the grimoire for himself. Nobody but the person it chose can use a grimoire, but four-leaf clovers fetch a high price from collectors regardless. Asta hears the commotion and runs back to save his friend despite his total lack of magic, and in the heat of the moment, a black grimoire appears in front of him, marked with a five leaf clover. Narration explains the four leaves, and that the fifth leaf represents a demon in the grimoire. With this big reveal, the episode ends. This reviewer really wants to like this episode. Everything was handled in ways that, while generic, work well for this genre. There is just one huge, major, massive flaw with the episode that prevents it from being a total success: Asta’s voice actor. The actor himself is not bad when he is talking normally or under attack. The problem lies in the voice direction. Asta the character is. Constantly. Shouting. Not just talking loud, but it is like he is constantly trying to go into a super Saiyan mode or something. The sad part is after some research it appears this is the actor’s first role. This is one that will probably haunt his career forever. other than this detail, the episode is pretty solid as a shonen opening episode. There is definite potential for this to be a huge series, so long as the character learns to shut his damn mouth in future episodes.
Sengoku Night Blood Episode 1
To preface this review, this reviewer feels it is necessary to state something. There are only a couple of genres of anime that this review does not enjoy, and this series falls into one of them. For those that are unaware, Otome anime and games are essentially the opposite of harem. Harem is typically fanservice-filled anime where several girls throw their love and bodies at one guy. Otome is the opposite in that it centers around a single female character with all the boys flocking to her. The plots for both are generally extremely silly and repetitive, with lots of excuses for the characters to lose their clothes and lots of love triangle style drama. This is fine for some, but boring for others. The setting at least for this series is not entirely terrible. The anime is based on an Otome romance game for smartphones of the same title and is about a girl whose smartphone somehow takes her back to feudal Japan during the Sengoku period (obvious from the title) and surrounds her with two warring factions of creatures, one beautiful vampire men, and the other catboys. Even among fans of Otome anime and games, adaptations of phone games are generally not received well. This episode was not terrible, though it began about how one would expect a series based on a phone game stuffed with guys for girls to drool over would. The female character appears in the midst of a battle that ends as she shows up, and is immediately swept into the arms of several vampire men and carried back to their base. From this point on pretty much, the entire rest of the episode is devoted to showing the male characters, and so many are shown that it is clear it will be pointless discussing any of them until they actually do something important to the story. The final scene reveals Nobunaga himself, but not much more than him menacing over everyone else is revealed. It is clear this may end up being a hard series to get through, but at least the character “introductions” are out of the way now and there was some decent action animation, even if nothing really happened. Hopefully, better things are in store for this series.
Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 1
It should be noted that there is an OVA series that is three episodes long that serves as something of a prequel to this series, that takes place at some point during the series after the events of the first episode, but flashes back to events that take place before this first episode as well, and should probably be watched before starting this but is not entirely necessary to do so. The main focus of the series, and indeed this first episode, is the character Chise who is an orphan girl that can see spirits and has been shunned all her life because nobody around her can and so they think she is crazy. The other primary focus of the series is Elias, a powerful and ancient mage. The episode opens in a rather depressing situation, as Chise has reached a point in her life that has her being sold into slavery for some reason. The details of what led to this are not given, but the important thing is that Elias buys her and immediately frees her, as he has no use for a slave but was instead looking for an apprentice, and hopefully someday a bride. Chise makes it clear she is not used to being treated like a person, as everything Elias does for her from running her a bath to removing her chains comes as a huge shock that seems to shake her down to her foundations. He does refer to her as a puppy, however, and it is clear he is not used to interacting with regular humans either. The bulk of the episode is spent with Chise adjusting to not being a slave, meeting some fairies (ariels, but she calls them fairies) and nearly getting tricked by them into entering another dimension. Fortunately, at the last minute, she decides that she will stay with Elias because he is the first person to tell her she has a home that is her own now. The episode is both sad and a little heartwarming, and it is clear there will probably be a lot more of both of those feelings if this first episode is any kind of indicator. Now go watch the OVA!
With that, we have reached the end of the first week. For the most part, it is hard to tell just how good or bad any of these series will be just based on these first episodes, but that is what the rest of the season will be for. Some definitely do not feel like strong starts, but others felt as if there was the promise of great things to come. The only way to see what the future holds for these series is to either keep reading or keep watching, so do one or the other, and leave a comment with your own opinions on the season below! Also, do the readers prefer to watch a series in its entirety all at once, or week to week as they are airing? Answer below, and thank you for reading!