The Spring 2011 Anime Preview Guide
Bamboo Dong

by Bamboo Dong, Apr 5th 2011
Bamboo has been writing about anime for the past 10 years, developing a strong love for slice-of-life shows, and every mecha series that includes mid-air conversions. When not watching anime, she spends her time eating copious amounts of food mixed with tears, in an effort to fill the stinging void left in her heart from the delay of Mad Men season 5. Bamboo currently resides in Orange County, but longs to return to the mountains of her native Colorado.

Deadman Wonderland

Rating: 4.5

It's late into the Spring Preview, but Deadman Wonderland was worth waiting for. It has a premise unlike anything I've seen before, and that doesn't even include half the things that happened in the first episode. At some point in the future, Tokyo is destroyed in an anomalous geological incident called the Red Hole. In an effort to rebuild the city, a company decides to erect a prison on the grounds of the tragedy. Called Deadman Wonderland, it's an amusement park that not only uses prison labor to build and maintain the place, but also uses the prisoners as the stars of its shows.

Already, this is a fascinating premise. It's not a new concept to use prisoners as entertainment, but having a penitentiary amusement park is one that's already so interesting that the idea itself could fuel an entire series. But this series one-ups it by adding the central mystery: middle schooler Ganta is the sole survivor of a horrific supernatural mass murder that leaves all of his classmates dead. He remembers the perpetrator only by the nickname he himself gives him—the Red Man (Red Man? Red Hole? Yeah? Yeah?), an apparition that appeared floating outside of the classroom windows. However, due to the lack of evidence to the contrary, and one especially damning video, Ganta is convicted as the murderer, and is put on Death Row at Deadman Wonderland. Throw in a mysterious mitten-wearing albino girl and the public defender/owner of the amusement park, and you've got a first episode that throws out unanswered questions like confetti.

Make no mistake, Deadman Wonderland is gory. Within the first five minutes, an entire classroom is painted with blood, and a girl's severed head gets tossed across a room. The series is infinitely more Deadman than it is Wonderland, and it's fabulous for those of us who like their anime dark and twisted. And it is certainly extremely twisted. Even at the prison, there's some kind of strange system that hasn't been explain yet, where the prisoners’ necks explode (via Battle Royale-esque GPS collars) if they don't keep resetting a timer with candy. With candy! This whole show is full of beautifully mangled juxtapositions—prison vs. theme park, death by bombs vs. life by candy, Red Man vs. albino girl. Deadman… versus Wonderland. It's almost as poetic as it is exciting.

This is one of those shows that tells you nothing, but makes you ask everything. It's very frustrating. But it's such a fresh and unique show that I can't help but need to know more about this world. If I only follow three shows this season, Deadman Wonderland will be one of them.

Deadman Wonderland is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


A Bridge to the Starry Skies

Rating: 1

It may actually blow your mind to learn that A Bridge to the Starry Skies is an adaptation of an adult bishoujo game. I know. I couldn't believe it either when I found out. I mean, nothing in the first episode gave it away at all, so I was pretty lucky that I was sitting down when I heard the news. Here, I thought I was watching an avant-garde piece about a high school boy who moves to the countryside with his sickly younger brother, and ends up living in a rustic inn with giant baths, and befriends three cute girls by the end of the episode. Spoiler alert—they all have different wank-ready stereotypes! Double spoiler—there's a wa-wa-waaaaacky monkey character who's probably going to come back in later episodes! Hold on to your hats, folks!

Kazuma's little brother wasn't holding onto his hat when the monkey took it, so that's how all sorts of shenanigans start. Our strapping hero soon meets cute with a strawberry blonde whom he accidentally trip-kisses, then gets kicked in the face by The Feisty One. I'd continue to summarize the story, but I'm afraid I'd accidentally be giving away the plots of a dozen other anime series exactly like this one. Boy, I'd sure be surprised if more ladies didn't move into that big empty inn.

Like most bishoujo-game-turned-Kleenex-poppers of its ilk, A Bridge to the Starry Skies reliably delivers some key traits. For starters, it's very good looking. The characters are perpetually fresh-faced and well-coiffed, and have been keeping up a rigorous exercise and diet plan. All the backgrounds are effortlessly beautiful. The orchestral score is magical and tinkling. Everything looks and feels like it came out of some kind of fairytale, where poverty and anguish don't exist, and sunshine grows on trees. It's the ultimate feel-good anime.

But it's also incredibly trite. There is not a single drop of creativity in this used-up storyline. I'm sure at some point in the season, they'll all go to the beach. Maybe one of the girls will make Kazuma some food while she blushes. It doesn't really matter. Presumably, the only thing keeping people watching is wanting to know which girl he ends up with. But it's irrelevant. Who he chooses doesn't matter—what matters is which girl the viewer chooses. And with a script as painfully dull as A Bridge to the Starry Skies, they may as well save some effort and just send out slideshows on CD-ROM.  

A Bridge to the Starry Skies is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


Steins;Gate episode 2

Rating: 4

Does it still count as madness if the person everyone thought was crazy was right all along? It's a little hard to tell with Okabe, the self-proclaimed mad scientist of Steins;Gate. On the outside, he looks mad, acts mad, and even says he's mad. But the Organization that he's been muttering about all this time may actually be tampering with his stuff, and his microwave… well, if it's not a time machine, then it's something strange. Though at the same time, he is taking most of his research cues from some fraud on the Internet, so the odds are split on if he's a kook or a genius.

The great thing about Steins;Gate is that even though it's still an ever-widening canyon of mysteries, it doesn't really feel like it's tricking people into watching. It's not using any cheap hooks to keep viewers glued to the show. Sure, there are plenty of unanswered questions, but to be fair, the characters don't know what's going on either. So instead of being duped into watching a show where the writers just flat-out refuse to explain something, we get to learn everything at the same pace as Okabe and his crew. Who was the weird girl that bumped into him on the street, looking for that IBM? We don't know, but he doesn't know either. Why did his goo banana reappear on the bunch? Nobody knows. But I trust the series to tell me once Okabe figures it out, so I feel fairly confident that this show isn't going to be a waste of time in the long run.

It also helps that Steins;Gate is pleasant to look at. The low-contrast artwork gives the series a hazy dreamlike quality, but there's still an almost obsessive attention to detail. Take the landlord's shop, for instance. By day, he also runs a TV repair shop. The animators at White Fox could've easily just given the storefront a generic reflective glare, but even with the in-series sun shining brightly on the store, you can still see hints of old TVs through the window. If I was in charge of this show, I sure as Hell wouldn't make the effort to draw that. It's tiny things that one would never think to actually look for, but that's when it's the most impressive. If you can't tell they put any extra work into it, then it looks natural. Not bad for a relatively young animation studio, whose only other big projects were Tears to Tiara and some key animation here and there.

Even though only two episodes have been released, Steins;Gate is already in my Top 5 for shows to follow this season. The storyline is intriguing, but most of all, Okabe is intriguing. I can't tell if he's a joke or not, and that uncertainty has me asking for more. That, and the nerd part of me really wants to hear more about this time travel theory of theirs, because I've always referred to it as the 12 Monkeys Theory. Which, by the way, predates John Titor by five years, so he can go hang.

Steins;Gate is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


Battle Girls - Time Paradox



Rating: 1

Look, if someone from the future strolled into your house waving some fancy future technology around, you would flip out. Your first question would be, “What on Earth is that?? Why can it read my mind/teleport food/whatever-future-whoop-de-doo??” And then maybe you'd ask, “Wait, what the hell are you doing in my house?” This is what normal humans do. Don't tell me that if someone rolled into Sengoku Era Japan that nobody would care about a cellphone. This is two episodes in a row now of Battle Girls – Time Paradox where nobody is even remotely curious about this magic future technology. In this episode, Hideyoshi even uses her cellphone to play some chirpy J-Pop for some villagers, and they just think, “Oh, hey, music.”

Is there a gas leak in my apartment? Why doesn't anybody care about this?

I am willing to suspend the majority of my disbelief for any given series. I completely believe that Hideyoshi fell through a giant plot hole into ancient Japan. I completely believe that there is a talking dog, and that the entire country is populated by woman. That's fine. But dammit, don't tell me that someone pulls out a cellphone and people don't have a billion questions. All I ask for is a tiny shred of internal logic, because everything else in this show is so preposterously stupid that I am owed at least that.

If you recall from the first episode, some lady-thugs have burned down a village. Being the chipper do-gooder she is, Hideyoshi realizes that the best way to cheer them up is to roll up her sleeves, help them pull up some radishes, and make them laugh. Because even though their entire village and livelihood has just been razed to the ground, all they need is a song and dance, and a feather in their caps. Good ol’ Hideyoshi. If she were King, there'd never be any sorrow in this heavy world of ours. But to add insult to injury—injury being the assumption the creative staff has made that all their viewers are mindless twits who will consume anything they cram down our collective throats—later in the episode, we find out that Hideyoshi is actually somewhat proficient in kung fu, because she once saw it in a TV show.

The creators of Battle Girls - Time Paradox seem to care so little about this brainshart of theirs that at some point, they probably had a writers meeting in which someone intrepid intern said, “Wait, none of this makes sense.” And then the senior writer said, “Yeah, I don't care. People will watch it anyway, and we'll sell body pillows, and it'll be fine. Go get me a latte.”

This is the last episode of Battle Girls - Time Paradox I will ever watch in my entire life. All the riches in Atlantis could not prompt me to watch another minute of this show, and I will be the merrier for it.

Battle Girls – Time Paradox is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


Toriko



Rating: 4

Forget the pedestrian tastes of Andrew Zimmern. Forget the rote ingredients of Gordon Ramsay. It's now the Gourmet Era, and culinary artistry is experiencing a new Renaissance.  Tens of thousands of new, delicious ingredients have been discovered, from massive fish with snow crab claws, to giant hogs with pats of butter on their backs. These succulent creatures are coveted by five-star kitchens around the world, but they come at a hefty price. Many of these animals can only be taken down by trained armies, bolstered with heavy artillery.

And then there's Tori>ko, a brawny, meat-headed, testosterone-loaded Gourmet Hunter who encompasses every campy quality a shonen hero should possess. He takes down animals the size of semi trucks by punching them in the face. His secret weapons are his fists—one has the slicing quality of a knife, the other has the clawed tines of a fork. If he lived in modern times, half of his t-shirt collection would surely reference buying Tickets to the Gun Show. He is undeterred by any and all creatures, big or small, thinking only of the juicy meat they possess.

Toriko could be the most ridiculous show this season. And it's awesome. It has the ludicrousness of a Nicholas Cage film, combined with the sense of exaggerated bravado that makes shonen fighting series so fun to watch. It's so ridiculous that the entire opening theme song is guttural grunts of how great it is to chomp and eat. It's a show that fully embraces the stereotypes of its genre and refuses to be taken seriously. And how could it be? Toriko is, quite literally, a show about a guy with muscles that punches food. Let me repeat that—the entire show is about a guy that punches animals.

It goes without saying that if you're sensitive about where your food comes from, you might be a little uncomfortable cheering on a protagonist whose sole goal in life is to hunt and eat every animal in existence, in search of his perfect menu. But if you can look past that and just recognize the absurdity in the story, then you'll have a good time. Plus if it's any consolation, Tor>iko does eat every part of the animal.

Toriko is available streaming at Hulu and Funimation.com.

Hen Zemi



Rating: 0.5

What kind of accredited university teaches a freshman seminar that encourages students to grow flies in their ears, and asks them to explore and experience strange sexual fetishes? Or allows students to sexually harass each other while the professor leers nearby? Apparently whatever hack university is in Hen Zemi, a 12-minute comedy about college students enrolled in an “Abnormal Physiology Seminar.” Or, as laymen would call it, hentai class. Most of the freshman taking the class embrace their own perversions—there's a camera voyeur, an honor student who literally salivates at the mere thought of erotic touching, a cuckold fetishist, and a couple of others. But of course, there's also the sweet innocent girl who's only taking the class because she has a crush on the cuckolder. Hey, if they get together by the end of the series, she'll be in for a surprise or two!

Though that still doesn't answer the question of why this class is allowed to exist, or why this professor still has a job, or why this university is accredited. Let's just drop all the pretenses, do away with this ridiculous “college” scenario, and just call the show HEY PERVERTS!

Based on a manga by TAGRO, Hen Zemi does have an animated precedent—a five-episode OVA that was released last summer. Only in the OVA, the seminar assignments went so far as to have the students film each other fornicating. So, I guess if you compare it to that, the TV series is relatively vanilla. And by vanilla, I mean that the students aren't banging each other yet for extra credit. Yet. They're just touching each other, talking about smelling their own bathtub farts, and writing papers in a class taught by a man who is clearly some kind of sexual offender.

I think Hen Zemi is supposed to be a comedy. I say “think” because, beyond my brain's refusal to accept any part of the story's premise as logical possibility, I personally don't see the inherent humor in taking a course where students are encouraged to post pictures of each other's nether-regions on the Internet. Call it moral decency, or just “standards,” but Hen Zimi is trash of the basest level. Or maybe I just didn't “get it.”


Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san



Rating: 4.5

Not everyone can sign a contract with a demon who's both powerful and competent. Sometimes you get stuck with a B-team demon, who'd rather spend his time sleeping and sweet talkin’ the ladies. Such is Azazel, a winged, lion-faced, satyr-like, porky little chump of a demon who finds himself contracted to the head of a private detection agency. He's lazy and foul-mouthed, but he makes Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san worth watching. Compared to all the other dozens of demon-contracting shows out there, this one's a breath of fresh air.

With only half the runtime of a typical episode, Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san relies heavily on visual humor to deliver its laughs. The first case involves a woman who's tired of her husband cheating on her. She's portrayed as a high-strung hag, who looks somewhat like a cross between Olive Oyl and Jigsaw. She bugs her eyes, gnashes her teeth, and twists her face into that of a violent old man, as she crams wads of paper into her gaping maw. Later, after some abracadabra by Azazel, she inherits a pair of gargantuan breasts that swing with the elasticity of water balloons. It's incredibly hard to describe with just words, but it's those kinds of scenes that make the series really fun to watch. The show is truly bizarre, and the punch lines are always unexpected.

In contrast, the two main (human) characters are drawn very normally. They have facial expressions, to be sure, but only within the range of normal emotions. It's vastly different from the crazy client or Azazel, whose face contorts at the slightest provocation, to the point where they seem like transplants from a different series. Once you get used to it, it works perfectly, as it makes it clear that the two main characters really aren't the focus of the show—they're just the vehicle for the jokes. If the rest of the series is anything like the first episode, it'll be one of the best comedies this year.


Astarotte's Toy



Rating: 2

As I started watching Astarotte's Toy, I kept waiting for the camera to zoom out to reveal that whatever I was watching was actually a show being watched by other anime fans, a la Kujibiki Unbalance in Genshiken. I felt sure that at any moment, the pastel pink nonsense would pause, and a snaggle-toothed nerd with saliva dripping out of his mouth would turn to the camera and say, “I love what the director's done with little Lotte-chan.” I waited, and waited. And waited some more. But the show never paused.

I was convinced that Astarotte's Toy was a fake anime, because I thought that in this day and age, such cookie-cutter fluff was the stuff of legends, the kind of show that tongue-in-cheek directors poked fun at when they satirized their own medium. But apparently there is still a market for this, just as there will always be a market for Kleenex, and a market for Jergens.

In a pastoral realm not our own, magical creatures live in bliss. They spend their days having tea under the glowing Christmas tree-like branches of Yggdrasil, and bathing in steamy hot springs. Their mystical land is so dreamy that every single scene is perpetually washed in white, so that everything is one hazy blur of pink and purple. Our heroine is Lady Lotte, a sassy but cute succubus with a strangely charming spade-shaped tail. Even at the tender age of 10, she knows that the purpose of her kind is to suck out the life-seed of men, which viewers are led to believe is a not-at-all veiled euphemism for fellatio. Upon learning that the queen was renowned for having a harem of men from all walks of creaturedom—except human—Lotte decides, naturally, that she wants a human boy for herself. And lo, one is whisked from Earth, and I'm sure hijinks ensue.

I've gotten to a jaded point in my life where I can watch just about any trainwreck of an anime and think, “Well, this isn't that bad.” And the same is true of Astarotte's Toy. It's banal, yes. It's trite, yes. It's frivolous, yes, yes. And it's basing its entire premise on the allegedly gut-busting idea that there is a perky succubus who is about to wreak havoc on some poor milquetoast's life, even though she thinks boys are icky. It's clichéd to the point of almost being a parody of itself, if only it were that self-aware. But in the end, it's not the worst thing I've ever seen. It's just a waste of time.

Astarotte's Toy is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


30-sai no Hoken Taiiku

Rating: 0.5

Call me a pervert, but I was really looking forward to 30-sai no Hoken Taiiku. A guide to sex and hygiene for 30 year old virgins? It's ironic and brilliant on so many levels. But bad news travels fast, and the second it came out, the internet exploded in anger from Japanese television viewers complaining that the series was censored beyond comprehension. Normally I take fan rage with a heap of salt, but in this case, the outrage is understandable and warranted.

The first five seconds of the show are wildly hilarious. A nerd in mismatched socks is swooning at a scratched out figure of a woman, stretched seductively on his bed with her rear in the air. Or at least that's what I think she's doing. I'm not really sure because nothing is actually shown except for angry pink scribbles in the shape of a woman. But I have an active imagination, and so it was still great. Then after another five seconds, I realized that not only was the woman scrawled out, but every single gag in the show was replaced by squiggles.

Yeah, this works great if the squiggle is still in the shape of a penis or a boob, but it doesn't work if one of the characters is drawing something on the chalkboard and the entire board is blocked. Even more heinously, whoever did the censoring was so lazy and half-assed about it that they didn't bother drawing the squiggles so that they at least went around foreground objects. No, they just drew over whatever was there. So now you have scenes of a guy standing in bed, with half his arm scrawled out, just because it had the misfortune of being in front of what may or may not be a nude woman.

This could easily turn into a moral debate about censorship, but instead, I'll just say that this show looks like it used to be funny. It looks like it used to have quirky visual gags about washing your genitals, and the importance of not man-handling a lady's breasts, but I'm just guessing. I can't really see what's going on. I bet whatever's on the chalkboards is funny, too.

Moral or no, there's no use in watching a show that can't even be seen. At that point it's no different than staring at colored bars racing up a broken television. It's a waste of time, and it's a slap in the face of everyone who worked on this show, and all the fans who wanted to watch it.


Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi

Rating: 3.5

In the fast-paced world of shoujo manga, anything goes, even if it means getting kissed by your boss on the first day of work, just because an artist needs a reference shot. That's the breakneck pace of high-stakes comics, folks, so sexual harassment be damned! Luckily, with a series title that translates to “World's Greatest First Love,” all can be assured that it's not really harassment—it's just a delicate blossom waiting to bloom into something beautiful and pink.

Aside from that one giant eyebrow raiser, and let's be honest, who wouldn't raise a logical brow at such a socially maligned plot point, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is a pleasant show, and one that has its heart in the right place. The series starts with the sweet piano tinklings of first love, when high school student Onodera Ritsu blurts out his feelings for a fellow classmate. But, as life works, he grows up to be a jaded, career-minded adult who doesn't even remember the face of the boy he pined after for four years. As the title would lead you to suspect, the two are (presumably) reunited when Ritsu starts a new job as a shoujo manga editor, where his past flame is the editor-in-chief.

Even though the predestined romance between the two is supposed to be the focal point of the series (or at least daydream fodder for women all around the world), I actually found the behind-the-scenes glimpse into the manga industry to be infinitely more fascinating. From the series’ analogy of a radish's 20-day life cycle to the manga production cycle, to its explanation of how artists use close-up shots to convey emotion, the manga bits really steal the show. I don't even care if the two guys get together—I'd much rather stare at scenes of Ritsu pasting dialogue into word bubbles. It's riveting stuff.

Of course, the wink-nudge parallel of the series unfolding in the same manner as one of the shoujo manga being worked on in the office is not lost on me, but any triteness is forgiven because the show is ardently self-aware. It knows that it's peddling romance, emotions, and glittery stars, and it proves it by saying, “See, this is just how it's done in the manga world.” And that's completely fine. Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is a fun and unique take on the first-love-rekindled story, and I'm eager to see where it goes—even if just for more insight into manga publishing.

Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


Sket Dance


Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance is good, solid, wholesome fun. It's like the Boxcar Children, if the Aldens were just a group of ordinary high school students, and Jessie was a loud blonde who carried around a field hockey stick to beat up hooligans. It's energetic, it has a fun cast of characters, and by the end of the first episode, it's already established the value of friendship.

The series starts, as many anime do, with the arrival of a new transfer student. His plan on getting through high school is just laying low, but within hours, he's found himself hanging out with SKET Dan, a club whose sole purpose is to help people out with whatever they need. They don't have any clients yet, but they're right on the verge of cracking a graffiti case… maybe. Missions aside, what makes the adventures of this club so entertaining is not so much what they do with their afterschool time, but the way they interact with one another. This whole series is basically a show about three friends who goof around, hang out, and maybe help some people every now and again. It's great. They're like surrogate friends for the half hour you're just holed up in your bedroom watching anime.

Like most feel-good comedies, Sket Dance has its requisite moments of self-reflection and life lesson-learning, but the characters make it feel genuine. Even the slapstick moments don't stick out too badly. That's when you know you have a decent panel of characters, when neither the serious nor the silly moments seem out of the ordinary. It's just effortless entertainment. And for that reason, Sket Dance is definitely worth watching.

Sket Dance is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


Steins;Gate



Rating:4.5

There's something eerie about the buzzing of cicadas, overlaid on images of power lines.  And although Steins;Gate tames its eeriness with a walloping dose of goofiness, it still has the sort of prickly atmosphere that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.  By the end of the episode, there's already a dead body, constant paranoia, and the nagging sense that something isn't quite right.

The lead character Okabe is a DIY scientist who specializes in slipshod futuristic inventions.  His most prized innovation is a time travel-controlling microwave that can be operated by a phone, except for the time being, all it does is turn bananas into goop.  Unbeknownst to him, the microwave is functioning in a different way—by letting him send text messages to the past.  While the chronology of events is still unclear in the first episode, by the time the closing credits roll, viewers already have an idea of how events might come together in the future, and it is a fascinating hook.  Add to the mix a secret Organization that may or may not be interfering with Okabe's research, and you have the ingredients of either a really great show, or a really mad man.

There are two things instantly gripping about Steins;Gate—the atmosphere, and Okabe's character, both of which go hand-in-hand.  Okabe is written as almost a joke, a mad scientist who has a loft full of useless gadgets, and two employees who are mostly along for the ride.  From the way he babbles about the Organization and his trinkets, he could easily just be a lovable dreamer, or a borderline lunatic.  But it's the somber atmosphere that makes you wonder just how much of Okabe is comic, and how much of it is just a sugary coating on a much more sinister truth.  The character is written to be funny, but the show is decidedly not, and it's that contrast that makes Steins;Gate such an intriguing must-see for this season.

The series is still in its infant stages, and the story has yet to fully unfurl, but if the first episode is any indication, this could be one of this season's biggest hits. 

Steins;Gate is available streaming on Crunchyroll.       


Tono to Issho Gantai no Yabō



Rating
: 4

There's great value in having shows like Tono to Issho. Clocking in at just over three minutes an episode, these comic shorts break up the monotony of the work day, and they're great for a quick laugh. It's like getting to the end of a popsicle, and being treated to a cheesy joke.

Based on the 4-panel gag strip by Ohba-Kai, the series very loosely follows the lives of a handful of generals during Japan's Sengoku period. The anime is now starting its second season, which may or may not be impressive when you realize that each episode is essentially the same length as a commercial break. Despite its short run time, though, Tono to Issho Gantai no Yabō is actually funny. Timing is one of the hardest things to nail when it comes to comedy, but these mini-episodes get it right. In this week's gag, Uesugi Kenshin's drinking problem is the butt of all the jokes, despite his insistence that he doesn't have a problem. But it's a sudden anachronism and the prolonged silence afterwards that confirms that the writers have what it takes to translate a comic strip into visual media.

Three minutes doesn't seem like a long time, but it's an eternity if what you're watching isn't funny or interesting. Lukcily, Tono to Issho is a riot, so it's the perfect weekly hit for the busy anime viewer.

Tono to Issho Gantai no Yabō is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


Battle Girls - Time Paradox



Rating:
2.5

Every nook and cranny in Japan seems to be a magical space-time portal just waiting to open up and swallow up the nearest ditzy girl in the vicinity. Battle Girls – Time Paradox joins a long lineage of stories about girls who get transported to some mystical land of swords and ye olden architecture. And while it isn't particularly terrible, it certainly isn't good, and instead swims in the much more odious pool known as mediocrity.

The lead is an archetype that will be familiar to most seasoned anime veterans. Clueless and meatball-haired, Hideyoshi is a klutzy middle school student whose only passions in life are fashion and snacks. Hoping for an easy alternative to studying, she prays at a local shrine, only to fall into a bright light and be whisked away to an alternate reality Sengoku Era populated only by women. There she meets legendary Japanese generals… who are also all women, scantily clad in breast-gripping, midriff-baring outfits. For reasons unfathomable, they're not at all interested or shocked by Hideyoshi's cell phone, but they are interested in recruiting her help to find a suit of legendary armor.

None of this really makes sense, but it doesn't really matter. Battle Girls – Time Paradox isn't important enough in the grand scheme of things to need to make sense. It's not a good show, and it's doubtful that it ever had plans to be a good show. If the creators had big artistic dreams for this property, they wouldn't have made it so clichéd and boring. One can only assume that they set out merely to make something that would take minimal effort and make maximal money. And hey, they succeeded. They went down the checklist of things that everyone is familiar with—dumb teenage girls, magical lands, boobs, quests, Japanese snack foods, talking dogs—and locked a bunch of writers in a room until they spit something out that wouldn't tread on anyone's copyrights.

The writing is so lazy that none of the characters’ actions or motivations follow any logical path. It doesn't make sense that someone from the mid 1500s would be nonchalant about seeing a flip phone with animations on it. It makes even less sense that a powerful general would task a strange little girl to go forth and find a magical item, knowing that the girl can't fend for herself, or find her way home. Then again, no one even bothered to ask the girl where she was from, and how she got to where she was, so none of the other questions matter.

Battle Girls – Time Paradox is what it is. It's an unimaginative cash milker with recycled ideas and recycled character designs that is inoffensive to watch, but certainly not worth anyone's time.

Battle Girls – Time Paradox is available streaming on Crunchyroll.


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