My anime watch list, volume the second

These last few months, Crunchyroll’s subscription has been worth every penny, and now that they have profiles available, I’ve successfully sold hubby on exploring the service to find shows that tickle his fancy. So what have he and I been watching?

Black Clover
In a world where everyone has a certain amount of magical skill, Asta is an orphan who can’t cast any magic. But on the day when everyone of a certain age summons their grimoires, Asta manages to find a special black book and summons an anti-magic sword, making him the most powerful force for equality the world has ever seen.

This is one of hubby’s selections, but I liked it enough that I’ve hung out to watch it even though the first major villain arc had me constantly lamenting, “I can’t wait for these guys to learn how wrong they are.” Someone better pick up that phone, because I called it a hundred episodes back.

Whether you can get into Black Clover depends a lot on how much enthusiastic shouting you can tolerate. Asta is an energetic teenager who thinks everything is AWESOME, and he’s not afraid to shout it at the top of his lungs. But that energy and desire to connect with everyone also ends up winning him a lot of allies, including people who were initially dismissive of him for being A) an orphan; B) a peasant; and C) unable to cast magic. If you can stick through to the point where Asta discovers his own unique super powers, the fight scenes get a lot more intense. Like, blowing up a mountain intense.

In a world where everyone has…a certain amount of magical skill—wait, have we done this one? Let me check my notes. Ah! Right, Mash Burndead is an orphan who can’t cast any magic. His adoptive father makes him work out to over come his handicap, and Mash becomes super strong. After a police agent discovers his secret, Mash is forced to join a magic academy to become the Divine Visionary, and his physical fitness makes him the most powerful force for equality the world has ever seen.

Obviously, I was already reading the manga, but as we watched Black Clover, I kept noting all the ways the two shows share common themes and character tropes. The difference is, Mashle is much closer to a true Harry Potter parody. Like Asta, Mash is dumb as a box of rocks. Both work at making friends of enemies, but while Asta is 100% manic energy, Mash is more laid back, and only gets rattled when others start asking about his “magic.” Definitely worth a watch for the many, many jokes, but also for the fights as they get progressively more insane.

My Hero Academia
In a world—wait a second! Hmmm…okay, right. In a world where most people have some kind of super power, called quirks, Midoriya Izuku is a boy with no super powers. Y’all, I swear, I wasn’t planning to stack the deck for the season with all cartoons with the same theme. I’d started My Hero Academia on Netflix and just saw that there were more seasons on Crunchyroll. Anyway, Midoriya impresses the number one hero of their world, All-Might, and the hero lets Midoriya inherit his power. This in turn allows Midoriya to attend the prestigious UA high school, which is where all the best heroes go to train.

Where this differs from Mashle is how quickly the world’s super villains start to enter the story. A simple field exercise escalates to all out war, and while there’s a few “breather” episodes involving an athletic competition, it’s not long before that war jumps back to the main focus.

This one is an easy recommendation for anyone coming from Marvel or DC comics looking for a way into anime. But it’s also great for anyone who likes an underdog story, as Midoriya goes from being the butt of all jokes to being a great superhero. Just go into it knowing that in spite of all the flash and bright colors, there’s a lot of darkness and what-the-fuckery, and some of that is on the heroes’ side, too.

The Weakest Tamer Began A Journey To Pick Up Trash
In a world where—OH COME ON! What was I thinking? In a world where all magic users have from one to five stars of skill, a young girl’s tamer skill is rated at zero stars. This makes her an outcast from her village, and the asshole village elder even puts a bounty on her head in the hope of sacrificing her to avoid bringing misfortune on the village.

Guided by the mysterious voice of her past life, the girl takes the name Ivy and poses as a boy, soon encountering a rare slime who shouldn’t live longer than a day. She keeps it alive and even manages to use her tamer skill to bond with it. From there, the two have many adventures while scouting out trash piles to loot old potions from. (The slime’s favorite food source.)

This show is just totally adorable. Despite her fears of others, Ivy keeps meeting real heroes who see this kid on their own and just want to do the right thing. Obviously, there are bad guys and monsters too, but somehow, Ivy keeps running into the right people to help her on her journey. There’s also a lot of financial math that only applies to this world’s economy, but each time Ivy freaked out and started running numbers, I just thought it was adorable. By the end of the first season, she’s demonstrated that zero stars doesn’t mean zero talent, and I really can’t wait for season two to see where this goes.

Dr. Stone
In a world where everyone has been turned into stone statues, a young scientist breaks free and sets about reviving the human race and recovering the old world through science.

This is another hubby selection, but before I get to the mini-review, I want to talk about an old episode  of Super Friends where there were two gases, one red and one green. They would shrink or enlarge whatever they came into contact with, except humans. Wonder Woman asks a scientist the obvious, why don’t they work on us, and this scientist says, “The gas doesn’t affect humans because of our superior intellect.” This line had me running out of the room to scream at my bewildered aunt at how stupid the idea was. She sent me back to the TV, where the next segment featured the line, “At the landing of the international space station,” and that was the last episode of Super Friends I ever watched because even at eight years old, that level of stupidity was repugnant to me.

Where am I going with this? Dr. Stone follows Senkuu Ishigami, who somehow remained mostly conscious despite his brain being turned to stone, and he spends THREE THOUSAND AND SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS COUNTING THE SECONDS. First of all, how can he do it when it’s confirmed that the petrification effect isn’t a shell? Second, wow, spending nearly four thousand years being aware but unable to see, hear, feel, or move? That’s Hell, and no way is this kid going to pop out going, “Yay, time to reboot humanity.” He’d have gone insane by then.

But later on, it turns out the reason he could break free on his own was because his use of his brain was consuming calories, and that his body was eating the petrified shell. This isn’t even the dumbest thing that happened in the early episodes. There’s a lion pride led in their hunt by a male, and two protagonists somehow outrun them to revive the greatest fighter of their time. Said fighter punches the male lion’s nose and kills it instantly, making the females run away. And then, despite having no knowledge of tanning or any tools, this guy skins the lion and wears his obviously tanned hide. Said fighter also declares that he will resist all attempts at returning the world to the way it was because “Science bad, nature good.”

What I’m saying is, as a kid, this would have been booted from my queue because it’s so stupid. But Senkuu and his friends manage to be just funny enough that I’m willing to let go of individual scientific blunders. Having said that, I have frequently walked out of individual episodes because, “Nope, that’s way too stupid for me to suffer through.” But like I said, it’s a hubby selection and it’s not my call to axe it.

That Time I Reincarnated as a Slime
Finally! A completely different premise. A well respected office manager in Japan is killed and ends up reincarnating in another world as a slime with a unique power that makes them way more powerful than an average slime. Using their powers and knowledge of management and organization, they slowly build an army of monsters that catches the attention of some very powerful enemies.

This one is admittedly a harem anime, so there’s lots of ladies falling all over Rimuru. But the joke is, the human body he’s able to approximate is mostly female, but without genitals. It would also seem that becoming a slime has made him bisexual, as he’s frequently commented that one of his male soldiers is “totally hot!”

The only complaint I have so far is, there’s not really any stakes despite the implied threat of bigger bosses. Rimuru always has an answer to deescalate the tension. Maybe that will change soon, but for now it’s just a low stakes cute cartoon about a slime creating the first country for monsters. Which is a pitch unique enough that I’m on board, even though I wish there was more danger and less cheesecake.

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai
This one is another pure nostalgia selection like Robotech from the first list. Back when I was just discovering anime and manga, I had a friend who drove from San Antonio to Dallas every weekend to visit his parents. He also stopped at an import shop that offered subscription boxes for manga. Not the collected reprint books, but the actual phone book-sized tomes that run twenty to thirty titles a week.

It was in these manga that I first busted out my dictionaries to learn what was really going on, and Dragon Quest was well into its third act. So yeah, I never saw how the story started, but I loved how it ended. And now, almost thirty years later, I’m getting to see the full story. So far, Dai is pretty amazing, and the first villains are surprising for having actual character traits instead of “Muah ha ha, me evil!” I’ll stick with it, and I recommend it to fans of fantasy looking for something exciting without going all grimdark.

Going back to my early manga reading days, I would read everything in those massive tomes, even for sports manga that I have no interest in the portrayed sport. They can turn anything into a tense drama, so a show about a high school volleyball club is an immediate yes even without me knowing the premise.

You might want more, so here we go: back in middle school, Shoyo Hinata attended a school where he couldn’t drum up enough players for a proper volleyball club. However, he manages to pull together enough students to attend a tournament where he gets thoroughly trounced by Tobio Kageyama, a setter considered a tyrant by his own team and is thusly dubbed “The King of the Court.”

Hinata vows to train through junior high and join a prestige high school so he can get his revenge. There’s just one problem: his first day at Karasuno High, he discovers Kageyama has also chosen the same school, and now they’re teammates. So it’s rivals to teammates, one of my favorite sports tropes, and all the rest of the team are just as fun to learn about. Where I’m at, they’ve just started their first friendly match, and they lost the first set but won the second. Kageyama says the other team’s setter isn’t the real star, and then another teammate arrives with just enough fanfare that I said out loud “Dun-dun-DUN!”

Even if you don’t care for volleyball, maybe give it a shot. Like, come for the rivalry, stay for the camaraderie.

So that’s the whole list, and yes, it’s a big list. I’m sure the next will have some repeats, as we’re waiting on new seasons of quite a few of these shows, and Haikyuu! has a new movie out that I’m hoping will stream here in Italy after I’ve got caught up on the seasons.

Next season, I’m hopeful to be looking at some new episodes of Mashle, One Punch Man, Kengan Ashura, and The Weakest Tamer Began A Journey To Pick Up Trash. Plus, there’s likely to be new stories set…in a world where magic is real. And I will be there for that, readers.

Thanks for checking in with this admittedly long post, and I’ll see y’all next time with another review, or maybe a rant. Could go either way.