Amazing Stories

Anime roundup 7/19/2018: The Darkest Timeline

The Journey Home premiere – A sleeper is awakened on a dying space station far from Earth. The crew has fled, the power is slowly running down, and he is the only hope his new comrades have of freeing themselves from their prison. The twist is that they are all insects originally intended for scientific experiments. And then it turns out some frogs have survived too.

The Journey Home is much like last year’s Kemono Friends (and, indeed, feels like an attempt to recreate its success): a simple, friendly, seemingly kid-oriented show with an apocalyptic darkness hanging in the background. The characters are all basic archetypes. Midge the sleeping chrinomid fly is The Hero, Doc the cricket is The Smart One, Marbo the trapdoor spider is The Fat and Stupid One, and the opening and closing sequences suggest they will soon be joined by The Girl. Everyone has been anthropomorphized well beyond any resemblance to actual insects, but the underlying science and technology feels solid so far.

The visuals are bright and polished, a reminder of what computer graphics can achieve even on a weekly TV budget these days. The music is positively cinematic. It’s not going to engage much of your brain, but it’s an oasis in the otherwise mostly terrible summer premieres.

International streams: Crunchyroll (worldwide except Asia)

Phantom in the Twilight premiere – Ton and her best friend Shenyao have an exciting first day as they arrive in London to spend some time as students there. First their luggage is stolen by an invisible goblin, then Ton uses one of her great-grandmother’s old charms and stumbles into a café which was founded by that very same great-grandmother and is staffed by supernatural beings. And by the next day, Ton remembers none of this, because those beings have decided to erase her memories. After all, she’s almost alone in a foreign city with magic she’s just learning to use and an enemy who knows her family history, so trouble can’t possibly find her again, right?

All the dark magical beings have been filed down to mere parodies of the original legends. Vlad the vampire is only recognizable as such because he’s annoyed by the smell of garlic. Luke the werewolf grows big ears and a fluffy tail when he’s in a magical fight. Then there’s Tōryu, who’s from China and is… um… whatever Chinese legendary being it is that can pull a man-portable Gatling cannon out of nowhere and dakka-dakka a whole bunch of badguys to death all at once. Also, they’re all old enough to remember Ton’s grandmother in her youth. This isn’t calling itself Twilight for nothing.

The animation is bargain-basement, and the allegedly hot dudes are a very, very generic group of bishōnen. Not that any number of hot dudes would be able to make up for every single person in this show being dumber than a brick with a lobotomy.

International streams: Crunchyroll (worldwide except Asia)

Drop Kick on My Devil! premiere – Somewhere in Tokyo there are a bunch of moe-fied monsters who hang out together. One of them is Jashin the lamia, who has been bound to the mortal plane by a goth girl, and who wants to give her summoner one good dropkick before escaping back to Hell. Jashin’s problem, aside from the fact that it’s technically not a kick if you don’t have legs, is that she’s hopeless at scheming and always gets found out. At which point the goth loli exercises discipline with a chainsaw.

If you like Itchy & Scratchy and mythical monsters, here’s your show. There are bursts of extreme and repetitive violence (Jashin’s tail is cut up and eaten twice in one episode) in between long stretches of people being generally horrible to each other. If your idea of humor is something other than bullying and gore, try something else.

International streams: Amazon (worldwide?)

Lord of Vermilion: The Crimson King premiere – The show opens with the entire cast summoning magical weapons and killing each other, thus assuring the viewer that there’s no need to start caring and they can move along now.

Oh, all right. There’s a lot of time spent trying to establish that the hero Chihiro is a normal and likeable college student, and then red vapors come pouring out of the subway entrances and everyone falls over and most of them evaporate. When Chihiro comes to, it’s five months later and Tokyo has been very slightly changed by the event. It’s walled off by the red mist, except the mist is fine with letting the water and power keep running, and it also doesn’t seem to rise any higher than the tops of buildings. I guess another of its effects was making everyone forget about helicopters.

Anyway, Chihiro drops by the place where he’s been learning kendo, only to see the kendo master morph into a hideous monster that he’ll have to kill next time, thus providing a tragic moment of character growth or something why are you still reading? I’m not going to tell you this is good. It’s not good. It’s a commercial for a mobile game that will probably suck too. All the characters have steretypical quirks rather than personalities and the story is the same old same old about a bland Chosen One. Go back up there and check out The Journey Home.

International streams: Crunchyroll (worldwide except Asia and the Francosphere); ADN (Francosphere);  bilibili (Asia)


Wow, what happened to all those interesting-looking shows in the preview? Attack on Titan, Tsukumogami Kashimasu, and Muhyo & Roji have yet to start airing, but we’ll get the first two in the coming week. Sirius the Jaeger has vanished into the black hole of Netflix, and Agū simply hasn’t been picked up by anyone.

So, next week: a catchup on Persona5 and Steins;Gate 0, the debut of the season’s big hitter, and maybe we’ll give The Journey Home and Planet With a second look.

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