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For many anime fans, the Summer 2020 anime season was a bit of a letdown. Due to the ongoing pandemic, multiple shows were either delayed to the next season set of releases or pushed to next year. It left us with not much in terms of new anime, and the new anime we did get was not all impressive. There were some standouts like Deca_Dence, God of Highschool, The Misfit of Demon King Academy, and so on, but outside of those, everything else was either okay, forgettable, and/or mediocre. Luckily, the Fall 2020 anime season has been super bountiful, and rather entertaining. Honestly, I gave up on watching seasonal anime for a good decade or so, because of time and losing interest in anime. While this year has had many lows, one of the high points was becoming interested in anime more often, and the Fall 2020 season has been my first time getting to watch new anime from the start of the season. While I will be going more in-depth with some of these titles in an upcoming podcast at Renegade Pop Culture, I wanted to give my thoughts first. My only rule is that I will be covering only new long-form anime. No short-form or returning anime. I will also be looking at the anime from a span of two to three episodes, because if you can’t grab your audience’s attention at that point, then you had better get good later on, or your viewers won’t stick around. By the way, the order in which they are lined up doesn’t matter. I threw them into each category that I felt fit their quality. Let’s get started!
The Worst: The anime I consider completely skippable and make the worst impressions out of the season.
Assault Lily Bouquet (Funimation)
Impressions: Based on the light novel of the same name by Kasama Hiroyuki, directed by Hajime Otani and Shoji Saeki, and animated by Shaft, this action anime is stuck in a tough spot, because it wants to be like the studio’s previous smash hit Madoka Magika, but it can’t be bothered to stand out in any real way with the first three episodes. It takes up too much time introducing the viewers to the many, and do I mean many, characters in the first episode, and then hands us an extremely boring villain group. It doesn’t help that the characters all run on one character trait that is mistaken for a personality. It’s a show that’s also more invested with its girl-on-girl romance and fanservice. Because, why would these teenage girls carrying giant weapons wear anything other than gothic French maid-style outfits into battle? When your first impression of the first episode is that there is a shot of the girls’ thighs approximately every minute, then that’s a bad sign. It’s starting to show some story growth and has decent action, but it’s easily one of the shows that I am willing to drop without hesitation. Still, at least it’s not our next show…
King’s Raid: Successors of the Will (Funimation)
Impression: Based on the free-to-play South Korean mobile RPG, directed by Makoto Hoshino, and animated by Oriental Light & Magic and Sunrise Beyond, King’s Raid might very well be Fall 2020’s most generic anime, not even the most generic fantasy anime, even though it is, but overall. Out of the three episodes shown, this anime does nothing that you couldn’t find in better fantasy anime from previous years, and even in the Fall 2020 lineup. Seriously, do we need yet another discrimination allegory with dark elves as the victims of this discrimination? With dull animation, forgettable character designs, and a story that takes some very “out there” turns, King’s Raid fails to leave an impression worth remembering. Even as I was writing this all down, I’m forgetting what this anime offered me that was worth noting.
Maesetsu! Opening Act (Funimation)
Impressions: Arguably, while I think King’s Raid: Successors of the Will is probably the most forgettable anime of the Fall 2020 lineup, Maesetsu!: Opening Act is by far, the worst of the Fall season. It’s an original anime that was supposed to come out during the summer but was delayed due to COVID. This anime, directed by Yuu Nobuta and animated by Studio Gokumi and AXsiZ, made probably the worst first impression of any anime this season outside of Noblesse, but we will get to that bad boy soon. A premise of up-and-coming comedy duos sounds like a very unique and promising project. The problem is that it’s not funny. Every joke falls flat, even when the punchline is that the joke falls flat, and that’s a huge deal. Going into the ins and out of making jokes should be fun, but it’s shockingly not. What may be as bad as the comedy and the story is the art direction. While the characters look like they are all 12 years old, they are actually college age, and the adults look just as bad. The designs are incredibly distracting, and the animation is just okay. Maybe there is some cultural difference of the comedy spectrum missing in translation, but there are already anime this season that have a wider array of comedy that lands consistently and makes Maesetsu look even worst in comparison. No doubt about it, it’s by far the worst show of the current season so far.
Mediocre: The anime series I thought were not great, but not bad enough to be the worst ones.
Dropout Idol Fruit Tart (Funimation)
Impressions: Based on the manga by So Hamayumiba, directed by Keiichiro Kawaguchi, who is also helming this season’s Higurashi: When They Cry – Gou, and produced by Feel, this is a slice-of-life comedy about a new idol group made of girls who were rejected in other fields of entertainment. It’s a decent idea, and unlike a lot of the anime on this list, the animation is expressive and pretty. However, it doesn’t have that much else going for it. The premise is cute, but it leaves a lot of story elements open to criticism. It has some decent comedy, but it also results in some comedy aimed at a character who is uncomfortable showing off her body. Of course, the first episode makes this a major deal. I do like the story beat of a wide-eyed hopeful realizing that Tokyo isn’t the glamorous city that she was led to believe, but I don’t think it has much else when an already popular idol franchise this season of anime is out. When viewers can get a better alternative, they will take that alternative.
Impressions: You know what’s fun? A show that punishes you for not watching an OVA of the same property before you watch the actual show in question. This series is based on a South Korean manhwa by Son Jeho, produced by Production I.G, and directed by Shunsuke Tada and Yasutaka Yamamoto. The show’s story starts after the OVA that was released back in 2016. If you do not watch the OVA, then be prepared to be confused as the show assumes you remember or watched the OVA in question. Also, be prepared to be underwhelmed by the animation downgrade. So little happens during the first three episodes, and while it’s now picking up, it’s a dull vampire anime as well. I liked some of the more low key moments between the characters, and some parts were funny, but it’s a little too late to get people invested in if it’s only becoming interesting by episode 3. You can tell Production I.G has their hands full with Moriarty the Patriot and the acclaimed Haikyu series, because Noblesse is yet another disappointing Crunchyroll Exclusive.
Iwakakeru – Sports Climbing Girls (Crunchyroll)
Impressions: I was honestly looking forward to this one due to the premise. We already have a gymnastics anime this season, why not wall climbing? Out of all of the anime this year, I think this one got the shortest straw in the budget department. It looks the cheapest, has the most limited animation, and relies heavily on strong posing and effects to make it look more exciting. It wants to be taken seriously and be this shonen female-driven anime, which isn’t a bad thing, but outside of the lead, the rest of the cast is generic. It also has moments of fanservice, which isn’t bad, but since the show doesn’t look great at points, it falls flat. It’s also basic fanservice, so don’t expect something on the level of some of the other shows in the season. I dig the lead character using her gaming experience to learn how to tackle different climbing puzzles, but I’m not entirely sure how much of a fanbase or viewership this one is going to pull.
I’m Standing on a Million Lives (Crunchyroll)
Impressions: With every anime season, there is going to be some “edgy” version of some genre of anime, and here we have the “edgy” isekai anime. It’s based on the manga by Naoki Yamakasa, directed by Kumiko Habara, and produced by Maho Film. Sadly, it’s a teenage boy’s definition of edgy, with a fairly insufferable lead character and female characters who feel more like accessories than actual characters. Even by the third episode, I found my patience drying up for how obnoxious the lead was. It has a cool idea with the whole respawning lives gimmick, and the random class wheel adds a somewhat humorous spin on what classes the lead boy ends up with. It’s a shame that the video game fantasy world they inhabit is so boring, and with okay animation to bring it to life, there isn’t much there to enjoy on a visual level. I’m hoping the story and characters get better, but I can see myself dropping off of this show fast if it doesn’t get going.
Check out Part 2 in the near future!