Continuing with my first impressions posts. I now finally have internet in my home again, so I can watch Crunchyroll and not have to trek down to the local library and sponge off their internet with that one weird bloke who’s there everyday watching political videos on youtube and swearing under his breath. This was a slightly less impressive batch of episodes than the first bunch, but hey that’s a new season for you.
In many ways Keijo is similar to Girls und Panzer. It creates a bizarre sport to base its show around, but manages to take itself seriously enough while acknowledging its own ridiculousness to be thoroughly entertaining in its own weird way. The actual butt warfare of Keijo’s swimsuit sumo is legitimately entertaining, full of dramatic camera angles and thick outlines. There’s a weird logic put behind the gymnastics required in these battles that I’m really into. It feels like a proper shounen sport battle that doesn’t get bogged down in any kind of real sport.
Where it’s lacking is pretty much everywhere else. As long as they’re taking part in sports, this anime is good dumb fun. Every other time its boring and tedious. Stereotypes roll up to a new school and say nothing of interest. The animation takes a notable drop as though everything not involving clashing butts was animated at the last second because they forgot they needed some thread to tie these events together. Girls und Panzer had this issue too, but alleviated it somewhat by having it take place in a strange world where everyone lived on giant aircraft carriers, random tanks could be found at the bottom of lakes, and friendly elderly neighbours greeted tanks driving down the street like it was the local baseball team going for an early morning jogging exercise. Keijo doesn’t have any of that yet. I hope it does because I like what it has going for it during the main matches themselves.
I have a special dislike for one-sided friendship stories. Ones where only one of the people involved are actually capable of any sort of coherent thought. Where the other side is so braindead that it never occurs to them that perhaps the other side of the relationship is not interested in being friends. Where their brain is so tiny and they are so simple-minded that they can’t process what the other person is even thinking. This is what Flip Flappers is about, and it’s rather boring and stupid as a result.
There’s some nice animation, sure. I like some of the imagery associated with fairy tales (mostly in the ED admittedly), and the feel of the magical alternate world gives off a similar childish wonder to something like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Which I guess is what they were trying to go for with the redheaded simpleton but it doesn’t work as there’s nothing in her personality that suggests she would ever be anything other than in a state of permanent childlike wonder. It feels like an animator training exercise rather than a story, although even that feels like giving it too much praise. The young animator training project anime usually had a coherent story they were telling. Here it feels like they animated a bunch of magical girl scenes then tried to come up with a story afterwards.
I feel rather let down by All Out. Perhaps I had gotten myself too excited by the butts and potential of a rugby anime to not notice how bland the animation was in the trailers. I was expecting a hell of a lot more from Madhouse but there sure were a lot of dopey looking frames and notable lack of expressive movement. The only time it ever got into something a little bit more dramatic it came across more as unintentional humour. I know shounen sports kind of by their nature act overly dramatic about minor sports events, but the best ones usually couch it with a degree of self-knowing. All Out did not have that level of nuance and came across as silly as a result.
That’s not even getting into the actual content either, which was pretty bland. There wasn’t much to get excited about with the main character and their drive to start playing rugby, although I might be willing to give them time on that. Build off his shortness complex to show he can excel in a sport dominated by man-mountains. But his character is pretty unlikeable and spends most of the time shouting, and a sure way to drive me away from your dumb shounen highschool sports show is to have people shout all the time. There’s no great hook yet beyond “wow aint sports great”. I’m in a patient mood right now but I also have a massive backlog of anime from this year I want to watch before deciding on my anime of the year list and my patience will wear pretty thin if it doesn’t improve soon.
Drifters is cool. It’s got a style that I’m in love with the more it leans into it, but isn’t leaning into it enough at this early moment. The wild warrior charging headlong into a wall of spears wearing what looks like an Edo-era red jean jacket, shadows obscuring his face with nothing more than a sadistic grin. The grainy, grey trees as he trumps through the wilderness covered in blood, looking up only to find himself in a white hallway surrounded by doors and a business man with large round glasses and a table full of documents. It’s truly striking imagination that captures a world in these fantastic images.
It’s just not going the whole way as of yet. The world our main character is in now doesn’t feel particularly special, given that they’re just sitting in some abandoned building. There’s so much more it could be leaning into with the world and character designs that I feel right now they’re just not doing. This may sound a bit strange, but I’m particularly irritated by how unremarkable the music was. It was only when the next episode preview played this single little low-key electric guitar riff that I realised how much it was missing a cool soundtrack. Drifters has bags of style and an intriguing, if not immediately gripping, story. It’s just not doing quite enough yet for that to be strong enough to truly stand out.