Another week down which means another week of anime to indulge on, welcome to Otaku Digest where we attempt to bring you the biggest and the best each new anime season has to offer. Disclaimer, I give the same one each week that the opinions on these are of the first episode so I am taking only first impressions, if you watch on and know a series has gotten better let me know in the comments! On the chopping block this week is: Death Parade, Koufuku Graffiti and The Rolling Girls.
First to the party this week is psychological anime Death Parade, a twelve episode anime that originally started airing on the 10th of January based on the short Death Billiards. You are greeted when you enter the Quindecim bar by the white-haired bartender Dekim, “Welcome to Quindekim” but what unsuspecting guests do not know is that now they have entered the game – the Death Game. This is where they must lay down their lives in order to live but it does not take long for the true natures of the individuals comes to light. When the game ends it’s revealed that Dekim will be the “Arbiter” and will lay down judgement on the guests, he decides who wins and who loses and more specifically who dies at the end of the game. Episode one is aptly titled “Death – Seven Darts.”
This is the anime I have been waiting for. It was fantastic, gripping and a psychological dream to watch. I never give such high praise for a first episode but this was fantastic. A basic concept where the whole episode, bar flashbacks, take place in the one area, or in this case bar. They kept it simple only introducing the white haired bartender Decim as he lays down judgement on the two unfortunates who have to play the death game. What was truly fantastic about this was the game itself, how it broke its players down, in this case a newlywed couple. I thought that when the summary stated “true natures” would be something demonic or have some sort of magic involved, this was not the case. It was simple human nature that shone, the desperation when faced with death among the pleading, guilty feelings and denial. Decim as a character did not even have much dialogue, only to explain and then deal out the judgement but saying that I now want to know more about him and the other characters which were introduced after the credits had run. An amazing anime full of psychological wonder. I can see this being one of the top anime of the year, I can almost see the cosplays already.
Will I Continue To Watch: Oh sorry, I’m already up to date. YES!
Next to the plate is the comedy slice-of-life and cooking anime Koufuku Graffiti which originally aired on the 9th of January. The series is centered on a middle school girl called Ryou who in turn lives alone. Since she has had to fend mainly for herself she developed excellent cooking skills and manages to connect and create friendships with different individuals through her cooking. Episode one was called “Warm Juicy”.
We all know from past seasons that slice-of-life anime are not my thing, ever. Not going to lie, it was maybe a minute in and I said to myself, out loud, that I already hated it. It may have been that I go into these anime with low expectations already hating them, but when the main character Ryou states she will be a bad wife because she cannot cook, I just gave up on the anime there and then. Once it reached halfway through I knew I hated it, there is a scene where Ryou’s second cousins feeds her and it turned somewhat erotic where her cousin even comments on “the way she eats is kinda sexy.” No, just no. I will give it that I did actually like the food aspect to it, that may sound odd but this anime gave serious homage to some amazing Japanese cuisine and the best animation was to show how glorious the food was and there was a nice message at the end but it did not make up for the rest.
Will I Continue To Watch: No, other than the homage to Japanese cuisine I don’t see this anime going far.
The Rolling Girls
Last up this week is the comedy anime title Rolling Girls that originally aired on the 11th of January. Set ten years following the end of the Great Tokyo War, each territory in Japan have now become independent nations. Each territory or nation has a ruling system, they are ruled by their prophet, or “Mosa” and have an army called “Mob” which compete and battle to take over other territories. Four “Mob” girls receive orders from their “Mosa” to take their motorcycles and travel all around Japan in order to mediate battles as they emerge between clans and nations. This first episode is called “King of Rookies”.
This was a weird anime just in the sense of the story – really bar the intro, there was no proper explanation, you are thrown into this post-war Japan, where now things are settled through people who are better and literally called “Bests” where everyone one else is known as “Rest”. There was no big ‘here is our characters you can like this one and this one, here is our enemy’, and I have to say I found it refreshing. Watching the episode you start to put things together but the whole rivalry thing actually took me longer than it probably should have, then again if I was to be spoon fed another anime narrative I probably would not have bothered watching whereas with this anime I was genuinely interested to see who or what would happen. I also loved the intertwining of narratives all over the episode. One aspect I really enjoyed was the animation style, it was nowhere near cliché but had nice pops of colour where needed and in particular where Bests used “magic” type of moves made the viewing that much more enjoyable. A post war anime where bright colours is the norm is a hard thing to find.
Will I Continue to Watch: Yes, I am interested to see where they go with this concept.
What did you think of this week’s anime? Were you watching something else? Let me know in the comments!