On the surface, if I detach the show from its genre, Kowabon is not particularly impressive. The story in the first episode was a nice modernisation of a classic kind of horror story, but it wasn’t anything new. And from what I’ve seen, more people have laughed at the fact that the first episode is about technical problems in a Skype call than have actually enjoyed the show as a horror. And I can’t blame them, because Skype having issues is frustrating in reality and very amusing in fiction.
That said… I actually found this first episode of Kowabon terrifying, much more so than Kagewani. If Kagewani was like Jurassic Park, Kowabon was like The Ring. The jump scares were expected, but the glitchiness filled me with a real sense of dread. In an age when it’s pop to say that anime and horror are two things that just don’t work together in most cases, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by Kowabon. And the fact that the episodes are only 3 minutes means that it didn’t have time to get boring.
Verdict: Pleasantly surprised by how much this show managed to terrify me. 8/10, would get scared again.
So, this actually did end up becoming the new Ranpo Kitan, but hold on for a moment, because I mean that in a good way. I didn’t particularly have any issues with Ranpo Kitan’s story and themes(in fact I did like the absurdism and dark humour), but I did have issues with how it was executed. Subete ga F ni Naru, on the other hand, doesn’t have the most interesting premise and story(at least I wasn’t that hooked by this first arc), but it does have similarly interesting themes, and the execution, at least in the first episode, was top-notch. It reminded me of how much I liked Zankyou no Terror before the SoL comedy stuff with Lisa and that whole deal with Five.
The most interesting thing, however, is the characters. At first the main characters, Saikawa and Nishinosono, seem like the stereotypical master-apprentice pair where the master is dark, brooding and cold while the apprentice is cheery, happy and energetic and sees through the master’s bullshit. And to some extent, they are like that, but then Saikawa breaks the pattern by admitting how much he admires Magata(who I assume is the antagonist, at least in the first arc, maybe), which also throws Nishinosono off. And while the characters were busy shattering my prejudices and expectations, they also managed to do some good world-building and stuff like that without being too obvious about it. Basically, I couldn’t have asked for a better first episode.
Verdict: Probably my favourite first episode of the season after Owarimonogatari now. I hope the second episode is just as good.