The first episode of Cheer Danshi was a series of surprises, some pleasant and some less so, for me. On the less pleasant side, the show didn’t end up being as good-looking as I hoped. The art style was certainly crisp, but it felt impersonal and sterile, and I found the character designs pretty boring. I also didn’t like the hazy pink/white filter on certain shots, they felt like something out of a low-budget comedy show. Visually, the only thing I enjoyed about the show was some of the animation, which was above average.
On the more pleasant side, I found the story much more compelling than I thought I would. The main character is a judo practitioner who decides to quit judo after he injures his shoulder. His best friend quits as well, and they decide to start a cheerleading squad. The first episode basically just consists of them trying to recruit more members, with some funny results. In this way, it actually reminds me of Free (as I guessed in my preview post), and that’s a good thing. What I mean is that Cheer Danshi is clearly a sports show, but it has that extra spark of personality that makes the characters entertaining to watch even when they’re doing mundane and/or clichéd stuff. That’s this show’s greatest strength, at least so far.
Verdict: Slightly disappointing visuals, but the characters are entertaining enough. Continuing.
I’ll be blunt: I think this show came about after someone saw Senki Zesshou Symphogear and thought “Hey, I can do that too, except with pretty boys and a more super sentai kind of feel.” Because it really feels like that. There’s the same kind of supernatural sci-fi enemies, the same themes around music, and even the same thing about the main character having a limitation on his abilities (at least at first). I love Symphogear, though, so the apparent similarities are by no means a bad thing in my opinion. Heck, I’m actually hoping that Ange Vierge (a show which reminded me of Symphogear with its PV) ends up being even more Symphogear-like, because I can’t get enough of that awesomeness.
However, in the case of Scared Rider Xechs, nothing that it tries really works. I actually digged the background music in some of the scenes, but the themes around music overall felt really hamfisted and out-of-place. Symphogear at least had the decency to make up “phonic gain” to explain why they sing while fighting. In Xechs, they don’t sing while fighting, and there’s no other explanation for why music should be a theme, so it just ends up feeling really pointless.
The cold opening and lack of world-building, on the other hand, meant that when the action started at the end of the episode, I was neither invested nor excited. The characters just fought some monsters and while it looked flashy, it ended up just being boring, because I didn’t care about the characters. The only character I cared about was a really energetic girl who showed up in one of the first scenes. I wanted to see more of her, but unfortunately the show disagreed, and she barely even appears in the second half of the episode. So yeah, I can’t say I liked it very much. Definitely one of the worse premieres so far.
Verdict: I just don’t care about it. Dropped.
The best thing about this episode was the little brother, who reminded me of Raichi from Aikatsu. The idols interacting with their fans (or in this case, proxy fan) is one of my favourite things about Aikatsu and AKB0048, And Tsukiuta kind of nailed that aspect with its handshake event scene. This was enough to set it apart from B-Project, and that was a very good thing, because at the start of the episode I didn’t really feel like there was any substantial differences between the shows.
Tsukiuta also had some impressive-looking CG dancing, though the regular visuals were less impressive than the ones in B-Project. Unfortunately for Tsukiuta, this is also where the differences end. When it comes to the actual idols, their daily lives, work and the idol industry, I just can’t bring myself to care about any of it. The scenes with the kid and his older sister (who is the real fan) were good, but the idols themselves just didn’t grab me. I actually zoned out several times during some of the early scenes because of how bored and disinterested I was. It’s a shame, because I liked parts of it, but as a whole it’s just not very good.
Verdict: Nope, I don’t care about this one either, even though it had some good scenes. Dropped.
To finish off this post, we have another sequel, and like the other sequels I’ve written about, this one doesn’t really change things up either when it comes to the story, comedy and characters. There’s still many yuri jokes, questionable themes considering the fact that the characters are in elementary school, and cryptic stories regarding cards and magic. The only big difference has to do with the unfortunate passing of Miyu Matsuki – who voiced Sapphire in the first 3 seasons – last year. Sapphire’s new VA, Yumi Kakazu, is not bad at all, but it’s going to take a while before I get used to her voice.
While Prisma Illya is still the kind of anime that I could never show my parents, or my brother, or anyone else really, it does still look really good. The animation and art by Silver Link has been very consistent so far, and the first episode of 3rei was not an exception. The action scene was fantastically animated, and I’m excited to see what kinds of fights the story will throw at the cast, especially now that Bazett is “one of the good guys”. A few months ago I said that Prisma Illya is my favourite Fate universe anime, and this season seems like it’ll just be reinforcing that first place.
Verdict: I love this show in spite of its problematic parts, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Continuing.