The anime roulette: part 2

I didn’t expect to be back with the second part of this anime roulette feature so soon. But the first part was a bit of a disappointment, giving me not one series that I felt very much like continuing (aside from Sorairo Utility, but at 15 minutes including the ending it didn’t give anything else to watch.) So I felt like trying again to see if I could get more promising results. I’ve also had a few unexpected days off from work, but since I’m on constant standby, I can’t go anywhere — I’m still chained to my desk waiting for the inevitable flood of documents that will hit sooner or later. Maybe even as I write this sentence… but no, still nothing.

So thank God there’s plenty of other things to do at my desk, all involving looking at a screen just like my job does (I’m sure my eyes will give out before I reach 40; I’ve just accepted this.) The original list of anime recommendations give to me by the assholes at VRV is down from 17 to 12 following the first post in this series. Since that post, my recommendation list has been updated with some new series — it’s specifically filling up with school-setting slice of life-looking stuff now, which is annoying.

But never mind, because I won’t be adding anything new to this roulette. Not today, at least. Maybe I’ll throw in a few new series once I’ve gotten down to seven or eight left to keep things interesting. But I also don’t feel like watering down the original results with new recommendations affected by what I’ve watched in the last week. In other words, I don’t really want to watch more school slice of life series, though YuruYuri honestly looks like it might be all right. Sounds like Asobi Asobase from the description.

Anyway, there’s still enough on the roulette to not have to think about that for a while, so I’ll put the decision off to later. The rules I made up for this feature are set down in that first post, but to recap: if I land on something, I watch at least one episode of it. So more like “the rule” since there’s only one. Here’s what I’ve got to deal with now:

And as before, the full list:

CUE!
DENKI-GAI
Flying Witch
Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu
Is the Order a Rabbit?
Kiyo in Kyoto: From the Maiko House
Laid-Back Camp
Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department
ROOM CAMP
Salaryman’s Club
Servant x Service
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

Now for the first spin (or the sixth — I’ll be counting from where we left off.)

Hey, it’s Salaryman’s Club! Nice! Or not nice. I have no idea yet. This is another currently airing full-length series, but that’s all I know about it. Let’s check it out:

Spin 6: Salaryman’s Club

Trains in Japan look so much nicer than the shitty ones we have in my country. Amtrak’s not giving you three fucking bentos on your trip.

Of all the series VRV could have recommended me, “anime about badminton with an all-male cast” is about as far as possible from what I would have expected. I generally don’t watch sports anime (aside from Sorairo Utility last post, and another one I have pending that’s such an unusual case I don’t think it exactly counts as the typical sports series.) And I can’t remember the last anime I’ve watched with an all-male cast since seeing Kaiji well over a decade ago. Maybe an episode of Golgo 13, I think?

But that’s okay, because the first episode of Salaryman’s Club was pretty decent. The protagonist is one Mikoto Shiratori, a young professional badminton player who loses his spot on a big Kyoto bank’s corporate team after failing to perform up to expectations. Shiratori seems to be held back by the memory of his partner on a doubles team sustaining a terrible injury, which still causes him to sometimes freeze up while playing.

Pictured: youthful tragedy

Despite this setback, Shiratori quickly gets picked up by another team representing a drink company, where he’s hired on as a hybrid salesman/badminton player (?) He meets his new colleagues, including a guy he played badminton with in high school and Tatsuru Miyazumi, the other lead of the show and Shiratori’s doubles partner. Shiratori is dead-set against playing doubles because of his old partner’s tragic accident, however, and he has to face up against Miyazumi in a one-on-one match to prove that he can play singles instead.

The most interesting aspect of Salaryman’s Club to me was the “corporate team” setup. Here in the States some big companies do have sports clubs, but nobody outside of the company gives a shit about them. It’s just a team-building thing to do on the occasional Saturday maybe. But the badminton club in this show seems far more serious, like regular people actually watch these matches and cheer on their favorite corporate teams. Is that a thing in Japan? I guess it must be, unless this series is making up a completely fantastic sports-related situation like Keijo!!!!!!!! does (if you were wondering what the non-typical sports series I was talking about above was, it’s that.)

Otherwise, Salaryman’s Club seems like a pretty standard sort of sports anime. Protagonist is a skilled player but has issues related to past trauma, and he needs help to reach his greatest potential through teamwork and friendship. Based on just this first episode, I’d say this series is starting that story off well enough, and with some comedy mixed up to keep things light. Of course, Shiratori also has a near-magical “special skill” of foresight where his eyes glow red (this might just be an artistic flair, sure) and he can instantly tell where his opponent is about to hit the shuttlecock with the accuracy of a computer. From what I’ve seen, it’s also normal to add this kind of “special move/trait” stuff into sports anime.

All that said, I probably won’t watch more of Salaryman’s Club. I’ll just say there’s a reason I started watching Keijo!!!!!!!!, though that series does have more to it than just the obvious appeal (you’ll see what I mean if I get around to it soon.) But that appeal is honestly a big part of the otherwise limited appeal of sports-related shows to me. It’s also an appeal that a sports series full of guys just doesn’t hold for me.

I think this red-haired lady might have had one line, but that’s about it aside from Mikoto’s mom.

Maybe that’s horrifically shallow of me, but I don’t care. I also don’t care about badminton all that much — I think I played it a couple of times as a kid, but I was lousy at it, and I’ve never watched it competitively. I’m way more into tennis. However, if you’re a fan of badminton and/or good-looking anime guys, I recommend you watch Salaryman’s Club, because it seems to have some real quality to it and it’s aimed directly at you.

Now on to the next pick, let’s have a good spin:

What a title. And for the seventh time, I don’t have any idea of what to expect. This series is also currently airing, but I haven’t seen any talk about it. Is it about regular monsters, or maybe monster girls? I guess I’m about to find out.

Spin 7: Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department

Finally, after seven spins, one of VRV’s recommendations actually hits! Took it long enough. One out of seven isn’t a great record, but it’s better than zero (and sure, I liked Sorairo Utility pretty well, but again, it was just a 15-minute OVA. So maybe 1.5 out of seven, because I don’t even know if I’d want to watch a whole series about golf.)

Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department is about title character Touka Kuroitsu, a young scientist working in the R&D department of of a large corporation. Only this corporation is a front for an evil organization planning on world conquest, and Kuroitsu’s department works on developing monsters to destroy their mortal enemy, the hero of justice Divine Swordsman Blader.

Kuroitsu is smart and driven and loves her job, except when she’s forced to work overtime to meet a deadline or to cover for her genius but lazy department head. She also has to work hard to please her ultimate boss Akashic, the massively powerful leader of the corporation who’s also a small girl with a flighty personality, because that contrast seems to be common in these kinds of shows.

Sometimes you’re developing a superweapon to destroy your employer’s mortal enemy, but then your boss has different priorities.

After one episode, Miss Kuroitsu looks like much more of a workplace comedy than an action series. The workplace just happens to be an evil corporation bent on total global domination. But it doesn’t mean they don’t value diversity or the health and wellbeing of their employees. In fact, I’m positive I’ve worked at a couple of far worse places than Kuroitsu’s company. At least their second in command encourages them to take vacation days and to ask for more time on project proposals when they need it.

Communication is key in business

And hey, it looks like this series might get a little spicy in that same more comedic direction, which is fine with me. Although I’m probably not going to be thinking of the kind of Liru-looking wolf girl “Wolf Bete” Kuroitsu and her boss develop in that way, because of a reason you might see if you watch this episode.

Note: this is only happening in this guy’s very active imagination, but it also relates to a nice twist at the end of the episode.

Even though it’s currently airing, Miss Kuroitsu somehow feels like a throwback to the 2000s — maybe it’s that Liru-looking character that partly gives me that impression, or maybe it’s because the series has a bit of an older look to it. Or maybe a lower-budget look. But I’m totally fine with that as well as long as it keeps the comedy up.

I don’t have much else to say about Miss Kuroitsu, because there doesn’t really seem to be much else to it. However, it’s also the first pick I’ve landed on that I’ll definitely keep watching. It reminds me of Jahy-sama, and I liked that series a lot, so it seems like a good bet. And an extra recommendation for those who are into Super Sentai-style shows, because Miss Kuroitsu is full of that stuff. Maybe you’ll notice some references I missed.

Now for the next spin. I’m hoping to start a lucky streak here:

So I landed on ROOM CAMP. But then I noticed it’s still another series of shorts, and also that the title looked a lot like Laid-Back Camp (or Yuru Camp, if you want to be extra-weeb and use the Japanese title; they’re the same show) which is also one of the few series on this wheel that I’m at all familiar with. So I checked, and turns out it’s a spinoff of the full Laid-Back Camp series. And since that’s also on the roulette, and it would be pretty stupid to watch this without context, I decided to just watch the first episode of Laid-Back Camp instead and mark both of them off. I don’t know if this counts as a cheat, but it feels justified to me.

Spin 8: Laid-Back Camp

I know I wrote up at the top that I didn’t want more school slice of life stuff, but maybe I shouldn’t make those kinds of blanket statements about genres in the future. Because even though Laid-Back Camp looks like it might be just that, I also liked the first episode in a way I don’t have to qualify this time, so I consider this another hit. This round of spins is turning out to be a lot more successful than the last one. Maybe my karma’s improved in the last few days or something.

Rin Shima is a student living out in the countryside who makes a habit of going solo camping. While camping in the cold off-season by the shore of a lake near Mt. Fuji, Rin meets Nadeshiko Kagamihara, another girl she saw on the way to her campsite sleeping on a bench. Nadeshiko, unlike Rin, doesn’t seem to know much about camping, and it turns out she’s a new arrival to the area and got tired on her way to see Mt. Fuji, only waking up when it was pitch-black and ice-cold outside, and on top of all that missing her phone.

This show makes instant ramen look way better than the kind I’ve had

Rin takes Nadeshiko in for a while at her campsite and the two talk and bond a little over cups of ramen until Nadeshiko finally remembers her older sister’s phone number to call her for a lift. And of course, a few days later when school starts, Rin sees Nadeshiko at the entrance, because these look like the two central characters of the series (or anyway, they’re both on the cover of the manga volume I saw, which is also a good indicator.)

Laid-Back Camp might have a similar setup to other school-based slice of life shows, but two aspects set it apart from the standard kind so far for me. One of these is the fact that it’s about more than just some students hanging out and talking about whatever comes to their minds with its focus on camping as a theme. Laid-Back Camp even seems to feature some actual advice for campers (which I’ll never use myself, since I’m about as likely to go to the woods for any reason as I am to fly to the Moon.)

This advice seems more trustworthy than the survival guide stuff in Are You Lost? at least.

I also like Rin a lot so far. Any character who loves solitude this much is one I can relate to, though it does look like Rin’s solitude is about to be broken, at least sometimes. There’s a massive contrast between her and the chatty, excitable Nadeshiko, which might also make for a nice dynamic between them.

So I’m putting Laid-Back Camp in the “keep watching” list. I think I’ll save this one for those times I wake up at 2 am and can’t go back to sleep, but I’m still dazed and tired. It seems like a show for just that kind of time: watch one of these episodes, relax, then maybe return to sleep if I can. There are two seasons out so far and something like 24 or 25 episodes, so plenty to keep me going.

You might also put this show on your tablet and watch it while you’re camping for that real meta feel

And I think that’s it for this second anime roulette post. Far better results in general this time — I actually have something to watch now, though I already had plenty to watch anyway. But I was happy to discover Miss Kuroitsu and Laid-Back Camp and look forward to getting more into them. I also hope someone else can enjoy Salaryman’s Club, because it honestly seems pretty all right so far despite my stupid biases.

I also have eight series left on the wheel, and maybe I’ll add a few next time I return to this feature to get that to 10 or 12. I also reserve the right to just pull a series off of the roulette and watch it separately if I’m interested, or if someone else manages to sell me on it. I do need to figure out a better way to get recommendations, though. There’s a massive amount of anime out there, far more than anyone can probably watch in a lifetime — all the more reason to be annoyed when people generalize about it. Even my own generalization about a genre within anime were blown up in this post, as far as you can call Laid-Back Camp a “cute girls doing cute things” show. I guess it’s the same with any medium: never write a whole genre or style off completely.

9 thoughts on “The anime roulette: part 2

  1. Yuru Camp is a very special series for me – it’s the perfect balance of laid-back and informative, providing a bit of warmth and comfort in a time when things look difficult. That’s where these series excel, and when something is able to walk one through something like camping while showing everything in loving detail, it’s a winner 🙂

    • That’s good to hear. I definitely get that nice relaxed vibe from the first episode, and I’ve heard other people talk it up too.

      • If you pick up Yuru Camp, I hope you enjoy it! There’s no particular rush on this one (a movie is coming out in July, but that means for anyone outside of Japan, that release date is more like June 2023), and I can attest to writing way too much about this series 🙂

  2. I love Yuru Camp. It may have been one of my favorite most recent series. The characters are not overbearing, or pushing a trope, and the show is informative. I just loved this show so much! I’m glad you watched.

    I need to go back and read your last post on your anime roulette. Fun to read, as always.

    • Thanks! Also happy I caught Yuru Camp. I ripped this roulette idea off from another source, but I’ve had a good time with it so far, so I’ll definitely come back to it in the future.

  3. This roulette series has been a fun read.

    Glad to see you liked Yuru Camp. I love anime that center around a specific hobby, and I think that’s what all cute girls doing cute things anime should be about.

    Did you end up continuing Miss Kuroitsu? I’m curious to know if it’s worth a watch.

    • Thanks very much. I might continue this post series sometime soon. As for Yuru Camp, I’ve gotten through both seasons already, and now I’m waiting for the movie and that third season that I’ve heard is coming up.

      I still plan on continuing Miss Kuroitsu, but it’s been sitting in my to-watch list since writing this. Unfortunately between everything going on, I haven’t had a lot of time to watch what I like. But sadly, that’s pretty normal for me.

  4. Pingback: A review of Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department | Everything is bad for you

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