It’s time again. After half a year and a lot of anime watched (at least by my low standards and with my busy schedule) the anime roulette returns with a set of series I haven’t seen one second of yet. But why now exactly? Did I just watch the new Wheel of the Worst episode on YouTube and remember that I had this post series dormant? No, of course that’s not the reason. Maybe not.
Whatever motivated me to bring it back, I have plenty of anime to potentially watch, so there’s no lack of material for the wheel. If you haven’t read the previous posts (and see parts 1, 2, and 3 if you’re interested) the idea here is that I spin a wheel with 10 to 12 anime series on it at least three times and watch at least the first episode of whatever I land on. Here’s the wheel I’ll be spinning for this fourth installment:
And a full list of the anime on the wheel, because some of the titles are annoyingly cut off:
Arpeggio of Blue Steel
Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness
Kiyo in Kyoto: From the Maiko House
Let’s Make a Mug Too
Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls
My Life as Inukai-san’s Dog
O Maidens in Your Savage Season
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby
The anime in the above list fall into three categories: 1) series I’ve been meaning to start but just haven’t gotten around to yet, 2) series that I had no previous plans to watch but that intrigued me somehow when I came across them recently online or on one of these awful streaming services I use, and 3) mines, or series that I’m pretty sure will be somehow painful to watch based either on their notoriety or the fact that they sound fucking ridiculous to me, and not in a good way. There are three mines listed among the 12 series — can you guess which they are? I won’t spoil them until/unless I land on them, but you might be able to guess anyway.
Enough stalling: on to the spins. We’ll be starting with…
Hey, I’m actually happy about landing on this one. I’ve been meaning to watch Bunny Girl Senpai for quite a while, but as mentioned above, I just haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve found this roulette concept is a nice way to get myself to bite the bullet and start those series, and by doing that I discovered Yuru Camp and other anime I’ve liked or even loved. I have similarly high hopes for Bunny Girl Senpai: despite the strange name that apparently puts some potential viewers off, everything I’ve heard about it suggests that I’d like it. So let’s meet this Bunny Girl Senpai, whoever she is.
Spin 12: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Quite a compelling start to this post. It’s very likely you already know about Bunny Girl Senpai, but if you don’t, it does feature a rascal and a bunny girl senpai. The “does not dream of” part of the title is still pretty cryptic, though by the end of the first episode I think its meaning may have become a little clearer.
Wild rabbit spotted
Second-year high school student Sakuta Azusagawa is in the local library when he spots a schoolmate, his senior Mai Sakurajima — dressed up in a full bunny girl outfit. He’s naturally shocked by this sight, but even more strangely, no one else in the library is reacting to the spectacle, even as Mai seems to be trying to get people’s attention. When she walks up to Sakuta, she realizes that he alone can see her. However, when he calls her “senpai” and she realizes they attend the same school, she warns him not to tell anyone what he saw and to just forget it ever happened.
Can’t blame him, I wouldn’t be able to forget it either.
Sakuta does keep his mouth shut about the incident until they meet again, but as he tells Mai upon running into her on the train going home, he can’t very well forget such a sight. Realizing she can’t just wipe his memory, Mai tells Sakuta why she was walking around the library in a bunny girl suit: she’s recently noticed that on a certain day of the week, every week, she becomes invisible and inaudible to almost everyone, as though she simply doesn’t exist, and this bunny girl experiment was a way to test just how undetectable she was. A popular actress from the age of six, Mai has always been in the spotlight, but she’s been trying to escape from it into a quiet, somewhat normal high school life. She didn’t want to be quite this invisible, however.
It’s a fantastic story, but Sakuta believes Mai and believes her condition is connected to a violent incident he suffered through himself. After getting off the train, Sakuta invites Mai to his apartment and shows her his own strange affliction: a large scar on his chest that he received when he woke up bleeding one day for no apparent reason. Sakuta’s younger sister has suffered similar mysterious wounds after being verbally attacked by her classmates. These and other strange incidents like them are being grouped into a phenomenon known as “Adolescence Syndrome”, although said syndrome still seems to be treated as an urban legend at this point.
After Sakuta delivers some unwanted advice about going back into acting, Mai storms out of his apartment and disappears for a while. Sakuta carries out a fruitless search for her, one that becomes desperate when he believes she might have come to harm or worse. But by the end of the episode, he finds Mai sitting outside his apartment. It seems she’ll have to rely on him for a while, since he and his sister are currently the only people who she knows can see and interact with her.
This feels familiar
I’ve seen Bunny Girl Senpai compared to Monogatari. That may turn you on to or off from this series depending on how you feel about Monogatari, but it’s a plus for me, and I can see why people draw that comparison now: both have to do with students suffering from mysterious, possibly supernatural, afflictions. Sakuta and Mai also remind me quite a bit of Koyomi and Hitagi, both in terms of their personalities and their relationship. My guess (a complete guess, since I haven’t spoiled myself by looking at the show’s tags) is that they’ll have some kind of unconventional romance as they try to work out these mysteries.
There seem to be plenty of other girls in the central cast too, and if most of them are centered around Sakuta, there’s another connection to Monogatari: that “harem but not really a harem” theme. Unless it actually is a harem this time, but from episode 1 I doubt that very much. I just don’t get that feeling from this show. Another big plus, because I generally don’t enjoy harem series.
Sakuta’s sister Kaede is in there too, but again, not really. Sakuta might be a rascal, but he’s not a degenerate thankfully. Less of one than Koyomi so far at least.
My impressions of Bunny Girl Senpai so far are extremely positive otherwise. It’s nicely produced, the story is intriguing, the characters and their snappy dialogue are done well if a little unrealistically (but then I don’t insist on realism — I like that stylized dialogue when it’s done right, and again see also Monogatari) and the ending theme Fukashigi no Carte is beautiful. Like Made in Abyss, this is a series I probably would have watched as it aired, but since it also aired back in 2018 when I was barely watching any anime at all, I missed it. But I’ll definitely be continuing Bunny Girl Senpai, and probably soon.
Well, that was a great start to this new round of spins. Hopefully we can make this a streak with the second (and avoid the mines, though landing on one of those may be fun too?)
Nice, another result I was looking forward to. Arpeggio of Blue Steel doesn’t seem to get that much talk, but I know it as the shipgirl anime before the mobile games Kantai Collection and Azur Lane came out and produced their own anime adaptations. The KanColle and especially the Azur Lane anime don’t seem to be highly regarded (though I did like Slow Ahead! as a light diversion) but Blue Steel sounds like a promising one. Let’s hope this first episode lives up to my moderate expectations!
Spin 13: Arpeggio of Blue Steel
Another interesting first episode. The premise is definitely unique, anyway — I think this was the first time the “warship embodied in/personified as a girl” concept was used; the anime aired in 2013 and the manga it was based on started back in 2009. Whether it does better with that concept than the mobile games it influenced — we’ll see.
Earth’s future is bleak. A mysterious and deadly naval force called the Fleet of Fog one day shows up seemingly out of nowhere (though the prologue notes there’s a connection to climate change and rising ocean levels somehow, but don’t worry about how I guess — if the connection was actually made I missed it) and starts attacking all humanity. After the human fleets are wiped out or confined to port, the Fleet of Fog blocks all shipping lanes and chokes off commerce, sending civilization centuries backwards into a new dark age.
However, there is a potential savior of humanity out there in the seas: the submarine I-401 Blue Steel, commanded by the wanted rogue naval cadet Chihaya Gunzou and his small crew of also teenagers. This set seems to be the only one that can effectively fight the enemy fleet with its practically alien technology, but why? And who’s that girl sitting in the center of the bridge who knows their enemy so well?
Iona and Chihaya in the middle of combat
This is not the actual World War II-era I-401, of course — this new I-401 is a Fleet of Fog ship that for an unknown reason sailed itself into a Japanese harbor, giving itself up to the enemy but remaining in a locked-down and unusable state as we see in an extended flashback. That is, until the cadet Chihaya is shown the secret enemy tech by his instructors. When he touches the ship, it activates, and an unknown girl named Iona shows up at the academy that day insisting that she and Chihaya speak alone.
It turns out that Iona is a former member of the Fog Fleet, the embodiment of the I-401, and her orders are to only obey Chihaya Gunzou. After confirming that Chihaya wants to break out of humanity’s stalemate and take a serious stand against the Fleet, she calls up her ship (or herself?) by blasting her way out of dock and inviting him on board.
I don’t even have to make a stupid joke here, make your own
Chihaya boards I-401 (and/or Iona) and together they pilot the submarine out of the academy harbor, escaping its guns and disappearing into the night. This makes Chihaya as much of a traitor and rebel against his side as Iona is against hers, but they have a purpose in common now. Or at least their purposes are compatible: Chihaya’s to break humanity out of its confinement, and Iona to follow all of Chihaya’s commands.
The first episode ends with a jump back into the present as Chihaya and his crew successfully sink a Fog ship in order to protect a rocket launch from attack, after which we meet a few of our enemies: more ship ladies, all embodying various other World War II-era Japanese warships. Yeah, the connections with KanColle and Azur Lane are very obvious at this point.
I’m not exactly the “step on me” type, but for Takao? Sure.
I don’t have much to add to what I wrote in the synopsis above. This first episode of Blue Steel is clearly meant as background and setup for the real plot that I’m guessing starts in the second episode. A series with such a uniquely strange concept (or again, I believe it was unique back in 2009 when the manga started its run) needs an episode like this to explain what the hell is going on. We don’t yet have much of a how or why to this shipgirl question — are they aliens or even interdimensional beings, why are they attacking humanity, etc. etc. — but I hope we’ll find out more as the plot unfolds.
There’s a lot of why around Iona as well. She doesn’t even know why she’s been commanded to obey Chihaya, except that he’s the child of a naval commander killed in battle who apparently had massive importance, enough that a submarine of the enemy fleet defected to find and bind itself to his son.
Iona, waiting for Chihaya to return from a meeting with the rogue crew’s government clients, on the I-401 deck. Or on her own deck?
The story is intriguing enough again that I plan on continuing it into that second episode. Though I can’t lie to you — the “shipgirl” designs are certainly nice and a big draw for me. Especially the enemy ladies Takao and Kongo. I also like how the whole bizarre ship -> woman personification is handled here, with the human aspect of the ship being just a manifestation of that ship but not actually human, more like another part of the ship itself. So I guess if a ship of the Fog Fleet gets sunk, it takes the “human” girl attached to it with it and they both “die?” Or “sink,” or whatever.
Well, it’s still confusing, but in my opinion this approach makes more sense than the “girls with giant guns strapped to their bodies flying around on water skates, but maybe also manifested as actual ships sometimes” thing from Azur Lane. To be fair, I haven’t seen the main Azur Lane anime, though. Maybe I’ll add it in as one of the mine options in the next roulette post considering what I’ve heard about it.
As for any complaints about Blue Steel so far, it uses some very awkward and distracting CG in certain character interactions, but otherwise it’s fine. Though I hope they somehow justify the use of the musical term “arpeggio” in the title. Did the author know what a god damn arpeggio is? One of these shipgirls does have a grand piano on her deck for some reason, so I’m hoping we hear some arpeggios out of her at least.
She’s not even playing properly in this scene. And what’s that form? Feet on the floor! Straighten your back! My old piano teacher would have a time sorting this girl out.
So, two for two on anime series I want to keep watching so far — another promising round of spins! Can we make it three for three?
No, of course we can’t. With my luck, I couldn’t have expected to escape this round of spins without taking a hit from one of those guns, without stepping on one of the mines I buried. Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls is as the title suggests a magical girl anime, and possibly the worst one of all time based on its ratings. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t usually pay that much attention to a series’ ratings on Anilist or MAL — I’ve dropped a couple of series I started in the 80s/8.0 range on both sites, and I’ve enjoyed a couple rated in the 60s/6.0 range. Some of that just comes down to individual taste.
But there’s a certain point at which the more objective qualities of a work are so lousy that almost everyone has to agree it’s trash aside from the truly and genuinely out there (or the truly contrarian types.) Naria Girls has a 33% on Anilist and a 3.8 on MAL, so odds are very good it’s horrific. And despite what you might think, I’m not even really into the magical girl genre. The closest I’ve come to it was the Blue Reflection series, and the magical girl aspect of those games wasn’t the hook that pulled me in, so this Naria Girls series is unlikely to grab my interest even if it’s not completely terrible.
But I’ll reserve judgment until I actually watch the first episode. On to it:
Spin 14: Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls
Oh. Oh no.
Well, no surprises this time. Naria Girls is indeed awful.
The story is as simple as possible: three color-coordinated schoolgirls become magical girls because they have to free a prince from a crystal, and a magical mascot stuffed bear thing travels to our world to make contracts with them. But the story doesn’t matter. I can’t even say the writing in this first episode was bad, because to criticize the writing there would have to be any writing to begin with, and aside from a few possible scribbles on a bar napkin outlining the basic magical girl plot I don’t think any of this was even planned out.
This eight-minute episode shifts between two styles: a slideshow of pretty rough illustrations (see the first screenshot above with pink girl — she has a name, but it also doesn’t matter — that’s not animated in the slightest) and scenes of the girls in 3D model form with a static background that look like they were made in MikuMikuDance. Except I’ve seen MMD videos that look far more professional and polished than this shit.
As for what actually happens in the show, I couldn’t even tell you outside of the outline I gave above. Most of this episode, and I’m assuming most of the entire series, consists of what sound like totally improvised comedy sketches that have fuck all to do with anything magical girl-related. These scenes reminded me most of those Hololive 3D livestreams — something like this, only those girls actually have comedic timing and direction, and again, those scenes look far more polished than whatever this is.
These three might be magical girls now, but I won’t be joining them on their journey. The best praise I can give Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls is that it’s short, at only 12 eight-minute episodes, but then that’s still far too long. Even two minutes each would be a stretch for what we get here. At least it doesn’t seem to take itself seriously at all, but there’s a limit to just how self-aware your work can be to justify its poor quality. There are shows I really enjoy like that that are trashy but fun, like Plastic Nee-san, but there’s a massive difference between trashy and just plain trash, and Naria Girls is the latter type. If I had to guess, I’d say this project was created as a cheap tax write-off, because I can’t imagine what audience it was meant for. Certainly not magical girl fans, because I’m sure they wouldn’t accept such a low-quality work.
Sorry for being so harsh with you, Naria Girls, but take solace in the fact that you’re still at least better than Pupa. If there’s a worse anime than that, I’d like to see it.
And that’s all for this fourth round of spins on the anime roulette. I might write another one of these soon, or maybe not — I’m not following a schedule these days. Not that I ever really have. But if you have any recommendations to make from among the shows I haven’t landed on, feel free to make them! I’m happy to pull something off of the wheel and watch it if I get the energy to do so. Until next time!