The Cambridge Geek

2020 Winter Anime Round-Up

I am currently failing miserably to keep up with the blogging with any sort of regularity, so here's a cheat, by doing a quick round-up of the different anime we watched in the 2020 Winter season all together, rather than doing them separately. (We also watched Beastars, my enjoyment of which I think means I'm a furry now.)

The Case Files of Jeweler Richard

This one is much more for The Girl than for me, as she's the jewellery fanatic, and I am not. It follows Seigi, a student who, having intervened in one of the many street brawls that apparently are a standard hazard of living in Japan, finds himself employed in the shop of the man he rescued. This is Richard, a master jeweler, who sells perhaps one item a day (it's a very posh shop) and so therefore fills his time by solving relatively minor crimes in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes, but one who was obsessed with jewellery.

While I'm no expert, The Girl tells me that all of the jewellery was both accurate and very interesting, so if you're into your gemstones, you might be interested in this one. Not wildly thrilling in terms of plot for me though, sort of a low excitement level. 3/5


ID: Invaded

Now this was this season's "tricky" show (of all the ones I've watched). The central premise is that there is a specialist police department, who are able to create "Id wells", from the remnants of murderous thoughts left behind at crime scenes. (Don't laugh - it might be sily, but they do a lot of good with it.) These "wells" can be considered similar to holodecks, but they are constructed from the unconsciousness of the serial killer the police department are chasing. As such, they may contain clues to their identity, location, planned killing method or collaborators.

Into these wells, the department throw their own pet murderer, who, when he awakes within them, has acquired the persona of "the brilliant detective". This is effectively a mind wipe with a new personality strapped on top, that allows him to investigate the well, and anything that might happen in it, while the department watch carefully to pick up on clues.

The department specialise in hunting serial killers, and there's a lot of crazy ones in this. It's one of those shows where gambits pile up, and it's a lot of fun to keep trying to guess where the twists are going to end up. 4/5


Interspecies Reviewers

Okay, not entirely sure I should admit to watching this. It got "cancelled" from the places I started watching it officially pretty damn quickly, so had to hunt it down elsewhere to finish the series (you will have to do the same). Let's not lie, this is very ecchi. It tells the "story" (such as it is) of a group of adventurers living in a fantasy world, who come up with the bright idea of inventing that most worthless of pastimes, reviewing things. Since they live in a world occupied by both baseline humans and monster-human hybrid, there's only one thing that it's perfectly obvious they should review.

All of the monstergirl brothels.

Yes, this gets filthy. But also, remarkably funny. While it's obviously partly (mostly) for titillation, there's enough variety and silliness in the different episodes that it's genuinely entertaining. That's mostly because it's very tongue in cheek, but it also makes the most of the daftness of all of the infinite possibilities that might be find in the Monster Girl Encyclopedia. If you're not put off by the premise, you may well enjoy it. But only watch it with someone equally terrible. 4/5

Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story

Of course I watched this. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an excellent series, putting an interesting twist on the Magical Girl concept, and doing a lot of things you don't expect. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend you watch it before this sequel. I also highly recommend you watch it instead of this sequel.

Because this Side Story is awful.

Okay, maybe that's unfair. It's based on a game set in the Madoka Magica universe, and presumably the story in the game makes sense. Here it does not. There are far too many different concepts introduced, and none of them are given enough space to either be explained or have a serious impact. I also found myself frequently losing track of whose motivation was what. It's entirely possible many of them are sad for sensible reasons, but the pacing was so much all over the place that I couldn't remember who was important any given week.

It also fell into the trap of setting up too many questions and resolving too few. Again, perhaps if you've played the game, these are actually all clever references that you'll be impressed by. As a standalone, it falls over. Skip it. 2/5


Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove It

As always, I love an awkward romance.

This time, it's two scientists, who, as is tradition, are incapable of possessing emotional intelligence. Instead, they will need to perform a series of experiments to see whether or not their desire to be close, their odd predilection for hugs, and the way they keep being inexplicably happy, is proof of them being in love.

Of course, they're scientists, which means that what they really need is data.

How better to collect that, then, than going on "dates" and testing "physical affection", and then collecting spit in tiny vials to see what effect this has on their oxytocin levels.

While all around them, the other members of their research lab are torn between helping out with the research (hey, publish or perish is still a thing) or just pushing them into a corner and shouting "just bang!"

It is hilarious as you might expect and also the end of the series made The Girl get all weepy, which I think means it was good. 5/5


Toilet-bound Hanako-kun

And finally, something with a very different animation style and with a bit more horror. It's heavily inspired by the paper cut style, with a lot of the movement being introduced by bobbing effectively static objects around the screen. Simultaneously, it reminds me a lot of the old Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles style. All very cute.

Which matches the tone for the first half of the show, which follows Yashiro as she gets involved with Hanako, the young ghost who haunts one of the girls' bathroom in her school. What follows is a series of misfortunes with fish and the other ghosts in the school, which are generally light hearted until the halfway mark where it suddenly gets rather more grim. Never quite gets truly meaty, but enough darkness sneaks in to make it an interesting watch. I would have preferred it to be turned up a little, but as it is, not bad. 4/5


Tagged: Anime