Welcome to Part 2 of our Winter 2020 anime first impressions!
Check out the first impressions for Infinite Dendrogram, Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, Smile Down the Runway and more below, and don’t forget to peep the video above for the rest of Part 2 of our fall season reactions! Check out Part 1 here.
Before we go any further, this show is absolutely worth your time. If y’all make me come back and have to get on you for sleeping on this one, I swear…
First of all, for a show with “toilet” in the title, it is absolutely stunning. Like, I truly cannot express how much I love the look of this show. The colors, the variation in line weight, the forms … it’s wonderful to look at. Second of all, it’s not really about the toilet. I mean, kind of, but in a Moaning Myrtle’s adventure sort of way.
A school is shrouded in rumors about it’s Seven Mysteries, one of which is Hanako-kun. He’s a ghost said to occupy the third stall of the third floor girls’ bathroom in the old school building, and grants any wish when summoned. Nene Yashiro is an occult-loving high school girl who dreams of winning the heart of the boy she likes. So, naturally, she ventures into the bathroom and summons Hanako-kun in hopes of getting some otherworldly help.
But Hanako-kun isn’t exactly great at this wish-granting hustle. He’s eager to help and ultimately has good intentions, but he’s more along the lines of a lovable failing deity, like Yato from Noragami.
And yes, Hanako-kun is precious, but also has shades of crazy. You can’t have eyes like that, spend every day in a toilet and not be prepared to cut somebody. THEM’S THE RULES. Those eyes straight up say “I will grant your wish, but I will also cut the scales off a mermaid.”
Wrap a charming occult adventure-of-the-week in jewel tones and luscious line work, add a dash of cute, but unpredictable characters and you’ve got a recipe for something great.
Smile Down the Runway
I jumped into this thinking, “Ah, something cute that I can put on in the background this season.” But what I didn’t expect was to find myself completelyinvested in these characters.
The concept of the daughter of a fashion entrepreneur not getting to live her dream of being a super model because she’s not tall enough seemed …cute enough. But there is something deeper here, and a lot of it is due to her character and determination, which honestly won me over. Episode 1 alone was an excellent reminder to never judge people’s passions. That, no matter what it is, if you are really dedicated to it, and invested in the process of achieving it, it’s worth respecting.
The shounen anime aspects really shine through, paired with truly breathtaking visuals. By the end of the episode, I wanted to believe in these kids. I know they can be the greatest, and I will watch them rise to the top.
Chiyuki is a young girl who dreams of walking in Paris Fashion Week for her father’s modeling agency, but can’t because of her height. She meets a young designer, Ikuto, who is struggling to provide for his sisters or even put himself through college to achieve his dream. The two become friends and form what, I hope, will become an unstoppable duo!
The two are so genuine in their goals and determined, that it seems like such a perfect pairing. It’s convenient, yes, but in a way that makes you so excited for them, that the stars actually aligned! It’s a reflection of what I think a lot of us would hope for in our goals: that if we work really hard, despite the odds, one day things will fall into place at the right time for success. If you were hoping for a shounen anime with an unexpected twist this Winter 2020 anime season, Smile Down the Runway will capture your heart!
A3! Season Spring & Summer
OK, I loved the first episode of this series, and can already tell that I’m going to be screaming about it a lot this season. There are cute boys, theatre and yakuza. What more could you ask for?
A3! is based on a mobile game with an incredibly passionate following. And as a newcomer, I can absolutely see the appeal.
While knowledge of the game is great, it’s incredibly story driven, and the show feels really accessible for someone like me. We meet Izumi, a young woman who, while searching for her lost father, returns to his old theater company, now in danger of being shut down by the yakuza. Crazy right?
But Izumi is actually a really strong character, even standing up to the yakuza. On a gamble, she takes over the company and has to recruit new (cute male) actors for four theater troupes to get the company out of debt. Though, since I’m not an expert on the game, I decided to consult someone who is. Our community manager, Haley had this to say:
“As a fan, the one word would be exciting. For someone who doesn’t know the series already, it would be intriguing. Ultimately as a fan, the first thing you want to see is your favorite character, obviously Itaru, animated for the first time.
It’s also seeing this really well-written and varied collection of interesting personalities come together in an anime, and hoping that more people come into the fandom. Ultimately, the more people who like your favorite, the larger the Itaru fanbase becomes and the stronger we get.”
And the fact that there’s four different troupes, means plenty of variety in characters to fall in love with. Add it to your list!
The year is 2043. VRMMORPGs aren’t all that successful. That is, until… Infinite Dendrogram.
In this world, it’s the top game to really recreate all five senses and fully immerse its players. In Episode 1, we meet our protagonist, Ray, who has finally gotten his first chance to play! We watch as he learns from his older brother Shu, who has more experience in the world of Infinite Dendrogram.
I mean, also there’s a bear suit! Who doesn’t want to watch someone adventure in a giant bear suit? Oh, and with a giant gatling gun!
Just like in BOFURI, our other isekai this season, Ray isn’t trapped in the game, but rather enters as a player. And Episode 1 has a fun, light-hearted tone as we watch him learn the game and begin quests with his brother, including a super rare quest that does an excellent job of demonstrating how tough this world is!
The beauty of this show is in how much they highlight the hyper-realism of the game and keep the idea of a true sensory experience at top of mind. But one thing that jumped out immediately was “an embryo,” basically an in-game implant on the player that evolves to match their personality.
In Ray’s case, the embryo transforms into a beautiful badass called Nemesis, who seems like she’s going to be extremely critical to the story going forward! I’ve seen a lot of excitement from fans around this show, and Episode 1 absolutely delivers. I have a feeling this series will continue to keep fans excited in a major way this Winter 2020 anime season.
Seriously. Bear suit!
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