Five girls live in 19th century London, a city within the Albion Kingdom divided into east and west by a large wall. The girls serve as undercover spies enrolled as students at the prestigious Queen’s Mayfair school. The girls make use of their individual abilities to remain active in the underground world of disguise, espionage, infiltration, and car chases.
Well color me impressed. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Princess Principal, but it turned out to be one of the best premieres of the season. This episode was a pretty self-contained spy adventure about a scientist who wants to defect from the Kingdom to the Commonwealth, but it did a great job of setting the tone of the show. The opening chase scene featured some great action that I can best describe as James Bond with steampunk gadgets in Victorian London. The show was pretty vague about how the technology works (it almost seems like magic), only saying that it was powered by something called cavorite, but there’s plenty of time for details like that to be explained, and we can see enough of what it does that the details aren’t too important anyway. Part of what made this episode so good was the stellar animation and backgrounds. The animation was able to support both flashy action scenes and even some good character acting, which is pretty unusual in TV anime. The backgrounds were also so detailed that Princess Principal’s version of London was practically a character in and of itself. The show was able to convey both the bright and busy city and the poverty underneath just through the background art, showing bright lights during the night while also revealing the squalor beneath it. The character designs are a bit too moe for the tone the show seems to be going for, but the story itself was interesting enough that it never really bothered me. Most of the characters are pretty archetypal so far, but Ange caught my attention from the start. Her distant demeanor and apparent pathological lying seem to indicate that she has a story to tell, and I’m eager to find out more. Despite the out of place character designs, Princess Principal had an impressive premiere. I just hope it can keep it up.
Wait and See
Made in Abyss
An enormous pit and cave system called the “Abyss” is the only unexplored place in the world. Strange and wonderful creatures reside in its depths, and it is full of precious relics that current humans are unable to make. The mysteries of the Abyss fascinate humans, and they head down to explore. The adventurers who venture into pit are known as “Cave Raiders.” A little orphan girl named Rico lives in the town of Ōsu on the edge of the Abyss. Her dream is to become a Cave Raider like her mother and solve the mysteries of the cave system. One day, Rico starts exploring the caves and discovers a robot who resembles a human boy.
After what I’d heard about the manga, I was somewhat hesitant going into Made in Abyss, but the first episode was a really good start. It was mostly introducing the cast and establishing the setting, but it did a great job of that. Riko’s energy and love of adventure makes her instantly likable, and the episode is able to establish a lot about her through small details. We learn that she’s used to dealing with dangerous monsters not through exposition, but through her casual reaction to being saved from one. Made in Abyss is able to convey a lot just through it’s expressive animation and gorgeous backgrounds. The backgrounds are so detailed that we can learn nearly everything we need to know about the setting from the visuals alone. There’s even several minutes with no dialogue that conveys the entire story clearly through the characters’ actions. With animation that detailed, Made in Abyss looks more like a feature film than a TV show. The Abyss itself is also a compelling idea that leaves a lot of room for exploration and adventure. Shots showing its size and scale really drive home that there could be anything in it. We’ve already seen strange monsters and a robot, and who knows what else could be there. The only reason I’m not listing this as a watch is because I’ve heard that the manga gets unnecessarily dark and unpleasant. I don’t mind dark stories in general Still, this episode gives me hope since it apparently cut out some of the more questionable content. If this adaptation can continue to improve on the source material, it could be one of the best shows of the season.
Yoshiko is a high school girl who is so ridiculously stupid every day that even her childhood friend Akuru wants to give her a big punch.
Aho Girl is exactly what you’d expect from a 4-koma adaptation who’s title means “Idiot Girl.” The episode is structured more as a series of short gag scenes, similar to a 4-koma, and the humor is pretty much “Yoshiko is an idiot and Akuru has to deal with her.” Yoshiko keeps doing stupid things (obsessing over bananas, asking to fondle another girl’s chest for science) and Akuru keeps calling her an idiot and smacking her. This could easily have been uncomfortably mean-spirited, but the show doesn’t take itself seriously enough for that. Everything is obviously a silly joke, and it even takes the time to mock Akuru’s nonexistent social life. The humor was fairly repetitive, but generally amusing. It might have gotten old if Aho Girl had full length episodes, but the 12 minute episodes mean it doesn’t overstay its welcome. I realize this is a bit shorter than usual, but there’s not too much else to say. Aho Girl is very straightforward about its goals and is somewhat amusing to watch. It’s not the next Konosuba, but its still a decent comedy if you like this style of humor.
And that’s everything I’ve watched. As usual, I haven’t seen every new show this season, and there are still some shows that I have my eye on, but this is everything I’ve tried so far and I hope this can serve as a good starting point for anyone checking out the new season.