For all you weebs out there
by Connor Lutts
With My Hero Academia season 4 coming out in the next few weeks (as well as the recent trend toward live action remakes of beloved cartoons), now could possibly be the worst time to talk about the past season of whatever the hell Japan has been making animation-wise. On the other hand, it could be the best time. I don’t know. I can’t really think of a good introduction, so let’s just get right into this.
First on the chopping block: Dr. Stone. Based on the manga/comic of the same name, it follows the tale of Senku Ishigami, as he single-handedly tries to take humanity from the Stone Age to the modern age, all while facing dangers like lions and “a guy who can punch lions so hard he can knock them out”. The show, despite having a character who can literally dodge crossbow bolts, is surprisingly faithful to its scientific roots. One of the first major arcs—making penicillin—opens with a map of exactly what scientific advancements they need to go from ‘stone spears’ to ‘20th century life-saving drug’. Expertly paced, it’s perfect for any STEM majors questioning when and how society will finally need them.
Moving on from that, Fire Force, best described as “Fighting Fire with Fire: the show”. Random people suddenly combust into fire demons on the streets of Tokyo, and it’s up to a group of firefighters, who in turn have the power to wield fire, to put them out. There is probably more I could say to describe this show, as it is rather well made: the fights are gorgeous, its characters—though sometimes one note—play off each other in interesting ways, there’s some interesting commentary on police and religion buried in the cracks if you’re willing to look, and an English dub currently exists. So yeah, it is pretty good.
One Piece still exists, has 900 episodes, and is perfect if you have a free month and a half to get yourself caught up. It has somehow managed to stay coherent, even after having villains such as: ‘guy with an axe for a hand’, ‘idiot clown who can’t take a stand’, ‘armored abrasive’, ‘merman racist’, ‘smoking is cool’, ‘absolute tool’, ‘stereotypical French wax man’, who was working under ‘Neil Gaiman’s Sandman’, ‘god of weird faces and electricity’. And let’s not forget: ‘leopard who wants to kill all his enemies’, ‘guy who just constantly throws all of the shade’, ‘if wonder woman was jaded and part of the slave trade’, ‘poisonous attitude’, ‘fish man racist part two’, ‘evil scientist can’t make his poison of doom’, followed by ‘wow, how long is this arc’, and ‘dog people, for a lark’, ‘Woman who can’t get enough of that candy sublime’, ‘dragon who’s drunk ninety percent of the time’. Yeah, it is a lot. These are all villains that One Piece has had, some of them good, most of them bad.
Fruits Basket, another show this season, is a romance slice of life show where a solid majority of the cast turn into animals when someone of the opposite gender even slightly brushed them. This leads to several funny moments, such as “Oh no, he turned into a cat at the worst time, what will he do?” and “Oh no, he turned into a dog at the worst possible time, what will he do?”. It may seem formulaic, but it works.
Going into the shows I have not seen, Given, a show about two guys in a band, realizing that they like each other a bit more than just friends. I have heard from other people that it is good, that the story is heartwarming, the animation is smooth, and they handle the romance like an actual romance. I should probably be giving it more time than an extended One Piece joke, so people don’t get the impression that anime is just wish fulfillment for the fifteen to twenty-eight sad lonely male demographic.
Finally, we need to talk about Danmachi II, also known as Is It Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon? season 2. I would like to remind readers that, as much as we like to dunk on Japan for putting out weird shows, we almost gave a movie about bestiality ‘Best Movie of the Year’. Thanks, Disney. Anyway, it is a show about a guy trying to pick up girls in a dungeon. It goes about as well for him as it would anyone else in this scenario, but surprise, he gets more powerful the more he likes a girl, to the point where his teenage angst basically turns him into a god. Thanks, Japan.