The fall anime season is well underway and as usual there is a plethora of different shows to choose from. Many series are well into at least their fourth episode at this point, which means some valid impressions can be drawn, thus far. We’ve compiled a list of the shows the GoombaStomp anime crew has been watching this season and their thoughts on them. While this isn’t all-encompassing, it should be more than enough to help decide the all-important decision of what to pick up. If you’re in need of what to check out this season, look no further than here.
(List in no particular order.)
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
With a name like that, it immediately becomes rather difficult to take this show seriously. Despite that self-imposed obstacle, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai demonstrates that it’s not just dreaming with its head up in the clouds.
The story picks up with smug high schooler Sakuta Azusagawa encountering the equally smug high schooler Mai Sakurajima… except Mai is in a bunny girl outfit. The titular bunny girl senpai is afflicted by something that comes to be known as “Adolescent Syndrome” which prevents all those around her from perceiving her existence except for Sakuta.
While a term like Adolescent Syndrome seems like something from the overactive imagination of a pubescent high schooler, that’s not to downplay the maturity of the entirety of the script here.
Both Sakuta and Mai are sarcastic to a T yet are still capable of being honest with their own feelings as well as say what needs to be said. The interplay between these two is where the show really shines, with witty remarks mixed with half-truths and double entendres firing off in every which direction that bring to mind the very definition of “Well played.”
The Adolescent Syndrome part of the show, however, is still rather hand-wavy, calling famous experiments and theories into question, such as Schrodinger’s Cat, but never really doing much with them. As it stands, this vaporous affliction will be the main driving force of the drama in the show which may turn out to be a little cheap, but if it means seeing more of the stellar verbal battles between Sakuta and Mai then that’s a price worth paying. (By Matthew Ponthier)
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
A testament to the excellence of experimental storytelling, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure scratches that itch for weirdness. Part five of the Joestar journey, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (adapted from its manga counterpart, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo) is Giorno Giovanna’s story, an up-and-coming gangster in Naples, Italy.
Oh, and he’s also the son of series super baddie Dio Brando.
Koichi Hirose travels to Italy on orders of Jotaro Kujo. There, he investigates Giorno’s ties to Dio. Meanwhile, Giorno goes about infiltrating the notorious mafia gang Passione to uproot its corruption and defeat its villainous boss.
With crazy Stands boasting popular music names like Black Sabbath and Sex Pistols, dazzling action and animation, and a heavy helping of homo-erotica, Golden Wind is delivering everything fans crave: a little bit of bizarre, a little bit of wow, and a little bit of gay.
What more does anyone need? (By Harry Morris)
Watch on: Crunchyroll
That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime bucks classic isekai tradition by having its main character reincarnate not as a hero or even as a human, but as a useless slime. It then bucks tradition further by giving said slime god-like abilities that make it a fearsome combatant who literally oozes a terrifying aura.
Rimuru, the newly-reborn slime, can heal wounds, transform, shoot water blades, and so much more. This intense power coming from a boring slime sets the scene for hilarity abound, similar to One Punch Man. Watching a blob become the king of a village of goblins or dismantle an army of wolves is entertaining to watch, even more so with Rimuru’s misunderstanding of how this new world works.
The world itself is different enough from other isekai, with its own weird rules and power structures. Discovering it along with Rimuru is a treat in its own right.
Rimuru’s endless power is already making the show a little hard to watch, however. While the show is primarily a comedy and the godly slime is great at making humorous scenes happen, the narrative is hard to take seriously when every problem can be solved by single character with almost no effort. The opening animation makes it seem like huge battles and dangerous enemies are on the horizon, but it’s hard to imagine anything will be a threat to a protagonist who can cause 34 people to soil themselves with an attack that wasn’t even aimed at them.
This is fun for now, but it might get old if it keeps up. Time will tell if the humor can keep the show going or if the stakes will be raised high enough for the drama to take center stage. Hopefully one or the other, because the show has a lot of potential and it would suck to watch it fizzle out. (By Paul Palumbo)
Studio TRIGGER has never been one to play by the conventional rules of anime, for better and for worse. SSSS.Gridman feels like a culmination of the lessons they’ve learned from their myriad of projects and that too, is for better and for worse.
The story immediately picks up with highschooler Yuuta awakening without his memories. He’s taken care of by his classmates, Rikka and Shou, and is able to regain some semblance of stability at school with their assistance.
These slice-of-life segments are where Gridman excels. Cramped camera shots manage to shrink the screen to a smaller size than it actually is. The complete and utter lack of background music emphasizes ambient noises and conversations happening around the characters of interest. A snappy script creates an ebb and flow in conversations that incorporate pauses and silence just as well as quick-witted remarks. All these elements combine together to create a level of intimacy unrivaled within the anime industry.
…But then a kaiju appears (hulking, Godzilla-like monsters) and all those elements go right out the window.
Yuuta’s role is to pilot Gridman, a talking robot that resides digitally within a computer until a kaiju threaten the city. Fights between Gridman and the kaiju are bombastic and over-the-top, and even manage to use CGI in eye-catching ways, but these bouts feel disconnected from the rest of the show.
The issue of the kaiju menace is more or less swept under the rug and as a result, the fights feel like something tacked on because a TRIGGER anime can’t be without them.
Despite that, SSSS.Gridman is still worth checking out due to the sheer brilliance in cinematography on display. The kaiju plotline will hopefully evolve into something more meaningful but until then just being pulled into the same room as Yuuta and Co. is enjoyable enough. (By Matthew Ponthier)
A Certain Magical Index Season III
Seven years after the conclusion of its second season, A Certain Magical Index III pops up by surprise.
Despite being fifty episodes deep, this story is as undercooked as ever. The battle between science and religion continues, but with little explanation of who’s fighting and why. A Certain Magical Index III’s anchoring point is its cast of unrelatable characters, from the irritatingly immature Index to the zero-dimensional T?ma.
With character decisions and motives that are unnatural and unexplained, forgettable story beats, and a weird peppering of misogyny, A Certain Magical Index should’ve stayed in hibernation.
Hopefully, the upcoming third season of A Certain Scientific Railgun, the superior spin-off series about Mikoto and co., fares better. It’s surprising how much of a difference some semi-likable characters and a half-decent story make. (By Harry Morris)
Uchi no Maid ga Uzasugiru! (aka UzaMaid) isn’t the most creative comedy to come out in recent years, but that doesn’t stop it from already being one of the most enjoyable. Former Japanese Self-Defense Force officer Tsubame Kamoi is 28, recently unemployed, and has an alarmingly creepy affinity for young girls with white skin and blonde hair. Enter Misha Takanashi, a young Russian/Japanese child who’s closed herself off from the outside world following the passing of her mother. Through a short series of events best seen firsthand, Tsubame inevitably becomes both the family maid and Misha’s babysitter.
Tsubame’s outrageous schemes to get close to Misha and Misha’s complete disgust towards the perverted maid have already inspired some truly laugh-out-loud moments. The show pushes the lolicon angle as far as it’ll go (at one point Tsubame explicitly promises to love Misha “even after her first period”), but everything is portrayed in such an over-the-top fashion that it never comes across as vile or unwatchable.
What’s perhaps most surprising, though, is the amount of heart UzaMaid shows as it touches on Misha’s relationship with her late mother. These melancholy moments of reflection do a great job of balancing out the humor and making viewers really feel for her loss. It’s hard not to cheer Misha on for finally having a woman figure in her life (perverted comments and fantasies aside). I can’t wait to see where the show goes from here—it’s a great turn-your-brain-off, genuinely funny comedy. (By Brent Middleton)
Watch on: Crunchyroll
The original FLCL is an absolute masterpiece of animation and storytelling. It strikes the perfect balance between un-fucking-subtle innuendo and thoughtful subtext. Nearly two decades later, the cult classic has returned with two new seasons: Progressive and Alternative. True to their titles, Progressive and Alternative are rock music to their core. There’s a youthful energy that brims beneath, filled with adolescent nostalgia and suburban ennui.
Where Progressive took a more cerebral approach, Alternative makes no attempt at subtlety. It’s a fairly straightforward story of saying goodbye to your teenage years. The show’s efforts to be sincere and wholesome prevent it from being pretentious. Alternative may not be as visually interesting or dynamic as its predecessors, but it makes up for it with strong characters backed up by equally strong themes.
FLCL Alternative follows 17-year-old Kana Koumoto, an average everyday high school student who’s perfectly content with her average everyday life. But as she muses at the beginning and end of the season: “Familiarity can be a novelty.”
Alternative focuses on Kana and her three best friends, each of whom struggle with what it really means to be an adult. Their genuine love and affection for one another gives this season a heart that beats with joy, sadness, and wonder.
There’s a certain indescribable melancholy that comes with realizing you have to grow up. Kana fights against it with all her might, but her journey through Alternative is one of acceptance. Time doesn’t stand still; that’s all the more reason to treasure the time that you have now.
Making her return to the FLCL universe is the peppy pink-haired bombshell, Haruko Haruhara. Unlike her previous incarnations, Haruko this time around is far more mellow and mature. She still possesses the wild sense of Fooly Cooly that we all know and love, but her laid-back demeanor acts as a perfect foil to Kana.
Fans of the original FLCL will undoubtedly compare it to this new season. That’s natural. However, Alternative recognizes that and makes a valiant effort to stand on its own. You, as the viewer, can help it step out of that shadow and give it the chance it deserves. (By Kyle Rogacion)
Watch on: Adult Swim
Run With The Wind
As far as sports anime go, Production I.G. has quite the reputation with shows such as Haikyuu!! And Kuroko’s Basket under their belts. That expertise comes through in Run With The Wind but the show is held back on the basic principle of its sport of choice: running.
After being roped into moving into a shoddy-looking dorm, university student Kakeru finds out that he inadvertently was drafted onto the school’s newly formed track and field team by its captain, Haiji. The problem being that Haiji and Kakeru are the only ones with any substantial amount of track and field experience.
If anything, Run With The Wind has a colorful cast of characters each with their own quirks and excuses for wiggling out of practice that Haiji is proficient in squashing. Haiji’s dream of taking the team to the top in Japan’s league in 10 short months sounds absurd at best, and that’s reflected in Kakeru’s negative attitude.
It doesn’t help that running isn’t necessarily the most thrilling thing to watch, so Run With The Wind seems to be electing to fill the gaps in with drama. While drama in sports anime can be done well, here we seem to be falling into the tried and true tropes of a brooding protagonist at the top of his game that can’t bring himself to open up to his teammates. It’s a tired formula that isn’t particularly exciting anymore so hopefully, Run With The Wind will be able to evolve past that in coming episodes. (By Matthew Ponthier)
Wait and See
Watch on: Crunchyroll
Bloom Into You
Bloom Into You completely shattered my expectations going into the season. Far from a forced yuri romance anime, Bloom Into You has developed its characters with surprising grace and complexity.
Freshman Yuu Koito is devastated that despite wanting to experience love more than anything, she’s simply never been able to. It isn’t that she’s despondent or uninterested; she just doesn’t have those feelings. Meanwhile, the incredibly popular sophomore Touko Nanami has been struggling with a similar issue—no matter who confesses to her or tries to court her, none of them ever manage to make her heart race. Just like Yuu, she takes this to mean that she’ll never fall in love with anyone.
While this setup might seem predictable, what happens by the end of the first episode is anything but. Bloom Into You has had such a strong start to the season because it plays off of what the audience expects and instead gives viewers genuinely heartfelt insights into how different people deal with love. What does it take to get over a rejection, or to close oneself off from the possibility of heartbreak?
Yuu as a protagonist is incredibly refreshing in her emotional strength and honesty. Similarly, several of the supporting cast have already raised profound questions about human nature and why we act the way that we do when confronted with feelings of love or rejection. It’s still early in the season, but I’d wholeheartedly recommend that you keep an eye on this show. (By Brent Middleton)
Watch on: HiDive
Iroduka: The World In Colors
P.A. Works has always been famous for their ability to take real-life locations and translate them to immersive and compelling anime worlds. Even with that established pedigree, they have managed to outdo themselves with Iroduka: The World In Colors.
A young mage who dislikes magic for an undisclosed reason is suddenly sent to the past by her grandmother for another undisclosed reason. That “past” is actually our time, the year 2018, and our protagonist, Hitomi, has been told to seek out her high-school-aged grandmother in this time period.
The story is told in a very subdued manner and the commonplace magic of this world just as much so. The core mystery of why Hitomi was sent to the past is intriguing enough, but it’s also clear that that plotline will be a slow burn. So far there is very little urgency involved but that’s made up for by the wholesome and heartwarming interactions between the characters. If anything this is more akin to a slice-of-life series with a sprinkle of magical elements.
On a purely technical level, the recreated Nagasaki in the show is absolutely breath-taking. Every building, every sign-post, every plant has been lovingly brought to life through meticulous animation. This becomes even more relevant with the story’s focus on colors, photography, and art, displaying various sceneries and landscapes combined with dynamic camera angles and special effects creating moments that are nothing short of gorgeous. (By Matthew Ponthier)
Watch on: Amazon
Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood.
Ms. Vampire is exactly the kind of show you expect it to be, and one that you’ve probably seen before. High school student Akari accidentally stumbles upon a vampire named Sophie, who rather than being a bloodthirsty monster is an all-around chill creature with the body of a cute girl and an affinity for watching anime. An unlikely friendship is born as Akari decides that it’s a great idea to move in with Sophie. The rest is history, or in this case episodes 2-12.
That isn’t to say it’s a bad show, because the setup is ripe for comedy. Ms. Vampire stays surprisingly close to vampire mythos (Sophie doesn’t just “want blood sometimes,” it’s the only thing she can consume), which means the situations are bizarre and follow strict rules. A lot of the best humor comes from exploring the scenario of being a modern-day vampire and all the silliness that comes with it.
There’s a sense of awareness in the show as well, as many of the characters understand the bizarreness of an anime-obsessed vampire and the high schooler who is desperately in love with her. Many of the funniest parts are one-liners and other jokes that make it clear this is not a show that’s supposed to be taken seriously.
What Ms. Vampire is, however, is unremarkable. While funny and worth watching for fans of such series, it’s unlikely to be anybody’s favorite anime ever. Nothing about the premise or execution stand out among other shows that turn monster icons into cute anime girls. Ms. Vampire is a simple slice-of-life that so far hasn’t made any strides to become more than the sum of its parts, but not every show can be a groundbreaking event of the season. For what it is, Ms. Vampire is perfectly fine. (By Paul Palumbo)
Watch on: Crunchyroll
My Sister, My Writer
The premise of My Sister, My Writer will undoubtedly draw comparisons to last year’s divisive Eromanga-sensei—and for good reason. The story sees aspiring light novel author Yu Nagami discover that his standoffish little sister has secretly become a successful author herself. Due to her status as student body president of her school, however, she’s forced to write under a fake name. When opportunities start arising that require her to attend events in person, she recruits Yu to assume her identity.
My Sister shakes things up just enough to be different. Suzuka is popular and has no problem being out and about, but she’s also a tsundere who scolds Yu and gets jealous easily. There’s no significant age gap between Yu and Suzuka, but there’s still a palpable underlying romantic tension between the siblings.
The supporting cast provides some of the most interesting moments of the show so far, but they aren’t particularly original. The duo’s inexperienced editor’s over-willingness to help “inspire” Yu’s writing is silly yet fun, and the emerging relationship between Yu and fellow light novel author Mai Himuro shows a bit of promise.
Unfortunately, there just isn’t much overall quality to be found here. The writing, while serviceable, is terribly uninspired. It’s just enough to keep fans of the genre hanging on, but it relies on familiar tropes and eye candy far too heavily. Similarly, My Sister, My Writer‘s animation is some of the worst that I’ve seen from a modern anime, period. The bland environments, jarring facial expressions and lack of attention to detail in general only get worse with the second and third episodes. The show ends up feeling like a rather lethargic watch hampered by low production values and lazy, minimal effort writing. (By Brent Middleton)
Watch on: Crunchyroll
“I can’t believe I got tricked into watching an idol show.” – some reddit user
Truth be told, I was kind of tricked as well. Fellow Goomba Stomp writer Matt convinced me to watch it by simply saying “Just do it.” I’d advise you to do the same.
Zombieland Saga follows Sakura Minamoto, an aspiring idol singer who starts off the series dying in a brutal head-on collision. Years later she awakens as a zombie with no memory of her life before she died. She’s quickly recruited (read: forced) by her producer Kotaro into forming an idol group with six other members.
Prepare to kick reason to the curb, as rule-of-cool is the MO here and it works to hilarious effect. Zombieland Saga barrels through its 24 minutes with clever visual gags, meta jokes, and fun character interactions.
What makes this more than a gag show is a diverse cast, each with their own personality quirks. Whether it’s the delinquent biker Saki, the Meiji-era courtesan Yugiri, or “The Legendary Tae Yamada”, much of the show’s wackiness comes from how the characters play off each other.
True to its premise, Zombieland Saga has some genuinely catchy music covering a wide spread of genres. In the first three episodes alone, there’s kawaii death metal, a rap battle, and a peppy idol performance that would give Love Live a run for its money. The show isn’t bound by logic and it revels in that freedom.
MAPPA is quickly making a name for itself with series like Rage of Bahamut, Kakegurui, and now Zombieland Saga. With only four episodes out so far, there’s no telling where this batshit crazy is going to take us. But isn’t that the fun of it? (By Kyle Rogacion)
Sword Art Online: Alicization
The Sword Art Online series gets a lot of flak, most of which is justly deserved. This new season has a lot to prove in order to win back the faith of the fans and, to the surprise of many, it’s actually managing just that.
Sword Art Online: Alicization brings back two aspects the series had been missing ever since the original Aincrad story arc back in 2012: genuine world building and genuine mystery and intrigue in said world. The first episode will leave even series veterans taken back and confused as it seemingly “reboots” everything we know about the virtual world. The new virtual world Kirito finds himself in due to certain circumstances is the most realized to date, providing many interesting facets to ponder on.
The world isn’t the only thing that has evolved, as the writing and script have seen a marked improvement over past seasons. Kirito and other series mainstays show a level of maturity that reflects the growth they’ve undergone from the many experiences they’ve had.
It helps that for the first time ever we have a prominent new male character, Eugeo, who plays a pivotal role in the story. He and Kirito quickly form a strong camaraderie and seeing Kirito finally interact with a character on a regular basis that isn’t of the fairer sex exposes new aspects of his personality not seen before.
It seems strange to be into Sword Art Online again, but Alicization truly seems to be taking a step back and reevaluating the hands it can play, and the hand it has played just might be able to start making up for the deficit. (By Matthew Ponthier)
As Miss Beezelbub Likes
From the cotton candy color palette, to the saccharine dialogue, to the literal fluff-balls that litter the screen in some scenes, As Miss Beezelbub Likes is the definition of “fluff” that invites the viewer to come relax and decompress.
The story technically takes place in “Hell”, but due to the aforementioned features, the setting may as well be a generic fantasy. Beezelbub herself (yes, herself) runs the entire operation but is too lazy and easily distracted to actually get anything done without ample motivation. That’s where out cookie-cutter protagonist, Mullin, comes in to straighten her out as her assistant.
The plot is as non-existent as it sounds which is fine because that’s not the point of the show. The point is to take these big scary devils and fallen angels, like Azazel and Belphegor, personify them as cute anime characters, throw them in a castle and watch them squirm.
The character interactions are rather bare bones and nothing that hasn’t been done before at least a thousand times but they’re still entertaining enough to be serviceable. If you’re looking for a show to turn off your brain at after a hard day at work, you could certainly do worse than this one. (By Matthew Ponthier)
Watch on: Crunchyroll
Ace Attorney Season 2
Everyone’s favorite Kangaroo Court is back in session! The second season of the Ace Attorney anime is suffering from the same malady it did the first time: There’s no way to fit a whole game’s story into 4-ish hours of anime.
While the story follows Defense Attorney Phoenix Wright in many of the same cases as his third game, it’s more like a light version that shows the major twists without going on red herrings or goose chases. This makes the story much less intricate and interesting than fans of the games are used to.
Even with all that’s been cut, the pacing feels significantly fast and there are massive leaps in logic to get to the conclusions of each trial. Evidence is also way too convenient, as much of the investigating is replaced by Phoenix’s assistant Maya finding things offscreen.
That said, it’s still hilarious. The characters are wackier than ever, and the madness of the cases has already proven to be beyond what’s been seen before. It might be distracting to watch indictments be made with broken logic, but it’s still funny to watch the reactions of the various characters when it happens.
While the story and pacing isn’t as good as it could be, it isn’t bad enough to be off-putting. As a serious and well-thought narrative, Ace Attorney can’t make its case. Where it does succeed is as a comedy where lawyers throw coffee at each other and declarations can literally blow people away. It’s a poor substitute for the games themselves, but it’s a much more manageable endeavor time-wise and the most important bits are still intact. (By Paul Palumbo)
Watch on: Crunchyroll
Imagine taking Master Chief from the Halo franchise and putting him in a fantasy setting. Now replace the Covenant and Flood aliens with goblins and you pretty much have the plot of Goblin Slayer. Our protagonist, who’s head is always covered by a helmet and is simply referred to as Goblin Slayer, is on a cold-rage filled revenge quest to exterminate every goblin off the face of the Earth. That’s it, it’s that simple.
The series makes no attempt at being something grander than it is. Even Goblin Slayer himself admits to his motivations being narrow-minded, and even foolish. The bright and upbeat color palette of the world is contrasted against the dank solitude of the caves and other goblin nests the story goes to.
Goblin Slayer has practically become synonymous with the word “controversy” within the anime community in the short time it’s been out. Terrible things happen to good people in this series, such as rape and dismemberment, and is the primary source of the contention surrounding the show. These acts are never glorified in any way, though, and serve to emphasize the grit and unforgivingness of the world. However, it’s also understandable why some may take offense to it.
If you have any interest in a high-fantasy series with a nihilistic outlook on character fates, then Goblin Slayer is worth checking out. There’s no shame in dropping it if it’s content doesn’t sit well with you, though. (By Matthew Ponthier)
The highly dangerous drug “Anthem” is on the rise in the fictional city-state of Lisvalletta and it’s up to detectives Doug Bilingam and Kiril Vrubel to put a stop to it as part of the SEVEN-O Special Crimes Investigation Unit
Double Decker! checks all the boxes of an action-detective series. Each episode is a self-contained contained story that follows a crime investigation to its conclusion with bits and pieces of a grander conspiracy sprinkled here and there. Backstabs and betrayals can be seen a mile away and true culprits are obvious but that doesn’t mean these investigations aren’t a fun ride to be part of.
The city of Lisvalletta has a palpable griminess to it that permeates its streets and buildings. This combined with flashy firefights between SEVEN-O agents and Anthem induced mutants would provide quite the spectacles if it wasn’t for the puzzling use of CG whenever an agent puts on their coat-like uniform. It’s sudden, jarring, and distracts from whatever may be happening on-screen.
The story is told in a playful manner with clever jokes and one-liners being dropped left and right. This all the more emphasized by the eccentric cast of characters, each with his or her own quirks and tendencies that make each feel unique but believable… with the exception of our protagonist. Kiril is downright insufferable at times with his arrogance and stupidity causing more trouble than good. Double Decker! is at a later stage than most other shows this season, so the lack of development with Kiril’s character so far is a point of concern. (By Matthew Ponthier)