Updated: Apr 20, 2018
The Spring 2018 anime season is upon us, and as usual there are a ton of offerings. Here’s a close look at five of the most recent first episodes.
My Hero Academia Season 3
In the third season of My Hero Academia, Izuku Midoriya and his classmates continue on their journey to become superheroes.
The Good: I’m a total My Hero Academia stan. Literally, they could do a whole episode that’s just Present Mic screaming the lyrics to Mary Had A Little Lamb for 20 minutes, and I’d consider it time well spent. That said, this was a genuinely good first episode - watching the kids use their powers to compete in a swimming contest was fun, watching Mineta not get what he wants (his classmates wearing bikinis) was even better. The part where Aizawa kicks all of them out of the pool at exactly 5 PM because he wants to go home? Flawless. In general, it was just nice to see the kids enjoy themselves after the dangerous events of Season 2, and before the equally perilous Season 3 kicks off.
The Bad: The first episode was half recap, half filler. For viewers who are starting with Season 3, this is a great way to get up to date and get ready for the new season, but for other viewers it can be a little bit grating - especially for viewers like me, who immediately started reading the manga as soon as Season 2 ended. That said, one can’t judge a series by its recap episode, and My Hero Academia has been pumping out excellence since its inception.
Score: An extremely biased 5/5
Piano no Mori
An impoverished son of a prostitute and a wealthy son of pianists bond over their mutual love of the piano.
The Good: So far, Piano no Mori is the most intriguing series of the Spring 2018 season. The developing friendship between the two boys is delightful without being exploitative. The mysterious piano in the woods that will only play for some people, and the intrigue regarding their teacher’s past, are all reasons to keep me wanting more. It’s too early to say that it’s my favorite show of the series - but it’s definitely my favorite first episode.
The Bad: Most of the extended piano playing scenes are animated using CGI, and while it’s not as cringeworthy as, for example, Berserk, it’s still enough to take away from the beauty that was obviously intended.
A sentient idol program called μ creates a virtual world called Mobius, which attracts unhappy humans and traps them in a permanent youth.
The Good: The first episode managed to create the disjointed, disconcerting mood it was aiming for. It did a great job laying the groundwork for the horrifying twist at the end. I have no idea what’s coming next, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
The Bad: For some reason, this 2018 anime felt the need to use a trope that I thought (naively hoped?) the industry was beyond. Takatsu, one of the side characters, has two attributes - he’s fat, and he’s obsessed with eating to the point where he’d hypothetically injure himself for some ramen. While it’s understandable that a side character wouldn’t be particularly complex, it’s annoying that this series seems to view fat people as dumb animals who do nothing but eat. So, if this is something that bothers you, bear it in mind when deciding whether or not to give Caligula a chance.
Tada Never Falls in Love
Mitsuyoshi Tada has his first experience with love when he meets Teresa Wagner, an exchange student from Luxembourg.
The Good: Teresa’s obsession with Rainbow Shogun was so hilariously on point - she filters her entire experience of Japan through knowledge gleaned from an old show that few people in Japan actually care about anymore. It brought me right back to being an American teenager visiting Japan while my brain was maybe 75% Death Note and 25% vital functions like breathing. The fact that Yui is doing exactly the same thing with a movie from Teresa’s home country of Luxembourg makes the whole thing seem embarrassing and ridiculous, but also just a natural part of being human.
Also, Nyanko Big is perfection in feline form.
The Bad: The fact that Alexandra, Teresa’s pragmatic caretaker/travel guide, is apparently roughly her age and will be attending high school with her strikes me as a teeny bit implausible, but it’s not really a big deal. Over all, it’s a fun series that I’ll probably continue with.
Sword Art Online: Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
Thanks to her extreme height, Karen Kohiruimaki has trouble making friends in the real world. A gun-themed virtual reality MMO might just be her ticket to building lasting bonds.
The Good: The OP and ED were cute, and provided good contrast with the gritty tone of the first episode. The episode really does feel like the inside of an MMO, so if that’s something that you’re into, this is going to knock your socks off.
The Bad: What made the original Sword Art Online work was its premise - if you die in-game, you die in real life. Without the weight of real-world consequences, it’s hard to care what happens in the virtual world.
In the first episode of Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, no such stakes have been introduced. While viewers of Sword Art Online II know that there is real danger in the virtual world of GunGale, none of this is apparent in episode one, and it’s not clear from the synopsis if it will be.
The premise seems to revolve around Karen Kohiruimaki’s search for friendship, a premise that has the potential to be interesting, but which isn’t explored in the first episode. Viewers are dropped right into the action without establishing the characters, but because the action is fake, that character work is necessary to give it meaning.
What did you think of the first episodes of the new season? Let us know in the comments!