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Three-Episode Test: Uncle Yo's Winter 2017

All supernatural, but not all good.

Welcome (back) to the Three Episode Test, where contributors give you the low-down on what they're watching from the current simulcast season and why. In this entry, moé reigns supreme through surprise, and a superficial retelling regarding regalia gets relegated.


Gabriel Drop-Out

Streaming on Crunchyroll
So, two angels, a demon, and a devil achieve the right to become high school students in Japan…. Gabriel was Heaven’s top angel. Within 18 hours of living on Earth, she becomes a lazy, anti-social MMO-obsessed NEET willing to blow the Apocalyptic Trumpet for bad Internet connection while citing the loss of humanity as “collateral.” Satania, the future Arch-Devil ruler of the world, is the schoolgirl equivalent of Doctor Orpheus from The Venture Bros in that her bravado is overshadowed by her ignorance and clumsiness. Vignette may be a demon, but she’s responsible, friendly, and only bad at being, well, bad. Raphiel…dark, dark Raphiel, is a sadist with a stalking habit, and by no means a good angel.

This slice-of-life, pile of sardonic silliness reminds me of the animation style in Toradora and the misleading charm of Azumanga Daioh. Character-driven comedy holds the quartet together in both school lives and pet projects. Gab has her game and battle with the garbage piling up around her. Satania has not only Raphiel but a Shiba puppy determined to steal her daily melon bread. And Vignette’s problem seems to be all of them. The dark comedy contrasts so fiercely with the character design and bright color swap of this show, I am surprised to say it makes me laugh. It’s a pretty safe genre choice, and I’d recommend a decent gateway anime to pull some new friends into the hobby.

Interviews with Monster Girls

Streaming on Crunchyroll
And you thought the harem genre was dead! Well, it probably still is, because this show seems to have taste. Interviews Monster Girls is a high school comedy about pubescence and having an open mind toward diversity. (Don't worry, I originally dismissed the series because of its name as well.)

Takahashi is a high school biology professor who is naturally curious about a new form of diversity: “demis.” Fortunately for him, his school has all four. Hikari is a bubbly, devious, energetic vampire on the cusp of her own sexual awareness. Machi is a Dullahan (REALLY?!?!), whose self-confidence is overshadowed by her innocence, honesty, and pleasantness. Yuki, a Snow Maiden, seems to give everyone the…SAY IT!...Cold Shoulder. And the math teacher, Saiki, is an erotically-charged, self-exiled succubus.

Do the girls all express direct romantic, if not sexual interest in Takahashi? By episode three, pretty much. But I do not see the show going in that direction. This is an incremental, five-way story about people seeing past their differences. Macchi’s spotlight in episode two, for example, became relatable when her inner monologue revealed that she felt awkward being the only Dullahan in the school, believing her difference to be a weakness. I see a broad allegory building for both emotional and physical handicaps, but that’s probably because I’m not looking to update my hug pillow collection.


Streaming on Crunchyroll
Remember Noragami from a few years back? It combined humor and pathos with excellent animation and stirring fight scenes. Well, Spiritpact is what happens when a Korean fangirl with a sleeve of Supernatural tattoos tries to describe Noragami. The story, which has been dubbed in Japanese, is originally Korean, hence why your friends at Crunchyroll are simulcasting it this season.

Tanmouku Ki is a white-haired, stone-faced Korean star and head of a powerful and wealthy family of Youmeishi (exorcists). When his mid-drift isn’t showing, he dresses not unlike an Uber chauffeur while beating up ghosts and evil spirits. Because, really, who in anime today isn’t?

Meanwhile, You Keika is a penniless fortune teller from a long line of spiritual advisors. Within ten minutes, he’s hit by a truck and dies. You’s chibi and childish reactions are grating, like a Korean fangirl telling you about a Jerry Lewis skit. Anyway, Ki comes on…comes to him and proposes; Ki gives You two promise rings and says they should become partners. This is gratuitous fangirl bait that almost insults the intelligence of fangirls. At least they clevery hide it in episode titles such as “What Attracted You to Him” and “Beware of Sleeping Together.”

Now the two are Ghost Digimon and trainer. If the flat character designs and tragically low budget animation don’t scare you off, maybe my review has spooked you away. Bottom line is that you’ve seen this before. Remember Noragami? Watch it again instead.

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