The final instalment of first episodes from the new season. Will there be any more keepers?
Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist
William Twining is the genius heir to a prestigious family and a firm believer in "modern science" - a realist. However, as so often happens, his world is about to get turned upside-down by the shocking news of his affiliation with Hell when all he wanted was to secure the money to pay his tuition fees. William inadvertently ends up summoning the demon Duke Dantalion who informs him that he is a descendent of Solomon and as such is the 'Elector', that is one who chooses the interim ruler of the demon world. Naturally unwilling to just accept these facts, William finds himself pulled into the demon realm where he bears witness to a goat butler and an all-out battle between demons, whereupon he discovers he possesses some kind of power over Dantalion. And to cap it all off we get a classic transfer student scene as Dantalion enters William's school.
I have to say I was slightly perturbed by the first minute or so of this episode, but after checking the comments under the video - which reliably informed me that the manga is not in fact yaoi - I tentatively proceeded with it. And I'm glad I did for the most part. It's easy to overlook the little touches made to appeal to the BL market and enjoy the amusing dialogue and the well animated battle sequence. Plus there's a character called Twining who drinks tea, so that's fun, and you also get to hear Eguchi Takuya saying "Oxbridge" which was possibly funnier to me than was intended.
The World God Only Knows: Goddesses
And so season 3 begins. I'd known for quite a while that this series was going to be the goddesses arc, though for some reason it never clicked in my mind that to get to that point they'd have to skip over a whole heap of content. As such we don't get an anime version of a lot of conquests, including some top-quality conquests and even ones important to this arc, and the interim period between season 2 and season 3 is briefly covered in the first few minutes of this episode. After this is out of the way Diana (who is introduced in the Tenri OVA) gives an explanation of her origins as a goddess and lets it be known that there are likely to be other goddesses surrounding Keima, all of whom retaining memories of their conquests. The goddess Apollo awakes within Kanon, who has announced her feelings for Keima, and at the climax of the episode she is stabbed by a member of the hellish organisation Vintage.
I have to say the season gets off to a seemingly rushed start. The reveal of the goddesses is very sudden, and we've already uncovered quite a bit in just the first episode. This coupled with the skimming-over of the past conquests gives a very hurried feel, though granted it's a fairly lengthy arc to fit into a short series. What I don't quite understand is why the anime has leapt forward to the goddesses arc in the first place. I mean it was the first arc with proper story development and not just another conquest, but surely there was no need to power through to this point - as far as I'm aware the straightforward conquest structure was selling well in the manga and in the previous two seasons of the anime, so why? Ah well, what's done is done, and I'm looking forward to the anime adaptation of what was a brilliant arc in the manga.
Staz is a vampire but first and foremost he's his own man, and a japanophile at that. Living a reasonably cushy life as a territory boss in the demon world, with all the relics of human culture he has managed to assemble, Staz gets a shock when he receives a call to say a human girl has found her way into his world. After briefly getting acquainted with the girl Staz is called away to deal with a plant salesman running amok - "deal with" in the sense of crushing his heart no less - and returns to find that a plant has digested the girl and has left her as a mere ghost. Having sworn to return the girl's humanity to her Staz and his new ward then prepare to set off on an adventure to the human world.
Quite a few similarities to Hataraku Maou-sama can be drawn here, which is a good thing in my books, specifically when comparing protagonists; many aspects of their characters are identical, including the voice actor. Staz seems like a nice chap despite being a high-ranking demonic vampire. There are quite a few cultural jokes and references thrown in, with a big nod to Dragonball and a classic Final Fantasy wisecrack, and most of the dialogue is entertaining. Some interesting characters are introduced but I don't know how many we're going to see again now that the series is supposedly making the transition between worlds. Looks worth a watch.
Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!
Or the similarly lengthy 'WATAMOTE ~ No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Unpopular!' or just WataMote. The series follows Kuroki Tomoko as she enters high school with dreams of being popular with the boys, a dream cultivated through years of playing dating sims. However things don't quite go to plan as she is isolated from the rest of her class and can't even talk normally with people outside of her family. Enlisting her brother's help to practice conversation and surfing the net for ways to make herself cuter, Tomoko strives to break free from her 'gloomy and unpopular' label.
This one was a pretty resounding "meh" for me. I'd seen quite a lot of people hyped up by the prospect of this anime but I didn't find it particularly fresh or engrossing. Naturally this sort of protagonist has been done before and her internal monologue wasn't entertaining enough to keep me interested, plus it felt like the show wanted us to laugh at her merely for her status as a social outcast. Pretty funky opening though.
There are also naturally some series that I've chosen not to watch, a first episode that I just couldn't make it through and a couple more potential first episodes to come out after this, but screw those series.
So that's it for this season then. Surprisingly many strong candidates for continued viewing but I'm sure that list will be whittled down after episode two.