A Couple of Cuckoos‘ premise is unrealistically wacky in a pleasant “lean into it” kind of way. The cast is likable enough, and it’s a genuinely pretty show. It’s also actually funny in a way that reminds me of Wotakoi and Tonikawa—you’ll hear me reference both of these for my coverage of Shikimori as well—the blend of tropes from that shared genre all combine to make Parent Trap, but in Japanese and with no familial blood between our would-be couple.
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I think it’s fair to say that Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is having a conversation with gender norms: how deep that conversation will go remains to be seen, though I’m going to preemptively lower my own expectations to “it’s probably not going to be subversive” which is alright. I don’t think I subverted a single thing at sixteen: I don’t expect these kids, nor the source material it draws on, to be doing heavy lifting on Japan and its entanglement with binary gender expectations.
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At the end of the day, Tribe Nine is here to have fun: it’s a show wholly focused on a dark, comedic extreme taken to the nth degree, but it’s also a show about genuinely having fun for real, and taking the act of fun and play seriously. The comedy is entirely subjective, though it’s just the thing to make me guffaw multiple times an episode. Come for the XB, stay for the XB, but leave your expectations at the door: this is a show best enjoyed when you come along for the wild ride and let yourself get swept up in the nonsensical plot.
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Restaurant to Another World truly exemplifies what reverse isekai slice-of-life can be, creating an If there’s anything I can say about these first two episodes, it’s that Akebi’s Sailor Uniform looks beautiful. Middle school is by and large a pretty boring time, but Akebi’s Sailor Uniform filters it through a remarkably idyllic lens, and I think therein lies the charm of this series: it’s watching these small moments as Komichi interacts with her classmates, and seeing the mundane made special with stunning animation. That said, there are also some strange, pseudo-sexualized moments in these episodes, like the sensual toenail clipper sniffing scene with the volume cranked up on those inhales. It’s honestly discomforting, especially considering the age of these characters.
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Out of all the Winter 2022 series, Slow Loop is easily the one I’m most excited about. It’s pleasantly inexplicable, carrying its simple premise with lovely animation and a heck of a lot of heart. Like a lot of series like this, the female friendships are sapphic (also, the source manga was serialized in Manga Time Kirara Forward, so some yuri-adjacent vibes are to be expected), but I’m 1000% sure this is just standard cute girls being cute stuff. It’s certainly not going to be for everyone, but I think that’s okay: every season has its hits and misses, though Slow Loop definitely strikes me as more of a hit than a miss for now.
Read the rest of Slow Loop Season Premiere – Episodes 1-3 on the Anime News Network