Welcome back to Up to Snuff, with our traditional season-opening edition! A new season is a time for looking forward of course, but our top series (again) is one that’s been with us for a season already.
A refresher: our team was asked to vote on their top premieres of the season. That includes season premieres of multi-cour series, so carryovers are eligible. Of course a couple of series (Hi Score Girl 2, Chihayafuru 3 – and who knows what the hell is going on with Pet) haven’t premiered yet, but there’s nothing to be done about that.
As per usual, we leap into the season with a selection of sleeper picks from the writers – which is as interesting for what they consider a sleeper as anything.
Weekly Staff Poll
Ask The Writers
What’s you top sleeper pick of Fall 2019, and why?
- Guardian Enzo: Mugen no Juunin: Immortal. I liked Chuubyou Gekihatsu Boy a lot, but I have to go with Blade of the Immortal (despite its unbelievably cringe-worthy Engrish OP) as it’s simply the best-directed series of the season. The budget isn’t huge but everything Hamasaki Hiroshi is doing is working. The only question really, is whether is qualifies as a sleeper – but given that I think most fans of the franchise had relatively low expectations and most non-fans weren’t paying much attention, I think it clears that bar.
- Zaiden: Beastars is my pick for sleeper of the season. I’m familiar with most source materials from this season, and nothing comes close to this show in terms of potential. Manga readers know what’s up, in terms of the profound philosophy and social commentary that will not fail to leave a deep impression. But judging by the lack of traction it’s gaining from just about every place on the Internet, it’s quite clear people are passing up because of the CGI animation and a bizarre concept featuring anthropomorphic creatures. I encourage people to give it a try for sure. And if you’re still unconvinced by the animation, I would highly recommend the manga because it is truly special.
- Choya: Africa no Salaryman is my choice for a sleeper pick this season because of its humorous mash-up between a raucous workplace comedy and a macabre take on the relationships that animals would have if they functioned as humans do. The dynamic between the brutally honest Lizard played by Tsuda Kenjirou and the chauvinistic loudmouth Toucan played by Shimono Hiro made for some great entertainment within the first two episodes. It also operates off of the sensible rationale of fusing 2D and 3D animation to create an aesthetic that is both flexible and expressive for a show where life-like animals are arguing with each other in business suits & school uniforms.
- Pancakes: As for sleeper it’ll be Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! because I wasn’t honestly expecting a CGDCT isekai to be that adorably hilarious. It pairs the right amount of isekai with some excellent lighthearted “slice of life” (for typical fantasy) shenanigans to make an incredibly easy watch.
- Stars: For my sleeper, that would be Hoshiai no Sora. It has fluid animation, charming character designs, likable leads, and the general feel of a drama dressed up in the trappings of the sports genre. Watching the tennis players sprint across the court was breathtaking, but so was watching them walk home at sunset or cook dinner. It’s a show that can shift from calming and beautiful to edge-of-your-seat panic at the drop of a hat, but its real strength lies in how it depicts children. They react to situations in ways you would generally expect kids to, and the show makes no attempts to soften the reality that for as much as schools and clubs try to give their students a place to challenge themselves and grow, life is not always kind to children. Come for the gorgeous tennis matches and boys taking full advantage of the springtime of their youth; stay for the complex interpersonal relationships.
- Passerby: I’ll go with Kabukicho Sherlock as my sleeper of the season. I’ve only seen the one episode but I pick it as the sleeper because I think it’ll sleep quite soundly. It fits in a strange niche, for people who are a fan of both detective fiction and Japanese theatre. Alternatively I’d pick Babylon, which is probably easier to appreciate but people aren’t watching it anyway.