Come for the animation, stay for the stor–animation. Stay for the animation.

Summary:

Ten years after an event known as the Great Tokyo War, Japan has now become divided back into its original prefectures.  People within the prefectures became withdrawn and hateful of their neighboring prefectures.  Thus, huge gangs have formed and warring between neighboring prefectures is now a common occurrence.

Fights are initiated between a gang leader (with possibly magical powers) called “Best” while their cheering/clean-up squad are composed of normal people, aka “the Rest.”  A (literally) average girl named Nozomi is finally given the go ahead by her “big sister” Ma-chan to join the Rest.  Nozomi’s prefecture is led by a mysterious woman in a sentai suit, who calls herself Macha Green.

Pictured: Nozomi and her mom. I do like the little background scenes, though. They’re lovely.

After Nozomi’s first day witnessing a battle between Macha Green and another Best (who is a woman-for-hire), Ma-chan warns Nozomi to stay safe and help with clean up duties instead.  However, Nozomi and the rest of the cleaning squad get tricked into going to an amusement park, which is actually a trap set by the rival gang.  Ma-chan, who is secretly Macha Green, must now suit up in order to save her friends.

…Also, impromptu eating contest. I cannot get over the ridiculousness of this scene.

My Opinion:

This was an interesting episode.  I’ll list the positives first.

This episode was very nice to look at.  The animation is very flashy, and somewhat cartoonishly fluid in a way that anime rarely is.  There’s obviously a lot of love put into the animation, as there’s tons of small details everywhere: colorful stars floating in the background during the scene where Ma-chan and Nozomi are riding on the motorcycle; and all the hearts and sparks that jump out with every punch and kick during the fight scene.  The fight scenes themselves were very nicely choreographed and intense.  The music was also rather nice, having a somewhat 80s feel to them.

Now, the bad.  The biggest problem about this episode was the lack of a consistent tone.  These are very serious fights.  It’s even implied that a lot of Nozomi’s friends have already DIED in the crossfire.  And yet there’s cheering squads???  And these fights are pretty much treated like some sort of game???  I suppose this clashing of tones was either to keep the show from getting too gruesome OR to be sort of terrifying (because in a way it’s terrifying how all these fights are seen as normal).  But I don’t know, something about the execution went wrong.  Because I just couldn’t take this episode seriously.

It is notoriously hard to write a series that can be both soul-crushingly dark AND laugh-out-loud funny at the same time.  And it is usually not recommended to mix the two writing styles unless you are a great writer.  Obviously this is possible, as seen in anime such as Kotoura-san, Seikai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zevzda, and Violinist of Hameln.  But it is very difficult to pull off well.  And that’s basically what’s happening here.  This series is basically “mood whiplash” personified.  Here, I’ll show you:

Okay so there was this war okay…  Then suddenly wacky fight shenanigans!  But oh wait, it’s actually really dangerous!  People have gotten killed!  But it’s fine, we’re a cheering squad after all!  *Nozomi then gets flung like a hundred miles away*  Somewhat serious attempt at a touching scene between Nozomi and Ma-chan—oh wait, more silly shenanigans via the introduction of a new wacky character!  Oh no, a trap set by the rival gang?  We don’t have time for that; have a ridiculous impromptu eating competition!  And then the episode had the gall the end on a cliffhanger just as things were finally getting good.

Once you get past the lovely animation, this episode’s story just falls apart like a badly made house of cards.  If the series just stuck with one tone (do you want to be serious or wacky?) then it wouldn’t have been such a badly structured episode.  And, as other reviewers have said, this series does feel an awful lot like Kill la Kill.  Due to the animation, I seriously thought that this was also produced by Studio Trigger. (It’s not.)  Now, being inspired by Kill la Kill isn’t a crime; but I don’t really like that this series is… well, basically trying to be Kill la Kill 2.  One of the characters fights with a GIANT SAFETY PIN for crying out loud!

The characters are somewhat bland so far, even though it’s painfully obvious that this series wants you to think that they’re so ~vibrant~ and *colorful*.  Nozomi is supposed to be so average that it’s funny, but… it’s not.  And calling attention to the fact in-universe that she’s average doesn’t make it clever.  The new girl that was introduced half way is supposed to be funny… because she’s a huge ditz with no sense of direction?  It doesn’t matter how big a deal the first episode made about its characters because they’re all still based on cliches.  Ma-chan is the most interesting character thus far, but all the implied stuff about her (the flashback where she watched someone die and the OTHER flashback where it’s implied she has a history with the woman-for-hire) seems just… so forced.  Never ever try to give your character depth solely thought FLASHBACKS.  Now that’s just lazy.

Overall, this series is at least good for the eye-candy, and it’s a great watch if you like intense (albeit sometimes ridiculous) fight scenes.  Story-wise, it feels a little weak; probably because it tried to shove way too much information into one episode.  (Good pacing and more “showing not telling” would do this episode wonders!) Obviously the story could get better in later episodes.  But unless this series straightens out its tone, I’m afraid even the “dramatic” scenes this series tries to go for will end up seeming really silly and narmy.

Out of five:

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(if only for the great animation)

The ED was really pretty at least.

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