There’s a principle in writing drama coined by Anton Chekhov called simply “Chekhov’s Gun”. It’s a straightforward idea with the spirit of it being “don’t include anything unnecessary”; a lot of anime do it anyway as either a hangover from their manga or light novel source material, as a way to entice viewers further than the first episode, or as a misguided attempt to construct a foundation for additional instalments. If that’s Chekhov’s gun, then Seikoku no Dragonar (Dragonar Academy) is Chekhov’s arsenal. It’s frankly staggering how such a multitude of bits of back story and character development are shown but then never utilised again.
evil schemes so laughably ineffective that all they achieved were minor property damage
Daughter of Avalon? Nope. Silvia and Ash’s history together? Nope. Arranged marriage? Nope. Morally ambiguous teacher? Nope. The list goes on and on until by the end you could make a doily out of all of the plot threads that are left hanging. What you do get in Dragonar then is a whole lot of things you’ve seen before but forced together like ill fitting jigsaw pieces. You’ve got the precocious and pink-haired loli from Zero no Tsukaima, the improbable harem of Infinite Stratos and the throw-away fantasy leanings of too many series to name.
How many other males does the protagonist of Strike the Blood know? Two. And females? More or less all of them. This is about as nuts-and-bolts basic as you can get for a premise: bland teenager is gifted extreme supernatural powers and proceeds to play “Gotta catch ‘em all” with the young ladies in his life. Spear wielding overseer? Check, comes free with sword wielding friend. Goth loli teacher? Check. Childhood friend and uber hacker? Check. Superpowered little sister? Check; and the list goes on. And of course the context for all of these females orbiting him? He must feed on them - oh right he’s a vampire - to unlock his magical familiars.
oh you walked in on her undressing again? you scamp!
Feel free to play “spot the jugular vein” during the opening few episodes because with almost every new female introduced, a key to unlock a new glowing critter for perpetual hoodie wearer Kojou is revealed. And of course given the setup, all of the ladies emit supremely suggestive noises and flush the brightest of reds when he begins to chow down on their necks. Yes it’s primitive but, apart from a few absurdlyquestionablescenes, it works thanks primarily to a refreshing lack of pretension and a handful of good natured character relationships.
In a world where tanks are a part of everyday life, and pre-UN countries send teenage girls out in war machines to fight not to the death, but to the white flag, one rag-tag team will face their toughest opponent yet. Can they overcome all the odds, work as a team and deal with all of their various family issues and rise to the top?
Of course they can. Girls Und Panzer is an underdog story with just about every trope from the genre ticked off. Think Cool Runnings as an anime, except tanks instead of bobsleds. The knowledge that the girls of Oorai High School can't lose - at least not always in conventional terms - should make this a by the numbers affair. That it manages to be not only supremely entertaining but equally tense and heartfelt speaks volumes for a familiar idea well implemented.
Yuru Yuri is one of the best post-apocalyptic black comedies of recent memory. It's startling how such a bleak and unforgiving situation is afforded fleeting levity by a group of school girls who seem content to ignore such a bad situation.
aliens and androids have been spotted circling the dying planet that is now the Earth
The nameless cataclysm obviously happened some years before the start of the first series and though never mentioned by any of the characters, its lasting effects are plain to see. The Earth we are shown is untainted by bombs or or environmental collapse but instead a complete annihilation of the male species has taken place. Without males the world did not fall immediately to ruin but began a slow decline that the series shows the formative years of.
An amnesiac girl falls to earth. Girls fight until their clothes fall off. A man stands pure and oblivious amidst a brothel's worth of females. A beleaguered viewer has seen it all before. Take your pick from Queen's Blade, Ikkitousen (any flavour) or Tenjou Tenge and Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls (Hundred Blooming Flowers Samurai Girls) will follow both logically and thematically. The premise is simple and familiar: put as much flesh on display as frequently as possible with only a hastily scrawled story to keep it legitimate.
The series' aesthetic draw beyond the curvaceous dolls on parade is the odd blend of chunky, flat characters against abstract watercolour backgrounds which expertly evoke ancient Japanese vistas. So too does the ethos of the characters, steeped in the bushido code of the samurai, the chaste speak of honour and fealty to their master while the unclean employ subterfuge and dirty tactics - as well as servicing their fickle master's sexual whims. It could easily be taken as naive patriotic propaganda with the opening episode's exposition of weapon-wielding girls taking down squadrons of World War 2 planes.