These are the honorable mentions of this season’s anime-to-watch collaboration. There are three this time.
Written by Raitzeno and Dexomega
Genre: Sports, Drama, Comedy, Romance
Spoiler-free Synopsis: It’s season 2 of Baby Steps, a realistic tennis show about Maruo Eiichiro, a high school student that started tennis to “get some exercise” and whose only ‘talents’ are good eyesight, perseverance, and a fantastic work ethic. This season picks up almost immediately where the first season left off, with the protagonist getting off the plane he boarded at the end of the last episode.
Why You Should be Watching: Eiichiro is a fun protagonist. He’s not overpowered in any way, and never has been, but this season he’s really coming into his own. He still gets nervous, intimidated, and panicky around certain opponents, especially ones with loud/forceful personalities or those he’s had tough matches against, but he’s really starting to pick up some confidence and hold his own in his own unique way.
His relationship with Natsu also advances this season, which is nice to see for a number of reasons. In addition to just being a generally cute couple, they’re showing a surprising amount of romantic initiative for the genre while also avoiding a lot of the dumb misunderstandings anime high school students are prone to. Natsu is a strong female lead, and I’m super happy that the anime hasn’t added any fanservice as a cheap way to increase viewership. The manga has basically none whatsoever, but I always worry that even the cleaner shows will fall into that trap; Baby Steps avoids it completely.
Finally, the matches themselves are a treat. The pacing is very tight, skipping forward through the points that play out exactly the same several times in a row and then ‘zooming in’ again when things get heated. Eiichiro’s thought processes are pretty entertaining, whether he’s winning handily or getting his ass beat. He’s generally calm and mature but they’re doing a very good job of keeping him ‘grounded’ as the high school student he is. The opponents are also a rogue’s gallery of hilarious characters as well, running the gamut of sports character stereotypes (with little twists) and then some. All in all, it’s a lovably solid show that’s completely faithful to the manga, and it’s consistently entertaining week-to-week.
Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: Baby Steps can be a niche show. Like so many other sports shows, it takes a while to hit its stride and even then, it’s subjective as to just how well it really does in the end. Sports shows in general can have issues making their subject matter interesting, and in the end Baby Steps is no exception to this rule. While the characters are more fleshed out than the first season, they still can come off as a bit one-dimensional. While the opponent’s cliche stereotypes can be entertaining, it’s also very true that they’re still stereotypes and come off as lather-rinse-repeat in that way, usually failing due to underestimating Eiichiro or simply just not being as good as Eiichiro (because nothing ever stops the Eiichiro).
It’s not a deal breaker, but Baby Steps 2 won’t work for everyone. It banks a bit too much on its simple premise and simple stereotypes to be something everyone should check out.
Written by Raitzeno and Dexomega
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy, Slice-of-Life
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Raku Ichijou, the scion of a local Yakuza group, is having some girl troubles. Actually, lots of them. He’s in love with a classmate, forced to pretend to be in a relationship with the daughter of a Mafia group, being both helped and harassed by her bodyguard, all while being pursued (romantically and physically) by the daughter of the police chief. What’s more, any one of these girls could be the one he made a marriage promise with in his nearly-forgotten childhood...
Why You Should be Watching: If you liked the first season, this is mostly more of the same. It’s got some ups and downs depending on your preference in characters; some of the new characters are more polarizing (Haru) while others have been very well received (Paula). We’re getting some real character development so far, and a bunch of people are getting new foils (or more screentime for existing ones) to help show off who they are and how they became that way. It’s still as funny week-to-week as the first season, and the animation budget is as high as ever too, so if you liked it before, stick with it. (If you didn’t, well, I can’t fix broken souls. Sucks to be you, fun-hater.)
Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: It’s the second season. Of Nisekoi. What does that mean?
It means more Nisekoi, which means no romantic resolution in sight for the venerable romantic comedy series. It’s a lot more of the same, just as my counterpart has explained, which is a double-edged sword. You aren’t going to see any groundbreaking revelations or storytelling here, it’s just more of Nisekoi being Nisekoi. If that’s what you’re in for, go for it. Otherwise, it’s best to stay a ways away from Romantic Indecision the Animation.
Written by Protonstorm and Rockmandash12
Genre: Science fiction, Slice of Life, Drama
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Tsukasa Mizugaki, having failed his entrance exams to college on account of being sick the day of the test, instead gets a job at the terminal service agency of the SAI Corporation. His assignment is to retrieve giftias, special robots that look and behave exactly like humans, before their short lifespans expire and they cease to function properly. He is assigned a giftia partner, Isla, to help him, and quickly falls in love with her despite her seeming indifference towards him. Plastic Memories follows the pair and their co-workers as their relationship develops.
Why You Should be Watching: Plastic Memories places a very heavy emphasis on its romantic elements as the driving force of the plot is the relationship between Tsukasa and Isla. Although it is classified as science fiction, the primary fans of the show would be there for this romance, which mostly just uses the sci-fi trappings as a more unique setting for a classic tragic romance. If you’re looking for an emotional ride with a little bit of comedy, then Plastic Memories is likely right up your alley.
Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: Plastic Memories is a total mess of a show, and if you’re looking for something with depth or a meaningful story without plot holes, you won’t find it here. It’s a show trying to do feels for the sake of feels, and because of this, it fails at doing this by failing to do everything else. Horrible comedic timing that kills the moment, characters that are relatively boring, a joke of a scenario that undermines everything about this show because it resembles Swiss cheese in the amount of holes it has, and there is almost nothing original about it. Yes, Plastic Memories has the general gist of what makes a good show, with solid animation and a premise that seems interesting, but the way it’s executed is a joke and should be treated as such. If you are the type of person who cares only about the amount of feels a show has, maybe you should watch it… but this show does so much wrong, and most people should probably avoid it.
This article was a collaboration by several people of the Ani-TAY community on Talk Amongst Yourselves. You can join the fun on our Sunday Cafes or by posting your own articles on Kinja with the Ani-TAY tag.