Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Super Sonico, D-Frag, and The Pilot’s Love Song

If you just judged Monday’s slate by their pictures and plot summaries, the day was a bit less ambitious in terms of scope than anything out this weekend. But a lot of times it doesn’t take far-reaching ambition to make serviceable entertainment, just a staff that cares about their product.

My first impression on finishing the intro episode of Super Sonico was that it was an effective use of 20 minutes. There was a lot to like about the way it took its time to let the title character’s daily routine happen, and I ended up satisfied by the time it was over. The pandering in the swimsuit scene was a strike, but it was also 2 minutes of a 20 minute episode, and ultimately won’t count against it too much if it doesn’t get worse on that count. The upsides of a college setting and a cast generally consisting of decent human beings seem to have a much better chance of defining the show. I’m giving it until episode 3.

As a comedy, D-Frag had decent energy and alright variety, but it had a pretty critical flaw. It’s something I mentioned talking about Tonari no Seki-kun yesterday, but I don’t find humor where one person or group always ends up taking the heat for another person or group being an asshole. Beyond the obvious values dissonance, it’s also boring; the humor is telegraphed when you know exactly who the butt of the joke is going to be. And that was a baseline focus of the entire episode. I can’t see myself enjoying this, making it my first outright drop of the season.

The Pilot’s Love Song showed some big-world ambition a la Nobunaga the Fool, but is opting for a smaller-scale story revolving around a pilot’s academy. It has an atmospheric feeling similar to something like Kokoro Library, and it’s not like you need a fantasy setting to be good at creating that kind of experience (as Non Non Biyori recently showed). It helped that the show was willing to go BGM-free at times to accentuate the mood, a nice journeyman-level trick that a lot of sound directors forget about. This feels like a show that could be enjoyable for the side cast, who seem to be fairly diverse at a glance, but the male lead has already tipped off his tendency to angst multiple times. I guess that could potentially be the groundwork for a coming of age story, but 12 episodes seems like an awfully short time to do that and develop a cast of more than 4 or 5 characters in any meaningful way. I’m skeptical of its chances, but I’ll give it another week.

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