First Impressions- Summer 2016 Anime Season (Part 3)

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Well it’s been a long week, and there’s been quite a few more notable premieres, so without any further ado, let’s jump right in and check out the last batch.

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

*All series synopsis from Anime Planet

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Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars

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Synopsis: In the country of Rimguard a mysterious event shook the country and its people just twelve years prior. As time passed, memory of the incident began to fade while peace reigned over the land. Sisters Yui and Rena live a quiet life in the Enastria Empire until a large mecha suddenly attacks their peaceful home, changing everything. The girls become caught in a vortex of destiny and godly revival.

First Impressions: So looking off of the promotional images and trailers, this show was something of an anomaly to me as it’s moe character designs detailed mechas looked like they were from two completely different shows. That same level of confusion carries into the show proper as similar to Zestiria’s first episode, this one does absolutely nothing to explain it’s setting or really anything about what’s happening as we’re caught between the relationship with two sisters and something involving giant robots. The lack of explination on the premise and setting are always things that could be explained later of course, and I’d be more willing to give this a pass if it at least tried to sell me on the dynamic between the sisters Rena and Yui, but both feel as cookie cutter as their character designs, and despite the reveal towards the end of the episode that one’s some kind of supernatural being, while the other’s an empress, it doesn’t even feel all that significant because the show hasn’t even given them actual personalities. If there’s one saving grace here, it’s that the show’s 2D mecha animation looks really good, and that’s something of a rarity these days given that mecha’s largely moved onto 3DCG but unless you’re really interested in seeing more of that, this doesn’t really have anything else to offer. Maybe I’ll give it another episode to see if it explains anything, but if this one seems like a pretty clear pass.

Rating: Bad

 

Planetarian

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Synopsis: For thirty years, companion robot Hoshino Yumemi has patiently waited to show someone the stars. Left in an abandoned planetarium, she sits hoping for customers that will never show. That is, until a Junker– a plunderer of goods and artifacts from the ruins of civilization—stumbles upon the crumbling establishment. Will he help her repair the planetarium, or will she be alone once more?

First Impressions: This the other Key adaption of the season next to Rewrite but compared to that show, this one’s stronger by a long shot. Post apocalyptic sci-fi settings are a dime-a-dozen but it’s interesting to see that applied to something that looks to be much more of a drama than anything, and I appreciate that there’s a genuine sense of mystery in regards to what exactly happened to the world, and why robots are now apparently considered dangerous. More importantly though, the first episode does a really solid job in setting up a nice dynamic between the Junker and Yumemi, and I have to say it’s kind of refreshing to see one of these types of melodramas actually featuring an adult protagonist, since the usual bouts of angsty teenagers can get tiresome after a while. Of course we’ll have to see how well the writing can follow suit, and going by the usual formula for Key shows, Yumemi’s days are almost certainly numbered, but this has the potential to make for a solid drama piece, and it’s certainly one of the highlights in a mostly sleepy anime season so far.

Rating: Great

 

Alderamin on the Sky

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Synopsis: The Katvarna Empire is at war with the neighboring Republic of Kioka. In the Katvarna Empire, the lazy, woman-admiring Ikuta hates war, but due to certain circumstances, he grudgingly takes the High Grade Military Officer Exam. No one would have expected that this 17-year-old young man would eventually become a soldier called a great commander by others. Ikuta survives this world engulfed in war with his superior intellect.

First Impressions: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one since it seemed like it could be a decent fantasy thing, but something about the way the promotional material looked reminded me of GATE, and that show’s problems are pretty self explanitory. Thankfully this seems fine so far, and first episode manages a nice balance between introducing the characters and doing a fair amount of worldbuilding without having to resort to infodumping, and it’s always nice when something based on a light novel actually manages to avoid going that route. Nothing about the story so visual presentation so far is particularly striking, but it at least seems like it has the potential to turn into something more interesting. My only major issue so far is that the protagonist seems like a bit too much of a lecherous jerk and while the show seems to be doing a pretty good job of reining that in so far, I’ve seen enough anime trip up on that to feel slightly cautious. For now though, if you’re looking for a decent fantasy anime this season, Alderamin in the Sky seems like it’ll fit the bill

Rating: Good

 

91 Days

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Synopsis: During Prohibition, the law held no power and the mafia ruled the town. The story takes place in Lawless, a town thriving on black market sales of illicitly brewed liquor. One day, Avilio receives a letter from a mysterious sender, prompting him to return to Lawless for revenge. He then infiltrates the Vanetti family, the ones responsible for his family’s murder, and sets about befriending the don’s son, Nero, to set his vengeance in motion. Killing brings more killing, and revenge spawns more revenge. How will the 91-day story of these men guided by a tragic fate end?

First Impressions: Out of all the shows confirmed for the summer season, 91 Days seemed like the one with the most potential. Mafia dramas are usually entertaining, if something of a rarity in anime, and having one set specifically at the time of the Prohibition Era is even more of an attention grabber given that it’s a time in history that not too much media has really touched on. Of course as much potential as there was in that setting, there was the question of whether or not it would actually live up to it given that the show’s staff doesn’t have a particularly notable track record one way or the other. So far, though the show is looking to be off to a roaring start. The show doesn’t waste anytime in getting to it’s main set up, and while some of it feels a little heavy handed, it’s framed in a way that’s very reminiscent of more hollywood-esque mafia dramas, and that’s a solid aesthetic to work with. It also does a great job in introducing us to our protagonists, and I particularly like that Avilo seems to be pretty dangerous unto himself, and that’s certainly a neat angle for a story like this one. It also helps that the show doesn’t skimp on making use of it’s setting, and the first episode already shows a good amount of detail in demonstrating how much the mafia had to operate under the radar in order to sell alchol in those days. Of course given that the theme is apparently centered around revenge there’s a chance it could end up turning into something hamfisted, but for now the show seems to be living up to it’s promise, and that easily makes it one of the strongest premieres this season

Rating: Excellent

 

Time Travel Girl

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Synopsis: Mari Hayase is on a mission to go back in time and meet eight of the most prominent scientists and inventors in history. With the help of her two friends Waka Mizuki and Jun Mizuki she’ll find herself up close and personal with famous figures like Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and so many more! What’s her purpose and mission? Hopefully not getting stuck in the past!

First Impressions: For as many genres as anime encompasses, you’d think the anime-equivalent of a PBS special wouldn’t be all that weird a scenario, but it certainly does feel kind of strange to have. For what it is though, it seems cute enough, and probably a good way for kids to learn up a bit on science, though I imagine the fact that Thomas Edison is one of the ones being referenced here and not Nicholas Tesla might be enough for people to question whatever level of accuracy it’s going for. Outside of educational aspect though, there’s not anything of any particular note in regards to the story or characters, though I was amused that they at least pointed out that Mari’s schoolgirl attire would be considered incredibly inappropriate attire for the 1600’s. Since this is likely to just be the anime version of a middle school science lesson, I’m not sure how much entertainment value this’ll really carry for me but nothing about this was a huge turn-off either so maybe I’ll give it a couple more episodes.

Rating: Decent

 

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! LOVE!

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Synopsis: The Battle Lovers are back! With things a bit calmer since the whole Zundar fiasco, the boys can get back to what’s important in life—like hanging around the bathhouse and lazing around! But when the Loveracelets start calling, they’ll have to jump back into the action. Will the arrival of two new students mean more allies or more chaos? Love is not over yet!

First Impressions: After being away for a year and a half Cute High Defense Club returns, and promising more love than ever before. The first season managed to be an effective parody of magical girl shows and certainly had a lot of laughs, but given that the show only has one real joke, I was kind of worried if it was going to actually get enough mileage out of it to last another season. So far though, it seems like it’ll do just fine. Admittedly the first half of the episode felt a little too self-indulgent to me even if I was sort of amused it decided to seemingly drop all subtext in favor of being straight up gay, but once things jumped back to the magical boys aspect, the laughs kept coming, and the series doesn’t seem to have lost any of it’s edge in the spoofing department as the new transformation sequences and attacks are even more blatant Sailor Moon parodies than the last ones. Time will tell if it can run out of new ways to tell the same joke, but for now Cute High Defense Club still seems to be chugging along.

Rating: Good

 

Hitorinoshita- The Outcast

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Synopsis: Chou Soran leads a very common college student’s life until he finds himself caught up in a terrible incident that happened in a small village. As he was walking through a graveyard, he is assaulted by zombies. Thinking that it was over for him, a mysterious girl carrying a sword suddenly saves him and disappears.

First Impressions: This is another show this season that’s something of an anomally, though in this case it’s due to the fact that it’s based on a Korean manhwa. Manhwa are effectively the Korean equivalent to Japanese manga comics, except they rely heavily on imitating the style of manga, and generally try too hard in doing so. Those roots are certainly evident here, because as soon as I saw the opening song I could tell this show was trying too hard to be cool, and that sentiment stuck with me throughout the entire episode. It’s similar to the other edgy teen action show of the season Taboo-Tattoo in that respect and includes your hapless protagonist with powers suddenly thrust upon him (or seemingly anyway since we never actually see him use said powers) and a mysterious action girl who’s clearly there to be eye candy. This plot here seems to have something to do with zombies, but the show hasn’t offered much in the way of explanation on that front, and hasn’t done much to make Soran endearing, instead just making him come off like gigantic idiot more than anything (there’s a moment in the episode where he’s amazed at the mysterious girl taking down zombies, instead of being terrified at having actually seen a bunch of friggin zombies). For all that though, I do have to say that it was at least entertaining in a bad kind of way, and did feature what I consider to be the funniest thing I’ve seen this far so season where at one point the zombies all literally turn around to gawk at what a moron Soran is. Given that this show could at least make for a fun trash-watch but similar to Taboo-Tattoo I can’t really recommend it unless you’re into irony watching (and since I’m already considering watching that show for those purposes I’ll likely have to choose between the two of them at some point).

Rating: Bad

 

Qualidea Code

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Synopsis: This is a world where humanity is always at war with the Unknown. The kids who were evacuated to a cold sleep facility during the initial invasion decades ago wake up from their slumber to find that they’d manifested superpowers called the “World.” To protect Japan from the Unknowns appearing from the Tokyo Bay, these kids would start their own battles at the defensive strongholds of Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Chiba.

First Impressions: *UGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH* This show now marks the third try-hard otaku thing I’ve sat through this season and my patience is starting to wear pretty thin at this point. In what’s starting to become a rather irritating pattern, this is another series that doesn’t offer much in the way of explination in regards to how it’s world works and the most I got is that there was some kind of war involving aliens called the Unknown and now some kind of military organization, partially helmed by kids with chunni superpowers are fighting them(said military also seems laughably incompetent considering at one point in the episode the loli commander girl has to be told by a subordinate what “friendly fire” means). Speaking of chunni kids we have our protagonist Ichiya who stands out as the biggest prick out of all the shows I’ve sampled so far. In typical chunni fashion he thinks he’s the destined savior of the world, and believes that all the other people he works with are scrubs, and spends the entire episode being a jerk to everyone he meets without giving him anything resembling a redeeming trait other than a “tragic backstory”. Even his childhood friend isn’t safe from his attitude as he at one point sharply tells her to commit suicide for having told everyone about the embarrassing nickname she gave him, and even as a joke that’s pretty disgusting. To make matters worse, this doesn’t even have the saving grace of being amusingly bad like Taboo-Tattoo or The Outcast, and looks visually bland as sin. I might have tolerated those other two, but this one’s a definite strike out, and stands as one of the worst in a season of bad premieres.

Rating: AAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH


And that’s it for me and first impressions as Mob Psycho 100 is the only notable premiere left and I’ll be reviewing that one for the Fandom Post. While there seems to be a few potential gems, I have to say that overall this is looking to be just as weak a season as Winter was with the potential to be either better or worse, depending on how the larger stuff fares. It’s certainly disappointing, but I can probably manage so long as there’s at least a few things worth holding onto.

Review: Gundam Build Fighters- Building A Better Toy Show

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Synopsis:  In the future, Mobile Suit Gundam has taken the world by storm, and building small models of them called Gunpla and having them fight each other has become everyone’s favorite past time. Sei Iori is skilled at making Gunpla and dreams of competing in the Gunpla World Tournament but his skills as a fighter leave much to be desired. However when he has an encounter with a mysterious boy named Reiji, he finds that Reiji has an incredible natural talent for Gunpla battles, and together the two of them decide to compete on the world stage.

Review

Mobile Suit Gundam has long stood at the top of the mecha genre, and almost every incarnation of the franchise has enjoyed massive success due to it’s compelling depictions of space-faring war dramas. At the same time though, it’s success has also been partially due to the fact that it’s robot designs are really cool, and it’s sold countless numbers of plastic model kits throughout the decades. Given all that, there’s been a few attempts to cater the franchise more directly towards kids in order to sell more kits, but they’ve generally proved unsuccessful and this show’s predecessor, Gundam AGE stands as the most infamous example, having been a commercial failure the likes of which the franchise had never seen before. So needless to say that when Sunrise announced yet another attempt to market Gundam towards kids as it’s next project, audiences were pretty skeptical, but where others before it had failed, Gundam Build Fighters managed to succeed.

So what exactly is it that makes Build Fighters work? Well first and foremost it’s in the fact that it’s extremely honest about what it is. Whereas Gundam AGE tried to have it’s cake and eat it too by attempting to have both the serious war drama aspects of the other Gundam incarnations, and enough kid-appeal to sell toys, Build Fighters drops any and all pretenses of seriousness by opting to be a more straightforward kid’s show. It knows exactly who it’s for and runs with it, quickly establishing itself as a shonen-style tournament series, equipped with a fun cast of characters and a solid dynamic between the lead characters, Sei and Reiji, that feels extremely reminiscent of Yugi and Yami Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh as the two use their individual talents and opposing personalities to strengthen each other. Of course that means the series is chock-full of the kind of goofiness you’d expect from that kind of thing, and sometimes gets a little too out there for it’s own good (looking at you Gunpla mafia guy) but it knows where to draw the line and even manages to avoid falling into the trap of trying to tell a “serious” story with it’s absurd premise rather in favor of focusing primarily on the toys it’s trying to sell.

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This actually leads into another one of the show’s larger strengths in that it’s genuinely dedicated towards having a good time. Around the beginning of the series, one of the characters asks how anyone can be expected to take a battle involving toys seriously, and it feels like a question that the show is almost asking itself, as the attempts by similar series to do so are usually what turns people off to them.  However it responds in earnest by saying that the characters can take it seriously because it’s a fun game to them, and that sense of spirit becomes the show’s core mantra. It goes almost out of it’s way to show how passionate the characters are about what they’re doing and it’s kind of refreshing to see something like this enforcing the importance of having fun without having to resort to the awkward attempts at fantasy that shows of this genre so often rely on. In fact, the show displays a surprisingly negative stance towards taking this stuff too seriously, and it helps that rather than having some evil overlord caricature for it’s villain like a lot of similar kid shows, the bad guy here’s just a greedy jerk who wants to keep making money off of selling toys (way to bite the hand that feeds you guys). This bit of self-awareness  isn’t exactly unique, but it does give the series a bit of an edge, and it’s a stance I wouldn’t mind seeing toy shows take more often.

For everything I’ve said here though, the real key factor towards Build Fighters winning formula comes down to the fact that it makes Gunpla battles look pretty darn cool. We’ve all dreamed that the toy robots we’d smash into each other as kids, were could really duke it out someday, and this show brings that childhood fantasy to life in the most over-the-top way possible. Director Kenji Nagasaki and his team of staff (who would later bring us the My Hero Academia anime adaption) really know how to bring out the best in action sequences, and each of the show’s fight scenes are a spectacle to behold as it holds absolutely nothing back in making them as energetic as possible. Adding to the effect is Yuuki Hayashi’s musical score, which carries just as much impact as the fights themselves and many of the show’s tracks really help to boost it’s sense of flair (not to mention the series also has the ever reliable J-rock band, BACK-ON handling it’s opening theme songs and bringing their A-game for both). The overall visual presentation here is so fantastic that I can honestly say I’d totally play Gunpla Battle if it were a real thing, and for something that effectively exists to sell toys, that’s about the highest level of praise you can give it.

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RightStuf has recently put out a release of the series courtesy of their partnership with Sunrise, which includes both a Blu-Ray and DVD release. I bought the latter and it’s a fairly standard set that include a few basic extras such as clean opening and ending animation,  and the original Japanese commercials. Out of these the most interesting one is an extra called “Battle Selection” which serves as a nice little compilation of the show’s best robot action highlights. It’s also worth nothing that the release does also technically include the dub, but it’s an Animax Asia dub rather than one done in the US and the quality is so poor that I couldn’t really recommend watching it outside of mild curiosity. Still, it’s nice to have at least and the release is a pretty good bargain for the amount of episodes it contains so if you enjoyed the series, I’d recommend picking it up.

So in the end, Gundam Build Fighters succeeds by doing the one thing a lot of other similar shows ironically don’t: trying it’s darndest to make you think that what it’s selling is the coolest thing ever. This sense of passion might not make it totally immune to some of the same goofiness as things like it, but it’s certainly infectious, and it’s hard not to get caught up in it’s high level of energy, and even higher-level presentation, as the robot fights alone are almost enough to sell the show. It might be a blatant toy commercial, but it’s certainly a good one, and for that reason if nothing else, it’s definitely something worth checking out.

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Overall: 8.5/10

Available for streaming on Youtube. Available for purchase from RightStuf

 

First Impressions- Summer 2016 Anime Season (Part 2)

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Well I was originally going to wait a couple of days to cover more shows, but there’s been enough premieres between now and the last couple of days that I figure I might as well comment on them so let’s continue

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

*All series synopsis from Anime Planet

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Days

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Synopsis: Two boys met on a stormy night: Tsukushi, a boy with no special traits at all, and Jin, a soccer genius. On that night, Jin drags Tsukushi into the world of high-school soccer.

First Impressions: This show wasn’t really on my radar for the season (mainly because of who it’s licensor is), but the first episode here more or less embodies all my favorite things about sports anime. The most compelling sports shows for me are the ones where the protagonist starts from scratch so seeing Tsukushi  trying to haphazardly jump into the world of soccer is already pretty appealing to me and it helps the one who introduces him to the sport is a very likable character in his own right, and I’m already sold on Tsukushi and Jin’s odd friendship. Combine that with some great character designs, good direction and some slick animation curtosey of MAPPA and this show seems like a solid recipe for success. Count me in for more

Rating: Great

Orange

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Synopsis: Everyone has regrets in life. So who wouldn’t take the chance to change the past if given the opportunity? When sixteen-year-old Takamiya Naho receives a mysterious letter, claiming to be from her twenty-seven-year-old self, her life is suddenly thrown into flux. The letter tells her that a new transfer student by the name of Naruse Kakeru will be joining her class, and to keep her eye on him. But why? Naho must decide what to make of the letter and its cryptic warning, and what it means not only for her future, but for Kakeru’s as well.

First Impressions: This was one of the more hyped up shows for this season and it seems to have been for a pretty good reason. Sci-fi stories about altering the past to change the future are more or less a dime-a-dozen but it’s always been a neat concept and this  series is attempting to combine that with shojo romance elements, which is certainly an approach I haven’t seen before. So far that approach seems to be working as the first episode here does a solid job of building up some of the mystery while primairly introducing us to the show’s core cast of characters. So far none of them really stand out too much aside from our heroine, Naho, but that’s something I imagine the show will address pretty quickly and in the meantime it’s hard to ignore the show’s solid direction, and breathtaking art design as series director Hiroshi Hamasaki seems like he’s totally in his element here (as opposed to his last big project Terraformars which was far less so). Sadly the actual animation here is less competent, but it’s enough to get by, and this first episode does enough right, that I’m more than happy to check out the rest.

Rating: Great

 

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance

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Synopsis: The Lusitania forces continue to hold rule over the Kingdom of Pars despite Arslan’s fierce battle against Lord Silver Mask. Arslan continues to fight for his rightful throne, but there are still many conflicts left to resolve. But the biggest mystery—who are his parents? And is that an answer he’s prepared to face?

First Impressions: Looks like it’s time for another season of Arslan though this one’s getting shafted pretty hard on the episode count thanks to the current shenanigans going on with it’s timeslot. Though on the bright side, less episodes means less hectic scheduling for the production, and Linden Film’s animation has upgraded from the  terribad of season 1 a level that’s more around what you’d expect for a lower end long running battle shonen, which is something I guess (though the switch from Sanzigen to Felix Films for the 3DCG seems to have actively made that worse). The rest of the premiere itself is standard Arslan though, which means more middling Eastern-European fantasy fare that doesn’t have a ton of bite, but just enough things of interest to be worth sitting through. On the bright side the last few minutes here offer a few big shakeups that could make this season a better romp than the first though I have to admit I spent most of the episode being disappointed that Etoile didn’t join Arslan’s band of companions (what a waste of an opportunity there guys). Still Arslan is fairly consistent if not always great and if this season can at keep managing that much, I’ll keep watching.

Rating: Good

 

Tales of Zestiria the X

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Synopsis: Legends speak of the Shepherd, a savior who will bring peace to the seraphim and human worlds. Sorey has spent his life studying ancient books and exploring ruins to learn more about the legendary savior. When he and his seraphim companion Mikleo encounter a mysterious girl in the ruins, the stories of the Shephard become Sorey’s reality. Is he strong enough to take on the evil Lord of Calamity?

First Impressions: So my experience with the Tales franchise is somewhat limited as I’ve only played about 3 out of the dozen plus games that exist (and one of them is a direct sequel so it’s more like 2) but I do know that the narrative of Tales games are pretty anime-esque in execution, and there’s been several adaptions of past games throughout the years. With all that combined with Ufotable handling the production on this one, it seemed like this could be promising, but the premiere here is frankly an utter mess. It does virtually nothing to explain the setting, who the characters are or frankly what’s even happening and I had to pause multiple times just to try and make sense of it all in my head (something about a princess investigating a magic tornado) and even the cool visuals weren’t enough to distract from all the confusion. The one saving grace here is that this episode is pretty clearly a prologue and not actually content from the game itself, so there’s some hope that the next episode will be something a lot more comprehensible. Given that I’ll likely give it at least one more chance if only for how pretty it is, but so far all this adaption’s doing for me is making just want to play the actual game instead since I’m sure it makes way more sense than anything in this premiere.

Rating: Bad

 

D. Gray-Man Hallow

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Synopsis: Allen Walker is an exorcist working for the Black Order whose mission is to protect mankind from the evil Millennium Earl and his deadly Akuma. Allen and his comrades must recover lost Innocence while defending against the Earl’s terrifying army. But if they fail, Innocence will be lost forever.

First Impressions: After being away for the better half of a decade, D. Gray-Man finally returns to world of anime! Although rather than straight up reboot the thing as you’d expect after all this time, we’re getting an actual continuation, which makes this a bit of an odd duck considering the second half of the original anime has never been made legally available here in the United States (thankfully Funimation announced they have those episodes so hopefully they’ll be online sooner rather than later). The good news is that if you did manage to finish the original anime this is indeed a direct continuation, though it’s attempts to catch people up to speed on the plot feel a little awkward. Once it gets into the actual new material though it mostly works though I have to say that the brighter color palette and new voice actors are going to be pretty hard to get used to. This show’s existence is certainly something of an anomaly, but I recall just enough of DGM that to be able to follow this, so odds are I’ll stick with it.

Rating: Good

 

Sweetness and Lightning

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Synopsis: Having lost his wife, math teacher Kouhei Inuzuka is doing his best to raise his young daughter Tsumugi as a single father. He’s pretty bad at cooking and doesn’t have a huge appetite to begin with, but chance brings his little family and one of his students, Kotori Iida, together for homemade adventures. With those three cooks in the kitchen, it’s no wonder this dinner table drama is so delicious.

First Impressions: So on the surface this show seemed like it had all the potential to be a winner. Anime tends to do family dramas pretty well and a series about a father-daughter relationship sounded pretty adorable. Even so, I was pretty blown away at just how adorable it was as Sweetness and Lightning managed to capture my heart within it’s first 2 minutes and never gave it back. Tsumugi’s far too precious for this sinful world, and is a pitch-perfect portrayal of little kids at that age in everything from dialogue to how overly energetic she is, and I’d frankly be pretty content just watching her run around the screen for 20 minutes. Of course the show also manages to handle the dynamic between her and her father Kouhei pretty well, and really captures how much the latter’s struggling to come to terms with his wife’s death while dropping some not so subtle clues that he hasn’t told Tsumugi what really happened to her mother yet, which could both making for something interesting later down the line. For now though the show’s really sold me on this adorable father-daughter relationship, and Tsumugi’s adorableness in general, and while I was already pretty sure I’d like this show, I sure wasn’t expecting it to have the strongest start of the season. If you haven’t checked this out yet, I’d recommend giving it a shot, ASAP.

Rating: Excellent

 

Taboo-Tattoo

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Synopsis: “Tattoos” – ancient weapons that drastically enhance the physical abilities of their users, known as the “Sealed,” allowing them to bring forth supernatural phenomena when activated through the charging of the user’s own unique “trigger.” When Justice Akatsuka (a.k.a. “Seigi”) saves a man from some street punks, the man gives him a strange stone as a token of gratitude. The moment Seigi accepts it, a mysterious tattoo appears on his palm. And so the battle begins, framed by a web of conspiracies and centering around Justice Akatsuka, the boy who obtained a “tattoo” by complete chance.

First Impressions: Well it seems as though every season needs your standard anime show, and Taboo-Tattoo seems to be this season’s order of pure-grade anime with zero seasoning. You’ve got everything from your troubled protagonist with a dead father, who suddenly gets a cool superpower, to a mysterious girl from some kind of mysterious military organization that wants to hire him. Yeah, it’s that kind of anime and just the sort of thing you’d expect from JC Staff except for one thing: this show looks bad. Like really bad. The character designs might seem fairly detailed but the animation takes some bizarre shortcuts that gave me PTSD flashbacks of Dai Shogun (which holds the record as the single ugliest looking thing I’ve seen in the last decade) and the director’s attempts to shortcut this through “dynamic camera” work just comes off as really distracting and awkward. Normally this would be enough for me to give it a pass, but I have to admit that while I’ve seen my share of bad looking anime, the show’s horrendous attempts to shortcut the animation through camera work is a kind of bad I haven’t really seen done to this extent in anime before and it’s enough that I’m kind of considering giving it another episode or two just to see how much worse it can get about it. Though if you’re not into irony-watching, I’d say you can skip this one.

Rating: Bad

 

Hybrid X Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia

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Synopsis: One day, humanity was invaded by another world. Having experienced that battle, known as Other World War I, humanity moved to marine floats, built for emergency evacuation purposes, as soon as Other World War II began. It’s around that time that Kizuna Hida is summoned by his elder sister and visits the Strategic Defense Academy Ataraxia where he meets Aine Chidorigafuchi, a girl who uses Heart Hybrid Gear Zeros to fight the otherworldly enemies. He has a tough time dealing with her, but when her Gear runs out of energy, the only way to get it back in action is to do something lewd to her!

First Impressions: Dear sweet merciful lord in heaven, please forgive us for our sins for anime was mistake and one that is already too late to correct. Everything about this show gave off giant red flags from it’s premise, to the promotional material and I knew coming into this it’d be grade-A trash, but curiosity demanded I give this a peek. That was my mistake. The first two minutes of this feels like something straight out a porno and is preceded only by the standard LN-fantasy high school dreck, meaning a hapless male lead, a harem full of busty girls and of course lewdness. Said lewdness is pretty extreme even by anime standards though and I could feel my soul being condemned to eternal damnation as the main character’s sister demanded him to molest a girl he’d just met. Yeeeaaaahhh…I think that pretty much says it all. Had this been a bit tamer I’d at least consider following it to fulfill my personal quota of having at least one trashy show to watch every season, but I could feel my humanity slipping away as I watched this and that’s far too steep a price to pay. Stay, far, far away from this one.

Rating: Hot Garbage


And there’s my latest batch of first impressions. I might cover a few more shows later in the week, but right now I think I need to recover from Hybrid X Hearts -_-

First Impressions- Summer 2016 Anime Season (Part 1)

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Wow it’s been…about 2 years since I’ve actually done one of these, but I guess now’s as good a time as any to hop back into it. Given the amount of stuff that was packed into the spring season, I have to admit that I was wasn’t too excited about rolling into this one. Of course the good thing about not having high expectations means there’s more fun (and headache) in sampling stuff. So without further ado, let’s get started

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

*All series synopsis from Anime Planet

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Berserk

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Synopsis: Spurred by the flame raging in his heart, the Black Swordsman Guts continues his seemingly endless quest for revenge. Standing in his path are heinous outlaws, delusional evil spirits, and a devout child of god.Even as it chips away at his life, Guts continues to fight his enemies, who wield repulsive and inhumane power, with nary but his body and sword—his strength as a human. What lies at the end of his travels? The answer is shrouded in the “night.” Strain your eyes and stare into the dark!

First Impressions: I spent a few weeks last year reading about 25 volumes worth of the Berserk manga through my local library and between that and the film trilogy that preceded this current adaption I’d pretty much cemented myself as a Berserk fan. That said like most fans, I was also super skeptical of this adaption due largely in part to the fact that it’s primarily animated in 3DCG (and the fact that Linden Films is helping to produce it didn’t help things) and Japan’s track record on that is pretty horrible. Those fears were pretty well founded since the show does indeed look ugly as sin, and even by 3DCG anime standards, this show’s production is definitely on the lower end. That said, it does manage to capture one aspect of Berserk pretty well and that’s the atmosphere. This is the portion of the series where it’s horror elements start playing a larger role, and a lot of the direction here really captures that sense of dread. For me that’s enough to give it a slight pass, and while I can’t really recommend this to anyone who isn’t already a big fan of Berserk (and even then this would be a hard sell), I’ll probably end up following this one through to the end just to see where they take things.

Rating: Decent

 

ReLIFE

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Synopsis: Arata Kaizaki (27) quit the job he landed after graduation in only three months. His life did not go well after that. Now his parents are threatening to stop sending money, and want him to come back to the country. He has no friend or girlfriend to share his troubles with…as he hits rock bottom a strange man named Ryo Yoake appears. Yoake invites Kaizaki to join a societal rehabilitation program for NEETs called ReLife. This program uses a mysterious drug to make him look younger, and sends him back to high school for a year…

First Impressions: So I’ll admit I’m kind of cheating here since the entire show was made available on Crunchyroll the moment it aired, and I sat through every episode, but I don’t think I’ll end up doing a full-review on it so I’ll just cover it here and keep my thoughts brief. The idea of “reliving high school” is one that’s been done a million-times before and there are as many cases of it being interesting as there are of it being a gross fantasy. Thankfully this lands in the former category, and largely due the fact that its protagonist Arata, is portrayed more as a real-life loser than an anime one, and that makes his character a lot more relatible. That more grounded approach applies to the show as a whole, and it’s centered pretty heavily around the theme of youthful optimism v.s. the more cynical realities of adulthood, which it explores in great detail. The series does occasionally come a bit too close to having Arata potentially macking on high school girls he’s hanging around, but manages to more or less avoid this pitfall and it’s a pretty smooth ride overall. If your’re looking for a series to burn through in an afternoon or two, this one’s certainly a solid pick.

Rating: Great

 

Food Wars: The Second Plate

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Synopsis: After the qualifying test with curry dishes, eight contestants have entered the quarterfinal of Autumn Elections: Souma, Megumi, Takumi, Hisako, Alice, Kurokiba, Hayama, and Mimasaka. Their next challenge: bento.

First Impressions: Food Wars makes it’s triumphant return and it’s better than ever. That’s not much of an exaggeration either, because compared to the rather shoddy looking production values of season 1, this already looks way more polished, and the characters a lot more expressive. It also helps that the show’s already kicking things off with good material, as we get our food-off between Souma and Alice, and the food porn here is so perfect that I regretting not waiting until the episode started to have my lunch today. On the downside, this season’s almost in too much a hurry to get started, and jumps straight into new material without a refresher on anything that’s happening, but Food Wars is simple enough that this isn’t a major problem, and when the series is this much fun, it’s pretty easy to get back into the swing of things. Bring on the food!

Rating: Great

 

Rewrite

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Synopsis: Green City Kazamatsuri is a city built on the ideal of a harmonious relationship between civilization and environment.. However, the peaceful Kazamatsuri will soon be faced with its annual commotion, the Harvest Festa at the turn of the year. It’s an event that is much like a massive school festival, and Tennoji Kotaro decides to head out to research topics for his articles. It’s an easy decision for him, because the town is filled with rumors about unidentified creature sightings and various other occult occurrences. At the same time, strange things start happening to Kotaro himself.

First Impressions: So this series is the latest of Key game based melodramas, though it lacks two of the things that those tend to have. The first would be Jun Maeda as the scriptwriter for better or worse, and the second is lavish production values courtesy of studios such as KyoAni and PA Works. As it turns out, those two things were pretty important because compared to the others, this was pretty much impossible for me to sit through. I’ll be the first to admit that I got into Key adaptions during a time where I was more susceptible to melodrama regardless of actual quality and that I’d probably be pretty averse to them now, but to Jun Maeda’s credit, he’s gradually improved as a writer, and while his stuff isn’t perfect, he’s gotten closer and closer to writing characters that feel fleshed out. This however, is comprised of all the cookie-cutter archetypes that you’d expect from most visual novels, and the humor even more intolerable. This could be somewhat bearable if the show at least looked good like other Key adaptions, but the production values here range from average, to something that looks straight out of 2006, and I couldn’t get through a full 20 minutes of it (the first episode is a whopping total of 47 if you can believe it) before calling it quits. Maybe I’ll give it a shot later down the line if I hear enough good things about it, but for now it’s a definite pass

Rating: Bad

 

Love Live!! Sunshine

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Synopsis: Nothing is more appealing than the bright, sparkling world of School Idols! The girls of Uranohoshi Girls’ High School are swept into idol fever, wanting nothing more than to become the next-best School Idol group. And they plan to do just that. Chika Takami brings together eight of her classmates to form Aqours, their own idol group. As long as they don’t give up, any dream can come true!

First Impressions: So once upon a time I was the world’s most un-reluctant Love Live fan. I mean this in that I acknowledged the show was techincally good, but it was so clearly composed of things I normally can’t stand in anime, that I was kind of waiting for it to get bad so I could drop it. That moment never came though, and in time I fully converted myself over to the glory of Love Live. Now it’s time for a whole new series in the franchise, and while I didn’t have any major expectations for this one way or the other, I can safely say it’s good. All of Love Live’s energy and charm is in full effect here, and the show’s already done a pretty good job of selling on Chika and some of the other girls who made their brief cameos in this first episode. I’ve generally appreciated how well the original series managed to frame itself more as a family-friendly sitcom than an obvious otaku product, and this looks like it’ll continue that, so as long as that sticks, I’ll be in this one for the long haul.

Rating: Great


And that’s it for now. I’ll try to get around to more later this week, but for now, this season seems like it’s off to a safe start, if not necessarily a great one.