First Impressions- Fall 2016 Anime (Part III)

untitled

And here we are at the last stretch of premieres for the fall season. There’s still quite a bit left to go through, so let’s not waste anytime in plowing through them.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Bungo Stray Dogs s2

bungou-stray-dogs-2nd-season-7743

Synopsis: Kicked out of his orphanage and on the verge of starving to death, Nakajima Atsushi meets some strange men. One of them, Dazai Osamu, is a suicidal man attempting to drown himself in broad daylight. The other, bespectacled Kunikida Doppo, nervously stands by flipping through a notepad. Both are members of the “Armed Detective Agency” said to solve incidents that even the military and police won’t touch. Atsushi ends up accompanying them on a mission to eliminate a man-eating tiger that’s been terrorizing the population… In the virtual city of Yokohama are individuals bearing the name of Bungo, “literary masters,” who possess unusual powers likened to that name. Now begins the battle between the mysterious Bungo powers!

First Impressions: When season 1 of Bungo Stray Dogs aired back in Spring, I was pretty impressed with it’s aesthetic since bishonen action shows can be pretty fun when done right, and being animated by BONES just added to the effect. Sadly though I was let down by the one-dimensional characterization of most of the main cast (with Dazai’s suicide shtick in particular getting to be downright obnoxious) and the fairly sub-par writing. Still it was entertaining enough to see the whole way through, and so far the second season seems to be off to an okay start. Kicking things off with a flashback about Daizai’s time in the Port Mafia feels a bit odd, but it’s done a better job of giving him some semblance of nuance as a character than pretty much the entirety of s1 so it’s certainly appreciated. It’s more tonally consistent too, and while I can’t say I’m super excited to learn more about Daizai’s past, this did leave me at least a little curious as to how he ended up leaving. On the downside, starting things off with a flashback means this was a pretty slow premiere by normal standards, but it’s at least made me feel a little better about going through the rest of the season. Hopefully it’ll keep improving.

Rating: Good

 

Keijo!!!!!

keijo-7720

Synopsis: Nozomi Kaminashi is a fantastic gymnast, and in order to help her family out of poverty, has decided instead to become a competitor in a new women-only sport, Keijo. A lucrative endeavor, Keijo is a popular gambling sport where female players stand on floating platform on the water and must push other players off by only using breasts and buttocks. Will Nozomi be able to make it big in the world of Keijo?

First Impressions: And so after going down a long list of premieres we finally arrive at Keijo or as it has been jokingly reffered to by Anitwitter, “pool butt”. I was always shockingly aware that this show was going to be a thing, mainly because I couldn’t believe it actually existed (and by going by anime fanservice standards that says something). Given that I was pretty sure I’d find myself fairly disgusted by this one, but instead I find myself feeling rather torn. On the one hand, it’s exactly as much of a shameless fanservice fest as you’d expect with plenty of booty on display, and nary a couple of minutes goes by without having it literally shoved in front of the screen. On the other hand, it’s so stupid and over the top, I found myself grinning like an idiot the entire time I was watching it, and it was hands down the funniest premiere I’ve seen all season. So bad it’s good can work as a method of execution when a show makes enough of a spectacle out of it’s stupidity that it’s there’s little time to get genuinely angry at it, and so far this episode displays that in spades. While I originally found myself asking how such a sport would even exist in the first place, by the time some of the girls started dishing out ridiculous special moves like “Butt Cannon” (I kid you not that was an actual thing) I just found myself rolling with it. I honestly wasn’t expecting to to enjoy this one, and my base instincts are telling me to stop now while I can, but this season’s been so bland so far, that I may be willing to take my entertainment where I can get it. This show might be enough to send me on a one way trip to oblivion, but I guess I can at least enjoy the ride.

Rating: Great (???)

ALL OUT!!

all-out-7466

Synopsis: The day of the entrance ceremony at Kanagawa Highschool… The story starts when the timid but unyielding Gion joins the rugby team. His classmate, Iwashimizu, who can’t get into rugby because of something happening in the past, the vice-captain, Hachioji, who looks out for all of the members, and their captain, Sekizan, who is more passionate and intense than anyone… All of the members are completely different, but they all keep growing on this battlefield known as youth. Once they give it their all, the ultimate stage awaits them!

First Impressions: Speaking of booty, it’s time to move to the sports show on the opposite end of the gene pool. Much like Keijo before it, this was a show, whose anticipation seemed to be based it’s fanservice but while Keijo features curvy ladies, All Out was looking to have well chiseled, full-bodied dudes. Unlike Keijo though, this seems to be a much more traditional sports show, but as I said with Scorching Ping Pong Girls, the classic sports show formula rarely fails me in general so I’m certainly not complaining. Much of this episode is spent establishing our two leads, Gion and Iwashimizu who are abnormally short and tall respectively. Gion more or less comes off as you’d expect from a loud mouth shorty (and so much so I’m half expecting Funimation to cast Vic Mignonia as him for the dub) and he’s honestly came off as kind of annoying here, but I liked Iwashimizu and while the whole “super timid giant” thing is another archetype that gets overplayed a lot,it’s at least not one that gets abused much in anime and the episode does a good job of  both making him likable and explaining his hesitance to return to playing rugby. How much of a future this show has kind of depends on how much they can tone down Gian’s short fuse (no pun intended) concerning his height, but there was enough potential in this premiere that I’m willing to go ahead and find out.

Rating: Good

Flip-Flappers

flip-flappers-7802

Synopsis: Cocona is a model honor student, cautious and slow to embrace new opportunities. This makes life complicated when a mysterious girl named Papika suddenly appears, fearlessly searching for a wish-granting crystal called the “Shard of Mimi.” When fates collide and they’re given the ability to transform into powerful fairy-like beings, where will the dangerous journey into “Pure Illusion” take them?

First Impressions: And here we are at magical girl show #3 (though you’d really only know from the promotional material since this episode doesn’t feature so much as a single transformation). I went into this one relatively blind, but I did know that the sakuga fan section of Anitwitter seemed to be really excited about it, and after seeing the premiere it’s not hard to understand why. Simply put: this show looks gorgeous. While Yuri on Ice was no slouch either, this one will definitely wet your whistle if you’re a fan of stylized animation, because there’s a lot of it on display here, and it’s supported by some great looking backgrounds and fun looking art design, making for a visual treat from start to finish. It’s a good thing too, because story-wise, this premiere hasn’t really given any kind of indication as to where the show will be headed. There’s a group of scientists lead by a guy named Dr. Salt (I need to see if I can get my name legally changed to that) and some KKK looking villain organization in the OP and the end of the episode, but much of the first episode is spent having our two female leads Cocona and Papika, going on an adventure in some strange fantasy world without much explanation as to what’s happening. Normally having that many blanks would be an immediate turn off for me, but I was just so dang impressed with the visuals that I hardly cared, and I felt like I could have a good time just staring at it. It’s rare for me to give something a pass mainly on visuals alone but while there wasn’t much explanation here, there also wasn’t anything that made me feel like I should steer clear of this, so I’ll happily gawk at it for a few more weeks and hopefully some kind of plot will surface by then.

Rating: Good

 

Drifters

drifters-7139

Synopsis: Toyohisa Shimazu is a fierce samurai who, in the aftermath of a fight with the Tokugawa regiment, suddenly finds himself in a strange corridor far from the bloodied grasslands of the battlefield. Before he can ask any questions, the shocked fighter finds himself sucked through a door in the wall and promptly lands in an unfamiliar place populated by kindly elves. There he meets with two infamous warriors, Oda Nobunaga and Nasu no Yoichi, who have met the same fate as him. However, not all is well in this new world as the brutal Black King aims to destroy everything. Now, with a battle raging between the fiercest warriors from throughout history, could this trio of Japanese Samurai be the only ray of hope in a land threatened by darkness?

First Impressions: Fall 2016 has been a bit odd compared to previous years in anime. Normally the fall season is the dumping ground for big titles, with the potential to make waves overseas, but this season hasn’t really seen anything like that. The sole exception seems to be Drifters, the new series by Hellsing author Kouta Hirano and directed by Kenichi Suzuki of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure fame. With those two elements in it’s favor this one seemed to have everything it needed to be a hit with the one big outlier being the animation studio, Hoods Entertainment, whose biggest anime credit is the poorly received Blazblue anime adaption. But studios only really matter as much as their creative staff, and Drifters seems to be in good hands thanks to Suzuki’s efforts. While it was always going to be a challenge to animate Hirano’s art on a TV production schedule, this is a pretty darn good effort, as it delivers on some cool action scenes, and bombastic visual direction, as Suzuki’s experience with the campy nature of Jojo’s feels right at home here. The story so far seems pretty simple but there’s just enough mystery surrounding it to make me curious where it’s all headed and I have to admit I got a good chuckle out of seeing Oda Nobunaga’s reaction upon learning how badly his conquest of Japan feel apart after he was gone. All in all this was a super solid premiere, and while it’s weird only having one show this season, to carry the torch of having mass market potential, this at least seems like it do a pretty decent job of carrying that mantle.

Rating: Great

 

Classicaloids

classicaloid-7316

Synopsis: Kanae’s got a two oddball houseguests in her beloved grandmother’s mansion: Moz and Beetho-san. However, these guys, with their crazy antics and supernatural musical powers, claim to be Classicaloid versions of maestros Mozart and Beethoven! Their powerful “mujik” arrangements evoke more than just emotions: they can make the stars fall, spirits dance, or even summon… giant robots? Friend or foe, Kanae is stuck with them, even as more classicaloids begin to invade her life. Will their presence usher in a new musical renaissance in her sleepy town, or will their explosive euphonics cut the standing ovation short?

First Impressions: Of all the shows set for this season, this one seemed to have the most bizarre premise. That also made me pretty curious to check it out since anime’s ability to turn weird into good is not to be underestimated. Surprisingly though, most of this episode seemed to be pretty standard as we were introduced to our lead heroine and the crazy iterations of classical musicians she’s forced to hang out with through a “save the orphanage” plot involving her grandma’s mansion, which was fine but not terribly interesting. Then we got to the last few minutes which featured a transformation sequence and some trippy looking visuals that looked like they were ripped straight out of a Rie Matsumoto show and suddenly the show had my attention. I haven’t a clue what was up with those last few minutes of the episode, but they certainly delivered on the level of weird I expected coming into this and then some, so I’m at least mildly curious to find out. This premiere certainly didn’t quite blow me away but if you’re looking for the oddest show this season, look no further than this one. I certainly won’t.

Rating: Good

 

March Comes in Like A Lion

march-comes-in-like-a-lion-7483

Synopsis: Rei Kiriyama is a young student who excels at the game of shogi. Having lost his entire family at a young age, Rei now lives with his kind neighbor Akagi and her two young sisters, Hina and Momo. The four enjoy a quiet life from day to day, dealing with first loves and other challenges, while Rei continues to compete in shogi games and learn new skills. While they each have sadness in their pasts, this new family will get through any challenge together and with love.

First Impressions: This show was another one of the few things I was anticipating this season for a couple of reasons. Firstly because I’ve heard a lot of good things about the manga over the years, and second because it’s being directed by Akiyuki Shinbo of SHAFT fame. What’s interesting about the latter is that this the first time in a long while he’s actually outright directed something. While he’s credited with pretty much everything SHAFT does these days, it’s usually someone else doing the groundwork, and his style of visual direction has become the go-to method for most of their productions (for good or for ill). This made me pretty curious as to what his genuine handiwork looks like these days, and going by the first episode it’s more or less what you’d expect from a SHAFT show at this point, with plenty of trippy looking shots, and on the nose visual metaphors. Fortunately it works pretty well here, as most of the premiere’s first half features very little dialogue, allowing the visuals to tell the story, and without having any familiarity with the manga, it was pretty easy to gather from that that the protagonist Rei is suffering through some form of depression, while also feeling very cut off from those around him, and the fact that it was convey how much those feelings weigh on him so clearly speaks wonders to the show’s direction. The second half of the episode is a bit lighter, but still carries plenty of atmosphere, and it all made for a premiere that had me entranced from start to finish. My only real nitpick is that there’s little indication of where exactly things are going to go for the rest of the series, but the presentation here sold me enough that I’m more than willing to keep watching and find out.

Rating: Great

 

Occultic;Nine

occulticnine-7790

Synopsis: The multitude of small, miniscule “discomfort” later develops into a case so large it is beyond imagination… Yuuta Gamon is a 2nd year in high school. He runs “Kiri Kiri Basara,” an affiliate blog that rounds up occult forum posts, for a shot at quick money, and challenges himself to the occult night and day to “hack and slash away!” the many supernatural phenomena existing in the world from a scientific standpoint. However, with that blog of his as a catalyst, a group of downright maniacal and insane comrades have gathered about.

First Impressions: And here comes the latest entry in the semicolon sci-fi visual novel adaptions, and the first one not picked up by Funimation (that honor went to Aniplex USA for better or worse). These shows have always been odd little ducks, combining surprisingly realistic nerd banter with crazy sci-fi plots, with the quality of the latter having varied from series to series. From my experience with these though, I’ve always had something of an appreciation for said nerd banter, and the attention to detail in that portrayal has rarely failed to click with me. That said, the group of nerd turned heroes this show is throwing at us are definitely the kookiest so far ( and I admittedly had to roll my eyes at the ultra-busty loony girl)  and the protagonist in particular talks so fast it’s hard to keep up with what he’s saying at any given moment. Much of this first episode is spent introducing them, so exactly how much interest you’ll have in this largely depends either how high a tolerance you have for that kind of thing, or how distracted you are by the visuals (it’s got quite a look). Both things worked out pretty well for me here, and while I can’t quite say it’s done a great job of setting up the inevitable mystery, there was enough to this show’s overall atmosphere to keep my attention. Guess I’m strapped in for semicolon number four.

Rating: Good

 

Kiss Him, Not Me

kiss-him-not-me-7761

Synopsis: Kae Serinuma is what you’d call a “fujoshi.” When she sees boys getting along with each other, she loves to indulge in wild fantasies! One day her favorite anime character dies and the shock causes her to lose a ton of weight. Then four hot guys at school ask her out, but that isn’t exciting to her at all — she’d rather see them date each other!

First Impressions: On the note of relatively honest portrayals of nerds, we have Kiss Him, Not Me. I’ve been aware of the manga’s existance for a while and recall having briefly skimmed through the first chapter or two of the manga and enjoying it. With all that, I was expecting to find this show pretty cute, and it more or less met that expectation. I wasn’t particularly amazed by anything here but the soul of the show is definently the heroine Sae, who while perhaps a little over stereotypical in some instances, comes off as a fairly honest portrayal of a fujoshi (at least going by the ones I know, but I’m not going to pretend I have any kind of expertise in that area) and a likeable character. Her harem on the other hand just feels like a stock of archetypes so far (right now I’d have to say glasses guy is the best) but there’s always room for that to change, and this was a pleasant premiere from start to finish. If you’re in the mood for a light shojo series this season, this one should fit the bill, and I’m certainly willing to check out more.

Rating: Good


Well that’s pretty much it for me and my first impressions. There’s still a few other shows I haven’t covered including a couple of things I’ve already watched but if I did a write up for every show this season I think I’d end up driving myself mad, so I might as well stop here before I exceed my limits. All in all this is a fairly weak looking season, which is about what I expected coming into it, but there’s a couple of standouts here, and a few shows with the potential to turn into something good, so with any luck, I’ll have a much better outlook on things three months from now. Until then, stay animated.

Pages:
Edit