First Impressions- Winter 2018 Anime (Part 2)

The wave of new anime continues as the Winter season hits it’s second week, and more premieres are coming down the pipeline. So far it doesn’t seem like this season will test the limits of my sanity, but there’s still plenty more to check out, so might as well 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                                                                                      ———————————————————————————————–

Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san

Synopsis: Nishikata is a middle school student who has suffered humiliation due to being teased by Takagi, the girl who sits next to him. Since then, he has vowed to one day do the same to her and succeed in teasing her.

First Impressions: So this is a show I was a little more aware of going in, but I also wasn’t sure how much it was going to grab my attention. It’s premise is essentially based off of one joke and since I’m already kind of rooting for Nishikata to eventually succeed in getting one over Takagi, it’s hard to say how much mileage the show is going to get out of that one joke for me. For what it’s worth though, this premiere was certainly cute and the dynamic between Nishikata and Takagi works well enough that I’m hoping the two of them will eventually be more honest about their obvious crushes on each other even if that’s probably not going to happen here. It also managed to get a couple of chuckles out of me so, I might keep going if there isn’t much else to watch on Mondays, but since I’m not currently sure if this will actually be able to maintain my interest for a full 12 episodes, I’m currently on the fence with it.

 

Basilisk: The Ouja Ninja Scrolls

SynopsisThe battle for succession that continued for three generations of shogun in the Keichou era culminated in a gruesome battle of ninja arts between the Kouga and Iga clans. Amidst a rain of flower petals, a man and woman who had decided to live for love were separated once again, beautiful in their transience.

First Impressions: Of all the sequels coming out this season, this one is the weirdest. The original Basilisk anime was a manga adaption by Gonzo, and was essentially if Romeo and Juliet was about ninjas and the feud between their two families escalated into a battle royale. Needless to say that show ended pretty violently, so I was really surprised it got another series, and this already looks like it’ll be a similar setup. The main difference this time though (aside from the more generic character designs) is that the Romeo and Juliet ninjas of this story happen to be siblings which is uh…more than a little questionable (and no the weirdness of it being acknowledged by the other characters doesn’t make it any less so) and this first episode is largely just setup as it’s dedicated to showing off the various powers of these soon-to-be-dead warriors. I can’t exactly say that there’s anything in this premiere that would really be enticing to newcomers, and the actual character introductions here are pretty weak, but watching ninjas fight to the death again is bound to be entertaining if nothing else, so if my Mondays stay light, this’ll probably make for an decent distraction.

Rating: Decent

 

  • After the Rain

Synopsis: 17-year-old high school student Akira Tachibana is a girl who barely expresses herself. She harbors a secret crush on Masami Kondou, the 45-year-old manager of the family restaurant she works at part-time.

First Impressions: This was a title that I was kind of interested in checking out, but was also simultaneously very apprehensive about. While I wasn’t sure about the exact details behind it, I knew coming in that the basic premise was about a high school girl’s attraction to a middle aged man, and it’s not exactly a scenario that I imagine most folks are comfortable with, myself included. Having said that though, this first episode sure made a for a strong case in the show’s favor as it does a fantastic job of getting us into Akira’s headspace purely through her actions as we get an immediate feel for how isolated she feels thanks to an as-of-yet explained event, and the way in which she goes about dealing with her crush is equal parts cute and down to earth. Kondou himself comes off as pretty likable for the amount of time we spend with him, and the overall direction of the show feels downright pleasant, as it’s packed with solid character animation, and some shots that were so gently framed, I seriously forgot this was a WIT production. Of course, none of this really negates the fact that the show’s premise is a hard sell, and I’m still kind of worried about exactly what direction it’ll go with this, but this was such strong premiere that uncomfortable scenario aside, I’m willing to go along for the ride.

Rating: Great

 

Marechen Maedchen

Synopsis: Hazuki Kagimura is a normal girl who is usually alone. With her relationship with her new family not going so well, she retreats every day to the world of stories and books. One day, after school, one of the library’s bookshelves sends her to another world with a magic school, where she meets Shizuka Tsuchimikado. She finds out that girls (called “mädchen”) who attend the school are selected by old fairy tails and folk stories to wield their magic, and are taught how to wield it in the school. The school has girls who are chosen by such stories as Kaguya-hime no Monogatari, Issun-boushi, Der Freischütz, Shuten-douji, The Little Matchstick Girl, The Gigantic Turnip, Arthurian legends, and The Ramayana. Hazuki herself is chosen by the Cinderellastory. She begins her new life at the school to become a magic user, and be friends with Shizuka.

First Impressions: This was another title I was vaguely aware of coming in, and one that I was interested in checking out. The idea of a magical girl show based on fairy tale heroines sounded like a fun premise, and it was easy to imagine what kind of crazy ideas they could run with it. Unfortunately the show I actually watched, turned out to be a pretty boring waste of 23 minutes. While “isolated losers with no friends” is a pretty common staple for main characters, Hazuki is quite possibly one of the single blandest anime protagonists I’ve ever encountered. Nothing about her personality comes off as particularly exciting or even endearing, and her obsession with books feels more like a wacky anime trait than an actual part of her character, and since that IS supposed to be one of the defining factors of her character that we’re given here, there’s not really much of anything to go on. To make matters worse, in addition to our ultra boring protagonist, the show is pretty bland looking too, with the character designs being pretty cookie cutter, the visual direction virtually non-existent, and the OP theme having some of the most embarrassingly lazy clip-show animation I’ve ever seen for an anime opening (and given Magus Bride’s second opening for this season is also a lazy clip show, that’s saying a lot). I guess if you’re REALLY interested in the show’s supposed premise (which it doesn’t even elaborate on much in this premiere) it might be worth sticking it out longer, but I’m slamming this book shut.

Rating: Bad

 

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Synopsis: “Satou,” aka Ichiro Suzuki is a programmer in the middle of a death march. He was supposed to be taking a nap but somehow wakes up in another world… What lies before him is what looks like the menu screen of the game he was working before his nap. He’s at a complete beginner stage at level 1. However, he had three “Meteor Showers” which could level a whole map. Suddenly, a whole group of lizardmen appears in front of him. In order to survive, Satou uses Meteor Shower, his level jumped to 310 and he became extremely wealthy. Whether it be dream or reality, Satou’s journey was now beginning.

First Impressions: After a couple of seasons worth of absence,  a new “trapped in a video game” has decided to grace us with its presence. This one apparently stars a 29-year old man, working a thankless job as a game designer, and if that seems too realistic for a light novel protagonist, rest assured that he’s only a grown adult for the first 9 minutes of the show, after which he’s transported into the game he was working on and becomes 16 again, with all the in-game powers of a demi-god. I’ll admit I was pretty disappointed that the show didn’t actually decide to follow through on staring an adult protagonist (he still sounds like an adult when he’s thinking to himself, but it’s just not the same) but the show actually does seem to have a trick or two up it’s sleeve. The biggest point in its favor so far is that rather than having the main character be insanely overpowered purely for the sake of a convenient power fantasy, he has in fact become SO overpowered that a test of his powers nearly kills him, and he seems to actually be something of a danger to his new environment since he can casually shrug off dangers that would be disastrous for anyone else. I have no idea if the show is going to actually follow through on this idea, and I’d be very surprised if it did, but the novelty of it was more than enough to keep me entertained the entire time. It’s also a pretty decent looking show for what it is, and I really appreciate the use of darker colors in the MC’s real-world life to establish how much his job sucks. I’m probably giving this more credit than it deserves, but this was certainly an amusing enough premiere and I’ll likely keep going with this until I get bored.

Rating: Good

 

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

Synopsis: At first glance, the city of Fukuoka seems like a peaceful one, but under the surface, crime is running rampant. The city’s Hakata ward is home to the professionals of the underworld: professional killers, detectives, informants, professional revenge seekers, those skilled in torture, and more. And according to urban legend, even a “killer of professional killers” exists in the city. When stories of the men in the underworld are told, a “professional killer murder” appears.

First Impressions: When I was checking out the lineup for this season, I didn’t give this one too much thought aside from its weird title, but this one could turn out to be interesting. It’s been a little while since we’ve had a “carnival of killers” show, and this premiere is largely about establishing all the different assassin factions based in this one city, and giving us the circumstances that allow the show’s two leads to meet. By far the most interesting thing about this premiere was how it managed to tie the individual factions  together, and it could make for a fun Baccano-esque scenario, though I certainly wouldn’t expect this to be anywhere near as strong as that show was. Aside from that, I can’t say anything here was particularly impressive, but the show seems to be a lot more grounded than the premise would suggest, and I appreciate it’s more casual take on the seedy underworld of it’s setting rather than reveling in how dark it can be. Visually it’s a pretty by the numbers show, but it looks passable enough, and the music has a nice jazzy-vibe that fits aesthetic of the show. This certainly isn’t the most exciting premiere this season, but it more or less does what it needs to, and there’s enough potential for me to stick with it for a while.

Rating: Good

 

Hakyu Hoshin Engi

Synopsis: A once thrived kingdom, In—now governed by an evil hermit, Dakki, and her party—is in a chaotic status with its people suffering Dakki’s oppressions. Seeing this, The Hermit Band took it seriously and planned a “Hoshin Plan” which is assigned to an apprentice hermit, Daikobo, who gathered partners, captured and sealed all evil hermits, and planned to establish a new kingdom. On the other hand, the strongest and an In- royal hermit, Bunchu, stood up against Daikobo to protect the old kingdom with all his might. Thus, the death battle among invincible hermits begins…

First Impressions: Of all the new shows coming out this season, this was probably the one that intrigued me the most. Ushio & Tora turned out to be a really excellent shonen throwback, so the idea of another classic shonen getting a revival seemed like something right up my alley. Sadly, though I’d have to say that this premiere is a mess. While my familarity with the manga only stretches as far as a handful of chapters I read way back when, I knew coming into this that it came to a grand total of 23 volumes, and since this is only slated for about 24 episodes, they were obviously going to have to cut a lot of material. Given that Ushio & Tora worked out well despite having to do the same thing, I wasn’t too worried about notable pacing issues, but it seems that rather than cutting out material to fit the story within the show’s episode count, the staff chose to do the exact opposite of that and are rushing through the plot at breakneck speed in order to fit in as much as they possibly can.

That approach works about as poorly as it sounds as this first episode moves a mile a minute, and things happen so quickly that it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening in any given scene, and it gets to the point where I almost couldn’t tell who was talking with who. It’s a real shame, because the material I was able to piece together seemed interesting enough, and the show actually looks like a very polished production with gorgeous backgrounds, and some color visual direction, but things move so quickly that the show doesn’t give enough time to appreciate any of it. Sacrifices were to be expected when it came to the amount of material the staff had to compress, but this premiere felt like it should have been spread out into 2 or 3 episodes, and if it’s coming out of the gate this troubled, I’m scared how the rest of it’ll turn out. I might give this another episode out of sheer curiosity, but I can’t imagine either new or familiar audiences being happy with this, and this feels like it’s going to be a project under siege.

Rating: Bad

Killing Bites

Synopsis: Killing Bites are underworld duels between human-animal hybrids. One beast who knows no fear will fight in this animalistic world full of fear and insanity. This ultimate battle of the beasts will shock you to your core!

First Impressions: All I really knew about this one coming in is that it had something to do with furry girls and ultraviolence, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised this was on the trashier side of things. The first minute of the show features attempted rape, and things don’t really get that much more wholesome from there, as the actual furry people duels teased in the show’s premise are on the gruesome side of things, and since Amazon seems to have the uncensored version available for streaming, it’s literally full frontal when it comes to fanservice. In any other season this might be my go to choice for trashy entertainment, but since Devilman Crybaby was filled to the brim with ultraviolence and sex while also being ya know…good, I feel kind of spoiled now, and this felt a lot more shruggy than it probably otherwise would have been as a result. This is another one where I honestly can’t say whether or not I’ll give it another episode, but I guess if you’re in the mood for crazy trash, this is the place to look this season.

Rating: *Meh*

 

Darling in the Franxx

Synopsis: Set in the distant future, the land is ruined and humanity establishes the mobile fort city Plantation. Pilots produced inside Plantation live in Mistilteinn, also know as the “birdcage.” Children live there knowing nothing of the outside world or the freedom of the sky. Their lives consist of battling to carry out missions. Their enemies are mysterious giant lifeforms known as Kyouryuu, and the children pilot robots called Franxx to face off against them. For the children, riding the Franxx proves their existence. A boy named Hiro is called Code:016, and he was once known as a prodigy. However, he has fallen behind, and his existence seems unnecessary. Not piloting a Franxx is the same as ceasing to exist. One day, a mysterious girl known as “Zero Two” appears before him. Two horns grow out of her head.

First Impressions: And ending out my first impressions for this season, we have what was probably it’s most anticipated show. Studio Trigger shows tend to get people excited, and generally for good reason, but for one reason or another I ended up not paying too much attention to this in terms of previews and came in completely blind. That may have been for the best as this premiere is certainly solid, but moreso in flash than substance. 2D mecha animation is something of a dying breed these days, but this show is out to make as strong a case for it as possible because it comes roaring out of the gate with some awesome looking robot designs, and equally cool looking monsters. The animation here is spectacular, from the action to the character movements, is incredible and really feels like it’s hearkening back to Gainax’s most acclaimed mecha shows like Gurren Lagann and Eva. As far as the actual story itself goes it’s…kind of hard to say how it’ll go thus far. We spend most of the episode in Hiro’s headspace as we learn that he doesn’t like the feeling of being another cog in the apparently messed-up system that governs the world he’s in but the exact details behind his current isolation are a mystery, and the exact details of the show’s premise go largely unexplained (though with the amount of unsubtle sex metaphors making up some of it’s terminology I can make a few guesses), making the visual flair it’s strongest hook. Fortunately that’s a pretty strong hook. and while it’s hard to say if this’ll actually cover any new territory as far as mecha stories go, it at least seems like it has a story to tell. I wasn’t quite as blown away by this as would generally be expected of new Trigger things, but it certainly looks cool, and there’s enough potential on display that this a pretty easy recommendation if you’re looking for something big to get excited about this season besides Devilman.

Rating: Great


And that’s it for my Winter impressions. Aside from my disappointment with Hoshin Engi, I have to say that so far this seems like it could be a pretty decent season. There’s some pretty comfy shows to check out this time around, and a couple of things that seem like they could have some serious potential. Of course it’s hard to say if any of that will stick, but hey if it doesn’t, Devilman Crybaby has ensured that there’s at least one show from the season that’s bound to stick everyone’s heads for a while. Until next time, stay animated

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