First Impressions- Fall 2017 Anime (Part 2)

The fall anime rollout continues as a pile of new premieres comes out of the woodwork. So far the season’s been off to a pretty solid start with a couple of standouts, some decent looking stuff and only a couple of real stinkers. Now let’s see how well it can keep up that momentum

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

Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth

Synopsis: I want you to touch me. I want to feel your warmth. Claudia is a girl who possesses a toxin that melts everything she touches. Feared as a monster, she spent her days in isolation. One night, just as she is about to be captured by the British army, she meets a man who calls himself the gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin. She arrives at London, where she meets many people and experiences many things. In her adventures with Lupin, she comes close to discovering the truth about her body and her missing memories. What is the truth that this so-called “monster” of a girl finds?

First Impressions: This show is our second otome game adaption of the season, but where Sengoku Night Blood felt a little too auto-piloty and dull for how goofy it’s premise could have been, this one seems thankfully seems to be trying a little harder. The premise this time centers around the protagonists from classic British novels teaming up to protect a mysterious waif from the government and some nebulous evil organization, and the show properly capitalizes on that goofiness with Arsene Lupin being a showboat tsundere and Victor Frankenstein publicly regarded as a terrorist despite apparently being a sweetheart. Aside from those crazy asides there’s not a whole ton to this one, but it kept me relatively entertaining, and the female lead feels a bit less like an insert character compared to Night Blood so there’s at least the hope the story might try to build some actual chemistry between her and her harem. The direction also leans in favor of this one making an attempt to sell some kind of story so all in all it feels like a pretty workable premiere. How long I stick with this probably depends on how much mileage they can get out of the novel character inserts, but for the time being, I can give it a few more episodes

Rating: Good

Two Car

Synopsis: Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro are two girls who enter the world of competitive motorcycle sidecar racing on Miyake Island. While they are the complete opposites of each other, and often butt heads, they complement each other well during races. The team will fight other motorcycle sidecar teams from all over Japan, each with their own opposing traits, such as honor student and working student, sadist and masochist, and a funny man and straight man.

First Impressions: Slapping moe on top of different genres has been a trick that anime’s been pulling quite a lot recently, and this isn’t even the first time it’s been racing related. However while I haven’t seen any of the other moe racing titles, the general reception has been pretty negative so I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this one. What I actually got was pleasantly surprising as the first episode managed to capture all of the appeal of a good sports anime, and makes the racing feel as exciting as possible despite some of the obvious visual limitations. It helps that the episode also does a solid job of introducing us to our two heroines and does a great job of selling their dysfunctional friendship and making the dynamic between them feel totally believable. So far the rest of the racer girls just feel like a checklist of popular archetypes from goth lolis to mature lesbians, but hopefully the show will manage to expand on them as it goes further in, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one as much as I ultimately did, but it was a pretty pleasant premiere and I’m certainly up for more of it.

Rating: Good

The Ancient Magus’s Bride

Synopsis: Chise Hatori has lived a life full of neglect and abuse, devoid of anything resembling love. Far from the warmth of family, she has had her share of troubles and pitfalls. Just when all hope seems lost, a fateful encounter awaits her. When a man with the head of a beast, wielding strange powers, obtains her through a slave auction, Chise’s life will never be the same again.

First Impressions: I’ll be blunt here. There pretty much wasn’t any way I wasn’t going to like this show. The manga’s come highly recommended by folks whose opinions I generally trust, and I recall really enjoying the bits of it I skimmed through a few years ago back when I used to read scanlations. The real question is how MUCH I was going to like this show, and the answer is quite a lot. The premiere does a wonderful job of introducing us to our depressed heroine Chise, and while we’re never given any specific details as to how she ends up in her current situation, we’re given just enough information to get an idea of how rough her life was before giving herself away to Elias, and I’m already looking forward to learning more about her. That of course speaks nothing for the show’s fantasy world which is of course going to be the biggest draw for most people. Admittedly even without being that familiar with the source material I was a bit apprehensive about Wit Studio handling this given that this seemed like it could really use a fantastical visual aesthetic, and their stuff generally looks too clean to properly handle that sort of thing. I can’t say this premiere completely removed those feelings as some parts of it looked a little too anime for what I was hoping to get (looking at you fairies) but the overall presentation creates a solid sense of atmosphere and sells the fantastical nature of its setting as both beautiful and dangerous. All in all this premiere was pretty much what I was hoping I’d get and while I’m a little nitpicky on how this is being drawn, everything about it works so well that it’s really hard not to get sucked in. I’m in this one for the long haul

Rating: Great

 

Anime Gataris

Synopsis: Just as soon as she enters Sakaneko Private High School, Asagadani Minoa is dragged into the anime club by her classmate, Kamiigusa Arisu, even though she knows next to nothing about anime. A classmate, Kouenji Miko, along with other anime-loving senpais, quickly turn her into an anime fan. Fighting off the incessant shut-down threats of the student council, and completely oblivious to the coming apocalypse, the anime club talks about anime in the club, at Akihabara, at anime Meccas, and at hot springs.

First Impressions: A lot of international fans tend to make this mistake, but anime isn’t really as big in Japan as you’d think. They’re certainly surrounded by it more, but outside of household stuff that everyone knows like One Piece or Sazae-san, it’s a niche thing the same way it is in the rest of the world. Given that, a series about a girl with only an extremely casual interest in anime suddenly finding herself thrust into an anime club sounds like a pretty fun premise, and while the show seems to have a bit too much anime style wackiness for how grounded of a premise this should be (did we really need super flamboyant teacher man?), and wasn’t as funny as I’d hope something like this could be it seems amusing enough to at least have a bit of fun with this idea. All of this…is what I would like to say but the the last 3 minutes or so of the show suddenly shifts gears by introducing a talking cat and some kind of magical beret that can stop time. It comes off as pretty weird, even on top of some of the out of place wackiness that was already in there to begin with, and I left unsure of exactly what kind of show this is going to be. At the same time though, it’s so out of left field that it did leave me genuinely wanting answers as to why it’d suddenly pull this sort of stunt, so I guess much like MMO Junkie, I’ll be giving this another episode if only to see what the heck the actual show will be.

Rating: ???

 

A Sister’s All You Need

Synopsis: Itsuki is a novelist and “modern day Pygmalion” who works day in and day out to create the ultimate younger sister. He’s surrounded by various other characters: a beautiful genius writer who loves him, his big-sisterly classmate from college, a fellow male writer, a sadistic tax accountant, and his editor. They’re all looked after by Itsuki’s perfect younger step-brother, Chihiro, who has a serious secret.

First Impressions: I’ve been a hardcore anime fan for roughly 12 years, and in that time I’m come across my share of irredeemable trash. In all that time however, I’ve never seen a show actually attempt to stockholm syndrome the audience into accepting it until now. The first 90 seconds of this premiere is the comprised of the grossest “imouto/little sister” fantasies imaginable, and to the point where I’m sure even real life creepers would cringe a little. It’s all mercifully revealed to be something of a bizarre fakeout though, as we then transition to a less gross, but still kinda gross story about a light novel writer with an extreme imouto fetish and his fellow author friends, one of which happens to include his jokes around about wanting to get in his pants . Admittedly her antics and the semi-decent conversation the group has while just lazing around with each other was almost tolerable enough to trick me into getting over those first 90 seconds, but then the show reveals the MC’s junior is horny to the point of acting sniffing his dirty undies, and the show has the gall to immediately try and shift into being a “sincere” romance between the two of them. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a level of whiplash this fierce but this show certainly accomplished it, and while that might seem like an endorsement to at least watch this first episode before checking out. Do yourself a favor and don’t. Transitioning from the quality of the show from the  lowest circle of Hades to purgatory was a clever ploy, but even with that in mind, this isn’t worth giving the time of day. I need some brain bleach.

Rating: WELCOME TO PURGATORY

 

Evil or Live

Synopsis: In this modern society, a new kind of “illness” is striking young boys and girls; Loneliness, disbelief and outrage push this generation to get more or more attached to Internet and technologies. The experts called those symptom “Net Addiction”. To prevent that, a certain Rehabilitation Facility has been set up to “Lead the young man back to the right path”. Enrolled to treat is addiction, Hibiki had no idea that this Rehabilitation Facility is nothing more than a prison. In this place where it’s not permitted to escape, how will Hibiki challenge despair in this hell?

First Impressions: And to close on my fall show impressions, we have our obligatory Chinese co-production of the season. As always I approach these with a sense of dread since with the exception of A Centaur’s Life (which never quite lived up to its premise) they’ve generally been pretty awful. This show however is truly special. And when I say “special” I mean this may well be the single most pretentious anime I’ve ever seen, and given I’ve seen upwards of 500 shows, that’s saying a heck of a lot. This series is based off the wonderfully archaic premise of young people being so addicted to the internet that they can barely function and have to be sent to a special facility to be rehabilitated. If this sounds like a 50-60 year old man’s idea of “edgy social commentary” rest assured that this plays out exactly like that, and I could almost literally feel the author yelling “these young people and their gosh darn internet!” though my screen.

To “add” to all of this, we have the show’s visual direction, which is shot in letter-boxed format for whatever reason and occasionally incorporates shots from real world environments and some other crazy visual cues, which feels like it’s supposed to give the show a look to match the weight of it’s “message” but it just makes the show seem even more full of itself than the writing already does, and these tricks don’t do much to match the low-end character designs and choppy animation that continually plagues every chinese co-production that’s come out to this day. All of this comes together to result in a show that’s convinced it’s the smartest thing ever made, and in the face of such bold stupidity I couldn’t help but be amused. Everything about this premiere is dumb and terrible, but it’s ridiculous that I’m genuinely curious to see how far it’ll go in it’s soapboxing and it’s certainly entertaining if nothing else. It’s rare that any of these chinese co-productions leaves me genuinely  wanting for more but this is such a unique brand of bad, that I can’t help but be curious about where it’s headed. I’ll probably regret strapping myself in for this one, but you’ve won me over . Evil or Live. I look forward to mocking you for weeks to come

Rating: A-MAZ-ING


And that’s it for my first impressions this season. I was honestly ready to write off 2017 as the weakest year of anime I’ve seen since I started keeping up with seasonal stuff, but fall might really be able to turn it around. There’s a lot of extremely promising stuff this time, and I’ve only really come across a couple of things that really rubbed me the wrong way. It feels like it’s been a long time since I started off an anime season with this positive of an outlook but it really seems like they’ve got all the bases covered this time, and if even half of these shows manage to avoid imploding on themselves, this could turn out to be an extremely memorable one. Only time will tell how it all pans out so till then, stay animated.

 

First Impressions- Fall 2017 Anime

The fall season has finally arrived and it’s looking to be packed to the gills with anime. There’s a ton of cool sequels coming out, and some potentially exciting new stuff as well so it seems like it could be a season with something for just about everyone. 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 .

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Black Clover

Synopsis: In a world where magic is everything, Asta and Yuno are both found abandoned at a church on the same day. While Yuno is gifted with exceptional magical powers, Asta is the only one in this world without any. At the age of fifteen, both receive grimoires, magic books that amplify their holder’s magic. Asta’s is a rare Grimoire of Anti-Magic that negates and repels his opponent’s spells. Being opposite but good rivals, Yuno and Asta are ready for the hardest of challenges to achieve their common dream: to be the Wizard King. Giving up is never an option!

First Impressions: *sigh* Of course we’d start off with this show first. So if you’ve been following my Twitter feed for the last year or so you’ve probably seen me ranting about the Black Clover manga, and dreading the fact that it lived long enough to see an anime adaption. Ideally I would steered clear of said anime adaption for my sanity, but for reasons I can’t yet disclose I’m obligated to watch it for at least a little while so here we are. This first episode features the exploits of Naru- I mean Asta who wants to be the Hoka- err… “Wizard King” and has an introverted rival named Sas- I mean Yuno. Asta is constantly made fun of for his inability to use magic and the big dreams he has in spite of that. On the day he’s supposed to receive his magical grimore which signifies he’s become a mage, he fails and falls into despair, but it turns out there’s a bit of a technicality there because he does have a grimore: an evil one, hosting a demon inside of Asta.

Does any of this ring any bells? It should because outside of a few setting details these are almost all of the basic beats of the beginning of Naruto with the exception of the Sasuke knockoff appearing in the first episode rather than later on. To the anime’s credit, it does it’s best to try and tone down some of the beats that were literally ripped straight from Naruto’s first chapter, but even with that it still feels like an incredibly auto-piloty battle shonen, Asta is an archetype we’ve seen a million times before (not to mention having read the manga I know he only gets worse as a character, not better)  and done to better effect, and the show does a pretty lazy job of getting the audience invested in his dynamic with Yuno (which looks to be spread out into the next episode) or its universe, and both elements come off more as a checklist of obligatory tropes than something heartfelt, which is kind of a dealbreaker for me with any shonen thing. Combine all this with the fact that the show looks like a pretty rushed production (complete with blatant CG towards the end), and there’s not a whole ton of appeal here for newcomers. I suppose if you’re new to anime, and you’re looking for a new battle shonen to seek your teeth into you can always do worse, but if you’re looking for one with a bit more originally or heart, I’d recommend My Hero Academia, or Boruto, since even the latter doesn’t pull as much from Naruto despite being an actual spinoff of that franchise. Again this show is far from the worst thing out there, but as offering anything new as a shonen, it definitely doesn’t leave a good first impression

Rating: Decent

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War

Synopsis: For one wish, they’ll risk it all. The time has come for the Twelve Tournament—held every twelve years. For twelve proud warriors, each baring a name from the Chinese Zodiac, they’ll prepare to fight in a bloody battle royal. The victor gets any one wish they desire, but they’ll have to do whatever it takes to earn it. Blood and tears will flow on this battlefield—who will be the lone survivor?

First Impressions: Nishioshin is a pretty notable name in the Japanese creators sphere, and his work on Bakemonogatari and to a lesser extent, Medaka Box, have been generally well regarded material. The latter happens to be one of my favorite manga ever made, so needless to say that the prospect of him doing his own weird spin on the Fate franchise seemed like it could be a pretty good time. This episode certainly delivered on that promise as it was a rip roaring ride from start to finish. The show looks downright fantastic and now that director Naoto Hosoda (best known for 2011’s Future Diary) can stretch his wings, on a better scheduled production, he really makes the most of it, and the opener delivers on some fantastic action sequences that I’m slightly worried it won’t be able to maintain. The actual story itself is a pretty straightforward tournament thing, but direction does a great job of explaining everything through natural dialogue rather forced exposition, and the cast of bizarre killers all seem like they’ll each be entertaining in their own right. My only real point of concern here is that material might go a little overboard on the edge factor and risk harming the broader level of appeal this could deliver on, but Nishioshin’s track record is consistent enough that I’m not too worried about that, and I’m curious to see just how strange some of these character’s backstories can get. There’s still plenty of new stuff to check out this season, but this one’s certainly off to a promising start, and very much worth a peek

Rating: Great

Sengoku Night Blood

Synopsis: One day, Yuzuki is enveloped by a mysterious light suddenly emanating from her cell phone and finds herself in an unfamiliar place. The scenery spread out before her almost resembles Sengoku period Japan– But this is another world known as “Shinga” where non-human creatures such as vampires and werewolves reside. Long ago, the various tribes of Shinga lived together peacefully under the protection of the Himemiko who possessed special blood. However, one day the Himemiko suddenly vanished. With the protection of the Himemiko gone, the world has fallen into a period of strife.

First Impressions: And here’s our otome game adaption of the season. Sengoku era stuff generally bores me to tears unless someone puts a really fun spin on it, and otome adaptions generally aren’t my cup of tea either, but the premise of figures like Totomi Hideyoshi or Nobunaga being vampires sounded like enough of a dumb fun idea to be worth a peek. Unfortunately the show doesn’t really seem interested in fully capitalizing on that and instead just focuses on showing off the boys and awkwardly tossing in the female-insert who they’re all meant to faun over. Needless to say I didn’t have a particularly good time with this one, and found myself checking the runttime counter halfway through it. That’s okay though, because I’m not really the target audience for this kind of thing, and I’m sure those who are interested will get their mileage out of it. As for me, it’s a pass.

Rating: Decent

Infini-T Force

Synopsis: The story of the original manga begins when a girl named Emi uses a pencil that can grant any wish. Emi gets caught up in the robbery of a convenience store, and her life is in danger. She uses the pencil to wish for a “hero that will save everyone.” Four heroes appear in response to Emi’s wish to change the course of the future.

First Impressions: Tatsunoko superhero properties have been a staple of anime for decades, but they’ve always been pretty obscure in the west, with the closest to any significant level of relevance being Casshern Sins and to a lesser extent Gatchaman Crowds. With all that in mind, a Justice League esque team up of their most iconic heroes seems like as good an introduction as any and as far as that goes this is off to a pretty okay start. The biggest point of note here would be the show’s 3DCG animation which looks surprisingly solid compared to 90% of its anime contemporaries, and a lot of the action sequences actually managed to look pretty cool. It helps that the character designs lean more towards actual CG models than trying to emulate the 2D anime look and while it’s still a bit choppy in a few places, this is probably the best implementation of it I’ve seen on a TV budget production. Storywise things are a bit more of a question mark with things involving a few rumblings of a mysterious villain who wants to destroy other dimensions for some unknown reason, but it’s not too difficult to follow, and the personalities of the individual heroes seem interesting enough that I’m sure we’ll get to know them beyond their costumed personas. For now, I’m mostly just in this for the prospect of watching a CG anime that actually looks like a proper CG production, but hopefully this’ll evolve into something interesting

Rating: Decent

Urahara

Synopsis: Harajuku… The place where culture, kawaii, and fashion come together. Three high school girls Rito, Mari, and Kotoko are planning to open a temporary store called Park. One day, aliens from space come to Earth to take away the culture of humans. That’s when a mysterious girl who calls herself Misa appears. Now, in order to protect the Harajuku that they love, these three girls must be prepared for anything!

First Impressions: I recall skimming through the manga (?) to this a while back on CR’s manga app and thinking it was pretty weird, but while cute girls doing cute things can be something of a mixed bag in execution this seemed like the sort of thing that could be amusing in animated form. It certainly still feels weird in animated form, but not necessarily in a good way. The show’s animation is…limited to say the least and the direction feels kind of maniac with transitions that make things feel more like a motion comic than a show, and combined with the intentionally scribbled looking backgrounds, it didn’t feel as energetic as it was clearly meant to. It doesn’t help that for a cute girls doing cute things esque show, the girls don’t feel particularly endearing in any major sense, and the seiyuu performances felt kind of dull, which sort of seems like it’d defeat the purpose here. The one saving grace of this whole thing is the wonderfully cartoonish premise of aliens who literally suck up other cultures, but the overall aesthetic weirdly serves to hamper rather than elevate the fun to be had, and it all left me feeling rather cold. If you’re down for moe for moe’s sake, maybe you’ll enjoy this, but I think I’m gonna move on.

Rating: Bad

King’s Game: The Animation 

Synopsis: Kanazawa Nobuaki has transferred to a high school far from where he used to live. Due to an incident at his old school, Nobuaki is afraid of getting close to his new classmates and keeps himself at a distance, but he starts opening up because of a sports day inter-class relay. Then, a single text message from someone calling themselves the “King” is sent to everyone in class. Nobuaki’s classmates think it’s a simple prank, and don’t take it seriously but Nobuaki knows that a death game is about to begin, and struggles to oppose it…

First Impressions: So with Juni Taisen out to fulfill everyone’s needs for a crazy over the top battle royale thriller, this show comes off as the unfortunate other of the season. Though where Juni Taisen manages to impress as high quality trash, what we get here is pretty boilerplate and bar the course for this sort of thing. Loner MC who knows how this all goes down and fears the inevitable? Check? Everyone quickly turning on each other? Check. Girlfriend who’s clearly meant to be stuffed in the fridge as “motivation” for our MC? Checkity, check, check. Stupid as this all was though (and boy howdy is it stupid) it certainly wasn’t boring, and the execution is so incredibly off the walls that it all came off as unintentionally hilarious and Mamoru Miyano delivering his finest quality ham as the MC of this show only served to add to the silliness. If it had more to compete with I’d probably give it the boot right here, but I’m pretty sparse on Thursday shows for the moment, and if this show can maintain it’s level of a “quality” for the remainder of it’s run I can at least have a few good laughs if nothing else.

Rating: Decent

 

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Synopsis: Morioka Moriko (♀) is 30, single, and a NEET. She has dropped out of the real world. Searching for a safe place, the place she ended up… is the online world!! In this online game, Moriko starts a new life as a handsome young man with silky hair named Hayashi. However, she’s an obvious noob and ends up dying numerous times when a lovely girl named “Lily” lends her a helping hand. Meanwhile IRL, she ends up having a shocking encounter with a mysterious handsome salaryman named Sakurai Yuta. After meeting him, the real world starts to change and starts affecting her online world as well?!

First Impressions: I was kind of wary about checking this one out as everything about its premise was giving me PTSD flashbacks to spring 2015’s Netoge, and that show was…problematic to say the least. Far as this show goes though its…really hard to say just exactly what its goals are. The episode partially introduces to our heroine who seems to have quit her office job to become a NEET, but the majority of its runttime is spent building up a romance between her male avatar, and a female avatar she befriends through an MMO. The obvious twist here is that the female avatar belongs to a guy (and given our heroine seemed to be really into the idea of romancing “her” I’m kind of curious what her reaction will be when we get there) but it’s hard to say if the show’s going to use this for something cute, or potentially meanspirited. The developments between the two are handled well enough that I don’t think it’ll opt for the latter, but Netoge exists and the cynic in my heart can’t help but be worried this could turn into something weird and gross. Either way there’s not really enough to make any kind of serious guess about its future so I suppose its earned another episode from me.

Rating: Decent

 

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World

Synopsis: In an imperfect world, the stories make it beautiful. Meet Kino, a traveler exploring beyond her boundaries into unknown mystical places! With only her guns and talking motorcycle Hermes by her side, she learns about unique people and their customs through the fascinating stories they weave. But to see everything, she can only spare three days to each land before moving on to the next adventure.

First Impressions: Throughout my years as an anime fan, Kino’s Journey is a title I’ve often heard celebrated as a beloved classic but one I’ve never had the opportunity to get around to. Now that the show’s been “rebooted” in a sense, now’s as good a time as any to check it out, and the first episode impressed. Going off of my understanding of the show’s premise, the story follows a young traveler named Kino who travels to different countries in order to observe their lifestyles, with each one centering around some sort of theme or philosophical debate. This first episode starts with Kino going into a country where murder isn’t prohibited by the law, and where I could have seen this story easily diverge into over the top silliness, the way it handles the concept, and the last minute twist regarding how this law actually works is all handled well enough that I walked away from this with quite a bit to think about, and this is apparently something that happens quite a lot in this show.

Even putting aside it’s interesting philosophical intrigue, the show itself looks incredibly gorgeous. While Twin Star Exorcists was a very uneven show to say the least I’d always thought that Tomohisa Taguchi’s visual direction really stood out in spite of the show’s scripting problems, and he really gets to show a lot of his full capabilities here as the show’s backgrounds really help to create a wonderful sense of atmosphere that makes the world feel real, and the more maniac camera movements towards the end do a lot to sell the tension of the episode’s twist, and it all comes together to create something that can feel as haunting as it does pretty. All in all this was an impressive premiere, and while I’m a newcomer to Kino’s Journey, this certainly helped to make me a fan.

Rating: Great

 

Dies Irae

Synopsis: At the start of a great war, an important leader in the German security bureau takes on a mission to fight supernatural mutants himself.

First Impressions: This was another show I was kind of wary of for a couple of reasons. Firstly that it involves the literal Nazis and secondly that it’s apparently so self-indulgent, it can give the Fate franchise a run for it’s money. Still I figured I should give it a fair shot, but I mostly walked away from this episode feeling…confused more than anything. It seemed like this episode was supposed to be centering around some perfect definition of a supreme Aryan Nazi deciding he wants to be an evil overlord, but this got shuffled between a couple of out of place characters duking it out for some unexplained reason, and mountains of meaningless prose. Goung by the fact that this was titled episode 0, I can only assume this was meant to be a prologue of sorts but even then it felt unnecessarily jumbled and the fact that has the visual aesthetic of an low-end early 00’s anime doesn’t help much either. I suppose the one bright spot here is that I didn’t walk away from this feeling disgusted (which is what I was expecting) but I sure wouldn’t call this an entertaining experience. In a weaker season I’d give slight consideration to giving this another episode, but there’s already enough interesting looking material that there’s honestly no real need. Pass

Rating: Bad

 

GARO: Vanishing Line

Synopsis: Highly advanced town – Russel City. While people enjoy its prosperity in the town, there is a huge conspiracy secretly going on which will shake the world. Sword, a man who notices its movement determines to throw himself into battles and reveal the conspiracy, but only to find a clue – “Eldorado”. At that time, Sword happens to meet a girl Sophie who has been looking for the meaning of “Eldorado”, a message left by her missing brother. These two, attracted by the word “Eldorado”, somehow feel invisible ties each other and start to act together. Their journey with mixed feelings now begins.

First Impressions: When Vanishing Line was first announced a few months ago, it seemed like it could be interesting, but didn’t particularly grab my attention as something to be excited about. However when it was later confirmed that this was going to be the newest GARO anime, my interest piqued significantly. While GARO’s pretty popular as a tokusatsu series in Japan, the anime versions have been a little more troubled. The first anime had cool aesthetic and some solid writing but didn’t particular stand out in the season it debuted in while the second anime Crimson Moon, was a dumpster fire that tried to make GARO a little more “anime” but felt all over place, and looked pretty ugly. It seems the third time might be the charm though, because everything about this premiere comes out of the gate full throttle (and given the biker motifs this probably won’t be the last pun I make about this) with some great looking character designs, stellar animation, and an overall aesthetic that pretty much screams western appeal. We’ve got everything from a beefcake protagonist with a love of bikes and pretty girls, to a super jazzy soundtrack and while this first episode doesn’t offer much in the way of setting up the story, the amount of flair in brings is more than enough of a hook to draw in interest. Given MAPPA’s current workload it’s hard to say how much they’ll be able to keep this up, but given the director, was responsible for the best episode of the first GARO anime, I’m at least sure it’ll cram in as much visual spectacle as it can in the meantime. With how packed this anime season is, it’s anyone’s guess if this’ll get looked over the same way the first anime did, but it’s definitely got a better aesthetic going for it as far as drawing in bigger crowds goes, and however this turns out, I’m certainly ready to go along for the ride

Rating: Great

First Impressions- Summer 2017 Anime (Part 2)

The summer rollouts are still going steady, and there’s plenty more stuff to go through. I didn’t have much time to check out stuff yesterday thanks to some 4th of July distractions, but it’s time to keep trudging through this season and hopefully find a few more worthwhile entries.

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 .

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Aho Girl

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Synopsis: She is Hanabatake Yoshiko, and she’s an idiot through and through. She loves bananas, and she loves her childhood friend Akkun.

First Impressions: I was dreading to check this one out because it’s premise gave the impression that it could be gross, mean-spirited or some combination of the two. Still I figured it was only right to give it a fair shake and…yeah it was pretty much exactly what I figured it would be. The heroine is an unlikable idiot who’s constantly “reigned in” by her douche of a best friend (who she’s also in love with because anime) and that’s basically the joke. It doesn’t help that much of the comedy is done through slapstick at the former’s expense and while I’m pretty okay with female characters falling victim to slapstick if characters of both genders are considered expendable targets, that’s definitely not the case here, and it makes most of the jokes feel abusive rather than funny. The sole saving grace here is that the comedy is rapid-fire enough that something is probably bound to make you chuckle at least once, but too much of the show’s other aspects bother me for that to make it worthwhile. Definitely a nope from me.

Rating: Bad

 

Netsuzou Trap- NTR

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Synopsis: Yuma and Hotaru have been friends since childhood. It is only natural that when Yuma is nervous about her new boyfriend, she asks Hotaru and her boyfriend along for a double date. But when Hotaru offers herself to Yuma as “practice”, both girls realize that they’re more interested in each other than they are in their own boyfriends. With boyfriends in the foreground but a secret, passionate tryst in the background, will Yuma and Hotaru try to forget what happened between them or have they fallen into a trap of true love and betrayal?

First Impressions: So being perfectly honest, this is probably only the third yuri title I’ve ever checked out (the others being Yurikuma Arashi and Revolutionary Girl Utena though being Ikuhara projects means they exactly conventional genre shows). This is mainly because the general impression I seem to get from this stuff is that they’re generally as fetish based as most yaoi titles are, and I’m just personally only interested in purely same-sex stories if they’re taking the subject matter seriously. However this one happened to come out in a season where I don’t have much of anything I’m particularly excited for so I was willing to check it out. So far it seems to mostly be what I expected in that the concept of the two main girls cheating on their boyfriends is done from more of a fetish angle than a serious one, and the fact that one of them comes off as a but predatory doesn’t help much either. That said, it at least managed to hold my attention for the whole way through, and the fact that it’s being done through shorts (which seems like odd for this kind of show but eh) means that it’s not exactly a gigantic time investment as far as seeing where it goes. I’m not entirely sure how strongly I feel about it one way or the other yet, but I figure it’s at least worth one more episode, and with any luck, maybe there’ll be a chance that it handles it’s subject matter better than I’m expecting.

Rating: ???

 

Tsuredure Children

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Synopsis: To those of you out there who never could say “I love you” — This story is about ordinary highschoolers and how love makes them fired up, shaken, laugh, cry, and hurt. Whether things go well or not, this story of adolescence and romance will show you how they spend their precious youth. Every character is the main character here, and you’re sure to find one you can sympathize with.

First Impressions: I was pretty interested in taking a peek at this one since it’s premise sounded like it had the potential to be a cute comedy, and it certainly succeeded in that area. A series about awkward high school love confessions is something I can certainly relate to (and I’m probably not alone on that one) and when combined with some solid comic timing, it makes for a pretty enjoyable time. It’s possible this could end up wearing thin if done over the course of full length episodes, but the fact that it’s a series of shorts means that it has enough opportunities to try out as many jokes as it can while not wearing out it’s welcome. I haven’t been too impressed with the shorts I’ve seen so far for this season, but this one is a definite winner and seems like a perfect afternoon distraction.

Rating: Great

 

Fastest Fingers First

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Synopsis: Bunzou High School is welcoming its new first-year students. One of them, Koshiyama Shiki, is chosen to participate against his will in an impromptu fast-buzzing quiz meet by the president of the Quiz Bowl Circle. As a quiet boy who loves reading and doesn’t want to stand out, Shiki is overwhelmed, but his classmate, Fukami Mari, is able to hit the buzzer and answer questions before the full question is given. As he watches her, Shiki realizes that there’s a point in each question where the answer becomes certain.

First Impressions: This is another show I didn’t know anything about going in but with a localization title as ridiculous as this one, it was pretty much impossible to resist checking it out. What I ended up getting here is a pretty basic setup for a sports show, but one that’s way more my speed than the awkward sports show/bishie comedy hybrid that was Aoyama-kun. The story of an introvert learning to expand his horizons through a sport is a pretty common one at this point, but to it’s credit that sort of thing almost never fails to strike some kind of cord with me, and the same can be said this time around as the first episode does a fair job of setting up Shiki as a protagonist. Although with all that said, the most interesting thing about this show besides it’s silly title is probably the sport itself as quiz based stuff definitely isn’t something I’ve ever really seen in a sports anime, and it seems like something that could be kind of neat to learn about. My only real negative point so far is that the Japanese voice actress for Mari sounds distractingly amateurish and that could possibly hurt the show later on if she doesn’t improve, but I suppose of this ends up getting a Funimation simuldub I can always watch it that way. Considering that I mostly came into this one just off the title alone, I have to say that this turned out to be a pretty welcome surprise, and if it can manage to stay consistent then this seems like a pretty safe pick for my sports show of the season

Rating: Great

 

18if

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Synopsis: After going to sleep like normal, Haruto Tsukishiro wakes up to discover something unbelievable—he’s stuck in dream world! Here, witches plague the dreamscape and are more than dreamy figments—they’re the trapped souls of young women who’ve rejected reality and are afflicted by the “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.” As he searches for a way out, Haruto will face the witches and their terrifying powers.

First Impressions: This show is here to remind us all that Gonzo is not yet completely dead, and this one serves as their second video game adaption in recent memory. Unlike Akiba’s Strip which was more along the lines of zany over the top antics, this one appears to be a bit more on the serious side and feels very transparently like the prologue to some kind of visual novel. Much like Akiba’s Strip though, this mostly just feels like a thing that exists and it didn’t leave me with any particularly strong feelings one way or the other. The premise of exploring a literal dreamworld, and the maniac visual direction that follows are kind of neat, but neither is really enough to overcome how phoned in the execution feels and it doesn’t help that the protagonist is a pretty obvious self-insert and doesn’t display any semblance of personality or motivation. This show also happened to be ahead enough in production for Funimation to put out a same day simuldub for it, and while it’s certainly not one of Funimation’s strongest efforts, it felt totally fine for what it was attached to, and should serve as a good way to stay caught up with the show for those who are interested. As for me, I’m probably gonna end up pressing X to skip unless I really can’t find enough shows to keep up with.

Rating: Decent

 

A Centaur’s Life

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Synopsis: Being a teenager is never easy… especially for a centaur! Himeno is a sweet, shy girl, who like many teens her age, struggles with the trials and tribulations of attending high school. The difference is she’s a centaur; but she’s not alone. In fact, all of her classmates are supernatural creatures, sporting either horns, wings, tails, halos, or some other unearthly body appendage. Yet despite their fantastical natures, Himeno and her best friends-the dragon-winged Nozomi, and Kyoko with her spiraled horns-are down-to-earth, fun-loving teenagers who grapple with issues of life and love in a mostly normal daily school setting.

First Impressions: So between Monster Musume and Interviews With Monster Girls, it’s pretty much safe to say that shows about demihuman or monster girls is a genre that I can totally get behind. That made this show one of the few things from this season that I was really curious about and it didn’t disappoint. While this one is definitely a lot more on the fanservice side compared to Interviews With Monster Girls, it does a pretty solid job of getting across how the different races of it’s world operate without getting too heavy-handed, and it seems like it’ll dive into exploring the same bits of unintentional discrimination as that series did. What’s really interesting here though, is that there’s a few strong hints that the characters are living in some kind of dystopian society that cracks down on anything that could be seen as discriminatory or detrimental to racial harmony which has the potential to either be really fascinating or really gross depending on how the show spins it. Even putting that bit of deeper thought aside for the time being, everything so far seems pretty pleasant and the characters seem likable enough if not particularly interesting as of yet, so even if it doesn’t make full use of it’s potential it’ll at least be relaxing to watch if nothing else. I haven’t been all that impressed with this season’s offerings so far, but show is definitely the first one that’s made me really curious to see where it goes, and that makes it a winner in my book

Rating: Great

 

Chronos Ruler

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Synopsis: The story centers on “Chronos Rulers,” those who fight the time-eating demons that appear when people wish they could turn back time. The Chronos Rulers fight a time-manipulation battle against these demons.

First Impressions: So I didn’t really know much about this one going in but what I did know was that it’s pretty much CR’s only other new action show offering for the season besides Touken Ranbu, and that it’s scripted by good old Hiroyuki Yoshino who has brought us such lovely works as Guilty Crown and more recently Izetta: The Last Witch. With that last factor in mind I pretty much expected this one to be a potential trainwreck going in but I wasn’t prepared for exactly how much of a trainwreck it was going to be. The show gives off warning bells as soon as it’s opening scene as it features an action sequence that looks like it was ripped from a PS2 game cutscene and used some of the most bizarre camera work this side of Hand Shakers. In fact Hand Shakers is a pretty strong comparison for this show’s overall visual aesthetic as it churns out a variety of awkward visual overlays, bad camera motion and bad looking CG in an attempt to look as unique as possible while pretty much failing at every turn. I can kind of understand the desperation though because when it’s not doing that, the show otherwise looks like something from the mid 00’s and barely has much in the way of animation.

That’s not even getting into the show’s actual storytelling which is pretty much just as bad. The main plot is a bunch of nonsense about time stealing monsters, and it’s attempts at being dramatic by diving into the heroine’s loss of her brother or the weird situation of the two male protagonists fall completely flat and just mostly come across as trying too hard. On top of that the show has what’s straight up some of the worst “anime” comedy I’ve seen in a long time, and poorly timed at that as it has a strange tendency to mix it into “serious” scenes and subsequently remove any decent chance at storytelling it might have had. I honestly wasn’t expecting to come across another Hand Shakers level trainwreck in the exact same year Hand Shakers came out but here we are and I’m still in total awe of just how bad this was. However for all the above complaints I can definitely say that I wasn’t bored watching it and it’s for that reason alone that I’ll probably keep up with this as my hatewatch of the season and see how much more ridiculous it can get. I certainly can’t recommend this one in good faith, but if you’re in need of something to mock this season, look no further.

Rating: ALL ABOARD THE TRAINWRECK

In Another World With My Smartphone

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Synopsis: After dying as a result of God’s mistake, the main character finds himself in a parallel world, where he begins his second life. His only possessions are the body that God gave back to him and a smartphone that works even in this new world. As he meets all kinds of new people and forges new friendships, he ends up learning the secret to this world. He inherits the legacy of an ancient civilization and works together with the kings of some very laid-back countries on his carefree travels through this new world.

First Impressions: So from the title alone it was obvious this one would be pretty stupid, and after watching the first episode I can confirm that it is indeed silly, albeit not entirely in ways that could have been fun. The show literally starts with our MC having a chat with God, who apparently accidentally struck him with lightning and now has to bring him back to life in an entirely different world. MC-kun takes all of this in stride and requests only that he be allowed to take his smartphone with him, and God decides to sweeten the deal by giving him the full Gary-Stu package and making him super strong, incredibly durable and able to use all forms of magic that exist in the world he’s being sent to. From there the rest of the episode is pretty much MC-kun using his newfound Gary Stu powers to feel his way around his newfound world, and the entire time I couldn’t help but think to myself that this could have been a significantly more interesting story had MC-kun turned out to be some horrible prick and used his God given abilties for evil. Instead what we got was the usual bland RPG nonsense that tend to come with these lower end fantasy worlds and MC-kun’s main accomplishments for the episode are figuring out the extent of his powers and giving the world ice cream. There’s not really anything of interest to this one when it comes to execution but I guess if nothing else I at least had a good time making fun of the first 10 minutes or so, and it seems pretty harmless if nothing else. I have my doubts that I’ll watch this one any further, but this season’s pretty weak for me as is, so it could end up as a morning distraction if nothing else.

Rating: Decent

 

Magical Circle Guru Guru

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Synopsis: The story takes place in a world gripped by hero mania after a proclamation was sent out for heroes to gather to defeat the demon king. A boy named Nike is half-forced by his parents to go on a journey. As part of his town’s custom, he visits an old witch’s house on the outskirts of town before he sets off. There, he sees a girl named Kukuri who uses a magical circle. The old witch tells Nike that Kukuri is the last descendent of the Migumigu tribe, which can use the magical circles. Thus begins the adventure of the frivolous small hero and the naive magician girl.

First Impressions: So I was gonna skip looking at this one because I’ve gone through a ton of stuff as is, but I felt a strange compulsion to give it a shot. That impulse turned out to be to my benefit because this was probably the best comedy premiere I’ve seen all season. This isn’t to say that the show is particularly amazing since it’s pretty transparently a kid’s show and has all the jokes I’ve come to expect from a kid’s anime, but something about it’s aesthetic just clicked with me and it made me laugh more than any of the other premieres I’ve sat through. RPG parodies aren’t a particularly new thing for anime, but I really appreciated how much this show decided to roll with it from the occasional 8-bit backgrounds, to gags about item equipment and while not every one of it’s gags worked, enough of them did to keep me amused for a full 24-minutes. Like with Fastest Fingers it’s highly likely I’m just giving this one too much credit because of how weal the rest of this season’s been in comparison for me, but dang it I’m probably gonna keep watching the RPG parody for kids. Fight me.

Rating: Good

 

My First Girlfriend is a Gal

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Synopsis: A new school term begins, as does the season of new encounters. As he surveys his class full of couples, Hashiba Jun’ichi’s mind is filled with distress as he asks himself, “Why am I still a virgin?!” Having heard from his friends that the easiest way to fulfill his long-standing desire to graduate from the fellowship of virgins is to kowtow to a gal, Jun’ichi does exactly that and asks his classmate Yukana out. And unbelievably, she actually agrees to date him. What will become of Jun’ichi from now on?

First Impressions: Well I thought I had reached the bottom of the barrel with Chronos Rulers, but that was just setting me up for the actual worst show this season: My First Girlfriend is a Gal. Of all the anime girl archetypes that exist, gyarus are very rarely in the spotlight for whatever reason, and with last year’s Please Tell me, Galko-chan! turning out to be a surprisingly pleasant show, I was all primed up for another series with a gyaru heroine. That was a mistake as this is pretty much just a low level trashy fanservice/harem series, and even by harem show standards this one’s pretty awful. We spend a good 20 minutes with the main character’s friends lamenting that they can’t get a date while simultaneously being perverted douchebags and while that’s clearly supposed to be “funny” I mostly just wanted to see all of them get punched square in the face (and the lolicon jokes didn’t help either). The main character himself isn’t much better as while he’s not openly as much of a prick as these guys, he only asks out the show’s heroine for the explicit purpose of getting laid, and is ultimately rewarded for it. If there’s one saving grace here it’s that the heroine herself actually seems like a pretty alright character, and sees through his crap the entire time, but since she’s clearly just going to end up boning him at some point anyway, it mostly wrings hollow. I’m not even surprised that something this bad made it into existance, but it’s still a wonder to behold something with pretty much nothing redeeming about it. I suppose if you as masochistic as me this might make a decent hatewatch (and even then that’s reeeeeaaaaaallly stretching it) but otherwise, I reccomend not to go anywhere near this one with a 10-foot pole

Rating: H-O-T GARBAGE


And that’s it for me and first impressions this season. I know there’s still a few more premieres left in the season, and I’ll likely check those out, but between other stuff to deal with and My First Girlfriend is a Gal nearly sucking away my will to live, I don’t have the energy to do a write up for every show. All in all this is looking to be another one of the weakest seasons I’ve seen, and quite possibly THE weakest since I’ve only come across a couple of things I genuinely liked but who knows? Maybe something will impress me later on and I’ll feel more positive by the end of this season but until then, stay animated.

First Impression- Summer 2017 Anime (Part 1)

The summer season is upon is, and things have already heated up in regards to the competition between streaming services and where folks can expect to watch stuff. I got pretty riled up about that myself and thanks to they-who-shall-not-be-named, I’ve found myself with a lot potentially interesting stuff to check out, in a season that didn’t seem terribly strong to begin with. Still I’ll try to stay at least semi-positive here, and hopefully I’ll be able to come across at least a couple of diamonds in the rough

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 .

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Fox Spirit Matchmaker

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Synopsis: In a world where Spirits and Humans coexist and can fall in love with each other, the Spirits’s life expectancy being far superior to the Human’s one can only see their loved one dying before them. Even when that human is reborn, the previous memories of his past life is erased from his memory. However, it is said among Spirits that a certain “service” is spreading. This“service” is provided by the “Fox Spirit Matchmakers” who can revive the lost memories of their former lover. When the Spirits lose their lover, they can purchase the “service” of the “Fox Spirit Matchmakers” so that they could attempt to regain their former lover memories and start over a new love story. This story follows a young Fox Spirit Matchmaker who tries her best to restore lost memories and spread love.

First Impressions: At this point I’ve pretty much learned to come into these chinese co-productions with the impression that they’ll be terrible as their track record has been consistently awful. Even so, I never thought I’d come across one quite THIS bad. From the moment I saw the show’s opening theme song I knew I was in for a rough ride since the song they picked, didn’t match the visuals used for it at all, and the show itself is even less incoherent/ Despite having wasted a good 22 minutes of my life watching it, I couldn’t really tell you what it’s even about, but what I was able to parse together involves something about, exorcists fights, yokai clans and a little fox spirit girl whose told she has to marry some 30 year old dude (it’s said in the beginning he’s a teenager but the show’s so all over the place it’s hard to even tell if he was lying about his age) who seems to be your standard jerkhat overpowered protagonist. Needless to say it’s all incredibly stupid, but that last bit elevates it from trash to a gross dumpster fire since I don’t even want to consider all the implications if the guy actually IS 30 (and his inner monologues seem to support that so…eww). With this much nonsense going in, you’d figure it’d at least be a good show to make fun of, but it’s not even hilariously bad it’s just…nonsense. Maybe someday one of these chinese co-productions will be good, but if this isn’t the absolute bottom of the barrel, I’m terrified of how much worse they can get.

Rating: Bad

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

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Synopsis: The year is 1863 as the tumultuous samurai era is coming to an end, Japan is split between the pro-shogunate and anti-shogunate factions. The fate of the world is threatened as an army of historical revisionists are sent from the future to alter the course of history. In order to bring these forces down and protect the real history, two sword warriors, spirits who are swords brought to life by Saniwa (sage), rush to Edo. The polite and thoughtful Horikawa Kunihiro and the short tempered yet skillful Izuminokami Kanesada, who served the same master, confront the invading army along with a lively gang of other warriors including Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, Yagen Toushirou, Tombokiri, and Tsurumaru Kuninaga.

First Impressions: This was one of the few hotly anticipated titles of the Summer seasons, and I was of two different minds about it going in. I saw it’s spinoff, Touken Ranbu Hanamaru a few seasons back and the first episode of that bored me to tears enough to drop it entirely and while this one was reportedly going to have a more serious tone, I wasn’t sure how much it would actually gel with me. As of the first episode of this one my feelings are that it’s…okay so far. Visually it’s as impressive as what we’ve come to expect from Ufotable at this point, as their ability to integrate post-production visual effects into animation is still a technique that rarely fails to work, and the actual animation itself is pretty solid. Story wise I’m a little more unsure since this starts off in media-res and while it’s not particularly difficult to follow, a few more plot details would have helped a lot. The basic idea here seems to revolve around time travel which is usually a pretty fun concept when done right, and one of the things that did strike me as particularly interesting about the premiere here is the idea of the characters having to sit back and let certain tragedies unfold in order keep history on the right track, and if they play with that angle enough it could give this show a little more punch than these stories usually tend to go for. I wouldn’t exactly say this one wowed me, but enough of it worked that I’m willing to give it a few more episodes, and since that’s more than I can say for it’s spinoff, I suppose that’s as good a sign as any.

Rating: Good

 

Battle Girl High School

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Synopsis: In the year 2045, the world has been contaminated by Irousu (mysterious invaders who suddenly appeared), and humans find themselves restricted and contained. Standing boldly against these invaders are ordinary girls everywhere, without a powerful army or even weapons. The Shinjugamine Girls Academy is a school for these “Hoshimori” (Star Guardians) destined to fight the Irousu.

First Impressions: So I figured right away this wasn’t going to be my type of thing, but since it’s HiDive’s one and only simulcast for the season, and I recently subscribed to it, I figured I might as well give it a look. It’s more or less what I expected it to be as it’s a series that mixes the “cute girls doing cute things” genre with a few minor bits of magical girl and action stuff tossed in for good measure. Unsurprisingly the focus is more on the “cute girls” bit than anything else meaning that it’s by and large not for me, and the show crams so many girls into the first episode that I’d have a hard time imagining anyone getting attached to them even if this is they’re sort of thing. When all is said and done though it’s perfectly harmless and while nothing about it thrilled me in any real capacity, there was nothing really offensive about this either, and those who do enjoy this sort of thing should likely get some millage out of it. As for me though, it’s almost certainly a pass unless this season ends up being really barren.

Rating: Decent

 

Knight’s & Magic

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Synopsis: A genius programmer and hardcore robot otaku is reborn into a world of knights and magic, where huge robots called Silhouette Knights roar across the land! Now reborn as Ernesti Echevalier, he uses his vast knowledge of machines and programming talents to begin to make his ultimate robot.  But his actions have unexpected results…?! The dreams of a robot otaku will change the world!

First Impressions: Bizarre lack of proper grammar aside, this seemed like it could be one of the more interesting offerings of CR’s summer lineup so far since both hi-fantasy and robots are things that typically gel with me, and combining them together even more so. Even with all that I can’t say this was a particularly remarkable premiere but it’s one that worked out pretty well for the most part. Reincarnation seems to be the hot new thing for LN-based anime lately, and while it’s generally a neat concept, in this case I can’t help but be slightly disappointed we couldn’t have gotten the working adult the MC used to be in his former life as our actual protagonist since throwing that kind of character into a fantasy world with robots would be something of a fresher take. Still, 20 minutes of watching his new self be totally dorky about wanting to ride a giant robot was pretty entertaining in it’s own right and it’s kind of interesting that we actually get to see some of his childhood instead of just jumping immediately to when he’s old to pilot one, and it does more to make his sense of enthusiasm endearing rather than a just a convenient excuse for him to be overpowered later on. Unfortunately all this skipping around means that this episode doesn’t really do much to establish the other characters or the actual setting of the series, but it at least manages to avoid feeling slow, and the 3DCG used for the robots proper seems workable enough (the giant monsters less so but we’ll have to see how that goes I guess). While I can’t really say this premiere did much to elevate itself as a genre thing, I had a pretty good time with it, and even though I’m mostly just in it for the aforementioned genre stuff for the time being, it seems like it’ll be okay enough at that to warrant a few more episodes.

Rating: Good

 

Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun

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Synopsis: Aoyama kun is a hot, young soccer prodigy who plays midfielder for the National U-16 Soccer Team. But he’s also an extreme germaphobe!

First Impressions: So at first glance this seemed like it would be up my alley. Sports shows are generally a pretty reliable source of entertainment and the character designs seemed clean enough to give the impression this would be a semi-polished production. In execution however…I was left feeling cold. Unlike most sports shows the series starts off with Aoyama already being an established member of the team and a presumably skilled player which immediately kills most of it’s potential as a sports show since those are almost always about the progression of the protagonist as a player or the bonds they form with their team. Instead this gives off more of the impression of a gag series with plenty of pretty boys to gawk at, but it doesn’t quite work well on that end either since the episode has but only the one joke about Aoyama refusing to do things that will get him dirty, and it doesn’t really spin that well enough to produce any decent laughs, and it all fell pretty flat for me. On top of those problems it also features some of the heaviest animation shortcuts I’ve ever seen from a sports anime, and while the show at least makes the attempt to disguise them with good visual direction, it’s never quite sharp enough to work, and since the first episode of a show is usually supposed to be among it’s most well-animated I only see this getting worse from here. I really wanted to like this one, but nothing about it clicked with me and by the time I saw myself staring at the run-time I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I guess this might work for folks into bishonen comedies, but I came in expecting a sports show and left with something that felt like a lackluster mesh of those genres.

Rating: Bad

 

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life 

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Synopsis: Yushi Inaba is forced into an awkward living situation at his uncle’s house after his parents pass away. He decides that when he goes to high school, he’s going to live on his own, and finds an ultra-cheap apartment named Kotobuki-so. But it was a monster apartment, filled with monsters, humans, and ghosts! At first, Yuki doesn’t know how to deal with these eerie monsters, but after spending time with these strange creatures his closed heart gradually begins to open…

First Impressions: This one was completely off my radar going in so I had no real clue what to expect here but I actually ended up digging this one. The whole wacky roomates bit is a staple that’s pretty exhausted at this point, and the same can especially be said for wacky yokai stuff, but the execution here was a lot more grounded than I would have expected from it’s premise. While Yushi isn’t exactly a stand out protagonist I appreciate that the first episode actually took the time to dive into his situation and it did a lot to make him endearing. The other residents introduced so far are also pretty likable and while I have no doubt the show’s sense of comedy will get zanier at some point, I’m glad the first episode decided to keep things relatively simple and charming. I might be giving this one too much praise but since I wasn’t really expecting much of anything, it’s hard to complain much about a mostly welcome surprise. While there’s still plenty of room for this one to turn into something a bit more sluggish for now I’m certainly happy to give more of it a go.

Rating: Good

 

Restaurant to Another World

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Synopsis: There is a certain restaurant in the first basement level of a multi-tenant building in one corner of a shopping street near the office district. The historical 70-year-old restaurant, marked by a sign with a picture of a cat, is called “Western Cuisine Nekoya.” This restaurant looks completely normal through the week, but on Saturdays, it opens in secret exclusively to some very unique guests. During these hours, doors in various areas of a parallel world open to allow customers of many different races and cultures into the restaurant.

First Impressions: While I can’t say I was super excited for this show, everything about it’s basic premise seemed like a pretty safe bet for me. I like slice-of-life stories about demihumans and monsters, and I like food, so a show that combines those two elements together is something I can certainly get behind. Right off the bat, one of the single most appealing aspects of this show is how good it makes the food look. Anime about cooking is generally good in that respect but the amount of detail that goes into the look of each dish displayed is enough to leave you feeling totally hungry afterwards. As far as it’s slice-of-life elements go though, the focus is clearly more on the atmosphere than the characters so far, and we’re only explicitly introduced to our heroine halfway through the episode, but the overall aesthetic is enough to compensate so far, and I don’t have too much room to doubt that the show will flesh the cast out later on. For now though, I’m fully willing to admit that I’m just watching this because of how good the food looks, and if that’s to be my crime, I’ll be more than willing to bear it for the time being.

Rating: Good

First Impressions- Spring 2017 Anime (Part 1)

Spring is here and it’s looking to be a pretty hefty season for anime as there’s a ton a few content coming out of the woodwork as well as a few big sequels. Unfortunately the most recent divide in terms of legal streaming means that some of the stuff I was the most interested in checking out has been more or less cut off from me for the time being, but even with all that gloom in the air there’s still likely to be plenty to watch. Now it’s time to see how much of it’s any good.

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 .


Granblue Fantasy

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Synopsis: This is a world of the skies, where many islands drift in the sky. A boy named Gran and a speaking winged lizard named Vyrn lived in Zinkenstill, an island which yields mysteries. One day, they come across a girl named Lyria. Lyria had escaped from the Erste Empire, a military government that is trying to rule over this world using powerful military prowess. Gran and Lyria, in order to escape from the Empire, head out into the vast skies, holding the letter Gran’s father left behind – which said, “I will be waiting at Estalucia, Island of the Astrals”

First Impressions: At this point mobile game adaptions have replaced magic high school shows as the new thing to expect from every season by default, but outside of Rage of Bahamut, they haven’t exactly had the best track record. However with this one having been produced by Cygames who were the ones behind Bahamut, as well as this series having been planned for a whopping 48 episodes I was kind of curious to check it out. What I ultimately got though was an extremely by the numbers fantasy romp similar to last year’s super forgettable Endride and almost everything in it’s first two episodes feels like a giant checklist of generic JRPG tropes with everything from a amnesiac heroine to a protagonist with a missing dad. It’s only real standout feature at the moment is it’s visual presentation, which while making the characters look more like drawings than an actual part of the world their in, helped to keep my attention more than anything else the show had to offer. The actual animation quality seems pretty solid too for the most part, so if nothing else, the show at least has it’s look going for it. Aside from that there really isn’t anything else of note here but it also didn’t do much of anything that felt offensive either so I may give it a bit more of my time, and hope it’s not another Endride.

Rating: Decent

 

Alice & Zouroku

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Synopsis: A group of young girls possesses a mysterious power which gives them the ability to materialize their thoughts. Detained and experimented upon, these youths are locked away in secret until one of them manages to escape. Her name is Sana—a girl with the power to ignore the very laws of physics. When this wilful powerhouse crosses paths with a stubborn old man named Zouroku, his carefully-ordered life will never be the same again!

First Impressions: I didn’t really know anything about this one going in but just going off of most of the preview images I had seen before hand, this looked like it would be a cute slice of life story about an old man and a little girl. Needless to say I was pretty surprised when I actually watched this and it turned out the be a sci-fi show about an old man and a little girl, and one that’s framed along the lines of something you’d see in a live action TV drama from the west. The basic plot beats so far are pretty straightforward as we’re introduced to our two protagonists and the likely government sponsored experiments that surround one of them, but the execution is solid and manages to keep things just interesting enough to keep it from feeling a bit too procedural. It helps that the leads themselves seem pretty endearing so far, and the show does an excellent job of setting up the dynamic thing without feeling like it’s forcing it’s hand too much. I’m particularly fascinated by Zouroku since it’s something of a rarity to have adult protagonists in anime much less an old man, and his down to earth attitude really gives the impression of someone who’s seen enough in life not to be fazed when things take a turn for the strange. About the only real complaint I have here (and one that I imagine pretty much everyone will) is the super dated CG that looks like it stepped out of the backside of the early 00’s, but if the show can cut that down to a minimum it’ll likely be a good time. I’m certainly up for more.

Rating: Great

 

The Laughing Salesman NEW

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Synopsis: My name is Fukuzou Moguro, and people call me the Laughing Salesman. I am no ordinary salesman. The merchandise I sell is the human soul itself. Hooo-ho-ho-ho… All people in this world, young and old, male and female, are lonely. I am here to fill the emptiness in all of their souls. No, I won’t accept a single coin in return. As long as my customer is satisfied, that’s all the payment I need. Now, I wonder what sort of customer I’ll serve today… Hooo-ho-ho-ho-ho…

First Impressions: This is another one that I went into pretty blind, but it wasn’t too hard to guess from the title of the show and the look of the main character what this would be about. In effect it’s basically the shenanigans of a “salesman” who’s pretty obviously Satan or some other kind of demonic entity who “helps” people with their problems only to screw them over when they get too self-indulgent. That’s…pretty much the entire joke of the show and pretty much everything about it’s opening shorts was a clear cut case of what you see is what you get. To it’s credit though it was pretty entertaining and while both ending punchlines were predictable, I still got a couple of chuckles out of it, and it also features what may well be the most stylish looking anime opening this season will have to offer. It’s hard to say how quickly this show’s one joke will wear thin, but it did enough for me that this will probably make for a good Monday afternoon distraction

Rating: Good

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor

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Synopsis: The Alzano Imperial Magic Academy is located in the southern part of the Alzano Empire,and is among most prominent magic schools in the world, where students can learn the highest forms of magic. All those who strive to learn magic dream of studying at this academy, and its students as well as its teachers are proud to be a part of its 400-year history. Glenn Radars is a new instructor who has suddenly been appointed to teach part-time at this highly respected academy. The previously unheard-of lessons of this man known as a good-for-nothing bastard are about to begin.

First Impressions: *sigh* Ya know I never realized how good we’ve had it the last couple of seasons. While there’s been plenty of ups and downs in terms of quality programming it at least seemed as if Magic High School Light Novel Adaptions had finally been banished to the 9th circle of anime hell, and the industry found other forms of rote material to torture us with. Unfortunately this show has arrived from beyond the grave to hit us with those sad old tropes one last time, and even by the incredibly low standards these shows tend to run on, this one was really awful. The main joke of the show is that the protagonist is a dirtbag and the episode spends literally it’s entire run-time selling us on that fact. I was expecting it to at least at some point pull out the card of him somehow being ridiculously over powered and special (but I can’t imagine that won’t happen later on anyway) which while stupid, would have at least given the episode more than just one thing to work with, but he’s just a shallow, lazy waste of human skin for it’s entirety and while I guess we’re supposed to find this “funny”, I found myself wondering how anyone could tolerate even being in the same room as him. The members of his eventual harem that we’re introduced to here are pretty one-note as well and while the production doesn’t look outright bad, there’s nothing that really stands out about it either. These Magic High School LN adaptions pretty much always function on autopilot but this one is particularly soulless and aside from a couple of okay-fanservice bits I honestly for the life of me couldn’t even tell you what the appeal of this is supposed to be. It’s reminded me how glad I am that this kind of show has been on the verge of death over the last year or so, and if this is the kind of “quality” we’re going to get from the stragglers, I hope they stay that way.

Rating: BAD

 

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

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Synopsis: The life of the shinobi is beginning to change. Boruto Uzumaki, son of Seventh Hokage Naruto Uzumaki, has enrolled in the Ninja Academy to learn the ways of the ninja. Now, as a series of mysterious events unfolds, Boruto’s story is about to begin!

First Impressions: My feelings towards the Naruto franchise have grown complicated over the years as the last third or so of the manga really went off the rails, and soured my experience. For the most part though, I’ve found myself enjoying some of the post-manga content and the Boruto movie was one of them so I figured that something in the same vein could be pretty enjoyable, and with this one having some solid staff members behind it, I was at least curious to check it out. This first episode more or less did what I expected to as it briefly introduces us to Boruto and the whole inter-generational conflict the show is going for, and while the basic beats of the episode are pretty straightforward as it involves him helping a bullied kid, it;s workable enough not to feel like it’s dragging it’s heels and the production values, while not perfect, already look to be a lot sharper than what Naruto Shippuden had, and there’s some nice character animation on display here. My biggest concern at the moment though has less to do with the content of this episode and more along the lines of whether or not it’s going to try staying behind of the Boruto manga (which as of this moment isn’t even 3 volumes long) or overtake it/go it’s own route ala Dragonball Super. I’m really hoping it’s the latter and I can’t imagine they’d have gone ahead with it this quickly otherwise, but with Studio Pierrot’s rather infamous reputation for filler, part of me can’t help but be skeptical about how well planned out this little venture was. For now though, the show’s off to a pretty decent start, and if it can avoid some of the issues of it’s predecessor (mostly boiling down to over indulgent lore and repetitive themes) it could be a fun ride.

Rating: Great

 

Sakura Quest

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Synopsis: Five young women have one thing in common—the careers they planned for themselves weren’t working out. Job dissatisfaction, trying to make ends meet, and personal insecurities lead each of them to start working at a local tourism bureau where their lives become intertwined. As the girls experience their first year on the job, they learn a lot about their town, their industry, and themselves.

First Impressions: Since I still haven’t quite managed to get around to Kuromukuro, it’s been a while since I’d last seen an original project from P.A. Works and after giving us the sheer brilliance that was Shirobako, I’m more or less down for anything they have to offer. Of course since Shirobako was such a huge hit in Japan it’s not too surprising that this show ends up taking quite a few cues from it rather a story about the animation industry, this one is all about tourism and revitalizing a forgotten town in the countryside. In that respect the basic setup here is pretty predictable as we’re treated to the old tale of a someone from the big city being forced into the countryside and learning to appreciate the quiet life, but the writing’s thankfully sharp enough to keep it from feeling a little too cliche and Yoshino’s struggles in facing constant rejection trying to work her way through the job market feels a lot more relateable than I’d care to admit. The ending twist of the town being the same one as Yoshino’s most prized childhood memory felt a bit too on the nose, but aside from that everything here flows pretty smoothly, and the comedy, while not laugh out loud funny, is amusing enough to keep things from getting slow. All in all it’s a solid premiere and while only time will tell if this show just ends up being Shirobako with tourism, that’s an okay enough proposition to keep this on my watchlist for a while.

Rating: Great

First Impressions- Winter 2017 Anime (Part 2)

It’s time for round 2 of the winter anime season. I’ve already burned my way through a few things, but there’s still plenty more to go through, and a lot more potential suffering to be had so let’s get to it

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 .

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elDlive

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Synopsis: “Mumbling” Chuta Kokonose doesn’t have many friends. In fact, the only conversations he has anymore are with voices inside his head. Little does he know that this voice doesn’t mean he’s crazy. It just means he has an alien living inside his body!

First Impressions: Once upon a time I was a huge fan of Reborn, and while the final parts of the manga soured things for me, I still feel enough fondness for it, that I’d be more or less willing to check out anything else Akira Amano put ot. That’s where this series comes in, and having set my expectation levels somewhere around moderate, I more or less got what I figured I would here. There’s nothing particularly standout about the storytelling here as it’s all pretty by-the-numbers but mostly entertaining, and the tone hearken’s back more towards Amano’s gag series routes than the action heavy material from the later parts of Reborn, although that could certainly change given Chuuta clearly has some sort of ominous backstory. The one major feather in it’s cap though is some solid visual direction as the show has some really nice scene transitions, and while the color pallette isn’t exactly mindblowing, it feels lively enough to match what this is going for. I was pretty much going to watch this one either way, but for right now it seems like a moderately good way to spend Sunday afternoons

Rating: Good

 

Idol Incidents

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Synopsis: The story is set in a parallel Japan very similar to the modern Japan we known today. Increasing income divide, creeping environmental pollution, unsolvable garbage problems, childcare waiting lists being disputed while those directly involved aren’t present, repeated cases of corruption… Japan’s government, entrenched in its own vested interests, can do nothing about the abundant problems and discontent throughout the land. Now, at long last, idols are taking a stand to rescue a nation with no way out! The Heroine Party, the Sunlight Party, the Starlight Party, the Bishoujo Party, the Wakaba Party, the Subculture New Party, and the SOS Party: idols from these seven idol political parties who have become Diet members representing each prefecture will crash through the sense of stagnation that surrounds Japan with their song and dance! They will bring back the people’s smiles and envelop Japan in their shining aura!

First Impressions: From high strung comedies to action shows, idol shows have been inserted into just about everything at this point, so idols fusing together with politics was pretty much just a matter of time. On paper this sounds like a wonderfully dumb premise as it seems like something that could generate a lot of comedic mileage. In execution however, it’s a pretty standard idol show, and the politics hook just comes off more as awkward than funny. From the characters, to the tone, everything feels too safe and cookie-cutter for how potentially funny it could have been and while it’s not exactly short on visual gags, it really needed to be executed in a manner as over-the-top as possible to really work. There’s hints of that towards the end as we get a Love Live esque musical number towards the end, but it’s enough to elevate the rest of it, and nothing here really grabbed me. Still it’s an idol show and a fairly harmless looking one so if you’re into that sort of thing this might work out for you, but I’ll probably end up skipping this one unless I’m really starved for Sunday shows.

Rating: Decent

 

Gabriel Dropout

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Synopsis: An angel at the top of an angel school has descended to the human world! However, she has already acclimated to the life of the human world so much that she ends up leading a self-indulgent life, skipping school all the time and being absorbed in online games. Gabriel soon forgets about her original goal to make human beings happy and has turned into a lazy and hopeless angel, or a “sloppy angel” in short. Amazingly, she swears to continue to fully enjoy the pleasure of various entertainments of the human world.

First Impressions: I wasn’t originally planning to watch this one originally, but today was light on premieres so I figured I’d give it a shot. This turned out to be a pretty wise decision on my part, as this one actually turned out to be rather enjoyable. Anime having fun with classical archangels and archedemons isn’t a particularly new thing as we got The Devil is a Part Timer a couple of years back, and while this certainly doesn’t seem like it’ll be nearly as clever as that, it’s seems like another okay take at the concept. Archangel Gabriel turning into a NEET seems like kind of a weird thing, but having her be the snarky one seems rather appropriate, and I got a few laughs out of Satan being a chunni since that seems like a gag that’s a lot truer to form (not sure what’s up with Raphiel being a sadist, but I don’t recall everything about the Archangels so it’s possible there’s something in the stories to go along with the joke). Nothing here was too mindblowing, but it certainly made me laugh more than some of the other “comedy” premieres I’ve sat through this season so that counts for something. For now this seems like a solid watch, and I’m curious to see how much mileage it can get out of it’s premise (I’d certainly be curious to see what it’s versions of Micheal and Lucifer are like)

Rating: Good

 

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department

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Synopsis: “ACCA” is a giant unified syndicate residing in a kingdom split into 13 autonomous regions. ACCA was formed back when there was threat of a coup d’etat, and it has continued to protect the peace of civilians for almost one hundred years. Jean Otus, the vice-chairman of the inspections department at ACCA headquarters, is one of the most cunning men in the syndicate’s history with the nickname “Jean the Cigarette Peddler.” Whimsically puffing his cigarettes, he wanders through the 13 districts, checking to see if there is any foul play afoot. Meanwhile, Jean is monitored by gazes, threatening rumors, and… snack time. Jean’s quiet everyday life slowly gets swallowed up into the world’s conspiracies!

First Impressions: As the director responsible for bringing us Space Dandy and One-Punch Man, Shingo Natsume has made quite a name for himself in the last couple of years. Given that this series is carrying over some of the staff from the latter, that made this one a potential darkhorse for the season and one that I was pretty eager to check out. However if like me, you were coming into this expecting a sakuga-fest ala Natsume’s previous titles, this…definently isn’t that. Instead what we get here is a somewhat low-key spy show ala last year’s Joker Game, and much of this first episode is spent giving us a rough idea of the protagonist’s personality and setting up the various procedural work that’s to be expected in this kind of show. Unfortunently that means this is pretty lacking in the excitment department, but at the same time this premiere doesn’t make much in the way of any notable mistakes, and exhumes just enough confidence and style to work as a competent genre piece. The last few minutes of the episode suggest things might get more thriller-esque later on, but I’m not exactly holding my breath on that, and it feels like it’ll probably keep things more on the slow, methodical side. All that said, this show’s genre is one that I’m usually pretty happy with, and while I wasn’t exactly thrilled by what I watched, I was certainly intrigued, so for now I’m willing to see where this goes.

Rating: Good

 

Hand Shakers

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Synopsis: Tazuna is a high school student, living in Osaka, who loves to fiddle around with machines. One day, he receives a repair request from an university laboratory. He accepts the request and ends up meeting a girl named Koyori, who has been bedridden for a very long time. Suddenly, Tazuna and Koyori get pulled into a whole different world called “Ziggurat”. In this world, there are Hand Shakers, two people who touch hands and create the Nimrod. Their goal is to defeat other Hand Shakers in order to gain an audience with “God”, who will grant them wishes. Protect with your own Hands!

First Impressions: So out of the new shows this season, this was one of the ones I was the most curious about. While GoHands’s previous series, K: The Animation, was a pretty big exercise in style over substance, I enjoyed it’s first season quite a bit, and figured that a series by mostly the same people could at least be fairly entertaining. Sadly though, it turns out that this show is bad. Like REALLY bad. So much so that I was getting PTSD flashbacks to last winter’s Divine Gate, and that’s something I never wanted to experience again. Much of the episode is spent as one big “how we got here” moment in an attempt to add clarity to it’s super awkward opening scene but somehow manages to come out as even more confusing by the end of it. About all the show really manages to establish is that the protagonist has some weird obsession with fixing things, and that he has some sad backstory involving his dead sister that’s now being projected onto some white-haired loli. Aside from that, most of the episode is just one big overly-long fight scene and it feels like an absolute mess.  The minimal explanation wouldn’t be too much of a deal breaker normally, as K’s first episode was pretty similar in that respect, but it’s script was just grounded enough to follow, where as this is all over the place.

Further adding to the show’s sins is that it’s also horrendously ugly. GoHands’s weird obsession with bright filters has always looked a little jarring, but this show looks like a spectacularly technicolor-ed mess, and the “dynamic” camera angles that are clearly meant to make the action look more bombastic just come off as obnoxious (the hefty amount of 3DCG doesn’t help either). To make matters even worse, said camera angles are also used rather skeevisly for boob jiggle fanservice, which comes off as downright gross in regards to one of the female characters who spends every scene being abused in a way that’s clearly supposed to be “sexy”. Pretty much everything about this is one big NOPE, and while I certainly wasn’t going to be surprised if this one ended up being a stinker (K’s second season was kind of a letdown), I sure wasn’t expecting anything this horrible, and of all the bad things I’ve sat through so far this season, this one’s easily the worst. Stay far, far away from this one.

Rating: BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDD

 

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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Synopsis: Miss Kobayashi is your average office worker who lives a boring life, alone in her small apartment–until she saves the life of a female dragon in distress. The dragon, named Tohru, has the ability to magically transform into an adorable human girl (albeit with horns and a long tail!), who will do anything to pay off her debt of gratitude, whether Miss Kobayashi likes it or not. With a very persistent and amorous dragon as a roommate, nothing comes easy, and Miss Kobayashi’s normal life is about to go off the deep end!

First Impressions: Kyoto Animation is synonimous with high quality productions and solid content, but every now and then they tend to dip into the anime well and put out a low-key light novel adaption that ends up with better production values than it probably deserves. This season that distinction goes to Dragon Maid, which is an odd but mostly un-funny comedy about a lesbian dragon maid who decides to work for an office lady after the latter invites her over in drunken stupor. What ensues is a solid 23 minutes of gross out humor, boob jokes and lots of over-excited yelling, none of which managed to get a giggle out of me the entire time. My standards for anime comedies usually aren’t too high, but nothing about this one clicked with me, and I spent half the episode waiting for it to be over. Since this is a KyoAni show, it pretty much goes without saying that it looks good, and there’s some nice stuff on display here from the how the maid girl’s dragon form is animated, to some of the visual gags, but none of it’s really enough to change the fact that the comedy didn’t work for me and nothing about it left me curious for more. Of course everyone’s taste in comedies are different so maybe this one will work out well for other folks, and I don’t want to be too hard it since it’s not as though it’s attempting to be anything more than a low-end comedy, but this one’s a definite skip for me.

Rating: Bad

 

Chaos;Child

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Synopsis: Shibuya, 2015. In a city recovering from the “Shibuya Earthquake” which devastated it six years ago, Takuru Miyashiro, a student at the newly built private high school “Hekiho Academy” investigates a series of serial killings known as “The Return of the New Generation Madness” as part of his work for the school’s newspaper club…

First Impressions: Looks like it’s time for yet another semi-colon show, and unlike Occultic;Nine which was apparently just a light-novel adaptation, this one’s the real deal. It also happens to be a sequel to Chaos;Head which was the first of these to come out and easily the weakest of the bunch. This is supposedly due more to poor choices made by the adaption than anything else, but it still left something of a bitter taste in my mouth, so you can probably imagine my annoyance when the first 20 minutes of this 47 minute long premiere turned out to be a literal recap of Chaos;Head. Unfortunently the new material here hasn’t done much to engage me either, as none of the main characters really do too much to make themselves endearing here, with the focus instead being almost entirely on the mystery that the show’s setting up. Nothing about said mystery really did too much to make me feel like it was worth sticking around for, but offers just enough suspense to keep things from getting boring. For all these complaints though, it’s far from the worst thing I’ve had to sit through while going down the list of winter premieres, and none of it’s choices have struck me as particularly awful so far. In a stronger season I’d probably give this one the boot, but since there’s nothing else really competing for it’s attention on Thursdays, I may give it a couple more episodes and see if things improve.

Rating: Decent


And that’s it for me and the winter season. There’s still a couple of small premieres left and a few things I didn’t cover, but none of them seem like things that would appeal to me so this is probably as good a cut off point as any. By this point I’m used to jumping the gun on declaring a season to be weak, only to later eat my words and find enough enjoyable stuff to get by, but for the first time in a while I feel confident enough to say with absolute certainty that this is a really weak season. Usually I can find at least one or two non-sequels that feel compelling but so far the sequels (which I didn’t cover here since I felt they’d be redundant this time around) really are the best this season has to offer. Surprisingly though I don’t feel as frustrated by this as I’d expect since not having too much stuff to keep up with means I can finally tackle more of my massive backlog pile, but weak seasons tend to affect everyone, including the industry so in that respect it’s disappointing. At any rate I’m pretty much done here, and until next season, stay animated.

 

First Impressions- Winter 2017 Anime (Part 1)

It’s the start of a new year, which also means it’s the start of a new anime season. Outside of a handful of sequels, I’m more or less going into this season blind, so hopefully I’ll be able to find a few gems worth keeping up with. Of course it’s far more likely I’ll have to burn my way through some stinkers first so without any 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 .


Akiba’s Trip: The Animation

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Synopsis: Based off the hit game comes a new series about the danger lurking in the Otaku heaven of Akihabara. Vampires with an ability to take over anyone they bite seek their prey  in this anime fan’s paradise. When Tamotsu Denkigai encounters one, he nearly loses his life until the mysterious Matome Mayonaka revives him! Now part vampire, he forms a group to protect the streets of Akiba. fighting to keep the streets safe.

First Impressions: The only thing I knew about this one coming in was that it was being done by GONZO, who’s gone through some rather strange transformations since their bankrupcy a few years back and that it apparently had something of a lewd premise. Having watched the first episode, the latter is certainly…a thing, but my main form of curiosity came from the fact that it’s the first literal simuldub we’ve gotten since Space Dandy, and was made available less than an hour after the JP broadcast. Fortunently it doesn’t sound as rushed as that would imply, and everything here was perfectly servicable, if not great. As for the show itself, I find myself feeling rather mixed. Everything about it’s premise seems like it would be my kind of stupid, but there’s also a bit of a “self-aware” otaku edge to it, that feels slightly off putting to me, almost as though the show is trying to have it’s cake and eat it too. Of course that kind of thing can work for me (I enjoyed No Game No Life despite it’s various problems) but it usually has to feel completely over the top in all aspects and this felt a bit lacking. Still it certainly wasn’t boring, and it’s got some really fun animation so between that and the fact that it’s dub being available right off the bat meaning I don’t have to devote too much focus, I can probably be inclined to give it a couple more episodes.

Rating: Decent

Masamune-kun’s Revenge

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Synopsis: As an overweight child, Makabe Masamune was mercilessly teased and bullied by one particular girl, Adagaki Aki. Determined to one day exact his revenge upon her, Makabe begins a rigorous regimen of self-improvement and personal transformation. Years later, Masamune re-emerges as a new man. Handsome, popular, with perfect grades and good at sports, Masamune-kun transfers to Aki’s school, and is unrecognizable to her. Now, Masamune-kun is ready to confront the girl who bullied him so many years ago and humiliate her at last. But will revenge be as sweet as he thought?

First Impressions: So going off the premise alone, this show seemed like it would be a bit too mean spirited for my blood, and the first episode more or less cemented those fears. Fat shaming in and off itself is a tired trope and one that anime never does particular well and this pretty much continues the trend. Neither the heroine or the protagonist come off as endearing in any respect since the former is basically a jerk and the latter is just faking any form of kindness. The fact that we’re supposed to on some level, root for him giving her comeuppance by crushing her feelings just makes it all the worse, and while it’ll obviously go through a more traditional romance route at some point, there really isn’t anything here to convince me it’s worth sticking around to see how that turns out. Mean spirited comedies only ever really work if said meanness can also be pointed towards itself, and this seems way too self-indulgent for that so I’m not sure what the appeal here is supposed to be. I guess if you’re just attracted to rom-coms in general, something here might click with you, but for me it’s a total pass.

Rating: Bad

 

Saga of Tanya the Evil

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Synopsis: It is June of the year CE 1923. A young girl with blond hair and blue eyes, Tanya Degurechaff, has entered the final curriculum of the Imperial Military Academy and is training at the third patrol line in the northern military district, the Norden Theater, as part of her service to the force. Her training, the first step toward a brilliant career as an aviation mage, should have gone off without a hitch… but things took an unexpected turn.

First Impressions: This was another series that I was aware of soley by it’s absurd premise, but unlike Masamune-kun this one seemed like it had the potential to be entertaining. The first episode is pretty much a solid achievement in that respect as it does a solid job of establishing itself as a war drama with fantasy elements. Those fantasy elements in particular get some time to in the premiere, and I really like its sense of presentation. This is the first series helmed by the bizarrely named Studio NUT but aside from some awkward CG in the beginning, you’d never know it, as it’s a strong looking production, and there’s some solid combat sequences thrown into mix. As for the story itself though, it feels very much reminscent of last season’s Izetta: The Last Witch and while that one also had a pretty solid start it eventually devolved when the writer’s usual bad habits sunk in. This is a somewhat edgier take on that setting, so between that and our protagonist being rather…twisted it’s hard to say whether or not it’ll suffer the same fate (though I suppose if we can avoid having Tanya and her subordinate getting into wacky fanservice hijinks we should be alright). Still, while I’m feeling a bit cautious, there’s a lot to like about this premiere, and I’m willing to take a gamble on it

Rating: Great

 

Fuuka

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Synopsis: New meetings always come suddenly! The protagonist, Yuu Haruna, moves into a new town where he meets a somewhat strange girl who doesn’t have a cell phone. The girl, Fuuka, seems to have a strange allure that draws people to her, very much like a summer breeze. Looks like Yuu has been caught up in one wild love story!

First Impressions: So full confession here: I’ve actually read a fair chunk of the manga for this one (mostly as a result of boredom on a quite morning off), so I came into this pretty aware of what it currently is and where it’s inevitably heading. What it currently is, is a fairly by-the-numbers fanservice romance show, with almost all of the usual tropes that implies, meaning that whether or not you can get through these first two episodes (they must really be a hurry to get to the actual show) depends on your tolerance for that sort of thing. Where it’s headed though is a bit more…interesting to say the least, and given that this is a series made by the same guy behind the polarizing romance shows Suzuka and A Town Where You Live, it’ll certainly be something to see the reactions when it gets there. As such I’m more or less in it for that reason as weird as it sounds, and while I normally don’t like to be this coy about things, saying anymore would probably hamper the experience for better or worse. At any rate I’m pretty much on board this train till we get to “twist” but as for anyone else, I guess it’s up to your level of curiosity

Rating: Just Here For The Twist

 

Schoolgirl Strikers: Animation Channel

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Synopsis: Goryoukan Academy is a new private senior/junior high school for girls with a vast downtown campus. This highly popular school has “another face” — a secret hidden side. It organizes and trains the special unit Fifth Force to protect the world from invisible supernatural entities known as “Oburi” that are devouring the world. A team of five trained with powers against the Oburi is to be chosen from the student body to perform missions. A new team leader has been appointed to assemble the five students.

First Impressions: Well I wasn’t really expecting too much out of this one as I came into it mostly expecting it to be something of a fanservice/action show hyrid. What I got instead was something more akin to a gender reversed version of last season’s Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru where it’s a cute girls doing cute things type deal with some action stuff mixed in and a generic fantasy plot. Unforunently the former is 100% not my thing under most circumstances, and the latter didn’t offer nearly enough background details or anything else of interest to compensate. This left me feeling rather bored throughout and ultimately just waiting for the episode to end. As a positive it has some rock-solid production values, from it’s animation to it’s camerawork, and the few bits of action we do get look pretty cool, but sadly it doesn’t change the fact that there wasn’t really anything here of substance for me, and while I imagine this show’ll probably have it’s audience, I probably wouldn’t rank among them.

Rating: Bad

 

Seiren

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Synopsis: Shoichi Kamita is an ordinary high school boy, who is faced with the university entrance exam and worried about his future. This campus romantic comedy, “Seiren”, which means honest in Japanese, depicts his pure relationship with three different heroines. Each story is the unique and mutual memory between him and the heroine.

First Impressions: It’s been a while since I’ve heard of one of these alternate universe rom-com stories, featuring a protagonist romancing a different girl across several different takes, but I’ve always found the idea to be potentially interesting. Still I’d be lying if I said I had any high expectations and what we got in this first episode is more or less what I expected. Everything here is fairly light from the writing to the minimal fanservice, which means it’s more or less accessible to audiences of both genders and seems relatively harmless, but also not terribly interesting. Depending on how far it takes each individual story it’s possible at least one could amount to something notable but for now my expectations aren’t too high and I don’t see too much indication that it’ll rise above  being fluffy genre fare. Compared to Fuuka, though this at least feels a bit less rote, and all of it was inoffensive enough that I could maybe see myself tuning for more if my schedule isn’t swamped for this season (which doesn’t seem too likely for the moment).

Rating: Decent

 

Interviews with Monster Girls

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Synopsis: Monsters of legend walk among us, going by the name “demi-humans.” Ever since he’s discovered the “demis,” one young man has become obsessed with them. So when he gets a job as a teacher at a high school for demi-girls, it’s a dream come true! But these demis, who include a rambunctious vampire, a bashful headless girl, and a succubus, have all the problems normal teenagers have, on top of their supernatural conditions. How to handle a classroom full of them?!

First Impressions: Monster girls are a tired enough premise from anime at this point, that I usually try to ignore them unless there’s something else that sticks out. However, Summer 2015’s Monster Musume turned out to be a lot of fun, despite it’s over the top nature, and it managed to make me feel a bit more open about what could be done with them. All that said, this is about as far south of that show as you can get, as instead of being a crazy fanservice harem show, this is much more of a chill slice-of-life thing that happens to be centered around monster girls. These kinds of shows can be a bit hit or miss for me, but I really liked this one as the girls all feel pretty endearing so far, and it’s kind of refreshing having an adult protagonist for this kind of story. While a lot of the show’s premise seems like it could easily veer into harem show territory, everything here seems perfectly harmless, and the relationship between the protagonist and his monster girl students manages to avoid any serious suggestions of future creepiness. It’s brief pokes at general monster lore are also pretty nice, if not particularly notable, and between that and the rest of it’s atmosphere it looks like it’ll be a nice thing to watch on quiet Saturday afternoons. I’m in.

Rating: Good

First Impressions- Fall 2016 Anime (Part III)

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.

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Bungo Stray Dogs s2

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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!!!!!

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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!!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

First Impressions- Fall 2016 Anime (Part II)

It’s now the middle of the week and there’s been quite a few anime premieres since the last write-up, with some good, some bad and mostly just a lot of “eh”. Let’s go down the list.


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


Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru

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Synopsis: In the year 2205, the past becomes threatened by the historical revisionists who seek to change it. Protecting history becomes the task of a boisterous band of swords that are brought to life, including the glamorous Kashu Kiyomitsu and the kindly Yamatonokami Yasusada. Beyond their battles, these legendary swords from different eras lead charming daily lives.

First Impressions: I came into this one pretty much blind, but apparently there are two Touken Ranbu adaptions in existence. One is an upcoming production by Ufotable that promises to be heavily action-oriented and the other is this one…which is apparently a moe slice of life show featuring pretty boys. Shows about cute girls doing cute things already face a pretty hurdle in getting me to watch them since it usually requires having other elements to the show to keep it from just being about that since it gets old rather quickly, and that goes doubly so for shows about cute boys doing cute things, since being a heterosexual dude means those are effectively not made for me. This seems to more or less be what’s expected of these kinds of shows at this point, with plenty of quirky pretty boys, and enough homoerotic undertones to potentially ship characters without the show having to commit to actual relationships. As said earlier, it all more or less equates to being not for me, and having an action scene and some decent animation isn’t really enough to negate that. I’m sure it’ll do fine with it’s intended female audience, but for me it’s an easy skip.

Rating: Bad

Show By Rock !!#

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Synopsis: Metropolis of music, MIDICITY. A kitty girl wearing gothic lolita clothing named Cyan is scouted by Maple Arisugawa, the president of a music agency. From there, she meets chuchu the honor student rabbit girl, a net geek dog girl named Retoree, and an alien sheep girl named Moa. Together, they form the band named “Plasmagica,” and aim for the top of the world. However, the path there is long and tough, and keeping in high spirits is important. By battling against other strange bands, Plasmagica slowly grows toward a top-grade band. In the end, they’ll be a band that becomes the driving force of MIDICITY’s music industry… Maybe?

First Impressions: Speaking of cute girls doing cute things, we somehow ended up with a second season of Show By Rock. The first one didn’t particularly wow me, but it’s fun characters, and nonsensical “power of music” plot made it a pretty easy watch (and the fact that I needed to help review it for the Dub Talk podcast certainly helped things). This season’s looking to be about the same in that respect, and we’re already getting an even crazier storyline than the first one with this apparently involving robots and time-travel, which is sure to be pretty entertaning in it’s own right. However the main priority for this first episode basically centers around the other girls of Plasmagica struggling with their music careers now that Cyan’s gone and those moments are just sincere enough to stand out from the rest of the madness going on within the episode. Although it pretty much goes without saying that Cyan won’t be gone for too long, and the last bit of the episode has already laid the groundwork to throw her back into the swing of things, so I suppose it’ll be back to the usual song and dance (and I mean that quite literally) before long. (but enough about Plasmagica, I just hope the ShinganCrimzon boys get more screentime since they’re the real stars of this show). With that, Show By Rock’s second season seems like it’ll be the same relatively pleasant ride as the first and while I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to watch more of it, it’s certainly a good show to watch on quiet Sunday afternoons.

Rating: Good

 

Gakuen Handsome

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Synopsis: The top-class boys school in the prefecture, Baramon Private Academy. The protagonist who just transferred there encounters various tough guys at the school. As soon as you pass the gates, there was handsome— The outlaw teacher, the captain of the soccer team, his childhood friend who he hasn’t seen in seven years, etc… This is a school love story filled with very uniquely extreme feelings.

First Impressions: I’d heard a few whispers about this a while back and it seemed like it could be pretty entertaining since I’m pretty much all for genre riffs. This one is basically mocking aforementioned cute boys doing cute things type shows by making both the character designs and animation as ridiculously cheap as possible…which is more or less the entire joke. That could get old pretty quickly but forunently this is a short, and 3 minutes seems just about right for this kind of thing. It certainly had me laughing the whole way through, so this’ll probably make for a good afternoon distraction

Rating: Good

 

Trickster

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Synopsis: Kensuke Hanasaki meets a mysterious boy named Yoshio Kobayashi who, due to an unexplained fog, cannot die though he wishes for death. Intrigued by this boy, Kensuke invites him to join the Boys’ Detective Team and their work around the city. But danger awaits and their fate will lead them down a dark path.

First Impressions: So last year we got a show known as Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace that was loosely based off of a few old Japanese mystery novels by famed writer Edogawa Ronpo, and directed by Seiji Kishi. That show was,  to be frank: a hot mess, so imagine my surprised when it was announced that we were getting another bishonen show based on Ronpo’s novels, and only a little more than a year after the last one. So is this one looking to be better? Honestly it’s hard to say after this first episode. While Ranpo Kitan ultimately proved to be a trainwreck it at least had some interesting visual direction and mild attempts at horror, this on the other hand seems to be a more stock bishonen action show that just happens to feature characters based off of Ranpo’s. I do find it kind of interesting that the protagonist Hanasaki seems to be kind of in line with the offputting and slightly creepy personality of Kobayashi from Laplace, but this show’s version of Kobayashi is apparently a super-angsty pre-teen who apparently has some kind of weird fog surrounding him that kills things. Much of this episode is spent trying to establish something of a dynamic between them but it’s not terribly interesting, and Kobayashi’s whining got pretty old after the first couple of minutes. The one big positive here is that it’s certainly a much better looking production than Laplace was since much of Kishi’s direction in that show was to hide the fact that the animation was pretty stiff, and while nothing about this particularly impressed me outside of that, there wasn’t anything here that completely turned me off. I’ll probably give this one another episode or so to see where it goes, but if nothing stands out by then, I’ll probably drop this one off.

Rating: Decent

 

Scorching Ping Pong Girls

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Synopsis: The world of middle school girls’ ping pong enters an age of heated rivalry as the throne at its apex is surrendered… Tsumujikaze Koyori, a girl who loves ping pong, has just transferred to Suzumegahara Middle School. Along with her friends who strive to be the national champions, can Koyori bring the winds of change to the school?! The curtain is about to rise on a scorching hot tale of girls who love ping pong!

First Impressions: Well this one wasn’t really on my radar, but the sports show formula in general is one that usually works pretty well for me and while I was a bit late to the party in seeing it, I really enjoyed Maasaki Yuasa’s Ping Pong: The Animation. This show certainly isn’t that, but I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would at first glance.  The first episode does a solid job of setting up the dynamic between our two lead girls as it quickly establishes Kamiya as some who enjoys being at the center of attention, and Koyori suddenly stealing her spotlight despite her humble personality is clearly starting to get to her. While this sounds like a potentially irritating set-up the show does a lot here to establish both girls as fairly likeable, and though it’s hard to say if they’ll be given too much depth beyond their apparent moe archetypes, this definently feels more like a genuine sports show than a cute girls doing cute things one like the character designs and artistry here would suggest so there’s a lot of room for potential. There’s also some decent visual direction with the matches despite the simplicity of the artwork, and those sequences pack enough punch to get the job done despite the show’s limited production values. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one way or the other, but it turned out to be one of the strongest premieres I’ve seen so far for the season, and I’ll happily get on board for more

Rating: Great

Matoi The Sacred Slayer

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Synopsis: Matoi Sumeragi works as a part-time shrine maiden at her friend, Yuma’s, family shrine. While Yuma is a trained exorcist and next in line to become the shrine maiden, Matoi is content to pursue a normal life. Unfortunately, “normal life” comes to a crashing halt when she and Yuma find the shrine damaged and Yuma’s parents wounded. Things only escalate as Yuma’s “Divine Possession” ritual aims for, not Yuma, but Matoi, imbuing her with the powers of a god in a fight against evil spirits.

First Impressions: And here’s magical girl show #2 of the season. To be honest I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to watch this one since it’s TAN exclusive, but it seems as though Sentai doesn’t have it behind a paywall for the moment so I was at least able to check out the first episode. That said, I’m not sure if I’d have been missing out on much if I hadn’t seen it. It’s certainly one of the better looking premieres this season, and while I’m not too big on the character designs, the animation’s pretty smooth and the characters were certainly expressive. Far as the actual story goes on this one, it’s tonally all over the place as it seems very unsure of if it wants to be dark and serious, or lighthearted and fun, with some of the dialogue choices being downright weird, such as the heroine, Matoi mentally proclaiming about her desire to live an ordinary life right in the middle of her loved ones being attacked. It doesn’t help that said desire feels a little too par the course for most anime protagonists at this point and the fact that the episode doesn’t even put much focus on that wish until after she mentions it doesn’t help things. I might be willing to give this another episode or two, but I certainly can’t give it any strong recommendations at the moment so check it out at your discretion.

Rating: Decent

Nanbaka

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Synopsis: Four men are assigned to Nanba, the world’s most formidable prison. Jyugo, a man who attempted to break out of prison and ended up extending his jail time; Uno, a man who likes to gamble with women; Rock, a man who likes to get into fights; and Nico, a man who likes anime. A super exciting action comedy about the daily lives of the prison’s inmates and guards.

First Impressions: Crunchyroll announced the rights to this one way back at AX, and while I’ve been mildly curious about it ever since, I also wasn’t sure how much I’d actually enjoy it since this seemed like another cute boys doing cute things kind of show. Fortunently the prison break aspect of it, offered just enough of a spin on things to keep me entertained throughout the first episode. While a lot of the jokes just seem to more or less be base anime humor, I found myself laughing at it more often than not, and that the show briefly seemed to follow through on the one joke about the main character apparently being bi was an unexpected touch. I could see things eventually getting a bit to repetitive if the core joke is them not being able to escape, but for the first go around it worked pretty well. My one big complaint though would be the last few minutes of the episode which threatens a potentially “edgy and serious” subplot that didn’t really match the tone of the rest of it, but if the show can put that to the side, this’ll probably do the job as a solid anime comedy for the season.

Rating: Good

 

Yuri on Ice!!

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Synopsis: Yuuri Katsuki carried the hope of all Japan on his shoulders in the Figure Skating Grand Prix, but suffered a crushing defeat in the finals. He returned to his hometown in Kyushu and hid away in his family’s home, half wanting to continue skating and half wanting to retire. That was when the five-time consecutive world champion, Viktor Nikiforov, suddenly showed up with his teammate, Yuuri Plisetsky, a young skater starting to surpass his seniors. And so the two Yuuris and the Russian champion Viktor set out to compete in a Grand Prix like none the world has ever seen!

First Impressions: Sayo Yamamoto is perhaps one of, if not the most prolific female anime directors in the industry, and one of the best directors in general having brought us projects like Michiko and Hatchin and Lupin The Third: the Woman Called Fujiko Mine. I’ve only seen the former, but it impressed me enough to be down for pretty much anything she does, so when I heard that she was working on a male figure skating show for this season, it quickly became one of my few highly anticipated shows to come from it. So far from the first episode, it’s managed to meet my expectations and then some. There’s been some good looking premieres this season, but this one completely blows all of them out of the water as the animation here is absolutely gorgeous(Yuri’s skating sequence towards the end of the episode is easily one of the best looking scenes of the entire year), and Sayo Yamamoto manages to combine her strong sense of visual direction, and her own penchant for framing sexuality through shot composition to make for a downright stunning presentation. Also notable is that this is the first show she’s credited on for writing too, which I was slightly worried about coming into this, but so far it seems to be getting the job done, and the premiere does a solid job of getting us into the head of our protagonist Yuri. The one thing that did strike me as a little bizarre here is that of Yamamoto’s work so far, this one looks the most like a standard anime, even going for some of the usual go-to visual gags which feels kind of weird, considering how western centric her other stuff has been. That’s more of an observation than a dettererent though, and so far Yuri on Ice is easily the best premiere of the season so far. Sayo Yamamoto has done it again.

Rating: Excellent

 

Sound! Euphonium 2 

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Synopsis: Having won first place in the Kyoto Concert Band Competition, the Kitauji High School Concert Band prepares to go up against the many esteemed bands competing in the Kansai competition.

First Impressions: When I first watched season 1 of Sound Euphos way back in Spring last year, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my kind of thing since it seemed a little too low key for me. Despite those reservations though, it managed to win me over with it’s quiet character drama and incredibly dedication to realism in it’s framing and animation(though at this point it may be better known for some of the awkwardness concerning the yuri subtext between the leads). It wasn’t exactly a super standout for me, but it worked well enough to make watching the second season an easy sell and so far it’s off to a solid start. While a double length premiere might seem a bit much for a show as quiet as Euphos, it manages to earn the extra time by picking up pretty much exactly where things left off the last time, as the band continues preparing for Nationals, and more club drama rears it’s ugly head when a former member decides she wants back in. As always it’s pretty low key but it works, and it’s well supported by some incredible shot composition, with Naoko Yamada’s excellent direction, reminding us why Kyoto Animation is good at what it does. Sound Euphos probably won’t ever set the world on fire for me, but it’s consistently pleasant, and in a season as rough as this one, that’s more than appreciated.

Rating: Great


That’s it for this batch of fall show impressions. Yuri on Ice seems to be the only true standout of the season right now, but there’s still a few premieres left to go through this week so hopefully something else stands out. My last batch of impressions should likely be ready sometime Saturday so until then, stay animated.

First Impressions- Fall 2016 (Part I)

Well looks like it’s time for yet another new season of anime, meaning a lot of new shows to check out. To be honest this is the first time I’ve gone into a season without much of anything to anticipate since there wasn’t much that really stuck out from the previews and there’s surprisingly few mass-market potential shows for the fall. On the bright side though, going into most of this stuff blind means there’s always the chance a few things could end up taking me by surprise, so time to start going down the list.

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


Time Bokan 24

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Synopsis: The history in our textbooks are all wrong?! In the 24th century, humankind accomplished the invention of a time machine, “Time Bokan”. As they discover the truth about history, they realize that the history written in their textbooks are all wrong! To correct their knowledge of history, the government developed an organization called JKK. Our hero Tokio is recruited by Karen, a girl from the future to join the JKK. Together they travel through time to discover the true history, along with fighting the “Akudarma” a villainous group whose goal is to prevent the discovery of the truth!

First Impressions: So while I haven’t been anticipating much this season, this was one of the shows I was somewhat curious about. Time Bokan is a fairly established property in Japan, and one of the biggest ones belonging to Tatsunoko, who created a few major superhero titles for Japan back in the 80’s. My own experience with it though, is mostly limited to having played Tatsunoko vs Capcom on Wii a few years back, and having seen Winter 2015’s Yatterman Night, which actually turned out to be a pretty fantastic riff on superheroes and the classic Saturday Morning Cartoon formula of animation. This however, plays those tropes pretty straight, which is more or less what I expected, and for what it is, it’s fine. I didn’t find too many of the gags funny (outside of one ominous reference to 2016) but I think it’ll work out pretty well for it’s intended audience, and it was interesting seeing what this franchise is like when it’s more in line with it’s original incarnation. Whether or not you’ll find it enjoyable will mostly come down to your level of tolerance for Saturday Morning Carton fare, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for that kind of thing, and there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it either so I might give it another ep or two

Rating: Decent

 

Bloodivores

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Synopsis: 60 years ago, a strange case of insomnia struck the population, forcing them to stay awake for more than a full week. The victims, completely sleep deprived, all went mad. To cure this illness, a new medicine was produced, but the side effects turned the patients into vampires. Humanity went to war against this new species and triumphed, but some of the vampires managed to survive. Born from a Human and a Vampire, the main character Mi Liu, “The Child of Hope”, is to represent the new hope that will connect the two species. Ringleader of a bank robbery, Mi Liu is arrested and transferred to a special prison of the National Defense Agency that monitors Vampires. Trying to break free with Anji, Mi Liu is attacked by strange monsters and he finds out that the prison location corresponds to the birthplace of Vampires, the old capital “Blue Town.” Why are Vampires trapped in Blue Town? What are those strange monsters attacking them? Our heroes must fight to solve those mysteries.

First Impressions: So this is the second in upcoming Anime co-productions of Manwha stuff, with the first being last season’s The Outcast. I made the mistake of giving that show enough of a pass to go beyond the first episode, and it was ultimately pretty bland, so I more or less expected something similarly bland here and it exceeded my expectations. Bloodivores’s first episode doesn’t do much in the way of explaining it’s setting or establishing it’s characters instead hoping that it’ll manage to hook people with it’s “shocking twist” where it threatens to be a Deadman Wonderland wannabee. Unfortunently the episode doesn’t do nearly enough to make said twist feel genuinely interesting, and doesn’t even offer the benefit of being unintentionally hilarious in some instances despite having a show title that was pretty much asking for it. The closest thing would be the ending, which if watched without seeing the next episode preview, almost makes it feel like a 1-episode series which is certainly how I’m going to view it. I’m already pretty averse to vampire shows in general so between that hurdle and it’s general blandness I sure won’t be sticking around for the rest. Pass

Rating: Bad

 

Bubuki/Buranki- The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy

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Synopsis: It’s been ten years since Azuma Kazuki has been in Japan, and upon his arrival he is taken prisoner by a group of armed men. Azuma is saved by his childhood friend, Kogane Asabuki, thanks to a living weapon she wields on her right hand, known as a Bubuki. Learning about these weapons, Azuma becomes a Bubuki wielder himself and sets out on a journey.

First Impressions: The first season of BBK/BRNK aired way back in the Winter season and offered what is perhaps the closest 3DCG cel shading has gotten to actually emulating the look of 2D anime to date, while piling said visuals on top of a nonsensical plot involving giant robots and Super Sentai teams. This season looks to be offering more of the same in that respect, but already seems to have a clear advantage in terms of sheer entertainment value by introducing Azuma’s younger sister Karuko into the plot, having managed to more or less steal the show with 10 minutes of her first scene. The show’s animation has also stepped up a bit as it’s gotten even more comfortable with the emulating the visual humor of most 2D anime, and the series itself is still knee deep enough in stock anime tropes to avoid feeling boring. Far as the actual plot goes, there’s still not a whole lot beyond the usual popcorn entertainment, but at this point I’m far enough in that it’s sort of a moot point, so I’m just gonna keep having fun with it, and hope the visuals at least continue to improve. Bring on the robots.

Rating: Good

 

Izetta, The Last Witch

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Synopsis: The time is pre World War II that looks like Europe in an imaginary world. A large scale war abrupts and bloody battles are taking place through out the world. Eylstadt is a small country without a strong military force or natural resources. Finé who is the crown queen of Eylstadt decides to use a secret weapon against larger countries which was unheard of at that time to battle against larger countries. The secret weapon was using a witch named Izetta and her magical force to fight the war. Izetta is young (same age as Finé) and the last surviving witch with burning red hair.

First Impression: This was another show I kind of had my eye on since it apparently involved witches and WWII, the former of which generally turns out pretty well for anime, and the latter being of the most fascinating periods of world history in general. However my hopes for this show’s potential were slightly dashed when I saw that the scriptwriter was none other than Hiroyuki Yoshino, who’s works include anime original trainwrecks like Guilty Crown, and spotty adaptions like the first season of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. So far though, this show seems to be off to a pretty safe start. The first episode does a lot to take advantage of it’s fictional WWII setting, and the encroaching threat Germany (or Germania in this setting) placed on the rest of Europe at the time. It also does a fair job of introducing us to the first of our female leads Fine, who seems to be playing her part pretty well as the strong-willed princess archetype. Combine that with a solid visual presentation, and it all makes for a good opener though I’m still worried that Yoshino’s usual antics will eventually catch with it. For now though, I’d say it’s certainly worth checking out.

Rating: Great

Tiger Mask W

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Synopsis: The main characters are Naoto Azuma and Takuma Fujii, two young pro wrestlers. They were trainees at a small wrestling organization called Zipangu pro wrestling, but it wound up getting crushed by the wicked pro wrestling organization Tiger’s den. In retaliation, Naoto trains at the base of Mt. Fuji and becomes the new tiger mask, and Takuma meanwhile deliberately joins Tiger’s den and becomes Tiger the dark. The legacy left behind by the original Tiger mask is inherited by a new wrestler…!

First Impressions: Coming into this one, the only things about it I really knew were that it was based off of some wrestling property from the late 60’s and that it was being handled by Toei Animation, meaning that I had to set my expectations for the visual presentation from mediocore to absolute garbage. Fortunently it’s leaning closer to the former and actually surpassed my expectations a bit as while the animation doesn’t necessairly look impressive or anything, it’s certainly passable and the penciled in artstyle of the character designs gives the show a nice aestheic. As for the plot itself, it’s about as pre-90’s as you can get when it comes to anime with everything from super hammy acting to ridiculous character names such as “Tiger the Dark” and “Miss X”. Fortunently I happen to be pretty fond of goofy pre-90’s anime tropes so pretty much all of it worked to it’s favor for me, and while the story so far seems to more or less be nonsense, there’s so much goofy charm here that I quickly found myself caring, and the fact that I didn’t have to stop to complain about it looking ugly sure helped out a lot too. This show certainly isn’t going to set the world on fire, and if goofy 80’s nonsense isn’t your thing you’ll probably find yourself bored pretty fast, but for me it’s certainly worth at least a couple more episodes to bask in the glory of anime’s yesteryears . Also the ending theme song is one of the most amazingly try-hard edgy things I’ve heard in recent memory so there’s that.

Rating: Good

Magical Girl Raising Project

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Synopsis: Magical Girl Raising Project is a popular social game that has an ability to grant players a 1 in 10,000 chance to become a real life Magical Girl with unique magical abilities to help people. However, at some point, Fav, the magical administrator fairy, decides to cut the population of Magical Girls in half. The game quickly changes into a twisted, wicked battlefield as the 16 magical girls get dragged into a battle for survival against each other.

First Impressions: It seems as though we’re somehow getting three magical girl shows this season, and as has been the case for the last few years, it means the inevitablity of being handed one that wants to be the next Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This show is the latest wannabee, meaning that the episode follows some pretty familiar beats in introducing us to not-Madoka who’s as pure white a shojo heroine as they come and having our friendly not-Kyubei mascot character asking her if she wants to be a magical girl in a scene that feels “suspiciously” ominous. This show’s main gimmick apparently seems to be having the girls duke it out (presumably to the death) rather than having to deal with some unfair system of rules like Yuki Yuna is a Hero or Madoka itself. That could end up being pretty cool or really hacky depending on exactly how the show goes about it (and the opening scene isn’t doing it any favors in not feeling like it’s trying too hard) but for right how the show seems perfectly fine, and while it’s re-treading what’s a lot of familar territory to anyone who’s seen Madoka at this point, it’s at least re-treading good material and does a solid job of setting things up for the main event while throwing in a neat little twist regarding our heroine and one of the other magical girls she befriends that could turn into something pretty interesting. At any rate, if you’re in the mood for Madoka-lite you could certainly do worse, so I’d say it’s worth a peek.

Rating: Good

Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On

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Synopsis: In a world where people and monsters are at odds, some learn to coexist. Known as Riders, they awaken the powers of monsters and live alongside them in secrecy. Now, one young boy journeys to find his own companion and become the world’s greatest Rider.

First Impressions: This show has been partially on my radar ever since it was announced way back when last year, though mostly because it was being animated by David Productions and with this being slated for a 48 episode count I feared it would hurt their work on Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. Fortunently that show’s production has remained relatively smooth, but it’s certainly clear from the opener here that David Pro has poured a lot of time and effort into this show. The art for the backgrounds is surprisingly detailed, and the animation looks great with even the show’s 3DCG monsters looking pretty tolerable. It’s all a lot more than I expected for a kid’s show since those tend to get the short end of the stick on production values, and it’s easily the best looking thing I’ve seen so far for the season. The story and characters so far seem about as standard as you can get for this kind of show, with your typical smartmouthed but well meaning protagonist destined for greatness, his reliable childhood friend, ominous prophecy, etc, but there’s enough charm here to keep it from feeling a little too bland, and the visuals are strong enough that it’s almost worth giving a look soley for that reason. Not sure exactly how far I’ll go with this one given that it’s visual presentation is the only big asset here, but that impressed me enough that I’m willing to give it another episode or two.

Rating: Decent

 

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans Season 2

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Synopsis: The Earth Sphere had lost its previous governing structure, and a new world was created under new systems of government. While a temporary peace had arrived, the seeds of a new conflict were being sown in the Mars Sphere, far away from Earth.

First Impressions: Last year’s Iron-Blooded Orphans was my first real Gundam show (depending on how you count Gundam Build Fighters), and it made a pretty good impression on me between it’s solid cast of characters, potrayal of child soliders and of course sweet mecha action. Given all that, this was one of the few things I was seriously anticipating for the fall, and so far the second season seems to be off to a relatively solid start. Much of this episode is spent re-introducing old characters while tossing in some new ones, and there’s a couple of moments where it feels a little too on-the-nose with the former, but otherwise does a good job of picking up where things left off. Now that Tekkadan’s made a name for themselves and Gjallarhorn is breaking apart I imagine much of this season’s conflicts will center around what both sides are willing to do to hold on their power, and that could be pretty interesting. Of course, Gundam’s track record with second seasons after a long break is apparently pretty spotty so it’s hard to say if it’ll stay as consistent as the first, but things seem fine for right now and it’s riding on more than enough goodwill that I’m eager to see where it all goes.

Rating: Great


And that’s pretty much it for the first batch of Fall shows. I’ll likely have my next round of impressions ready some time in the middle of the week, provided my schedule doesn’t get messy. Thanks for reading.