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.

First Impressions- Summer 2016 Anime Season (Part 3)

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

Ratings Scale

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

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

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

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

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

*All series synopsis from Anime Planet

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Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars

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

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

Rating: Bad

 

Planetarian

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

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

Rating: Great

 

Alderamin on the Sky

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

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

Rating: Good

 

91 Days

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

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

Rating: Excellent

 

Time Travel Girl

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

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

Rating: Decent

 

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! LOVE!

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

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

Rating: Good

 

Hitorinoshita- The Outcast

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

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

Rating: Bad

 

Qualidea Code

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

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

Rating: AAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH


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

First Impressions- Summer 2016 Anime Season (Part 2)

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

Ratings Scale

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

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

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

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

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

*All series synopsis from Anime Planet

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Days

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

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

Rating: Great

Orange

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

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

Rating: Great

 

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance

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

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

Rating: Good

 

Tales of Zestiria the X

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

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

Rating: Bad

 

D. Gray-Man Hallow

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

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

Rating: Good

 

Sweetness and Lightning

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

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

Rating: Excellent

 

Taboo-Tattoo

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

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

Rating: Bad

 

Hybrid X Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia

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

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

Rating: Hot Garbage


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

First Impressions- Summer 2016 Anime Season (Part 1)

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

Ratings Scale

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

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

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

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

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

*All series synopsis from Anime Planet

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Berserk

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

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

Rating: Decent

 

ReLIFE

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

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

Rating: Great

 

Food Wars: The Second Plate

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

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

Rating: Great

 

Rewrite

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

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

Rating: Bad

 

Love Live!! Sunshine

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

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

Rating: Great


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

Summer Season First Impressions Part 1

Well it’s time for a new season of anime once again and we’ve already had a pretty good amount of stuff come out so now’s as good a time as any for me to get started on this.

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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Argevollen

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Synopsis: The story takes place in a world where the two countries of Arandas and Ingelmia have been fighting for a very long time. Susumu Tokimune, a young man fighting with the Arandas forces saves a girl named Jamie Hazaford when she is attacked by the enemy. To survive, he uses the weapon Argevollen and fights.

First Impressions: I’m a huge fan of Tatsuo Sato’s works since I like how they’ve often had the ability to take super serious premises and be as relaxed and laid back about them as possible while still making the story work. Though so far this seems to have taken a step back from that style in favor of portraying a somewhat more serious war story with robots and that aspect of the show works fairly well, even having the robots display noticeable technical issues, the second half with our hot blooded protagonist getting his shiny new mecha doesn’t quite mesh well and feels a bit out of place.  The show has some potential though as a grounded war mecha show is something that hasn’t been done much these days and if the protagonist having a superior machine to everyone else isn’t overused too much it could make for some interesting material. I’m willing to see where this one goes.

Rating: Decent

 

Tokyo Ghoul

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Synopsis: The suspense horror/dark fantasy story is set in Tokyo, which is haunted by mysterious “ghouls” who are devouring humans. People are gripped by the fear of these ghouls whose identities are masked in mystery. An ordinary college student named Kaneki encounters Rize, a girl who is an avid reader like him, at the café he frequents. Little does he realize that his fate will change overnight.

First Impressions: I picked up the manga a while back and really enjoyed it so when I first found out this was going to cover a lot of material from it in a short episode span my expectations were dashed. In spite of the odds though the first episode managed to be pretty impressive despite the amount of material it plowed through. Kaneki’s realization of his situation is the highlight of the episode and his freak out is really well directed and the seiyuu delivers a pretty great performance during the last scene of the episode. It also does a pretty solid job of setting up future events and painting a picture that there’s more to Ghoul society than human media has let on and some small hints that Kaneki’s accident may not have been so accidental. This still has the potential to turn into a trainwreck since it still has a ton of material to get through in a short span but if this first episode is any indication the directing may be enough to overcome that. It’s definently worth checking out at any rate

Rating: Great

 

Sailor Moon Crystal

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Synopsis: Usagi Tsukino is a second-year middle school girl who is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she is full of energy. One day, she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon on her forehead, and she transforms into Sailor Moon, a sailor-uniformed pretty guardian of love and justice! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi seems to have a mission to find the Illusionary Silver Crystal with the other guardians and to protect the princess. Meanwhile, the queen of the Dark Kingdom, Queen Beryl, also sends minions to the town where Usagi lives to obtain the Illusionary Silver Crystal, which has immense power. This causes strange events to unfold… Can Sailor Moon really find the Illusionary Silver Crystal with the other Sailor guardians, and protect the princess…!?

First Impressions: Well Sailor Moon is back folks and unlike a certain other big Toei property that I won’t name, has a proper reboot. The material from the first episode itself is more or less a retread of the stuff from the first episode of the original anime but there’s a more distinct direction here as there’s some nice foreshadowing in the beginning of the episode and Mamoru is interesting right out of the gate. There are also some interesting Utena like directional floruishes with some of the eyecatches and super shojo-fied backgrounds though the technical aspects of the episode are probably it’s most noteworthy problem as Toei’s cheapness strikes once again. The flaws are pretty easy to look over though in favor of the material from the episode itself being mostly fun and though some of the tropes are a bit worn these days Sailor Moon’s charm still strikes a cord pretty easily. Definite watch. Especially with the episode schedule being every other week.

Rating: Great

 

Aldnoah Zero

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Synopsis: In 1972, the Apollo 17 mission discovered a hypergate to Mars on the surface of the moon. Soon a war breaks out between Earth and Mars, and Martian soldiers begin to descend from the sky, riding steel giants, intent on exterminating humanity

First Impressions: While I didn’t pay too much attention to the pre-air news of this show, I’ve been impressed with Gen Urobuchi’s works so far and this met my expectations fairly well. The majority of the episode is spent establishing the setting as we’re introduced to the conflict between Earth and the Martians, as well as our main characters though Slaine seems the more interesting of the two so far and I’m curious to see where his character arc goes given his connection to Earth versus working under the Martians. The most interesting material of the episode however is towards the end which has a abrupt but very impactful terrorist attack that shakes up things in a big way and sets off a new conflict that will likely be the main focus of the story. In a lot of ways, this first episode is very reminiscence of the first episode of Valvrave the Liberator but unlike there where the abrupt twist and set up was almost unintentionally comical, here we’re left with a massive sense of intrigue and I’m genuinely curious to see where this goes next. Go check it out.

Rating: Great

 

Akame ga Kill!

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Synopsis: The dark action fantasy manga follows the title character, Akame, a girl who was bought, and raised by the Empire as an assassin. After meeting Akame, a boy named Tatsumi vows to stand up to the evil of the corrupt Empire with the secret assassin group Night Raid and special weapons known as Teigu.

First Impressions: Like with Tokyo Ghoul I’m an avid reader of the manga and given that this isn’t plagued with the episode limitations of the former, I was the most excited about this show for the season and it mostly delivered on my expectations. The episode does a good job of introducing you to the main character Tatsumi and slowly introducing the corruption of the empire though most of the value for this episode centers around the twist midway and having been already privy to it, it does take away from things a bit. It does suffer slightly from it’s limited animation budget (which made the direction a bit awkward during one scene towards the end) and the beginning of the series does take a bit to hit its stride but the first episode does a good job of getting you interested and it should definitely be a fun ride.

Rating: Great

 

Rail Wars

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Synopsis: In a parallel world where Japan has not privatized any of its railways, Naoto Takayama is an ordinary high school student who dreams of being a train conductor for the Japanese National Railways. He is assigned as to the Tokyo Central Railway Public Security Office. He is teamed up with Aoi Sakurai, a strong willed woman who excels in marksmanship and close combat, Haruka Koumi, who has an extraordinary memory, and Sho Iwaizumi, a hot-blooded man who relies on brute force. From lost children to bombings, Naoto must lead this team, despite not having any special strength!

First Impressions: I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this coming in and the premise seemed like something that could make for good dumb fun but instead the show just turned out to be straight up dumb. The show starts off with a cliche fanservice love triangle setup and then attempts to introduce us to our four protagonists as they start on their training before abruptly skipping to the end of their training in an awkward attempt to avoid having the characters actually get to know each other and form a genuine dynamic between them (made all the more strange by the episode later having the characters ask questions and find out things about each other that they should already know for the amount of time they spent together). It also takes it’s extremely stupid premise very seriously which should under normal circumstances make for some pretty good laughs but the show makes no actual attempts to make an actual gag out of the situations as a result  some of the events of the episode are facepalm worthy in terms of how much the characters are seriously overreacting to mundane or trifle situations. If you’re really big on trains then this show might interest you since it assumes that you are and goes into almost documentary level details about them but otherwise I’d recommend skipping it.

Rating: Bad

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Well that’s pretty much it for now. There’s more stuff to check out this week so I’ll likely get around to part 2 of my impressions next weekend