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 .

——————–

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

First Impressions- Spring Anime Season 2014 pt 2

Well we’re getting deeper into the start of the season and a lot more stuff has aired over the last few days so I figured it was time continue on with my First Impressions of Spring Stuff. (You can see pt 1 of it here)

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 .

Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro

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Description: The story follows Matsutarō Sakaguchi, a giant roughneck man with strength far beyond ordinary people. He never uttered words like “work hard,” “strive,” and “dream” like the typical shōnen manga protagonist. However, he is stronger than anyone and peerless in sumo wrestling. His greatest weakness is his own carefree personality. He grows into a full-fledged sumo wrestler.

First Impressions: This show is a steaming pile of poo and it’s not because cheap looking animation budget or the horrible theme song. No it’s because of the main character.  The guy is an obnoxious jerk who bullies other students, literally steals candy from a baby (and later almost runs over said baby with a truck), cons people and kidnaps women. This guy almost makes Dio Brando from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure look like a saint but unlike him there’s pretty much nothing entertaining about this guy or redeemable for that matter. You might get some slight enjoyment out of seeing just how much of a prick he can make himself before karma catches up with him (and it thankfully does at the end) but there’s nothing salvagable enough to keep following this one. Keep away folks.

Rating: Bad

Haikyuu

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Description: Volleyball-loving Hinata suffers a crushing defeat in his first and last tournament in middle school at the hands of his rival Tobio Kageyama. So, Hinata joins Kurasuno High School’s volleyball team for revenge, only to discover that Kageyama is also on Kurasuno’s team. The former rivals form a legendary combo with Hinata’s mobility and Kageyama’s precision ball-handling. Together, they take on the local tournaments and vow to meet Kurasuno’s fated rival school in the nationals.

First Impressions: I’ve heard a lot of good things about this series and with Kuroko’s Basketball being gone for the time being I was hoping this show would be a solid sports anime replacement and it’s meet that in spades. The first episode does a solid job of introducing us to the main character Hinata as we see his struggles throughout middle school to form a  volleyball team and get to play the game he loves on a big stage though reality sends him crashing down pretty quickly (which was greatly appreciated since that would have killed the vibe quite a bit) and he spends the rest of his time training to do better in high school. Underdog sports series are always pretty entertaning and though the twist at the end might take away from that a little, there’s still more than enough heart in this that I’m confident it’ll continue to deliver on the storytelling front. This one’s a keeper.

Rating: Great

Baby Steps

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Description: The story follows “Ei-chan,” a punctual and earnest boy who has strived for straight As since elementary school. The 15-year-old high school boy stops by a tennis school to deal with his lack of exercise. There, he meets Natsu, a beautiful, earnest girl who only has passion for tennis. In turn, he awakens a deep passion for tennis within himself.

First Impressions: I watched this directly after seeing Haikyuu and I was expecting it to be a step down in terms of quality but surprisingly enough it held it’s own pretty well. The main character is a bit different from the norm in terms of his personality and obsession with organization so I’m extremely curious to see how that’ll be applied to the game itself and exactly how he’ll get to the point where he is in the beginning. The heroine’s also likeable enough and has a pretty good dynamic with the lead and as I’m a fan of romance sports series (especially after having just rewatched Cross Game), if the show delivers well in that area it might give Haikyuu some competition for me. If you don’t mind having a second sports series to watch this season this one’s probably worth your while.

Rating: Great

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior(Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou)

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Description: Usa, a high-school student aspiring to begin a bachelor lifestyle, moves into a new apartment only to discover that he not only shares a room with a perverted roommate that has an obsession for underaged girls, but also that another girl, Ritsu, a love-at-first-sight, is living in the same building as well.

 First Impressions: Wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this one coming in but it was surprisingly entertaining. The premise is something that’s kind of worn thin at this point as far as anime goes, the residents are kind of one dimesional jokes  and I’m not too interested in the romance aspect so far, but the show generally makes up for the weaker areas above by being pretty funny and I got enough actual laughs out of this that I can keep going with it. If you want a comedy to follow, this one mostly does the trick.

Rating: Good

One Week Friends

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Description: High schooler Yuuki Hase notices that his classmate Kaori Fujimiya is always alone, and seemingly has no friends. After approaching her Kaori reveals that she loses every memory of her friends each Monday. Despite learning this, Yuuki endeavors to become her new friend every week.

First Impressions: Amnesia is one of the most worn and despised plot devices in fiction(as those who actually made it through the entirety of Golden Time would attest) and by all means that should be enough to make this show a waste of time as it’s completely centered around it. However One Week Friends is well written enough to bulldoze over that sore spot and make for an interesting show. The dynamic between the two lead characters is really sweet as the first episode gradually builds up a budding friendship between them and the buildup to the amnesia twist is handled extremely well. It’s possible that the premise may end up wearing itself thin and drag down the quality of the show with it but for now I’m hopefully that it’ll remain a heartfelt and touching story. Definitely worth checking out more at any rate.

 Rating: Great
Brynhildyr in the Darkness
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Description: When he was a child, Murakami was infatuated with a girl he called Kuroneko. She insisted on knowing about aliens and having met them, but no one believed her, even young Murakami was skeptical. One day, she decides to show him the aliens, but an accident occurs and Kuroneko dies while Murakami is left seriously wounded in the hospital. Years go by and Murakami obsesses on finding proof of the existence of aliens because of a promise he had made with Kuroneko. Then, one day, a new transfer student comes to his class, who not only looks a lot like Kuroneko, but is named Kurohaneko. And even though she insists on never having met Murakami before, the girl has superhuman strength and seems to even be able to predict the future.
First Impressions: I vaguely remember enjoying Elfen Lied (though it’s been years since I’ve seen it) so I expected I’d probably find this to at least be decent and it’s mostly met that expectation. I’m not really that big on the main character so far since his depression over the death of his childhood friend takes up a bit too much of his character but Kuroha is interesting enough and I’m curious to see where some of the mysteries surrounding her character go. I’m not too sure where the actual storyline itself is going  since the vibe between the OP and ED songs clash pretty heavily but I’m intrigued enough to give this a few more eps and there’s some good material to be had here.
Rating: Good
Black Bullet 
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Description: In the year 2021, mankind was defeated by Gastrea, a parasitical virus, and was forced to live within a wall made of Baranuim monoliths, a metal that is able to subdue Gastrea. Soon, the “Cursed Children” were discovered: children born infected with the Gastrea virus who possess superhuman abilities. Due to the Gastrea virus’ intervention, the Cursed Children could only be female. Civil Securities are formed to specialize fighting against Gastrea, operating with the pair of an Initiator, who are cursed children, and a Promoter, serving to lead the cursed children. Ten years after the war, Rentarou Satomi, a high school student and Civil Security member, and his Initator Enju Aihara, receive a secret mission to prevent Tokyo’s destruction.
First Impressions: To be honest I was expecting to like this show a bit more than I actually did. The first half of the episode had some pretty good material as we got introduced to the world  and tone a little bit, and the action sequences were pretty fun but the second half fell into typical LN fluff and the loli heroine trying to get into the main character’s pants made me cringe a bit. Still there’s a lot of interesting material to be had here and I really like the OP song so if the show can be more like the beginning of the first episode and less like the second half it might deliver on my initial expectations for it. As it is though it’s good enough to check out at any rate.
Rating: Good
That’s all for now. Depending on how many more shows I end up seeing I may do a pt 3 but at the moment I’m not sure. What are your thoughts on some of the most recent shows so far?

First Impressions- Spring Anime Season 2014 pt 1

We’ve come yet again to a new season of anime. There’s a lot of shiny new stuff out there and as with anything, there’s some good and some meh in terms of quality and it can be tough to find what’s worth checking out so I though I’d give my first impressions on what I’ve seen so far, and which shows are worthwhile. Let’s jump in shall we?

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 .

Majin Bone

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Description: “This story began before Earth was born. Majin, the creator of the Universe, has been resurrected in the present day.”  Shōgo Ryūjin, is an ordinary high school student who transforms into the Bone Fighter Dragonbone with the Bone Card in order to save Earth. He fights together with the White Bone warriors as they stand up to Dark Bone, a foe that appeared from darkness to devastate Earth. However, “could the true enemy be ourselves?”

 

First Impressions: As the latest thing in Toei’s evil empire of toyetic shows I was expecting this to either be ridiculous enough to be fun or ridiculous enough to be a waste of time. Surprisingly it turned out to be neither. The first episode is actually pretty low key as it introduces us to the set up the series and manages to avoid doing anything too exaggerated or goofy. Shogo is a pretty decent protagonist so far (and his obsession with porn could either be really amusing or get really old after a while) and the 2D animation and character models look solid. Of course at the end of the day it is a toyetic show so all the undertones of that kind of series are still there (and the 3D suits look kinda awkward) so while the first episode doesn’t do anything notably wrong it doesn’t do too much to wow either.  As it is it’s an alright watch for now

Rating: Decent

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 

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Description: In a Japanese jail sits 17-year-old Jotaro Kujo: punk, fighter, delinquent…and possessed by a force beyond his control! Around the world, evil spirits are awakening: “Stands,” monstrous invisible creatures which give their bearers incredible powers. To save his mother’s life, Jotaro must tame his dark forces and travel around the world to Cairo, Egypt, where a hundred-year-old vampire thirsts for the blood of his family. But the road is long, and an army of evil Stand Users wait to kill JoJo and his friends…

First Impressions: As a huge fan of the first season and having already read the manga for this part of the franchise I was pretty excited for this and so far the anime is meeting my expectations. The first episode is pretty much just the prologue but it does a great job of setting things up as we’re introduced to our newest protagonist Jotaro Kujo who has a lot more attitude than his predecessors though there are still some hints that he may be a decent guy underneath. We also get introduced to the newest concept, the Stands, in a pretty spectacular fashion as there’s just the right level of ham and over the top reactions to turn what would otherwise be a pretty mundane infodump into 24 minutes of pure fun. Stardust Crusaders isn’t my favorite part of Jojo but it’s off to a great start and with some luck hopefully the anime staff will be able to make the weaker parts more entertaining. If you haven’t seen any of the series before you can jump into  the beginning of this arc and follow it just fine as Jojo’s parts are all relatively standalone so I highly recommend it.

Rating: Excellent

Kindaichi Case Files Returns

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Description: Hajime Kindaichi is a high school student who solves any case or mystery with his IQ of 180. He usually seems dull, but when there is a case, he demonstrates remarkable deductive skills inherited from his famous detective grandfather.

First Impressions: It’s been awhile since my last mystery series and I kind of needed the fix so I can thankfully say this show met that need. Despite the fact that it’s a sequel to a long running franchise that already had an anime with a ton of episodes the first episode is pretty standalone (despite what the first 30 seconds would have you believe). Hajime is a pretty straightforward shonen protagonist but the gimmick about him having a high IQ is pretty interesting and we see some shades of it over the course of the episode and the side characters are also pretty decent so far. The episode also does a solid job of setting up the first major mystery though there are a couple of instances where it kinda feels like it’s going through the motions in that area as well. As the mystery isn’t actually solved in the first ep it’s hard to say if this will be a keeper or not but it does enough right that I’m willing to  stay in for more.

Rating: Good

Captain Earth

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Description: Just before summer vacation, high school student Daichi Manatsu suddenly sees a mysterious, circular rainbow over Tanegashima Island on TV, knowing that he’s seen it somewhere before, and decides to head there to investigate. But upon arriving, Daichi’s life turns upside-down when he meets a giant robot who asks the boy “are you the captain?” Now, Daichi must fight the mysterious invaders threatening the planet from inside the cockpit.

First Impressions: This was one of my most anticipated shows of the season and so far my expectations have been met. The setup seems a bit bizarre ala Star Driver but it also feels a bit more grounded and though I’m not sure if that’ll be to the show’s benefit or not it works pretty well for the first episode though the fact that we already have libido powered robots probably means that there’ll be at least some level of camp in this show which should be fun. Not totally sure what to think of Daichi so far as a protagonist but he doesn’t seem as angsty as the promos implied he might be so that’s a plus though given that this seems to be a coming of age kind of thing I imagine it won’t be too long before the angst kicks in. Of course the best feature of the show is by and far the gorgeous looking robots so even if the rest turns out to be crap I’ll at least stick around for that and the show has just enough mystery to it that I’m extremely curious to see where it’ll all go and how much of it will make sense. For now though the show’s off to a sweet start.

Rating: Great

This World is Still Beautiful

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Description: Nike,  is the determined princess of the Rain Dukedom who has a mysterious power: she can control rainfall. After losing a game of rock, paper, scissors to her older sisters, she is forced to unwillingly marry the king of the Sun Kingdom, Livius I. Livius (or Livi for short) conquered the world in three years, and is known as the “Dreadful King.” However, when Nike meets him for the first time, she finds to her surprise that he is a boy younger than she is. Livius abruptly asks Nike to call forth the rain, and when she refuses, he has her thrown in jail. The story follows the two who, while at first are a married couple only in name, gradually begin to establish an emotional bond with one another.

First Impressions: I had no real expectations for this show one way or the other and only really intended to check it out to see if Pierrot would continue to live up to their reputation of (somewhat exaggerated) mediocrity so I’m happy to that I actually enjoyed this show a lot more than I thought I would. Nike is a surprisingly likable heroine so far as she lacks a lot of the more irritating traits you’d expect from  a princess character archetype and the first episode does a solid job of balancing comedy with serious moments and doesn’t really seem to be leaning totally one way or the other yet but it remains enjoyable and fairly cute throughout. We also get a quick peak into some of the fantasy elements of the show which seem like they’ll be mixed into some politics stuff ala Spice and Wolf though it’s hard to say if it’ll reach that level of quality. My only real complaint about the first episode is a 4th wall joke that feels really out of place but other than that it’s pretty smooth sailing and the show has the potential to the surprise of the season in terms of quality

Rating: Great

The Irregular at Magic High School (Mahouka)

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Description: The anime’s story takes place in a world in which magic is not a fairy tale, but has existed for nearly one hundred years. In the spring, the Private Magic University Affiliated High School (Magic High School for short) is welcoming its new students, and names the top incoming student with the best grades the Bloom. The student called the Weed is the Bloom’s replacement. Siblings Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba are designated as the Weed and Bloom, respectively. Tatsuya is a young man who always has a farsighted expression, and Miyuki is a young woman who feels far more for her brother than sibling love. Since the day the two entered the gates of the elite school, the establishment’s peaceful days have become chaotic.

First Impressions: As I’ve heard various terrible things about the light novels this series is based on I was expecting to seriously hate this show and was only really giving it the time of day because Madhouse is my favorite anime studio. Thankfully the first episode managed to avoid my low expectations, but at the same time it’s not much to write home about either. The main character seems kind of bland so far as he has a typical stoic emo guy personality and the other side characters don’t seem too interesting either. The setup for the storyline has some interesting elements as the class discrimination and magitek could prove to be interesting later on but so far it’s being handled in a pretty straightforward manner. There’s also some pretty heavy incest undertones throughout the episode between the main character and his younger sister (which seem like they’ll be played horrifiyingly straight) so that’s also a bit off-putting. Visually the show looks fantasic, and the soundtrack is pretty good as well but so far it feels okay-ish. I’m willing to give it another episode or two though so we’ll see if it gets better or worse from here (leaning towards worse)

Rating: Decent

And that’s it so far for now. I’ll be seeing more shows over the next couple of days so there’ll be one or two more parts to this. What are your thoughts on the spring shows so far? Let me know what you think.

First Impressions- Stealth Symphony

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Stealth Symphony is the 3rd of the 4 new series recently added to Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan and in many ways it was the most anticipated which is why Viz Media was so quick to add it to the English lineup of the magazine. With the story being helmed by Ryohgo Narita of Durarara and Baccano fame the manga has quite the pedigree to live up to and the first chapter generally succeeds in showing it’s potential.

The story kicks off when main character Jig travels to Jinbo-cho a city filled with elves, dwarves and other kinds of magical beings. His goal is to remove a curse he recieved when he got sick as a kid and was forced to recieve it in order to save his life. Since it apparently makes him a disaster magnet and he almost causes a big one on the beginning of the chapter he decides to get bodyguard protection so that he can prevent himself from hurting others with his powers. It’s around then that we’re introduced to the other main character Troma who is invisible save for a mask and becomes Jig’s bodyguard for the duration of the chapter. It’s soon revealed that Jig’s accident in the beginning of the chapter was no accident and that he’s being targeted which sets off a rather cruel plot twist that will likely be what drives the story from here on out.

Those familar with Narita’s works will immediately recognize that the one thing that stands out as being different here is that the protagonist of the story is clearly defined where as Baccano and Durarara functioned off more of an ensemble cast (though there’s still plenty of time for it to go down that route later on) and the first chapter is devoted to his story though it also helps us to dive into one of the other main characters as well. Jig comes across as pretty likeable so far and though his motivations are a bit cliche at first the ending to the chapter suggests his development may go in an atypical direction for a Jump protagonist. The other lead character Troma is the that seems to have the most potential for something cool between the two though since his invisibility is played with in a pretty unique way since he feels as hollow on the inside as he does on the outside so it’ll be interesting to see where his character is eventually taken.

The artwork for the series is also pretty fantastic as artist Amano Youchi delivers on his speciality in that area and the designs look very detailed for a weekly series though it feels a bit similar to Takeshi Obata’s (Death Note) artwork so hopefully it evolves a bit. The setting also looks as though it could lead to some pretty cool setups as the concept of a city filled with magical beings and dragon artifacts could make for some interesting world building.

Overall the series is off to a strong start and though it feels a bit different than Narita’s usual style it has the potential to live up to his other works and could be the kind of series Jump needs right now.

 

Available through Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump Digital Magazine