First Impressions: Winter 2015 Anime (Part 1)

Winter 2015 is here. It’s so here. So far, really, so good. There hasn’t been anything that’s compelled me to drop it outright (although a few shows have come close), and most of the shows I was truly excited for showed up well. Add a crop of decent premieres to five solid to excellent ongoing shows and you’ve got a pretty darn good start to the season. Either that or, after a fall season that failed to conclude with a show above 7/10, I’m just really happy to see some new anime.

Still to Watch: Kofuku Graffiti, Durarara!! x2, Isuca, The Rolling Girls, Aldnoah.Zero 2, Fafner of the Blue Sky, World Break, Death Parade

Ongoing: Shirobako, Garo, Your Lie in April, Akatsuki no Yona, Log Horizon

Shirobako

Just a reminder that Shirobako is ongoing, that you should be watching it, and that it’s hard being in anime world.

Ikuhara’s Revenge: Yuri Kuma Arashi

Well, Yuri Kuma Arashi is Ikuhara all the way though…except it’s not quite the Ikuhara I fell in love with when watching Revolutionary Girl Utena. Which is fine! Really, it is! YuriKuma is a different show and I can accept that—I can come to terms with the fact that it utterly lacked Utena‘s elegance and feeling of substance in the first episode or the fact that Tsubaki came across completely without personality. It is, as can be so easily forgotten when sifting through the myriad of new shows at the beginning of a season, just a first episode. It’s not as if I found the episode totally without any sort of purpose or significance. But this was enough for me to know that I want to see Yuri Kuma Arashi as a whole production, not as 12 separate parts. For that to happen, I’m putting the show on hold until after it’s aired.

LN Adaptations…: Absolute DuoSaekano

Absolute Duo: Some things should be good, but suck. Something should suck, but are good. Absolute Duo, almost miraculously, fell into the later category more often than not in its premiere. A show I literally only picked up because Yui Horie was voicing a side-character and because I clearly haven’t learned my lesson from Magical Warfare (magical high school) or Rail Wars! (also had a Hocchan-voiced side-character), Absolute Duo surprised me by feeling a bit fresher than most light novel adaptations of its ilk. Between a fantastic looking ED, a harpsichord background track in the first scene, the classroom scene with an incredibly weird comedic tone, some genuine laughs, and some cringing laughs, Absolute Duo managed to make me enjoy it despite being riddled with clichés and tropes I’ve seen over and over again. The PV for episode two doesn’t look promising, but for now I’m hyped, if only because my extremely low expectations were surpassed.

Absolute Duo

Saekano—How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend: Something about this one just didn’t quite click with me. Megumi Kato, the normal girl in a harem consisting of a consolidated artist-tsundere-childhood friend, a friendly and physically aggressive musical girl, and the smug writer girl, seems like she actually has potential to be an entertaining character and (possibly) end up messing around with the tropes surrounding the harem genre. Elsewhere, though, Episode 0 was filled with really racy fanservice and the kinds of meta “jokes” that were barely funny the first time I heard them. Now, I didn’t hate it the episode and Saekano looks pretty nice, but episode 1 is really going to have to impress me to keep me on board.

Saekano

Better Than Free!: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!

The curse of Anitwitter counteracting my tendencies to plan on picking up things that only appeal to my typical tastes continues—and let’s just say it’s a good curse to have. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (which really needs a manageable abbreviation) turned out to fall into that same cleverly comfortable spot that Free! did, except that Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (seriously) is a much smarter show than Free! is. The thing that really made Free! work for me was how unabashedly committed it was to not appeal to the male fanbase, and that same resistance is pulsing through every second of Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!‘s (…okay halp) loving veins. I’m not even sure, exactly, what it is, but Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (ahhhhhhhh) is really working for me, I’m a huge fan of the voice acting, and I’m definitely anticipating the second episode.

Shounen Jump #1: Assassination Classroom

I wasn’t expecting much from this Shounen Jump title, but I was honestly quite pleased by this first episode. Sure, there was some of your typical anime clunky exposition, but for the most part we get to see our protagonist Nagisa (wish he had actually been a girl) without grating internal dialogue and Koro Sensei is instantly likable without totally erasing how threatening he is. There’s a lot to swallow as far as the premise goes, but I care a lot more about how they’re going to make this work than I do about the fact that you have to accept a bunch of absurdities to get to this situation. There are a lot of weird dynamics, strange thematic threads, and offbeat contradictions in the way Class 3-E is set up. Of course, it remains to be seen if Assassination Classroom makes good on all that wonky potential, but this was an easily digestible episode and I’m looking forward to the rest of the show.

Assassination Classroom

Too Short to Tell: Military!

Two terrible jokes and then a bunch of exposition in the first episode, but looks like it might have potential for some funny craziness, so I’ll stick with it for a bit.

12 thoughts on “First Impressions: Winter 2015 Anime (Part 1)

  1. Yeah, I haven’t watched everything that’s out yet but so far Winter haven’t that great too me honestly. Death Parade is the closest thing approaching great, though I still have hope for some of the anime that starts next week.

    Yurikuma:
    This is my first intorduction to Ikuhara and it might be a mistake. I thought I had a grasp on things for the first half, but is just utterly lost in the second half. There’s also all the intrinsic problems you mentioned too…guess I’ll follow suit and just marathon this later.

    Absolute Duo:
    The first one of the LN adaptation harem fantasy with Matsuoka Yoshitsugu as the main character (aka the HanaKana of harem lead), and it’s indeed full of cliches as you mentioned. It’s not horrible, but I really have seen it all before, and will eventually drop it later anyway. Which is kinda a shame, as this is the harem fantasy LN adaptation this season that I have the highest expectation for.

    Saekano:
    Nothing fits the expression “I want to eat my cake and still have it too” as this show. Really, they’re doing the EXACT same thing they’re mentioning multiple times, to the point that it has to be intentional. I’m not really sure why they go with the whole episode 0 business too, throwing a bunch of girls we don’t know and/or care about out of nowhere.

    I wonder if the writer just have no faith in their audiences: “sure, this is bad and we all know it, but you guys eat it up anyway, so whatever. Also, we need you to preorder those BD/DVDs on Amazon, so I’ll just start up by showing you what you really want from this show instead of having to wait to go through character development or other boring stuff like that first.”

    Eh, maybe I’m being too harsh. I actually like the staff and I like how the show looks, and this is written by the same guy who wrote White Album 2, so I know he can write something above generic stuff. Also, I remember one of the girls saying something like “why didn’t they just go straight to the pure love story instead of having to go through the audience pandering crap first?”. which might be prophetic.

    Kancolle
    Cute battleship girls being cute, though there is some action at the end. It seems much better for those who played the game, as there seem to be a ton of references and stuff to it, but for someone who neither speak or live in Japanese like me it’s not that appealing. I have a good laugh of fighter jets coming out of the archery girls though.

    AssClass:
    I read the manga and enjoyed it, and the anime adaptation looks to do a pretty good job so no worries on that end, at least so far. But yeah, you have to suspend the disbelief and don’t think too hard on the ridiculousness of the premise, but if you can buy it this is going to be very fun to watch. It’s the typical “inspiring eccentric teacher instills hope to a class of rejects and outcasts” underdog story, but with the whole assassinating your teacher stuff. I have good hope for this, hopefully Seiji Kishi won’t screw it up.

    Shirobako:
    The show might have sense me tolerating Tarou, so they add a new character just as annoying. The only thing worse than a useless employee/coworker is a dumbass client, at least you can get rid of the former without losing much money. Still, Shirobako just keeps on being great in the new year.

    Death Parade:
    Even if the show sucks balls, it’s already worth it for the OP alone. Forget OP of the season, this is early contender for best OP of 2015.

    Thankfully, the show doesn’t suck. That being said, I feel that the end of the episode feels very…overboard compared to the subtle, subdued start.Or maybe that’s done on purpose…Eh, I don’t think I can properly discuss this without spoiling. so I wait for your thoughts on this later. In any case, I hope the show doesn’t stick to the case of the week (which is not only repetitive, but its cynicalness can lead to it being too depressing to watch despite still being good, at least for me) and focus more on the cast in the OP instead, which looks more interesting.

    Wow, that’s unexpectedly a lot of stuff. I really should have another place to spill my thoughts instead fo hijacking another guy’s blog. Or at least get a twitter.

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    • Hey, I don’t mind! I like reading your thoughts! 🙂

      YuriKuma: Honestly, I think you might be well-served by watching Revolutionary Girl Utena before you come back to this one. It’s a really great introduction to Ikuhara’s style, and a fantastic amazing show besides.

      Saekano: Yeah, a pretty awful introduction to the show. If it weren’t for music girl (did she have to be his cousin) and the final scene of the episode, I probably would have already ditched this.

      AssClass: I’m just hoping they do more with it than just the weathered Shounen Jump thematic tracks.

      Shirobako: Still amazing.

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  2. I’ve watched three so far, I’m still waiting for Crunchyroll to get the stream up on Koufuku Graffiti, and I’ll start watching the three Funi shows on my “try” list next week (Assassination Classroom, Rolling Girls, and Death Parade) once their subscriber embargoes are lifted on episode 1.

    As for the three that I did watch:

    Saekano: I’ve heard from people who’ve read the manga that this was a deliberate over-the-top parody episode, and that the regular series should be more straightforward rom-com fare and a lot less fanservice-y. While I welcome the latter with relief (I’ve never been a fan of fanservice comedies), if that is true then I question the wisdom of giving us an introductory episode that sounds like it might be setting a completely different tone from the rest of the series. That just seems like an exercise in audience-alienation to me. “First let’s drive away everyone who doesn’t like excessive fanservice, then we’ll dial it back and drive away everyone else who only stayed for the fanservice!” Yeah, that sounds like a great plan. I’ll stick with it for a bit and see how it goes, because the writing does at least seem to have a glimmer of a brain to it.

    KanColle: I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is only for fans of the game. I haven’t played the game obviously, but I’m not sure why they’d say that. I’m sure I’m missing a few inside jokes, but the plot seemed like fairly standard stuff to me and wasn’t that hard to follow. Of course, I was still able to appreciate it on the level of a WWII history buff who recognized nearly all of the ships and ship-classes that the characters were named after, so that was still kind of fun (as was the sense of smug superiority I got every time I saw another reviewer referring to Fubuki as a “battleship” – she’s a destroyer, folks. Totally different type of ship and use in combat). If I didn’t have that either, though, then I’m not sure how I’d feel about it, because aside from the novelty of the premise there was a lot of generic stuff here otherwise. I’ll definitely keep watching it for now, but I can see myself dropping it later on if the novelty wears off and there’s no other hook to replace it.

    Military: Can’t really comment on this one way or the other, except that I didn’t find it immediately engaging the way “Husband” was in the fall. I knew after one episode that I was all in on that series. This one, eh, not so sure. But it’s only three minutes, so I don’t mind giving it a few more weeks.

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    • Saekano: So manga readers are encouraging us by saying that the show is going to ditch trashy fanservice for typical rom-com hijinks? Oh, boy, that’s a big relief…

      KanColle: Not interested in it, but it’s been interesting to hear the divergent opinions on it, which have ranged from “it’s terrible and boring” to “loved it so fun!”

      Military!: Yeah, not a super amazing hook, but it’s got Nao Toyama. That’s good for at least a couple weeks of watching.

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  3. I thought this season is looking terrible. So many useless harems. The only new interesting shows I saw were Assassination Classroom (and even that feels like it will fall victim to Sanderson’s First Law of Magic) and Rolling Girls.

    The first episode of Rolling Girls was pretty funny, though. Feels like a lighter, fluffier Kill la Kill.

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    • Huh, I’m actually pretty high on this season so far, but that might be a combination of new season rose glasses and the fact that I think the top tier of shows is really, really good.

      I’m kind of on a second wind for cheap harem LN adaptations after basically taking last season of haha.

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  4. You… You liked Absolute Duo? Oh bless, you really do have the best worst taste. 🙂

    Watch iM@S Cinderella girls! It’s quite good, and could spark some interesting best girl debate in the coming weeks. You also don’t need to have watched the previous one to pick this one up!

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    • Correction: I did not hate Absolute Duo the way I expected to, which more or less amounts to me liking it because it surpassed expectations. I do kind of doubt it will last long.

      And I kind want to see the first iM@S first, just cause I’m weird like that. But best girl debates…so tempting…

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  5. That first one… it seems that its author likes yuri or yuri elements. Utena, Penguindrum (according to what I’ve read) and now this.

    I wonder how a non morally objetionable series with him would be like. From what I’ve read about the other two series, he has various qualities in narrative style, visual style etc.

    Back to this series… is as fanservice filled as some people have commented?

    Absolute Duo: I dropped it halway of the episode. Doesn’t looks too interesting. Also, dark chuuni style names for objects? some authors really like that, it seems.

    Saekano: I skipped various scenes, both because the fanservice, or how boring they were. Hypocrytal humor, and meta commentaries… the latter could be done in a more clever way, but isntead, here it felt like the author was just gathering ideas from other series (concepts, scenes, cliches, etc) without adding too much to the result. Why they had to put music girl as the cousin of the male protagonist?

    The animation and visual style was good. And the cgi blended better with the hand drawn animation compared to other series. Another case of wasted talent.

    Earth Defense Club: If is like Free, it would be a fujoshi bait series I guess. That, plus the magical girl role reversal doesn’t sounds good or interesting.

    Assasination Clasroom: It looks like the typical contemporary Shounen Jump series, but it was better than expected. Some scenes with a nice style, plus some of the interactions between the teacher and the studentsare interesting. The protagonist could work better as a girl.

    Military: Would have been better without the inspection joke or the pantyshot. It ended too quickly.

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    • Earth Defense Club: it was actually cute amusing without being overly fujoshibait. But if you’re a big fan of magical girl anime I could see it rubbing you the wrong way.

      Assassination Classroom: I was, frankly, a bit disappointed that the lead wasn’t a girl. It would have made the stuff with the bullies more uncomfortable, but I think it would have opened up some interesting possibilities in the future of the story. Ah, well, we can’t have everything.

      YuriKuma? Yeah, it’s got fanservice and sexual imagery all over the place. I doubt you’d find much to like in it, from what I know of your tastes.

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      • I see. Still the role reversal thing doesn’t looks very interesting.

        I wonder if the androginous design of the protagonist is a leftover of a previous iteration of the character as a female in the design phase.

        Regarding that one, I was reading that some scenes use the Ave Maria. That sounds terrible! even blasphemous.

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  6. Kancolle: I’ve read about the game, it features various ecchi images of the battleship girls after being damaged in battle, so I thought the anime was going to be like that too. It has fanservice, but it wasn’t as vulgar as one could think after reading about the game (basically, pantyshots, and clothing damage, but without actually showing too much). Stilystically is interesting, and the went to the magical girl route instead of having the girls being the ships themselves.

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