First Impressions: Winter 2015 Anime (Part 2)

Alright, Part 2 of my Winter 2015 first impressions is here (Part 1 available here)! For me, this was the bigger selection of shows I was excited for and, as you’ll see, there were both some really easy keepers and some really easy drops. There really aren’t too many bubble shows this season after the first week, and Isuca is the only show left to air that I care about. I’m currently at 16 shows (including carryovers), but I’m expecting that number to go down by 2-4 shows. The spread is pretty good, too, with both Mondays and Wednesdays being empty. Anyhow, this was a very, very good batch of shows. Lots of fun times ahead in Winter 2015!

Still to Watch: Isuca

Garo

Obligatory Reminder: Garo is also still airing, and you should be watching it.

Excellent, as Expected: Death Parade, Rolling☆Girls

Death Parade: Honestly, Death Parade was a little more than I had bargained for. Having seen Death Billiards, I knew I was in for a somewhat merciless examination of humanity animated in painful beauty. This first episode was exactly that, but the added element of this being a married couple made this episode extremely difficult to watch. If there’s a flaw in the generally creative and thoughtful premise of Death Parade‘s “death game” set-up, it’s that it seems specifically designed to push at least one person so far that they barely even seem human. Which is not an unduly kind of hopeful thing to watch. I’m withholding judgement on that front for now because it looks like Death Parade might take some time to focus on the characters behind the bar, but there’s something about the surface-level unfairness of the game’s ambiguity that always makes me want to see someone figure out the trick before the game starts. In any case, this is a pretty tough show to watch, but it’s extremely well-made and uncomfortably thought-provoking. A surefire keeper.

Death Parade

Rolling☆Girls: Predicted pet show of the season. Confirmed pet show of the season. Kyousougiga and Kill la Kill are the names I’ve seen thrown at The Rolling Girls most, but this show is nothing to me if not Yozakura Quartet-like. The whole idea of territory and place and the way people rally around each other and a central identity based on location is straight out of the YZQ playbook and I love it. Combine that with an bubbly sense of aesthetic whimsy that far transcends Kill la Kill‘s near-obnoxious tendencies, and you’ve got a show that hits me in sweet spot like no other show has this season. Everything from the colors to the music to the cute character designs to the fun-gun plot points (like an impromptu ramen eating contest) to the inherent positivity that a show like this is bred to embody knocks it out of the part from me. My only hesitation is that the total engagement effect hook was somewhat less potent than I had hoped, but that’s often a mood thing more than anything else. In any case, keeping, loving…rolling.

It’s Baaacccckkkk: Durarara!! x2

In the best way possible, Durarara!! hasn’t changed a bit since four years ago. This first episode was still everything I loved about the first season: from Celty’s bashful adorableness to the character-centric OP sequence to big old flashbacks, it was all there. I was somewhat worried that, having marathoned the first season, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this season properly on a weekly basis, but those fears with dispelled really quickly. This is a world that just sucks you in with its unique vibes and excellent offbeat soundtrack and colorful personalities. It’s everything I love Durarara!! for being, nothing more and nothing less. And it’s all here. In short, I’m thrilled to have Durarara!! back and I’m keeping it.

Durarara!! x2

Happy Surprises: Junketsu no Maria, Koufuku Graffiti

Junketsu no Maria: For a show with so many pitfalls that could make me dislike it—dealing with the Catholic Church, Maria’s status as a virgin being a plot point, the apparently inevitable sex jokes—I actually found Junketsu no Maria to be quite charming. Maria herself is one of the most likable protagonists of the season, the character designs are bright and cute while also being unique, and the plot/premise seems to be flexible enough to tackle any number of potential stories. It also looks like most of the characters we met this episode are going to be recurring characters, which makes me really happy, as I found most of them to be interesting. I don’t really remember much of the plot summary, so I’m curious to see where the actual story will go. In the mean time, it was a pleasant watch and I’m happy to be keeping it.

Junketsu no Maria

Koufuku Graffiti: Far more inoffensive than I had anticipated, far less SHAFT than I had anticipated, and far more likable and easy to watch than I had anticipated. Koufuku Graffiti might eventually end up being a schedule casualty, but with Saekano and Military! still on the bubble, it could find a nice place as this season’s moe show in my watching queue. The thing that struck me most about this premiere was how cozy the show was without feeling repetitive. Koufuku Graffiti certainly doesn’t seem interested in treading new ground in terms of plot events or character types and looks to be limited to a few locations, but a general feeling of warmth pervades the show. It’s sort of like a nice cup of tea, just with a few surprises when SHAFT decides to make a simple bit of eating super enhanced visually. These moments actually end up feeling quite out place in the midst of the rest of the show. Keeping until I get bored of it.

Koufuku Graffiti

“Come, that Which Sucks! Ze Dropper!”: World Break, Aldnoah.Zero 2Fafner Exodus

Aldnoah.Zero 2: I don’t like to use expletives on my blog except when absolutely necessary, so its bit difficult to talk about Aldnoah.Zero and how I feel about this follow up episode to the absolute trash that was the first season’s finale.

This is just absolute, nonsensical crap in the worst, disrespectful way I can imagine. Aldnoah.Zero doesn’t care about its characters, its audience, or its story. It’s unrestrained, completely self-indulgent thrill-seeking for the sake of delivering shock and sensation and violence and surprise. And I hate it. I really, really hate it. I hate how it killed the princess. I hate how it revels in Slaine’s suffering. I hate how Inaho has a solution to freaking everything. There are some sorts of trashy shows I can enjoy in spite of, or even because of their trashiness. Aldnoah.Zero makes even that impossible to do. This is a soulless, awful show and I’m dropping it.

Aldnoah.Zero 2

At least I got to see Inaho Sunset Butt once more before I quit.

Fafner Exodus: To be totally honest, there’s a decent number of things to like about Fafner Exodus, from the grandiose classical soundtrack’s ability to convey a sense of scale (unfortunately ill-matched to the actual events of the episode) to the character designs avoiding the typical mecha anime looks to the naturalness with which the storytelling introduces the characters. But, this is still a sequel and I’m confused enough about what’s actually going on and the characters atypical and naturalized designs actually make it really hard for first-time watcher (or anyone, probably, as it’s been 10 years since the initial series) to keep track of who is who and what their relationships to each other. Frankly, I feel like there’s an inkling of a decent story and a solid show here, but I’m not really engaged enough to find out what it is. Dropped.

World Break: Holy cow that was astoundingly bad. Sometimes I like to write a lot about why I’m dropping a show, but this (sakuga omg) and this ought to be enough. Oh, and besides the fact that the animation was clearly not among Diomedea’s top priorities this season and besides the fact that the content was  offensive in its treatment of the female characters, the execution of pretty much everything was so incredibly lifeless and badly organized and horribly written that it was tough even to laugh at it. Dropped.

World Break

And it started off so well, too…

16 thoughts on “First Impressions: Winter 2015 Anime (Part 2)

  1. Rolling Girls: Very surprising, I wasn’t expecting something of that high quality. Fun design, characters and scenes, colorful artwork, and good animation. There are still things that could be better, like some animation details, and some 3/4 views of the characters. There is too much space between the eyes and the border of the faces, also, the outlines of the face near the eyes look too exaggerated sometimes:

    Something a bit annoying is how some scenes are obscured.

    The backgrounds are quite good too:

    This one is beautiful:

    No fanservice expect some immodestly dressed characters, but isn’t very noticeable.

    Now that you mention kill la kill, I think that Rolling Girls would be a good example of how to do a stylish series without retorting to fanservice and stuff like that. I dropped kill la kill after ep 2, but I kept reading sometimes about it. Fanservice, more fanservice, and incest abuse scenes… terrible.

    I liked the music playing in one of the fight scenes too, and how over the top these fight scenes are.

    If it keeps being like this, or better, is going to be one of my favorites from this season.

    Durarara: That series looks fun, but reading in tvtropes about some incestuous characters has prevented me from watching it.

    Junketsu: From what I read here, and in other sites, it doens’t looks like a show I would like, or find apporpiate, so, not checking it.

    Koufuku Graffiti: It has a good visual astyle and character designs,

    Thankfully the eating scenes weren’t very vulgar, but still are jarring. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be shoujo ai, since is a series published in Kirara, known for series like that.

    The comment from the aunt of the protagonist (about the apron) was tasteless.

    I liked the overall messages about family, like the pratagonist wanting to be a good wife, or what her cousin says to her (except the like wife or husband part), about how food is better when shared with loved people.

    About the visual style, I like the variety of perspectives and camera shots used, for example, the transitions from a more common three points perspective, to the one point perspective in some scenes, that look like if were being seen through a telephoto lens.

    Fafner Exodus: I’m still watching the first series.

    Wordl Break: Looks like a terrible series. And wow, the animation quality is that bad through the episode? I’ve seen some lazy animation shortcuts, but that one is the first time I see something like that from what I’ve remember. Not checking it.

    Even if this season doesn’t end with many watchable shows, with series like Rolling Girls, it would make up for that.

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    • The first season of Durarara!! has no incest. Also I believe that in season 2 there are not much of such scenes (to be honest there is like, 1 scene that has kissing between 2 female characters). The other (minor/side character) incestuous part has no physical relationship, plus it is not just for show, it actually drives the story forward and is woven into the greater picture of the whole interconnecting plots.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about incest point in the show, it’s not the main focus of the show anyway.

      Durarara!! is just so good.

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    • Thanks for the clean TRG screencaps! The show is lovely all over.

      DRRR!!: there’s incest in it? Oh, I see ClarityRence’s comment. If that keeps you out of DRRR!! x2, then I understand, but you should definitely check out season 1.

      World Break: Yeah, it’s totally terrible. Don’t even bother.

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      • You’re welcome.

        These are from an imgur gallery that I found linked in a discussion about the series.

        After more reading abour Durara, one seems to have some plot significance, and the character in question is like a villain, so is not a positive depiction. The one with the twins… sounds like fanservice.

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  2. That bartender stare is enough to captivate me.

    Among these shows, I will watch Junketsu no Maria, Death Parade, and Koufuku Graffiti weekly, and marathon Durarara!!x2 and Rolling Girls.

    I have to ask if you have watched the after credits scene or Alnoah.Zero, because it shows that the princess is still alive.

    Although I can see bits of the criticisms you gave Alnoah.Zero (Inaho having the ability to solve everything without any convincing background to back it up), I couldn’t fully understand why the show is so bad to the point of repulsive. To me (perhaps of my young and inexperience analytic skills) the show can at the very least keep me watching.

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    • It’s totally arresting, right?

      Durarara!!x2 and The Rolling Girls seems like excellent marathon choices. I’d do that myself, but I don’t think I can keep myself back from them on a weekly basis.

      And yup, I watched the whole episode, so I knew Asseylum was alive. I think the majority of my problems with A.Z is that it’s (admittedly significant) entertainment factor is predicated on such a blatant disregard for craft or even logical progressions of events. As an audience member, I just feel utterly disrespected and feel like the characters I like—Slaine and Asseylum and Inko—are likewise tossed aside by the show’s wanton quest for shock value.

      I definitely understand it being entertaining for other people; but, for me, it’s doesn’t care enough about anything that I value in a show to do anything besides irritate me.

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  3. Rolling Girls – under the three-ep rule for me. It doesn’t leave me cold, but it’s not really catching my eye either.

    Koufuku Graffiti – I’m liking this one, I’m not normally into CGDCT… but I am into Japanese cooking, and it seems like a pleasant enough show.

    Aldnoah Zero – sigh In one ep, it’s gone from “Oh $DIETY I can’t wait for the Season Two premiere” to “What The @#%#$?” and is now under the three ep rule.

    Your use of ‘bubble’ catches my eye though… I’m a former submariner, and on boats the inclinometer (a large and very sensitive bubble level) is very important and everyone keeps an eye on it. (Unexpectedly rising or diving can have serious consequences, and losing control of the boat’s angle (losing the bubble) very serious consequences.) It’s even in our slang – telling someone to “mind their bubble” means to slow down and pay attention. “They’ve (or “you’ve”) lost the bubble” is used to describe someone who is confused, wandering, off the reservation, or is otherwise not up to speed or in control of a situation. It’s a term of considerable opprobrium.

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    • Rolling Girls—yeah, I think I worked myself into more hype over the episode afterwards than the episode itself actually bred.

      A.Z—J:LSDKFJjfw;alekfjas;difj

      Bubble—Wow, that’s really interesting. I know absolutely nothing about that profession, so I obviously had no clue. Thanks for sharing! Cool little bit of trivia I that might win me Jeopordy in the future or something!

      Like

  4. We have two shows about sensuality this season: Yurikuma Arashi, and Gourmet Girl Graffiti. Yurikuma Arashi is cold, distant and cryptic. Gourmet Girl Graffiti is a warm embrace and a delicious meal. Everything about Gourmet Girl Graffiti is bathed in warmth. Even if nothing much happens, it will happen beautifully. Already though, we have some likable characters.

    Rolling Girls went by way too fast, the pacing is crazy! but I want to see more.

    Maria the Virgin Witch is far more intriguing than I was figuring. The depiction of the Roman Catholic Church looks like it’s going to be complicated, perhaps even nuanced (at least compared to shows like A Certain Magical Index).
    The (Hundred years War) battle being depicted as a mix of impressed serfs and mercenaries, with The Church giving its blessing to the slaughter (on both sides) was jarring, frightening, and right on the money. Between the fellatio jokes there was some substance.

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    • And, to be honest (and a bit embarrassed), I chuckled a bit at the “jaw” gag… >.< Otherwise, I also was surprised about how substantial it felt. Whether that feeling of significance persists or not will be a deciding factor on the show for me.

      Yup! Gourmet Girl Graffiti is super warm and super nice to watch. It's not quite the same speed as something like Non Non Biyori, but it's enjoyable and comfortable. As long as SHAFT doesn't get too excited about "let's make eating supah sexyyyy," it should be a nice watch.

      Like

  5. Hey there. This is only my second time reading your blog, so I’m not sure if its your style to be rather sensationalist or what, but I think you’re being a bit harsh on Aldnoah Zero. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely not some sort of crime against nature.

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    • I’m generally not as excitable and crazy as you see in my bit on Aldnoah.Zero (I think the rest of the post bears that out), and sure Aldnoah.Zero is an imperfect show that falls short of being a crime against nature. But I do feel like it’s a crime against me and everyone who watches it and the characters.

      In short, it’s like a reverse case of a show like The Rolling Girls, which just by nature flips a bunch of my “good” switches. Aldnoah.Zero just happened to press nearly every button that could possibly tick me off in this episode. It’s an extremely idiosyncratic reaction, definitely, but that’s just the way I relate to the show. Just a very, very bad fit.

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  6. You’re glad Durarara is the same Durarara, I’m glad Durarara is the same Durarara. Durarara says everything is the same. Should I be holding onto something?

    Like

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