Winter 2015, Week 2: Highlights of the Week

I wasn’t sure about this after the first week, but now…I’m sure. I have too many shows on this schedule, especially in the later half of the week. What’s killing me are the five ongoing shows, but none of them are even close to drop territory. Here’s what did bite the bullet this week:

  • Koufuku Graffiti fell victim to both “not really feeling inspired to go back to this one” syndrome and the “schedule too full” curse despite a warm premiere.
  • Military! basically sucked for three whole minutes.
  • Junketsu no Maria was sadly dropped—best wishes to Maria!
  • Assassination Classroom is getting close to drop territory, but isn’t quite there yet.

Cute Earth Defense Club LOVE!

Your Lie in April, Episode 13: Much better than last week—still working on an emotional level when it’s technical merits falter.

Junketsu no Maria, Episode 2: I’m really kind of bummed that I ended up dropping Junketsu no Maria, and the whole thing feels kind of complicated, so I wrote a post earlier in the week expanding on the problems I had with the show.

Akatsuki no Yona, Episodes 13-15: “The longer I wait, to more I fall behind…oh, wait! I can just combine all the episodes together!

Absolute Duo, Episode 2: Umm, this is supposed to be a light novel adaptation, right? Which means it’s supposed to suck, right? But it doesn’t, that’s the thing. Whether it’s Thor hanging upside down from his bed to check Julie’s bed or the bunny teacher communicating with a student who flexes his muscles to speak of Tachibana headbutting Thor in the crotch instead of the typical boy falls on girl trope, my suspicions that Absolute Duo has a bit more freshness to it than most light novel adaptations have more or less been confirmed. Thor, too, has something that I would actually consider a personality. Again, is this a light novel adaptation or not? Finally, the scene on the tower at the end of the episode was actually quite touching. Watching Julie essentially scramble to make up excuses for not being in a Duo with Thor and him dismissing each one was a nice moment, one you wouldn’t really expect to see in this type of show. I’m pretty sold on Absolute Duo on this point, so be ready for unfounded fanboying in the future!

Absolute Duo

Saekano, Episode 1: This was muuuch better than the preview episode. The meta “humor” Saekano tries to pull off (like in Tomoya and Eriri’s first conversation) is about the furthest thing from clever or funny, but the rest of the premiere was pretty decent stuff. Tomoya’s barely interesting, but Eriri and the visuals carried the show pretty well for me. I didn’t particularly like Eriri in 00, but she came off far less tropey in this episode. Visually, I’m pretty addicted to some of the things Saekano threw at me: a lot of SHAFT-like techniques which, while they generally felt out of place (like the absurd abuse of dutch angles in Tomoya’s conversation with writer girl), I still like; the ever-changing outline colors; lots of great character acting animation; and some visually interesting shots. I’m not really sure that a lot of the cinematographic language is really used appropriately, but it’s varied enough from the traditional types of shots that I’m used to see in anime that it was noticeable and engaging. So, we’ll see what the second episode brings.

Saekano

Shirobako, Episode 14: Umm…so, how to describe the sensation I had at the moment Zuka reacts to the revelation that all four of her best friends are going to be working on the same project and she’s been left behind? You know how people will often use the cliché, “It felt like I got stabbed in the heart”? As Zuka said, “I would have loved to work with all of you, but I guess that can’t be helped,” I literally had a brief sensation as if I had been stabbed in the heart. And then the tears started rolling. Out of the many painful and poignant moments Shirobako has offered in its fourteen episodes, none have struck me as hard as this single line from an artist whose been left behind by the people she cares about most, after doing everything she can to keep up with them. It’s a tiny, tiny moment and Zuka forges right ahead with positive thinking afterwards, but wow. That hurt.

Shirobako

Let’s lighten the mood, now, shall we?

Death Parade, Episode 2: Not quite as intense as last episode, but, for me, it was more pleasant to watch. The behind-the-scenes world of Death Parade‘s judgment system is quite fascinating and some of the questions we were posed this week—can arbiters mess up? what’s up the the “term” Nona was talking about?—have added some depth and lightness the the otherwise psychologically brutal experience of watching the games. With the assistant around (we never got her name, did we?) to add in another perspective, I think we’ll get some fascinating interpretations of what’s happening to the deceased. After all, without in the first episode, we were intruders on the game—a camera invading what was really a very intensely personal moment. Having the assistant in the Quindecim, I think, will take some of the voyeuristic quality out of the games and perhaps make them slightly more palatable.

Death Parade

Durarara!! x2, Episode 2: Gahh waiting a week in between episodes of this show is going to be incredibly painful. And we’re still in new character introduction mode. And, frankly, I don’t know if I’m really going to be able to write much about Durarara!! each week. It’s kind of a show that defies explanation and analysis because it always, always deals in overall effects and atmospheric holistics. Durarara!! is also just at a level of consistent quality very, very, very few shows I’ve watched on a weekly basis have ever been able to aspire to. Death Parade floats around that level, but Durarara!! is just a different type of show from a different kind of era. As far as I’m concerned, it’s unparalleled this season through two episode.

Durarara!! x2

RollingGirls, Episode 2: Now this is the episode I wanted last week and didn’t quiiiite get, which is interesting, because it looks like everything about the show is kind of going to change going forward. The big takeaway this episode is that Rolling☆Girls can indeed be more than just flash and sparkle and impact, but that it can have heart, too. And, perhaps most importantly, it can be really funny. Between the laughs and Masami struggling to reveal her identity as Maccha Green—I don’t think it’s just a random line when she says “There’s no one in Maccha Green’s suit”—all the bombast and color of last week’s premiere felt directed towards a purpose, and having the stakes raised just a little bit higher on the roller coaster gave the episode a sense of urgency that the premiere’s fight lacked. Of course, now the focus of the show is entirely different, so all these observations might not apply next week. At the very least, though, I’m feeling much more affectionate towards Rolling☆Girls now than I was last week, and I’m happy about it.

Rolling☆Girls

In a Sentence:

  • Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, Episode 2: Much funnier than the last episode and now I’m really wishing KyoAni was on this show because they would be a perfect match for it.
  • Assassination Classroom, Episode 2: Pushing towards drop territory for: reusing terrible exposition, overly simplistic conflicts, lack of an edge.
  • Military!, Episode 2: Even Nao Toyama’s lovely voice can’t save a show running on the same stupid jokes as a thousand other shows. Dropped.
  • Garo, Episode 14: Alfonso plays hooky and looks stupid cute while doing so; meanwhile, Lara is still too good for Leon.
  • Log Horizon 2, Episode 15: Rudy x Isuzu is so cute I almost can’t even

21 thoughts on “Winter 2015, Week 2: Highlights of the Week

  1. I’m less enthused by Death Parade’s second episode than you, but that’s not a knock against it. The questions posed this week were all questions I was already asking myself after the first episode, you know? It never seemed so cut and dry to me, so this felt like something of a reiteration of episode one’s questions. Though I suppose it’s nice that we’ve shed any ambiguity that the conclusions drawn from the death games are ambiguous. I was really surprised to see people calling it one way or another after episode one, when it not being clear seemed to be the point.

    I’m nominally watching Saekano; I intend to follow it for a while, but I played around on the internet while I had the first episode on in the background. I tuned in for the bits with boring girl, and… erm, nothing else really.

    Dropped AssClass, Absolute Duo, and Magical Boys. I’m not much able for shounen shows lately, and I just kinda didn’t feel like it with the Magic Boys. I’ve got a morbid curiosity about Absolute Duo and the four other airing shows that are exactly like it though, so I might tune in and out at some point. But I really have no idea where you’re seeing any freshness in it.

    I’m also sticking with Cooking Graffiti! I’m really surprised by how much I’m liking it, considering Shafts lousy track record with me.

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    • Well (and I think I might have said this elsewhere), I’m more interested in the implications of episode two for the rest of Death Parade than I was super excited by the episode itself. It didn’t even make my APR ballot this week. I’m really just hoping the assistant helps lower the voyeuristic feeling of the games by a few notches, but it might not work out that way.

      I’m fairly certainly Saekano‘s looks are the only thing keeping it on my schedule (and the all the character acting sakuga in the episode).

      I wanted to keep Koufuku Graffiti, but it just airs on such a bad day for me…if it were a Monday show…

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  2. “What’s killing me are the five ongoing shows”

    That’s going to be me in the spring. Three of my fall shows went split-cour fall/spring (Unlimited Blade Works, Kaitou Joker, and Can’t/Husband), and Assassination Classroom is a 2-cour if I stick with it, plus they’re releasing another Nanoha sequel and the Haruhi spinoff too, and I love both of those franchises. So that’s at least 5 locks on my schedule, possibly 6, before I even start looking at the new shows. I’m trying to keep a lighter schedule this winter so I can cross off a few more titles in my back catalog now while I have a chance.

    To that end, I’ve already dropped Military (I think I laughed exactly once in two episodes), and Koufuku Graffiti is heading that way quick if it doesn’t start giving me a better enticement to stick around than extreme closeups of girls eating food. Rolling Girls is definitely a keeper at this point, and Saekano will be if it keeps giving us more of what we got this episode and less of the preview episode. Still 50/50 on Assassination Classroom and KanColle.

    Speaking of Saekano, did you notice that Kato (AKA the boring girlfriend) is sitting right next to Tomoya during the entrance ceremony scene? I completely missed that until the show’s reviewer over on Rabujoi put up a post spotlighting all of her appearances in the episode.

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    • I didn’t notice Kato (because she’s so generic looking, which is of course the point)—heck, I didn’t even realize she was the titular character in the hallway scene until she mentioned the hat! I doesn’t surprise me, though, that they would have worked her subtly in. It makes a nice point as to just how plain she really is.

      I think you might have beaten me in laughs per 2 episodes on Military! with one. Why can’t we just have more Tonari no Seki-kun…

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  3. Koufuku Graffiti:

    It has a nice family theme, the sisterly bonds between the cousins, and some interesting visuals.

    But, what is working against these themes?

    Things like the way the aunt of the protagonist displayed her affection, the erotic focus on eating food, and some shots focusing in various anatomical parts (not oly the face).

    I noticed various stylistic elements that are common in that studio.

    Military! :

    Not very funny, and they keep making pantyshots… plus these girls are chibi characters… certainly it gives a bad impression.

    Assassination Classroom:

    It was a nice episode, although it felt very similar to the first one. Thematically, there are are some interesting things, like how people is going to try to improve after knowing they can be dead at a certain date. Is possible that they can focus on showing different character’s reactions to that.

    Absolute Duo:

    Not watching it, but reading that paragraph, falling into someone crotch is one of these things various series could do away with. Just swithing the characters involved (female falling on male) isn’t better anyways.

    Saekano:

    I was reading about that episode before watching it. At least it wasn’t filled with “anime nudity” fanservice like episode 00. But still, they managed to include some in the form of the (somewhat censored) porn illustrations made by the blonde twintails tsundere girl (Eriri), or the shots focusing on legs, etc.

    Now, onto the episode. The meta dialogue wasn’t very interesting, as expected. It hat lots of well animated moments. And looking at the heads of the characters, they look more realistic in proportions that the ones in similar series, although still, there are some details that can be improved, like the distance of the ear to the eyes in the case of the 3/4 profiles of Eriri.

    Speaking of that character, I wasn’t expecting her to be that perverted. Her hobby, and the fanservice scenes and shots, coupled with the high quality animation, are like a representation of the problems of many anime series. The same could be said of the main character, is an obsessed otaku, that even hit the point of preferrinlg “2d girls” over real ones. The type of game he seems to want to make, another representation of the problematic elements of animeemanga, and related.

    Finally, the normal girl. Is she the “boring” girlfriend the title refers to?

    I don’t think someone like that is boring.

    Rolling Girls:

    Another nice episode, lots of high quality animation and backgrounds too.

    I was surprised that they finished the Maccha Green plot elements like the obsession over her identity so quickly. So, rolling girls refers to the groups of four girls that have bikes that is formed at the end.

    While one of the four girls has a immodest outfit, I was surpised that there wasn’t many focus on some of her physical features… she isn’t drawn very detailed on the torso either. At least they did that, instead of exaggerating her movements, focusing on her bust, or similar. Same with Ma-chan putting on the uniform, it wasn’t necessary, but at least it wasn’t too fanservicey.

    Now, it looks that the series is going to have some change of focus. I wonder if these over the top battles are going to keep appearing frequently.

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    • Rolling Girls: I hope the battles keep happening, although I fear Wit’s production schedule might be pretty prohibitive for more of them… ;______;

      Saekano: Yeah, they sure do like their leg shots, huh? I actually kind of hate how much the camera focuses on the girls’ legs—show me their actually faces, please.

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      • Maybe they’ll appear again, but not as frequently, now that you mention their prodcution schedule,

        Yes, fanservice problem aside, faces tell us much more about the characters.

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  4. Is AD seriously that good? I dropped it after the first ep, and am quite surprised that you like it so much. I much prefer Saekano, to be honest. Just like you, I like the visuals, and toning down the meta jokes (though I’m less bothered by it, as I don’t see them really trying to be clever or anything) worked wonders as well. I like the angle of having a background girl like Kato be the main girl – it forces the 2D girl-loving MC to interact with the one person who doesn’t embody anime tropes, which can be interesting. This series reminds me of The World God Only Knows (the MC here is nowhere near as interesting though), have you watched that? I’m afraid of spoiling otherwise.

    As for Assassination Classroom, it’s like comfort food for me. I’ve read the manga and knows what’s going to happen, and while the anime doesn’t elevate it in any way it’s at least pretty faithful, so sometimes it’s nice to not be surprised by the thing you’re watching. I’m not sure you’d love it eventually, but for me while it’s not spectacular it’s always a fun and interesting shonen to go through.

    Durarara
    Yeah, it’s back to its best for me. Other shows would benefit by a tighter focus on it character and pacing, but Durarara works best with a breakneck, often even non-linear pacing, while juggling a dozen characters with their own storylines. It doesn’t make sense, but Narita got it somehow. Maybe it’s like how in a rhythm game like School Idol Festival, sometimes you got the Full Combo faster in Hard mode than you do in Easy mode (EX is always the hardest though)

    Shirobako
    Ugh, this is just painful to watch, but in a good way. Also, as exhausting as that VA debate go, I’m pretty sure the real life version can be even worse.

    Log Horizon
    To be honest, I kinda like this episode better than the last one. Sure, Kanami and her team is much more interesting and the ideas are more creative, but the pacing is way too fast. This week’s episode might be a tad slow, but it fits the nature, I think.

    Also, I’m a sucker for the grand exploration stories, and them making sure they’re ready by getting the best equipments, rides, etc really got my nostalgia. Sure the characters and jokes feels a bit…childish, but there’s benefits from doing it from the newbies perspective. Log Horizon is supposed to air in an educational channel at kid-friendly hours, so this might be best to its actual watching audience. It’s not like a kids’ anime is necessarily worse either, as the anime I’m most looking forward to each week is Yugioh Arc-V – an animated advertisement for children’s card games.

    Rolling Girls
    I like the humor in this episode better, but the heart stuff you mentioned haven’t really grabbed me…the flash is definitely very enjoyable to watch though. But really, I’m still not sure what the show is going to be about – I thought I had a good idea, then it seems the first two episodes are just intro and now we’re going with a pretty much brand new cast of characters to focus on.

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    • AD: Yeah, I dunno what it is. Maybe I was just really in the mood to accept a generic light novel adaptation…who can say?

      & yes, I have indeed seen TWGOK! I feel like it’s become the oft-imitated, never-replicated model for all the “2-D girls are better,” shows. Which irks me a bit, because TWGOK is built around showing exactly how terrible that mentality is, but shows like Saekano embrace it at face value.

      AC: I’m not dropping it yet! I liked the first episode enough to give it another chance after a down episode.

      Going to Easy Mode after playing Hard on LLSIF is so difficult and frustrating haha

      I just like genki girls, so I was a fan of Kanami, overly quick pacing aside ^_^”

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      • Well, sometimes you need to watch the anime where you can ‘turn your brain off’ and just enjoy (that would be Dog Days for me this season).

        Glad to see you’ve watched and enjoyed TWGOK. My comparison goes beyond the whole 2D/3D girls though (especially as Keima never really adore 2D girls, Yokkyun aside), but particularly due to the ending of the manga is kinda similar with this anime premise. Also, regardless of intent the thing that really sets TWGOK apart from me is its protagonist – TWGOK has many great girls, but Keima is still the best character with good developments. The best harem are to me the ones where the protag is more than just a blank slate to self-insert, and hopefully Saekano can do better on that end too (I’m not really hopeful though).

        I just read the manga again for AC, and regarding your complaints, I think they would drop the repetitive exposition after this. I’m not sure the conflicts will be that great anytime soon, but what exactly do you mean by the edge? They would eventually take the whole assassination aspect more seriously (though still contrast its absurdity for humor from time to time), but this series will never really get that dark and edgy, if you don’t mind me spoiling.

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        • I don’t mean dark and edge so much as just a sense of urgency—there’s got to be some sense of a threat, I think, or else Koro Sensei will end up feeling like a huge bluff most of the time.

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  5. Regarding Assassination Classroom, my problem with it is that it is falling afoul of Brandon Sanderson’s First Law of Magics. I can’t really tell what are the “rules”, so it’s really hard to judge. I mean, Mach 20 seems to be “magic that does whatever is needed”. I did think that suicide bombing at the end of episode 1 was inspired, but the teacher got out of it in a really lame fashion.

    Not too much to say about the other shows. For some reason I like the Unlimited Fafnir harem. It’s a pretty basic harem character-wise. But I find the central idea, that the girls are potential mates to the Dragon monsters and that’s why they have powers, interesting. Also, that implies that the main character is the potential mate to some sort of Dragon Queen, which I find rather hilarious.

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    • Yeah, I think they’re struggling to walk to the line between “they can find a way to kill him” and “he’s not really in danger.” This week the only time he was in danger was during alone.

      Someone else like one of the crappy harems from the season! I’m justified in liking Absolute Duo.

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  6. This season is mostly a bucket of “meh” so far. I’ve dropped a couple, a couple are on the precipice, and the rest mostly aren’t so much winners as they are not losers. (I’m looking at you Saekano and Rolling Girls, you can both do better.) Cinderella Girls, that’s shaping up to be the comfortable simple slice-of-idol-life comedy/drama I expected it to be. (And enjoy in this context… there’s just something about the IdolM@ster franchise..) Kan Colle just tossed a fast one across the plate this morning… it’s about to get either very good, or very generic. Sister Devil and Absolute Duo, meh, may finally teeter and fall off. (AD is kinda the mirror KimiUso in some ways – generic plot, way above average execution.)

    That damn bear show and Cute Defense Club have been dropped with extreme prejudice.

    The ongoing shows? Shirobako just keeps going from strength to strength. KimiUso, as you’ve heard me say here and on the forums, keeps by turns breaking my heart with the feels and raising my blood pressure through the roof with the stylistic eff ups.

    Then there’s Aldnoah…. Some reviewers and comments have made cogent cases that if your tilt your head just right and squint, the whole thing hangs together and makes sense. But, for me, move your head just a little bit and it’s all ass-pulls and making it up as they go along. I just don’t know.

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    • Heh, I dunno if you saw my rant about Aldnoah last week, but…yeahhhhh…

      KimiUso, ah, that magnificent show and its incredible ability to screw up in magnificent ways and knock things out of the park every other episode. It’s absurd how ambitious the show is and I have to appreciate how hard they go for everything.

      I would never have thought to compare Absolute Duo and KimiUso…

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  7. I enjoy hearing your thoughts on these episodes, although I’ve not seen all the shows. I also enjoyed Death Parade’s second episode quite a lot; I’m excited to see what’s in store next. Rolling Girls is going to be marvelous, I hope, as it has a lot of promise! Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE has me in stitches, and I still need to see the third episode, but I can’t wait! I’m also on the edge about Assassination Classroom…it’s different but almost annoying?? in some way. I’m waiting for the third episode to make a final judgement. 😀

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    • I almost dropped CHEDC LOVE! before I watched episode 3 earlier today, but then I remembered how much I enjoyed the second episode—and all the guy voices…

      Different but annoying is a good was to describe Assassination Classroom! It’s sort of like, okay, you’re not a generic light novel, so why aren’t you doing more exciting and different stuff! (at least for me, that is)

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  8. Death Parade:

    One thing that I am sure, is that I got this “weird” feeling about how the show will turn out. I mean, why would bother to open the “main” secret of the show very early? That’s one. Another, if you ever see the cast of DP, you’ll find that it has quite a lot of variety of character instead of what we just saw (Decim, The assistant, Nona, and Clavis the lift attendant), and they’re interesting. Example, the old guy in the OP song visual is supposed to be the man who is closed to God. So we know that these arbiters are not “God” by any means. There is, in DP universe, some kind of a strongest force that governs the whole DP universe. I really hope that this show goes on with a “move” completely unpredictable.

    AssClass:

    It’s a fun show. That’s all there is to it. It just something that take all fun things (in respect to the show) jumble them together and throw them to the viewer. We should get something even crazier by the show goes on, I hope. Things like midterm test, studying before final, and shits like that are supposed to come later in a very fun manner :3

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    • Hmm…I guess I haven’t yet felt like Death Parade has fully revealed its hand yet. And, given the most recent episode, I have a feeling they’ve got a lot more tricks up their sleeves than we can guess at.

      As for AssClass, I’m guessing it just needs a few more ingredients in the crazy pot before it really starts to take off—I’m looking forward to more characters getting introduced.

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