And, somehow, we’ve come to the end of the premieres for the Spring 2015 season! There really haven’t been too many surprises thus far, as nothing I was really looking forward to flopped and only a few shows surprised me. In terms of building a weekly schedule, that’s really something of a boon. In terms of being happy with my schedule, that’s really a boon. So, yeah, let’s finish this up and get into the season for real!
Still to Watch: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Ninja Slayer
Blogging: Ore Monogatari!!, Blood Blockade Battlefront
Ore Monogatari!!: An adorable first episode with a few troubling bits; very excited to blog it, though!
Blood Blockade Battlefront: I have no clue when Funimation will air the first episode, but I’m going to blog about it when it finally comes out.
Expected Hits: Mikagura School Suite, Nisekoi:
Mikagura School Suite: Woo, that was fun! And thank goodness! Mikagura was one of the shows I was most excited about coming into this season (the Funimation airing delay was really painful) and it really showed up with a fantastically fun first episode. Eruna is an absolute gem, scarf and orange hair and all, strong enough to carry the show by herself if she had to—but, fortunately, she doesn’t. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka showing up as a magical flying cat was a super pleasant (and hilarious) surprise and the fantasy battle setting along with the club rankings system makes for an engaging world for our spirited protagonist. Mikagura also has the added element of being adapted from a series of light novels based on a series of Vocaloid songs (which are really good—check them out!), so I’m expecting some great music. The OP at the end is one of the songs from the original Vocaloid series and its a real treat. I know Dogakobo’s main focus this season is on Plastic Memories, but Mikagura really does look quite good and has its fair share of funny Dogakobo faces, which, if not capable of carrying the show by themselves, at least lend a certain sense of energy and bounce to the presentation. Decision: looking forward to this one more now than I was before!
Nisekoi:: To be totally honest, I put Nisekoi: in this section before I had seen the episode, as I fully expected it to be exactly the same show it was before. The face game (especially Chitoge’s) was incredibly strong, the cast of characters is just as loony as before, and the comedy fell quickly back into its usual patterns. Thankfully, we started things off with a Chitoge episode, as her comedy is always miles better than what we get from any of the other girls, with Nao Toyama really nailing a great performance with a ton of vocal range. The music still fits into the same sparkly tones, although the visual production seemed somewhat less polished than in the first season—fewer sparkles, some slightly off-model faces, and just less energy than before. I don’t know if SHAFT is under the gun on this one, but usually everything looks good in their shows even when it’s not be animated, so it was something of a surprise to see flaws like that in Nisekoi‘s return. But! The charm here is in the characters and when you start off a season with Chitoge, you really can’t go wrong. Because, after all, Chitoge Best Girl. #TeamChitoge Decision: keeping like a childhood locket.
Unexpected Hit: Wish Upon the Pleiades
I was not at all expecting to like this as much as I did, but whether it was the Snickers ice cream I was eating during the first half of the episode or just the episode itself, I was totally charmed by this first episode. I’m well aware Gainax is no longer the Gainax of old (whatever that means), but this was a really solid first episode for a magical girls show inspired by a studio’s partnership with a car manufacturer. Revving engine noises during flight aside, Wish Upon the Pleiades really surprised me with how good it looked—mostly thanks to excellent color work and use of the sky to create some really great shots. In terms of content, I’m not exactly able to articulate it yet, but Wish Upon the Pleiades had a strangely comfortable tone to the entire episode: light without being insubstantial, fun without being crazy. Whatever it was, it just worked excellently for me, decision: earning the show a spot on my schedule for the time being.
On the Bubble: Punchline
First premiere of the season I’ve sat through twice (which is saying something considering there have been a number of episodes I haven’t even finished), and I did like it better the second time around. Visually, Punchline looks pretty darn good, even without MAPPA’s signature cinematographic excellence, and sonically it’s doing a lot of cool things from the sound mixing to the voice acting to the music (the ED might be the best piece of theme music this season). The problems are, as expected, with the content. The fascination with pantsu (and their use as a plot device) has worn pretty thin on me already—frankly, it’s crass and I don’t care for it at all. Even napes of the neck would have been better. But that actually wasn’t my biggest issue with the premiere: it was the feeling that we were being walked through the introduction of a game (and make no mistake, Punchline is definitely being framed as a game) where we’re being given the backstory and rules at the same time. It just was a little too familiar, despite the delivery, to really get me excited. But Thursdays are dry this season, so decision: I’ll give it another week.
Shoulda Saved the “Deceased” Pun: Kyoukai no Rinne, Urawa no Usagi-chan
Kyoukai no Rinne: A bit sad to let this one go, as there was quite a bit I liked about it. Sakura and Rinne have great chemistry, the humor is quite snappy, and the throwback aesthetic is super nostalgic. Unfortunately, that nostalgia also leads to the show feeling a bit rote, even in its premiere. In another season, on another day, Rinne probably would have been a keeper, but as things stand now…I’m going to let it go. I just don’t think the show has much more to offer besides simple entertainment value and, while I appreciate its ability to offer that, entertainment value seems to be the common currency this season. The whole “sending off the dead” theme is already being done with Plastic Memories and, frankly, PlaMemo just has a lot more potential to be fun to watch AND intersting, so Rinne loses out. Decision: dropped.
Urawa no Usagi-chan: Well, it was the only short I was interested in—and it’s the only short I’m dropping, because this was a thoroughly uninspired premiere without a hint of wit, innovation, or energy beyond minimum. The animation is incredibly limited to the point that it negates any efforts to be visually interesting (of which there are few anyways), the voice acting only serviceable when not grating, and the content consisting of nothing of interest at all. As an attempt to advertise Urawa, Urawa no Usagi-chan is failure as far as I’m concerned. Decision: dropped.
NOTE: And now, the promised free-for-all! I didn’t have time/wasn’t interested in all the premiere this season, so let me hear about all the other stuff you watched that I didn’t. Make your case for me to give something else a try, if you dare! And, as always, thanks for reading—I’m looking forward to a great season with all of you!