After the first rush of shows wound up being something less than significantly impressive, we got Sunday. Ah, Sunday, formerly a bastion of peace and no simulcasting shows—now, the unarguable king of the autumn season. Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve never had a single day of the anime week on which every single show was good (of course, I’m not counting things I didn’t even bother trying), so this is even more of a welcomed rarity. The Lord’s Day brings its blessings…
OKADA!: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Y’all should know by now that I love Mari Okada and the work she does. I’m under no illusions that she’s on point all the time, but I frankly have yet to see a show by her I didn’t at least enjoy. And those shows are far outnumbered by the things she’s done that I genuinely love. So, seeing her given the opportunity to take her substantial and (by me) much-loved talents to a franchise as venerable and lucrative as Gundam is like a dream come true.
And she didn’t disappoint, producing a premiere that was snappily-paced, emotionally-engaging, and filled with hot shirtless dudes. Okada’s most prominent strength is, and always has been, her character work, and Tekketsu (the Japanese word for “iron-blooded,” as I understand it) featured a lot of Okada’s subtle character writing. My favorite example of this, appropriately for Okada, came during the episode’s climax—as Orga, trying to rally and inspire his troops as they wait for Mika to arrive in the Gundam, shouts out his defiance of death. In any other situation, shouting out, “I will not die!” would be ground for accusations of shoddy, obvious characterization, but because Orga’s yells come from his position of authority as the orphans’ commander, it’s far more complex than just a simple declaration of intent. And I dug it all. Other shows were flashier or more delicately written, but Tekketsu was my favorite premiere of the season.
Simply Smashing: One Punch Man
I don’t expect One Punch Man to have this much stunning animation every episode—and I’m frankly not sure I’ll be sticking with it all season—but for the time being, color me impressed. This isn’t to say One Punch Man was all style and no substance, because it certainly did sow the seeds of a show just as interested in saying something as in looking super cool, but the style factor undeniably carried the day here. In all honesty, I don’t feel there’s all that much more to say than that—all there is to do is to see the animation, breathe in the adrenaline of this explosive premiere, and pray that the show can be excellent on terms other than sheer animation power.
At the very least, we’ll always still have JAM Project’s balls-to-the-wall awesome OP.
Eh?: Concrete Revolutio
Now, I said in the intro that Sunday turned out four good shows. Well, here’s about where I start to go back on that just a little bit, because Concrete Revolutio certainly wasn’t the same kind of “good” that Gundam and One Punch Man were. However, I’m not convinced Concrete Revolutio has to be “good” in the way I’m talking about—it may very well turn out to be one of those shows that succeeds entirely on its own terms.
Now, if this sounds like damning the show with faint praise, you’re not far off. I’m kind of working here to avoid completely panning a premiere I liked, but found less immediately engaging than its companion Sunday shows. Concrete Revolutio has a lot of things going for it that I genuinely enjoyed—mahou shoujo transformations happening alongside mecha horse transformations and the weird pop art aesthetic and the jolty, near-incomprehensible plotting and the very BONES-esque feel of it all—but somewhere along the line it kind of failed to connect at a visceral level. Too much of what made this premiere good came out of the “Oh, I like that thing they did” mindset, and not enough came from the “[words do not actually go here]” place. And that’s fine for a premiere with a lot of other things to recommend it. I just hope Concrete Revolutio can hold the pieces together.
Pet-Show Candidate Alert: Comet Lucifer
I closed out Sunday with Comet Lucifer, studio 8bit’s first original project (having most recently been saddled with light novel adaptations like Absolute Duo, which I liked, and Infinite Stratos, which I didn’t so much). In a lot of ways, Comet Lucifer is right up the same kind of alley as shows like Rolling Girls, Danmachi, and Classroom Crisis—a show with cute character designs, a lighter tonal atmosphere, and a nice thematic grip right in the middle of adolescent naiveté. This is a show I desperately want to see succeed, while worrying constantly that it’s going to fall on its face in the next scene or next episode. In a way, perhaps, that’s kind of the charm of a show like this for me.
As for the premiere itself, it did pretty much exactly what I expect a premiere for a show like this to do. Displayed just enough of each of the main characters’ personality to get me to like them, showed off just enough cuteness/silliness from each of the main characters’ to hook me despite the lack of top-tier characterization, threw in some pretty scenes, had some humor, had some mystery, had some really darn good CG mecha duking it out with fight choreography that had actual weight to it—basically, it was a grab bag of a punch of catch points. It’s not the best way to build a super great first episode, but it’s good enough for me.
Sharp and Snappy: Osomatsu-san
I grabbed Osomatsu-san off the shelf of premieres instead of Star-Mu last night because I didn’t feel like dealing with Funimation’s mobile app, and man am I glad I did so. Musical boy idols are good, but this was even better—zany, crazy, sharp-witted fun featuring Hiroshi Kamiya as a neurotic, worrisome brother in a pack of lookalikes voiced by an all-star cast of male seiyu. And what a project these gentleman have decided to involve themselves in, as Osomatsu-san kicked off a hugely funny first episode complete with surprisingly sharp jab at the modern anime industry and what it takes to be popular in the anime world nowadays. I’ve also seen a lot of excitement over the show from some of the more specialized anime enthusiasts on Twitter (read: the people who really pay a lot of attention to the finer details of animation and anime staff), so combined with this excellent premiere, I’m really looking forward to see if Osomatsu-san will hold up for the rest of the season. After all, it’s my only Monday show!
Please Don’t Compare This to Blast of Tempest: Beautiful Bones -Sakurako’s Investigation-
Okay, here’s the thing—Sakurako-san is definitely a different kind of show. I appreciate that. The thing is, it doesn’t feel like a complete, consistent show to me. By all rights, Sakurako herself should have been the main draw of the episode, a weird, eerie, almost unearthly presence and source of fascination for Shoutarou (ala the opening scene beneath the tree), but instead she was a mixed bag of snobbish, plain weird, and socially childish. Shoutarou himself was little better than our typical light novel protagonist—he’s just in a different kind of show, so he fails to feel as tropey as I think he otherwise might. And then, of course, there’s the really, really odd nature of the set-up: a high-school boy follows a twenty-something young woman who also has an in absentia fiancé. Like…what? What is going on here? Either this is some kind of ultraweird fantasy construction or…I don’t know. Not explaining how this relationship came to be (and failing, mostly, to provide any sort of hint as to why Shoutarou sticks around Sakurako) in the premiere felt like a mistake to me. Status: Only thing airing on Wednesday, so I’ll give it another chance. Probably.
Still to Come: The Perfect Insider – F, Gochiusa S2, Garo.
Dropped: Hackadoll, Young Black Jack, Utawarerumono.
The letter “K” is strong this season…