Winter 2016 Anime Party

In which I attempt to chronicle the full extent of my anime life from the past week or so, and lay out the path forward through the Winter 2016 anime season…

Eh, how do you blog, again?

Konosuba

When I left you all after my first First Impressions post, I had just finished up with the premiere of ERASED, which was, at the time, the most impressive premiere I’d seen. The very next day, it was topped by the double length opening episode of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, which is currently my pick for being the overall “best” show of the season. Where the premiere (and second episode) of ERASED were smart, tightly-constructed, and imaginative, Rakugo Shinju was grounded, organic, and genuine. Which one is “better” is probably a nothing more than a question of personal preference, but as far as I’m concerned, through two episodes Rakugo Shinju looks to be one of those stories that filters a deeply universal experience through a specific lens (in this case, the art of rakugo storytelling) and thus allows its universality to blossom through particularity.

This, I think, is something that stands out all the more in contrast to ERASED. By the very esoteric nature of its chosen topic and its method of storytelling, Rakugo Shinju demands empathy. You have to enter into their world in a more uncomfortable and more unique way than you do in ERASED, which (as good as it really is!) sits closer to what I’d consider a more general type of goodness. Rakugo Shinju is just so darn focused—and the second episode’s willingness to give us two more full rakugo performances bears this out—and I can’t get over that. It’s just so personal to someone that’s not me. I love that.

None of this is to knock ERASED, which proved in its own second episode that it’s going to continue to have excellent direction, compelling sound design, and make the most of its somewhat outlandish premised. Among the show’s many strengths, the color work in the visuals has been the thing that’s caught my attention most—the use of the red/orange motif as a cue for regret and associated feelings has been both subtle and effective. On the whole, ERASED has been engaging at every turn—alongside Rakugo Shinju, it’s certainly earned its place in the top echelon of this season’s shows.

Rakugo Shinju

While Sunday last season was a day to celebrate robots, this season’s Sunday has a much different flavor. Having put Gundam Tekketsu on hold until after it finishes airing (it’s not really compelled me to keep up with it on a weekly basis), I’ve found myself left with two kind of quirky shows boasting their own unique strengths and weaknesses: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, and the show I was probably looking forward to most at the start of the season, Dimension W. One fantasy, one sci-fi, I think my feelings about these two can be nicely summed up as: “uniquely effective at their specific goals.” And also, “shows with good action and cute anime girls.”

Grimgar wasn’t one of the shows I’d initially pegged to check out, but some positive buzz about it pushed me to check it out and I left the premiere episode…confused. The lackadaisical motions of the opener, which I thought summed itself up well with the episode’s final lines—”Hm?” “Oh, nothing.”—paired with the fantasy MMO setting seemed an odd match, but the second episode gave the show more of a sense of direction. At least, it gave as much a sense of direction as you could expect from a slice-of-life MMO fantasy game thingie, pushing the characters (rather than the plot) to the forefront. Yume is a joy (though I don’t care for the show’s fanservice tendencies, which are an ugly contrast to the show’s pretty aesthetics), and the rest of the characters have at least some meat on their metaphorical character bones. Also, apparently we’re already getting some heartbreak, and of course it’s for best girl Yume. I’m unhappy about this.

Dimension W‘s appeal (while it also contains one stellar best girl candidate in the form of extremely moe robot Mira) is, amusingly, almost the opposite of Grimgar‘s. Dimension W is a driven, forward-motion show, using its first episode as a fun sort of character introductory thing and using its second as a semi-episodic tale to bring in what are sure to be the seeds of the larger plot. It’s also been filled with cool action bits (thanks to one of my favorite animators, Ryouma Ebata, serving as the series’ action director) and interesting lighting choices. I don’t think all of Dimension W‘s visual tricks have succeeded, but it’s certainly working with a particular aesthetic idea—something that makes it run parallel to Grimgar in my mind, however different the two shows in other facets. In short, I’m genuinely happy Dimension W has turned out to not be a flop.  It’s one of those shows where all its little strengths will make it something I genuinely enjoy.

Aside from my hopes for new stuff like Rakugo Shinju and Dimension W, Winter 2016 was always shaping up to be a season of sequels for me, with Akagami no Shirayuki-himeHaikyuu!!Durarara!! x2-3, and GATE all returning to my roster. Sadly, the later three have mostly been disappointments for me. Haikyuu!!‘s still failing to really excite me the way the first season does, and at this point I’m willing to lay that blame at the feet of the source material rather than the anime’s staff. Structurally, Haikyuu!! is just not working the way it did in its first season, and this is true to an extent that the adaption just couldn’t have fixed. Durarara!! is still messing around with story threads that only tease at the Anri-Mikado-Kida dynamic I’m still watching the show for and GATE‘s ability to amuse me with its absurdly dumb politics may be nearing its limit (possibly due to the general exclusion of Lelei from the first two episodes, a trend I’m hearing is not likely to reverse any time soon).

I’ll likely stay the course with Haikyuu!! and Durarara!!, but GATE could be gone soon.

Dimension W

Fortunately, as sequels go, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime has returned to prove just why it was one of my favorite shows of last year by quickly claiming its spot as my favorite show of the season. Everything seems as we left it, and there really couldn’t be better news than that. I don’t really have anything more to say about it than that. It’s just such an incredible delight to have this show back, and so see that it hasn’t lost a step. So many time I’ve seen split cour shows really go off the rails in the second cour (see, GATE), but with Masahiro Ando helming this ship, we seem to be sailing in the same smooth, beautiful waters for the foreseable future. The OST is finally available for pre-order (releasing in March). Spring really will be a season of wonders.

Of course, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime being good really was no surprise. What did come as a surprise was Konosuba, a show I’d really decided to avoid 1) getting a chance from me, and 2) rallying from a fairly unimpressive first impression to end up being the only premiere I’ve watched four times. Konosuba is basically a lock for the position of my pet show of the season, held up by the same sort of endearing charm that Danmachi had. Despite the tempestuous beginnings of their relationship, by the end of the episode Aqua and Kazuma have developed the sort of genuine camaraderie that can carry an entire show for me. The heroically mundane montage at the end of the episode and the group shenanagins promised by the sakuga-filled OP lay out the forward path for this show to be a good-natured sort of derpy adventure—light, maybe heartwarming, but mostly just one of those shows where you get to root for the main characters knowing they’re going to fail at every turn, and it’s going to be okay anyways. It’s got that pet show aesthetic, and there’s no way I’m going to let go of it.

Another happy surprise of the season was full CG anime Bubuki Buranki. Despite the (tragic, really) CG, Bubuki Buranki has a very specific sort of feel to it—opening with a pastoral, sleepy, vaguely magical flashback set on an island in the sky and closing out its second episode with the main quintet heading off on an undefined adventure after clashing with (presumably) the main villain of the show, BBK/BRNK. It’s a ballsy sort of show, running mostly on adrenaline and the sheer creativity of its action sequences and the Bubuki weapons that will inevitably be a big part of the story. The exact appeal of Bubuki Buranki, beyond its wild nature and generally solid visual direction ends up being somewhat difficult to quantify—the CG varies from passable to genuinely bad and the story seems liable to getting out of hand quickly, but something about the end result just feels different. And I guess that feel is something that I’ve always just got to reach out for, even if I’m not sure where it’s going.

Elsewhere, Phantom World continues to hang around my watch schedule because I just can’t quit Guppy quite yet, Active Raid and Luck & Logic have bit the dust in spite of their respectively good character designs, and Assassination Classroom‘s second season is getting saved for a later marathon. I did watch the second episode of Prince of Stride and had no problems with it, but even Isizuka’s direction and Ryouhei Kimura’s voice acting couldn’t quite get it over the hump.

In summary, then—Rakugo Shinju is my pick for the all-around best show of the season, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime S2 is my all-around favorite show of the season, Konosuba has claimed the pet show spot, and Dimension W is some kind of weird mix of those three categories. And with interesting peripheral stuff like ERASED and Grimgar going on, too, this season has proved to be a genuinely fun and good one. Hope you all are enjoying it as much as I am!

Phantom World

34 thoughts on “Winter 2016 Anime Party

  1. I wonder if “colorful fantasy romcom MMO-style adaptation of LN with long-ass name as pet show” is going to become a thing for you now – between DanMachi and now KonoSuba, I’m starting to notice a pattern.

    Glad to see you’re enjoying the season. Let us all look forward to many more excellent GUPPY INHALES in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder, too—although I guess I would note that the sort of “story aesthetic” that both of them bring isn’t quite something that’s easily found elsewhere. But yeah, you may be on to something there.

      I really am enjoying it! I’m glad so many things came out of the woodwork and ended up being at least pleasant to watch.

      Go, Guppy, go.

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  2. The order of what I’m currently enjoying most and what I’d consider ‘best’ are perhaps a little different to yours, but my general thoughts and reactions are basically the same: loving the building tension, music, and mystery of ERASED; fangirling over Rakugo Shinjuu’s setting; grinning dopily at Shirayuki-hime; pleasantly surprised by Grimgar’s detailed slice-of-life feel (and glorious backgrounds) despite the skeevy fanservice; and intrigued by Dimension W.

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  3. A a blogger that’s usually overly cynical about things, it’s weird that I seem to be one of the few people still really loving GATE. Maybe it’s because I’m incredibly apolitical, and so see every kind of politics caricatured, whether positively or negatively, intentionally or otherwise, in order to open it up for criticism without ever forcing the viewer to conform to one side. Unlike a lot of viewers, I never feel like I’m being preached at.

    Its sense of pacing, music and tone are also of quite high quality, which all help it to be something to just soak in and enjoy. Plus, its construction of a harem as a dynamic of theme rather than a fanservice-filled focus of the show is a breath of fresh air for the fantasy genre.

    I think there’s a lot of good to be said about the show that’s overshadowed by people’s perceptions of its politics – as if any Japanese media relating to politics is going to gel with a Western audience.

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    • Oh yes, GATE is a caricature, a parody, whatever you want to call it. That has been the main appeal for me thus far—and fortunately it’s been paired with fun characters and decent pacing to keep it from being as droll as Mahouka was. That all being said, there is a limit for me where simply laughing at the overblown nationalistic politics gets dry. It seems, for GATE, that limit is when the story itself starts to become less engaging than it has been previously. And as I’ve noted, less Lelei and less Rory is not a good choice for the show.

      There really is a ton of interesting stuff to talk about in GATE, but it has to be served in an engaging superficial package for me to justify giving it the time. It seems that package may be close to giving out.

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      • Maybe the viewer’s focus for the superficial should instead go on the sense of ‘awe’ that the show is building up more and more enjoyably and cleverly. I don’t need to agree with a country’s politics to view their demonstrations of power as interesting and exciting. The shooting in the palace was a great example of a female soldier, who had previously evoked the JSDF’s spirit in comparison and contrast to Rory as they fought alongside – back-to-back at one point – each other during a siege, on the front line. Having Kuribayashi engaging the most in the slaughter was both engaging on the level of action and thought-provoking when we compare her to Rory and Pina, the show’s two other main battle-maidens. Though there’s less Rory on-screen, I see a lot of Rory and what I like about her character in Kuribayashi. Such overlaps are fun to behold.

        In order to enjoy a show with a cast this large, I think you need to place less value in particular characters. I’ll stress that value in them is placed, not found, by the viewer. I have no problem with seeing less Rory; we’re being introduced to new characters, after all, and I have to be fair in giving them a fair chance at becoming my ‘favourites’.

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      • I still don’t think there’s actually all that much nationalism in GATE; far less than in yer average Clancy movie frex. It’s far more Rah Rah Otaku than Rah Rah Japan. And this season will only strengthen that, once the focus shifts to Itami and his battle harem going after last season’s dragon.

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  4. Welcome back! So good to catch up with you!

    It looks like this will be the first season in a while where you aren’t going to drop most of the shows that I’m watching, so that’s cool. Preseason, I thought this would be a light one, as I only had Erased, Haruchika, and Phantom World circled to watch. Then Haruchika got Funi’ed and panned, so I scratched it without looking at it. Down to two, then? Nope. I’m all the way up to eight shows, way more than I ever expected.

    Fantastic: Erased and Rakugo Shinju
    You said it. Both of these are terrific shows so far, potential top 25 or even top 15 shows for me. I sincerely hope they can keep it up for the rest of the season.

    Keepers:
    Dimension W – Watched the first episode once it came out from behind the paywall – really enjoyed it, and left me wanting more. Looks like I’m actually going to be watching a Funi streaming series on Funi’s site for the first time since…Daitoshokan, maybe? Not sure, but it’s been a long time (I fansubbed Yuki Nagato, so that doesn’t count).

    Shoujo-tachi – If you wondered what Saekano would look like with nicer characters, minimal fanservice, and no fourth wall breaking, it would probably look something like this. It’s also (so far) lacking the competing egos and agendas among the main cast that fueled so many of Saekano’s best scenes, and is a lot less compelling as a result, but I like the characters well enough and it’s easy to watch, so I’m keeping it anyway. There was no dropoff from week 1 to week 2 either, which bodes well for the rest of the season.

    Oji-San to Marshmallow – It’s thanks to the other commenters here that I picked up this short. I was a bit worried that the first episode might have been a one-trick pony, but the second was every bit as funny. I’m all aboard with it now.

    Tabi Machi Late Show – An interesting little anthology short, as the two episodes so far have both told very human and very relatable stories about people who briefly connect and then go their separate ways; I liked the second episode the better of the two. The limited animation almost gives it the feel of someone narrating a picture book. Too bad it’s only running for four episodes, because I like it.

    On Probation:
    Phantom World – I’m not a fan of the “magic high school” genre (I’ve dropped more than I’ve finished), and if this series had been done by any other studio, I probably never would’ve picked it up in the first place. To stay picked up, it needs to start showing me more of what it has up its sleeve, and cut down on the worldbuilding monologues. I’m right with you on Guppy being the best thing about it so far.

    Aokana – I can sum this up as being pleasantly inoffensive, and totally forgettable. It’s been a week since I saw the first episode, and I haven’t spared one thought for it since. That’s never a good sign for a show sticking on my schedule.

    Dropped:
    Galko-chan is still the only show I’ve dropped so far.

    Other miscellaneous:
    I finished my rewatches of Yama no Susume season 2 and Silver Spoon season 1 over the weekend. These were my first rewatches of both, and they were every bit as good the second time.

    I also started watching season 1 of Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories, after seeing season 3 listed as one of CR’s streaming shows for this winter. I’m not a big horror fan and especially don’t like gore, but these shorts fall more on the “creepy and suspenseful” side of the spectrum, so I’ve enjoyed most of them so far. The title is a pun on Kamishibai (“paper drama”), which is a form of Japanese storytelling where the storyteller uses pictures in a box to accompany his tale. Yamishibai uses limited animation and an art style reminiscent of Kamishibai drawings to make it feel like you’re watching a Kamishibai performance, and by setting up a chilling atmosphere and letting your imagination fill in most of the gaps (aside from an occasional jump scare), it works pretty well.

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    • This really has been a season of surprise standouts, something I’m totally fine with. I might start taking a more relaxed approach to new seasons, planning less and just going along with the flow more.

      The really cool thing about ERASED and Rakugo Shinju, I think, is the confidence with which both of them are being executed. I’m not even worried about either of them falling apart—even the production for both seems unlikely to collapse. I’m more worried about Dimension W, to be honest, but it has a really solid staff, so I’m hoping that keeps things together. In Ebata I believe (not really on his plate, but whatever).

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  5. Glad to see you back Bless! After your last post, and the lack of an Aniwords this week, I sense you’re still dealing with burnout issues. Anything we can do to help? Other than posting screenies of someone taking Hatchiken to task for overthinking stuff? 🙂

    This has been a frustrating week in some ways, a three meeting week plus several days of very dodgy ‘net connections and several nights visiting with the insomnia fairy… I’ve tried mightily not to let all that interfere with my perceptions of the various shows. I started with twenty seven shows this season, and if it seems that a lot have been given short shrift and tossed overboard with little thought, I’ve tried to do so on the show’s merits or lack thereof as that number needs to be trimmed down to a more manageable list in rather short order.

    So, off to what will no doubt end up being one of the longest Weekly Walls ever;

    Active Raid ep1; As predicted last week, I’ve decided to drop Raid without looking into the second ep. There’s just too many problems and too little meat to attract me.

    Akagami no Shirayukihime ep1; A nice slow start to the second cour, and then ZING a fast hot one across the plate. We’re going in something of a new direction here, so it’s too soon to really comment. It’s curious though that Zen chose Mitsuhide rather than Obi as Shirayuki’s escort, though that may come down to their difference in status. As much as Zen trusts him, Obi is a recently reformed ronin, while Mitsuhide is of royal blood. (Prediction, Obi goes anyway – without or without Zen’s tacit approval.)

    AOKANA ep1; As Wingking says, pleasantly inoffensive and forgettable. But that’s not always a bad thing in my book, especially in light of the other (heavier) shows in this season’s rotation. Sticking with it for the moment, if for nothing else because My Lady enjoys it and there are worse things in life than sprawling on the couch and watching a mindless show with the LOML.

    BBK/BRNK eps 1-2; I don’t quite know what to think about this one yet. In some ways, it has a very _Ghibli_esque feel. In others, it feels pretty generic (especially the whole “five into one who must work together” shtick). The less said about the animation the better… CGI still has a long way to go, and if the setup/plot were a hair less interesting it would be over the side without a tear. Given the almost tropish setup of the five man band at the center of the show however… it may yet return to the brink.

    Dagashi Kashi eps 1-2; The concept silly beyond belief, the setup is beyond ridiculous, the comedic execution and timing pretty dammed good. I always like comedies that are completely serious within their own terms and leave the laughs to the audience so I’ll be sticking with it.

    Dimension W eps 1-2; We’re loving the _Bebop_ish vibe, though I’m less certain of the overall arc of the plot. There is a lot to like in the setup so far, but the introduction of the Numbers gives me pause – I’m concerned about shifting from the current character-centric setup towards a Gotta Catch Em All Before The Evil Corp Does structure. I do like how neatly and naturally they’ve integrated the infodumps and exposition into the show. Keeping for the moment.

    Divine Gate eps 1-2; Still a mystery wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in some tropish elements. Waiting to see how the hand they’ve dealt us plays out…

    ERASED ep2; Wow… They managed to top last weeks ep seemingly without effort. The revelations about Kayo were as unexpected as they were shocking. It’s not a great leap to presume that the events of eighteen years ago were not what the (child)Satorou has believed all these years, but it could still play out in any number of ways. It’s interesting though that his mother presumed that his “girlfriend” wasn’t from his usual crowd.

    Kudos to the staff for working in just enough of the difficulties that (adult)Satorou is having living in (child)Satorou’s world to make the setup believable rather than falling for the temptation to drive the plot via the tropes common to such setups.

    Gate eps 1-2; Quite a different feel from the first cour, not as enjoyable but certainly more interesting. I’m not missing the lack of the Fanservice Trio quite as much as you though. Though the politics are more prevalent in this cour, there’s no lack of human interest either. _ I’m curious to see how Noriko’s arc plays out as they’ve spent too much to just drop her. (Though to be honest, Gate‘s record in that respect is a mixed one.) Then there’s Tuka… is she bereaved beyond all hope, or is there something about Elves that we the viewers don’t know yet?

    Girls beyond the Wasteland ep1; Saekano told from the POV of one of the girls, and with many of the elements that Saekano interesting, missing. Ep1 didn’t have enough meat to make a decision one way or the other, and I haven’t seen Ep2 yet due to the outside interference mentioned in my introduction.

    Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash eps 1-2; The first episode was rather light and fluffy, while the second episode turned the tables, so I’ll be concentrating on the second here.

    While it didn’t really wow me, it certainly did make me sit up and pay attention. The brutality in the first half of the episode was shocking, but… it worked. The characters were in a fight for their lives, both literally (as in not dying in battle) and metaphorically (as they are on the brink of being stone broke and starving) and how that was balanced against their reluctance to kill (some remnant of their past lives?) was very well handled. The unexpected (and unusual) depiction of the goblin as a living creature unwilling to be killed and willing to do his level best to take as many of them with him as possible was brilliantly done. The second half, the “music video” sequence, was as unexpected as the first half… and worked just as well. Without shoving it in our faces, we learned a great deal about the characters and their reactions to what they just went through. (Much more in those ten minutes than many shows usually accomplish in ten episodes.)

    And I think the show, overall, is not what most people think it is. While their world does appear to run on fantasy game rules, there is little to no evidence that they’re living in a game. I’m starting to suspect that they’re actually in an Arena type of setup. (I hope that markup worked.) While this has been done many, many times… So far Grimgar seems to be a fresh take on the topic.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and strongly suggest folks pick up this show if they already haven’t. There’s a lot of promise here and they show every indication of following up on it.

    Gundam Tekketsu ep14; The plot thickens… though I’m not sure I entirely like where they’ve gone.

    And here, eleven shows down, I’m going to hit the “Post Comment” button to avoid going so long as to break the comment system. And going for a bit of a walk to avoid breaking my brain. Back in a few.

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    • Heh, I was bad and didn’t make an announcement about this—but the real reason I disappeared was that I traveled to Florida to work a conference for my job and was doing 10-12 hour days every day for a week. Didn’t have much will or energy for blogging. That being said, I was feeling a bit of burnout prior to leaving anyways, so getting away was nice. More on all that in post later this week, probably.

      As far as BBK/BRNK‘s Ghibli vibe goes, the early part reminded me a lot of the CG Ronja show they did. Might have even been the same studio who did the CG.

      RIP Tuka. GATE will never remember you, just like you’ll never remember the truth about your father.

      As for Grimgar, it’s definitely fresh. From what I’m hearing, this is all pretty much due to the director’s adaptive touch, too, which is super neat. If they’d just knock off the ugly fanservice, I’d be real pleased.

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  6. Aaand… he’s back. Took a little longer than I expected, ended up running out to the local stop-‘n-rob for sugar and caffeine. (Though not as long as the post time might indicate, I write these things ‘live’ right into the comment box.)

    So, I’ll just dive right back into it;

    Haruchika; Saw the episode description, pondered on how much like the first ep it seemed… It doesn’t matter how much the show may have going for it, but a repetitive plot plus the tropish “recruiting for the club” bit – dropped like a hot potato. (That the animation style made my eyes bleed didn’t help any.)

    KonaSuba ep1; Another lightweight, but played for laughs (rather than for serious like AOKANA). Really, there isn’t much more to say about it. Keeping because it does show promise for being enjoyable.

    Lovely Muuuuuuuco! ep15; I don’t know how a short form comedy with such a simple premise keeps going from strength to strength, yet they manage to do so on a regular basis. Komatsu-san! Komatsu-san! Just keeps me rolling in the aisle.

    Luck and Logic ep1; a pretty thin and oft visited premise combined with slightly above average writing and some very lovely animation. I really can’t say much about it other than, yah, keeping for the moment.

    Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu kara ep1; Short form, comedy, plays games with genre tropes without being self-aware… Worth watching, but if the skeevy fanservice of the first ep keeps up it may get bounced.

    Myriad Colors Phantom World; When the second ep showed up in the queue, there was just nothing attracting me to watch it and horror that was the first ep inducing me to skip it. Sorry KyoAni, despite such interesting and well done bits as why the dancing telephone poles were dancing, I really just can’t take this. Dropped.

    Norn9 eps 1-2; All setup so far, with little promise of actual plot advancement. There’s the bones of at least half a dozen mysteries in place, so even if this is a two-cour show, they need to get on with solving them and I’m just about out of patience. Unsurprisingly, being based on an otome game, it appeals much more to My Lady than to me.

    _ Nurse Witch Komugi R_ Tropish and way, way too genre aware… Nurse Witch has nothing to recommend it. Dropped without a second thought at the end of the first ep.

    Ojisan and Marshmallow eps 1-2; Originally this wasn’t even on my radar, but so many folks mentioned it last week, we decided to check it out. Man am I ever so glad we did. It’s funny as heck without being silly, and it’s not afraid to go a little more ‘adult’ than you might expect which just makes it funnier. Well worth a watch and a solid keeper.

    Oshiete! Gyaruko-chan; Man, I wish I’d taken WingKing’s comments to heart and never even watched this piece of trash. Dropped at the eyecatch because I needed to head out to the store because I was fresh out of brain bleach. (For the record, only the second show I’ve ever dropped without finishing the first ep – it really was that bad.)

    Ouya-san wa Shishunki eps 1-2; Another lightweight short form comedy. There’s not much there, but at two minutes long it would be hard pressed to put anything there. It’s cute enough and short enough to keep around.

    Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn; Despite not being all that fanservice-y, there was enough otaku fetish bait to give the impression that this show was mostly designed to sell figurines, hug pillows, and other merch. Dropped.

    Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation All I can say about this are the Eight Deadly Words – I don’t care what happens to these people. Gone baby gone.

    Prince of Stride: Alternative ep2; Went a little bit tropish (I mean, what school club anime hasn’t used the “if you don’t win this competition in a month the clun will be disbanded” bit?), but still there’s something there I like. I think it’s mostly that Nana is in the lead position for being this season’s Best Girl. There’s just something about her. (Though yes, Mira is running a close second.)

    Schwarzesmarken Sitting in the queue, just haven’t gotten to it yet.

    Sekkou Boys eps 1-2; Short form comedy, very, very genre savvy but equally smooth about it. The premise is silly as heck, but they play it straight. My Lady has opted out, but it’s still on my list.

    Wow – down to 21 shows, and writing something cogent about them has proved to be harder than hell. I’ll have to make it up to some of the shows that got short shrift this week (if they turn out to be keepers).

    In other news; Still stalled on my rewatch of YuuYuu. Checked out the live action version of Wakakozake and am trying mightily to judge it on it’s own terms.

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    • Wise decision. I almost dropped Galko-chan in the same spot, but decided to wait it out and see if the second half would move away from that kind of material. It doubled down instead.

      The second episode of Phantom World did tone down the fanservice to a level that I can live with – in fact, it passed up several prime opportunities to pack in even more fanservice despite the girls spending almost half the episode wearing towels. My big problem with it is that the writing just hasn’t been that good so far, well below the standards I usually expect from KyoAni. The worldbuilding especially has been very clunky and just inelegantly crammed in via these mass infodumps delivered with all the enthusiasm of Harrison Ford’s Bladerunner monologue, and that kind of thing drives me crazy.

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  7. I can’t tell you how nervous I was, picking up the Rakugo show. I had high expectations for this one; I rarely have expectations this high. So in the opening moments of episode one, there I was being distracted by anxiety (“Oh no, it’s going to let me down!” – “Oh no, the convict is loud and annyoing; I’m going to hate him.”), all the while the part of me that enjoyed the show was too speechless to contradict silly, worrying me, and just enjoying the show. Anxious me ran out of steam; the me that enjoyed the show was just stunned into silent appreciation. I haven’t felt like this about an anime since Ping Pong. I’m in awe. They handle the camera differently for different performances; they don’t hurry through lacklustre performences, but underly them with appropriate music to heighten the tension. Characters aren’t always easy to read. So far, I like this show more than anything that aired last year. I’d be very surprised if this slipped from its top spot this season.

    All in all, I really like this season. It’s a good spread of shows, and lots of stuff I can watch for relaxation. Biggest surprise was Koukaku no Pandora, which completely charmed me with its completely genre-typical duo, and the kitsune-type prankster villain(?). Pity about the ecchi, but it feels more silly than exploitative, so I can take it. (This is in contrast to last year, where I loved shows like Monster Musume and Shimoneta where the ecchi was essential to the enjoyment.)

    A couple of random comments:

    Bubuki Buranki: They don’t mention the sister at all after the time skip? Oh dear, I worry she’s going to make an “impactful” entrance on the other side as a suprise mid-boss… Or not. I’m bad a predicting stuff.

    Grimgar: A lot depends on how they’ll treat the goblins in the show. Our group of protagonists have just ambushed and killed a lone goblin who was just fetching water. I do hope they’re not going to go for “get over your squeamishness; this is your life now.” (Shin Sekai Yori has set a benchmark with its treatment of the bakenezumi.) — Beyond that: boy, is this show pretty. Thank god for art and animation like this.

    Gate: This is becoming ugly. It’s heading into a territory where I just start hating everyone. The character that expressed my feelings the most was the constantly facepalming empreror. First, they worry about going to the palace at all, and then they don’t even attempt to negotiate and just shoot up everyone? And it’s okay, why? Because we’ve made sure the prince is unlikable scum? I’m probably going to keep watching but the blatant militarism is going to be a lot harder to bear.

    Luck and Logic: This show caught me with episode 2’s final twist. Doesn’t happen often. Now I just wish the show was better.

    Dagashi Kashi is nuts in the best way. I’d probably appriciate it even more if I knew the snacks and had a nostalgic connection to them, but it’s close enough.

    Dimension W: Most promising SF show.

    KonoSuba: The hard-work-is-fulfilling montage was incredibly fun. (And thus the adventure ended… Wait, no, it didn’t. Heh.)

    Overall, I like this season a lot more than last season. Anime is back in full force.

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    • I’m right there with you on Rakugo, BBK/BRNK, and GATE. Your likes are mine and your concerns are mine.

      Don’t tease me with that Luck & Logic twist, though! I need to not pick it back up!

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      • Luck & Logic isn’t really worth picking up again. Ep2 was pretty much exactly like EP1 in terms of quality. (The twist concerns the treatment of a character and is episode contained. It doesn’t make the show any better, except just by being a fleeting pleasant surprise.)

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  8. I SEE NO MENTION OF HOW YOU WATCHED MACROSS DELTA LIKE 8 TIMES ALREADY, BLESSINGTON.

    AS YOU KNOW, I TOO ENJOY KONOSUBA QUITE A BIT. THE SHOW IT REALLY REMINDS ME OF MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IS AN OLD OLD LIGHT NOVEL SERIES KNOWN AS SLAYERS. SLAYERS ITSELF IS IN ESSENCE A COMEDIC TAKE ON YOUR TYPICAL FANTASY ADVENTURE, EQUIPPED WITH AN ACID TONGUE AND A SIMILAR SENSE OF ENDEARING DERP. SO REALLY I FEEL LIKE KONOSUBA IS SLAYERS BUT FOR THE TRANSPORTED TO A VIDEO-GAME WORLD GENRE. THAT SAID SLAYERS TAKES MUCH LONGER TO COME INTO ITS OWN THAN KONOSUBA. WHAT I’M SAYING IS LIGHT NOVELS MAY FINALLY BE COMING FULL CIRCLE.

    I WOULD WATCH BUBURBUBUKI BURBURUBURBURUBUR ANIKI BUT I JUST CAN’T KNOWINGLY SUBJECT MYSELF TO CG I’M SO SORRY

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excuse you I’m well over 10 watches of Delta at this point.

      I’m going to write a post on that darn episode sooner or later anyways.

      Why did you type the rest of this in all caps

      (BBK/BRNK’s CG really is bad, it’s okay.)

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  9. My watch list always has two kinds of shows: shows I’m watching together with my husband and shows I watch by myself. So, for shows we’re watching together…

    Erased: first premiere we tried and were instantly hooked. Second episode was just as good. Actually, I found myself noting interesting shots and angles and things in the second episode. I think your analyses have influenced me.

    Grimgar: I don’t know why you found it confusing. 😛 This is quite obviously a brilliant if slow moving meditation on many stock fantasy tropes. Most prominent being that of the “portal fantasy”. (Note we have no indication that this is actually a game world, despite using rpg terminology.) In any other portal fantasy, the protagonist gets swept up into epic adventures right from the start, but here we have characters who actually have to start from the bottom, which is more in line with what one would realistically expect if one suddenly woke up in a new place. The protagonist of the average fantasy is special or gifted right from the beginning, but here we have a group of literal noobs. In a realistic twist, they can’t take down any enemy simply because someone put a sword in their hand and gave them a little basic training. They find using their rpg based skills just as difficult as someone who picked up a knife and decided to try hunting sentient creatures without any experience would in the real world. And perhaps most brilliantly, the series is focused on realism without being dark and gritty, because in the real world hardship and beauty exist side by side. Needless to say, I am totally in love with this show already.

    Dimension W: Love it. This show has so much style without apparently sacrificing substance. After episode 2 I am eager to know the truth behind the coils and Dimension W, because that was some messed up stuff happening. This looks like a smart but also fun sci fi story. And of course, as soon as Mabuchi’s mouth opened and Daisuke Ono’s voice came out I was hooked.

    Konosuba: Wasn’t expecting much from this going in, but it was delightful. I totally agree with you about it being very reminiscent of Danmachi (with a little Ah! My Goddess! thrown in for good measure). I expected it to be very predictable and fanservice heavy, but it actually took some unexpected directions and the fanservice really wasn’t that bad. I’m glad we tried it.

    GATE: I can understand where you’re coming from in not feeling this season, but I’m actually liking this season better so far. My husband and I both erupted into cheers when the JSDF totally started taking out empire soldiers right in the throne room. That was awesome.

    We’re continuing with Utawarerumono, which is finally getting to some interesting war stuff, and Fairy Tail, which has started covering the backstory of Mavis and the Fairy Tail guild, this season. And I’m hoping we can start watching Durarara again. We’ve been saving the second season so we can watch binge on a few episodes at a time. I never felt that Mikado-Anri-Kida were the best part of the show so I doubt I’ll mind that they aren’t focused on.

    Shows we tried and dropped: Luck and Logic, Divine Gate, Dagashi Kashi

    Shows I’m watching by myself…

    Showa Genroku Rokugo Shinju: I like this a lot, though not as much as you. The Rakugo itself is sometimes really interesting, sometimes tedious. We’ll see how it plays out.

    Sekko Boys: This is MY pet show of the season. 😉 The premise is so absurd but it’s well aware of that and plays to it. The comedy is gold and the fact that all 4 statues are played by top notch seiyuu helps. Plus it’s only about 7 minutes long so it doesn’t over stay its welcome.

    Rainbow Days/Club rainbow: A half length high school rom com accompanied by a short variety show featuring the voice cast from the anime. This is a very interesting format so I want to follow it. Plus, in episode 2 of Club Rainbow Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (Kirito, Bell Cranel, etc.) was made to cross dress in outfits the other seiyuu chose for him. It was hilarious.

    Also continuing with Osomatsu-san, because it’s hilarious and gives an interesting insight into a side of Japanese culture you don’t often see in anime. (It’s apparently REALLY popular over there.) And I’m hoping to start binging on Lupin the 3rd part 4 soon to catch up to new episodes. I love Lupin.

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    • Haha I’ve infected you with the cinematography analysis bug. My master plan is working…

      I just wasn’t expecting Grimgar to be what it was. Now that I’ve seen the second episode, I definitely have a better grip on what it’s trying to do. And oh man, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka cross-dressing? I really am going to have to watching Nijiro Days, aren’t I?

      I’m hoping Konosuba eases off the fanservice in later eps. A lot of shows seem to frontload their fanservice in episode one and then chill; may this happen once again.

      Like

      • Didn’t I tell you on Twitter to watch it ?
        I like this show so much.
        The VAing of Matsuoka kind of reminds me of Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to. Those Roles suit him very well.

        Like

  10. I was wondering what had happened to Part 2 of your First Impressions post… I guess this will have to do (by the way, did you seriously burn out? I hope you’re coping well now).

    ERASED and Akagami no Shirayukihime are easily top-tier stuff for me. The former is excellent at setting up the creepy atomsphere and letting the dread set in. It then gently punctuates it with tender moments which make your heart break. It’s so well done that you don’t even feel the tonal shift. Also, Aoi Yuki’s doing what she does best.

    The latter hasn’t lost its touch even after three months. Few shows have epitomised quiet dignity as well as this one has.

    (I really need to start on that rakugo show, since everybody I know is singing its praises.)

    I originally watched Nijiiro Days just for Kouki Uchiyama, but it’s actually turned out to be a mildly pleasant way to pass the time.

    Still continuing with IBO and HQ!! this season. Things are definitely ramping up in both… political shenanigans abound in the former.

    My pet show was going to be Luck and Logic… I really liked the premiere and enjoyed the second episode bar one or two skeevy scenes/ lines. But then I saw somebody compare the show’s ideology to Mahouka, of all things… now I can’t unsee it, and my interest in the show has plummeted. You know that one show you really want to like (it’s got a veteran director,a promising writer, and a stellar cast), but are terrified that it won’t even turn out to be decent? It’s that show for me.

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    • Haha I actually went on a work trip, so that’s why I cut out abruptly! My apologies. I am dealing with a bit of burnout, but not so bad that I can’t write (as you see here haha).

      And yes, start Rakugo Shinju! It’s amazing!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think I agree with you on most of the shows. ERASED, Rakugo, Dimension W and Grimgar are the standouts this season.

    However, I’m a bit hopeful for Active Raid, Luck & Logic, BBK/BRNK, and Divine Gate. I love non-harem battle shows like Raildex and Tokyo Ravens, and I’m hoping that one or more of these shows will fit into that genre and be decent enough.

    Of the rest, I don’t really understand the hype for Dagashi Kashi. It’s seems decent enough, but nothing that would warrant the internet hype I’ve seen for it.

    I also don’t get the clamor for Shirayuki-hime, but I think I discussed that when it was airing S1. I dropped it at Episode 5 or 6, but I am considering picking it back up just because so many people who’s tastes match mine are touting it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bubuki kind of puzzled me as to why I like it too. I couldn’t really label it under a genre just from how many different thinks I felt in that space of twenty minutes. But I could at least dictate that they were all positive. I’m glad I’m not the only one getting Haikyuu and Durarara burnout. Gate has lost me. I feel like a different studio could handle it better. It feels like a kids show and an adult show at the same time, and it’s a really awkward tonal imbalance.

    Shouwa Genroku was my top pick as well. I had never seen Rakugo before so that in itself was pretty enlightening.

    But Grimgar’s art, good god. Give me more of that.

    Liked by 1 person

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