First Impressions: Fall 2016 Anime (Part 2)

The season of fall premieres continues to plow forward. I’ll be glad when it’s over and I can settle in to my hoped-for schedule. I’m trying to take it easy, though! I no longer have the desire I once had to kill myself over watching absolutely everything. Thankfully.

If you missed part one, you can read that here!

Bungou Stray Dogs

Yuri!!! on Ice

And so, the first of the real stars of my season appears. I never wrote about my experiencing watching Sayo Yamamoto’s The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit and found Yamamoto’s directing seductive, subtle, and fascinating. Amusingly, Yuri!!! on Ice is not really all that much like Fujiko Mine in terms of the visual direction, but you can still tell we’ve got a real talented creator behind this show. Sadly, first impressions posts aren’t the best place to go into deep cinematography analysis, but you can have this mini-essay on the topic I put on Twitter instead!

As for what I thought about Yuri!!! on Ice as a whole, I’m rather fascinated by the way the show bounces around between tones. There’s the elegance of the ice-skating and then the bouncy, cartoony world of Yuri’s home. Personally, it does make the majestic skating sequences a little harder to transition into, but once they get going it’s impossible to turn away. That’s that same kind of immersive, engulfing effect I felt in Fujiko Mine, so it’s marvelous to see it returning through an entirely different kind of show using different techniques. It’s hard not to be impressed with the range of Yamamoto’s skills, and I’m really curious to see how she continues to use them throughout the rest of the show.

So far, this is probably my top recommendation of the season.

Bungo Stray Dogs S2

As you all know, I dropped Bungo midway through the first season before picking it back up again. The show’s return was quite different than what I was expecting given the ending of the first season, but this dive into Dazai’s backstory with the Port Mafia is actually quite engaging and perhaps some of the most interesting plot material that the show has offered yet. I’m assuming we’ll return to the present timeline eventually, but I’m rather curious what this will all look like compositionally. How will the timing of this flashback story play into the progression of events in the present? Let us all pray that Enokido doesn’t flub it (considering the first season, I’m not convinced it won’t happen).

It was also nice to see that Bungo‘s primary strengths have returned. Poor Tatsuya Igarashi sure has fallen a long way from his Utena days, but it’s still quite nice to see his polished, colorful style and engaging compositions back on my screen. As before, the character designs are sharp and cute, and it’s hard not to find myself wondering at the absolute bounty of male seiyuu this show rewards the ear with. Miyano is good, of course, but it’s more than just him. So, Bungo is as Bungo does—an audio-visual pleasure, even if the stuffing in between isn’t always the sharpest.

I knew what I was in for, so it’s hard not to be happy my expectations were met.

bungou-stray-dogs-13-16

Keijo!!!!!!!!

Let me first state that I watched this premiere with the intent of maybe writing a blog post involving it, but then wound up not exactly finding what I expected (although I sort of did). Let me also state that the alternate title, Hip Whip Girl, is so incredibly superior to the official title that it’s not even funny. Let me finally state that I was fully prepared to drop the episode after two minutes if it got really gross, but… I wound up watching the whole thing? Now, don’t get me wrong—I have issues with Keijo!!!!!!!!—but it was nice to see that the fanservice elements came more from the Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere school than, say, Walkure Romanze.

So, about that fanservice stuff, then. The biggest issue I have with the way Keijo!!!!!!!!‘s (laughing at that punctuation) fanservice is how it’s coded directly into the show’s premise. That is, no matter how much of a “serious sports show” Keijo!!!!!!!! is (and it does that fairly well), it is also fundamentally a show that uses that aspect to normalize its sexual elements. That’s just… not something I really care to support in any way, especially since the classic sports formula that Keijo!!!!!!!! utilizes obviously can be used to make a “serious sports show” featuring girls. The fact that it’s about butts and boobs is, in a word, entirely unnecessary. It just doesn’t have to be like this, and it harder for me to be accepting of it when it’s an entire show’s raison d’être instead of just a few moments.

I wish the Keijo!!!!!!!! watchers the best, but please. Calm down with the butts.

All Out!!

Frankly, of the two sports anime premieres I’ve watched this season, All Out!! was definitely the less engaging. The best word to describe this episode is likely “steady” (or maybe “classic”), but unfortunately that also translated into an episode that felt like it took forever to watch. There’s plenty to like here: the show does a pretty good job of translating the motion of the sport onto the screen despite not having a ton of animation, the characters are all pleasant to watch, and straightforward nature that these kinds of shows usually have is no less refreshing despite its familiarity.

However, the thing that all the best sports show have is a sense of active and quick forward momentum. I’m generally pretty willing to sit through set-up and the like, but when All Out!! is treading such familiar territory, it doesn’t really need to be so deliberate about things because it winds up feeling slow. Maybe it’s the limited animation, maybe it’s the relatively slow timing around jokes, or maybe it’s just that the episode overall was just kind of slow moving. I’m not sure. Whatever it was, it was a clear indication that All Out!! wouldn’t really be something I’d enjoy watching weekly. Better to marathon.

Unfortunately, “better to marathon” actually means, “Goodbye, I have robots to watch.”

all-out-1-3

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS

I have a lot of things to say here, starting with rehashing once again how much I love this title. It’s fantastic sonically, and, turns out, it’s actually quite literally descriptive of the show. “Lostorage” = threat of lost memories. “Incited” = arbitrary way Selectors are thrown in the game. That’s super cool, and not something I was expecting. The second thing is, wow, they aren’t mailing this show in at all! It may not have quite the same excellent visual identity that the first season had, but it’s still well-storyboarded and sometimes strives for and succeeds at achieving real visual grace. The OST was another highlight, as the sparse but upbeat electronic sounds of the first half of the episode did a great job of building a particular mood until the crap hit the fan.

As for the story, it seems we’ve jettisoned the mystery aspect of the WIXOSS Selector game in favor of a more straightforward system. No longer is the threat of loss built through the twin pillars of being sucked into the game with dragging other down after you as your only escape; now, it’s simple annihilation as a person. However, there’s still something rather gutwrenching about the explicitness of it all. With the external threat so firmly established, the relational complications foreshadowed in the OP should pile on the drama further.

Honestly, I was prepared for the worst. This was thrillingly better than that.


Still to Watch: Matoi the Sacred Slayer, Flip Flappers, Girlish Number, Sangatsu no Lion.

By the way, I found out Idol Memories was half-anime, half-live show for the entire season, which sadly killed my interest in it. If it gets picked up for streaming, I’ll probably give it ago, but for now it’s off the list.

17 thoughts on “First Impressions: Fall 2016 Anime (Part 2)

  1. Yuri on Ice: Ooh, this is going to be a favourite this season. I, too, loved the constant style changes. I thought that, especially in the early parts of the show, the way they handle the background-foreground ratio was a bit shafty? I’m no expert at all. I think, my favourite visuals came with the scene when Yuri’s big sister came to greet him in his room. That was stunningly beautiful light/shadow work. They keep the story moving along nicely, too.

    Bungo Stray Dogs 2: Pretty much like the first season. A comfortable, good-natured show to watch. Looking forward to the Americans (I’m sure they’ll show up and be hilarious).

    Keijo: I was sure I’d be dropping this one like a hot potatoe, but by the end I was in love with this show. I don’t even mind the sexualisation too much. This is the polar opposite of the Ping Pong show: that one has a fairly straightforward moe aesthetic, and then there are those stupid boob jokes. Here, the stupid boob and butt jokes are front and center, and so they can bolster it with lots of nice stuff. One of the things I have to give the show credit for is that they take bodies seriously. This is not the cartoonishly overdone Free stuff. There are lots of body types, and you can see that the instructors are completely differently muscled than the students. (I adore the heavy-set instructor – she’s got spunk.) Surprisingly, this ended up one of my favourites. It’s like Girls und Panzer with butts instead of tanks.

    All-Out: It’s…. nice? I may or may not end up watching this. Also, generally not interested in sports. And definitely not in Rugby. Got a bit of a retro feel to it, but Tiger Mask W is way stronger on that front (heh).

    I haven’t watched any WIXXOS since I forced myself through season one. The artwork seems more my type, though, now. Still not going to watch it.

    Look forward to Flip Flappers. It’s good fun (and has the best ED of the season so far).

    No interest in Fune wo Amu?

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    • Hmm, SHAFT-like? Perhaps. It’s not like SHAFT’s specific tricks are entirely tied to the studio… although I don’t recall anything that particularly made me think of them.

      And I kinda forgot about Fune wo Amu… thanks Amazon…

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  2. for lostorage is weird is not like the other season for example now men can be “selector” ?? is a spinoff so why that diference ???

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    • Might be different because it’s a spin off. The Selector game in Lostorage seems quite different in nature from that in infected and spread, so this very well could be another universe entirely.

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  3. Yuri On Ice is really getting people fired up, and I can certainly see why. It’s my top pick of the season so far as well (well, I say ‘so far’ but I really can’t imagine anything being able to top it), and possibly also the finest anime premiere I’ve seen in a good couple of years. I’ve loved Yamamoto Sayo since first stumbling onto Michiko and Hatchin – still a firm favourite of mine – but I was attempting not to get too excited about Yuri On Ice before actually watching the first episode. Now that I have though, I can say that it’s everything I hoped and more. This is one happy Yamamoto fangirl right here.

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    • Yeah, it seems like everyone who likes Saya Yamatoto really liked Yuri!!! on Ice, which is nice. I’m glad it lived up to their expectations/was as good as they were hoping it was. Quite curious to see where this one will go, too!

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  4. I’ve got to agree with most of what you wrote here.
    Only Yuri!!! on Ice did not catch up to what I expected. The Iceskating scenes were nice, but the rest is… Still far away from dropping it.

    For me, the best Shows this far are Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron blooded Orphans Season 2 and Hibike! Euphonium.
    Both Shows are not mentioned here, so I am not going to write about them.
    But let me say that I liked both 1st Seasons.
    If Hibike! Euphonium continues to be this good, it will be by far my favorite of the Season.
    Even the Guys at Sakugablog couldn’t stop writing about it and that shows how good this first Episode was.

    Still some Shows to come this weekend

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    • I can certainly see how Yuri!!! on Ice might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The tonal shifts it pulls have the potential to be rather disconcerting.

      Eupho won’t be showing up, as I don’t care to watch it weekly because of the noise it generates, and IBO is something I dropped, but might go back to in the future because, well, robots.

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  5. Tonal shifts are never something I can get used to. I felt the same way with Yuri on Ice as I did with 3gatsu, Nanbaka(SoL hijinks and then suddenly serious backstory dump at the end) and Touken Ranbu(the violent opening contrasting with SoL for another 20 minutes until more violence).

    With Yuri on Ice I felt like they brushed off the lead’s vulnerability and depression too fast. First he broke down in the bathroom and was(rudely) interrupted in an unnatural and then when he slumps into depression(and even gains a ton of weight, which is a common symptom) they kind of fast-forward through it and discard it? Makes me wonder why they bothered doing it at all.
    With 3gatsu I feel like the main character’s personal demons, depression and issues will constantly resurface and are ever-present but not so much with Yuri.

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    • Yeah, I do agree that not all the tonal shifts in Yuri!!! on Ice were completely effective, particularly early on—but later I do feel like they were used well.

      Haven’t seen Sangatsu yet, so I can’t comment there.

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