First Impressions: Fall 2016 Anime (Part 3)

You thought I’d forgotten about recording my final first impressions of the season? Worry not; they are here now that I’ve hit my arbitrarily self-imposed quota of watching 15 premieres. No more. I’m done. There’s plenty of good stuff already!

Earlier Installments: Part 1 | Part 2

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Flip Flappers

Okay, I suppose I’m cheating a bit here since I’ve actually already seen the first two episodes of Flip Flappers, but since they’re probably about equally representative of the show I’m saying it’s okay. Those who follow me on Twitter know that Flip Flappers was easily my most anticipated show leading into this season, thanks mostly to what’s liked the best PV for any anime ever. That, combined with obvious match of aesthetic sensibilities between me and the show, set my hopes high—and I’m rather glad they weren’t immediately dashed.

Flip Flappers is just kind of a quirky, colorful, light-hearted adventure story. There are obvious moments of drama and darkness, but, frankly, the show’s not quite weighty enough to make any of those less positivist aspects deeply affecting due to its rather barebones writing. That’s not a knock against the show; it’s merely to note that the show’s priorities are definitely coming from a particular place and that this place isn’t necessarily one we anime-watchers adventure into often. If I’m being totally honest, I’m perhaps just a bit worried about this, but the ride’s been wild, funny, and pretty enough so far that I’m gonna take Papika’s surfboard as far as it’ll take me.

Buckle up with Paprika and Cocoa for some Floop Fluppers!

flip-flappers-1-25

March comes in like a lion

I was talking in an earlier post about how good of a title Lostorage Incited WIXOSS is, but March comes in like a lion make be the actual best title of the season. While it’s a pain to type out and use possessives with, it also feel distinctly weighted to me in a way that just feels really good (and that I don’t get from Sangatsu no Lion since I don’t speak Japanese). The name’s also quite appropriate, as this sense of an unavoidable blow impending runs through the best parts of the show, like the first half of the premiere.

So, about that premiere. On the whole, I found it a rather disjointed venture, with a compelling first half that manipulated visual cues and played with sound and silence to construct a really personal look at Rei’s emotional state despite the inherent detachment created by using such techniques. The second half was weaker, due mostly the the fact that it adopted an almost hectic mood that overstated the contrast between his life alone and his life with this family. That being said, this material is clearly top-tier stuff, as the moment when Hinata puts the blankets over Rei and sees him crying in his sleep. Even the unfortunately less-than-perfect direction can’t completely hamstring moments like that.

I’m hoping for the best, but bracing myself for the most unfortunate outcome: mediocrity.

Girlish Number

Snark and sick burns, the anime. Everyone’s in the firing line—seiyuu, directors, writers, the audience, the industry, the characters. Which is all fun and good, but I’d be fooling myself if I said I didn’t find myself at least a little tired of all the owns getting thrown around. Thankfully, there were some more genuine moments—the the unadulterated joy in Chitose’s eyes when she realizes she’s been cast in the lead role—scattered in amidst all the sarcasm and sass, but at times I just felt like Gojou, shaking my head watching a show perhaps just a little bit too in love with the idea of landing the next clever zinger.

That caveat aside, there’s lots of other stuff to love about Girlish Number. All the characters (yes, including Gojou) are attractively designed to the point of throwing me for a loop when comprehending seiyuu designed as anime characters being played by seiyuu, Chitose’s bratty personality makes her a ton of fun to watch, and the show’s got a bit of a visual identity despite the over art style being dominated by grays. Whether or not all that will add up to a show that’s willing to infuse enough vulnerability into its snarky premise remains to be seen, but I’m hoping for the best.

I like the potshots, but this show has to be more than that to keep me.

Girlish Number

Occultic;Nine

Definitely the oddest premiere I’ve seen this season, but a massively engaging one nonetheless. “Rad” was the word stuck in my head when I finished Occultic;Nine‘s premiere and while I’m not super confident that being rad will be enough for the show to get me on board for an entire season, it did make for a wild ride. Something like a cross between Baccano! and Monogatari, although certain far more juvenile than either of them (not to exonerate Monogatari of its own faults too much). Yuki Kaji yelling his head off was what initially got me hooked on the episode—I don’t know why—and then the torrid pace the remainder took kept me until the very end.

The frenetic delivery was key here; without the speedy pacing and rapid dialogue, the base elements are so unimpressive that I suspect I would have checked out long before the end of the episode. But as it was, something about the episode’s lead foot kept the numerous tropes and, uh, less attractive elements from grating since they were conveyed with such energy (and with such brevity). I realize that doesn’t exactly speak well, but the appeal here is most definitely not nuance—it’s the simple adrenaline of pumping a hyperactive cast and weird events through the screen into your brain. Does that make it good? I dunno.

I have no clue if I’ll watch the second episode or not.

Occultic;Nine

The Great Passage

On the complete opposite of the spectrum from, like, all these other shows is The Great Passage. Some words: immersive, delicate, sensitive, intelligent, dignified. Not grand, but thoughtful and deliberate and steady. It’s shows like this that make me grateful I have tastes that aren’t stuck to just one kind of anime, because the quiet nobility of this show is something it just feels good being able to appreciate. I’ve liked and loved a number of the premieres this season—The Great Passage may be my favorite of them all.

So, why? I think the origins of it all rest in the same sort of basket as Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju resides in—particularity. It’d be tough to pick a world more esoteric than that of dictionary writing and editing, but the limited scope of that premise means that The Great Passage is empowered to dive deep into that world and is almost required to have specific characters to inhabit it. None of the leads or side-characters in this show are flashy, but they are substantial in a way that manifests itself in things like body language, manner of speech, and even basic interactions with each other. The world of The Great Passage may be limited by its specificity, but it’s also full and deep. Oh, and the show’s audio-visual direction is immaculate, too. No big deal.

If The Great Passage isn’t available in your region yet, scream at Amazon until it is.

12 thoughts on “First Impressions: Fall 2016 Anime (Part 3)

  1. Flip Flappers: It’s good fun, and it’s pretty, and they have enough going on that it’s unlikely to get boring. They’re also setting up things without immediately resolving them (cliffhanger abduction – what did they do? What’s Kokona’s friend going to do? Uexüll?). None of it feels urgent, but it gives the show throughlines to run along. The main draw’s style anyway. I liked the second episode a little more than the first, which is a good sign.

    Sangatsu no Lion: This is easily my favourite Shaft show since Denpa Onna, which was 2011. It’s not perfect; I agree with the hectic middle being slightly weaker – at times it got confusing for me, especially when they also voiced the cats (took me some time to realise what was going on). Not much to say yet.

    Girlish Number: I watch this for the reaction faces. They’re excellent. I feel at home with the snarky mood, too. It’s more of a comfortable background than a draw, though. An okay show.

    Occultic;Nine: I’m fine with the narrative technique. My problem is that so far that I like not a single character, and I’m slightly worried about enormous breasts and stereotypical presentation of the bar owner. This is definitely quite a few steps below Steins;Gate or Robotics;Notes, although it might keep up with Chaos;Head (which I barely remember).

    Fune wo Amu: This was my tentative pick of the season. (I sometimes wonder how many other people hear there’s going to be an anime about editing a dictionary and get excited.) Then I saw the trailer and it was my definitive pick of the season, and I’m glad it didn’t let me down. And, yes, the appeal is very similar to the appeal of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. As an aside: Any anime that gets a fat cat right can’t be bad.

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    • Style’s the main draw for Flip Flappers and what a style it is! I’m interested to see how they do weave those threads you’re talking about together. The show a phenomenal sense for the creepy, and stuff like not coming back to the abduction plays into that.

      Yup, Occultic;Nine has definitely got some character problems. Will they overwhelm the presentation? Who knows. Like I said, I don’t even know if I’m gonna give it another episode.

      The fatness of the cat really caught my attention haha! I’m not a huge cat fan, but that impressed me quite a lot.

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      • @Flip Flappers: I actually liked how they handled the abduction. You get that numb feeling in Kokona’s arm (an injection could do that?) and Papika asks if she’s okay – obviously referring to the previous day, but they’re not making a big deal out of it. Just enough to show they haven’t forgotten. That’s absolutely creepy.

        Among the shows you’re not watching, my favourites would be Udon no Kuni and Classicaloid, both being better than expect. That’s quite the achievement for the udon + tanuki show, since my expectations were high. What makes this show stand out is the kid can’t speak yet, and because of anime-character-design it’s hard to tell wether people around them think he’s slow at learning, or whether he’s supposed look that young (the latter is more likely at that point). They’re playing the animal/very young child ambiguity very well. What’s also different from other shows in the genre is that the “caretaker” actually has his own business to take care of. The kid’s a bit of a manic pixy dream girl, except that he’s a toddler. And a tanuki. Also: good sense of place, and the ambiguity that comes from “coming home” after running away to the big city. I’m using ambiguity a lot when talking about this show, am I not? I’m loving it. Among my favourites. (Oh, and one of the best musical scores this year, I think.)

        Classicaloid is also better than expected, but that’s less of an achievement, since my expectations were fairly low. It’s good nonsensical fun, and I like the modernisations they use for the classical music (rock for Beethoven, pop for Mozart [whose music irritates me – in the anime, too]). It appears next time it’s time for Liszt and introducing Chopin for the episode after that (music-wise). I’m curious about their musical themes, especially since those are amongst my favourite classics. Tchaikowsky and Badarzewska appear to be idols (huh?). I also can’t resist a snarky tablet and a shoebill with a scarf. I’ll probably forget about the show pretty quickly, but it’s a fun watch.

        For the shorts, Sengoku Choujuu Giga, Miss Bernard Said and Nobunaga no Shinobi are all fun.

        Overall, I’m liking this season a lot more than the last.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Great Passage looks like a lovely series, and as soon as I heard Rakugo Shinju’s creator was involved I figured it would have the same refined peculiarity. So annoying it’s on Amazon though, I would literally be paying for it just to watch one show.

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    • I’m fortunate in that I already pay for Prime because of that sweet, sweet free 2-day shipping, but yeah, the streaming situation is nothing short of obnoxious. A shame especially since The Great Passage is such a gem.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of all the anime for Amazon to want to pick up, this one is perhaps the weirdest possible choice. From Kabaneri to a…series about editing a dictionary 😆 I don’t use them near enough to warrant paying for Prime, but if it works for you that shipping perk is pretty great.

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        • Amazon has an agreement to distribute shows that appear in the Noitamina block… so it’s not so much that they picked Passage, it’s that Passage appeared in that block and Amazon has to show it.

          That being said, it still hasn’t shown up on Amazon for me.

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  3. Writing the wall o’ text on my first cup of coffee because it’s but one of the many things that have to be done today to catch up, albeit one of the most attractive. (We’ve been dealing with windstorms here.) Also covering the shows I’m watching that Bless isn’t. Which means I’m going to have to talk about Euph and IBO.

    Some of these I’ve seen eps 1 and 2 of… so I’m just going to go ahead and cover both eps.

    The shows I’m watching are in italics, the ones my lovely wife and I are both watching are in bold.

    Brave Witches Eps 1-2; My guilty pleasure this season… It’s starting off pretty predictably. The only interesting thing to note is that they’ve toned down that casual fanservice, this is pretty odd for a show whose primary claim to fame is casual fanservice. I like it that they’re very clearly differentiating Hikari from Yoshika though. They’re very clearly going down the same ganbatte route though… which isn’t exactly unusual for anime of any stripe.

    Cheating Craft; It’s a short, but even so the decision to make the entire first episode an introductory monologue is a questionable one, even if the setting is mildly unusual. We don’t even meet Our Heroes until the closing minute. Haven’t watched Ep2 yet, may or may not.

    Flip Flappers eps 1-2; We’re still not entirely sure what’s going on here… but are thoroughly hooked. Like you, we’re hoping the show can hold together.

    Girlish Number; We’re in an agreement here! There’s an interesting premise, and decent writing, but if it turns out to be nothing but constant snark… that’s going to get old very fast.

    Iron Blooded Orphans eps 1-2; After a timeskip, we’re back in the world of war and politics… So far, mostly setting the stage. So far not as tightly plotted as the first season, but still interesting. Hopefully now that the pieces are on the board, things will get better.

    Kaiju Girls eps 1-3; As you may or may not know, I enjoy the Ultra franchise, which was the primary reason I checked this out. (It’s based on moe versions of the kaiju from said franchise.) Lackluster animation, lame writing, and voice acting straight from coma ward. Dropped.

    March comes in like a lion; Hard to write this now that we’ve seen the second ep. Let’s just say we were intrigued if not impressed – enough to watch the second ep.

    Matoi the sacred slayer; Something of a confused mess… My lovely lady dropped out after Ep1, I’m curious enough to move forward. There’s some interesting elements in play, but also some awful squick that they’d better explain away and drop fast lest I drop the show.

    Miss Bernard Said; Short format. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here…

    Nazatokine; WTF did I just watch? Which also basically sums up the first eps posts on the Crunchyroll.

    Sound Euphonium 2 eps 1-2; WOW. This did not disappoint… The premiere was an hour long, and they managed to pack as much into that hour as many series do into their entire run. The only downside is they also gave the KumikoxReina yuri shippers enough ammo to clog up the threads and pretty much prevent any sane discussion. It looks like the continuing fallout from the events of the previous (academic) year are going to loom large this season.

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    • Ah, so thankful to find someone who shares my thoughts on Girlish Number! Most people I talk to seem to be totally enamoured with how snarky it is… Cool that your wife is watching this one with you, though. 🙂

      I almost tried out Matoi, but the news of yucky groping stuff turned me off enough that I went with The Great Passage instead.

      Hope you all continue to enjoy Eupho. I’m very much looking forward to watching it undisturbed sometime in the future.

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      • I really wish Matoi did not have that single groping scene. The rest of the show is actually a pretty interesting mahou shoujo, with some interesting takes on various things, including being a magical girl in a social media world.

        As well, the girls are literally clothed in a god, which is the explanation for the costume and powers, which moves the show a bit away from the normal mahou shoujo style and more towards the various shows that feature shrine maidens. It’s a little bit like Noragami crossed with with amore typical mahou shoujo. It’s kind of interesting, but almost all mahou shoujo shows are very “secular” in the nature of their magic, even though there are lots of other anime which feature a more religious supernatural.

        I think Matoi is worth watching, but I think that groping scene turned off a lot of people who would otherwise enjoy it.

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