Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fall 2015 Anime Mid-season Round-UP

Guys I'm sorry, I just cannot seem to get back on track with these reviews. This is getting ridiculous so, as I try to sort this all out, an "extra" post of sorts. We're halfway through the fall season and here are my thoughts on what I'm still following and what's been dropped. And remember, if you do watch streams, the "best" time to watch them is to finish within one week of airing. Funimation has said several times that those are the views that matter the most when they determine the future of a title so if you love it, make all your friends watch it ASAP!

Noragami Aragoto
The first season was fun but this season is fantastic, it's even stronger as the show builds on previous character development and conflicts to create a really tense story with the Bishamon arc. That story has wrapped and the story is moving into a new arc for the second half of the series and i'm hoping it's just as good. I do worry a little bit about the longevity of the story, it's written itself into a bit of a corner where Hiyori is concerned, but for the moment I'm going to enjoy what's on screen and hope that the characters don't have to suffer too much more in this season. 


Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
While I still haven't seen much Gundam, I have seen quite a few other mecha series over the years and I really like where IBO is going. This isn't the story of people realizing war is terrible as it unfolds, this is a world forsaken by peace, hundreds of years after the war. Our characters are truly a rag-tag bunch of characters and when the show says that there are other ways to fight without using a robot it means it. It's always a little tricky to pick out which staff members are responsible for what parts of a show but I'd guess that Mari Okada has a pretty strong influence in how the female characters are written so far on the show, Kudelia is wonderful in her flexibility and determination and Atra is softly feminine and it's not used as a way to pit the girls against each other. I'm not quite sure where the story is going to go, I doubt that Earth will hand control of Mars to the Martians without a full-scale conflict yet the story hasn't expanded beyond Kudelia's mission yet (although, if they did that would be the greatest twist ever). The show does have 26 episodes however so I'm not worried yet, just curious.

Haikyuu!! 2
This season took a little while to get going but now it's cruising along very smoothly. So far there have been no major additions to the cast (aside from side characters on rival teams and new team manager Yachi, who honestly has gotten more character development in two episodes than some of the regulars) but given how large the cast is that may be a smart move. It is a little frustrating to see Karasuno look like a rather good team at the end of last season only to see that they're actually still quite crappy in all of the summer training camps but since the show is using this as a chance to invite character growth I think I'll live. 

The Perfect Insider
Finally, a noitimainA series this year that I'm actually enjoying! And this show is certainly a good fit for the timeslot, it feels mature by dint of being about older characters, complicated relationships, and lacking slapstick humor. The show does have a couple more hurdles to overcome before it finishes however; one is that the mystery needs to have a satisfying answer (which has me worried since we already have elements like "multiple personalities in a way that is unrealistic") and two, it's male lead Souhei is not very good. He's prone to these rambling, psuedo-philosophical monologue and half of the time the show takes him seriously and half of the time it doesn't (ie, Moe calls him out on this). If the show does take him seriously at the very end, ie acknowledge that his more pretentious ideas are valid and "correct" then the show will slide far lower down in my list of favorites but at this point the mystery is still so, mysterious that I truly don't know how this is all going to play out.

Concrete Revolutio
This show is growing on me, and not just because it's pandering to me by talking about history I've been studying recently. No, like Garo (whom is shares a writer with?) this show started off rather awkwardly and then seemed to get a hold of itself a few episodes in, or perhaps I also got more used to it. It's now easy for me to follow the timeskips and keep things roughly in order in my mind (I do think the later episodes have more notices on screen for which year it is) and halfway through the show we're in a fairly good place. We've seen the SHB at it's best and worst, can completely understand why Jiro leaves, and there are a few hints for why Kiiko (and others) haven't. My only concern is that the show isn't leaving itself enough time to talk about what happens in Shinka 46+, so what what Jiro is doing is still rather unclear and at the rate the story is going we might not have the dedicated episodes that story needs to wrap up. The director+writer? also did Un-Go which pulled off a similarly complex story in 11 episodes (and did a "first half episodic second half connected" story) so at this point I'm only mildly worried. I've seen so many stories crash and burn that I just can't trust that people are going to write good ones without a lot of proof these days!

Garo: Crimson Moon
This is a step down for Garo, gone are the more imaginative color schemes and lighting set-ups, everything from the visuals to the characters feels more flat this time around. I'm not sure what precisely changed between seasons to produce two such different shows (a change in setting alone shouldn't have caused it, although maybe they were trying to be more "historically accurate"? Naaaaaah that's a pretty silly idea considering what is in this show) but I wish that some of the flash and flair from THE ANIMATION carried into Crimson Moon. It's not bad enough for me to drop but, unlike every other show on the list, it really lacks almost anything to keep me coming back to it week after week. I still do, since the show did pick up around the third episode and go from "lackluster" to "fair" but it's usually at the bottom of my list of priorities.

K: Return of Kings
This season of K has a problem that the first season did, it does have a plot but it is not nearly enough plot to fill up a full cour. The show attempts to remedy this with a lot of character-focused moments, which is a good strategy, but I still just don't care about a lot of the side characters! This season has made me realize that oh, I do care about a few characters in the red and blue clans but honestly the story just move so slowly, and none of these characters are the kings, that even these characters don't get to do much. On the one hand the story is moving a bit in an unexpected direction and on the other hand, it's less that it's moving in an unexpected direction and more that it's taking a path I didn't expect. I'm tempted to say that the story will end with this season with the power-granting slates destroyed but this is a franchise with a lot of stories tied up in it, I'm not sure the creators are ready to let it go yet. With that in mind, I'm expecting a more inconclusive ending but hopefully than the first one which literally ended with a few characters vanishing into thin air, I think we can do at least better than that this time.

Utararerumono The False Faces
This has ended up being my fluff show of the season and I only started watching it because I was promised cute girls with animal ears. So far that promise has held up pretty well although I, like a few other folks, feel like the story is holding out on us since the episodes are starting to get a bit bland and repetitive. I have not seen the first Utawarerumono, although I am tempted now, so everything I know about this series comes from ANN or Wikipedia (which has deleted it's extra-detailed summary since I first looked) but between what knowledge I have of that and hints given in the show, yeah I feel like we're supposed to be getting some action! I do know two things that some of the VN players have said around the internet however, one is that we are apparently racing through the slice of life material (good god) and that the game supposedly ends on a cliffhanger with a final installment maybe coming in another 1.5-2 years. Neither of these things is rather comforting but, for the moment I'll continue with it as long as I need a little something to fill the time every week.

ON HOLD


Seraph of the End
I only "dropped" this show because my weekends are so full of shows now (The Perfect Insider is technically my only weekday show, oy vey) but I'll get back to this one before the end of the season. It continues to be rather generic but well done generic, although I certainly wouldn't mind if it aspired to more lofty heights....

Comet Lucifer
Episode 3 of this series was really terrible and enough to make me put the show on hold and it sounds like the show has bounced back but never become really good. It sounds as if they aged up Felia so she could be a love interest (nooo, I was rooting for Kaon!) and like the show just hasn't found a central conflict/quest to ground the story. I compared it to Eureka 7 initially and while it's true that E7 spent a fair amount of time faffing around before focusing it's story, that was a 52 episode show that frankly could have stood to lose 13 of those more unguided episodes. I may pick this one back up at the end but, like so many other times I have uttered this sentence, it really depends on what I hear about this story in the next few weeks and if that sounds more engaging than my backlog. 

Beautiful Bones
Watching this show, which is only an okay murder-mystery, reminds me of how far behind I've fallen on Elementary and that I need to catch up. It's a "why should I watch a mediocre show when I could be watching a version I adore?" so, unless I hear that it becomes quite excellent by the end, this is more of a drop than a hold show, oh well.

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