Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring 2016 Anime Round-UP

Initially I didn't think I would have this post out so soon but here we are, nearly every show has premiered and the few that are left don't really interest me (I mean, I am enjoying Magi but Sinbad isn't my favorite character so I don't feel like spending a lot of time on his spin-off right now). So, I have no carry-overs from the winter (barring my backlog) and honestly not much time for watching anime right now so let's be a little ruthless. 


Funimation
Crunchyroll

Bungo Stray Dogs
I was a little surprised by all the people I saw saying “oh I bet this is going to be great” in the pre-airing preview guides and then I realized, oh they haven’t read the manga, they don’t know what kind of convoluted, unfocused, style with little substance mess it is. Then I saw some folks who had read the manga and were still excited and I was even more confused! In any case, unsurprisingly, this first episode failed to hook me. The characters are just, too cartoony and the story had some pretty graceless infodumps. But after Akagami showed me that yes, you can make a stronger adaptation of a weak story, I am temped to give this another episode and see if this story can pull it together although honestly I find myself hoping that it doesn’t grab me. Since I have no interest in the characters yet and I’m less fond of episodic stories in general I doubt it will really be able to get my attention but I’m morbidly curious to see how the second episode fairs (since I remember that part of the manga was really incoherent) And for other folks who were underwhelmed by it, if you haven’t already just go watch Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen) instead. Similar idea but much stronger premier, more chemistry between the characters, and more interesting framing all around (the fight here looked cool but ugh the ED was downright uncreative in it’s shot choices, no I don’t care that it was about a cool animator, looking good is more than just animation).

Concrete Revolutio: Superhuman Phantasmogoria: The Last Song
Holy is that a title, I am honestly tempted to say that it is the more chyunibyo title I’ve ever seen but out of the many many words that can describe this show, chyuni isn’t one of them. Continuing where the last season left off (ish, it is a show with a ton of timeskips) we continue to move forward in the timeline to see what is going on with Jiro after his split with the Bureau and what's going on with the folks he left, especially since the Chief is gone too. I've already got so many thoughts on the show, some banal (Kikko is the only character who's appearance has changed and with her long hair she looks even younger, perhaps to match how her feelings for Jiro are more openly childish?), some where I might be onto something (Furoka and Jaguar are shown in a similar way for a lot of the opening, does this mean anything beyond the fact that they are both "out of time"?), and already poking a little into the real world history (wasn't too hard this time around, Americans in Okinawa? Yeah that has to do with the military base). So I'm happy and glad the show is back!

Flying Witch
"Healing" anime (iyashikei) are pretty hit or miss for me so I was happy to find that this one landed perfectly for me. I was a little worried considering how slowly the show started, I wondered if the show as going to rely on it's atmosphere more than it's characters, but the delightful scene where Makoto reveals to her relative and the viewer that she was a witch really sold me on the story. Plus the second half indulges in some odd humor that was so unexpected that it worked perfectly on me and I'm happily looking forward to next week's episode. It could get too repetitive and staid of course but since the first and second halves relied on such different reasons to keep the viewers attention I'm not too worried about that yet!

Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto! (Sakamoto Desu Ka?)
I should be connecting with this series more than I am, it’s a comedy that tickles me in all the right ways (it’s over the top absurd and plays the increasing insanity with a straight face, I feel like fans of Nozaki-kun would really enjoy this) and yet it just didn’t suck me in as much as I hoped. I’ve seen other folks say the same and have to agree with two reasons I’ve seen bantered around, one is that the episodes are just too long. It’s not easy to keep comedy going for 24 straight minutes and since each episode is split into two halves anyway I almost wish the episodes were 11 minutes long instead (although nothing is stopping me from watching it that way and seeing if it helps). Secondly, this isn’t a very visually interesting show. I guess the gag with the delinquents playing volleyball wasn’t just “they always do this” but also “see how long we can do a single shot!” and frankly that isn’t my kind of humor, it just feels unimaginative. So I’m not sure if I’ll keep tuning in or not, oh and I also kinda wish Sakamoto had a different voice. I haven’t read the manga yet so this is purely based on just seeing the character but I was honestly expecting something a little deeper, the kind of unattractive, nerdy voice you hear from the tight-buttoned, smart students when they’re background characters in a show and honestly hearing a higher, “bishie” voice I think kills a few potential jokes (since that would make the deadpan/everyone’s attraction to Sakamoto even funnier). Too bad my library doesn’t have the manga so I could just read it instead....

Joker Game
This was my choice for sleeper hit of the season and, well, so far the show still seems to be only half awake.  I’m guessing it will show more of it’s cards in the second half of its premier. It’s set in 1937 (so, Sino-Japanese War and that aggression against Russia helped nudge Japan away from their alliance with the League of Nations towards Germany, also helped fuel their zeal for empire-building colonialism and now ~it’s time for World War II~) about a group of civilians turned spies and seems to be rather staunchly anti-nationalist. Honestly I’ve seen people talk about Night Raid 1931 in the same breath as a “it’s sad Japan glorifies their nationalistic past” but you know what? Both of these stories were set in yes, periods where there was a lot of violence but Night Raid also really didn’t shy away from the fact that these were planned, instigated moments. Considering how many times this episode says “nationalism is no different from a cult, it blinds you to the better choices you can make” I doubt it’s going to be super-duper positive about any real life events that make it into the show. Honestly I thought MHA and ConRevo would be the two most dissimilar shows this season (undiluted love for superheroes vs justice is complicated) but comparing this “edgy” take on real world maneuvering vs “like I said it’s complicated” feels almost bizarre. They’re two totally different shows and yet it feels rather natural to compare them at this point since they’re both about organizations with individuals who care more about their own personal observations than the greater whole.

Kiznaiver
Out of all of the “didn’t quite grab me” premieres this is the one I want to pick up the most in the second part for some reason. Zac at ANN echoes my thoughts pretty well, this show would’ve also benefited from a two-part premier (like the folks at Anime Boston and Sakuracon got) because it’s trying to stuff a lot into the show at first. I’m not sold on the tone or the characters yet (“social issues for Japanese teens” feels pretty accurate with the rebranding of the seven deadly sins) but the show was balancing them well until that final bit where it dumps the surprisingly involved exposition. It certainly feels like a Mari Okada-written show, if I hadn’t know about the show’s pedigree I would’ve picked up on that for sure (or at least been unsurprised) but I don’t think I would’ve guessed it was from Trigger. Barring one scene with some disco balls and one or two visual details it doesn’t seem like their work at all, even When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace had more of their flair to it (and I guess if this show doesn’t pick up that will remain my favorite Trigger show to date, yeah fight me).

Kumamiko
Hmmm, unlike the other part-healing part-comedy show this one just didn't land as well for me. First things first, apparently kumamiko airs in a late night tv slot which explains the off-color jokes, there are a few in the second episode but boy howdy did the story decide to get WEIRD in the first one with saying "oh you've only heard the sanitized, fairy tale version of how our town came to coexist with talking bears, THE REAL VERSION IS A BIT SEXY". Most of the other jokes rely heavily on the fact that Machi is a country bumpkin the likes of which the world has never seen before (I realized later that the OP actually foreshadows that watermelon joke) which I also don't like very much. This show is really going to make me use that three episode test, I'm still a bit interested but I don't want to be interested by a comedy, I want to be entertained!

My Hero Academia
Japan stop being as obsessed over superheros as the US is please. I mean, all of the “best” superhero titles I can think are anime anyway but gaaaah, it’s too much! This was honestly the best premier of the season but I’m just so burned out on superheroes that I didn’t really connect with Deku beyond thinking “aw don’t die” “aw he’s cute” “aw REALLY DON’T DIE”. It’s an earnest superhero story and, as much as I like the director (Kenji Nagasaki, see Gundam Build Fighters and Classroom*Crisis) and thought the material worked here, again will “another typical superhero story” really satisfy me while watching? I have no qualms watching it as a popcorn show, I just don’t have much time for popcorn shows in general now. I can recommend it to other folks easily, if superhero stories are your thing, but still not sure if I can recommend it to myself.

Space Patrol Luluco
As for the other Studio Trigger show, it’s a short and it’s not for me. It’s the Mako sequences in Kill la Kill but in overdrive and I’m discovering that I liked those scenes for their brevity and relative simplicity! I occasionally get the feeling that Studio Trigger wishes it was an American animation studio since there stuff is so over-the-top in a way that I would expect from a Cartoon Network show, not an anime, and I don’t watch those shows because they aren’t to my taste. So it stands to reason that I’m not going to like that particular kind of absurdity in anime so naaaah, pass for me! Also the pacing for the jokes was weird, too many long pauses too many times.

Twin Star Exorcists
I’m still amused that they added in an anime-original mascot character. I mean it does mean that they can make more cute merch now but I’m still just really amused by it (he was integrated in well!). In any case, I have read some of the manga and I think that the manga’s first chapter worked a bit better than the first episode here. It was snappier and, while this first episode didn’t drag, it did add in quite a bit of anime original set-up and then not even cover the plot point I expected it to/put it in the stinger which is odd. I wasn’t fond of how it over-introduced everything (names are fine I guess but really, every location including that random bridge?) but I did like some of the other visual quirks like the star motifs. Not quite sure it’ll hold my interest when covering stuff I’ve already seen but I’m more than willing to give it a few more episodes.


Not trying Jojos although I am still tempted, I just feel like I’d like it dubbed more since the Stardust Crusaders dub I saw was pretty funny. Also I’m kinda watching Ushio and Tora from the beginning now? (cause I do like a lot of shounen, I don’t feel like it’s a secret though). In an effort to simply watch less I’m once again experimenting with watching fewer previews so no Haifuri, Tanaka-san Is Always Listless, Bakuon, The Lost Village, Re:Zero, Big Order, and I’m holding off on Macross Delta right now because of the lack of streams. If anyone had picked up 12-sai I was going to give it a shot but alas, no shojo aimed at preteens legally streaming this season either

Usually by this point I have a fair idea of watch I’m watching by I’m really not sure right now! I have these shows as definite (barring them imploding on themselves):
ConRevo
Flying Witch
Ushio and Tora catch-up
Go Princess yes I’m still behind
More stuff from the backlog (Princess Nine and Idolm@ster taking priority right now since I lack a sports show and an idol show in my current schedule no matter what sticks)

And these shows as “I’ll give it a second episode but definitely making up my mind by the third”:
Kiznaiver
Joker Game
Twin Star
Sakamoto
MHA
Kumamiko

And in the “I was going to try it but then Netflix picked it up so who knows when we’ll see it” category I have Kumokuro, dammit that show looked like it had a solid premier too (just wish Netflix got the shows out sooner, 6 months after the premier is way too long IMO)

Which means potentially my schedule looks like this:
Sunday: MHA, Kumamiko
Monday: Nothing that’s weird
Tuesday: Joker Game
Wednesday: Twin Star
Thursday: Nothing wait what
Friday: ConRevo

Saturday: Flying Witch, Sakamoto, Kiznaiver


Not too bad although scrambling to watch everything on Saturday before APR is going to be tricky, trying to participate again because dammit, I got a Funi sub just for ConRevo so I'm gonna be current with everything!


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