Anime

Spring Anime 2016 – Initial Impressions

The spring season has arrived, and with it a full arsenal of new anime series in tow. I’ve taken it upon myself to dip into most of the new anime series, and I’ll be discussing what my initial thoughts were for each one.

First impressions are unique in that opinions may often be misguided when it comes to forecasting how good the rest of the series will be. Sometimes it can be a clear indication of quality, but other times things can get lost under the radar due to premature dismissal. That said, I disagree with giving anime ratings so early in the game because it almost always changes by the end of the show’s airing. With that, let’s get started.

Spring Anime – Initial Impressions

Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney follows the adventures of Ryuuichi Naruhodou (Phoenix Wright), a defense lawyer exercising his practice and offering his professional services to anyone in need of it. I picked this up extremely hyped to see this beloved game franchise get an official anime adaptation. I’ve played the games, and loved them all. That makes me biased, but nevertheless the first episode was rather disappointing, objectively speaking.

As an aside, for those who haven’t played any such games, it’s essentially a visual novel on the Nintendo DS where you assume the role of a lawyer and go around discovering evidence and finding ways to use it to help your clients in court. Every case has it’s own story, and the character relationships you build have overarching implications.

ezgif-3851767989The first thing to notice about the anime is that it essentially tells the story identically to the game, but with the obvious lack of interaction and input by the player/viewer. They could have at least come up with an original story so as to incentivize spending the time to watch this. It feels like I’m just playing the game over again, but it’s not nearly as fun or engaging.

There is some new dialogue added but none of it is pertinent to the story. It’s mostly just there to stretch the episode to the 20 minute mark. Other than that, the dialogue isn’t noticeably different from the game.

As far as the animation is concerned, it’s not bad, but it doesn’t really come to life as much as I would have expected. It seems to borrow the same style as the game in that it uses loops or dramatic frame overlays. This may have just been homage to the source material, but it was probably just out of laze and budget constraints.

The music is fine. It has it’s own ambiance music to fill in the silence, but it mostly just rips the soundtrack and even the sound effects from the game, which are awesome, but again it just seems like a lamer version of the game. And unfortunately they didn’t include the best track of all time (it’s even the same court case that this track first appears!):

I’ll continue watching Ace Attorney just because I love the world of Phoenix Wright, but I’m not expecting much to come out of it, let alone any surprises.

Bakuon!!

Bakuon!! is about some high school girls that are in a motorbike club at school as there just happens to be a group with that common interest. In the first episode, they do their character introductions, enroll in some driving lessons, and even visit a bike shop. The main character has a preference for Hondas because they are super vanilla and reliable, another character prefers Suzuki models because they are apparently faster and more powerful, and that’s pretty much the show so far. Oh, and the bikes can “communicate” with the rider in an unnecessarily sexual fashion.

ezgif-2881666445First of all, what sixteen year-old girl, who doesn’t appear to have worked a day in her life, manage to afford such a thing? It’s even stated in the anime that she doesn’t live with her parents, just her older sister. Are her parents just wiring her thousands of dollars to spend on an unnecessary luxury vehicle? How do they afford gas or insurance? What about the other children? Where are they magically coming up with all of this cash?

This show is also riddled with fan service. It’s fine to just have women be woman-shaped, even by anime standards and in tight racing suits. However, it’s crossing a line to dedicate an entire shot to breasts, and even go as far as to have another character explicitly comment on said breasts. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with breasts, but this is just one of many fine examples.

ezgif-2121464921On a more positive note, it does actually go into some legitimate detail about why bikes are so enjoyable to ride, mechanical components, and brand nuances. I appreciate the care taken to include some harmless general knowledge for the viewers, most of whom probably know next to nothing about motorbikes.

The problem with this anime has nothing to do with girls enjoying a typically male-dominated pastime, it’s just that it’s forcing a mix of girls and “insert niche interest” arbitrarily with the sole purpose of trying to make it seem more appealing. Furthermore, it clearly doesn’t have enough meaningful content to share based on the fan service alone. Mind you, it can be done well, such as was the case with Girls and Panzer, or even Kantai Collection. All in all, I wasn’t impressed with the first episode and I strongly feel like I’m going to drop it, but I’ll give it until episode 3 to prove me otherwise.

Boku no Hero Academia

This one makes me feel like I’ve seen this concept for a super hero story before, but I’m fairly confident I haven’t. Maybe there’s just too many of them so it starts to feel too alike to other shows of the same genre. Regardless, we have a new story.

It follows our aspiring hero, Izuku Midoriya, and his struggle with the reality that he doesn’t have any “quirks”, or special unique hero ability. His childhood hero (literally), All Might, ends up saving him in the first episode, fangasm ensues. We discover that All Might is suffering from internal bleeding and organ damage due to a critical injury he sustained years ago from fighting a villain. This causes All Might to revert to a much weaker, scrawnier, more underwhelming version of himself after a short period of time, much to Izuku’s shock and disappointment.

4a19bacfb2bf8e525fb9a9bdc012cab5Despite this development, the sentiment that All Might left with Izuku somehow made something click. Maybe it was inspiration, but Izuku ends up involuntarily moving his body to save his bully from the suffocating clutch of this giant sludge monster, because it’s simply what heros are born to do. This was merely a distraction, but more importantly it made All Might realize who is is, and what he is. Breaking out of a short phase of cowardice, All Might musters up the energy to transform back into his “mighty” form to punch the sludge monster hard enough to change the weather. This reminded me too much of One Punch Man, so I wasn’t exactly blown away.

I’m unsure of what direction this anime is headed. My guess is that the main character will just say “screw the rules, I have willpower” and end up saving people through raw determination, and things will fall into place with karmic forces being in his favor. Another possibility is that he actually does possess a quirk, but it’s one of those hidden-in-plain-sight ones that he just hadn’t noticed before, or it’s something deep and meaningful like the power of courage or something. It could even be that he’s just a late bloomer. It could be anything. We also don’t know if All Might is going to die at some point, or what role Izuku’s bully is going to play later on. It could surprise us all! Only time will tell, but it’s so far been entertaining enough to warrant continuing, and it has potential so I’ll keep my eye on this.

Bungou Stray Dogs

This one starts out with a guy, Atsushi Nakajima, about to starve to death next to a river bank, when he sees a man in said river appearing to be attempting suicide. He is compelled to rescue this man. Once he does, he is compensated with food. We also meet one of suicide guy’s partners in crime. In the restaurant, we learn of this small group of individuals with supernatural powers who take on detective cases that are normally too dangerous for your garden variety law enforcement. They are in the area due to recent sightings of a savage tiger. We also learn a bit of Atsushi’s background, and how he was expelled from the orphanage he was staying at. Little did he know that the reason for this was not a lack of money, but because he actually turns into this savage tiger in the moonlight, losing self-awareness in the process. Atsushi is asked to join their team of detectives. That’s the gist so far.

0d13036fad8b608a2b023d9e8db54a28So far, I’m liking where this is headed. The characters are fun, and weird enough to keep them interesting and unpredictable. Suicide guy is my favorite. The show isn’t afraid to be tragic and depressing, but in the midst of all of that there’s a surprising amount of funny scenes. The animation, scenery, and overall ambiance is lovely, maintained, and consistent with the theme. It’s animated by Studio Bones (FMA Brotherhood, Noragami, Darker than Black, Eureka Seven, Space Dandy) so it’s to be expected. In fact this is reminiscent of Noragami with the whole supernatural taming theme.

Flying Witch

The first episode of Flying Witch really won my affections. It’s a slice of life about the daily life of a witch in training who is living with her second cousins in a small town while she attends school.

The first thing I noticed was how nicely all of the characters were drawn. Great care is taken with the facial details, proportions, clothing, etc. It’s animated by J.C. Staff, which should speak for itself, having things like the Toaru series, Toradora!, Sakurasou, Shoukugeki no Soma, Shakugan no Shana, Azumanga Daioh, and many other notable titles under their belt. It’s a personal thing, but I like the art style. It doesn’t give you the giant anime eyes or unnatural hair colors, so it somehow contributes to the (not literally) down to earth atmosphere this show emanates.

abc10681c2a542a5bfa3616d0ecb0d9cThe characters have well-defined personalities in that you remember them based more on what they do, and less on what anime trope they might fall into. The main character, Makoto, is weird but in a good way. She’s sane enough to get around and properly talk to everyone, but there are little things that she might do that make you question her sense of norms. The setting itself is very relaxing, being based in a smaller town without the stress that comes with living in a big city.

Like in most slice of life, it shines with the little details and social interactions between the well-designed characters. Through that, we get entertainment value. It’s simple, it’s cute, and it’s not overdoing it. It’s hard to describe why it works without making it sound black and white. I can already see this being one of my top five this season.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2

tumblr_o0d74pEqFu1ufgrmbo1_540There really isn’t much to say about Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2. So far, we’ve seen a battle with the Julis-Ayato pair against some throw-away pair that we know is destined to lose to story mechanics. Not terribly different from how the first season went. It’s still a harem. There still isn’t any real sense of urgency. Kirin Toudou is still ridiculously attractive. She’s still 13 years old and 5’1″.

Frankly, I don’t quite know why I’m continuing this because of how generic and predictable it is. Admittedly, it looks very nice, and I’m not even talking about Kirin Toudou. The animation is actually very clean, especially the battle scenes, and all of the characters look pretty good. It’s very SAO-like in that regard, with a different story. A-1 certainly knows how to work it.

I will continue to slog through this because I’m weak, and I actually enjoy the eye candy.

Hai Furi

Hai Furi translates to “Highschool Fleet”. This is basically Kantai Collection, except the girls pilot the boats instead of personifying them. This anime does not strike me as being much of a game changer, especially considering this concept is nothing new. It’s like watching Girls and Panzer but with battleships instead of tanks.

Hai-Furi.full.1976843The first episode begins with two childhood friends, Misaki and Moka, who have always had the dream of becoming Blue Mermaids, a recently developed profession, popular among women. The purpose of this profession is to protect the seas of Japan using their various skills on and off deck as mariners, due to much of the area having been submerged due to tectonic shifts.

Now admittedly, the ships are awesome. They are made very detailed and though I’m not really a big ship nerd, they are probably accurate to the actual models. The characters are definitely cute, but a bit bland looking. They don’t really scream out to me as being characters that people will talk about for years to come. They aren’t particularly memorable except for the fact that Misaki is the captain of the destroyer Harekaze, and Moka is the captain of the battleship Musashi.

Though it isn’t fair to make these claims just based on the first episode, I have a feeling there won’t be much depth to the story. It’s about naval warfare, so that’s probably most of what we can expect to see from this and not much else. I’m on the fence about continuing with this series.

Hundred

The story is about users of a weapon called “Hundred”, which is the only way to fend off the “Savage”, a life form alien to earth. Only humans which respond to a special “variable stone” can use this weapon. Such people are called “Slayers”, appropriately enough. The Hundred change into a vast number of forms contingent on the user, hence the name Hundred. The main character, Kisaragi Hayato, was accepted into the university known as Little Garden with the highest ever Hundred compatibility rating. Crazy.

30233f3711a82e18a4414b3487237b47The concept is interesting enough, but the question is how much of the show will actually be based on this concept. From the get go, the main character is already popular due to his high compatibility score. Then he is greeted by a very convincing reverse trap, who even had me fooled for a second. What’s more? They’re roommates! Not to mention that during the orientation ceremony, one thing leads to another and now Hayato has a duel scheduled with the student council president. Harem incoming.

This concept is nothing new. There’s a school designed to train teenagers with special powers to defend the earth from invaders. Check. The main character has some advantage which puts him ahead of the pack. Check. He is surrounded by girls. Check. We’ve seen it infamously done with Gakusen Toshi Asterisk, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, and Infinite Stratos. Hundred is no exception, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to watch what is basically a repeat of the aforementioned.

Joker Game

You could say that Joker Game is the wild card of this season. It has potential to be the best mind-fuck anime, but it could also go downhill depending on how they focus their attention, as there are a lot of characters to cram into only 12 episodes. The story revolves around an organization of spies known as the “D Agency” established by Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki of the Imperial Japanese Army, set against a pre-WWII backdrop. There is a sense of urgency with this because the point of these spies is to collect information on relevant countries around the world, which at the time would have been integral to Japan’s success in world politics, with WWII just on the horizon.

news_dYvB2VvNjyg9NdIThe first episode introduces us to a whole bunch of characters, most of whom are professional spies having gone through the brutal training the agency puts them through. One of the main characters, Sakuma, a lieutenant, is offered to join a poker game. The series appears to use a game of poker as a metaphor for the art of manipulation and deceit. Appropriately, it is revealed after a crushing defeat that they were all using silent communication among each other to reveal Sakuma’s cards, explaining what being a spy entails in the process.

It gives you a false sense of security because after all of them had let Sakuma in on their secret, you feel as though they are going to cut him some slack, but not so. It seems that it’s not even safe to work among peers, as we see the next day when Miyoshi (one of the spies), silently communicates something to someone he is supposedly trying to collect evidence from. Having gone to the location with Sakuma as his partner in crime, Sakuma becomes the joker when he realize he’s being conspired against. I really didn’t see this coming, and it was slick.

I’m definitely excited for the next episode, and I hope it gets even better from here on out.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

This had the most trilling first episode as far as I’m concerned. It’s like The Walking Dead, but with a Feudal Japan, Post-Apocalyptic, Steampunk backdrop. I’m comparing it to The Walking Dead because first and foremost, there seems to be an outbreak of some virus that, once infected, you’re basically doomed to become one of them. The transmission of the virus is through flesh bites, which isn’t a foreign concept either.

Similarities aside, this show nonetheless raised some eyebrows.

tumblr_inline_o5i0dbww5X1sohy5l_500We can see that the people in power are absolutely corrupt, and afraid. They don’t hesitate to kill people who they merely suspect of being infected, without even confirming that this is the case. Like in many zombie apocalypse shows, it ends up being commentary on how humans are more of a threat to themselves than are the zombies because we end up killing each other for survival. We become the animals we really are in times of desperation. The “zombies” in this show are referred to as Kabane, who can only be killed by destroying their heart, which is protected by a layer of iron. Maybe it started with a factory accident, being an industrial revolution and all.

There is a lot of tension being built up during the times when people aren’t being eaten alive. This made the event of the first episode have a lot more impact. Also the fact that the main character has discovered a way to reverse the effects of the virus is a complete game changer for humanity, making him an invaluable asset that we will come to care about. There is also that one Kendama girl, Mumei, who can blow the Kabane’s heads clean off with her spiked sandals. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find that oddly attractive.

The first episode honestly speaks for itself as one of the heavy hitters this season. I mean just look at that animation! I’ll be seeing this through to the end for sure.

Kiznaiver

This was also one of those shows where I know with certainty that I’m going to see through to the end. Some may find it too edgey, but I love themes about people bonding over pain. The story is more complex than that though.

tumblr_o5il0de6KW1rcvimbo1_540Kiznaiver is set in a fictional Japanese city named Sugimori City. It introduces us to Katsuhira Agata, a boy who is unable to feel pain due to having inhuman-levels of pain tolerance. As luck would have it, he has been bullied for most of his life, but he doesn’t care to do anything about it since it doesn’t appear to bother him. He meets a girl, Noriko Sonozaki, who has been observing him for some time. She explains to him that he’s bullied because others can’t see themselves in him, and that everyone wants to feel connected to someone, but since they can’t connect to Katsuhira they feel no compassion or remorse.

tumblr_o5il0de6KW1rcvimbo2_540Fast forward, we are in a strange room with a group of people, most of whom are strangers to one another. Noriko explains what they are all doing there and that they are now all connected through their wounds. When one person feels pain, so too does everyone else. These people were selected based on some personality dissonance for the purpose of an experiment, as this combination would normally not get along. We don’t know what the implications of this are yet, but we are told that it’s an experiment in an attempt to take a step towards establishing world peace. The idea is that people fight because they feel no attachment to the person they are hurting, but if one could only feel the pain they inflict, they would think twice about it.

It’ll be interesting to see how this group who all have very different personalities will carry on with this new development. There’s so many directions it could go, so I’ll enjoy the bewilderment while I can.

Kuma Miko

The following video does a fairly decent job of explaining what this show is about:

Apart from the ending theme being remarkably catchy, this anime really is just about a bear and a shrine maiden living together. It’s a slice of life, with some seinen themes tossed in, and a bit of adult humor. The shrine maiden, Machi, wants to attend high school in the city because she’s tired of living in her small village that lacks modernization and urban amenities. I thought the naming was clever because Machi means “town” in Japanese.

It’s silly, it’s cute, and I’m going to continue watching it. It’s a feel-good anime. It doesn’t require a great deal of thinking, which is a nice break from the more story-heavy titles this season.

Mayoiga

Mayoiga was a bit different from the rest of of the titles. The first episode bombards us with 30 or so characters with a whole bunch of names I’m probably never going to remember. It was a bit awkward, but they have to introduce them all somehow. These people are all on a tour bus en route to a lost village called Nanakimura. The point of such an excursion was to “start over” from scratch and leave their past lives tainted with troubles behind them, establishing their own utopian existence in the process. We weren’t really told any background on anyone, but it’s likely to crop up at some point throughout the series. Though I get the feeling that the less we know, the more effective the mystery becomes.

It’s pretty obvious from the start that this whole plan is going to fail.

There’s so many characters that just naturally don’t get along, which was evident before they even arrived. The bus driver tries to kill everyone on the bus by driving it off a cliff after venting about his life problems. There is one particular guy, whom I don’t remember the name of, who yells at literally every person he talks to as if they said something to personally offend him. There’s just no way these people can possibly live together in harmony. That being established, we’re left to wonder about what happened to the previous tenants of Nanakimura. We follow these strangers in an attempt to figure it out.

I’m excited to see what kind of shit Mayoiga is going to pull on us. We can already tell that someone is going to die just because they need to kill off some characters, it’s just a matter of who, and how. Like all mystery anime, I’m going to see it through to the end.

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?

Guy proposes to a female character in an online game, which turns out to be a guy. Traumatized, he swears to never again trust a girl online. Fast forward a couple of years, a legit girl in his guild proposes to him in the game. They meet up in person, and she’s the real deal. What’s more? The rest of his guild members are people in the same school as him, and they’re all girls!

a48bf499be68662e46ffa075552f2847Alright, so we’ve got a harem. We’ve got a beautiful female lead with enough plot to end world hunger. That’s all we know so far. Seriously. I-I really don’t know where they are going to take this story. I’m curious as to whether or not they legitimately fall in love with each other, or if it’s going to strictly stay as a comedy. Looking at the genre pool: Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, School, I’m inclined to think real feelings will develop, but it will mainly be out of sexual lust. I’m thinking around the lines of Monster Musume.

I-I’m going to continue watching this f-for science purposes…

Pan de Peace!

This one is a short animation about a couple of school girls who have a passion for bread. Whether it’s making it, eating it, or talking about it. For them, bread is love, bread is life. Bread is peace. 

I don’t have much to say about this except that it’s pretty much moeblob shit with bread as a context. It’s not very good, but honestly I can bear the 2 minutes a week. And for what it’s worth, I do have a mild interest in bread making…

Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

This series is about a boy, Natsuki Subaru, who gets transported to a strange world. He is attacked by three gang members when he is saved by a mysterious silver-haired girl, Satella. Grateful, he devotes himself to assisting this girl retrieve the insignia she had stolen from her. Eventually they end up at some sketchy end of town where the thief holds stolen items for ransom. Once inside, he finds a dead body, and shortly after, him and Satella are killed without a clue of what happened.

tumblr_o5fqqtCreF1u21ng6o1_540The main gimmick about this whole thing is that Subaru has the ability to revert time to a certain point after he dies. Essentially a game load for a certain checkpoint. He returns to sketchville. There, he tries to barter his cell phone that no longer has service, under the perk that it can capture moments in time, for the insignia so he can return it to Satella. Just when he was about to close the deal, in walks Elsa, another prospective buyer. Upon discovering Subaru’s affiliation with Satella, she kills everyone. This repeats a few times, and each time Subaru has to try something different so he can obtain the insignia and get out alive, but in the last instance we see, Satella walks in instead of Elsa.

I’m getting some serious Steins;Gate vibes from this. Except instead of Mado Scientist Hououin Kyouma going back in time to save Mayuri from certain death, the main character goes to a flea market.

All I can say is that I have no idea what is going to happen. It’s hard to predict because not even death is indicative of anything in this show. What does the insignia mean? Why is it so important? Who is Elsa and why is she such a sadist? How many times is that dude going to offer Subaru an apple? The questions are many, and I’m excited to have them all answered in the coming weeks.

Sakamoto desu ga?

tumblr_o5ghj0o0LV1s7czh7o1_500Sakamoto desu ga? is about a highschool student named Sakamoto. He’s the coolest kid in school, and extremely good at everything he does. He’s popular among the girls, and even guys after he gracefully shuts them down and stylishly subdues all of their attempted pranks. Despite this rather grand (though accurate) description of him, he’s actually a genuinely nice person as shown by his efforts to protect a bird from falling into the river during a heavy storm in the first episode. He’s difficult not to like.

Hands down, the funniest anime this season. I was actually laughing and screaming at the monitor for the duration of the episode. This is something I am absolutely going to struggle waiting for each week. Not because it’s got some deep story, or because it looks pretty, or because it has fan service. It needs none of that to be as good as it is. It’s just something I have so much fun watching and I think it can be universally appreciated.

Sousei no Onmyouji

Main character, Rokuro Enmadou, is an extremely talented exorcist, being the progenitor of a long lineage of them. The thing is that he doesn’t want to be an exorcist for a living, and doesn’t want to recognize his incredible potential. One day, a girl appears out of nowhere and she just so happens to be an exorcist too. She goes into the alternate world to fight a demon that is about to devour two children when she gets to the end of her rope. Enter Rokuro, who takes it out with a single blow. The two of them are recognized as partners and are fated to bump uglies to create the most powerful exorcist.

That’s essentially all we know from the first episode and synopsis combined. The first episode was somewhat interesting. It feels like I need to watch a little bit more in order to really get an idea of who the characters are. All we really got to see in the first episode was how they were in battle, but not much outside of that. So unfortunately I don’t have much to say about this, but I’ll keep it on my radar.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless is a slice of life comedy about a boy who is insufferably listless, and his energetic friend, Oota, who is the very opposite, and always dragging Tanaka-kun’s ass through life. That’s the story.

tumblr_o2r03grOt11ri2bgao1_500While the concept is rather simple, it’s actually entertaining. It might be the synergy between the two characters, and the fact that his friend doesn’t actually hold any kind of resentment towards Tanaka. They are complimentary characters to each other because their difference in attitudes about most things highlights the contrast.

While it wasn’t outstandingly funny, I found myself wanting to pay attention to it. The anime feels very calming to watch because of the mood Tanaka seems to set every time he says or does anything. It’s like that relaxing feeling you get when you think about being able to just nap in the middle of the day as a kid, with no responsibilities or bills to pay. It’s a stress relief anime!

Uchuu Patrol Luluco

ezgif-1346178045Finally, we have Space Patrol Luluco. From what I gathered from the first episode, Luluco turns into a gun. That probably isn’t even her final form. But seriously, this is pretty classic Trigger animation which is very similar to Kill La Kill. We even get to see a direct reference to Inferno Cop! Luluco is just your average school girl who gets roped into fighting space crime at her middle school, when all she wanted was to live an average life. Isn’t that always how it works? Ridiculous as the concept may be, it’s still just a short and easy to digest piece, and there aren’t any dull moments, so why not?

That wraps up my initial impressions on the Spring 2016 Anime lineup. I hope you found this to be interesting and/or informative!

Vanilla

#艦これ | #時雨 | #YuGiOh | Accountant | Data Miner | Figure Collector | Honda Civics | Devoted Anime Fan | Writer at Brotakus | Posting is never consistent with theme or timing. http://vanillashoujo.flavors.me/