It’s a little over the halfway mark of the 2016 Spring Anime season, so it’s about that time I share my thoughts on all the shows I’ve been watching. I present to you my Spring 2016 Anime Mid Season impressions! Here at Brotakus, we previously did an article on our Most Anticipated Spring 2016 Anime which you should definitely read before this article to get a gist of where our heads were at when we came into the season. I was personally really excited for Mayoiga when the season started. In this article you’ll find out what I think of the show 8 episodes in.
I also want to note that all the opinions in this article are my own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the other writers here on Brotakus. This isn’t a formal review, I’m just going over all the shows I’ve been watching and what I thought of each one, so if I don’t like something there might not really be an objective reason behind it. If you like something that I wasn’t such a big fan of, by all means please keep watching it and let me know why I’m wrong in the comments below!
|Producer(s):||Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation|
|Music By:||Kenji Kawai|
In autumn of 1937, as the coals of World War II are beginning to smolder, Lt. Col. Yuuki of the Imperial Army secretly establishes a spy training organization called the “D Agency.” Those chosen as members of the agency, in opposition to the national trend toward reverence of native-born soldiers in the army, are civilian university graduates who pass the superhuman selection test with flying colors. Under the resourceful Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki, they learn not only how to work with gunpowder, wireless communications, vehicles, and airplanes, but also various skills essential for spies…
Joker Game is one of the shows that came out of nowhere this season and really impressed me. It’s a great spy thriller, which as I genre I’m a huge fan of anyway, which is executed excellently with great characters, interesting plots and a gripping noire feel. The show stars a bunch of different agents from D-Agency along with a military soldier named Sakuma who is sent to be a liaison with the agency. Sakuma also personally dislikes spies because of the nature of what they do, and that creates the story for the first two episodes.
During the course of the first two episodes the soldier comes to learn the techniques utilized by the spies, and although he may still not like them, he does develop a professional respect for their abilities. After the initial story arc everyone goes their separate ways (very literally, they go to different countries on missions) and each episode past the second has focused on one of the spies working in the field. Don’t get me wrong, these individual stories are really interesting and really well done, but I can’t help but hope that the show is building to a reunion with all the characters. I thought the juxtaposition between the spies and Sakuma really created a very interesting situation, so hopefully that’s coming back.
Also worth noting; there’s already a two-part OVA announced so if they don’t bring all the characters together during the show’s run, hopefully they will in the OVA. In any case I definitely recommend checking out Joker Game if you haven’t already. Although the segregated stories make coming back each week a little less exciting, the quality of the individual stories still make for a great experience.
|Music By:||Yuki Hayashi|
|Original Run:||April 9, 2016 – Ongoing|
The story takes place in Sugomori, a city built upon reclaimed land that once prospered as a futuristic city. One high school boy living there, Agata Katsuhira, is somehow unable to feel any pain. One day just before the start of summer break, Katsuhira is called by a mysterious girl named Sonozaki Noriko and chosen to become one of a group of people who share one another’s pain: a “Kiznaiver.” Several of his classmates have also been chosen as part of this group, but they’re all people from different circles who normally wouldn’t associate with each other.
Kiznaiver was the show that came out of left field this season and I ended loving. Just to get this out of the way, Kiznaiver is by far my favorite show of this season. I love all the characters, the story, the art, and the especially the general atmosphere. I had no idea that it even existed until about 30 seconds before I watched the first episode, so I had no hype or anything like that influencing me. I honestly only started this show because the artwork on Crunchyroll was really awesome looking so I thought I’d give it a try, and I am so glad that I did.
The show is pretty quirky but far less insane than most of Trigger’s other anime such as Kill la Kill (although if you want to go full on Trigger in that regard check out Space Patrol Luluco) but it’s still quirky enough to be extremely charming. I feel, at least for me, that most of the charm and quirk comes from the characters in the show. The characters are all presented as having a major flaw of some sort kind of like in Persona, and it’s the groups job to use their shared pain to help each other with those problems.
In the interest of fairness I will warn you that the first three or so episodes don’t do the best job of giving the show clear direction. This was a pretty common complaint about the show early on but as it’s gone on it’s only gotten better and more focused. If you watch up to the halfway mark of episode 6, you’ll have a good idea of where the plot is going and you’ll have faith in the show to deliver on it. Really the first three episodes act like setup so you know the characters and the general premise well.
PS. Chidori is best girl of the season. Flame wars in the comments.
Is Kiznaiver the savior of anime? Probably not? Did I just drop that in case someone Google’s “savior of anime”? Maybe. I’m not here to tell you that this show is the be-all end-all anime, I just want you to know that I’m really enjoying it and I would recommend checking it out so you can possibly enjoy it as much as I do. I would really encourage you to watch at least to episode 6, but if you watch the first couple and just hate it maybe the show just isn’t for you and that’s fair. If you share any personality traits with me though – you’ll love this show!
Mayoiga / The Lost Village
|Director:||Kenji Kodama, Yatsuichiro Yamamoto|
|Music By:||Katsuo Ono|
|Licensed:||Ponycan USA, Crunchyroll (NA)|
|Original Run:||April 1, 2016 - Ongoing|
30 young men and women who came together on a shady bus tour. The tour’s destination: an illusive, possibly nonexistent village called Nanakimura. In Nanakimura, one can lead a utopian existence, free of the world’s obstacles … or so it was rumored, like an urban legend. “In despair over the real world … wanting to escape the tedious daily life … wanting to restart your life from scratch…” The bus headed deep into the mountains, carrying 30 people each harboring their own expectations and wounds in their hearts…
Boy oh boy was I excited for this show when the season was starting. I had just come off Erased and I was ready for more mystery, more intrigue, more plot twists! Unfortunately, what I got felt more like really, REALLY unlikable characters and one big but somewhat disappointing plot twist.
So in the interest of fairness, if you haven’t watched the show yet I don’t really want to ruin the plot for you because it is a mystery anime. My recommendation is that if you like mystery you should still check out the show. If you’re like me and you prefer a more science fiction/Lost-type feel to your mysteries rather than a supernatural/emotional one, you might be a little disappointed but I still think it’s worth checking out. You might really hate the characters like me and stop watching and that’s fine, but I don’t think it’s so bad that it’s not worth at least testing out. At a certain episode you’ll know whether to keep going or not.
Hopefully you noticed the big spoilers warning at the top of this article, but just in case you didn’t I’m going to put it again because I’ll be talking a lot about the plot of Mayoiga beyond this point. If you haven’t watched the show and don’t want the plot spoiled don’t read ahead please!
So Mayoiga started off pretty strong for me. Granted the first episode was literally 30 characters introducing themselves for the first 10 minutes, but after that it had all the workings to be the anime equivalent of Lost. Unfortunately as the show went on, most of the characters became more unlikable as we learned more about them with the exception of one or two (neither of which are the main whiny-ass character) and the great mysterious beast of the village was revealed to be people’s emotional baggage. Granted there are still a lot of questions to still be answered; things like where did all the former residents go, how do the monsters materialize, how do you leave the village, when is Lovepon going to finally die and make me less angry. These still keep some of the mystery alive but it’s quite possible at this point that not all of them are going to get answered. At any rate the main mystery, or at least what I perceived to be the main mystery, has been revealed in the nature of the monsters.
My biggest issue with the monster, or monsters now that we know there are multiple monsters, is that they are a really generic. People’s own emotional baggage is haunting them is far less interesting to me than a lot of alternative routes they could have gone. They could have made a conspiracy where one member of the group is a resident of the village and has lured the others there (granted this could still be possible I guess) and the monster is some sort of spirit they have to appease or something. Basically I was looking for something a bit more complex than what I was given, but maybe that’s just me so I won’t keep going on.
The other major issue with the show is that most of the characters are really unlikable. Lovepon has to be the most annoying character I’ve had the displeasure of watching for a long time. She just yells “execute” at everything – and I get that’s her thing, but the other characters act so unrealistically to it in the context of the show that not only is it annoying, it makes the other characters look dumb in the process. I don’t know if some executive just demanded they leave her in for some reason and the rest of the staff just decided the other characters would ignore her, but it seems really strange when the characters are doing all these things to try to keep everyone safe and orderly and then she yells out to kill someone and they don’t do anything. It just ruins a lot of situations because it’s so absurd. The show even makes an attempt to make the viewer understand Lovepon’s point of view more by giving her backstory, but it doesn’t really make sense why she goes directly to executing everyone because of what happened.
Lovepon is by far the worst character, but there are others who aren’t too much better. The “main” character of the show is purposefully made to be extremely gullible and dumb. He’s that person in a horror movie that you yell at because he’s making such bad choices. Again they try to show his backstory to allow the viewer to understand why he’s the way he is, but his backstory doesn’t explain his gullible nature or his terrible survival instincts. All the backstory functions to do is explain why he went on the trip and why his personalized monster looks the way it does. The rest he just explains by saying things like “maybe I do fall in love with every girl I meet”, and as the viewers that’s supposed to be our explanation for why he’s gullible.
I’m looking back at what I wrote here and I feel that maybe I had too high of expectations going into Mayoiga. I don’t disagree with anything I’ve written but maybe I’m being unfair because I expected something different and the show didn’t give me what exactly what I wanted so now I’m just mad at it for that. I think that maybe the mystery element of the show could be good if you go into it with an open mind, but I don’t think there’s anyway around the characters. They are bad no matter how I look at it, but if you really feel like you would like this show I would still encourage you to check it out. I’ll still finish the show to see what happens and maybe the ending will even make up for a lot of stuff, but up to this point I have to say this show hasn’t met my expectations.
As always thank you for reading and please share this article around as much as you can! If you really disliked Joker Game or Kiznaiver or really liked Mayoiga please let me know why in the comments and maybe I’ll see what you’re talking about. I think I learned this season that the most important thing when going to watch/read a mystery is not to go in expecting something specific because you might just disappoint yourself. Also that it doesn’t help things if characters are bad. Comment below!