[In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#11
Young Black Jack
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a recent manga series spinning out of Osamu Tezuka's famous 70s opus. It's basically a prequel set in the hero's college years.

Characters

Our point-of-view character (and obvious audience identification point) is Maiko Okamoto, a medical intern. She's a bit clumsy and mostly does paperwork at this point, but she takes her vocation seriously. So when the world's stupidest transit accident happens and all the regular doctors are too busy to deal with this one kid who's in danger of losing half his limbs, she's desperately looking for anyone else who'll step in and achieve a miracle.

Hazama, the man who would later become known as Black Jack, guerilla surgeon with a patchwork face. For now he's just a mere medical college student, and has yet to operate on anyone. But he's clearly been preparing mentally for it, and he's willing to help out, so off they go. It helps that he happens to own a favour from a washed-up surgeon nearby, who'll lend his his operation theater.

As apparently always happens in Black Jack stories, the patient's father is an asshole : even after our hero miraculously patches up the kid's limbs, he refuses to pay the previously-agreed amount. Screw you too, jerk Dad.

Production Values

The OP sequence wastes no time in pandering to the target audience, as it immediately show the hero shirtless and in bondage.

The ED sequence, on the other hand, makes a terrible mistake : it shows side by side Tezuka's original character designs, and the "updated" versions this show is going with. Which only demonstrates how badly the redesigns have gone : either they're much blander and less expressive, or they've barely different from the Tezuka blueprint and then they look horribly out of placed next to everything else.

Also looking awful : the surgeonning sequences. Most of the screentime is spent on Hazama playing with scalpels and strings at random in a very abstract way ; what we're actually shown of the actual operation looks ludicrous. It's like the storyboarders noticed halfway through that this should be a very bloody mess, and then endeavoured to show as little of it as possible.

Overall Impression

Urgh. Nevermind how terrible it looks : the script is much, much worse. Because it relies on nearly everyone but our two main characters to be either a moron or an asshole. (And even then, Maiko's mostly there to fawn over Young Black Jack being so awesome.) The accident is beyond stupid, the circumstances that lead to him taking the case only happen because people are being jerks, and the ending just comes out of nowhere to make the point that the people he helps are jerks too. Heck, even Hazama is a bit of an entitled git, too.

And then there's the politics of it. The reason the hospital is short-handed is because the interns and the medical students have gone on strike and are organizing protests. This is set in 1968 (which was a hotbed of unrest in Japan too), and they do have legitimate grievances (such as internships being unpaid). But the show thinks this is all frivolous, and depicts the lot of them as utter assholes, with not a single on willing to help out in an emergency. Now, the late-60s student movements were far from sainthood, but this reactionary and revisionist take on them sits very badly with me.

Forget about the franchise's prestigious pedigree ; it only makes this look worse in comparison. And it was already so annoying that I refuse to watch any more of it.

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Asterisk War - The Academy City on the Water (Gakusen Toshi Asterisk)
(12 episodes + another season already announced for Spring 2016)

What's it about ?

You may have noticed over the years I've been doing this that there's a specific subgenre I can't stand and will take a lot of work to make me care about : the light novel adaptation about teenagers in magical high school, with tons of gratuitous fighting and technobabble.

Well, lucky me : there's three of them this season, and this is the first one.

Characters

Ayato, our boring male lead, is a new transfer into this magical academy, and thus everyone happily exposits to him how everything works here and in the world. Not that he really cares ; and I can't really blame him, since I don't either. He's vaguely following the footsteps of his older sister, whose stay at the academy 5 years ago was apparently so tumultuous that records have been expunged (and the action prologue certainly seems to concur with this)... Wait, that sounds way more interesting than anything else in the current timeframe. Why are we following HIM instead of HER ? It's not even like he's passionate about finding out what happened to her !

Julis, our token tsundere love interest. With fire-related powers, of course. And even a literal princess from some random European country, because of course monarchy has made a resurgence in the future somehow. Cue avalanche of terrible romantic comedy clichés : him walking on her while she's in her underwear, the token magic duel where he ends up cradling her and grabbing her boobs by total accident, them being forced to sit next to one another in class...

Claudia, the scheming student council president. She's intent on getting on board for the inter-academy magical tournaments (for reasons that escape me, since he looks like nothing special so far), and she goes about this through a fix of friendliness, helpful exposition, and downright sexual assault and trolling.

In case you're wondering, the mandatory pervert best friend does show up in due time, just in time for more clunky exposition.

Production Values

Decent enough, I guess ? The camera is firmly stuck into pervert mode, though.

Overall Impression

Have I mentioned why I heavily dislike this subgenre ? Well, it's because most of them are crap like this : uninspired, tedious, heavily derivative, and relying on clichés to make up for the lack of creativity. All of the characters are annoying (aside from Claudia, who's just creepy), the jokes should have been retired decades ago, and the plot seems to be heading nowhere but towards a generic tournament arc. This show has absolutely nothing to it beyond the wish-fulfilment value, but that's completely lost on me.

And this has already been greenlit for two seasons ? Dear gods. Well, I'm not sticking around, that's for sure.

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Lovely Muco (Itoshi no Muco) are 12-minute shorts about the daily life of the titular dog, Muco. There were actually two previous anime series adapting this manga, but only as 2-minute shorts padding the schedule ; this is a back-to-basics reboot that requires no previous knowledge. And in any case, the OP sequence displays just about everything you'd want to know about the character dynamics (including from the cast who have yet to show up).

It's a very simplistic, family-friendly show about Muco being a cute dog, and the communication failures with her laid-back master. It's mildly entertaining, but I keep having the nagging feeling I'm at least two decades older than the target audience. The animation is very limited, but sells the jokes well enough for a gag show. And it certainly knows how to make a dog look expressive.


Kagewani are 8-minute horror shorts about a crypto-zoologist investigating monster sightings instead of, you know, actually teaching his college classes. But most of the episode is devoted to one of those "celebrity" monster hunters who's busy faking one such sighting until things go very badly when his team encounter the real thing.

What makes this show stand out is the rotoscoped animation ; together with the overbearing colour filters and the nervous shakycam often at awkward angles, it gives off a strong "found footage" flavour. Unfortunately, it also looks like crap. (Which, I guess, completes the "found footage" look.) And frankly, it's not particularly compelling, funny or scary ; it just doesn't work for me at all.


K - Return of Kings if off to a rather mixed bag for its second season. It's even more visually impressive than ever (how much budget do they spend on those super-kinetic fight scenes ?), although I'm getting tired of the camera switching to pervert mode whenever Awashima's on screen. But the script seems intent on being as confusing as possible, starting off with an overly-long gratuitous fight scene that's set before the first series, for some reason (as evidenced by the presence of the dude who got killed in the first episode), and then it switches without warning to the post-movie status quo. (Which, admittedly, isn't very complicated ; "the gothloli is the new Red King, and the Greens are now attacking everyone and being jerks for some reason".) Hopefully it'll find its footing back soon enough.
 

Bafflement

Ruthless Sillographer
Validated User
#12
Asterisk War - The Academy City on the Water (Gakusen Toshi Asterisk)
(12 episodes + another season already announced for Spring 2016)
This thing seemed utterly generic. I can't possibly imagine where it would go that would justify someone commissioning more than twelve episodes of this, but apparently they did.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#13
Chivalry of a Failed Knight - A Tale of Worst One (Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Oh, just shoot me.

This is the second light novel adaptation about teenagers in magical high school, with tons of gratuitous fighting and technobabble, airing this season. At least the third one's not out until next week.

Characters

Ikki, our male lead, is known as the Worst One in his magical academy, as his magical abilities are way below par. He overcompensates by training his physical abilities and swordsmanship, but those aren't counted by the official grading system, so he's still "F Rank". His only hope of graduating resides in winning the inter-academy tournament, of course. One day, as he comes back to his dorm room, he walks into...

Stella, our tsundere female lead, in her underwear. She... has got fire powers and is an actual princess from somewhere in Europe. I swear I'm not making up how ridiculously same-y all those shows are. Anyway, the reason she's half-naked in Ikki's room is because the Headmistress trolled them by not telling her she'd have a roommate. Because of course this is a co-ed academy !

Cue mock duel between the two of them, which Ikki wins against all odds, of course. He's a nice enough dude not to really take her up on her wager that the loser'd serve the winner like a dog.

There are a couple of characters with designs distinctive enough to suggest they'll join the supporting cast, but proper introductions will have to wait.

Production Values

Decent enough ; the duel in particularly is nicely paced. I also note that there's a degree of equal-opportunity fanservice, as we get to see Ikki's abs quite a bit.

Overall Impression

Er... it's better than the other one ? It does manage to get out some nice character moments along the way, and the Principal's trolling has good comedic timing. On the other hand, it's still a generic tournament battle show which oozes blandness and features awkward romantic comedy hijinks which should have been retired ages ago, so it'd be a stretch to actually call it good.

Yeah, no, I have better things to watch.
 

KoboldLord

Registered User
Validated User
#14
This thing seemed utterly generic. I can't possibly imagine where it would go that would justify someone commissioning more than twelve episodes of this, but apparently they did.
Apparently it's less a question of whether people will commission more than twelve episodes of this, but rather how many people will commission twelve or more episodes of this simultaneously.
 

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
#15
I will say the Light Novels for Asterisk aren't bad, and the characters show a little more life and character than usual for this type of set up. Granted, that doesn't mean the anime will live up to it and/or reflect that well.

<shrug>

Also, fortunately, I don't mind this set up, either. Though yeah, they really are paint by number sometimes, aren't they?
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
#16
I'll admit I've been reading the Chivalry novels, but given how series get streamlined for anime I wasn't too enthused by the anime annoncement. I think at this point I've come to learn that a amateur translation of books gives me more enjoyment than what I'd consider the butchering by anime makers.

On the other hand such anime have exposed me to such series I might not ever tried to read before. So I guess I should be grateful for the anime.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#17
Ah, now this is more like it. After a lackluster start for the non-sequel shows, this season is starting to become interesting. But first, another sequel...



Utawarerumono - Itsuwari no Kamen
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

Originally Utawarerumono was a tactical-RPG/visual novel hybrid, which got an anime adaptation a few years later in 2006 to tie-in with its PS2 rerelease.

This series is an adaptation of a sequel/spin-off videogame, which got released a few days ago. Synergy !

Characters

It's not really clear yet whether this is a straight sequel set after the first game, or an alternate universe take ; apparently some of the (surviving) supporting cast are supposed to show up later on. For now, though, it's all about new characters... who have very close dynamics to the originals.

"Haku", our new protagonist, is an amnesiac dude who wakes up in cave, with monsters about to eat him. Also, unlike anyone else we see, he's a straight human wearing a modern hospital gown. Given what I remember of the mythos from the previous series, it's not a good sign. Anyway, he's not only an amnesiac, but also completely ignorant of the world and its inhabitants, or even of a honest day's work. He's not very athletic and more than a bit lazy, but he does have a knack for engineering.

Kuon, the travelling merchant who saves him, quickly takes him under her wing, declaring herself his guardian and coining his new name. She's a cat-human hybrid (which shows mostly with the ears and the tail). Anyway, cue cute romantic comedy hijinks in a pleasant medieval-fantasy setting. (That she's the one who spies on him in the bath tells you everything about this show's priorities and sense of humour.)

Production Values

Quite nice ; there's a good amount of scenery porn, and the animators are careful to let the body language of both leads carry a lot of the story.

Overall Impression

Well, this is certainly a nice and fun early romance between consenting adults. It easily captures what I liked best about Utawarerumono, and even improves upon it by having a more proactive female lead. So far, so good.

On the other hand, there are lots of worrying signs that the original mythos is still valid, and that was quite dark indeed. The original series struggled a lot with the sudden tone shifts between goofy harem comedy and brutal war story (to say nothing of the weird stuff towards the end), and both Haku's introduction and the fact that the second game is still billed as a tactical-RPG makes me worry we're going to cover similar territory. Now, it's very possible this is a "done right" quasi-remake that suppresses the original's weaknesses ; stranger things have happened. But the trainwreck potential is very present.

Anyway, this is a good enough start, and I'm intrigued enough by the project, to keep watching for at least a while.

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Mobile Suit Gundam - Iron-blooded Orphans (Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans)
(25ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

From the people who brought you Toradora and AnoHana ! And it's indeed almost, but not quite, entirely unlike those shows.

Characters

Oh, dear. This has the very common modern Gundam flaw of introducing all at once dozens of characters in various factions, speaking in exposition only they can understand, and I spend half the episode trying to catch up. I don't care that this is more "realistic", as it's bloody awful storytelling.

Anyway, as best as I can discern : this is the future, and there are colonies on Mars extracting stuff. The political landscape is a bit of a mess, with some people wanting independance from Earth, and some Earth factions wanting to squash this in the egg.

Kudelia Aina Bernstein is the young face of the independence movement. Which is ironic, considering she comes from a rich family which made its fortune from its links with Earth. Today they sell her out, giving the anti-independence faction intelligence about her visit to a random Mars settlement, and thus ample opportunity for something unfortunate to happen.

Said settlement does have a PMC hired to provide protection to her, but most of the senior officers run away after the super-modern mecha start showing up to attack. So it's up to the teenage orphans making up the bulk of the grunts to try and stand their ground.

Orga is their de facto leader. He's awesome, and a great tactical thinker. It's very impressive how he manages to stall the attackers despite his pals having much inferior equipment.

Mikazuki, his best friend and loyal follower, is named in the promo material as the actual protagonist, but so far I'm not really seeing it. He does save the day by piloting the relic Gundam they had rusting in a basement, though, but that's just following Orga's orders ; he barely gets three minutes of screentime overall.

Biscuit, the heavyset guy with impressive technical know-how, is a much more active and initiative-taking member of the group. He's a lot of fun, and I like how he contributed to setting the attackers onto the cowards who abandoned them.

Production Values

It's Sunrise doing mecha, so of course it's very competently executed. Also, for some reason all the kids are piloting their vehicles shirtless.

Overall Impression

Urgh, that first half...

But once the attack starts and we get to see Orga in action, the show finally clicks together. Suddenly the kids' chemistry shines, the obscure political manoeuvring becomes crystal clear, and I actually start caring what happens to our protagonists.

I'm watching all of Gundam anyway (see my sig), but there's a decent chance I'll actually enjoy this one.

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Comet Lucifer
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Light-hearted mecha show.

Characters

Sogo, our teenage protagonist, has a hobby of looking for rare crystals, mostly in that giant gaping hole in the middle of the city. Mostly to prove a point : supposedly his (missing ? late ?) mother had seen something there, and he wants to confirm it. He's also driving around a lot in his flying bike, pushing its speed up to widely unsafe levels.

Kaon, his female friend, doesn't help when she shanghais him into helping her run away from her persistent (and unwanted) fiancé. Cue wild car chase. Then end up falling into the hole, and then even deeper into unexplored caves.

There they find the giant red crystal Sogo had been looking for ; it reacts to a smaller one he'd picked up earlier on, and explodes into... freeing a girl that was encased inside ? Well, she's unconscious and can't answer their questions yet.

There are a bunch of serious people in military-like mechas who were also looking for the crystal ; their excavations were partly responsible for digging it out. They soon burst in, and they don't look like they want witnesses. Uh oh.

But never fear : another mecha jumps out of nowhere, as though summoned by the crystal, to protect our heroes ! Who wonder wtf is going on.

Production Values

Very nice ; it's a brightly coloured show, and the action setpieces are well-animated.

Overall Impression

That was fun ! It's got a kinda kids' adventure vibe that's a hoot to watch, and endearing characters who bounce off well each other. I'm not sure where this is going, but if it keep up the energy, that should be good enough for me.

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Concrete Revolutio ~A Superhuman Fantasy~ (Choujin Gensou)
(13 episodes ?)

What's it about ?

It's like half a dozen superhero shows mixed together into a single one.

Characters

Kikko, our heroine, is a teenage waitress who's suddenly told a spy drama is about to unfold in her restaurant, and is thus asked to stop this scientist for leaking state secrets to this very shady-looking guy in a suit that does scream "spy". Actually, he's an alien spy, and the exchange is about something else entirely. But nevermind ! We also learn that Kikko is a magical girl, complete with cute talking mascot hidden in her cleavage. Her powers are a massive help in the ensuing chase scene.

Jiro, the guy with the bizarre haircut who asked for her help to bust the spy, is from a secret agency to monitor and protect superheroes. Cue sudden flashforwards to five years later where he's on the run and she's the one leading an agency taskforce to chase him down. Er, sure, whatever.

The actual point of the whole spy-busting thing, besides preventing whatever the aliens' nefarious plan is, was to draw out Grosse Augen, a super-famous sentai-style superhero who's been helping humanity out for a while. However, the agency deems him to dangerous to exist, so he has to go. (Much to Kikko's dismay, as she's a fan.)

Presumably a side benefit was to bring Kikko into the fold, as her wildly versatile magical girl powers should be a tremendous help.

Production Values

Gorgeous ! This looks really neat, with wildly unnaturalistic colour work that makes everything pop. There's also tons of creativity around Kikko's powers, such as the time she manifested a giant arrow to point out where the giant-size Gross Augen & alien spy were fighting, as normal human Jiro couldn't see them while they were out of phase. And then he transformed his car into a giant mecha and threw the arrow at the spy.

Overall Impression

If the above summaries sounded wildly disjointed and completely insane, well, I'm trying to convey what watching the show is like. It's a crazy mashup of at least four different superhero shows (the alien spy ring, Kikko's magical girl thing, Grosse Augen's sentai trappings, and the paranoid dystopia flashforwards), all gleefully colliding together into utter chaos.

It's more than a bit disorientating, and I can understand being irritated by this scattershot approach. But it's so gloriously bonkers that I can't help getting caught into its kitchen-sink universe, trying to find a method to the madness.

I'm hooked.

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Young Kindaichi's Casefile Returns Again has been off to a good start. Actually, I'm slightly weirded out that we start immediately on the trail of the recurring villain introduced at the end of last season (Kindaichi's usually more about one-off mysteries than ongoing storylines), but it's a good way to keep the stakes high, especially as the supporting cast are all there and have something to do. And, well, I have a sweet tooth for mysteries, so I'm all for this.

Speaking of which, Owarimonogatari opens with a double-length episode that's basically a lovely done-in-one closed-room mystery. It's awesome. And despite how much Ararararagi has become the weak link in this show over time, he's actually quite fun here, as Ougi leaves him absolutely no room to fall back on his usual excesses. This was a very good opener indeed, and setting a high bar for the season.

Attack on Titan - Junior High is very, very stupid. It probably doesn't make much sense unless you've watched the main series. (Or, heck, read the manga, if the Ymir/Krista material is any indication.) What it does right, though, is being at least mildly funny most of the time ; and it's having a lot of funny playing with Sawano's bombastic score and the original anime's direction for maximum comedic effect. At least for one episode, the joke works.

Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan is a gag manga adaptation about a childlike hotsprings fairy meddling with teenagers' love life. In three minutes it makes its point, namely that it's the same romantic comedy beats I've already seen hundreds of time, without any particular spark. Pass.

Miss Komori Can't Decline! (Komori-san wa Kotowarenai!), on the other hand, does manage to spin a few decent laughs out of its premise. Unfortunately, it looks like crap and barely lasts 2 minutes. Oh, well.
 

redwulf25_ci

Clown Pope of Wushu
Validated User
#18
The first thing I noticed about Comet Lucifer is that we seem to have overcome the Great Anime Nose Shortage that was brought about by the abnormally large noses of Escaflowne. I hope they don't blow animes whole supply of noses again.
 
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CaButler

Registered User
Validated User
#19
I admit to have been reading the manga version of Chivalry of a Failed Knight - A Tale of Worst One and I rather enjoy it.

Spoiler: Show
Our two leads, however, do hook up rather quickly, so unless the anime keeps the wacky hijinks going, that should take care of a lot of things.
 

Littleredfox

Registered User
Validated User
#20
Liked Heavy Object well enough...

Or rather I liked the general idea and the music. Commander Lady was also fun. Aside from that... Yeah.

The problem with it is rather simple:

SHOW. DON'T TELL. ANIME IS A VISUAL MEDIUM YOU DUMBASSES.
Hopefully when Qwenther discovers his inner Ality Mellowlink/Ben Barberry and starts playing Shadows of the Colossus with the Objects, he'll shut up a bit.

That is where this is going isn't it?

Not that I'd object to a wacky mecha maintenance crew slice of life show, but this doesn't look like it.
 
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