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[In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2015

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
Plastic Memories is indeed very good. Maybe a bit too good, I'm not sure I can endure through the very well done and very heartbreaking emotional moments. :(

... "Heartbreaking" might not be the right word for it though. It's not about big tragedies and bad things happening. More like... "bittersweet" I guess? Hmmm...
Yeah, i've said much the same thing a couple times now. And heartbreaking works for me. That scene at the end with the grandmother and the little girl made my heart break right in half.

It's probably one of the best shows this season, and I cannot watch it.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
He is an Ultimate Teacher (Denpa Kyoushi)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy manga series.

Characters

Junichiro, our protagonist, used to be a teenage prodigy ; submitting impressive research papers before even leaving high school, and apparently figuring out how to build a teleporter (although actually making it from his blueprints won't be possible for another century). The problem is that he's now completely bored with science (he's already done anything he ever wanted to in that field), and has devolved into a NEET focus on his one true passion : anime, and the popular culture around it.

Suzune, his younger sister, won't settle with his wasting his life and wants him to get off his ass and get a job. Look, she's found him a part-time teaching job at his former high school, where he still has enough of an aura for them not ask too many questions about the whole year he spent as a NEET. He just has to put on a labcoat so as to look vaguely teacher-like. If he doesn't go, he'll have a taster of her bat.

Minako is our first problem student of the week. Well, only a problem as far as she's obviously bullied by her former kogal friends, who aren't taking lightly her breaking away from them. Especially as she's turning a lew leaf by... training to become an anime voice-actress, which they deem childish. (Junichiro has the opposite view : the field is so competitive that she has a snowball's chance in hell of making it. That lands him her fist in his face.)

There's a girl observing his humiliation of the bullies from the darkness of an unlit car. She looks more silly than ominous. But then, this is a very silly show.

Production Values

Okay enough for a gag show. Not too much fanservice on display, actually.

Overall Impression

Hum. I've always said that what really counts for a comedy is the ability to make me laugh. This show has its moments, but a good chunk of it I just found mildly irritating. Part of the blame resides on Junichiro himself, who's far from compelling enough to get my sympathy. (Excuse me as I have little time for his ennui.)

Obviously the shadow of GTO looms large on this, and it's unfair to compare it to a show that doesn't even pretend to have the same kind of edge. Still, I'd have much more time for this if the jokes landed more often.

Against my better judgement, I'm giving it a second episode. But it better find its feet quickly.

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The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arslan Senki)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a series of fantasy novels by the author of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. They already got adapted into a couple of anime movies and a short OVA series in the early 90s ; this revival is inspired by the recent new manga adaptation illustrated by no less than Hiromu Arakawa (of Fullmetal Alchemist & Silver Spoon fame).

Characters

Arslan, our title character, enters the series as the 11-year-old Crown Prince of the kingdom of Pars. As such, he's lived a very sheltered life. He's a bit of a wimp, but comes of as a kind person who actively wants to get out of the warm cocoon sewn by the many people trying to protect him so that he can learn new perspectives. that's quite admirable, and the people seem to love him all the more for it.

King Andragoras, his father, is beloved for a completely different reason : he seems to always be off to another battle to protect the kingdom and its allies, and he manages to win some impressive victories with very few casualties on his side. Thanks to him, Pars is very prosperous, and its capital quite safe.

Queen Tahamine, despite living in the palace full-time, seems to have even less time than her husband for Arslan. Mind you, she's also very cold towards Andragoras himself ; something tells me he's been sleeping on the (jewelry-incrusted) couch for a while.

What clearly becomes apparent is that Pars's prosperity wasn't built merely on its king's pure awesomeness ; it's also because they enslave whoever they beat on the battlefield. Arslan doesn't see much of a problem with this : submitting to slavery still gets you a better meal everyday than in whatever hellhole country the slaves came from. But his viewpoint his challenged by the attitude of the latest captives, Lusitanians, whose faith in a staunch anti-slavery religion brings them in direct opposition to the Pars system. They'd rather die than submit.

Half the episode is spent on a massive chase scene, as an unnamed Lusitanian kid escapes captivity by taking Arslan hostage. Who doesn't actually mind that much, and saves his captor a couple of times (and even goes out of his way to allow him to escape). Again, it's all an opportunity to learn different viewpoints, however dangerous that may be.

The episode closes on Arslan musing that he still has a lot of time to learn and grow into the role of the future king, what with his father probably keeping on being an awesome king for a few more decades... Hahahaha, no way. Cut to a mere few years later...

Production Values

This is an epic production, and it almost looks like so. Certainly it's got a good attention to detail in the world-building. It's just a shame that the CG armies look so lifeless and awkward...

It does have the cool LoGH gimmick of putting up an introductory caption whenever a major character first shows up in a given episode, which is well-appreciated given the size of the cast and the number of so far interchangeable captains in the Pars army.

Overall Impression

This episode had one job : selling me on Arslan as a protagonist I want to follow, as epic stuff happens around him (and it takes him some time to really shape up enough to actively participate). That's a success : he's just such a nice guy that you can't help cheer for him. He's not perfect, and he's certainly got his cultural blinders on, but he's willing to improve, and that makes up for a lot.

This is far from my favourite genre, but I'm willing to give it a go. Let's see what it's got in store.
 

PenguinZero

Wark!
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I suspect Shokugeki no Souma is one of those ones where the different medium has a major impact. In the manga the foodgasms get a splash page, sure, but it's just one page and then the story moves on. The reader spends exactly as long on it as they feel like. Meanwhile in an anime the director controls the amount of time and emphasis put on the moment, which from the bits being posted is rather a lot.

I'm not surprised that this creates a very different perception of what the show's emphasis is.
I'd definitely have to agree here. Shokugeki no Souma is one of my favorite manga running right now, and a large part of that is, if you can believe it, how well it treats its female characters. They get motives and dreams of their own, they've got skills every bit the equal of the boys, and they get treated with a degree of respect that's become all too rare in shounen manga these days. (I'm looking at you, One Piece...)

But the early chapters were more fanservicey than the later ones are, and the anime seems to have latched onto those elements and amplified them significantly. The director's choice of pacing and focus is definitely a huge part of that. I can't entirely recommend the anime at this point, but I'd still eagerly push the manga onto anyone with even the slightest interest in shounen cooking battles...
 

Killfalcon

Reasonably Phosphorous
Staff member
Moderator
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Glad to hear Arslan's looking decent. I remember the 90s series fondly, though I suspect it was probably not that good because of the dub. I'm not a subs-purist, but ye gods the stuff a decade or two back should explain why so many people are.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
SHOW BY ROCK!!
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a smartphone rhythm videogame (with some raising sim elements).

Characters

Cyan, our highschool protagonist, spends the first five minutes of the show thinking she's in a K-ON! clone : so shy she agonizes for ages over joining the light-music club, and moping over her guitar every evening that she couldn't find her nerve. Sorry, girl, that's the wrong show : so witness your phone suddenly crapping out and suddenly transporting you into a psychedelic digital world. As a gothic lolita catgirl, of course.

She lands in the middle of a concert by super-star band Trichronika, who were completely rocking it out until some monster showed up and shifted them to a parallel combat world. Apparently that's a thing that often happens ; at least bystanders are safe, since only people with musical ability are affected... How, wait, Cyan was also standing there, right ?

... And that's a good thing, as Trichronika were completely overpowered and she totally saved their bacon.

Amazingly, Cyan is then recruited not by Trichronika (who are grateful), but by the far less successful band Plasmagica, who nabbed her first after the battle. They've got a bunny girl, a dog girl and a sheep girl. Their manager is an egg.

So Cyan's lost in bizarre world she has no clue about... but hey, she's in a band now ! Score !

(There's also a stinger another rival band showing up, and another with a mastermind plotting evilly and cryptically.)

Production Values

It should be pointed out that for the battle sequences, the musician characters are shrunk in size and rendered in CG ; it looks all the more weird as they have no mouths. They return to more humanoid designs for the more mundane scenes... well, aside from the egg with a moustache.

Overall Impression

What is this I don't even...

Well, I have to give it to this show : it fooled me completely over what genre it was going to be, and it's a well-executed swerve. It's also bursting at the seams with weird ideas and designs. That Cyan's character arc doesn't get lost in the shuffle is a near miracle.

... But there's only so far energy and sheer weirdness can carry it ; I fear it's going to collapse into a unholy mess very quickly. I'm pretty sure I won't stick with it, but I suppose I'll at least give it a second episode just to be sure. It's at least earned that.

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Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a shonen manga series by the author of Trigun.

Characters

Leonard, our protagonist, has the most boring voice ever ; I'm pretty sure his narration put me to sleep at least once. Anyway, he's come to New York City Jerusalem's Lot, the City of Miracles, where half the population are aliens because of something weird that happened a few years ago. (By now, everybody's gotten used to it.) He wants to make a living as a cub reporter, but that's not really working out.

He stumbles into the secret organization Libra, who briefly confuse him with their latest recruit. They are :
- Mr Klaus, the guy in charge, who looks half-gorilla and may well be. Cool dude, though, and impressive in a fight.
- Zap, an abrasive asshole who of course gets partnered with Leo for half the episode. He uses a smaller version of Mr Klaus's blood weapons.
- Chain, our token woman, who seems to have super-agility powers that allow her to exit the scene quickly and have nearly no screentime whatsoever.
They're basically an underground vigilante force working against the likes of...

Femt, a cackling madman who looks more like an opportunity for Akira Ishida to chew scenery than somewhat with a coherent agenda. He takes over the airwaves and warns the city that he's planted a "gate" that's about to wreak havoc ; those gates are what made JL so weird in the first place, so that sounds bad.

Fortunately, a previous encounter with a gate (I'm not sure if it's the big original one or a smaller, later one) has embued Leo with super-sight powers, allowing him to find the real gate (as opposed to the decoy planted by Femt that everybody was running after).

There's a framing sequence set six months later with Leo's sister reading a letter narrating all this... Which makes no sense whatsoever since the aforementioned event made her blind. WTF ?

Production Values

This is a show that puts a lot of work into making this altered version of NYC feel real and lived-in, with all the weird aliens looking completely at home. I'm less enthused by the color design, which is drowning in greys and browns until the super-powered action brings in flashes of bright colours ; I can see what the art directors were going for, but that makes most of the show look rather drab.

Overall Impression

Why the heck can't I enjoy this more ?

On paper, I should love it. It's got a great concept for a setting, colourful action, some decent comedic timing, and it even tries to do something clever with non-linear storytelling.

But there's something that just doesn't quite work. Maybe I'm just a bit tired, but the plotting felt like an impenetrable mess. (I had to watch it twice to get a better sense of what was going on, and Femt's plan still makes no sense whatsoever.)

I'm giving it another episode to turn me around, but it had better shape up quickly.

--------------

Again, no full review for the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan ; it's a show that makes no sense if you're not familiar with the parent franchise.

If you are familiar with it, then you'll be even more baffled, as it completely misses the point.

A running thread in the Haruhi franchise is how protagonist Kyon is in complete denial over Haruhi being his type, as his narration instead keeps lusting over super-submissive moeblob Mikuru. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is all about Yuki misunderstanding his feelings by creating an alternate reality that keeps Haruhi out of the picture and turns herself into a moeblob. And the whole point of that story is that it was a mistake, a horrific perversion of reality that Kyon couldn't decently let stand.

And yet, here we are, in a version of this perverted universe with the added wrinkle that Kyon seems none the wiser, and is thus having a generic romantic comedy with Yuki as the main love interest, and Ryoko as the pushy friend who nudges the two of them together. I find it rather telling that Kyon's character design is horribly off-model in this, making him look way more generic than the KyoAni version. (Yet, Tomokazu Sugita still somehow voices the same Kyon as always.)

The problem here is that while Yuki's wet dream originally had a narrative purpose, it's completely boring once stripped of that context. The links to the original franchise only underline by contrast how empty and dull the characters have become. You've basically removed everything that made the original story interesting.

I can't imagine what the effect of actually bringing back Haruhi into this will be (she only gets a cameo in this first episode, but it looks like she's going to actually feature in the future), but I'm not masochistic enough to stick around until it happens. I'm done, thank you.
 

Yo! Master

"Delicious"
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Like you, i've always felt that the The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan did miss the point (&, really, the AU Yuki it presented was such a messed-up & sad person you couldn't hang a series on her - so, no wonder the spin-off manga dialed her down into a more regular moeblob)

But, at the same time, i can't resist more Haruhi stuff in whatever form & however good it is. Thus, the spin-off manga & now its anime adaptation.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
ViVid: I thought only 4* of 11 Numbers were jail. 4 are Nakajimas, and 3 joined the Saint Church.

* Had to remind myself that "Ready Sette Go" is not canon.
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
Yeah, i've said much the same thing a couple times now. And heartbreaking works for me. That scene at the end with the grandmother and the little girl made my heart break right in half.

It's probably one of the best shows this season, and I cannot watch it.
Goddamn it. My eyes were watering because of all the dust, honest.
 

Patrick Y.

Cessnas all the way down
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Food Wars (Shokugeki no Souma)
/facepalm

I'll give it to this show : it doesn't commit halfway ; it takes the "food porn" moniker and goes to town with it. It's got decent comedic timing, and the score knows how to emphasize the (well-animated) action.

But dear gods, that's some creepily obnoxious fanservice indeed. Well-executed, but there's no way I can recommend watching this, unless you're really into that kind of thing. I knew from a few minutes in that I'm not, and won't be bothering with another episode. One was hard enough to watch.
Wow, you were not kidding with this one. Just watched the first episode, and it's exactly as bad as you described. The "I WANT TO TASTE MORE MEAT JUICE!" line in the, um, climactic battle scene put this one right over the top, though I do have to give them props for the main character responding with "If you want more, promise me you won't come after this restaurant again." I mean, if you're going to sell barely consensual underage dom/sub sex/food metaphors, you sell them like a Sicilian car dealer when death is on the line.

Also, when the tubby muscle guy succumbs to the delicious flavor in the final food tastebud-gangbang, he's shown wrapped in the same twine as the pork roast, spewing unidentifiable juices - presumaby meaty ones - from an anatomically improbable groin vortex. I think we're still centuries away from developing a philosophical toolbox large enough to break that down and render it digestible.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
ViVid: I thought only 4* of 11 Numbers were jail. 4 are Nakajimas, and 3 joined the Saint Church.
I seem to just be unable to keep track of the Numbers. I couldn't even tell you for sure exactly how many of them showed up this episode. (6 ? 7 ?)

It's been many years since I've watched StrikerS, so excuse me if I don't remember the detailed specifics of one short epilogue scene among many. :D
(I've never been able to get into the extended universe beyond the anime series.)
 
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