[In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016

Stryke

Bang and a Boom
Validated User
#21
There's no way this could be as fun as actually playing the games, and frankly it could have been a lot more polished, but it's decent enough for my purposes.
That was my problem with it. I've not played the games, but I knew enough to recognise how faithful it was being and as I wasn't playing myself it just didn't seem very fun. The lacklustre presentation admittedly also didn't help.
 

acksed

Registered User
Validated User
#22
My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)
(13 episodes)
-snip-
Production Values

Quite good ; the superheroing action looks fine, and the character designs are striking enough to get the "bigger-than-life" feel the story requires. On the other hand, I'm less fond of some scenes getting a dark filter that muddies up what's happening for no good effect.
I'd say they got 90% of the dynamism of the comics. They captured the style and cartoony nature, but the direction was lacking a bit (then again, after ERASED, everything is). Midoriya's voice is all right, but All Might has the gratuitous english and tone down and until I heard Bakugou, I've never met a voice I've wanted to punch more. He's perfect. :D
I'm giving it a second episode, but it really needs to pick up the pace and sell me on the actual Hero Academy before I lose my patience.
Yeah, same here. I expected to be blown away, but I am... evenly whelmed. Pacing's a bit off too - it cut off in a very odd place, and I suppose they're going for the dramatic reveal next episode.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#24
until I heard Bakugou, I've never met a voice I've wanted to punch more. He's perfect. :D
I've acquired a growing respect of Nobuhiko Okamoto ; he's great as those "heavily punchable but still charismatic" roles.



As previously mentioned, I won't be doing a full review of the first episode of Macross Delta, as I already covered a preview of it three months ago. Let's just say that it's still as charming, and there are few more minutes of stuff happening at the end. (Since the actual first episode is somehow shorter than the preview, I presume they cut several minutes of fluff earlier on ; none of it is really missed.)


And for completeness' sake, Sailor Moon Crystal is back, now covering the manga's "Infinity" arc. On the one hand, given the popularity of the first anime version of it, it's a no-brainer. On the other hand, the manga version (followed to the letter here) unfolds quite differently, and not always for the better. (The "reversion" stuff in this chapter is particularly silly pseudo-science.) And well, the usual flaws of Crystal are still present, especially the lack of atmosphere.

But who cares ? I bought the whole manga despite not liking it much ; I can certainly watch through this for completionism's sake. (Especially as "Infinity" isn't too bad as manga arcs go.)

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Bakuon!! ("Bike Club")
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a manga series of Cute Girls Doing Cute Things... er, with motorbikes.

(There's also a recently-released OVA where they visit hot springs, but 95% of the screentime is devoted to the road trip, because of course it is.)

Characters

Hane, the naive newcomer who had no interest in motorbikes before entering high school, and thus can be explained everything. It doesn't take much to convince her : it sure would be more convenient than her bicycle to climb the huge slope to school, and the show is all about motorbikes being cool as heck. Also, she's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. (With their parents abroad, it's her little sister who handles the finances.)

Onsa, on the other hand, is an old hand at this ; she even chose the school deliberately because its rules allowed coming to school by motorbike. The show gives her a running gag of going off in long, rambling and passionate speeches about her passion, only for her to get quickly ignored by her friends. I'm not sure it really works, although the payoff at the end of the episode is cute.

Both of them (at Onsa's impetus), join the school's ill-defined Bike Club, with only the one member left before they come in. The joke is that she keeps her helmet on at all times and never talks (onscreen).

Rin is another classmate whom Hane meets at driving school ; she's a Suzuki fangirl, and seems affluant enough to wear a bike suit.

Production Values

Okay enough. It's clear that most of the care went to depicting the bikes as lushly as possible.

What did I think of it ?

While the central idea is cute, such a show lives and dies on the execution of its jokes. Unfortunately, there's quite some misses here (Onsa's whole shtick, in particular). Other could get old quickly, like having Hane's bike being voiced by Kikuko Inoue with a very dirty mouth. (What is it with slife-of-life gag series this season being unexpectedly raunchy ?)

Still, there are enough decent jokes here to make me give it a second episode to find its feet. We'll see how it goes from there.

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Seisen Cerberus: Ryuukoku no Fatalités
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a heroic-fantasy mobile RPG.

Characters

Hiiro, our hero. (That's some imaginative naming, right here.) Ten years ago Mom and Dad tried to seal away the ancient evil dragon Dagan Zot. It went poorly, the kid got a magic scar out of it (presumably being the only survivor), and the three macguffins of sealing (a sword, an orb and a mirror, of course) got lost. Now a foolhardy teenager, Hiiro has escaped surveillance from the family retainers and is tracking down the items, in an effort to complete his parents' quest. Which doesn't prevent him from spending way too much time feuding with street urchins. Anyway, the lord of the city he's just arrived in has somehow gotten hold of the orb.

Enter Nambuuko, a powerful merchant who apparently can just barge in with his dozens of soldiers and his annoying sidekick, and strongarm the local lord into giving him favourable deals. And also order the execution of an urchin who had tried stealing the orb, somehow.

Hiiro, having somewhat fraternized with the urchins, won't have any of it. Especially as his bodyguard has just finally caught up with him.

And then, for some reason, the dragon shows up. Wut ?

Production Values

Adequate enough... but wow, those are some rather uninspired character designs everywhere.

What did I think of it ?

There are a few cute jokes here. Hiiro's parents making a trap for the dragon by disguising Mom as a sacrifice maiden, only to reveal herself as a swordswoman, is a good one. So is Hiiro carrying around a giant scabbard, only to eventually wield a tiny sword.

But the overall plotting is a complete mess, Hiiro is the only character who's not completely unsufferable, and the world-building is so by-the-numbers that most of the time the writers don't even bother explaining shit.

I just can't bring myself to care. Next !

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Hundred
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Our token magic school/battle harem light novel adaptation of the season.

Characters

Hayato, our bland protagonist, somehow scored compatibility tests with the Hundred (the super-weapons used to fight against stuff) that he's been fast-tracked to the Little Garden island academy for training, and become a beloved celebrity before even showing up. He's mostly nonplussed by this, and his only condition was medical care for his ill and possessive little sister.

"Emile", his new roommate, is just as passionate and possessive, and seems to share some history with him that he doesn't remember. Also, that's totally a girl, a fact the show isn't even subtle about, but somehow Hayato manages to miss despite walking on Emile coming out of the shower. Seriously, it's really, really obvious ; the only question is whether she's doing it to get closer to Hayato, or she has other motives besides that.

Claire, the asshole student council president (with the mandatory drill hair), decides to expel on the spot the couple of girls who came late because they were waiting for Hayato at the airport (and he successfully dodged them). With Emile cutting in, this eventually leads to Hayato being challenged to a duel by her to prevent the three of them from being expelled.

Production Values

Other clue that Emile is a girl : the camera keeps perving on her. Not that those battle suits leave much to the imagination.

What did I think of it ?

Oh, dear. My kryptonite genre, and its worst clichés are already piling up like clockwork. (At least they don't even try and pretend that Hayato is an underdog.) I'm actually mildly interested by what's going on with Emile, but since that would entail watching more of Hayato being a complete non-entity of a protagonist...

Nope, just nope. Not bothering with any more of this.
 

Little_Rat

Registered User
Validated User
#25
Girl Meets Bear (Kuma Miko)
Still, this is a bit uneven, and some of the jokes in the first half relied on cultural knowledge I don't possess. (I get the "Suica" gag, but what the heck was the "Marui" thing all about ?)
If what little Japanese I can remember from college is correct, it's because "maru" means circle. With an Roman I (sans serif), it reads as Marui. I think. Ah, Wikipedia to the rescue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marui
 

MadMac

Registered User
Validated User
#26
And so dies the dream of having a good Monday show to replace Osomatsu-san. Not really fussed about it though, I've already got a decent sized list of shows and the season is just getting started.
 

Bag of Magic Food

Still captured by Lothor
Validated User
#27
And for completeness' sake, Sailor Moon Crystal is back, now covering the manga's "Infinity" arc. On the one hand, given the popularity of the first anime version of it, it's a no-brainer. On the other hand, the manga version (followed to the letter here) unfolds quite differently, and not always for the better. (The "reversion" stuff in this chapter is particularly silly pseudo-science.)
Hey, maybe that term was just the news media's misinterpretation of an alien infusion... But they got such a clear picture, though! And it may be worth warning everyone that since Infinity 1 (and Dream 1) was like an episode and a half, they split that chapter up, so you won't get the original conclusion until next week. ...Inasmuch as the manga has conclusions.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#28
And so dies the dream of having a good Monday show to replace Osomatsu-san. Not really fussed about it though, I've already got a decent sized list of shows and the season is just getting started.
There's actually the one Monday show that sounded somewhat promising from the previews, but for some reason nobody is simulcasting it.



Joker Game
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a novel series about spies in '30s Japan.

Characters

The show is built around "D Agency", a spy training organization created in 1937 by one Lt Col Yuuki. After some intense selection and training, they now have weeded down to eight trainees, who certainly at least talk a good game.

Interestingly, our actual point-of-view character for now is Lt Sakuma, who comes from the regular Japanese army and is clearly the odd man out here. From what I can gather, he's been sent as a liaison from high command... with the explicit mission to find any single issue that could be an excuse for shutting down this dodgy agency that has yet to produce any results. Now, Sakuma himself is way to straightforward to act shadily ; that's exactly why he despises the liars, cheaters and cowards trained by the agency he's overseeing.

The case of the fortnight involves a "totally not a spy" US resident that D Agency is tasked to find evidence against. Which is of course utterly pointless from a counter-intelligence point of view, but hey, that's the orders from on high.

Production Values

Perfectly good ; the depiction of the period feels authentic enough to work. And you can never go wrong with a Kenji Kawai score to build an oppressive and claustrophobic mood.

What did I think of it ?

First, the elephant in the room : given its subject matter, the show is doomed to confront the fact that the Japanese military did some really dodgy shit in that time period, and by "dodgy" I mean "huge war crimes". The good news is that for now, the show is sidestepping the issue by portraying D Agency as a group with no patriotic links, and just doing the same shit that every other modern country is already doing (with the precise example of the 1922 Washington Conference). Also, they seem to spend just as much time and energy in feuds with other branches of the military as doing any actual spying/counter-spying (the US spy in this first story is as much a pretext as anything).

With that out of the way, this is a peculiar first episode. Most of it is devoted to characters telling Sakuma he's an idiot who understands nothing about spying. Which is true, of course, but he feels more like someone to be exposited to for narrative convenience than an organic component of the story, at least until the final twist. Even then, I feel like the show may have been better served without him being around. Show, I already think that spying is inherently cool despite the dodgy ethics ; I don't need a "but spying is EE-VIIL !!" mouthpiece to be proven wrong every couple of minutes.

Now, you might think I didn't like the show. That's not true ; there's a lot to enjoy here, and I definitely plan on watching it throughout. It's just that I hope that the clumsy writing quickly gets out of the way once the series' found its narrative feet.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#29
Review of Super Lovers pending for later today. In the meantime, the rest of the Wednesday shows...



Shounen Ashibe: Go! Go! Goma-chan is a short kids' show about a boy (Ashibe) and his pet seal (Goma), adapted from a 4-panel manga series that already got two TV series in the early 90s. To say that it's very dated indeed is an understatement ; most of the jokes and caricatures seem lifted straight out of the 70s or earlier. Otherwise, it's perfectly inoffensive, but I'm way too old to be in the target audience.


Onigiri adapts a MMORPG as a series of shorts. Interestingly, it chooses to take the piss out of this fanservice-ladden cliché-fest, mocking thoroughly how male characters aren't voiced, or having the main characters' account be suspended because of tool tampering (as I was indeed wondering about the machine-gun and flamethrower whipped out by one of them in this med-fan setting...). To my surprise, most of the jokes are actually funny and delivered with good comedic timing, so I could see myself keeping watching it for a while.


Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls is a baffling series of shorts, featuring three random girls being assembled so that they can save the world, but with their handlers telling them they're going to be idols and playing crane games. The joke is in dire need of a punchline, and doesn't work at all ; and it isn't helped by fugly Flash-like animation. Skip.

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Twin Star Exorcists (Sousei no Onmyouji)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of an action manga series about teenage exorcists.

Characters

Rokuro, our male lead, used to be very enthusiastic about being an action exorcist when he was younger, but he's now more disillusioned about it, and has basically been retired for two years. He spends most of the episode brooding about it, including in the middle of his meet cute with...

Benio, our female lead. Who's also an action exorcist, of course. While she may not have that much more illusions about the endless and thankless nature of her task, but this is her mission damnit, and she'll keep doing it until she drops dead.

And, er, that's pretty much it. Most of the episode is devoted to an extended fight scene against some nasty monsters they randomly run into (and have to save a couple kids from). And when an annoying dude vaguely looking antagonist-like shows up for three seconds at the end, the next-episode preview quickly reassures us that he's actually the asshole mentor who's going to have our two heroes fight against each other for no good reason.

Production Values

Oh dear gods this is an ugly show. The actual animation is pretty good, especially for the action sequences (Benio in action is particularly impressive), but the character designs are beyond fugly. Moreover, the colour palette switches to some blood-red for the otherworldly fight against the demons, and it just looks awful, like the platonic opposite of JoJo's vibrant colour design.

What did I think of it ?

I couldn't connect with this on any level. The two main leads didn't impress, and they have no chemistry together whatsoever. Moreover, the show completely fails at even hinting at an interesting wider picture ; heck, the next-episode preview seems designed to kill any enthusiasm over anything remotely interesting happening for a while.

The action itself is okay, I guess (if you can ignore the awful colouring and the lack of personality of the demons), but that's way too shallow to carry the show by its lonesome. There's no way I'm watching a second episode.

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Bungo Stray Dogs
(12 episodes, with a second half already scheduled for this Fall)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a manga series about quirky super-powered private detectives.

Characters

Atsushi, our point-of-view character, doesn't actually belong to the special detective agency. He's a starving orphan who's been kicked out of his orphanage and has been desperately looking for food for the last few days. Eventually he runs into...

Dazai, one of the members of the agency, whose gimmick is that he keeps trying to commit suicide. Er, yeah. (His actual super-power : suppressing other people's powers.) The case of the week involves him tracking down an escaped tiger who's been wreaking havoc for a couple of weeks. By a nice coincidence, Atsushi is pretty sure the tiger is stalking him, so Dazai's all too happy to feed him to get him on board.

Kunikuda is basically Dazai's minder : the straight man who keeps him on track while complaining a lot about it.

Three other members of the agency show up as backup at the end, although they're mostly glorified cameos so far. The gimmick is that they're all named for famous mystery authors, which I only noticed once Edogawa Rampo was name-checked.

Production Values

Now this is effective colour design, quietly reinforcing the important elements without drawing attention to itself. I'm less enthusiastic about the comedy bits having the characters looking way sketchier ; it kinda breaks the mood.

On the other hand, Taku Iwasaki's score seems on form.

What did I think of it ?

Uh. I expected to like this more, but it's not quite gelling yet. The case of the week is beyond obvious, and there seems to be a competition between characters as to who's going to be the most obnoxious. (Dazai easily wins, with Mamoru Miyano chewing many acres of scenery.)

Still, there are enough promising bits on display here that I'm willing to give it time to find its feet for a few episodes.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#30
For the record, regarding the other Thursday shows : Kuromukuro is on Netflix embargo, Shounen Maid & Sakamoto won't get simulcast until a couple more days for obscure reasons, and I'm waiting for Kabaneri to show up on Amazon Prime.




Super Lovers
(10 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a shojo manga series about a teenager connecting with his new adopted young brother.

Characters

Haru, our protagonist, has come to his mother's house in the Canadian countryside to spend the summer. Well, originally it was because she pulled yet another stunt, claiming to be at death's door (haha, no), but he might as well stay for a bit.

Mom is an eccentric author, and it's not hard to see why there was a divorce with Haru's father and he got remarried. She's really annoying, but has just enough charisma to pull it off. And her latest great idea was to adopt...

Ren, a kid who's borderline feral and spends much of his time with the family dogs. Neither him nor Haru like each other much at first glance, but then they've got a whole summer (and series) to get closer.

Production Values

Studio Deen surprised us last summer with a couple of really great-looking shows. Not so much here : it looks okay, but very much in line with their average for this kind of low budget show.

What did I think of it ?

On face value, this is perfectly watchable ; and as long as the show doesn't go beyond that summer, it should be alright. But the source manga has a reputation similar to Usagi Drop : after a time skip, it turns into a Boys' Love series. And, er, no, just no.

It could turn out to be inoffensive after all given its short length, but the show isn't compelling enough as it is for me to be willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. I'll be skipping it, thank you.

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Anne Happy
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy manga series about a class of unlucky high-school girls.

Characters

"Hanako" Anne, who gives her name to the series, has a strong habit of endangering herself recklessly to get close to animals... who usually hate and bite her. She's more than a bit air-headed.

Our actual point-of-view character, though, is "Hibari", who serves as a straight (wo)man for most of the jokes here. Frankly, the show's definition of "unlucky" seems rather wide to include her, since in this case it seems based on a bizarre and embarrassing fetish of hers.

Botan, on the other hand, has the true misfortune of a ridiculously fragile health. (Shaking her hand may break her bones.) At least her doctor parents had the good sense of teaching her enough self-first-aid to just barely get by.

Interestingly, the main gimmick of the series is that school gathered all those unlucky students on purpose, and instead of a normal curriculum, they will teach them how to overcome their bad luck and be happy.

Production Values

Bright and colourful and pastel backgrounds, which helps make Botan's numerous injuries amusing rather than horrifying.

What did I think of it ?

The first episode is far from a home run, but there's the nugget of a decent joke here. With a few more students to round out the cast, and the school providing a narrative structure for the show, it may turn out quite funny. Or maybe it'll crash and burn soon because it has no clue where it's going.

I'm willing to give it a second episode to see whether it finds its feet.

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And you thought there is never a girl online? (Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?)
(12ish episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel series about... well, it's one of those where the whole premise is spelled out in the title.

Characters

Nishimura, our male lead, is one of those open nerds who has no issue with spending most of his free time on MMORPGs, and in particular Legendary Age, a med-fan dungeon crawler where he plays a tank knight under the alias of "Rusian". After getting badly burned a year ago, he's convinced himself there's no real girls online.

Ako is the incompetent healer of his regular party, and after insisting for months she finally got him to marry her in-game. The joke is that she is an actual girl (that's even her real name) ; that weird shy girl in his class who's basically Watamote's Tomoko if she played MMORPG, complete with the utter lack of social skills, and the simmering hatred for "normies" lurking under the surface.

"Apricot", the party's black mage leader, is one of those players who spends tons of cash at the in-game store to buy tons of showy stuff. You know the type. Anyway, they suggest an offline meet... and she's also a high school girl ; most specifically, the student council president.

As for "Schwein", the party's other fighter, they turn out to be Segawa, Nishimura's twin-tailed tsundere classmate (he's never seen the "dere" part), and doing up to now a great job of passing as a normie. Also, she didn't know her handle meant "Pig" in German.

Production Values

Perfectly okay, if a bit fanservice-y in some character designs (I hope Ako invested in a strong enough bra).

What did I think of it ?

On the one hand, the joke is nearly perfectly executed. Clearly the writers get the kind of hardcore MMORPG it's portraying, and it show in all the little cute details. It's got good comedic timing, the characters have decent chemistry together, and overall it's a fun joke.

But... laying out the central gag took the whole episode, and there's little sense of where it can go after that. How do you proceed from there ?

Oh, well, this first episode was good enough that I'm willing to try out a few others to see what's next. So, mission accomplished !
 
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