Winter 2016 – First Impressions

GREAT

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

rakugokv

In the sea of harem shows and light novel adaptations featuring absurd premise and silly character names, this show is a breath of fresh air as it tackles mature themes while still being accessible to the younger audience. I liked this one the most (and by a wide margin) for being able to suck in the viewers in its world without being tedious. Man, those 48 minutes flew fast in this one! I would not mind sitting for three hours gushing how adorable this show is in terms of characterization, pacing and in giving a 1960s vibe. Let us also not forget how amusing rakugo is (I have no idea about this one but it feels like you are storytelling while sitting) as I began swooning at the 20-minute mark when our likable former delinquent Yotaro delivered his. Studio Deen was able to give this a decent look as these kinds of show do not need much in terms of visuals. They are not exactly the best studio out there but they are giving this one a good adaptation so far.

ALMOST THERE

Bokumachi (Erased)

bokumachi-poster

This is the fourth mystery show of noitamina in a row (Punch Line, Ranpo Kitan, The Perfect Insider) since Spring 2015 and the second one to be handled by A-1 Studios in this time slot. I am cautiously optimistic about Erased as last year was not exactly kind with the mystery genre but I enjoyed this episode a lot. It managed to be straightforward while being chilling with no contrived plot mechanism as regards to Sotaro’s time travel ability. I also like how our main lead is emotionally detached and relatively normal as opposed to your normal mystery MCs who ate Wikipedia as they seem to know everything about the case. What kept this one from being great is the botched treatment of A-1 Pictures in this episode. I am not a manga reader of Bokumachi but it certainly feels that some scenes could have been more powerful if not for the questionable direction (The Magical Knife Scene to be exact) and my fears were founded as someone in the internet forums pointed out a glaring mistake this studio did in this adaptation. In the end, it managed to be more thrilling than most noitamina offerings last year and I hope next episodes will be as good as this one.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime Season 2

Akagami

This is how you implement anime tropes in a series. I am really impressed as to how this series makes difficult things look easier with its execution. The artwork remains the prettiest in this batch of Winter animes and the character interactions remain solid as ever. While I still like the first premier episode better, this one holds some ground too as we are given foreshadowing as regards to Shirayuki’s background, Obi’s growing desires about liking Shirayuki done in a very subtle manner (can’t you see his frustrated look when Zen said that Mitsuhide will accompany her instead of him?) and a new character who I hope is at least as interesting as Izana. All in all, my Summer 2015 anime remains as good as it is even though it wears a time tested premise which may be cliched at this point.

Sekkou Boys

Sekko

This show revolves around an art graduate Ishimoto Miki who applied as a manager in an idol agency because she got fed up drawing sculptures. Then only to find out that she is going to be a manager of talking Roman statues. You are wondering if I am drunk or trolling but you read it right.This is probably the most ridiculous anime concept that I have ever seen in my entire life and I am not ashamed to say I laughed at its stupidity for the whole seven minutes. It feels like I was intellectually insulted for a minute when I saw its premise. Yet I do not mind. I was busy too giggling with Miki’s slapstick antics as she remembers her life as an art student, her delusions about managing an idol group and her despair when she realizes she is going to deal with statues again. The sad part? It is only a short. Ugh.

DECENT

Dagashi Kashi

dagashi

This sweets-centric anime managed to be eye-candy and squeaky clean. With a quirky female lead and lots of shipping opportunities, this is the poster romantic comedy series this Winter 2016. I quite like the character designs, especially the eyes, as there is something about it that makes me want to look at them more. Basically a setup episode, it did mostly right for romantic comedies. I did not laugh much but I enjoyed seeing those likable characters doing weird things using a Japanese-centric premise. Hotaru and Saya in particular are pleasure to watch aside from their looks as the former cannot decide if she is a chuuni, a goth or a hime-sama and the latter for her yandere-tsundere switch. The boys? Not so much well, if Yu is not included. The main MC has a personality of a rag and his bestfriend is relegated to your physically abused side. Well, the pros outweigh the cons so I am going to watch it more.

PS: Hotaru is my first waifu this year. I want her, err, to see more of this.

Prince of Stride – Alternative

Stride

I was surprised that this is actually an otome adaptation because it screams sports anime in this premier. That aside, this episode is solid as it was able to tell about Stride, the not so equivalent of parkour. What I like so far in this series is the lack of an annoying MC (Yagami is a likable genki) and a female lead who is not relegated to the sides. Thankfully it feels like Haikyuu! more than Free much to the slight disappointed of the fujoshis. However, The visuals are too bright in Prince of Stride though. Did Madhouse exhaust their budget with One Punch Man last season?

Assassination Classroom 2

AssClass2

More antics from Koro-sensei and his shenanigans continue with the first episode AssClass 2. This time, it is about Koro-sensei shipping the students, as well as his fellow teachers Irina and Karasuma (my OTP!) with his Test of Courage. It feels like this anime did not leave us in a while as it continued where it ended last season. While still humorous for most of the time (Karma is twisted as ever), it seems like it did not forget that it has a plot so we are given some dark overviews of what might happen in the next episodes. I like the OP and the ED better than the last one (it has melody this time!) and the artwork is more crisp thanks to a bigger budget. My only beef is it feels like an OVA than an episode premier.

Dimension W

Dimension

I cannot pinpoint my feelings with its first episode aside from the fact that it knows what it is doing and it is not ashamed for giving us “I am so cool!” nature. So why the hesitation to like it? Dimension W looks like the negative side of the x-axis in a Cartesian plane and it insists that it is from another dimension. Oh. There is a robot loli too reminiscent of Plastic Memories lead if she has an actual personality. Then there are pokemons, I mean coils, that they need to collect from shady persons with a grander plot later on. On the other hand, Mabuchi looks awesome and moves awesome and I quite like the action in this episode. The narrative is quite straightforward and evenly paced too given the grandiose premise of the show. Hence, the high placement among the Winter anime that I am seeing right now.

Active Raid

Active Raid

I expected a super serious sentai show (ala Garo) and I got this. I am not complaining. My expectation was just shattered given the previous titles the staff handled. The pacing is a mess in this episode too. Things are happening way too fast as the staff decided to cramp 40 minute worth material to a mere standard episode but the first eight minutes of this show felt like it’s a VN Adaptation and was a tad slow. I cannot deny that I like the character designs as well as the premise of Active Raid. The action looks cool too.Plus points for the annoying MC being floored by the Eighth Division. And the transformation sequence. Fujoshis, enjoy it.

Myriad Colors: Phantom World

Phantom

I am a Kyoto Animations fanboy and I am sad to say that this episode is the worst KyoAni’s premier which is similar to a drunk Kyoukai no Kanata. The ridiculousness works at times too. Do not forget its ridiculous limbo game that reminds you that boobs can defy physics and so with the main lead’s chances to see a blue striped pantsu. However, the narrative is a mess in the first episode too. It started intriguing, then it proceeded with lazy expositions, went Charlotte and ended with full blown ecchi. In an episode. Amagi Brilliant Park may have fanservice but the characters are still treated with dignity so the come hither factor is effective (Sento Isuzu…drools). With Phantom World? Nah, it is a shameless ecchi show which left me bewildered as Kyoto Animations do not normally adapt these kinds of series.Wow. The visuals are still sublime thanks to their attention to details but why adapt a trashy LN?

EH?

Bubuki Buranki

Bubuki buranki

The potential of this anime is there but I sincerely question whoever made the storyboard as it felt like there are two good shows forcibly combined as one in this episode. The first ten minutes of Bubu Buranki is nothing short of epic as it is not muddled with unnecessary scenarios and we are given an explanation as to what on Earth Bubus are. Also the good action and CGIs which were nicely assimilated to the atmosphere of the series while being complemented by dramatic musical score. The second half features a compelling cat and mouse chase of those Bubu users ten years after the events in the first ten minutes. Even in the first episode, this anime is more entertaining than that of the whole of the disappointing God Eater adaptation. If only the transition was made smooth as the time skip felt jarring as it did not even bother explaining what happened to the other characters who were supposed to be there after ten years. The narrative as a whole felt messy as a result.

Norn9: Norn + Nonet

Norn

Now this is the poster otome VN adaptation in this season for you. The artwork looks good (those gorgeous backgrounds!), the music complements and gives tone to the series and the pacing is also fine. This is what Heavy Object should have been in terms of narration. So why did I rank it so low given the substantial pros? The cardboard type characters. There are a lot of bishies in this series screaming anime tropes and the female lead has no personality whatsoever as the case of most otome games.

Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru

Haruchika

This is Hyouka and Sound Euphonium if the characters were a lot less likable and the story is not executed properly. What a downgrade. The mystery here is even less effective than with Sakurako-san’s but in that series defense, the slice of life component is really strong. In this case? This is a sleep inducing series. So I was already having my nap during the half of the pre…

ZZZZZZ….

*Sees the last five minutes. Oh, I see what you did there PA Works.

I am mildly disappointed with the artwork here. I was expecting an Eccentric Family type of deviation here PA Works. All I see is a downgraded version of your same face (albeit normally great) character designs. Why did you deviated from its lovely LN designs? Ugh.

Koyomimonogatari

Koyomi

So what was the point of this short? Sure, it is from a Monogatari series which I adore but it felt like it is a diluted version. Shaft sure knows how to recycle its OP because it is from Nekomonogatari Kuro. In its defense, the first episode is covered the Bakemonogatari era only with a lame mystery this time. I miss Oshino though. Than man should have appeared more later in this series.

Divine Gate

Divine Gate

There is too much angst in the first episode and a lot of pretentious lines thrown by our kinpatsu water user MC. Do I like it? HAHAHAHA. No, I already have Comet Lucifer last season so I am putting you at the last position.

PS: Along with Lupin III (2015), Iron Blooded Orphans and Osomatsu, these are the shows I intend to follow this Winter unless there are some seriously good shows I missed. If I am asked, Lupin III (2015) will be on the Almost There group while IBO and Osomatsu will be on Decent. Seriously IBO, what is with the messy fourteenth episode?! Ugh.

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