Winter 2016 Season – Week 2 in Anime (Part 1)

I find it really amusing that an anime can deliberately show how boring a scene is while instilling some sense of dread to its audience.

GREAT

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Erased has the best opening sequence this season. Hands down to A-1 Pictures.

I am actually wondering if we are transported to some kind of parallel universe this season since A-1 Pictures and Studio Deen are at the top of the pack with a very wide margin. What is more strikingly similar between these two are their offering this week are both flashback episodes having this cinematic feel which both cater to the adult market.  It is still a tough race between Rakugo and Erased for being the best this season but I will pick the former for its really well rounded characters, better soundtrack and the most even pacing I have seen so far since I started following seasonal animes.

Even without our lovable Yotaro, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu pulled another elegant episode by showing a younger Yakumo and how he was sucked in the world of Rakugo. The soundtrack also elevated this episode to something special that drags the audience in its atmosphere. Boredom is a sin in animes like this but I was wowed by its intentional usage over a chaotic piano background music which conveyed discomfort to the viewers as Yakumo fizzled when he performed his very first rakugo. I also adored the show’s manner of introducing Sukeroku (the guy who Yotaro imitates last episode) as his antithesis and man, his character is already infectious because of his near blind optimism and his charisma.  It is now beginning to be like Kids on the Slope only if the main characters are matured enough (although I adored that show too to death).  And oh, I am a sucker for shows that look like BL but these are really not.

On the other hand, Erased managed to pull some heartstrings while still being able to lure its audience with its mystery. While still a solid episode all around, it feels like it has to rely on shocks to be good but that’s what many of these shows are about anyway and the pacing is thankfully fast enough to avoid the audience from being bored. The best moments of the episode are the heartwarming ones though. Being able to see some persons in the past after they are killed in the future makes you do things you should have done before but did not. Satoru’s dinner with his mother threatens the viewer to feel a bit teary and his attempts to get close with Kayo are admirable. Well,  I am still baffled with some aspects of this episode like Kenya and Kayo seem unusually perceptive as regards to our main lead’s actions.

PS: If MAL is the indicator, Rakugo’s appeal is now being noticed by the community. Wow. AOTS!

ALMOST THERE

NONE. I hope that the other shows I still yet to see this week are really decent because this is a rather lackluster week for Winter Anime.

JUST DECENT

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I am a real bad cop so why not me? Karasuma-sensei is really hot though.  No homo.

Octopus killing show, Assassination Classroom‘s second episode looks like its season opener and it is also an improvement from the snail paced predecessor. The comedy is still funny with Koro-sensei carrying the show like a boss. If I have a beef in this episode, the game of tag was too abrupt since it is the funniest part of the episode (make no mistake, the giant pudding was also hilarious too) but it went for only 5 freakin’ minutes. I want to see more of Karasuma-sensei’s parkour skills and how these kids bribed Koro-sensei because it was a riot. The last part is really jarring though. I mean, why got so serious in a way that is so sudden that you made Charlotte’s sudden dark episode blush?  Nonetheless, it is kind of relieving to see this show getting back to its form.

Prince of Stride-Alternative still managed to come up with another solid offering but not without some glaring problems. I was not yet convinced that it is an otome VN adaptation until we were thrown the modelling part of this episode which painfully reminded me that it is one of those who caters to the fujoshi market. Not that it hurt the show though. On the plus side, I am getting more Haikyuu vibes between the two leads which intensified when the term trust was thrown while they are running and tagging each other. It reminded us that this show is taking the sports part seriously and I respect that even if it is not a Eureka moment in the episode. However, the exposition was so dull in this episode that I yawned, we had the angsty interior of our genki lead and that underdog trope near the end that were used too many times in the sports genre. I still find the pros outweighing the cons though.

Norn 9 quickly changed gears this week and went Rokka No Yuusha in a span of two episodes. The genre shift became really jarring when it was revealed that someone among them might have a collusion with those so they have to be in pairs to determine the culprit (gulp, otome VN logic!). There are also lots of monologue and cheesy dialogues in this one which remind us that these are really unavoidable in a VN. Moreover, I am really cautious about this show as this episode seemed to cram too much plot points over twenty three minutes. The first part of this episode is good though as our blank slate MC began to show some personality and her (admittedly) terrifying power as their ship was attacked by unknown bishies.  The technical aspect (artwork, music and CGI) still looks good and I am also glad that other main characters were given time to developev en if they are painfully tropes. I just hope it will not add more names in the meantime because a show can only do so much over 12 episodes. Ugh.

PS: Plus points for avoiding the common pitfall of otome shows where our lead cannot choose between these bishies. It’s a straight romance between Koharu and Kakeru! Wow.

I am now starting to think that Hanekawa is the weakest link in the Monogatari series. Last episode was meh even when the mystery itself was quite okay. This time, the characters are okay although the mystery is even lamer (the bouquet of flowers in a rooftop thing). I really didn’t care about the mystery though since it is now clear that Koyomimonogatari will only give glimpses of Araragi’s past that will not contribute to his development as a character. Let’s just watch it for the entertainment, shall we?

Lupin III (2015) also suffered for a bit this week. After a week that could have been a start of a strong plot point, we were reverted to its time tested hijinks that is now only partly amusing at this point. Am I suppose for these nonrecurring characters? Bring Rebecca back! Well, additional minus points for portraying a stupid Zenigata in this episode. Bleh.

EH?

It is a warning sign when shows which were supposed to make you laugh garnered yawns or disgust from the audience. Talk about a weak week for comedy.

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What’s with the Yuri Kuma Arashi aura here? Get out! You. Are. In. The Wrong. Show.

Sadly for Kyoto Animations, their amazing animation techniques were not able to distract the audience on how bad Phantom World this week is. It is already bad (but trashy) when it decides to go full stupid but it is unbearable when it tried to be serious. The first half was terrible even with great action. I do not care about the plot at this point since it will be pretentious and all. I just wish them to proceed with hijinks like what they did last episode.

Dagashi Kashi is marginally better but they should go beyond those candy expositions and pandering of our main female lead Hotaru. Coconuts-kun remains as generic as ever and the jokes between the two are really more misses than hits. There’s this also a weird story about those ring shaped candies that was too Japanese for my taste. I practically chuckled at the second half when the best girl Saya appeared. I still like her the most among the characters for she throws the predictability of the jokes off balance. Remember when she floored Coconuts-kun and Hotaru with the slapping card game? Yeah. I was also laughing that time.

Sekkou Boys suffered the biggest fall for this week as the joke really went that old in a span of an episode! Now that the shock factor is gone, I could only wish that it could reinvent itself for its redemption. Instead of funny, it became awkward. I still chuckled a bit in Miki’s reaction faces though.

I finally managed to stay awake in the whole of Haruchika this week because of the hilarious interaction between Haruto and Chika. I was also thankful that the show didn’t character assassinate Haruto for liking his male teacher. I sincerely want to put this to put in Just Decent but the mystery component is still as meh as ever with some forced emotional confrontation in the end. I also hated how the show literally spoonfed its mystery in front of the audience. Make us think as to how can we decode that mystery and do a proper setup like what Erased is doing at this point.

PS: You know, why not go full Yuri and make Haruchika and that girl a real thing? LOL

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