Winter 2016 Season – Week 3 in Anime (Part 1)

Basically me after watching this week’s Shouwa Rakugo. To hell with these manly tears!

The third week of anime showing this winter finally draws the boundary between shows which might end up as classics, shows which are only good for one runs and shows which do not leave impressions at all. Looking back, gems like Concrete Revolutio and Starmyu are just warming up at that episode count then so it is too early to tell which will sneak at my top ten this year but at this point, it’s a lock between two shows which both capitalize flashback as a major component of their plot. For other shows? I am relieved that this week boasts a better line up than the last one.

GREAT

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Basically me after finishing this week’s Rakugo. Why did you cut all these onions here?!

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is seriously becoming the first anime to be on my shortlist as one of the best this year and it feels like the second coming of the Kids on the Slope (my banner photo if you have no idea what is that show is about, watch it! Quick!). It also marks the second fastest time to reduce me in a bawling mess during the 19-minute mark (Usagi Drop’s an onion ninja because it only took me ten minutes, what a sad and heartwarming scene). What makes Rakugo as the sore standout this season is its ability to tell a complete story over an episode and its ability to lure its audience to the world of rakugo even if most do not have an idea what the heck that manner of storytelling is.

To the episode itself, I was left astounded by its marvelous storytelling while richly developing our characters (which just proves Yakumo is one heck of a complex lead). This time, it used the declining popularity of rakugo during the Second World War in a delicate manner as its backdrop and how it affected our characters’ lives then. I also adored its brutal honesty of stating rakugo is not exactly the most luxurious profession so Shin-chan and Yakumo are practically poor even if they are working themselves to the limits. That pinky promise scene, when Yakumo went back to Tokyo and his subsequent reunion with Shin-chan are instantly burned in the top of my mind as I rewatched this episode about three times more and these still have the same effect. Talk about some potent drama here. My only major beef is the opening sequence which looks like a powerpoint presentation given the budget this show has.

Unfortunately, it has only 24 minutes of airtime so I will have to wait for another week to see its greatness. Moreover, I don’t want to write this post with Rakugo taking over ½ of its content so I’ll turn off my fanboyism and focus on the next gem this season.

Then Erased remains in a top condition for the third week in a row and I am now relieved that this is a proper mystery show especially if it’s from A-1 Pictures (cough botched adaptation of Perfect Insider). It managed to be heartwarming, haunting and chilling while Satoru remains vigilant as to how and why Kayo disappeared then subsequently killed. I love the direction of this episode, from the cinematic feel of this show to the amazing soundtrack. The plot is moving in a nice direction too. We already know that Kayo is abused at home but that cold portrayal sends chills as to how she was treated basically like a punching bag in their house….

… which makes the Christmas Tree scene a very poignant one in this episode.

As regards to the mystery component, Erased still relies on shock (welp! Kayo and Satoru have the same birthday! The last seconds of this episode!) to be great but at least it is providing some very nice backdrops to the mystery component which leave us in the edge of our seats during its run. We are given snippets of Yuki and his reunion with Satoru which leaves heartwarming at first but also holds a substantial ground for the latter in ruling out the former as the culprit and the ice skate scene which made Satoru realize that he has to change things as he basically did that thing exactly eighteen years ago.

In all honesty, Erased is superior to Shouwa Rakugo in many aspects (visuals, soundtrack and the grandiose premise) but the latter has some excellently written characters which I think is Erased’s biggest weakness so far. Wait.. why? This is an excellent episode all around… except when you see its last image. Ugh.

I have a doubt as how eleven year olds can act like Kenya and his subsequent involvement to the story. This might be nitpicking but hey, this episode also presented a bunch of his classmates acting like eleven years old so I have a basis for my complaint.

ALMOST THERE

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Err.. I also have to ask why this is happening to Gundam: IBO. Just go to Earth already!

Mobile Gundam Suit: Iron Blooded Orphans is still on the verge of being great but just cannot pull it off mainly thanks of the directional choice of having this Fumitan-Kudelia flashback this week. You better develop Kudelia next week and not reduce her to a damsel all over and over again. Just when I am thinking this series would start showing hell and hitting the speed button, we are back to another set up episode that is still miles better than the most of the offerings this season. Too bad, I am starting to think that the plot point is starting to merge then… yeah, it’s a bit frustrating and makes me want to ask the importance of Akihiro’s subplot in the middle of the first cour. I appreciate the fact that the story has gotten this big but… bring back the focus to Orga’s group! You are forgetting to develop the main leads! Darn it.

PS: Plus points for trying to make some changes in the much awaited death scene of Fumitan. While I am not emotionally affected by that event, I think it is a smart move to tone done the drama that moment and let Kudelia drown in denial while she’s under Fumitan’s dead body.

JUST DECENT

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Thankfully, a bland KyoAni episode this week. I am happy.

Phantom World is thankfully getting some steam this week by toning down a bit but for the sacrifice of doing a lot of expositions albeit with some strong visuals. The first half reminded me of an average KyoAni show (I mean, average in Kyoto Animations is 60% than all other animes! Fanboy mode.) and it threatened to be at least in the line of the second Chuuni season with a tinge of Yuri. Let us now ship Mai and Rena. LOL.  The memory transfer thing feels an afterthought though. Talk about fanservice. It still too contrived when you turn your brains on but it managed to make me laugh when it does comedy.

Seems like my love affair with Sekkou Boys is now over but this episode was also a blast! While I still yet to see the ridiculousness of the first offering, this one is not a bad offering with Medici taking the lead as the best boy in this show. I also like how our voice actors are literally trolling and it complemented the wacky nature of this series. No. You’re still far from being an almost there show but you improved!

Now that there are no amazing action fights in Bubuki Buranki, we are left  with characters which are either too loud, too angsty, too moe or just plain irritating. What is worse is our MC-kun has the personality of a rag but well, I am relieved that this is a reprieve from our nonstop but without-some-background action scenes. For now, I am glad that we’re given some explanations behind the first two episodes so it is an improvement in terms of plot progression. You know, why not just fly towards the Buranki’s nest?

EH?

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This anime is about sports. Darn it.

Prince of Stride is never the best anime this season or a stunning dark horse but this episode is nothing short of puzzling at this offering. I know this is an otome adaptation but it feels weird when Madhouse is dead serious on adapting both of these aspects. What’s worse if the characters do not feel developed as they should be and the main heroine is now relegated to the sidelines. Ugh. Also, before you add characters, develop the main leads first! Or at least develop dialogues which are not dry or have those which borders on Divine Gate levels of ridiculousness… ugh. On the positive side, it never feels synthetic and borrows Haikyuu’s sincerity to save the day.

I know I said that Assassination Classroom’s last episode felt jarring because of the mood whiplash but this time, its wholly grounded nature is at its blandest. We all get it Koro-sensei is cool, Irona is the angsty side character and Shiro is our stereotypical villain who uses his subordinates as pawns. It reminded me of the last two episodes last season where it everything became so serious I stopped caring at all. So what saved this episode from being the worst this week? The comedy towards the end of this episode and Terasaka’s moment which is kinda putting me some “awwwws” because it is quite good. Please focus on your strength AssClass Season 2.

Six minutes in and I am already bored with Dagashi Kashi’s latest offering. AssClass 2 and this have achieved the same level of “Eh?” this week but this one has the opposite problem: The comedy is not working in this show and I am sure this is  not just because of the Japanese-centric but because I have seen those scenes a lot of times and are done a lot better.

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