Spring 2016 – First Impressions

It’s time to delve into another season of these Japanese shows. Am I too late to the party? Well, let’s start!

If Winter 2016 is the season of drama and shorts, we now have a bunch of action shows reminiscent of Fall 2015. However, that does not mean Spring 2016 is teeming with life unfortunately. I picked 12 shows (plus Rainbow Days and Assassination Classroom 2 as Winter carryovers) which are relatively few because my work is not exactly kind this time. It also did not help the fact that my interest kind of waned after reading synopses for the majority of this season’s offerings. Thankfully, I am not detecting anything similar with Plastic Memories that is why I am mostly happy with the way Spring 2016 introduced itself.

GREAT

None for original Spring 2016 shows. Winter 2016 was such a good season that three of its shows (Rakugo for historical drama, Erased for slice of life and Shirayukihime for romance) became my personal gauge for Spring 2016 until this year ends. In this season’s defense, action shows have some real potential but I have a major issue or two in their premise (or their execution) in their first episodes. Hence, none of what I watched so far grabbed me like these three did in their respective premieres. Wait, there’s this Bones show..

1. Concrete Revolutio S2

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Perhaps, one big advantage of this show is its high rewatch value since you will be able to pick new details you missed on your first view. However, it also means that Concrete Revolutio has a highly intricate manner of storytelling (aka disorganized) that turned off viewers last Fall 2015. Do not be discouraged though because its thoughtful way of blurring the boundaries of right and wrong is something we rarely see in post-WW2 anime shows. For this episode, I am actually glad that they reduced the jarring time skips for the sake of explaining things properly as to why Detective Shiba became Jiro’s sort of ally. I also find it amazing that Shiba finally snapped and saw his black-and-white self in that android warrior he sort of devoured. His resolution and Jiro’s sinister circumstance are some things you normally see in mid-arcs of anime series but ConRevo threw it right away from the first episode.

ALMOST THERE

2. My Hero Academia

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Two Bones shows currently dominate my rankings for the first week of Spring 2016 and it is really easy to see why. If Concrete Revolutio is the Japanese incarnate of deconstructing superhero cartoons, My Hero Academia adheres to every trope these kinds of shows employ – only more grounded. I honestly see it as the antithesis of One Punch Man, from its premise to the way our main character thinks. My Hero Academia was a fun ride even if it is abnormally slow for a shounen show. I am ultimately happy with its straightforwardness and the development they gave to Deku’s character. Lastly, thank God for tackling superhero abilities and its source neatly unlike the last season’s Phantom World or Summer 2015’s Charlotte. The main reason why it is just here is its due to side effects of the shounen genre. The comedy is awful, there are far too many characters over a single episode and its take on the underdog trope is nothing new here. Well done and enjoyable? Yes. Anything unique? No.

3. Kiznaiver

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Kiznaiver is the prettiest looking show this season and it is not surprising given Trigger’s track record. Along with the best OP and a rather absurd presentation of its theme, these are enough to be placed high in this list. For once, the level of vibrancy in the artwork complimented the weird cast. As regards to the episode itself, Kacchon is Mikazuki’s incarnate only when he has taken a downer and I think Kiznaiver’s retelling and interpretation of the Seven Deadly Sins is quite amusing. The world they are in right now is interesting but I hope Okada’s eccentricities do not show as much as it did on Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans or in Mayoiga.

DECENT

4. Joker Game

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Man, I was expecting for a Baccano!-type wackiness and I got this serious show instead. I am not complaining though for as long as it executes its mind games well. My main beef with its opening episode is it lacks life in terms of presentation. We got an interesting backdrop (Japan in pre-WW2), an organization reminiscent of Hollywood movies (the spy agency) and a potentially entertaining mission (finding some evidence in a con-man’s house). The result? An episode mostly spent on introducing our characters via barely passable execution. The reason why I am putting this ahead of Sakamoto is due to some of its meaty commentaries on Japan’s status on WW2 and the way these spies cheated over a game of poker. Other than that? Its first episode needs more life. It does not necessarily mean fights but give these characters more vitality – or at least some depth?

5. Sakamoto Desu Ga?

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I must admit that I might not be the proper audience for this kind of show upon reading its preview, yet I decided to give it a try anyway upon knowing that the director of Danshi Kokosei no Nichijou’s will handle this. It was mostly fun, with an emphasis on mostly. It failed to make me laugh in the first half because the level of absurdity did not complement its comedic content which can be critical for some viewers who do not have the patience to sit through an episode. However, I began guffawing when Sakamoto’s classmate pulled a prank by pulling his chair and… bam! The swordfight with that giant hornet is amusing too and his attempts to rescue a bird in the middle of the storm (that became ridiculously absurd) are gold too. My real concern? How long can this show keep up this level of comedy? If there is one thing Dagashi Kashi and Sekkou Boys taught us, that is eccentric jokes really grow old too fast.

6. Kotetsu no Kabaneri

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This is how you instill disturbing atmosphere Mayoiga. Attack on Trains capitalized what its predecessor did and I do not have an idea how they were able to pull the same trick twice while I am still excited. The first episode is mostly spent on world building and introducing Eren 3.0  Ikoma and the last safe haven for humans to stay in that world. Yes, God Eater also did this but Kotetsujou no Kabaneri benefited more because it zings right off the bat without unnecessary introduction to our characters. Just ignore your logic circuits in a while and enjoy a faster paced Attack on Titan (for the better) because you will be screaming “Worst Show Ever” otherwise. Kabaneris (zombies?) are far more terrifying than Titans for their agility and infectious bites. My cons with this show started to pop up when I tried to raise a question in my head and it comes off with many plot holes just right at its premiere. Doing a tourniquet in your neck? A virus that affects your body system in less than 10 seconds? Right, I am watching an anime show so I won’t ask any further.

7. Kagewani S2

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The creepy pasta version of anime has come back and I assure you that it is enjoyable as long as you get past its horrible animation. There was an improvement in that department but was not enough to avoid distraction on your part. On the other hand, the opening told a super hungry monster that ate everyone in the plane (except for these pilots). Horror tropes here are still implemented well that can give you disturbed looks at worst.

8. Flying Witch

This was a very pleasant introduction to the life of Chitanda Eru Makoto as a witch who just entered the age of adulthood. Nothing much happened from this episode aside from the fact that we got some cute snippets about her new life in Northern Japan. I quite like how the concept of witchcraft was seamlessly inserted here in this series (as opposed to medieval fantasy setups) and its usage of relaxing OST. The pacing is quite normal too for slice of life shows. I only hoped that something interesting will happen in the next episodes by exploring the naturalistic world of her profession. For now, this is a competent introduction.

9. Kuma Miko

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This is Yuri Kuma Akasahi if it is filtered to become more family friendly and be less of its overt views. Bestiality jokes aside, this is a fine episode balancing the weirdness of its premise, the cute moments between the bear (Natsu) and Machi and splashes effective comedy in between. I would call it an underachiever but nothing’s offensive here so I have no reasons to lump it in the shows in Eh? Group.

EH?

10. Bungou Stray Dogs

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Wait, is this comedy? Am I supposed to laugh? I admit that I am liking the artwork of Bungou Stray Dogs out of three Bones shows this season the most but its first episode is boilerplate. Stop me if this is beginning to be like Kekkai Sensen. We got a bunch of weirdos having special superpowers and a newcomer in a town becomes one of its members. Then it has an artistic manner of presenting its transitions from one scene to another… I told you to stop me. Yeah, this is Kekkai Sensen without the visual flairs so I am mostly bored with this episode. The comedy is unfunny, the characters are hollow and I am not a fan of Atsushi’s bipolar tendencies ability-wise.

11. Kuromukuro

A part of me was curious upon seeing PA Works doing a mecha show but the CGIs are not something I can call well-integrated with the background. As regards to the artwork, it is prettier than Haruchika but nowhere near Nagi No Asukara. The background music tells me that something is different with this show from their previous works and it’s a good thing. However, the dialogue is plain weird and it distracts me from taking it seriously. It also does not help that our main heroine is someone I see from Kyoto Animations-shtick of romantic comedies. Worse, it is a lifeless episode to be honest full of boring expositions and world-building. It has not done anything grating so I am keeping it for now.

12. Mayoiga

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I screamed Another 2.0 after watching this episode for the good and the bad reasons. The atmosphere of horror is there but the way the director (and the writing staff) handled their characters was nothing short of unintentional comedy. I know they’re trying to project these people as social misfits to go in their utopia but one cannot stop laughing upon hearing their lines. Plus, did anything really happen in that episode aside from lame character introduction (who you might not care about since about 95% of them will die anyway) and the hippopotamus song? None. At least driver-kun recognizes the insanity so he snapped. Oh – that’s another comedy gold in Mayoiga so let us watch this one for the lulz.

13. Ace Attorney

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Let me give you an inspirational quote by yours truly when I watched it for the first time:

“Ace of Attorney is an unintentional comedy. Thanks for giving me a good laugh. Lol.”

@samui26, April 3, 2016

That show is just as insipid as my quote about but I can never hate it in full due to A-1’s intentional way of making this game a full-blown trash. The visuals are awful (Kagewani is much, much better – that’s saying a lot), the court case is ridiculous and Naruhodo is just way too funny (especially those side effects) even if his character is just as interesting as a brick. What’s frustrating? This could be similar to Blast of Tempest’s manner of outwitting your enemies that kept me entertained even if they spent about four episodes doing the same thing. Yet A-1 decided to give it a video gamey feel which backfired big time. In the end, throw away everything you have to find in watching good anime shows because this show has none or simply play the games.

What are your thoughts? Any violent reactions? While these shows (sans Concrete Revolutio) failed to impress me that much, only Ace Attorney is appallingly bad so far. I am fine with Spring 2016 being a breather as long as these shows are decent to very good. We can’t expect something like Rakugo coming every season after all. My fujoshi tendencies want to watch Super Lovers but… man, I am not a fan of glorified pedophilia or sex-assault. Bleh.

PS: I dropped Ace Attorney to give space to Kiznaiver. That show is getting a reasonable buzz in Twitter so… it might be a better alternative to watch.

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