First Impressions: Winter 2016 – Part 1
Okay then, the new season is in full swing (and I’m snowed under with new stuff as usual). Everything seems to be airing on Thursday & Friday this season for some reason, but I suppose that at least gives me the weekend to attempt to catch up. I haven’t been super optimistic about this season, but there are a few shows that are appealing to me, so it isn’t a total bust.
Anyway, first up is:
- Prince of Stride: Alternative
- Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru
- Myriad Colours Phantom World (Musaigen no Phantom World)
- Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit
- Norn9: Norn + Nonet
- ERASED: Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (The Town Where Only I Am Missing)
- Ojisan to Marshmallow
- Shoujotachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu (Girls Beyond the Wasteland)
- Assassination Classroom S2
Prince of Stride: Alternative
So our first show out of the blocks is the made up sports series. Basically it’s parkour with more bells and whistles attached to make things more complicated than necessary. I enjoyed this first episode quite a bit, but it wasn’t as well animated as I was expecting from Madhouse – it was still plenty pretty, but I was expecting it to be a lot more flamboyant….it’s also very bleached out looking, but that may be down to the encoding of the file I was watching. Still the series looks attractive enough to keep me happy.
I quite like the characters so far (plenty of shipping opportunities anyway) and the competitive team parkour aspect should provide an interesting backdrop. Hopefully not much time will be spent on training arcs and we’ll move swiftly on to the actual sports part of the show. Keeping on!
Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru
I didn’t much like this at all. Aside from my finding the show pretty unattractive (really not liking the character designs and the backgrounds aren’t up to PA Works usual stellar standards either), the brass band aspect suffers from following on the heels of KyoAni’s amazing Sound!Euphonium.
The characters were alright – the way Chika decided to reinvent herself as this cute girl who plays the flute is pretty spot on for how teenage girls act at that age, and it was amusing to see her struggle to maintain the act (still a shame that girls feel the need to do this to be popular though). Haruta is much more interesting on the whole, especially after his little revelation at the end of the episode. It is refreshing to have a character be so open about what he’s aiming for, but his manipulative actions and smart-alec attitude could be grating.
The mixing of struggling high-school club and light mystery elements should keep the show from getting overly stale, but I’m not really interesting enough to keep Haruchika on. There was just not enough flair to the presentation of this opening episode, which is disappointing. Normally I get a bit more mileage from PA Works shows before I give up, but I’m tapping out early here. Dropped.
Myriad Colours Phantom World (Musaigen no Phantom World)
Well this was terrible. A whole mess of light novel tropes, bad writing and choppy direction…..made for a pretty fun watch though, just because I was slightly in awe of how lacking in finesse the entire thing was. Actually the setting is pretty cool – a world filled with youkai and special powers beautifully realised by KyoAni’s stunning animation work – but all that is undermined by how painfully cut & paste the characters and events were. So many archetypical characters, so many by-the-numbers events, all wrapped up with some incredibly clunky exposition.
Still, even though Phantom World was pretty trashy, it was quite fun and had a decent amount of energy behind it. I liked the quirky powers, and even though the fanservice doesn’t appeal to me, at least it was a bit creative (never forget limbo-boobs). Not my thing though – dropped.
Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit
I wanted to like Active Raid a lot more than I do. It has plenty of things I like (see above screenshot), but this opening episode was missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. It sort of puts me in mind of Tiger & Bunny (probably thanks to the CGI mecha suits), but the cast, while quirky, isn’t quite as immediately likeable as T & B’s was. I especially find the new girl in the unit a bit annoying since she’s so irritable and high strung – hope she improves soon.
As an opening episode this probably wasn’t the best way to introduce the setting – too much technobabble being fired about the place to really be interesting. I did mostly enjoy watching Active Raid though so I’m keeping it on for now. Hopefully next episode will prove to be more accessible.
Norn9: Norn + Nonet
Okay now this impressed me much more than I was expecting. The setting is absolutely beautiful and the music really adds this layer of grand expectation. There is much more going on in the background of this opening episode than I was prepared for – the mystery behind the ship, the odd tension running through the entire cast, the new girl’s isolation induced amnesia – Norn9 clearly has had a lot of thought put into its story and setting. I’m impressed!
On the other hand the characters are a bit cookie-cutter. We’ve seen these archetypes a hundred times before and their typically elaborate VN style designs don’t really help matters. Still for an introductory episode Norn9 ticked a lot of boxes – definitely keeping on for now.
ERASED: Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (The Town Where Only I Am Missing)
Now this was a pretty great premiere, although with the time jump at the end of episode I’d imagine the rest of show will have a slightly different vibe – it will be interesting to see how Satoru copes in his younger-self’s body. The time travel concept is very nicely done here – it isn’t overblown or flashy and Satoru doesn’t really seem to have much control over it so you don’t know when it will kick in.
Bokumachi is petty subtle on the whole which really works well for the feeling of unease running throughout the episode. The animation, acting and direction are all very solid, Satoru may not be the most likeable of protagonists, but at least he is interesting to watch. I like how his isolation bleeds into his manga, the editor pointing out how there isn’t enough of his own personality in his work really highlights that. I’m looking forward to watching more of this.
Ojisan to Marshmallow
Well this was an awkward short. Basically it is a young woman trying to seduce a middle aged man who is much more interested in marshmallows than her. It gets increasingly more uncomfortable to watch as it sort of moves from mild flirting to borderline sexual harassment! Not really sure what the creators are going for with this series, maybe they think this kind of behaviour is cute, but I’m not interested in watching more. Dropped.
Shoujotachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu (Girls Beyond the Wasteland)
I only watched this a couple of hours ago and already can’t really remember much about it. Something about a teenage boy being popular, capable and a decent scriptwriter, and him hanging out with his quirky friends. The there was a rather long and awkward date scene with a girl aspiring to be a bishoujo game creator……..and that’s about it. I was pretty bored throughout to be honest.
I suppose the show is going to be about embracing your passions and striving to realise your creative dreams, but the presentation is so bland that I honestly couldn’t care less. Dropped.
Assassination Classroom S2
So it’s back and this episode was basically just Koro-sensei playing matchmaker and attempting to ship his students…..so that was fun!
Pretty much more of the same for Assassination Classroom, I like the new OP & ED and the animation quality seems to have improved a touch since S1. Definitely looking forward to watching this season.