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First Impressions: Winter 2016 – Part 1

January 9, 2016

winter anime small

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 - 01

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 - 01

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.

 

[HorribleSubs] Musaigen no Phantom World - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.48_[2016.01.06_22.34.35]

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.

 

[HorribleSubs] Active Raid - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.29_[2016.01.09_00.09.15]

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.

 

[HorribleSubs] Norn9 - Norn+Nonet - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.09_[2016.01.07_23.00.00]

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.

 

[HorribleSubs] Boku Dake ga Inai Machi - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.06_[2016.01.07_22.36.25]

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.

 

[HorribleSubs] Ojisan to Marshmallow - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.02_[2016.01.07_23.22.12]

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.

 

[HorribleSubs] Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.26_[2016.01.08_22.35.21]

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.

 

[HorribleSubs] Assassination Classroom S2 - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.11_[2016.01.07_21.34.42]

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.

 

10 Comments leave one →
  1. A Day Without Me permalink
    January 9, 2016 5:33 pm

    I ended up deciding to not try Norn9, as I found myself wholly, and weirdly, uninterested, and a lot of folks who’ve written about it said that the heroine was about as exciting as packing peanuts. After Dance with Devils, my standards have gotten a little higher for otome leads! But now it sounds like maybe there’s something worthwhile to it?! You’ll have to let me know how it goes, I might pick it up in a few weeks if it sounds like its decent/enjoyable trash.

    Wasn’t going to watch HaruChika, but then ended up watching it, and, wow, kind of embarrassing how much Haruta reminds me of my teenaged self in some ways! Lot of stuff irritated me in the opening episode, but Haruta’s rather bizarre way of expressing his feelings has persuaded me to watch more.

    • January 10, 2016 12:42 am

      The heroine is pretty bland……actually most of the characters are quite bland, it’s the setting that is the selling point of Norn9 so far. I’ll let you know how it turns out in the next few episodes, would be nice if the characters lived up to their surroundings.

      You’ll have to let me know about Haruchika – Haruta was the only thing I found intriguing in the whole episode.

  2. January 9, 2016 10:22 pm

    Been too busy to sample everything and since I’m not doing first impressions this season, I don’t have much motivation to. Of the ones I did look at…

    Prince of Stride: It looks nice for an otome VN adaptation (at last, I assume that was the game’s original genre given it’s a reverse harem). Nothing else to say besides that.

    Haruchika: I’m going to have to try watching this again at a later date because I tried during a work commute and it bored me so much that I had to turn it off around the five minute mark. It was completely uninspired.

    Phantom World: Like almost all LN adaptations, this might have been alright if the tone wasn’t so freaking light. And we all know that’s never going to change in this show (or at least not in a way that’s believable).

    Active Raid: See Phantom World. Okay, it’s better than Phantom World, but I found the first episode’s execution to be grating. The light-heartedness is toned way too high, it felt like an hour-long premiere that was crammed into 22 minutes, and the show kept switching character focus before I got to know anyone. Also, I think they repeated that mecha-fusing(?) scene you’ve got pictured about three times.

    Erased: This one was alright. Need more episodes to get a firmer opinion.

    Shoujo-tachi: What is up with anime and assuming we know these characters anyways? Aside from the girl who wanted to make a bishoujo game for a very poorly explained reason, Shoujo-tachi basically assumed we already knew the main and his relationships with the others the entire way through.

    • January 10, 2016 12:51 am

      Yeah I believe Prince of Stride was indeed an otome VN – don’t know much about it apart from the fact it only came out last summer.

      The last few minutes of Haruchika were the only properly interesting moments, but it was too little too late for me. I also can’t get over the horrible varnished look of the show – so ugly.

      I like the setting for Phantom World, but that’s about the only positive thing I can really say.

      It was twice for the mecha gattai thing in Active Raid – once for each suit. I wasn’t complaining. I do hope they sort out the choppiness of the show in the next episode though, I really want to like it.

      But we practically do know the cast of Shoujo-tachi already. They’re the same characters that populate every goddamned VN/LN adaptation under the sun!

  3. January 10, 2016 3:12 am

    Haruchika: zzzzzz. *Sees the last five minutes. Oh, I see what you did there. I am mildly disappointed with the artwork here. I was expecting an Eccentric Family type of deviation here PA Works. Ugh.

    Phantom World: It’s like Beyond the Boundary on drugs. I didn’t hate it but… did KyoAni really has to sink that low?

    Active Raid: I expected a super serious sentai show (ala Garo) and I got this. I am not complaining. My expectation was just shattered. Things are happening way too fast and the first eight minutes of this show felt like it’s a VN Adaptation. Plus points for the annoying MC being floored by the Eighth Division. The action looks cool too. And the transformation sequence. Fujoshis, enjoy it.

    Norn9: Now that’s a VN Adaptation. It looks cool and what should’ve been the first episode of Heavy Object. It looks like it has its own pace and it benefited from it. If only the heroine has more personality…

    Prince of Stride: The visuals are too bright! My eyes! My eyes! Well, this is one of the more decent adaptations in this batch. Is this really an Otome adaptation? It felt like a sports anime in my taste (It’s a good thing). I like the characters so far.

    Erased: A-1, you better do good in this one. Please. I am cautiously optimistic in this show. There was the Perfect Insider last season. Please be good as this episode is really enjoyable.

    AssClass2: It looks more of an OVA than a season opener. Not that I am complaining YET more Korosensei is always welcome. It seems like it heard my prayers to ship Karasuma and Bitch-sensei.

    And.. yes, following your footsteps, I decided to start my own blog.

    • January 11, 2016 11:00 pm

      I’m really hung up on how Haruchika looks simply because I’m used to PA Works turning out stunning looking (if very glossy) shows. This just isn’t up the their usual standards…..especially disappointing when you look at the lovely artwork for the original novels. I don’t think I’d be inclined to watch more of the show even if it was prettier though.

      I’m hoping Active Raid settles down in its second episode – opening ep was a bit messy.

      Yeah the Assassination Classroom S2 opener definitely felt like an OVA that should have aired between the seasons. Not complaining though, the show is plenty fun.

      Best of luck with the blog! – it’s definitely a fun thing to do (which is why I’m still here 6yrs later).

      • January 12, 2016 4:42 am

        Thank a lot! It’s been fun so far but.. waaaah, have to write every now and then.

  4. January 11, 2016 4:16 am

    Hahah man you are savage- dropped like half of them! Not going to lie, I will probably drop a number of these as well (Norn9, Active Raid, Divine Gate, ect.)

    • January 11, 2016 11:02 pm

      I’m trying to be ruthless, but I’m actually giving second chances to way more shows than I originally planned……where I’m going to find the time, I don’t know! I imagine a whole raft more will get dropped by next week – I don’t want to be watching more than 20 shows at a time this season.

  5. January 12, 2016 10:28 pm

    Haruchika benefited from airing early – plenty of flaws, but it had more going for it than Phantom World, and was more original than Prince of Stride…there’s only so much one sport anime can vary from another, and I already have Haikyuu!!

    I seem to have enjoyed Active Raid far more than most people (I think it’s the lowest rated on A-P on average out of everything I’ve picked up). I really liked the characters, humour and ‘transformation scene’.😛

    I knew I’d like Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, and it didn’t disappoint. Norn9 was a surprise though, I really liked that (though the characters don’t quite live up to the interesting setting yet).

    The only other thing I’ve definitely picked up, and was always going to pick up, was Ansatsu Kyoushitsu. Though I may yet give Shoujotachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu another chance, I found it mildly entertaining.

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