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First Impressions: Winter 2016 – Part 2

January 10, 2016

winter anime small

Okay moving on – can’t say I’m massive fan of the majority of these, but whatever.

  • Divine Gate
  • Koukaku no Pandora (Pandora in the Crimson Shell)
  • Sekkou Boys
  • GATE S2
  • Oshiete! Galko-chan
  • Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
  • Dagashi Kashi
  • Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation

[HorribleSubs] Divine Gate - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.35_[2016.01.08_22.12.53]

Divine Gate

Well this was much angstier than I was prepared for.  I came here expecting a superpowered, multicoloured romp and ended up with a tale of parental neglect, depression and murder……what?  It is especially confusing given the highly stylised, gamey look of the show and all the superpowered teenagers.  Somehow I doubt Divine Gate will dive further into Aoto’s bleak past beyond maybe bringing his brother back as an antagonist or something, so I’m fully expecting the series to shift gears into a more typical shounen adventure, but this was certainly an attention grabbing opening episode.

I’m not sure if I’ll stick with Divine Gate – I did like the visual style of the show, but there is no real escaping its game roots since it feels all style and not much substance.  I’m going to give it another couple of episodes before I decide.


[HorribleSubs] Koukaku no Pandora - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.19_[2016.01.08_20.44.29]

Koukaku no Pandora (Pandora in the Crimson Shell)

Robot loli’s sticking their hands in crotch-hatches aside, this was a really strange feeling episode.  The style and comedy felt super dated in a strange way, and while that was kind of refreshing it was also all sorts of “not my thing”.  Kokaku no Pandora has all these weird fetishy things going on with the nekomimi, meidos and doll joints, but somehow manages to avoid feeling too skeevy (I’m not entirely sure how it managed that) since it has quite a lot of comedy.  It it a very odd kind of show.  I’m certainly not interested in watching any more myself, but I’m sure it will appeal to some.


[HorribleSubs] Sekkou Boys - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.19_[2016.01.08_22.02.32]

Sekkou Boys

Former art-school student sick of being forced to draw sculptures, joins entertainment agency as a talent manger and ends up stuck with the newest idol unit made up of classical sculptures voiced by some top-class seiyuu.  This short is fecking weird.  And brilliant.  And weird. There isn’t much to it, but I kind of admire how they’ve made inanimate objects so full of character purely from lighting and voice-work.

I’m going to love watching this.


[HorribleSubs] GATE - 13 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.22_[2016.01.08_21.45.42]


Well we start off the new season with an abused bunny girl being raped and it just continues on from there, peppering the episode with manipulative politicking, one-sided firefights and redlight district prostitutes……why did I watch the first season of this show again?

I suppose they wanted to kick the new season off with some more sensational material, but I just found it all very unsavoury and don’t think I’m  really up for watching more of the show if it’s going to continue in this sensational manner.


[HorribleSubs] Oshiete! Galko-chan - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.16_[2016.01.08_21.04.27]

Oshiete! Galko-chan

Well this short didn’t turn out anything like I expected.  Instead of a show about girls with vastly different interests chatting over tea and cake about nothing in particular, instead we get a show about girls with vastly different interests talking about boobs, butts and pubic hair!  Also slut shaming.

Well it was different, but there is no way I’m watching more of it.


[HorribleSubs] Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_44.26_[2016.01.08_23.55.24]

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Well this was by a clear mile the best episode of the new season, and I don’t think anything else will come anywhere near to beating it to that cravat. This was double length episode, which was apparently an edited version of the OVA that came out last year (and never got subtitled), so it does benefit from having more time to introduce the characters and setting.  But even with that advantage the pacing was a bit choppy in this episode since it isn’t really clear how much time is being covered – but that is a very minor criticism of an otherwise wonderful episode.

I was really impressed that they opted to put in an entire rakugo performance, but I’m so pleased they did.  I was concerned that the very subtle art of rakugo performance would go entirely over my head since I don’t understand Japanese, but so much of the storytelling is in the body language and vocal tone of the performer, that it easy to appreciate the skill involved even if some of the nuance of the story is lost in translation.

This series will be a real test of the skill of the seiyuu and animators, but so far they look to be more than up to the challenge – Akira Ishida, Tomokazu Seki and Yuu Kobayashi all turn in stellar performances.  Studio DEEN may not have the best reputation, but they’ve put out such a gorgeous show here – the details in the period backgrounds, the expressive body language and atmospheric lighting all make this show the best looking of the season so far.

I am so excited for the rest of this show, I’m already completely invested in the characters personal drama.  What a stunning opening episode!


[Mori] Dagashi Kashi - 01 [7CD8C64B].mkv_snapshot_11.14_[2016.01.10_12.37.50]

Dagashi Kashi

As far as bog standard romcom’s go Dagashi Kashi is a pretty good example.  It’s got a nice balance of quirky and cute and is good for light viewing and a giggle.  The dad and the sweets obsessed oujo-sama are what really make the show (although I did also get a giggle out of the put-upon MC-kun being called ‘coconuts’).

The show isn’t going to stun you with its animation quality, but it is at least consistent looking (still don’t like the way the eyes are drawn though), and the voice acting is good.  If you’re looking for a decent romcom to fill some time with this season, this is probably your best bet.  I’ll probably not bother with any more of it myself though.


[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.14_[2016.01.10_13.26.45]

Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation

Hello video game advertisement!  They couldn’t even be bothered to set the entire show in the game, instead we just watch the characters attending Sega Branded Highschool play the game themselves…..fascinating.  This episode was just following our perfectly bland MC about as he goes about his daily life being perfectly adequate at everything but not especially talented at anything.  Until he logs into the titular MMORPG though – who would be surprised to learn he’s super talented at gaming!?

This bored me to tears, I can’t see what anyone would get out of watching this show unless you’re already clued into the game it’s selling.  Dropped.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2016 3:24 pm

    “Studio DEEN may not have the best reputation, but they’ve put out such a gorgeous show here – the details in the period backgrounds” And it’s the same director that’s done some of Deen’s best recent work! (Sankarea and that Rozen Maiden show, didn’t watch the second and didn’t care for the first but they both looked great which is a good sign)

    • January 11, 2016 10:50 pm

      I think DEEN get a bit of a raw deal, they can definitely turn out beautiful shows when they want to. Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen definitely looked good, as did Sankarea – I’m sure they can do great things with quality source material like Rakugo Shinjuu. Fingers-crossed!

  2. January 10, 2016 6:39 pm

    Hahahah ya omg Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation and Divine Gate were so damn boring…

    I didn’t give Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu a shot I’ve heard good things so maybe I should try it??

    Koukaku no Pandora, Dagashi Kashi, Oshiete! Galko-chan and Sekkou Boys were fun enough to keep me interested so i’ll watch more!

    • January 11, 2016 4:13 am

      I would second that Rakugo is fantastic. 🙂

    • January 11, 2016 10:51 pm

      You should definitely give Rakugo Shinjuu a chance. It leaves everything else in the dust this season – very high quality show.

  3. January 11, 2016 12:42 am

    I gotta say, I didn’t really go for the art style in Divine Gate. Or rather, most of the art style was okay but those really thick, dark shadows they’re using for hair and the like put me off. I know it’s a relatively small detail, but it just kept distracting me.

    • January 11, 2016 10:53 pm

      I kinda liked the heavy shadowing in the hair – was eyecatching at least. But the whole style doesn’t really fit with the super emo atmosphere of the first episode.

  4. January 11, 2016 4:12 am

    I agree with most of this. Rakugo was amazing and I can’t wait for episode 2. Galko-chan was weird and not what I was expecting, but it is humorous enough that I’ll probably stick with it. I actually love GATE series, even though this episode wasn’t the best. Divine Gate was so weird and I want to call it a trainwreck, but it may get better, I don’t know. Sekkou Boys is entertaining so why not. Dagashi Kashi is meh, but the comedy is nice. And I didn’t watch the other ones. Nice overview!

    • January 11, 2016 10:54 pm

      GATE I’m mostly watching out of fascination. The show is very competently produced with some fun characters, but the politics are utterly repellent……it’s a very strange mixture.

  5. January 12, 2016 10:53 am

    As to what I have seen in this batch:

    Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – This is the best first episode this season by a wide margin (I thought Bokumachi was already very good). I want to buy a Yotaro keychain. Hahaha. He is so adorable.

    Sekkou Boys – Wait. I am still busy laughing how weird this show is and on how effective this short in making me laugh. Ishimoto’s life is gold. That turning point (when she realized that she is going to manage idols) was the deal closer for me. I am literally lolling in my room.

    Dagashi Kashi – This is kinda cute. I didn’t laugh but it has its charms.

    Divine Gate – I am not so sure with this one as it has a pretentious angsty lead but it might get better later.

    • January 16, 2016 4:38 pm

      Second episode of Rakugo Shinjuu confirmed it’s AotS status for me – the acting is just sublime.

      Good thing Sekko Boys is a short – it wouldn’t work in any other format!

      I’m keeping Divine Gate on because the pretentious dialogue makes me laugh & I like the character designs!

      • January 17, 2016 10:40 am

        Yeah. Jokes from Sekkou Boys really went that old in a span of an episode. Sigh. I still buy the reaction faces though.

        Is it opposite day in anime universe? Studio Deen has Rakugo, A-1 has Bokumachi while KyoAni has Phantom World. Ugh. Yes. That rakugo episode also affirmed my opinion that it is an AOTS caliber show. I am starting to become fascinated with Yakumo just two episodes after. I only want to see more of Yotaro. AAAAAAHG. That adorable thing.

  6. January 13, 2016 11:56 am

    I only picked up GATE S2 and Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu out of this lot, both of which were among my favourite first episodes oft he season. Haven’t watched any of the shorts, as the ever-present Teekyuu is enough for me, but I’ll remember Sekkou Boys in case I change my mind

    I agree that GATE’s reintroductory ep was sensational and very dark, but at least it didn’t feel like it was just there for fanservice alone. I like that it doesn’t portray the JSDF/humans in general as ‘heroes’ or ‘villains’, and that the fantasy world isn’t some paradise either. War and politics are ugly, and for me this series captures that.

    Not surprised to hear Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu was an edited OVA, it looked amazing. Hopefully the animation quality will hold up for the rest of the series! I enjoyed the rakugo performance much more than I expected I would, and look forward to learning more about the great characters!

    • January 16, 2016 4:41 pm

      You see I think we’re supposed to think the JSDF are the good guys even when they’re engaging in wholesale slaughter – GATE gives off weird right wing political vibes like that and it makes me simultaneously uncomfortable and fascinated as a result. Second episode didn’t do much to improve on the 1st – I may end up dropping it as a result.

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