I’ve been very busy this past week, with 12 hour workdays every single day. I watched 5 of the 10 shows I intended to, so here’s a first part first impressions. There’ll be part 2. I should have more time again from next week, so expect a return to normalcy in the third week.
As I actually wrote something longer for each of these shows, I’ll keep it brief, and link to the lengthier impressions post. As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst).
1) Durarara!!x2 Ten Episode 13 (Durarara!! Season 2 Cour 2 episode 1):
Durarara!! is back! True to the way the first season, and the second one started, we had a sort of quiet episode. “Sort of” is exactly right, because as we saw characters going about their daily lives, it was still full of small paths that criss-cross, and we’ve had some time inside Izaya’s head, narrating his life, in a manner similar to both how we’ve had for Mikado when we first encountered him, and mirroring the girl in the 2nd episode whom Izaya tricked. Izaya is a jerk, he’s a scary villain because he understands people deeply, and uses this knowledge to crush their hopes and dreams. But he’s still great to watch in terms of screen presence. Things are going on in Durarara!!, and although in this episode we supposedly took a break from “the main plot”, there were plenty of signs in the background, true to show’s fashion.
2) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episode 1:
Ushio to Tora isn’t special, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It has silly characters who make fun of one another, it has chibi and super-deformed art, it has hijinks in the midst of serious business, and it has some dark moments, with great stark shots, mixed with underwhelming CGI. What Ushio to Tora has that isn’t summed up by this list of ingredients is the magic ingredient, fun, and it has it exactly because it feels like a shounen battler out of the 90s, making me think of Hunter x Hunter and Ranma 1/2 as well. It’s silly, it’s energetic, and it’s fun. Watch it.
3) Gangsta. Episode 1:
This episode rode in on style, and it was quite stylish. I didn’t like the OP’s style, where the show opened by showing us half-naked prostitutes, drugs, and guns, to drive home how mature it is. The show had more of it, with a prostitute being beaten, crying after having sex in an alley, and lots of people dying by gore. But that’s not what I mean, the show had a very deliberate pacing to it, with shots composed carefully and many film noir overtones, from morally grey characters, to femme fatales, to cool jazzy music. I liked it overall, but the plot and its hints at super-powered badass characters left a bit to be desired. We’ll see. Right now it put me in mind of late 90s/early 00s shows, or western television drama. Overall a promising start.
Full first impressions, more musings on style.
4) Overlord Episode 1:
Overlord’s opening segment, thinking about the value of time spent with friends now that you no longer spend time with them or the game, the nature of self-definition by one’s chosen game, all reminded me of episode 10 of Log Horizon season 2. That’s a good thing. But it might be something that only stays as backdrop, and doesn’t get explored further, because as the episode progressed we’ve had a couple of funny moments where the nature of geeky coders was brought in, but it seems we mostly went in the direction of a Light Novel, some talk of powers and cool fights, and our skeletal overlord being conscientious about how he should be a proper example to his underlings who seem to have gained consciousness, but mostly it seems like a harem is being built. The art and animation aren’t anything special, but extra attention sems to have been given to the women of the show. We’ll have to see where this show goes.
5) Chaos Dragon: Red Dragon War / Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Seneki Episode 1:
This show reminds me of Saekano from the winter season. As I wrote my overview for its first episode I realized the only good thing I could say about it is that it’s not terrible. Chaos Dragon, contrary to what many of my fellow bloggers say is not terrible. There’s nothing offensively bad about it. But it’s also lacking in almost anything good, from unimpressive animation, to extremely busy character models that aren’t always on-models at the technical level, to an extreme amount of info-dumping, presenting “scheming characters” in the background before we have any reason to be aware of them, to cheesy lines.
There are some nice ideas about how one must sacrifice something to gain another, but the way everything is handled, the extremely flat acting by several of the voice actors, and the show outright telling us the characters’ motivations and backgrounds just feels very clumsy. People say episode 2 isn’t any better, so for now consider this show dropped.
Full first impressions, where I talk at more length about the show’s structures and failings in the first episode.
Overall First Impressions of the Season: The sequel I knew I’d love was great. Of these 5 shows, two made me happy, the second being Ushio to Tora, and while I mostly enjoyed Gangsta and Overlord, I’m still undecided about them, and would have to see where they’re going with their atmosphere/direction. So, this season isn’t all bad from my limited sampling thus far, but neither did it rock my socks off. But as 3 of my top 5 expected shows are still unwatched, I think I might be liking this season just fine!
Dear readers, what do you think of the premiers thus far? Anything that surprised you, for better or for worse? Do note Gatchaman Crowds, Rokka no Yuusha, Classroom Crisis, and Snow-White with Red Hair will get covered later in the week, so you might want to discuss them then.