Well, this was supposed to go out Wednesday, of last week, but I’ve been busy with all sorts of things. I usually split these mid-season posts into “Great”, “Good”, etc., but since things aren’t really looking hot in that aspect, I’m just listing them by how much I like them. Anyway, if you’re thinking of what to pick up at this point into the season, and I hold 5-6 episodes in is exactly when you know whether a show’s worth picking up, welcome to my corner, where my Good Taste Opinions™ will be dispensed.
Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora:
Man, this show sure is delivering. Ushio is cool, Tora is becoming more dere and less tsun, and together they kick ass. We’re seeing some elements of old-fashioned machismo, but even if the way the girls had been grouped was a bit eh, and the delivery at the end ran a tad too long, it was not only fun, it was emotionally touching, and this show really knows how to deliver emotionally touching moments, though mostly by pressing pretty hard on the tear-ducts, but the last couple of episodes had delivered slow and long-awaited pay-off. I’m enjoying this episode every week.
Episodes Watched: 20/26.
Current Rating: A-. Still not “special”, but a lot of fun, and emotional. This is what I’m looking for out of my shounonsense, though better animation would’ve been nice too.
Concrete Revolutio: A Superhuman Fantasy / Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou:
This show is like my third top show of 2014, Samurai Flamenco, in that it is often ambitious, but in all sorts of ways it’s a flawed mess. It is even more like my third top show of 2013, Gatchaman Crowds, in that it is a show that is not character or story-driven, but instead is theme-driven, and also in that it i a show that is very interested in exploring not merely social, but sociological issues, of discussing right and wrong, free will, and the lies we tell one another, of the nature of black and white. But rather than merely using these concepts to drive forth and explain the conflict in the show, here it is brought up and the conflicts are used to further explore these concepts and questions, and even the answers given are more to raise the issue than give a definitive answer.
The show is considerably less interested in elaborating and portraying its characters, which causes some issues in terms of connection, and also, even though the story keeps hovering around and driving towards an impactful divide within the story, it doesn’t feel as if the story is all that important to the story. It’s very much a different experience, which is not always the best it could be in terms of construction, but I for one find it intensely interesting and rewarding, and the emotional resonance is found from the characters that are very much struggling with these all-too-human questions.
I do suggest watching up to episode 3, which is more indicative of the show as it is later on, and if you don’t like it, you don’t like it.
Episodes Watched: 7/13.
Current Rating: A-. Flawed, interesting, and interested in its themes and concepts, which revolve around social issues, more than its characters or stories. It speaks to me though.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans:
This is a Sunrise Mecha show. I spoke before it aired on what sort of content I expect from it, the morally grey, the children versus adults, that we will see people on both sides, and both sides will be painted as understandable humans, and that both sides will also not really be “heroic”, and thus far Iron-Blooded Orphans had delivered on all of these. Seeing that these shows are so similar in so many aspects, it all comes down to execution.
And Iron-Blooded Orphans is well-executed. It’s a good show, which elaborates its characters well, and usually doesn’t hammer at us too hard with its messages of how the children are mistreated and how the world is unfair (though there are some moments it shouts at us still there), but mostly lets it appear more organically. The characters are mostly fine and understandable, though one of the mains, Mikazuki, still leaves some stuff to be desired.
The “problem” with the show is that aside from setting up all the Sunrise Mecha Themes™ discussed above it hasn’t actually done much. It’s a very solid show, but it doesn’t excite me. It doesn’t really do anything yet with it that is different than all these other shows, and it can still end up falling flat on its face, but with the show being 25 episodes long, I’m also not too worried about the speed in which it is moving thus far.
Also, the show looks pretty bad, with things appearing off-model more often than not. Unfortunate.
Episodes Watched: 6/25.
Current Rating: B++ to A–. This show is doing a lot of stuff right, but it’s not exciting me yet, we’re still in setup land. I’d say it’s the best show this season when looking at things in terms of standard quality, though.
Utawarerumono: The False Faces / Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen (Season 2):
The original Utawarerumono (“The One Being Sung”) came out in 2006, though this is set in the same world, people said it could be watched without knowledge of the previous season, so I decided to give it a shot. The background music is grating, as befits a Visual Novel (Strategy-RPG) adaptation, the sound effects are good, and the acting is solid. The art’s fine, and the show has plenty of cool faces. The action we’ve had thus far wasn’t impressive or memorable, and the OP (opening song) alongside episode 3 in particular paint this very much as a harem, with all sorts of girls being introduced, an effeminate man who wants our main character and is being made into a joke, etc.
It’s a pretty cute show mostly carried over by Kuon’s cute faces at this point, but I’ll watch a few more episodes to see where they’re going with it.
Episodes Watched: 3/25.
Current Rating: B. Cute, haremish, don’t really know where they’re going with it yet. Funny faces seem to be the main attraction at this point. And a cute cat-girl. A very cute cat-girl.
One Punch Man:
One Punch Man is two shows. One is an action show, with vibrant colours and explosions, dynamic shots and poses, and everything I’d want my shounonsense shows to look like in my wildest dreams. Then there is the other show, which is a comedy, with one joke, which had gotten stale in the 2nd episode, and not only that, it’s dragged out for minutes at a time. Sadly, it seems the comedy half is the important part of the show, for the show, judging by how much time each gets. So while there’s what to like in this show, I also sigh at the way it drags its time, and wish that we got more Genos time. Saitama rarely gets to be cool either, but rather, the people he’s fighting with or against get to be cool, until he steps in and stops them.
I like this show when it’s giving me what I want, but it gives me too much of what I don’t care for. But those moments are still tolerable enough for the action sequences.
Episodes Watched: 7/12.
Current Rating: B- or C+. If you like action combined with stale anime humor (and most anime watchers seem to), then this show is likely A+ for you. This show has moments that really work for me, and those I just wait for it to end.
Beautiful Bones – Sakurako’s Investigation / Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru:
Why am I watching this show? This is not a rhetorical question, seeing as when I tried to pick shows to watch this year, I tried to aim shows that are “worthwhile”, that would be worth checking out in several years when people look back to watch shows from this year, not just the “must-watch”, but those who left some impact. This show doesn’t really leave all that much of an impact on me, and I doubt I’ll even remember much of it a month after it ends. But somehow I enjoy the experience, or bits and pieces of it. I enjoy some of Shoutarou and Sakurako’s interactions, even as it is tropey and makes me roll my eyes at how LN-protagonists they both are. I like Sakurako’s faces, even if they’re usually there to denigrate those around her, who are depicted as incredibly dumb, just so she’d appear smart. The way characters and the police are treated in this show are so bad, just so our protagonist could appear intelligent as it solves mysteries in seconds.
If the mysteries are meant to be the focus of the show, then they are very poorly done and them being solved in a minute out of nowhere does the show no favours, but if the mystery is only there to serve as a vehicle as we learn more of the characters and get to spend more time with them, then it’s not doing enough with this time, repeating single notes (such as Shoutarou glaring at Sakurako’s body) too many times, or wasting 10 minutes on explaining every single minutiae of a non-mystery’s solution, and well, the characters, while somewhat having good chemistry with one another, aren’t actually good characters.
I shouldn’t watch this show, and I might give up, because it frustrates me with what it does, or doesn’t do, but I do actually enjoy it when it doesn’t, even if I’m not sure why – its characters are just characters enough, and their chemistry is just enough. Maybe I just like Sakurako’s character as an archetype, looks and personality. Maybe.
Episodes Watched: 6/12.
Current Rating: C+ or B–. This isn’t a good show, but it’s doing just enough that I enjoy it, sometimes, in some ways. I should probably spend my time better.
Shorts, especially the more story-driven ones tend to be, well, not good. The show is going for mostly episodic content that has some minor follow-up between episodes and hints at what is to come, in a manner that reminds me of the first half of Fringe’s first season, but I worry whether they’ll have time to actually let the plot play out. Then again, with such a short show, maybe it’s best to go for episodic atmospheric horror, and somehow, the show nabs the atmosphere horror – the music is really well done and enhances the mood, which is always important with horror.
Still, there’s not much here beyond atmosphere, but what can you expect from such a show?
Episodes Watched: 6/13.
Current Rating: C+. Surprisingly non-terrible. It’s not actually a “filling meal”, but it’s ok.
Lupin III (2015):
Only watched one episode, but it was fine, it was good even, except I don’t care that much for episodic content. However, there are no proper English subtitles for this, but the Italian translated and localized version had been translated again to English. I think I’d pass until it’s fixed, and I can always get my fix with prior seasons I haven’t watched, or better yet, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which is likely to be more my taste, with its continuous storyline.
Episodes Watched: 1/24.
Current Rating: B+. Solid episodic Lupin with twice-translated localized subtitles.
Osomatsu-san has many good actors, and each of the characters is quite an archetype which is easy to follow and fills a purpose, and you don’t feel any of them are superfluous. I even find quite a few of the jokes funny, whether they rely on ironic repetition, outright jokes, or physical gags. But I also find a number of jokes unfunny, but that’s to be expected. The thing killing the show for me is that after every single joke, the show basically stops and goes, “Aren’t we funny? Aren’t we hilarious and oh o abusrd?!” and that just kills everything for me, even when it’s otherwise working out.
It’s a fine comedy, better constructed than most anime comedies, certainly better written with less reliance on gags and jokes I’ve seen dozens of times before, but it’s not really for me. I still appreciate what it does. It feels more similar to Monty Python than to most anime, but I could also see it being more similar to Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei within the realm of anime.
Episodes Watched: 2/12.
Current Rating: B. For those who like this sort of humor, then I recommend this show. It’s just a case of “not for me,” and that’s fine.
Subete ga F ni Naru / Everything Becomes F: The Perfect Insider:
I really wanted to like this show, and gave it several chances. I just… can’t. Professor Saikawa is a tool, he’s full of himself, he keeps spouting bad and simplistic philosophy, and he idolizes everything Shiki does or is not because it’s good, but because she’s the one who’s done it. That’s fine, shows can have annoying characters, but when said character speaks roughly 60% of the show’s lines and appears in 80% of the scenes, it’s not the same. Yes, Moe calls him out on it, and the show sometimes mocks him, but the show is still going out of its way to show us how he’s smart, how solving the situation is up to him. It doesn’t help he’s not well-acted. Boringly so. Even if that’s the design, it doesn’t lead to an enjoyable experience, and again, he sucks the interest out of every scene he’s in, and he’s in most of them.
And then we have Moe, who could be a good character, but is also annoying, by design, like a little spoiled sister could be. She manipulates those around here and could do more, but most of what she does is interact with Saikawa, who, as mentioned above, sucks the interest out of any interaction. Her other role is to be mirrored by Magata Shiki, the show’s highly romanticized eccentric killer, who is suffering from a very inaccurate case of Dissociative Personality Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder), and of course, an extreme case of romanticizing a Lolita situation.
It doesn’t help that the people in the lab act in ways that don’t seem real, that resonate false, such as the Director’s wife after he’s been killed, or that everyone reacts, well, stupidly. Saikawa doesn’t appear smart at all, but he’s painted as exceedingly smart, so the author just wrote all the other characters stupid. And they’re badly acted, and their faces either show no emotions or only extreme cases of emotion.
I wanted to like this show, but it’s a pretty cold mess.
The lighting is good though.
Episodes Watched: 5/11.
Rating: 5.5/10. Came in hoping for much, didn’t have fun, and realized it’s unlikely to be “Not fun but good” either.
Garo Season 2: Guren no Tsuki / Garo: Crimson Moon:
This episode just bored me. If I hear really good things about the show I might reconsider. It didn’t help the show didn’t look good nor that the acting, especially of the child character, grated on me. But I haven’t really heard much of the series, and what I did wasn’t inspiring.
Episodes Watched: 1/24.
Rating: C. Not actively bad, just didn’t grab me at all.
A short that wasn’t fun or interesting, just didn’t care to keep watching, not a lot to say.
Episodes Watched: 1/3
Imagine your regular not very good Light Novel shounonsense anime adaptation, now make the fanservice even less fitting and more distracting within the context of the show, erase any moral quandary that might arise, double the awkwardness of the info-dumps, and remove any sense of in-universe coherence. This show isn’t really fun, the characters are sometimes fun, but always dumb. The action isn’t awesome, the villains are ridiculously over-the-top in a way that removes any question of them and just makes one groan… you could do better than this show with literally a couple dozen shows of its ilk coming out every single year.
Episodes Watched: 3/24.
Rating: 3/10. Only if you somehow ran out of everything to watch, or are super entertained by simplistic boobs and even more simplified morality. I couldn’t find it once on MAL because I accidentally searched for “Horrible Object” instead of “Heavy Object”.
Overall thoughts on the season:
Remember when we all despaired of last season, the Summer one, at least before it aired? But it had good sequels (Durarara!! and Gatchaman Crowds), and it had a show that might not have been great but which I enjoyed a whole lot and smiled after each and every episode (Akagami no Shirayuki-Hime / Snow White with the Red Hair), and a show that came out of nowhere and surprised me with how much I liked it and how good I thought it were (Gakkou Gurashi / School Live). There was even one action-moe show that had issues and troubling subtext but which I enjoyed (Gate).
This season is much worse. There’s a single show I enjoy unreservedly, which also aired back then, and another show that I think highly of and usually enjoy, or well, find interesting, and one more show I find good, even if not all that interesting. And that’s about it. I’m not left with a whole lot of shows, but even from the ones I’m watching, apart from the top 3, are of dubious quality, and provide me middling amounts of entertainment.
This season is weak. It’s not terrible, but… man, it’s really weak. I should be catching up on shows, and during October I’ve done that quite a bit, but it slowed down this month. Time to pick up the pace again.
Today’s question should be obvious: With the anime midseason upon us, how do you feel about this season as a whole?