Spring 2016 Anime Season Week 2 – Even More First Impressions (Anime Power Ranking)

The second week of a season is where I expect to mostly cover second episodes, but not this time! We’ve had many more premieres this week than shows airing their second episodes, and as such, we’re still in premiere-coverage mode! A short to medium write-up on each, with links to full first-impressions for most. At the bottom of the post I also order all the premieres of the season by how much I liked them, alongside helpful links.

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). I’m also going to give each premiere a couple of scores, “Premiere Score” for how well it did its job as a premiere (introducing characters, establishing situation, providing a “hook”), and “Episode Score”, for how well it worked as a regular episode. “Enjoyment Score” should be obvious.

1) Ushio to Tora Episode 28:

Ushio to Tora anime episode 28 - Crying Inoue Mayuko

Ushio to Tora’s last episode was sad. Really sad. It had shown us the cast, working their way through their issues, only to be torn apart and for a character to feel lonely, for a relationship to be torn asunder. This episode was worse. Much worse. By which I mean, it was so very good at being painful. It had evoked the show’s most heart-rending moment to date (Jie Mei and Giryou’s role in crafting the Beast Spear in episode 20), while making sure its cast is given agency. No matter what, someone had to sacrifice themselves, because they could not live with the knowledge the other one died for their sake. A selfishly unselfish decision. A save in the nick of time, and our heroes, well, also sacrificing themselves. This episode was a string of heavy moments, of the youkai crying as they look on at another’s sacrifice for their sake, for their desperation. The show did have a moment or two of levity, but it didn’t feel as if it robbed the other moments of their effect, but as if the show were giving us a moment to catch our breath, so we could keep on going.

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Spring 2016 Anime Season Week 1 – First Impressions (Anime Power Ranking)

Another season, another slew of premieres! A short to medium write-up on each, with links to full first-impressions for most.

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). I’m also going to give each premiere a couple of scores, “Premiere Score” for how well it did its job as a premiere (introducing characters, establishing situation, providing a “hook”), and “Episode Score”, for how well it worked as a regular episode. “Enjoyment Score” should be obvious.

1) Ushio to Tora Episode 27 (2nd Season Episode 1):

Ushio to Tora anime episode 27 - Crying Aotsuki Ushio hugs Tora

I missed you too, buddies.

The gang is back! I actually found myself surprised as this episode started because it felt as if we’re going back to the episodic structure of the show’s start or the first season’s last few episodes, and it’s not like this show has much time to waste. But worry not, the show quickly moved from establishing normality to shattering it in a manner that made me tear up, because I care for all the dorks in this show. Stakes raised, action, emotions. Everything that made me care so much for Ushio to Tora is here. Silly faces too, I’m glad to report.

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Winter 2016 Anime Midseason Overview

Mid-season of the anime season of Winter 2016 is upon us, so time to round up how I feel about the shows I’m current on, or decided to put on hold. A round-up telling you what I think is worthy of your time, or not, and where it’s at. This season I managed to not only pick up less shows than usual, but quickly drop what is “averagish”, so let’s see how it panned out.

Tiers are in-order of enjoyment/evaluation. Within each tier the order is alphabetical.

Great:

ERASED / Boku dake ga Inai Machi:

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 3 - Fujinuma Satorou and Hinazuki Kayo under the Christmas Tree

BokuMachi is a rare thriller that fires on all cylinders and keeps you engaged non-stop. Even when you’re not worried about the impending doom that you know is coming in a way only a time travel thriller can create, you are drawn into the intimate mindset as we follow protagonist Fujinoma Satoru, both as a failed manga author who cannot proceed with his life, and as he returns to his life as a 10 year old boy. The directorial work in this show is really good, and the show is peppered with artistic shots, shots that heighten tension for the most part, but also ones that just look great as Satoru spends time in his old haunts, and the feeling of watching an old movie is invoked, an old movie that one then stars in.

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Winter 2016 Week 1 – First Impressions

Well, the new season is here, and I’ve watched a bunch of premieres. It’s time to tell you what I thought of each of them. 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). I’m also going to give each premiere a couple of scores, “Premiere Score” for how well it did its job as a premiere (introducing characters, establishing situation, providing a “hook”), and “Episode Score”, for how well it worked as a regular episode. “Enjoyment Score” should be obvious.

1) Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 1:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 1 overview - Yotaro's toothy smile in the performance

Anime humor usually fails for me. Japanese humor routines also usually leave me cold. I also don’t hold any particular interest for Japanese culture over other cultures (but I do find most cultures interesting), so while I had high hopes for this show, aimed at adults and directed by a director I appreciate, I really wasn’t expecting to also be interested in its cultural content, the Rakugo performance. Imagine my surprise and delight when the highlight of this double-length premiere was a 10 minute long Rakugo sequence, where I sat through the final 7 minutes with a smile on my face, and chuckled and laughed a number of times through the final 3.

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Fall 2015 Anime Midseason Overview

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:

Ushio to Tora anime episode 20 - Crying Aotsuki Ushio

The last arc really delivered on the tears.

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.

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Fall 2015 First Impressions

Well, the new season is here, and I’ve watched a bunch of premieres. It’s time to tell you what I thought of each of them, as well as the lone Summer holdover, Ushio and Tora. As I actually wrote something longer for each of these shows (aside from the shorts), 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). I’m also going to give each premiere a couple of scores, “Premiere Score” for how well it did its job as a premiere, and “Episode Score”, for how well it worked as a regular episode.

1) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episode 14:

Ushio to Tora anime episode 14 overview - Tora isn't bored when he's with Aotsuki Ushio

It might be because I already know what to expect from this show, and that it’s meeting my expectations, but I think a large part of it is that from the very beginning, this show knew what it wants to be, and was never shy about it. Regardless of the reason, this is the episode that I enjoyed the most this past week, and fittingly enough, it’s the only carry-over from the Summer season.

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Summer 2015 First Impressions (Part 1)

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!! X2 Ten episode 13 anime overview - Orihara Izaya sees the darkness

Durarara!! is back, rejoice!

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.

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