Winter 2017 Anime Season Preview and Expectations

The Winter 2016 anime season begins tomorrow, so it’s high time for me to release this post, eh? I’m still not back to two weeks prior to the season’s release, but at least we got back to getting this out before the season. Hurray to small successes! Real life is going to be very busy for me this month, but that doesn’t mean anime’s going to stop. So let’s find out what we’ve got to look for this season (hint: Very little).

As always, in these posts I cover shows I plan to follow, or have thoughts on why I will not follow them, or considered following and decided not to. As always, I try to strike a balance between giving you enough information on the show, and telling you why I think it is or isn’t worth watching. Shows ordered by day, and by expectation within the day, as that affects pick status. The “Almost In” category describes shows that I’d pick up in prior seasons, but decided to put aside in order to make more time for backlog, after growing unhappy with how many of the shows I pick up ending up “not worth the time”, let alone “good”.
Much space is given to the people involved with a show, as premises are easy, but execution is hard, and it’s people who are in charge of that. You’re likelier to end up with good shows that way.

Most of the information about the shows can be had from the helpful Neregate Chart, and what I’ve happened to see on various sites, such as The Cart Driver or Random Curiosity. Check them out if you want more information, or information on shows I didn’t cover (such as follow-ups to shows I don’t watch).

Sunday:

Little Witch Academia (TV) AnimeLittle Witch Academia (TV) – This is probably the series I’m most excited over since they announced Avatar: the Legend of Korra. For those who don’t know, Little Witch Academia was a truly magical 30 minute short released in 2013, which I loved quite a lot. The second episode, a slightly longer short film, released in 2015, was disappointing to me, not because it was bad, but because it was merely good. Now, this is a full-fledged series, which has more production issues and usually less resources per minute of air-time, but hey, I’ll take it. I’ll take it because at the end of the day there’s little I like more than the sense of wonderment. We’ll get to goof around with Akko and the rest of the gang, and actually see their daily escapades as more than a 2-minute montage. I’m on board.

For those who don’t know, Little Witch Academia is made by Studio Trigger, made by ex-Gainax employees, and although Gainax was mostly known for its action sequences, I’d argue this is studio Trigger’s best work to date. This is Director Yoshinari You’s full-series directorial debut, after directing the two Little Witch Academia shorts, as most of his experience is a Key Animator. Series Composition is handled by Shimada Michiru, who worked on Urusei Yatsura, One Piece, Rurouni Kenshin, Romeo and the Black Brothers, Shugo Chara!, Little Busters, The File of Young Kindaichi Returns, Emily of the New Moon, Gakuen Alice, and The Adventures of Peter Pan. This is actually a very interesting set of works, as what stands about them is that most of them are highly regarded, and quite old. Another thing that stands out about a few of them is that they are adaptations of children novels that border on fairy-tales, which seems like a good fit for this series.
Interest Rating: 3/3. I don’t like most “cute girls being cute” type of slice of life, but the slightly more adventurish sort, or just calming are amongst some of my favourite series to mellow in front of. The first Little Witch Academia was that sort of moment for me, so I hope this series will deliver as well.
Airing Date: January 8th. Preview.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 13 (Finale) – What’s in a Name?

The best place to start would be with the end. When this episode ended, we already knew that the show has been green-lit for another season. And while you could say that the show definitely ended on a cliffhanger, but I actually think if the show had ended here, then it’d have been terribly climactic (yes, you read that right, climactic, not “anti”).

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 13 notes - Yakumo (Kikuhiko/Bon) doesn't remember his name, his identity

Why? Because Bon’s arc has been about giving everything up for the sake of rakugo, and here it is, how he’s not going to leave anything behind him, unlike Shin who gave up on rakugo and will have both his bloodline and his rakugo continue on after him. One could understand why he looks at his beloved younger brother with this soft and rueful smile, that the dead will live on, while the living must die out.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 12 – Pride Goeth Before a Fall

Everyone is only able to say what they really feel on the verge of death, and if they’re willing to say so beforehand, then it means death of some sort is coming – It was the same with Master Yakumo confiding in Bon, or how Bon and Shin made their plans to the future, and Miyokichi bared her heart to Bon, just before they had to part ways. Same here. And man, that final scene, with how it just came to be. I’m really reminded of the movie version of A Single Man, with Colin Firth here. “What does it mean?” I asked myself here as well as there, and the real answer is, “The author wants you to think of a story, a theatre story.”

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 12 - Sukeroku (Shin) on not letting things become dreams

Don’t Let your Dreams be Dreams!

Speaking of which, let’s look at the final scene or two a couple more times, as it has a lot to discuss. First and foremost, it reminds me and addresses the scene in episode 9, where Miyokichi tells Bon that the next time they meet, it’d be in hell. More than anything else, that scene felt like a performance. I spoke of it before, but the way the characters speak and interact with one another often follows the beats of a rakugo performance. Is this because it’s Bon who’s telling the story to Konatsu and Yotaro? I suspect it’s more because this is the mindset the mangaka is in.

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Winter 2016 Anime Overview – Week 11 (Anime Power Ranking)

Still not caught up on Ajin, and I can’t help but eagerly look forward for next season’s crop of exciting new shows (and exciting disappointments!), but we’ve still got Spring season’s last few hanging-on shows to take a look at, so let’s do that.

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) Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 11:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 11 - Sukeroku (Shin) Yakumo tells (Kikuhiko/Bon) you can't do rakugo on your own

The human drama train keeps going on. This means that things are sort of “inevitable”, to a degree. Such as Miyokichi and Shin’s marriage, which was designed to run away from their problems, and run away from Bon, and the Rakugo Association, and being turned down, didn’t turn out well for them. Because no matter where they went, they still took themselves along, and neither of them is a person who can actually handle life on their own, let alone while also taking care for another damaged individual such as themselves. And it probably doesn’t help that both of them might very well suffer from depression, and Shin almost definitely, having lost his reason to live and care – his rakugo, with a partner who maligns it even more.

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Winter 2016 Anime Overview – Weeks 9-10 (Anime Power Ranking)

Have been busy lately, and had been preoccupied by a bunch of stuff (including the massive Spring 2016 Season Preview, check it out!), so this is a tad late, and I haven’t watched the last 3 Ajin episodes, so we’ll cover what I did watch. Can’t wait for the new season to arrive – gotta find some new shows to disappoint me until I’m left with but a handful!

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). Though it might be a bit more “tier”-sorted this time, as I’ve got some ties I don’t want to pick between.

1) Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episodes 9-10:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 9 - Miyokichi tells Yakumo (Kikuhiko/Bon) she'll haunt him

This show is good. Watch it. It’s a tragedy, where people pay for their past sins, and they pay for the past sins of their forebears. They pay for their hubris, for the goals they set out to achieve, and for being unable to put themselves in others positions. This is a story about hopes and dreams and people falling out even as they wish they could still cling to one another. It has beautiful set-pieces, and the visual design remains exquisite even as the models drop off-model with increasing frequency (but thankfully it’s not so common as to be actively detrimental to my enjoyment of the show and its visuals). There’s a lot to unpack here, from symbolism in word and deed, to symbolism in the visuals the show employs, to just how theatre-like the characters are in their off-stage interactions, where they act as if they’re symbolic manifestations to one another. Then again, in some ways they are.

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Winter 2016 Anime Overview – Week 8 (Anime Power Ranking)

I’ve barely got any shows to bring up this time around, as I’ve dropped most, and Ajin didn’t get the subs I’m waiting for yet this week. I guess I’ll cheat a bit, and even though the main focus would be week 7’s episodes, I’ll throw a few words about last week’s episodes as well, where relevant.

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). Though it might be a bit more “tier”-sorted this time, as I’ve got some ties I don’t want to pick between.

Tied 1) Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 8:

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 8 - Hinazuki Kayo hands Funjinoma Satoru his birthday gloves

This episode was so cute, and comfortable, and sweet. Since the best word to describe this show is “fraught”, seeing how there’s a sense of fighting against the inevitability of Kayo and Satoru’s mothers’ fates, this sweet respite from cliffhangers and tension only promises what is to come will hit us even harder. It feels as if the show had allowed us to catch our breath, a risky business in a fast-paced thriller, but it’s only done so so we could scream from now on until the series concludes.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 8 – Masks and Mirroring.

How could this episode have only been 21 minutes long (sans OP/ED)? It felt as if I’ve watched 4-5 episodes’ worth of material, with how much was covered, as the episode was split into several segments, each mirroring with other parts of the show, and the characters kept reflecting and contrasting, swirling by one another as the episode kept weaving about them, and as the story wove about us. So let’s get to it, bit by bit. Though it might get messy at times, because you can’t speak of one without the other, of the future without the past, can you now?

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 8 - Yakumo (Kikuhiko/Bon) tells Sukeroku (Shin) he wants to be alone

The episode opens with what this show is best at, setting up a feeling of a time and place. It’s a beautiful sunny day. A great day to spend outdoors. Bon doesn’t like the sun much, so it might be all fine and good for him to spend the day indoors, with his rakugo, but for all those other people? That’s quite a sacrifice, spending this lovely day, watching him. Watching his rakugo. A nice day for a social outing. A nice day for some culture.

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