Winter 2016 Anime Season Preview and Expectations

Two weeks before Winter 2016 begins, which is a bit early for me, but it’s time to look towards the new season, and put behind us a season where there was very little of interest, and even then, several of shows I found to be of interest failed me as the season went on. This Winter is going to have 19 fewer newly airing shows than this past Fall season, so will it be our salvation? Read on to find out!

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. Since neither The Cart Driver nor Random Curiosity have their posts up yet, and since I was much more thorough with my research this time around, this is the most comprehensive overview of the upcoming season online right now. Have fun!

Sunday:

Dimension W animeDimension W – Poor Director Kamei Kanta, after directing Usagi Drop he went on to direct OreShura, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, and Saekano, the last of which I really hated. But even as I hated it, it was very well-directed, just directed on all the things I didn’t care for. Now though, he is joined by Suga Shoutarou, Series Composer for OreGairu (both seasons), Uchouten Kazoku, The Seven Deadly Sins, and Isshuukan Friends. I’d be willing to watch most stuff those two cook up together, but a gritty action-filled criminal-hunting, with some deeper musings on the side? Sign me right up. The lead reminds me of a cross between Lupin and Samurai Champloo’s Mugen. This show could be fun, and this show could be great. It might even be both.

The mangaka, Iwahara Yuji, wrote King of Thorn, as well. Promising.
Interest Rating: 2.5/3. I just hope “cyborg ally, might actually discuss deeper issues,” won’t turn into another Plastic Memories, or Tokyo ESP, that just flopped. But there are good people here.
Airing Date: January 10th. Preview.

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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 Anime Overview – Weeks 4-5 (Anime Power Ranking)

Last week I was busy. Thankfully, most episodes seem to have gone on in a manner that made talking about two episodes at once easier. Since I’m going to be very busy next week, the mid-season post will likely only appear next Friday.

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). It’s a bit less organized this time around, because it’s averaging two episodes’ worth of content, and not in any scientific manner.

1) Concrete Revolutio Episodes 4-5:

Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou anime Episode 5 overview - Matsumoto likes what humans can't understand

This series seems to have found its footing with episode 3. I can still see many people don’t and won’t like it, but in episode 3 it had shown what it wants to be about, and has been about it ever since, and also, well, more concrete, if you will forgive my pun. A two-parter, which continuing the theme of episode 3 is about our nature, about who we choose to be, rather than who we were born as. Kaiju, the great monsters of Japanese cinema, what are they here for? What are they to us? And especially to Jiro, and so we explore the questions of the monster within, media control, and tie it to the student revolts of the 1960s. It’s all about lies, and while the “theme” might appear to be with how those in power manipulate others, and even manipulate nature, it seems to all come down to the lies we’re willing to tell others whom we claim to love.

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Fall 2015 Anime Overview – Week 3 (Anime Power Ranking)

All the premieres are behind us, and I’m sort of fine with this season. Nothing is really exciting me yet, and most of the crap had been left behind. I’m still unsure about a bunch of the shows, but it’s not like there’s much else this season to pick up. Slim pickings, but I’m fine with what I’ve got.

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). Numbers in parentheses are change from last week.

1) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episode 16 (+2):

Ushio to Tora anime episode 16 - Tora and Aotsuki Ushio looking lame as they run away

Our super-cool heroes.

This was a pretty cool episode. It had Ushio being cool and saving everyone, and literally saying a man should come to the aid of crying women when he can, several times, which was a bit cloying, but there you have it with a middle-schooler (he’s literally chuuni) who was raised without his mother and told he should always act for the sake of the dead mother who’s watching over him. Anyway, we had cool action sequences, and self-sacrifices, and it was all gloriously shounonsense in the way I like best, with even the fanservice just sort of being there rather than being made a deal of, and Ushio and Tora being their usually cool self, and all the random monsters saying how great Ushio is.

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Fall 2015 Anime Overview – Week 2 (Anime Power Ranking)

Three first impressions (Beautiful Bones – Sakurako-san, Perfect Insider, and Garo Season 2), and episode 2 of everything else. Considering last week I spoke of how multiple shows didn’t really tell us what they’re like in their premieres, let’s see how they did with their second episodes.

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). Numbers in parentheses are change from last week. 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) Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans Episode 2 (+3):

Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans anime / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans anime episode 2 overview - Kudelia Aina Bernstein speaks of child victims

In case you missed it – THE MESSAGE is hammered at you.

Following a good premiere, Orphans delivered another good episode that did some serious job in fleshing out its characters, and was actually relatively subtle about its characterization of them, showing us how Mikazuki and the rest of the Space Rats lack either past or future, using their illiteracy both as a metaphor for their situation and as a possible cause of it. They do what they do not for anyone else, not to save Kudelia, but for one another, and because they have nothing else. They’re much lower on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but their self-respect still plays a part, as this is Gundam, and “villainy versus chivalry”, or “means well” versus “Doesn’t even try” is a very real theme.

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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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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Episode 1 – First Impressions – Textbook Sunrise Premiere

Mari Okada is a skilled anime script-writer, that her name even stands out is testimony to that. But she’s also uneven, and seems to be on a downward slope for the most part since the latter part of 2013 – while I liked Nagi no Asukara, it was uneven, her version of Madoka (Selector Infected WIXOSS) wasn’t great, and her version of Neon Genesis Evangelion (M3: The Black Metal) was downright terrible. So now she’s going to give us her version of Gundam, and it’d be official. I’m hopeful, but wary. Gundam in particular, and Sunrise mecha in general have a lot I like, such as the grey morality continuum, “no villains, just antagonists,” some politics at stake… but it’s often tired, because it’s the exact same story, again and again. Which might be seen as meta-commentary on the nature of war, but whatever. Let’s see what you’ve got, Okada.

Story / Themes:

Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans anime / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans anime episode 1 - The price of work

Man, what a dense episode, and forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but such is often the case with Sunrise Mecha shows (of which Gundam is an example, and even precursor for what’s usually going on these days), we have to introduce a large cast of characters, two sides, various political powers, agendas, morality-plays, and setting information. It feels incredibly dense because this type of show, unlike Light Novel adaptations, rarely believes in exposition dumps, but it just throws us into the middle of a situation. If this were a novel, it’d be three, with us seeing various stories unfold concurrently, not just the same story from various points of view. Rarely is the commoner who’s in love with a soldier telling the same story as the others. Regardless, dense.

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