Impressions! Spring 2016, Week One

New season! New shows! A new exclamation mark in the title of these posts!

This season UEM! will be doing slightly shorter Impressions to make time for reviews, editorials and upcoming exams in real life. If a show hasn’t been covered here and has already aired, I’m probably not covering it or catching up on it. But if a show I’ve been covering doesn’t get featured here, and I don’t put it in the ‘Drop Zone’, it doesn’t mean I’ve given up on it!

Now, onwards!

Sousei no Onmyouji

Had an idea like this when I was twelve; innocent teenagers fight hideous monsters in a parallel, bloody world. The writer’s certainly a child at heart, and it helps that the action seems to revel in its audacity and embrace the fun of itself.

We’ve got the graceful girl, and the chaotic protagonist who outclasses her – but at a price. What really tuned me in to these two was Rokuro’s warning to that if she fails, she ‘won’t get to eat ohagi any more’. We expect some grim, dark musing on the importance of exorcists – our hero instead boils it down to their already-growing friendship. It’s a kooky line at first, but it speaks volumes of the humanity that these exorcists are trying to protect. But is Rokuro’s power damaging his own?

A fun romp that has me hooked more than Ao no Exorcist, and looks like it won’t derail itself into stupidity like Owari no Seraph. Those two appeared in the same manga as this, so they’re like blood brothers. But Sousei no Onmyouji has my blood pumping more.

Mayoiga

Durarara!! on wheels takes us on a fascinating ride. A flurry of character introductions, but the ones who stand out are those who say little or nothing. Then comes the irony of this ‘new life’ being filled with everyone’s pasts, the bus driver’s near-lethal anger at that world driving home the issues with escapism.

I can’t help but love how Masaki’s tearful response to the hippopotamus song spoke of the seriousness that we end up applying to all the insincerity. It’s hard not to think of it as a microcosm for something, and the very thought pervades Mitsumune’s vivid and gripping dream. But are we as crazy as her in doing so? Is this what a bus-full of strangers – an anime full of new characters – makes us into?

Add to that questions of identity through the motif of internet personas, handled comically and touchingly, and the kookiness and jazziness of everyone, and I’m incredibly hyped for Mayoiga. Amazing OP too.

Bungou Stray Dogs

If Mayoiga is sociopaths in dramatic noir mystery style, Bungou is psychopaths in a comic book frenzy. The show revels in its wonkiness, with the humour hit and miss. But enough laughs, nice cinematography and a well-paced introduction of Nakajima make it feel like a keeper.

I guessed Nakajima was the tiger the moment it came up, but his transformation, particularly with second half’s tonal shift from hot to cold, still felt exciting. The whole referencing Japanese literary figures thing, not so much. But that may be something to think about later.

Main worry with shows like these is that the ‘eccentric’ cast often end up feeling contrived into having little character other than the synergy of their personality with their power. At least Nakajima’s scaredy-cat ways clash nicely with his tiger form. Dazai’s got a sweet style and suicidal tendencies which contrast and correlate with his nullifying ability. As for the rest, the team introduction wasn’t a great hook. Neither do the side-panel things help me feel the liveliness and absurdism of the crew.

But hey, it’s Watchmen only without Zack Snyder screwing it up. Should be fun.

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?

A dude with a dull backstory get surrounded by grills with oversized breasts. Generic ‘BTW this is set in a game’ battles at least present Ako’s clumsiness, and the background of identity and gender-swapping sets a good comedic stage. But there were few laughs, some really anti-funny scenes, and the feeling was ultimately pedestrian.

But perhaps that’s the point. We’re stepping out of the virtual and into the real and realising we’ve been closer to these girls than we thought. I liked Segawa’s use of the Tsundere trope; she’s very easily defeated and reduced to a blubbering mess, but it’s not love that does it. A reverse-Tsundere, maybe, cold to feelings but crap at dealing with simple things like picking a name that doesn’t label her a swine. I actually expected her to be the pay-to-win asshat. Nice red herring there.

Could be fun. Could be forgettable. Will probably be both, but I’ll give it a try.

Joker Game

Winner of ‘Titleception of the Season’, this noir drama doesn’t yet pack much punch. The scene is set, and fans of historical dramas and thriller will lap it up. But beyond all the cigarette smoke, I’m not seeing any reason to get excited.

The cast all hold their cards close to the chest, but they need to give me some kind of tell if I’m to invest anything in them. The eight spies boil down into one character our hero has a hate-boner for, and while the plot’s all intrigue, the characters feel terribly simple so far. The connection between the game and the police raid was nice, but the anachronous leap-ahead before the OP made no impact.

International Espionage: The Anime is going to be a drag if all the Engrish is as bad as this.

Boku no Hero Academia

The hype that this might become the next Bleach/Naruto might bug some people, but I’d be thrilled if it did. What a fantastic premiere.

Izuku’s rivalry with a hot-headed, hot-handed brat contrasted so well against his adoration for All Might. Katsuki represents all the irony in All Might’s battlecry: is it really fine now that the super-powers are here? The vital issue of Boku no Hero is whether they’ve done more harm than good – and will Izuku benefit or curse himself by following after these super-footsteps?

I laughed. I cried. I gained hope for Shounen action shows again.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Attack on Trains may cause a stir with similarities to its predecessor, but they should only be a boon. Wit Studio have premiered a world that is immediately harsher, darker and fraught with instability.

It’s not the Kabane that are horrible, but what they’ve done to the survivors of mankind. Our hero may be a ‘kill all the things’ type, but his scientific approach speaks volumes of what a steampunk world offers the writer – a chance to challenge the rustic and push the limits of what humans can accomplish with meager resources. His order is the way forward – but how will it fare against the order of fear that has gripped every soul and station remaining?

This isn’t Attack on Titan. The boy Ikoma sticks up for doesn’t become his buddy. He gets shot. The girl is badass, sure, but not his childhood friend. Already the character relationships are liberated, and the feeling of a show that can go anywhere in a world where everyone is trapped is wretched joy to behold.

And let us not forget to bask in the glory of a new EGOIST OP!

 Short-cuts:

  • Space Patrol Luluco. Trigger are back with all the sense of humour and precise artistry of a five-year old and I’ve never been happier.

The Drop Zone:

  • Bakuon!!. K-On! on bikes and no chemistry between anyone. No, I don’t have a motorcycle fetish, and no, I don’t want one.
  • Anne-Happy♪. I don’t see how their lives are unhappy. Mine is now, though, now that I’ve wasted my time on this.

That’s it for this week! Until next time!

 

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10 thoughts on “Impressions! Spring 2016, Week One”

          1. Yeah superheroes are cool. It’s pretty cool to see that Japan taking in interest on the West pop culture. On the manga cover of My Hero Academia, it almost looks like a comic book.

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  1. To me Wit Studios seems to have backed themselves in to some type cast. This is yet another anime about peeps walling themselves off. AoT, then owari, now this. Kanaberi & Boku academia are certainly ones to keep an eye on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s how they use the typecast that matters, and I think they’re incredibly inventive. And besides, this walled situation is different since there are other ‘stations’ around. The whole trains thing changes the walling thing quite a lot, while echoing AoT nicely.

      Owari was terrible though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Give Bakuon another chance if you’ve only seen the first episode. They cut back on the product placement and ridiculous fanservice.

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    1. It’s far more the complete lack of interest in the cast that’s made me drop it. If I hear good things at the end of the season I might binge it, but otherwise I’ve got far too much on my plate already.

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