26 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Spring 2016 Anime first impressions part 2

Bakuon!! - 01 - Large 33Don’t ask.

Next batch of first impressions. A touch less impressive than the last bunch with a few disappointments in there, but still an exciting season so far. Even if the ones I’ve enjoyed most so far have been the dumb comedies with cute girls and the serious manly anime have been a bit disappointing. I think I’m turning into Inushinde.

Bakuon

Bakuon!! - 01 - Large 20I now have three anime in which I can point to and say “see, I can like anime about cute girls doing shite”. There’s Gakkou Gurashi, which means that I can like cute girl moe shit if its all a thin veneer over the zombie apocalypse as a criticism of escapist fluffy crap. I liked Girls und Panzer, which means I can like it if it’s actually a sports show and has Russian girls breaking into an impromptu karaoke of the Tetris song. Bakuon meanwhile proves I can totally get into cute girl anime if they feature sexually experienced motorbikes who hate millennials.

What works with Bakuon is that it’s funny. Not through silly anime faces (we’ll get to that later). Jokes like a talking motorcycle completely un-phasing an airhead because she takes this as what another character meant by “when the motorbike speaks to you”. Or the one girl realising she was speaking to a hopeless fangirl of this one bike company so she named the worst bike they ever named to see if she still thought that was cool. I’ve seen a few people say they have no interest in motorbikes so they don’t want to watch this, which strikes me as flawed reasoning. You don’t need any interest in motorbikes to get the previous joke. We’ve all met hopeless fans of a company’s products who will fervently defend even their missteps, be it of Apple or Valve. The jokes still play.

If I was to have any complaints (and I do because I’m a terrible person who can never be entirely pleased by anything), it would be that I could really do without the intense boob jiggle by that one girl. It’s something else, they fly around even when she wasn’t moved. That aside, it’s a legitimately funny comedy with a heart that truly wants to tell the world about how much it loves motorbikes even when they recognise they’re actually kinda dumb and dangerous in real life.

Joker Game

Joker Game - 01 - Large 13Since I actually really liked the second episode of the new Jojo’s (not quite Battle Tendency, more like the really good episodes of Stardust, which I’ll still take), Joker Game will have to take the award of most disappointing anime of the season so far me. There’s some interesting stuff here about Japan’s blind, unthinking nationalism. The critical thinking needed to be successful on the international stage doesn’t gel with the absolute loyalty required of this level of devout nationalism. It’s not a particularly unique message but arguably one parts of Japan does need to hear.

The issue is…well, it’s really boring. I know I wanted more serious anime, but stripping out all of the humour leaves a very stale product in its wake. Rakugo from last season was a serious anime but had plenty of dry humour which gave these guys character. I get the main guy can’t really have a sense of humour since he’s supposed to represent the blank, re-writable slate of the perfect soldier in that era. It’s the other spies I have issues with. They sit around with these shit-eating grins on their faces, acting like they’re the smartest mother-fuckers in the world. Why do we even need 8 of them anyway if they’re all functionally identical?

It’s not as smart as it thinks it is. The boss’ dialogue is supposed to be that of a world-weary veteran seeped in cynicism, but he comes off as an emo teen. The writing isn’t strong enough to prop up the seriousness so far, and the ideas aren’t presented in a particularly interesting way. Maybe it will improve? Maybe the other spies will show some different personalities? Mind you there are a lot of other good anime airing this season so it will have to improve fast.

Kuma Miko – Girl Meets Bear

Kumamiko - 01 - Large 23I ended up enjoying this more than I was expecting. I think it’s because in another world, this is a horror anime. In a remote village there exists some creepy rumours about what the locals did with the animals there. It all stemmed back from this one ancient legend about how they would give up virgins to the forest bears. A bunch of kids show up there to learn more about the village only to suddenly come into contact with these half human, half bear monster people who eat their insides. It’s all lorded over by this one normal teenage girl in a shrine maiden outfit who desperately wants to get out and see the world but has to stay to keep the spirits from escaping the village.

I’ve seen criticism of this show from people who were creeped out, to which I must admit I’m perplexed at. It’s basically shedding light on how creepy old folk tales really are. If anything I’m slightly disappointed they don’t lean into that more. It was the one thing it had going for it. If the rest of the show is just cute little shrine maiden girl faffing about with her bear-daddy then that will be awfully boring. Cute perhaps, but cute isn’t engaging. The ever so-slightly off humour contrasting with the cute exterior is what makes this stick out, even if it’s only just a little bit. It’s just enough to make it feel like it’s not trying too hard while still having whiplash “wait what” moments.

Bungou Stray Dogs

Bungou Stray Dogs - 01 - Large 15Bunghole Stray Dogs helped me realise something important: I don’t like director Igarashi’s style of comedy. I didn’t like Ouran, Soul Eater nor Star Driver’s senses of humour. They might all have had other things going for them in the visuals (apart from Ouran), but their humour relies chiefly around super-deformed faces. Not around actually funny jokes, but the funny expressions pulled by people as they express a variety of emotions. Usually anger or contentment. Indeed I realise I look back at a number of anime comedies I found unfunny that other people like and they often rely on the same thing. I swear this is the main reason I was completely bored by Aria.

This isn’t exactly entirely the director’s fault. There is one funny joke in Bunghole. At the start the main character plans to rob the next person he sees, only to have a military police brigade run past him. That’s funny. Good setup, well delivered punchline. Humour! I know breaking down comedy is the best way to kill it, but I am a very serious person when it comes to comedy. To which I should probably mention the fact that some of the jokes come from the characters being named after famous Japanese authors. Me being an idiot I didn’t catch onto the whole suicide love and that author despite me going “oh hey, No Longer Human, I know that, oh and isn’t that the same name as the bloke who wrote Galactic Railroad”, so maybe all these silly faces are hiding lots of clever reference jokes I’m not getting because I don’t have the background knowledge.

This isn’t actually a pure comedy mind you. There’s this whole story about super-powered detectives and a kid who has these completely overblown flashbacks to people saying horrible things to him. Maybe that gets more interesting as we get into the anime further, because it wasn’t terribly engaging in the first episode. But the awful shouty super-deformed comedy is what will ultimately drive me away from this.

Ace Attorney – The Animation

Gyakuten Saiban - OP - Large 04Well, I suppose the best you could say about Ace Attorney is that it made me want to play the game. I liked the cheesy nature of the courtroom drama, playing out like no courtroom ever would. It’s endearing in a dumb, anime sort of way. If anyone can inform me of a good way to play these games on the cheap side I would be very appreciative. I don’t know where my DS though but I have a 3DS (actually it belongs to my wife, but she only uses it to repeatedly catch Jigglypuff and giggle softly to herself).

On the other hand, this thing is so awfully produced. Let’s leave aside the animation quality for a second, except to mention that the running animation in the OP is incredible and it may be the worst produced anime of the season and that’s including the flash shorts. Let’s talk about adapting from a game. I haven’t played the game but even I can tell they’re doing such a straight adaptation that they’re not even cutting out parts that only exist because it’s a video game. Pings when a piece of evidence appears, or his boss explaining mechanics like we’re sitting through a tutorial. It flows about as well as river of concrete.

This is what we get for years of demanding faithful adaptations. This and stuff like Danganronpa, which suffered from similar issues. Is this what you really wanted? Something this slavish to the source material that it actively doesn’t make sense in animated form? This is your fault, person who complained about adaptations not being faithful enough. What depressing is, as I said earlier, I kinda liked what bits were actual courtroom drama. I could see how an adaptation of this could work. It doesn’t even need to be the same story. Just the characters and courtroom stuff is what makes this entertaining. But this is what we get instead.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri - 01 - Large 17You know what? I think I’ll try covering this weekly. Stay tuned for a post soon!

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26 Comments

  1. fgfdfh
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Eh, I don’t think Joker Game is aiming for any deep or serious commentary. It’s practically a Hollywood spy film: going for semi-serious noir style without any true interest in substance. And from what I’ve heard about the live action adaptation, it will likely stay the same. I find it entertaining enough as it is. But Scamp, since you seemed to prefer bombastic presentation, I doubt you will like it.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 12, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Eh, I loved Rakugo from last season and that certainly wasn’t bombastic. I just don’t think it’s terribly well written for how serious it takes itself.

  2. Dark Kain
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    In the 3DS e-shop you can find both a collection of the first three Ace Attorney games and the fifth sold separately. The fourth (localized as “apollo justice”) is currently very hard to find.

    http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/Ou8Wx5UsRfMJofDemHEcfOVwP6Z88n9Z

    • Anon
      Posted April 9, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      You can actually pick up a physical copy of the fourth game on Amazon, which you can easily play on a 3DS. If you’re playing AA, definitely wait and see if you like the first trilogy before going forward, though.

    • T1g
      Posted April 9, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      If you have a mobile device, you should be able to pick up the first three games on mobile. I remember seeing them on the apple store anyway. I think the entire anime is going to be based on the first game at any rate.

      • Scamp
        Posted April 12, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Huh, cool. I have a tablet so that would be a good way to play it

  3. Erif
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I remember watching a bit of Soul Eater when I was younger and thinking it was So Fucking Funny, probably something I’d refer to as a good anime comedy. Well, I tried to rewatch it (since I never finished it) and – surprise surprise! – I didn’t find it funny at all. So if Bungou is anything like that I probably won’t enjoy it. :/

    • Scamp
      Posted April 12, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      But maaaaaaaaaan did Soul Eater ever look incredible. It was the first anime I downloaded a fansub of rather than watching terrible quality illegal streams and my mind was fucking blown when I saw the OP

      • Erif
        Posted April 13, 2016 at 2:39 am | Permalink

        Yeah I remember watching that first fighting sequence and being totally blown away by the quality. Classic Bones animation if it ever existed.

  4. Ibri
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    “and a kid who has these completely overblown flashbacks to people saying horrible things to him. ” Yeah and the orphanage people sure like wearing ominous looking coats.

  5. Themaster20000
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    My issue with Joker Game was it did bit too much telling,and not enough showing. It does have a ton of potential to be great.They really have to developed this cast of characters. The art direction is fantastic though.

  6. Morg
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    The hilarious thing about the Ace Attourney game adaptation is that in some of the later iterations there are cutscenes animated by Bones and they look wonderful. I wanted that anime.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      It does seem very odd at just how much they skimped on it. The game is over a decade old. It’s not like the staff shouldn’t have had time to work on it?

  7. Ken
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad I don’t drive in Japan. I don’t have to deal with crazy girls riding on motorcycles.

    And after seeing Kuma Miko I need to create a .gif of the little girl shouting “SEXUAL HARASSMENT!” and “DON’T TOUCH ME!”

  8. Mormegil
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Joker Game bored me to death, too. I was really looking forward to both Stray Dogs and Joker Game, but they were both kind of average. Joker Game started getting a little exciting near the end, at least. Also all the characters look the same. It’s so hard to tell them apart!

    • Scamp
      Posted April 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Those character designs irritated me too. I get why they all look similar if they’re trying to stick to more realistic setting, but it makes the fact that they had to have 8 different spies seem even dumber.

  9. Shadow
    Posted April 10, 2016 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    The problem with Jokers Game is that its an anime. Meaning it last 23 minutes.

    If they handled this series like an actual TV Series and give it their proper 48 minutes. This first episode wouldve been much better, as we wouldve seen the conclusion to this introduction arc and look forward to the future.

    You could say the opposite works great in Hero Academia. They cut Chapter 1 of the manga in 2 episodes. But it works great because Hero Academia is what i call perfect anime material. Meaning they can create a solid 23 minutes of anime.

    Jokers Game is an adaptation of an actual novel. Not a light novel. So 23 minutes is not enough to make an actual novel into anime.

    IG shouldve taken a risk and make it a full 48 minutes first episode. Otherwise they cannot showcase the interesting parts of the series.

  10. Shikamaru
    Posted April 10, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    SEXUAL HARASSMENT! DON’T TOUCH ME!

    That scene is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

  11. Nagisa33
    Posted April 11, 2016 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    “They sit around with these shit-eating grins on their faces, acting like they’re the smartest mother-fuckers in the world.”

    This turned me off big time. Other than that the show sure was snazzy. Ok so far. We’ll see how it turns out.

  12. Nagisa33
    Posted April 11, 2016 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    Code Geass: Akito the Exiled is now finished. I forgot about it until someone reminded me. The mecha action is solid, as is that trumpet battle music, and there are BUTTS aplenty. I was quite entertained overall. Maybe we’ll get a post on your thoughts sometime?

    • Scamp
      Posted April 12, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Really? Man I didn’t even get to episode 3. I suppose now is as good a time as any to watch the whole thing start to finish. I could probably convince MAL to pay me to write something about it

  13. starlessn1ght
    Posted April 11, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    My impressions of Joker Game are exactly the opposite. The first episode was really interesting, and the lack of humour makes it better. I hate humour and comedy especially when they are in a non-SoL series. Not that I can’t overlook it sometimes, but for me the less comedy the better.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Life isn’t humourless, which is what makes the conversations in Joker Game seem unnatural. Many a classic anime has characters at least making wry comments. Even something like Berserk or Gankutsuou or Ghost in the Shell or Akira don’t consider themselves above it, and it makes the characters more rounded as a result.

      A show is better for humour (when done right), and there’s basically no exceptions to that rule. Even a deadly serious show featuring characters that, for the narrative, are required to have no sense of humour, will still have funny moments created by a character’s views coming up against a situation that doesn’t gel with their beliefs.

  14. Varyn
    Posted April 11, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe that ace attorney thing made it to air. The animation is terrible, and I’m almost convinced this didn’t have a screenplay, just copypasta game text.

  15. R1CK_D0M
    Posted April 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m firmly of the belief now that someone complained so most of the Ace Attorney anime’s budget was instead funneled into Ace attorney 6, because the game looks absolutely incredible. btw if you wanted to watch ace attorney there was a live action movie adaptation done like 4 years ago or so? It was adapted really well there.

    At any rate the anime really did follow the game to the letter, complete with character twitching actions, sfx, the tutorial, and dialogue popups for change of venue. It was really said. if I didn’t want to save this anime for posterity (proof of how bad it was) I’d have dropped it already.

  16. Nasch II
    Posted April 16, 2016 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    Any plans for blogging Kiznaiver?

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