13 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Spring 2017 anime hot takes

IMG_0535This was going to be First Impressions but since episode 4s are already starting to appear I figured Hot Takes would be better. I thought there wouldn’t be much worth watching this season beyond the sequels, but then I watched a whole bunch of the new anime and I turned out to be basically completely correct. But hey, at least those sequels are pretty good. Although if I’ve missed anything then please do let me know.

Kado: The Right Answer

IMG_0539

Episodes seen: 2

While I wasn’t that crazy with episode 0, the actual first episode I enjoyed a lot. It feels like one of those classic Hollywood disaster movies where Thing happens and all these government agencies get involved. Whackjob scientists explain what’s happening, manly man shows how to get things done, and weird science fiction gets explained away in ways that make less sense the more you think about them. It’s all thoroughly entertaining so far, made better by the fact it’s not inevitably a Dad Movie in which the whole story is a metaphor for a man reconnecting with his daughter/wife/cactus. On the other hand, it also avoids being too Anime in that it’s not about ruddy teenagers either. The flip side to that is I’m not really sure what it’s about, character wise. I suppose that is what episode 0 was supposed to do for us but since it didn’t really work for me I’m waiting for the anime to reveal its character depth in other ways for now.

Oh yeah, and the CG. It has mostly CG animation, which as always make the humans look like weird botox aliens with textureless skin and creepy movements. On the other hand, I love how they render the cube. It reminds me of the CG they used in Gankutsuou, where it’s like this alien layer over simplistic objects. Could they not have left the CG on the cube and animated the humans in traditional animation? Or would that look too jarring? I don’t think it would, since that cube is supposed to look weird and alien. But we’re in the CG anime future and we should at least praise the steps forward they make.

Re:Creators

IMG_0531Episodes seen: 2

I wasn’t sold after the first episode, but with episode 2 I’m more positive: This anime is crap. It starts with me questioning little things, like why aren’t these fictional characters more bothered by the fact they’ve been living in an imagined world the whole time, being told they are but a minor character in a game? Like they’re living in a Truman Show except even Truman at least had his own agency. These eventually evolve into larger questions about why are we focusing on this milquetoast lead anyway? He’s an audience stand in for all those people who want their favourite anime characters to land in their room. Then what was with the whole conversation with the magical girl, where neither side seemed to be even responding to what the other was saying. Oh, and then there was this overt implication that magical girl anime are somehow less worthy than hardcore booby fantasy stuff. Then there was the long, boring exposition to start episode 2 that wasn’t exactly explaining anything particularly complex, nor portraying it in an unusual way. It was like they fancied themselves to be Monogatari all of a sudden except without any of the wit, intelligence, visual style or anything remotely interesting.

Why does Ei Aoki keep getting these big projects? I’m being very harsh, but this is an anime original project with evidently a large enough budget but the end product is just poorly written, uninteresting drivel. Was it Fate/Zero that made him popular? Fate/Zero wasn’t particularly well directed either.

Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul

IMG_0536Episodes seen: 2

This was, if anything, an even stronger start than the original Rage of Bahamut, and that thing started fantastically well. It maintains the wonderfully likable cast with this new girl who turns into a dragon when she gets too horny. It almost feels like an otome game sometimes and she runs through the city, facing up against all these sexy fantasy men. Will you pick the dashing, noble knight, or the vagabond devil prince, or even the John Lennon lookalike? Even if we all know the correct answer is the goose in a crown. It also maintains the previous season’s production chops, with free-flowing action sequences, fast-paced directing, and general polish that puts it so far above every other fantasy action anime. What makes it stand apart from the previous season is the story is instantly more interesting. Yeah sure fantasy slavery racism is never particularly nuanced, but it works and gives us an interesting world with characters that have identifiable and sympathetic goals.

It even manages to be perfect for anyone who hasn’t watched the previous season if they want to jump in here. The last season ultimately went off the rails in the story department, but I maintained that I really wanted a sequel with the same characters because they are such inherent fun to be around. Turns out I was right, except I wasn’t giving them enough credit as they’ve brought in brand new characters who also are excellent. Even the new king guy works excellently as a villain. Great start to the season and I thoroughly recommend everyone check it out, even if you haven’t seen the previous season.

Grimoire of Zero

IMG_0540Episodes seen: 1

I feel like this contrasts quite well with Rage of Bahamut in the fantasy anime area. If anything, Grimoire of Zero has a better story with a more interesting setup with more nuance to the characters. But the writing isn’t there to back up the depth so it doesn’t come through like it probably should. Obviously the production values aren’t there either, as it’s a pretty bleh looking anime and the shot composition isn’t making up for that with anything interesting to write home about there either, but we’ve seen a show overcome some bad animation with excellent character writing. Perhaps the better comparison would be Spice and Wolf, which had the same medieval duo travelling through the countryside and lightly tease/flirt each other the whole time. But the dialogue there was witty and clever. Grimoire of Zero is trying, and maybe it finds its groove later on, but early signs aren’t promising.

WorldEnd: What do you do something something SUKASUKASUKASUKA

IMG_0532Episodes seen: 1

This is like an anime for otaku who want to be dads I suppose? Here’s a bunch of little kids who you have to take care of and a hot maid who wants to eat your dick and some other cute girl who is basically the mommy. Also they all have superpowers or something, but we all exaggerate the qualities of our children. Oh our Bobby, he is training to be a super solider, he’s so high-achieving and the other kids are just jealous of him. As someone with zero intention of becoming a dad, it didn’t really do much for me, beyond the part where I quite liked the cute little romance between the two main characters. I dunno, maybe I’ll try out more later on if I hear it gets good.

Alice & Zoroku

IMG_0537Episodes seen: 2

Well, sort of 3 episodes since episode 1 was a double length one. Not sure why this one isn’t turning me away so much, as it can be a little boring. Maybe that was just the voice of the granddaughter in episode 2. I suppose I just like the characters and the story more generally. It’s not super-well made but there’s an interesting little conspiracy theory going on and having your main character be a grumpy old man is at least a nice change of pace. I enjoyed how they presented his dislike of yakuza methods with Hana’s pseudo-granddaughter threat. I also enjoy how Hana is presented as being a spontaneous child who doesn’t think about consequences until she gets into trouble. It’s not the most engaging anime around, but it works for now.

Sakura Quest

IMG_0538Episodes seen: 1

One day I’ll tell you guys all the story about how was caught in a similar situation to our main character (it was only one day instead of a year but still). But yeah, this has convinced me that PA Works should make anime about young adults all the time instead of teenagers. Where there teenagers are blank slates upon which the story molds them, these young adults in this and Shirobako come in with their dreams and have already been shaped by the realities of the world around them. It makes them more sympathetic and human and is simply a more interesting starting point for a story. Now Sakura Quest didn’t have the same level of wonderful start with the insta-cut from teenage dreams to the grim reality of life sitting in a car in traffic as an animation runner. But it still captured that same tone and I’m into it thus far.

Quan Zhi Gao Shou

IMG_0542Episodes seen: 1

I normally avoid Chinese anime but I saw a bunch of people praise this one and it has a good MAL rating so I figured it was worth a shot at least. The story is about the most noble of e-sportsmen who is kicked out of his team by his conniving manager and replaced by someone cosplaying as Izaya from Durarara. He has some attractive lady with him who wants him to stay but he is far too noble and handsome to fight it. He’s been there from the start and he truly loves the game and doesn’t do it for money or ladies. Anyway, he then goes to a gaming cafe where he sits in a room full of horrifying CG background characters and starts playing the amazing game from the start. There he meets another pretty lady who is madly in love with his e-sports persona but doesn’t recognise that he’s secretly the man of her dreams. Then our main character goes on a raid and notices that the party lead is fooling his noob teammates. But instead of helping his teammates, he sits in a corner and lords it over the party lead that he saw through him because he’s so wonderful and smart and sexushi.

In short, it’s a pile of absolute crap. Production values are all right I suppose, horrifying background CG characters aside. But the story is so bad and so unsubtle in absolutely everything it does that it kind of hurts.

Attack on Titan Season 2

IMG_0533Episodes seen: 1

Man they really hurl your straight back into the story straight away with barely a look back. Forget any 4 year breaks, the story picks right back up from where it picked up and expects you to remember. Weirdly, I did remember. Yeah sure I really like Attack on Titan, but perhaps this is more of an osmosis thing, since Titan was so huge it was hard to avoid being reminded of what happened last season in those intervening 4 years. Plus they kick it straight back off with instantly interesting twists that have gotten me instantly invested in what’s going on. Shame it’s only 12 episodes long, but hey I’m glad it’s back nevertheless.

My Hero Academia Season 2

IMG_0534Episodes seen: 2

On the other hand, My Hero Academia assumes you haven’t watched the first season in 15 years and spends most of the first episode getting you reacquainted with the plot and characters when it really didn’t need to. But a least episode 2 is already back on with this new, admittedly not-super-interesting arc with this sports festival. But hey, I like spending time with these goofy side characters, or even the side characters who have to watch how edgy they are lest they cut themselves. All Might remains the part of the show I’m most invested in since its his image of the American Dream that gave the first season its depth that made it stick with me. So at the very least I remain interested to see where they take his story. He’s inevitably going to die, isn’t he?

The Laughing Salesman

IMG_0543Episodes seen: 1

There’s a good idea for an anime here. A monkey’s paw episodic stories with only our laughing salesman as a returning character. The more they lean into his horror imagery, the better it gets. But they’re not leaning into it quite strongly enough and the stories the first episode had haven’t been strong enough to stand on their own. The characters are too cartoonish and act too basic to get invested in I suppose. Not that you can’t do a story like that, as Kino’s Journey proved, but the stories don’t have the depth nor a strong enough message to stick with you. It’s only one episode though and I might return to see if it picks up.

Atom: The Beginning

IMG_0544Episodes seen: 1

Have you ever watched Robot Carnival? It’s one of those series of short stories that used to be made back in the day. None of the stories are particularly memorable with the exception of the first/last piece. In it a giant robot carnival barrels through the countryside, crushing villages in its wake. It’s by director Katsuhiro Otomo, the bloke who wrote Akira, and displays his knack of darkly humourous stories. Anyway, Atom made me remember that, because lord knows I couldn’t get that invested in this story about a bloke with a cancerous growth on his face make a robot with a strong punch. Perhaps I just lack that inherent interest in old Tezuka stories to care about a prequel?

Seven Mortal Sins

IMG_0541Episodes seen: 1

I had to stop watching the Crunchyroll version partway through so I could download the uncensored version, because I had to know what they were censoring when we got the upskirt (well, more upbelt) shot on the demon wearing the rocker tshirt. Turns out it was a band-aid on her vagina. I’m pretty sure that would be the most uncomfortable thing imaginable but at least now I know the answer.

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13 Comments

  1. Posted April 24, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    RE: Ei Aoki, no, I believe it was his directorial effort on the first Garden of Sinners movie which started this all off (in 2007). Before that, his only directorial credit was Girls Bravo (he has some pre-2007 credits on episode directing and storyboarding). I suspect that he’s a “knew the right people” guy.

  2. Ramiel
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    You should check out Tsuki ga Kirei. It’s the most down to earth and adorable teen romance I’ve seen in a while.

    • lmm
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      I loved the incredibly cringey dinner scene in episode 1. It was like a sweet, innocent, but somehow just as awkward Scum’s Wish.

      • Ramiel
        Posted April 24, 2017 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, the whole show eschews adolescent awkwardness and purity.

  3. Ken
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Seems like there’s no really good comedy this season to take the place of Konosuba or Maid Dragon.

  4. Canary Paint
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Re:Creators was an instant drop for me. No interest whatsoever… It was so uninteresting that I can’t even remember what I saw.

    Attack on Titan… Pretty darned good… There is a huge Game of Thrones complex going on in AOT. Depict some character with an eccentricity so that (s)he seems a bit relatable in (her)his human-ness. Then, kill the fuck out of this character. The guy who smells everything… They expose us to his delightful eccentricity in the first season and then kill the fuck out of him.

    I hope that 12-episodes means that they can put out a season every year or two instead of the giant pause. I am certain that this is partly to assure that the anime does not overtake the manga.

    I am still with ID-0 for the moment. It has the right combination of plot novelty, color palette and characters that leave me wondering what their deal is to keep with it.

    You’ve made me curious about Sakura Quest, so I might try it out.

  5. Outcast
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I think Re:Creators is the most annoyed I’ve been at a main character since Owari no Seraph’s Yuu (for different reasons, of course; the way the former mumble-ends every goddamn sentence makes me want to fucking smack him upside the head). Also, I expect someone to throw the Deconstruction buzzword around with respect to this show (because “OMG the magical girl caused collateral damage in the real world”) and I’m getting further annoyed in anticipation of this.

  6. Posted April 26, 2017 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    Yo scamp I think you might want to give world eater something something a chance. I think it has the potential to be one of the best anime of the session. Plus the main character isn’t in high school which is aways a good sign.

  7. Mosh
    Posted April 26, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Concerning what you asked about Aoki, I wondered the same thing while watching re:creators. It’s just so plain and dull. It could have a really fantastic world but it handles everything with the wit of a goldfish…the order and priorities of the characters are all over the place. There is no story or drive behind their actions at all.

  8. Yalu
    Posted April 26, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    For me AoT’s pacing is horrific. Same thing as in the first season. You wait a week, get 5 minutes of op and ed, 5 minutes of recap, 10 minutes on horses, 1 death, and 1 cliffhanger. The first episode was pretty good but everything after is so badly directed. Are we just going to get 12 episodes of the same crap?

    • Canary Paint
      Posted April 28, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      I guess it makes me deviant, but for some reason, I really don’t mind this storytelling style at all. I even enjoy it.

      Strangely enough, on going back and watching the first season again before number two started, I noticed that there is almost no filler in AOT. Almost everything has some import for later events, but then again, that small flesh-out-the-characters-and-story details get more time than moments that are important to later events could be a big fault.

      So maybe I am agreeing with you after all ;-) and my overall enjoyment outweighs those faults.

    • Yalu
      Posted May 3, 2017 at 2:57 am | Permalink

      I agree, the first season was enjoyable, but it was so painful to watch it as it aired. I think AoT’s pacing is suitable for binge watching.

  9. AH
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    After the three episodes that have been fansubbed thus far, ID-0 has already shown itself to be much better than Active Raid.

    In short, it has more of a continuing story between episodes, a greater concern for its own setting and uses characters who, while familiar in terms of initial archetypes, have a wider range of interests and interactions (the second and third episodes make this particularly clear). It hasn’t gone too deep into the more interesting parts of its premise, so far, but there are enough hints and foreshadowing.

    Basically, ID-0 is largely similar to Outlaw Star meets Bodacious Space Pirates, with a little Planetes, Infinite Ryvius and even Ghost in the Shell influence on the side. The mind transfer technology isn’t just a gimmick but something that has had consequences in the past of these characters and I am looking forward to seeing the show deal with more of that.

    It would be a true shame if Scamp didn’t at least give this the 3 episode test or if he suddenly dropped it because he doesn’t like that some of the characters are cute girls, hates the 3D or other mostly superficial reasons.

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