Spring 2015 First Thoughts

FSN UBW 2

 

Although we came into the season thinking that there wouldn’t be a terrible number of entertaining shows to watch, collecting our impressions for the First Thoughts article showed that there were a surprising count of anime worth taking a look at. Although few series seem truly stand out at the moment, some are certainly worth keeping an eye on for the reason of the season.
Introduction by Kylaran

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works S2
Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: A

Picking up right where we left off last season, Unlimited Blade Works continues to be a tour de force production. Ufotable has shown little sign of slowing down with its mouthwatering action sequences, and nearly every other aspect of the show feels fine tuned to bring the most out of every scene. Now, much like Fate/Zero’s second half, we are starting to see more participants in the grail war finally drop out and in very dramatic fashion. Additionally, more focus is now being placed upon Shirou and the very basis of his ideals for which he fights in the grail war for. How the show plans to further dissect his character along with the enthralling conflicts on the horizon are great cause for excitement. Unlimited Blade Works definitely can be very interesting on a character or conflict level, but it also never forgets to have fun, which is part of what makes the Fate universe so great to return to time and time again.

Eden of Grisaia
The TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4 (including Labyrinth of Grisaia)
Initial impression: A-

I have made it no secret at all that I didn’t care for The Fruit if Grisaia, which I believed was a disheveled mess of writing and directing featuring elements from numerous story arcs of the visual novel shoehorned into a single story. Doesn’t help that I thought the main character was quite ridiculous, even for a harem eroge male main character. However, I have to give the sequel, which works more of a prequel, a lot of praise by comparison. Labyrinth, the one shot 45 minute OAV, and Eden, both do a great service to the audience by sticking to a single story, that of the history of Yuuji Kazami, and dredging up all the filth, grime, and horror that the young man has gone to in his brief sixteen years. It is still silly in places, but the focused narrative and much improved directing have made this a delight.

Hibike Euphonium 01

Hibike! Euphonium!
The TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial impression: C+

I want to state something first before I go too much farther into this blurb: I loved Hyouka. I think that, except for Full Metal Panic: TSR, Hyouka is Kyoto Animation’s finest work. So when I hear people comparing this to Hyouka, I get a little miffed. This isn’t like Hyouka, at all. This one reminds me much more of Tamako Market. There are numerous characters whose sole purpose right now appears to just be as adorkable as possible, and the rest are very typical personality types and tropes. Unlike Tamako, there is thankfully a plot brewing here, though I don’t know what kind of impact to expect of it. I get that people are enamored with what appears to be a lot of subtle bits of frustration building up to something huge, but I seriously doubt it goes anywhere. This feels like a straightforward “sports anime” done with music instead, and that’s not that interesting.

Kylaran’s Second Opinion
Episodes seen: 4
Initial impression: B

It’s been a while since I looked forward to a Kyoto Animation show, and luckily Hibike! Euphonium shows all the hallmarks of a strong slice-of-life that could be a personal favorite during this season. The basic setting of the story is simple: Ohmae Kumiko, a first year high school student, joins a somewhat dysfunctional music club that has plenty of members but no desire to for any kind of musical success. She soon learns about the dynamic of each member in the band, even dealing with her own teenage trouble with another girl in the band, but all of the drama in this show for now feels somewhat forced, but I’m interested in seeing more of the gorgeous animation. Also, the music in this show is superb; when the band plays poorly you can actually hear it reflected in the audio, and you can even notice individual member’s screw-ups if you pay close enough attention with your ear.

Arslan Senki
Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: B+

Arslan Senki is an adaption of Arakawa’s manga which itself is an adaption of Yoshiki Tanaka’s (Writer of Legend of the Galactic Heroes) novel series. While source readers may complain endlessly about how ill-fitting Arakawa’s FMA-ish designs and brand of humor are for the anime, as someone ignorant of the details I can wholeheartedly say that I just do not see an issue here. The setting of Arslan Senki is a world and time reminiscent of historical Persia. It is a placed filled with political and ideological conflicts on a grand stage. With a growing cast of colorful characters who undoubtedly will provide plenty of intrigue, Arslan Senki has the makings of an epic scale story. Although the budget is not spectacular, this is a story with limitless potential and should not be missed out on.


Hokago no Pleiades 01

Hougako no Pleidas
Kavik Ryx’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C

GAINAX have earned themselves an automatic three episode test until the end of time. But this is a privilege they shouldn’t try to abuse. Perhaps because Madoka already beat them to the punch at reinventing the mahou shoujo genre, they opted instead for the anime equivalent of marshmallow fluff. Okay, it’s not completely insubstantial. Between the condescending alien club president and the club being the least competent sentai in history, there is some bite here. But the softness to the drama and quickness to resolution gives no sense of emotional stakes here. I’d say pass. However, more shows are in need of motorcycle brooms, so the show is yet to be out of my favor.

Ghost in the Shell: Arise Alternative Architecture
Slashe’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: C-

With a overly complex plot filled with multiple twists, numerous characters with conflicting motivations, GitS feels increasingly chaotic the more it unfolds.  While the action sequences remain kickass, it is barely enough to hold my interest against the story revelations that usually leave me with confused shrugs. The episodes feel like a novella’s worth of intrigue cramped into a short story, leaving the viewer no time to process the different twists and turns, a problem compounded by splitting each arc into two for weekly consumption. All in all, without an adequate ability to express its story to all except those already intimate with its lore, Arise feels like a near miss to me.

My Love Story!!
AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B-

It’s pretty obvious that from the onset, this show is going to be a feel-good one. The plot is simple enough: an odd couple of a gentle giant and a cool stud comes across a sweet girl who falls for the unlikely party. It seems like a plot that can be resolved within 3 episodes… and indeed, it did. I’d have to wonder what else can a 24-episode series offer when the main plot is out of the way, and episode 4 seems to have answered just that: the Lesson of the Week in terms of friendship and relationship issues. My Love Story!! doesn’t seem to going to be tackling the deeper issues so I won’t be expecting anything heavy from it. I would like to have my feel-good fix, although I have to wonder just how much content is there to show when the plot is so simplistic.

Kekkai Sensen 01

Blood Blockade Battlefront
Kavik Ryx’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B+

Perhaps the most admirable thing about Blood Blockade Battlefront is how it doesn’t pretend to be substantial. This series puts all of its cards on the table plot wise and lets the style take the wheel. Nightow’s ballet of blood and bullets never ceases to be a highlight in the world of spectacle anime. But personally speaking, what make’s BBB’s violence spectacular is setting. The presentation of Jerusalem’s Lot captures the spirit of Manhattan, both in the romantic (as Woody Allen put it) “pulsating to the great tunes of George Gershwin” sense, as well as being the city where nobody would batt an eye at seeing a dancing naked clown on the corner. There is just something so fitting about using a blood hemorrhage as a weapon when it’s happening on Park Avenue.

AC’s Second Opinion
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: B

Blood Blockade Battlefront belongs to the same genre as Space Dandy, Durarara!! and Baccano!: it’s all about chaotic fun. The premises need not make logical sense as long as everyone – including the viewers – are in for the joyride. But one thing that still confuses me is the motif: why did the protagonist’s sister did what she did, and why does New York City seem to accept their Underworld neighbors so readily? Trivial as some would say, the show seems to simply sweep them under the rug and roll out all the twisted and destructive fun. Perhaps the style isn’t as sleek as Space Dandy or Baccano! but hey, who can complain about a series that dares to have its own Manhattan flavor?

Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darō ka
Slashe’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: B+

JC Staff seems to mistake first episodes as testing grounds for their shows find their feet, rather than the polished attractions that they ought to be. Consequently, Dungeon suffers from a mistaken first impression that it is a generic fanservice harem instead of what is really is: an exploration of RPG mechanics in reality – a concept explored in other anime only as a reality corrupted by game-world mechanics. The show is surprisingly self-aware, quietly subverting harem conventions while exploring life in a RPG universe in a delightful manner. Give DanMachi another chance and it may charm you just like how its main character charmed his supporting cast: through growing competence and sincerity of action. Also, boobstrings.

Shokugeki no Sōma
Kylaran’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: B+

Food hasn’t been this hilarious since Yakitate! Japan, and this series hasn’t let me down in five episodes. Although the main character is your typical shounen anime trope who has incredible cooking talent but little formal training, his characterization doesn’t fall flat because of the story’s excellent pacing, which allows us to learn more and more about him and his background. The comedic moments are on average hilarious, with the reactions to delicious food being the most hilarious aspect. With a delicate mix of over-the-top drama, silly comedy, and interesting characters, this show’s a definite watch for the rest of the season.

4 Responses to “Spring 2015 First Thoughts”

  1. Isn’t anyone going to talk about Plastic Memories? Doga Kobo is doing a fine job on it.

  2. Dogakobo is killing it with their other show this season. No not the shortie with the rabbit girl that is boring as fuck. Plastic Memories makes no sense.

  3. @ImperialX

    Unfortunately it wasn’t one of the shows we were really watching this season, and as you know our First Thoughts articles get pretty long covering various shows. This time we didn’t write about it, but I think someone on staff might be watching it.

  4. Curious about TIF’s comments, I just watched the OVA and the latest episodes of Grisaia. I’m impressed. Honestly, I dropped the first season midway but I trudged through the last two arcs just to see the reason for the hype. I definitely think the seconds season deserves the A grade (for now, at least).

Leave a Reply

Gravatar enabled.