Summer 2016 First Thoughts

[HorribleSubs] Orange - 01 [720p].mkv_20160731_110002.086
Summer heat getting to you? Need to cool off indoors with your favorite anime? Then come check out what we have to say about this anime season’s offerings! Tough to say if there are any real diamonds in the rough, but there are plenty of anime worth watching that you should not miss out on.
Introduction by Reckoner

Berserk

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: B-

Much maligned for the awfultastic CG that provides the bulk of the animation for this show, Berserk is already a divisive topic among the fans.  Add in the grueling, brutal, not politically correct imagery mangaka Miura Kentaro likes to throw at you, and some fans are just put off entirely.  No, it isn’t the adaptation of a beloved manga that we’ve all been waiting for, but it is still animated Berserk and I’ll take what I can get at this point.  If nothing else, it is great to finally see what happened beyond The Eclipse, and see what kind of crapsack world Guts really lives in.

Taboo Tattoo

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: D

Taboo Tatoo has an extremely conventional setup. It follows the story of a young boy who, after saving some stranger, is bestowed with some strange power in the form of a tattoo. This power ends up throwing his life into chaos as he gets stuck in a war between two different sides. There is action, violence, and a whole lot of low-grade fanservice packaged together in the hopes that the audience can turn off their brains long enough to actually give a damn about it. Perhaps I could if the story could maintain a suitable atmosphere for itself without interjecting random and awkward comedic bits every few seconds, or if the director understood how to use scene transitioning properly that did not induce whiplash on the audience. There is some nicely choreographed fighting scenes sometimes, but the rest of this show has been a bit cringe-worthy.

Tales of Zestiria the X

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impressions: C+

It’s very easy to spot a ufotable production from afar. Its signature visuals are always a treat to watch, and the same goes for Tales of Zestiria. If you want aesthetic brilliance, you can always count on the production studio to set the benchmark. But sadly, that’s the only good thing I see for the series so far. I personally didn’t have high hopes for Tales of Zestiria; it’s based on a RPG game and I notice that such shows tend to be lacking in the story and character departments. None of the characters seem remotely intriguing to watch, but at least the story is doing enough just to pique my interest. I’ll see where it goes but I’m not anticipating anything big to happen.

New Game

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: A

Riding the wave of popularity generated by Shirobako, the “inside look at an industry workplace” type show has become a popular, and entertaining, subject / genre lately.  While New Game follows along more like Seiyuu Life with the optimistic, “cute girls at work” thing more than exploring the real ups and downs of the industry like Shirobako does, it still has managed to be cute, entertaining, educational, and easy to relate to.  It’s not The Office or anything, but it still gives us characters with personalities we can all identify with our own co-workers, with the added tropes associated with anime.

Amaama to Inazuma

Kylaran’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: B

Amaama to Inazuma tackles its key subjectraising a child as a single parentwith a distinctively light-hearted and tender touch that makes it an absolute delight to watch. The story’s appeal is largely driven by its cast of relatable yet unique characters, and the budding relationship between teacher and student is a juicy fruit that lies off in the horizon for patient viewers. While the plot remains relatively tame at the moment, I suspect Amaama to Inazuma will be a delight so long as it keeps its cast of characters going strong.

Planetarian

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: B-

A Key visual novel adaptation? Should I be getting the tissue box ready? Well not really, at least in the case of Planetarian. The show is about the contrast between robot Yumemi’s hopeful utopian world in her mind and human Junker’s despairing dystopian world that is happening in real life. The contrast is meant to amplify the beauty of Yumemi’s innocence, which is of course the very Key thing to do. But unfortunately, the show isn’t achieving this because there isn’t enough chemistry between Yumemi and Junker for me to be emotionally invested in any of them. Plus, the show focuses too much on Yumemi’s world and not enough exposition is given to show how deplorable the world has become. Planetarian has some beautiful moments but I feel that it has so much more to offer. We may see a sentimental ending and an overall decent series, but I doubt that it would be a tearjerker for me.

Orange

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: B

It seems the popularity of time travel in anime is just endless, but Orange at least uses a more unique mechanic than others. If you were to receive letters from your future-self detailing the events that will happen and your biggest regrets about them, how would that affect what you do? Orange goes with the theory that even with that knowledge, it is still hard to go against one’s natural inclinations in life. Orange does a very good job at handling this sort of plotline as something more than a person checking things off a checklist that will somehow make themselves live happily ever after without any regrets. Orange continues to develop into a compelling enough drama with enough gravitas to make us care for the eventual fate of its characters. It is definitely one of the better offers of this season.

Handa-kun

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: A-

Yeah, I’m the weirdo here.  I rather enjoy fourth wall breaking, self-referential humor, so Handa-kun has tickled me in places I didn’t know I could, or wanted to, be tickled.  A spinoff of the popular seinen Barakamon, Handa-kun gives us another look at the neurotic calligrapher from his days in high school, or so we’re led to believe, and how he impacts the people around him.  Seen as a scathing parody of shows like Sakamoto-san and other shows where the protagonist is a revered Marty Stu character, Handa-kun does a great job of exploiting misunderstanding to accomplish comedic gains.

Alderamin on the Sky

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: B+

Hurrah for Madhouse Studios! The production studio is offering yet another good series this season, and I like where the show is going. It’s a story of protagonist Ikta’s rise as a leader, but the focus will be how his scientific way of doing things go against the grains of tradition. I enjoy the show a lot so far, but I’m concerned that the show is taking the easy route in showcasing his ingenuity. He and his team hasn’t done anything wrong yet, and it’s hard to root for someone whose abilities aren’t seriously put to the test. I hope things get down and serious soon; this could be the one of the series of the season.

Love Live!  Sunshine!!

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: C

I loved the original Love Live! and the girls of Muse as they struggled to become famous school idols.  Probably because of that love, I had zero expectations for Sunshine!! With my black cynical heart already believing that what I was going to get form a new cast of idols was a more blatant money grab than Ghostbusters (2016).  My first impression, from the first episode, was that this derivation was hollow; it was missing something important that made the first incarnation stand out so much.  Furthermore, it just feels like a rehash of everything we’ve already seen, minus the struggles and motivations that made the original cast enduring.  It just… sucks.

Qualidea Code

Kylaran’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impressions: C-

Despite its promising post-apocalyptic setting, the show never truly takes advantage of it in the opening few episodes to expand on the geopolitical complexities of a world destroyed by an alien threat. Instead, we’re told to take for granted that a bunch of spoiled brats fighting among each other are the future of humanity. None of the characters are particularly endearing either; each of the main characters are walking and talking tropes that offer little chemistry in their interactions. In the end, gaudy explosions and fanservice can’t make up for the show’s lack of depth.

[HorribleSubs] Shokugeki no Soma S2 - 01 [720p].mkv_20160731_105057.037

Shokugeki no Soma: Ni no Sara

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impressions: B

If you have seen the first season of Shokugeki no Soma and did not enjoy it, then there is absolutely no reason to watch the second season. This sequel continues the events of the Autumn Elections, in which the eight qualifying contestants enter the quarterfinals. Everything that made the first season a joy to watch is again on full display here. The show’s colorful cast competing in the most ridiculous and over the top competitions using imaginative and clever cooking ideas provides endless opportunities for amusement. So far there has been a little less emphasis on the foodgasms, and the pace is a bit quicker than the first season, but the production is as good as ever. Hopefully this season is not the last we will see of this story.

91 Days

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: A-

There aren’t many mafia-themed anime series out there. The last one I can remember was Baccano!, which was a lot of fun to watch. Now 91 Days is the newest addition, and it really is serious business. It draws a lot of parallels with Baccano! but without the fluff and more on the plot. It’s a no-frills story of a man’s revenge for his friend and, more importantly, how he plans to achieve his objectives. Cold, calculated and conniving, his next move is anyone’s guess and that’s what makes this show intriguing. I regard this as the dark horse of the season, and something tells me that the ending is going to be epic.

Rewrite

TIF’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impressions: D

If comments that I’ve seen around the internets are to be believed, Rewrite is not meeting a lot of expectations, with some fans about ready to torch animation studio 8-Bit to the ground.  I can see why.  Having never played the VN, I can’t comment as to how good this story is supposed to be, but the presentation I’m given leads me to believe that the VN fans who love this product are lunatics.  Frankly, Rewrite is all over the place, with confusing meshes of supernatural, metaphysical, humor, sex jokes, and other rubbish that does nothing but puzzle the brain.  I’m sure all of this is meaningful, but unless that meaning is “boob fondling jokes are funny” then I’m not seeing it.

4 Responses to “Summer 2016 First Thoughts”

  1. I thought the opening episode of Alderamin, while supposedly rushing through source material, was just brilliant. From character interactions, world building, telling the story through animation … brilliant. A few episodes later and we see the usual light novel tropes starting to creep in, and his first opponent at the academy seems like a brainless moron. Agreed on that point. I suppose I’m trying too hard to scrutinize the show because I actually like it!

    We’ll see about rewrite. I agree it’s making it hard to get into it, as much as it’s hard to get into Tomino’s shows. I’ll be patient with this one; we haven’t had a Key show in a while. Planetarian is too weak-sauce for me, the game was too short to have any profound impact and is as such completely overrated by the community.

  2. @cyth

    Long time no see :P.

    The thing about Rewrite is that they’re cramming entire character arcs into one episode. Not even Kanon 2002 did that. There’s no sense of mystery build up in the story because they introduced things into the story that were not supposed to be shown for like 15+ hours of reading. I know I’m biased as a source reader, but I was the one who always pushed to give JC staff a chance with Little Busters and I felt they did well with that despite what other readers said back then. This Rewrite anime is nearing the Tsukihime tier of bad adaptions.

  3. @Reckoner: Long time indeed, no thanks to a certain fascist mod. So, I watched episode 04. Shizuru’s arc was derpy as all hell, rushed even worse than Makina’s arc. Point taken. What’s worse, there was no proper transition to Shizuru’s backstory, it’s as if she just decided to spill the beans. I imagine there’s some intense bonding going on in the game that leads naturally to the reveal.

    It was refreshing to see Key heroines get into a cat fight. 😮

  4. @Reckoner: Been a while also. I had to uninstall Pidgin which had been giving me some serious problems on computer startup so I’m just down to Skype at this point. I also really just haven’t been watching too much anime besides Dragon Ball Super and Macross Delta because you know…legacy mecha series and all, it’s what I do. Really though just not too much is leaping out at me lately though I did watch a little bit of the Tales of Zestiria anime.

    Funny thing here, I think in ufoTABLE you just have a studio that seems to give a damn about it’s work because the production values are rock solid though again when you get the studio that’s just always done the cutscenes and worked closely on the game and with it’s creators it would make sense that the result would be good, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. Tossing around things to random studios with no particular insight or talent on board to bring it properly through the adaptation process and then giving them only 12 episodes to work with….doesn’t make much sense to me unless the idea is something cynical like “Oh it can just sell itself based on the branding” which I don’t know it probably can. Sucks for fans of those things though, I mean a few years ago I would say adaptations of multiple genres and formats were getting better and taken more serious but now I’m not so sure. It’s very hit or miss feeling, very about the monetary potentials and…political is the term I’d use somehow. Again this image of suits who see dollar signs in hit brands, titles and the names of their creators passing them around like they’re some sort of blue chips to throw out on a poker table to the oohs and awes of the gallery comes to mind. Obviously I’ve never played the game Rewrite myself but the consensus from what I can tell seems to be that it’s fans aren’t happy with the adaptation and it just seems to have gotten caught up in the politics of trying to adapt a hit title through the pinhole of too many different production committee demands and restrictions and still get it to it’s new format intact. I’m not sure 8-bit is too blame here just being the contract studio tasked with animating the project. It’s either take the potential big hit from the big publishers being dropped on your doorstep or don’t and starve and deal with the red ink at the end of the fiscal year. Maybe if there’s a problem the original author could be partially at fault too as he is supposed to be writing the adaptation script too which you’d think would ease the transition between mediums a lot unless he’s another one of those guys that doesn’t know what they are doing when asked to go from novel writing to screen writing. IMO the best multi-faceted writers find some way to make things work through the restrictions they are given particularly if it’s their own work being adapted (which you’d think they’d know better than anyone) so if that isn’t happening than that’s curious.

    Let’s see what else would I offer up here. I don’t think J.C Staff is a bad studio in my experiences with them. There I said it lol. They’re a little on the hit or miss side sometimes like anybody but given the right material and staff they do seem to give a shit about what they’re doing more often than not. Personally I think one of the biggest problems facing the industry right now and that will continue to be a problem for some time unless checked in some regard is that projects aren’t always making their way to the right kind of people with the right kind of credentials, resumes and allowances to do what needs to be done. Like oh say giving something that clearly needs more than a single cour to tell a story and function as good television that amount of time and budget. Instead things just seem to get rushed into production with whoever is available to animate it with Key staffers who are trendy and it’s really starting to show more in how both original works and adaptations turn out. I also can’t help but notice one of the more recent adaptations to really take off in a while has been that Re:Zero show which got a contiguous 2 cour time slot to work with. I doubt that’s much of a coincidence.

    Just a couple more things, this goes without saying but I never know what to believe sometimes when talking to source fans on something I haven’t seen. I mean I’ve played several Tales games before for example so there’s knowledge there and I can even tell when people are flat out bullshitting about something (seems to happen a lot more than ever and I’m not even just talking people being confused or misinformed, I’m talking like blatant lying about things like future content and why x happens in a given show) , but I’d swear every time there’s a visual novel adaptation it’s always this promised masterpiece that just needs to be seen in it’s original form or given a Hollywood tier budget to blow everyone’s socks off and after hearing these sorts of things about countless visual novels nowadays I’m just like “okay yeah sure we’ll see then” kind of sarcastically admittedly. I mean I’ve liked the odd visual novel adaptation like Steins;Gate but they can’t all be masterpiece adaptations in the making or even just diamonds in the rough so I’ve just kind of learned to tune that sort of noise out for what it is and look at what’s actually there in front of me.

    @cyth: Oh hello I remember you from the sort of old school of Animesuki and think I know what you’re referring too. I think even if I weren’t banned from that forum I might have already just left on my own like I left other anime forums when it seemed like everyone just went kind of insane or at best just got fixated on “Who cares?” kind of topics. If I ever suddenly find myself wanting to find out who people think “the best girl” or what shows are “AOTY” I’ll know where too look though lol. Otherwise I’m just not so sure I’m missing out on all that much.

Leave a Reply

Gravatar enabled.