Winter 2017 First Thoughts

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It’s always tempting to say how this season seems to be very meh. I’m tempted to say so too; there isn’t seem to be many shows this winter that truly piques my interest. So far Rakugo Shinju is doing an amazing job for its second season, and Scum’s Wish is grabbing people’s attention for its umm, provocative themes. Are we in for another mediocre season? Maybe, but let’s see what the NHRV panel has to say about our current offerings, shall we.
Introduction by AC

Youjo Senki (a.k.a. Saga of Tanya the Evil)

The Typical Idiot Fan’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impression: B+

What would you do if God decided to reincarnate you, with all of your previous memories intact, in an alternate world as a little girl? If you said “become a military guru so you can live the easy life” then you are Tanya, a salaryman turned volunteer child soldier in a totally not European setting in a totally not parallel World War 1 environment. The conflict mostly revolves around Tanya trying to defy God’s existence, referring to it as “Being X”, in a stereotypical Richard Dawkins-esque atheist level while simultaneously being hoist by his / her own petard at every turn. Whether God, or “Being X”, truly has this much influence on Tanya’s life, or if this is just the ultimate “zama miro” story remains to be seen. Considering the original author’s propensity for long winded anti-theist diatribes, we’ll see.

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.

Kaikyaku’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impression: C-

So far this series has been a huge disappointment. Which is a shame because we don’t get political dramas very often. In just a few episodes, we have been introduced to a huge cast of characters and a variety of different locations, but none of them are particularly interesting or memorable. The plot just doesn’t grab me at all, and feels either way too obvious or way too obscure in any given scene. Is there a coup d’etat coming? Who is behind it? Do I even care? Instead of paying attention I end up getting distracted by the constant panning and awkward editing. The whole production feels very amateurish, which is unusual for Madhouse. One more pan to the left with an obtrusive cut to a pan to the right followed by fifteen different characters saying “rumour” and the whole thing might go up in cigarette smoke.

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KonoSuba S2

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impression: C+

KonoSuba S2 picks up exactly from where the first season left, and their hijinks continue. Nothing has changed so far: Protagonist Kazuma is still struggling to maintain his sanity; Aqua is still the airheaded goddess with all the luck and none of the intellect; Megumin still wants nothing but EXPLOSIONS and Darkness still has her perversions strewn all over the place. The first season was entertaining because it tried something different by parodying the isekai genre. The second season doesn’t do anything except just offering the same thing as the first. Sure the funnies are there, but that’s about it. There is one thing different about the second season: the artwork quality, or to be more specific, the drop in artwork quality. I guess S2 is a blessing for anyone who just wants more of the same thing but for me, it’s getting a little tiring. It’s losing its novelty and I hope something new crops up in the show.

Akiba’s Trip The Animation

The Typical Idiot Fan’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impression: D

Don’t let my grade on this fool you, Akiba’s Trip is highly entertaining in that brainless and utterly stupid kind of way. Like watching Harold & Kumar, it requires a niche audience or a really loose brain to be able to handle the nonsense that is flung at the screen every episode. The thing is, while my brain, or penis (if you will), has no problem enjoying this for the sheer ludicrosity (a real word), I still know I’m watching relative garbage based on an equally idiotic PlayStation Portable franchise, which is also loaded with blatant product placement, which underscores the manufactured and corporate nature of the entire thing. But it isn’t boring, which is usually my biggest criteria for any show’s grade, and thus I gave it the “D”.

Interviews with Monster Girls

Kaikyaku’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impression: B

There’s a lot to like in this comedy series about a biology teacher who is fascinated by demi-humans. Of course there just happen to be four at them at his school… all of them women. The series focuses on how these individuals are often negatively affected by expectations and systems that everyone else takes for granted and tells these stories with a good balance of humour and respect. Putting their challenges in a modern context adds an extra twist. At the same time, the series can feel uncomfortable when the teacher asks very personal questions of the students or they start growing overly attached to him. I definitely cringed through a couple scenes. As a light-hearted exploration of demi’s experiences, it works pretty well. Let’s hope it goes with that.

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Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Wish)

Slashe’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impression: A

Maybe it’s because we haven’t had a solid romance/drama in a long time, but as a decade-long sufferer of unrequited love, I adore Kuzu no Honkai to bits. Our two leads seek companionship in their mutual anguish over unrequited love, with teenage sexuality placed front and center in this struggle between rationality, hormones and emotion. The pain is all too familiar as the cast tries to escape this love dodecahedron before it crushes their broken selves, blundering into ill-advised relationships and confessions for their emotional survival. We focus on the ugly side of love in this unconventional romance, for there is no happy ending in sight, and everyone’s going to get hurt, yet it will be cathartically, deliciously bittersweet to watch.

Fuuka

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impression: C

The first two minutes of Fuuka are probably some of the most enraging minutes of anime I have seen in quite awhile. Our poor main character is crashed into by some random girl, gets verbally abused for “not moving out of the way,” gets accused of taking pictures of her in a vulnerable position, then she proceeds to hit him and destroy his cell phone. Not the best introduction for the titular character or the show, so it has been having to work itself up from rock bottom. The mangaka Kouji Seo you may know from previous titles including Suzuka and A Town Where You Live, and he certainly has a predilection for maddening melodrama in all his works revolving around the uglier qualities in human beings. Certainly he has a talent for creating stories that do not fail to leave an impression for better or worse. I will probably be conflicted on how I view this show ultimately, but one thing for sure is that it definitely is not be boring.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

The Typical Idiot Fan’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impression: C

I don’t know what to do with Kyoto Animation anymore. For years, they have put out quality animated products that have often been the best shows, or among them, in any given season. Even the boring shit has enough quality to it that it still ranks high. However, the content of their anime productions has gotten a little fucking stupid since the days of Haruhi, Hyouka, and Key adaptations, which has prompted many folks, like me, to question whether they know what the hell they’re doing over there. Anyway, Maid Dragon is a silly concept, so you’d think it would be a lot more humorous than it is. Maybe there just isn’t enough dragon shenanigans, which seems to be an agreement of the animation staff, who blow the budget every time the dragons do anything interesting.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju S2

Kaikyaku’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impression: A

It’s back, and it’s just as good as before! Season two picks up just a few months after season one left off, though the perspective is more Yotaro’s now than Yakumo’s. The rakugo performances are as stellar as always and really illustrate Yotaro’s improvement over time. The little character moments are there as well, and the subtle movements. Basically, if you enjoyed the first season you should definitely be watching the second one. This is an exceptional series and I fully expect it to maintain this standard through to the end.

Seiren

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impression: C

Ah yes, dating sims. A few things come to mind for this genre: a nondescript protagonist, a selection of cute girls, moments of sexual tension and lots of stupid hijinks. Not all of them are necessarily bad, however. KimiKiss: Pure Rouge was fairly good… but then there’s also Amagami SS. Seiren is similar to the latter kind; it’s silly for most parts and would serve only as guilty pleasure for Type A viewers. Like Amagami, the premises can be ridiculous but at least it’s light-hearted enough that viewers shouldn’t take this show seriously from the onset. There are only three girls here and one arc has already ended. I’m not sure what to expect for the remaining two; it could turn out to be good but for now, I’m just expecting something that I would easily forget once the show ends.

Masamune-kun no Revenge

Slashe’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 5
Initial Impression: C-

When, after intense exercise and dieting, you transform from a fatty to a shining ikemen (handsome man), what will you do with your newfound attractiveness? Clearly, seducing the “cruel princess” that tormented you for revenge might be sufficient for a motivation, but it makes for a weak premise for a romcom. More comedy than romance, Masamune-kun no Revenge begins down a dark path, only to stumble and lose its way with a puerile conception of malice, not knowing what to do with itself when its goal is nearly accomplished. In just five episodes, it seems to have forgotten its initial conceit, throwing in new characters and misunderstandings to stall for time, while heading towards the obvious conclusion of the two leads getting together. Beggars can’t be choosers in this paltry season, but its lack of quality dooms it to be forgotten.

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Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 6
Initial Impression: B-

The first season of Ao no Exorcist concluded with an anime original ending that left much to be desired in terms of quality from the point it diverges from the manga. The manga material is nothing special as it largely follows many of the same shounen action formulas we are all familiar with, but Ao no Exorcist is a case of execution above originality. As far as A-1 Pictures titles go, it is easily one of their better looking and directed shows. Additionally, it is one of Hiroyuki Sawano’s best soundtrack. The second season picks up the manga material again from the point the first season diverges while ignoring what the first season did afterwards. So far it has been slightly less engaging on its return than before, the first season had emotional pull right from the start, but it continues to be a rather solid shounen action anime.

Gabriel DropOut

The Typical Idiot Fan’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 4
Initial Impression: C-

I’m a huge defender of Doga Kobo and all of their “cute girls doing cute things” shows, because even if the subject matter is idiotic, somehow they execute the concept well enough that it becomes entertaining. That’s not really the case here, I’m afraid. The subject matter is not interesting, with the plot revolving around an angel-in-training graduating top of her class and then coming to earth and becoming a hikikomori NEET otaku “fallen angel”, and the execution is only average, feeling like a 4koma put to screen without a whole lot of imagination or directorial quirks to spice things up. Considering how cliche the characters act, I don’t even know why they’re angels and demons in the first place. Everything we’ve seen so far could have been done if they were normal humans instead, so it adds nothing.

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