Spring 2015 Week 3 Impressions

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Spring 2015 Week 3 Impressions




Alright, I've obviously been posting a lot of these reviews recently, and that's because with the arrival of summer break, I've had a lot more time than before. However, this will probably be the last one for at least a month, and if you're trying to decide on what to watch this season, then this is what you'd be looking for anyway.



Japanese: Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2 Sure-me
English: I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying: 2nd Thread
Studio: Seven
Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Premise: This is the second season of an anime about Kaoru, a hardworking woman in a white-collar job, and her otaku husband Hajime. The episodes are each 3 minutes and basically it's just slice-of-life about their daily lifestyle.
Impressions: The show is pretty unsubtle about it's attempts to encourage Japanese men, particularly otaku, to go out and get married, have sex, and have children, but at the same time, it is a really cute show. Kaoru and Hajime are a really cute couple who get along well and clearly love each other despite their lack of common interests. Because they're a married couple, their interactions are those of people in a caring and well-established relationship, so there isn't any of the drama or weirdness that happens in standard romance anime, which is really refreshing and enjoyable. As stated, each episode is pretty much just a short bit detailing some event in the lives of the couple, though there are some plot points which are starting to get confusing because the second season is not really following chronological order at all. It pretty much seems like they're putting off addressing the major plot point that was revealed in the final episode of the first season, though hopefully they'll get to it eventually.
Week 3 score: 7
 
Japanese: Dungeon no Deai wo Motomeru no wa Macchigatteiru Darou ka?
English: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
Studio: J.C. Staff
Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Premise: Orario is a city with a giant dungeon that adventurers explore to fight monsters and make money. Bell Cranel is a new adventurer and the singular member of the goddess Hestia's familia, which essentially amounts to a guild headed by a god. Together, they aim to become stronger and to gather new members, but that's not as easy as it sounds.
Impressions: So far, this is seeming a lot like SAO with slightly more blood and slightly more boobs. Clearly the premise is similar, but beyond that, the aesthetics and the swords and sorcery styling of the world are very similar. The similarities even go so far as the MC's VA being harem king Yoshitsugu Matsuoka who also voices Kirito, though to be fair, Yoshitsugu is in pretty much everything at this point, including being Souma in Shokugeki no Souma which will be discussed later. Having said that, being similar to SAO isn't inherently bad. DanMachi is enjoyable for the same kinds of reasons that SAO is enjoyable. It's the story of a guy who strives to be awesome in a cool, MMO-esque world. It's not innovative or new, but it's something people, myself included, want to watch nevertheless. One thing that is really unfortunate is that the world has a lot of interesting and very heavily video game inspired details which are lost in the translation from light novel to anime. While these details aren't strictly necessary to understand what's happening overall, they do help explain some things which don't really seem reasonable otherwise. For example, adventurers can train all they want, but they do not actually become stronger until their stats are updated by their god at which point the stat changes take effect. In other words, if an adventurer is training for an extended period without being able to have their stats updated, then once it actually occurs, they can suddenly seem a lot stronger. The only way that I know this information is by reading discussion threads after episodes, while it would be nice for these details to be explained within the show, that would also run the risk of becoming unnecessarily expository which detracts from the overall enjoyment. Long story short, I'm enjoying DanMachi.
Week 3 score: 7
 
Japanese: Etotama
English: Etotama
Studio: Shirogumi
Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Premise: The animals in Chinese astrology can take the form of cute girls, and Nyaa-tan, the cat-girl, wants to join the ranks of the Chinese zodiac. To do so, she has to compete with and defeat the 12 members of the zodiac or something. There are a bunch of rules surrounding this, but in truth, they don't really seem to matter much.
Impressions: There's this whole setup, but it's pretty arbitrary, and quite frankly, the rules seem to be made up as they go. They don't really matter because all in all, it's just a platform to have cute animal-girls doing cute animal-girl things and having cute chibi-animal-girl fights. Speaking of the fights, they are actually one of the more decent aspects of the show. The fights are well-choreographed, and they occur with the girls in chibi form with them and the environments are all done in CG. The CG is actually fairly decent, which is worth noting in the garbage-CG-filled world that is anime. But aside from the fight scenes, the show is pretty much just kawaii animal-girl moeblob nonsense. The whole point of this kind of show is to appeal to cuteness, and Etotama does a decent job with reasonably good art and cute character designs. But because there are so many characters, they feel really deficient in personality. A few have been given one-dimensional personalities while others haven't really done much at all. And I guess that's mostly to be expected of a show of this nature. What was weird was in the last second of the third episode, there was a major plot point, and I don't know what the show is trying to do because it didn't fit the tone much at all. It felt really forced, and I feel like it's going to just end up being retracted in the next episode. In addition, the show keeps making attempts at meta humor, which also feels really forced. As we've seen in the past, I am very much a lover of meta humor, but it needs the right context, and Etotama doesn't have any reason for employing meta humor other than to try to be amusing. Etotama isn't bad, but it's really nothing special, and even the generally enjoyable CG fight scenes can't make up for not having anything else.
Week 3 score: 5
 
Japanese: Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] 2nd Season
English: Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] 2nd Season
Studio: ufotable
Simulcast: Crunchyroll, Daisuki, Hulu
Premise: Second season of the ufotable adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night. The premise of Fate/stay night is that there's a set of mages summon heroes from the past with whom they partner up to kill the other pairs and win access to the Holy Grail which is able to grant any wish.
Impressions: Unlimited Blade Works is jokingly referred to as Unlimited Budget Works, and that's because ufotable really knows how to make animation look fantastic. This is the second half of the story, so if you're going to watch, you should really start with the first season (which in the Crunchyroll and Hulu links just means start from episode 1 because both seasons are treated as a single show), and some would argue that you should start with Fate/Zero, which was the first piece of the Fate series that ufotable adapted. Technically Fate/Zero is a prequel, but it was written after Fate/stay night, so the preferred order is up for debate, and I frankly don't know what my opinion is. In any case, I've loved everything ufotable has done with the Fate series adaptations, and UBW so I doubt the second season of UBW will be an exception. The story is really interesting and it looks wonderful. It is really violent though, so be warned.
Week 3 score: 9
 
Japanese: Hibike! Euphonium
English: Sound! Euphonium
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Premise: Kumiko Oumae has just started high school. She played euphonium in her middle school's concert band, and out of curiosity, she goes to check out the band at her high school along with two of her classmates, Hazuki and Sapphire, and she eventually gets roped into joining. There they run into Reina, a former middle school bandmate of Kumiko who is serious about wanting the band to succeed.
Impressions: Hibike! Euphonium is the kind of thing that's come to be expected of KyoAni. It's a bunch of cute girls doing something, in this case playing in a concert band. With that being said, the story already seems more dramatic and less slice-of-life than I anticipated. It's still fairly fluffy, and the bordering on moeblob characters don't really help with intense moments. From the first 3 episodes, it's kind of hard to tell exactly what tone the show is going to take, but I intend to stick along for the ride for a couple of reasons. One, I honestly really like KyoAni despite the ups and downs that they've gone through in the past. Their character designs may be a little bit bland, but KyoAni does know how to hit the marks on cuteness, and they've done a really good job with art and backgrounds. Unlike the flashy, colorful artstyles that I've been praising a lot recently, Hibike! Euphonium employs a more cinematic approach, using lighting and angles to create nice shots. Two, they seem to be working hard to accurately portray the details of being in a concert band. I may not have technically been in band, but I was in orchestra, and disregarding the (depressing) lack of strings (other than the double bass), concert bands are honestly more similar in style to an orchestra than to a marching band or a pep band, and I'm getting flashbacks to being in orchestra. There are admittedly some weird translations. The one that's annoying to me is that in Japanese, the double bass is called a contrabass, so that's what it's translated to. Admittedly, the double bass player is my favorite character, partially because the double bass is a damn sweet instrument, but calling it a contrabass is straight up dumb. The other translation weirdness was in the third episode, they claimed that the first-year and beginner horns were practicing circular breathing, and I was like, "What the hell? They're trying to teach circular breathing to people on their second day even handling an instrument? That's either inaccurate, or Japanese concert bands get rolling quickly." I later realized that this was just a mistake on Crunchyroll's part, and the actual Japanese word used translates to abdominal breathing, which makes more sense. In any case, it's good so far; hopefully it'll stay good and not drag on too much.
Week 3 score: 7
 
Japanese: Kekkai Sensen
English: Blood Blockade Battlefront
Studio: Bones
Simulcast: Funimation, Hulu
Premise: Three years ago, New York became enshrouded in fog, and a gate was opened to a supernatural world called the alterworld. Now known as Hellsalem's Lot, the former New York is full of all sorts of supernatural creatures living alongside humans, but the world continues to turn. Leonardo Watch is a young photographer living in Hellsalem's Lot, and after a strange sequence of events, he is brought into the organization known as Libra which aims to preserve the balance in Hellsalem's Lot.
Impressions: Kekkai Sensen is enjoyable, but at this point, it's hard to say how it will develop. So far it's been episodic with each episode having it's own small story. The character interactions are fun, but the storytelling is really jumpy and erratic. There appears to be some sort of overall story, but it's pretty hard to tell what it's supposed to be. The art is kind of whatever, though the color choices are decent. The general palette is very muted and dingy with lots of gray, but then the supernatural elements are highlighted with bright color, and the contrast is nice. The animation is okay. It gets better during action scenes, though it seems to rely a lot on fairly minimal movement which reduces the requirement for fluid and flashy animation. The smooth minimal motion does work though because it makes the action seem more stylish which is complemented by the jazzy soundtrack that goes with those scenes. Speaking of the music, it's quite good, but very stylistically scattered. My favorite parts of the score are the jazzy cues for the action scenes, but I'm also enjoying the American radio music in the background because it's a fitting nod to the setting. But then there are parts that have hip-hop influences, and in the most recent episode, Ode to Joy was used. I personally wish they would settle on a style of music to use because the main issue I have with Kekkai Sensen is that I'm having trouble deciphering the tone of the show.
Week 3 score: 7
 
Japanese: Ore Monogatari!!
English: My Love Story!!
Studio: Madhouse
Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Premise: Takeo Gouda is a freshman in high school, but he has the build of a professional football player. His best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, is super hot and popular with the ladies, and much to Takeo's dismay, every girl Takeo has liked has instead fallen for Sunakawa. One day on the train, Takeo saves a girl, Rinko Yamato, from a molester and immediately falls for her. Where will things go from here?
Impressions: Ore Monogatari is great so far. Long story short, it's funny, it's adorable, and somewhat atypically, there's already been romantic progress within the first 3 episodes. The artstyle is distinctly shoujo, though it's not overwhelming, which is fortunate for me because I have trouble digesting anything that is too far into shoujo artstyle. In fact, the art looks really good overall with lots of pastel and springtime colors, as is pretty common for romance anime. I also love the manga influence with occasional rapid panel changes and snarky comments written out in text. These details remind me of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. (Tangential side note, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is an absolutely phenomenal romcom, heavy on the com, that pokes fun at shoujo manga tropes.) As far as characters go, Yamato is super cute, if a little bit bland, and Takeo and Sunakawa are straight up awesome and among the bro-est of bros I've ever seen, and I'd be willing to watch it just for them. Even just 3 episodes in, this is already looking to be one of the cutest romance anime I've ever seen.
Week 3 score: 9
 
Japanese: Plastic Memories
English: Plastic Memories
Studio: Dogakobo
Simulcast: Crunchyroll, Daisuki, Hulu
Premise: "Giftia" are androids created by SAI Corporation that are imparted with a soul and emotions which are effectively indistinguishable from people. The major difference is that Giftia only have a lifespan of about 9 years, 4 months at which point their memories and personalities start degenerating. This is why SAI Corporation has a Terminal Service Department, which collects Giftia from their owners just before they expire. On recommendation, Tsukasa Mizugaki begins working for the Terminal Service Department partnered with a Giftia named Isla.
Impressions: Right from the outset, Plastic Memories seems to be angling really hard for tragedy. Even the premise presents clear themes of attachment and loss. The first episode had a serious feels trip and left a major impact, but then where do you go from there? There are certainly some light-hearted moments, but it always comes back to making ominous comments about what's to come. You all know how much I love melodrama and heavy emotional impact, but it somehow feels a little hollow here. In part, I think it's trying to push the dramatic elements too early. The characters still feel empty, like they have the framework set by their character archetypes, but there isn't much more to them than that. That being said, the show looks decent visually. There are some nice animation moments, and the environment, especially the backgrounds, is sleek and shiny, giving a near-future feel. I think this show could very easily earn a 7 by the end, and it could potentially score even higher if it starts really shining soon, but at the moment, while there isn't anything overwhelmingly flawed, it feels like it's just going through the motions. It looks the way it should, but that's kind of just superficial. In short, it feels plastic.
Week 3 score: 6
 
Japanese: Shokugeki no Souma
English: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma
Studio: J.C. Staff
Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Premise: Souma Yukihira has spent most of his life working with his dad in their family restaurant Yukihira. He hopes to someday surpass his dad as a chef, but has yet to outdo him even once. Right as Souma is going to enter high school, his dad tells him that he's going to close down the restaurant for a few years and sends him to an interview for a culinary school. Souma is annoyed thinking that going to school to cook is pointless, that is until he learns that the school he's being sent to is the top culinary school in the nation, and few students manage to make it all the way to graduation. His dad tells him that if Souma can't even get in and make it all the way through, he has no chance of surpassing him.
Impressions: Shokugeki no Souma is food porn in both senses of the expression. On the tail of Koufuku Graffiti, Shokugeki no Souma is another show which brings beautifully drawn and animated food, though this time with much more plot and much more "plot". Thus far, Shokugeki no Souma is a very good adaptation of a very good manga. I am up to date on the manga, and I'm not sure how far this adaptation will cover, but as long as this quality is maintained, viewers are in for a hell of a ride. Everybody loves to point out that the manga's illustrator is/was a hentai artist, and the skills being transferred from there into Shokugeki no Souma are pretty obvious. The fanservice and nudity is equal opportunity (in that it's pretty evenly split between male and female) and is mostly used in the context of over the top reactions to food, so it's actually kind of amusing and wacky rather than just feeling kind of gross. That being said, this obviously isn't the kind of thing I'd recommend to someone who knows nothing about anime, and I would suggest that you avoid watching it in sight of such people because you will undoubtedly be judged for watching what can get pretty close to straight-up porn. But speaking of over the top reactions, if you've read or watched Yakitate!! Ja-pan, the feeling of Shokugeki no Souma is extraordinarily similar. The protagonist is a guy who wants to be an awesome baker/chef, and even though he doesn't know the formal techniques that trained bakers/chefs use, he's confident and adaptable and puts in the work to become better. The world of baking/cooking are presented as super competitive, with battles in which bakers/chefs face-off to prove their strength, and the bread/food is so good that it triggers ridiculous and nonsensical reactions. Even Yakitate!! Ja-pan had its share of nudity during reactions, though in Shokugeki no Souma, it's pretty much every time anybody eats anything. The nudity might understandably put some people off, but if you can get past that, you're in for something funny and interesting and very well done.
Week 3 score: 8
 
 
Continuing from Winter 2015:
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom)
Kuroko no Basket 3rd Season (Kuroko's Basketball 3rd Season)
 
Other notable:
Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo: I've read the manga, and it's a pretty good high school romcom with magical shenanigans. I watched the first two episodes of the anime, and it looks like a really solid adaptation. It seems like they're trying to go at a fast pace, so some details are being lost, but for the most part, they seem to be capturing the important points. However, I'm not saying more because I probably won't watch any further. Unlike other anime that I've watched having already read the manga, this one doesn't have anything particularly special added in the adaptation, and there's nothing about the story which inherently benefits from being animated. Coupled with the fact that I'm not dying to go through the story a second time, it's hard for me to convince myself to watch it all the way through. But all in all, it seems to be a good adaptation, so if you haven't read the manga, I think it would be enjoyable. It's available on Crunchyroll

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ChaoticGrowth
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Spring 2015 Week 3 Impressions :: Comments

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Post on Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:13 pm  Aznmastermind5

ChaoticGrowth wrote:...food porn in both senses of the expression...

Omg is that the show where the 'meat jucies' gif comes from?


Edit:
I think it is!
http://i.imgur.com/z1Koqad.gifv

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Post on Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:22 am  ChaoticGrowth

Lol, yes it is. That's from the first episode, and it has thus far been (and if it sticks to the manga as well as it has been, will remain) one of the pornier reactions (with the worst offenders being dried squid food combination reactions). But the reactions throughout the series aren't all of the straight-up erotic variety like that one, and a lot are more along the lines of over-the-top or weird. If you make it to episode 8, you get to see Pavarotti singing while in a duck outfit. Though even that gif already demonstrates the fact that there's basically just as much male fanservice as female because the food doesn't care about the gender of the person eating it.

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Post on Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:50 pm  Aznmastermind5

Glorious

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