Winter 2015 Anime – Week 3 Impressions

Week 3 concluded with a little bit more grace with most of the anime I follow with the likes of Tokyo Ghoul and Death Parade being surprisingly mellow and short on extremities. This week also marks the premiere of the last anime I was interested in checking out this season, Isuca. So let’s start from the worst of the week and work our way up!

Isuca (Episode 1)

Isuca was my hope of balancing great “new” anime with returning ones from previous seasons. Death Parade is kind of shouldering the brunt of the work, which isn’t a bad thing, but more never hurts. It’s a shame that Isuca couldn’t live up to this standard, and it’s pretty obvious why. This is just another generic fantasy anime with fan service shoved into it. Honestly it’s a bit of a drag, and almost insulting how many of the fantasy anime this season have deplorable depictions of erotic moments.

Isuca started like Parayste, but without the development. Our main character is walking down the street when a woman just throws off her clothes. Her ooh-la-la’s are censored and then it goes right into her turning into a giant centipede monster in a transformation scene similar to something you’d see in Parasyte. Luckily the guy is saved by the other main character, a blonde girl with a magical bow and arrow. From there, we learn that there are monsters of the dead that roam about our world inflicting casualties. Here’s where the sexual innuendo comes in. These monsters gain more life force by forcing their victims to experience the “ultimate pleasure.”  That’s right, orgasms for souls, pretty much.

If i had to pick the best part of this anime, it’s that these sexually oriented monsters actually look pretty cool. They aren’t the typical glorified succubi or incubi we’re used to seeing. Instead, they are gallant, majestically drawn beasts. It only makes it more weird that they inflict “pleasure” upon their prey. Despite this, the episode just progresses from bad to worse. Lightning bolts were used as excuses to literally shock the clothes off of the heroine. Then it did the stupid thing that nearly every fan-service anime does. The whole tripping scene that causes the main character to land on the girl in a sexually awkward pose. I cannot fully express how much scenes like this just irk me. Moreover, he lands on her with his lips actually making contact with hers. It’s like, even if I don’t care about the creative process of effective fan-service, is tripping onto the girl the only catalyst you writers can think of? Anyways, Isuca is dropped with no regret. This season has an absurdly high percentage of fan-service, and Isuca isn’t helping.

Maria the Virgin Witch (Episode 3)

Maria the Virgin Witch is unfortunately getting dropped as well. It seemed to have potential with it’s solid presentation of it’s world and realistic religious themes, but in the end, this is still an anime full of sexual innuendo that kind of gets in the way of the plot that I actually care about. On top of that, while I appreciate it’s full exploration of the multiple views of religion and belief in this world, it’s all a bit too dry and contrived. In the end, this episode just didn’t leave me excited, though I was admittedly interested in the proceeding events at times.

The opening clip with the archangel was a great start to the episode. The animation and intensity here was what I liked the most about this anime. I definitely dug the whole “the world doesn’t strive on goodness alone” bit, and like this anime is such a good clash of ideals, but then it just lost it’s momentum. We moved on to Maria watching another war with anger and unapproval, and she intervened by summoning another monster. This was a no-no which portrays her as reckless and independent. I kind of like that, but her character isn’t too endearing to me.

Finally, we had an agonizingly long scene of her opposition trying to convert her to their religion, or at least partake in it. It gave her the necessary declaration that she’s choosing her life as a witch over the shame of succumbing to the ideals she doesn’t believe in, but the priest interrogating her was a bore, and it didn’t really have impact. There just isn’t enough I like, but there’s a good amount I appreciate about this anime. I don’t care to see where it goes at this point, so I’m leaving it behind.

Log Horizon 2 (Episode 16)

What is Log Horizon doing?! Absolutely nothing. Well that’s not entirely the case, but man, did this anime turn into the ever-increasingly boring slice of life show. Shiroe continues to work behind the scenes, and I mean VERY behind the scenes as we see almost nothing of him. This episode was all about the journey that the youngsters started and it wasn’t very adventurous. With no antagonist, no reason for the journey but to level up, and no climaxes whatsoever, I feel like I was roped into an extremely boring side quest.

Log Horizon’s characters aren’t quite good enough to have several episode of them just going about their day. This season has spent too much time deviating from the main plot. It’s really a dangerous thing because Log Horizon hasn’t been fun for me for a long time now. And with each episode jumping between a few sub plots that have yet to bear any fruit…the one thing that keeps me going is that they’ll all combine into one hell of an arc, but my patience, and faith in the writer’s is definitely tiring of this wait. At least the tease of this new female Shiroe could be promising.

Nanatsu no Taizai (Episode 14)

Let me just start off by saying both this new opening and the original opening have had fantastic songs. I rarely like the ones that use English lyrics, but this one is enjoyable for sure! So, Episode 14 gave us a new Sin! Before we get into that, let’s walkthrough this episode, because aside from that reveal, there are some other good things to dissect. Now I never considered Nanatsu no Taizai a profound anime by any means. I long gave up hope of it being a transcendant shounen like Hunter X Hunter or Fullmetal Brotherhood, but this episode definitely appealed to me more than most of the others. It was much more tranquil and full of thoughtful writing this time. There was one that even echoed one of my favorite episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the “All is one, One is All” episode with it’s philosophical look at how the world runs off of a cycle of life. It wasn’t as evocatively directed, but the message is still the same.

The other thing I really liked was the first humanization of a villain. I have always disliked the villains of this anime because they were just so old-fashioned and 100% bad. We finally got a peek inside the life of one of the Holy Knights and her unstable living conditions as well as her charming little brother. There was a rather abrupt moment during this heartfelt moment where some vandals threw a rock through their window due to her failure as a Holy Knight. Honestly, I appreciate this extra effort in trying to gain my sympathy, but that scene was a little bit contrived and out of place. Besides that, I loved that scene completely. I especially liked the dark portrayal of her side of the relationship by slaughtering those who insult or harm their relationship. Still a villain, but one I understand now. As they should be.

And finally, the episode concluded in a fight scene that had a bit sharper choreography as well. Really, Nanatsu, good job on this episode. The fight was multi-dimensional with every Sin dealing with their own opponent and constantly changing upper hands. The best thing was the fight culminating in the surprise reveal of who Gowther really is. I already consider him the most interesting of the Sins so far, and I’m really curious to see what importance this suit of armor person has in relation to the TRUE Gowther.

Yona of the Dawn (Episode 15)

Whoa! New opening! After episode 13 and 14 didn’t have one, I thought we’d have the original opening all the way through. And now there’s techno? I do like the opening song a lot, but the animation that accompanied it was kind of a mix of the same scenes from the first one and new material, so overall it didn’t feel completely new. Either way, it already added an extra surprise to this episode! So, like Nanatsu no Taizai before this, Yona of the Dawn is also in the process of finding a select few legendary characters to add to the party. This time, we’re out to find the Green Dragon, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a glimpse of him yet.

This was still a very strong episode that finally integrated a secondary plot that I am actually very interested in. We also got a big eye-opener for our main heroine because we finally learned that her idol, her own father, was in fact a very despised king to the general populace. This is Yona’s first time of hearing this which just adds to the amount of things she has to swallow in order to become the strong princess we’re constantly teased of. I expected Yona to be unbearable after learning of this, but instead she just told the group she had to use the restroom and cried silently on her own. Her maturity, despite her emotional vulnerability, is definitely increasing.

And then we are now fully involved with the new King’s storyline, and it’s definitely not what I expected. Rather than the typical tyrannical antics of a super-villain, I am legitimately puzzled about his current motivation. He clearly has ulterior motives, but he his choosing to compose himself as a fool. He promises to rebuild the Kingdom, and it’s a promise that seems true, yet he’s casually strolling through towns, sightseeing. And now, with the revelation that the people at large disliked the previous king, who used to be our “good guy” it’s almost like we are hoping he actually will enact his ambition and change the Kingdom. They did a great job of increasing the complexity of this character. And from here on, we’ll have two developing plots to follow, so I’m really looking forward to the following episodes.

Your Lie in April (Episode 14)

This anime used to be hard to watch whenever the music took a back seat to the romantic development. I felt like without the grace of the music, this anime really was too melodramatic. It still kind of is, and I have accepted that Your Lie in April will always be that way, but this episode finally built a much stronger foundation for this interconnected love story to grow. Kousei has quite a potential emotional cataclysm on his hand in this episode, and I really like that.

Problem one is that Kaori ended up in the hospital, and that has caused Kousei to have these harrowing thoughts of her leaving him the same way his mother did. Thanks to the incredibly strong showcasing of his mother, and his fears and love mixed within, it’s completely understandable why he’d feel this way, and this creates a very REAL concern. I sympathize with Kousei a lot, and that’s hard to create for a character. I love how Kaori is continuing her completely unorthodox method of being a friend, despite her being in a hospital, and the lingering secret of Kaori that Kousei is sniffing at definitely piques my interest.

Problem two is that Tsubaki has now finally convinced herself that she does love Kousei. Thanks to her friend opening her eyes to the obvious, the scapegoat of a man she was using has fallen flat, and now her emotions are fully revealed. I mean, anyone could have called it, but this wasn’t a plot twist, it was a moment we were all waiting for. And the drama just kicked in instantly with Kousei shattering her newfound love with his plans on leaving his home to attend a faraway school. I was glad that it didn’t spend too much time watching Tsubaki agonizingly deal with her feelings through some long period of time, and we instantly hit the step in the plot. I almost don’t want to go back to the music now, thanks to this improved direction, but this anime is all about those climactic performance scenes, so let’s hurry and get to those!

Assassination Classroom (Episode 3)

Damn, this new character is awesome. He may have stolen the spotlight for this episode alone, making him entirely transparent in future episodes, but hopefully this isn’t the case. My comedic likeness of this anime to Kuroko’s Basketball just became more valid what with “Akashi” joining “Kuroko” in the fray.

This new guy is called Karma, and man is he a bitch for the teacher. Unlike all the previous students who just try petty, half-hearted assassination attempts, this guy’s first scene involved him literally causing the teacher to back away in fright. He’s a character who charges the anime with the dark, serious tone it needed since the beginning scene where the teacher entered pitch black mode. His tactics are relentless, and the anime doesn’t really dwell on them before moving on to the next one which causes a nice increase in pace. Eventually he is overcome and the teacher starts getting the better of him causing a nice clash that continues to a surprisingly warm ending.

The only thing that really seems poor in this anime is the whole Class E stereotyping. The students who aren’t in class E are depicted as brainless idiots who just spout incredibly hackneyed lines about how Class E is inferior to them. It’s horrible writing at it’s finest, but at least it’s not prominent throughout the episode. Besides that, the humor is as wacky as ever. I see that as being the biggest hit or miss aspect of this anime. For the most part, I like it. It’s a bit too random for me, but this whole premise is random as all hell, so it just fits. The question at hand is, now that Karma has been introduced, and already conquered, can the anime still continue it’s upward momentum?

Aldnoah Zero (Episode 15)

Aldnoah Zero is in a weird position right for me right now. I already know I don’t love it, but I will admit that I am pretty captivated with Slaine’s arc, and I feel like I always have been. He’s been the character I sympathized with and always wanted to see more of the entire series. Well…it looks like I got my wish because this episode had huge moments for him, including his biggest interaction with this world so far.

So let’s go straight to Slaine, this clever, ruthless young man. He is reminding me more and more of a character from the likes of Fate/Zero, another one of Gen Urobuchi’s writing credits. Slaine has always been underhanded, spited, and discriminated against, and he has finally risen above all of that to one of the highest ranks in the Martian empire, all through cold, emotionless subterfuge. The touching scene of the count officially naming Slaine his son turned his dethroning endeavor into a murder of his father. The emotional weight made it one of the most significant deaths in the series (because the other ones from the finale of last season were all bullcrap.)

And then we have all the parts I’m either slightly a fan of, or not at all. Slaine’s tactic of shooting bullets into orbit to create a trap in the future was pretty out there, but still pretty cool to see happen. Unfortunately, Inaho just wasn’t a driving force at all. His role in the fight was completely overshadowed by Slaine’s and his continued lack of emotion and ambition outside of clever battle tactics is definitely weakening his character, to me. I’m excited to see Slaine continue his plan to change the world, but I’m not excited to see Inaho again, and that is what Aldnoah Zero has become to me.

Durarara (Episode 3)

Durarara had a more focused episode this week, fully unraveling the mentality of the serial killer Hollywood, and yet again, Durarara shows it’s merit at crafting some truly interesting characters. While the episode did jump between some other plot lines, they all largely focused around this killer and her interaction with an actor.

So the central act of the episode was the scene in the home of actor, Kasuka, who is the brother of Shizuo, the road sign slinging hulk of the series. Kasuka has this brilliant contrast with Shizuo that really didn’t get to shine until this episode. While Shizuo is an overexpression of energy, Kasuka seems completely void of it; talking in monotones and behaving quite robotically. It’s when he explains his desires to experience parts of the human heart by becoming and actor, and living through the characters he becomes. It was a nice set up then that rolled into the true identity of the serial killer, who was also someone involved with the movie industry.

Turns out the killer was a female make up effects artist turned into a strange type of model/idol that had an indescribable charm to her. The inner-monologues, and the animation that accompanied it showed her descent into the mindset of a monster, and opened up the episode with an intense, dark tone. I love it when Durarara covers material like this. The play on roles with her being a human wanting to become a monster, and Kasuka being a monster that wants to become human, made for brilliant character interplay. And at the end, or I guess the moral of the story, was that due to her witnessing how happy Celty is, she could also be happy with her life as a monster. I’m not quite sure if her character is already “concluded” but I’d be happy to see more of her. Her psyche was clearly explained, so she’s one of the few character’s who’s mentality feels real in the anime.

Tokyo Ghoul Root A (Episode 3)

Tokyo Ghoul wasn’t all action, blood, and shouting for once. Well, technically it does this more than once, but it’s still somewhat infrequent. Normally I prefer the action scenes, but in Root A, I actually haven’t. Instead, I wholly enjoyed seeing all of the characters dealing with the changes that started with Kaneki abandoning Anteiku and joining Aogiri. Every scene with him always has me wondering if he’ll explain what he’s up to, but instead we get this tantalizing silent hero who just knows exactly what he’s doing, and we, the audience, will simply find out when the rest of the world does.

I’ll get this out of the way, Jason’s assistant or whoever he is easily a very annoying, and rather pointless character. However, he gave Kaneki a very interesting scene in which Kaneki actually comforted him. Kaneki’s demeanor has been a mystery, but we’re slowly seeing that just because he deserted the good guys, doesn’t necessarily mean he’s evil. It’s been an interesting dynamic of learning about Kaneki’s good natured past after he became such a ruthless force. It helps balance out the aspects of Kaneki we’re dealing with. I was worried that once he transformed, he would be a bit one-dimensional, but thankfully this episode proved that there’s a lot more to tell about Kaneki.

Touka and his best friend Hideyoshi had a wonderful scene together too, which involved simply discussing Kaneki as two of his closest friends that miss him. Touka going on about her college life, as well as seeing Hideyoshi’s valiant attempts at taking the heat off of his criminally wanted best friend made this anime feel a lot more about life and friendship than it ever has, and that felt really nice. We also got the new character revelation that the author that Kaneki loves is also an important character, and is implied to be the bandaged ghoul. I’m very excited to see what she offers. Tokyo Ghoul has been throwing a lot of characters at us, but as long as they each eventually have an impact on the story, I don’t mind this in the slightest.

Kuroko’s Basketball 3 (Episode 3)

FINALLY Kuroko’s Basketball got there. I was not a fan of this “villain” in the least bit, so I was elated that the game concluded in the space of two episodes, and on top of that, showed us another trick that the Generation of Miracles could do. It finally feels like Kuroko’s Basketball is continuing from the hyped finale of the previous season.

So of course, this game didn’t turn out to be one of my favorites just because this Shougo guy is easily the flattest pseudo-memeber of the Generation of Miracles so far. He slurps his tongue a lot, laughs in a very annoying manner, and his power was just a small variation to Kise’s. He brought almost nothing to the anime so, in short, he was a waste of time. Kuroko still had his inevitable moment of being a truly inspiring player by being the only one to see through Shougo’s personality and inquire if he truly is the violent man he makes himself out to be. I mean, it’s not going to make me respect the man at all, but I am at last glad they are keeping Kuroko’s influence over other character’s efficient.

Now let’s talk about Kise, the star of the episode. After suffering one defeat on the court after another, it seems Kise was completely out of options, but as we all know, this is when Kuroko’s Basketball works it’s magic. A truly awesome moment where Kuroko yelled out to him from the stands, which Kuroko RARELY does, shook Kise out of his stupor, and caused him to hit a new pinnacle of his play style. I absolutely loved this with every ounce of guilty pleasure I can muster. Kise, being able to copy every move of the Generation of Miracles just instantly made him seem unstoppable, yet thanks to Kuroko’s great directing, the victory never seemed assured till the last second. Now, there’s another player who wasn’t even in the game that kind of stole that show, and that was Aomine, my actual favorite generation member, and his awesome act of punching Shougo’s lights out. Aomine just potentially sacrificed his career, but it was for something that in some ways, was completely worth it.

Parasyte (Episode 15)

Parasyte continues it’s consistent intelligent foray into the dark and dreary with this cliffhanger of an episode. While it’s starting to repeat a lot of the same themes and mental processes, it doesn’t stop them from being strongly presented. We get to see another new type of parasite as well as our first glimpse at the big kahuna.

The episode opened with an extremely well animated fight between Shinichi and another parasite. This time, the focus on planning was completely absent, and they had to think on their feet, which was a nice change. Shinichi is still getting shocked left and right at just how incredulously cruel the parasites can be, and he renews his vows to protect as many people as he can. Migi and Shinichi are settling to each other’s terms a lot more now, which shows how far they have developed as a partnership. I like seeing that a lot. Another failed attempt at reconciling with his love interest, and we’re back to the reveal of what seems to be the most mighty parasite.

This man, buff to the maximum, was introduced playing Chopin on a piano. It’s always a scary thought when something artificial, or inhuman learns one of our precious arts, so to see this haunting monster playing a beloved piano classic definitely gave way for some psychological distress. I thought the bit of having the song play before it revealed who was playing it was pretty clever. Finally, at the end of the episode, we got to meet a strong, new form of parasite, or should I say, parasites in one body. A human host with three separate beings of intelligence within it should prove for a very desperate fight.

Death Parade (Episode 3)

Death Parade, like Tokyo Ghoul dialed things back, and approached things with a much more calm, and upbeat manner. However, in the case of Death Parade, it showed just how much variety this show could bring us. I thought it would be one dark, clever story after another, but this episode just demonstrated that Death Parade can be about something fun and warmhearted.

The game. Bowling. The players. Two teens. The twist. The bowling ball contains each other’s hearts. Instead of being a literal game of physical torture that the darts seemed to be, I would consider this a lucky roll in that no physical harm comes to you. I felt like a sucker, in the best way, in that I was waiting on tenterhooks for something shocking or violent to happen. I mean, after the last two episodes, why wouldn’t you. Instead, even the trepidatious moment when they threw a gutter ball, which should clearly have punished them with pain, it still didn’t happen. In fact, there was even comedy in this episode, such as the new bartender assistant and her hilariously awful supporting role in explaining the rules of this world. As this surprising development settled in, I began to enjoy the episode for completely different reasons.

The primary reason for that was the absolutely charming interactions of the two players. The way the hearts worked in the bowling balls allowed for increased psychological and emotional intensity since they could literally “feel” each other’s emotions. That’s not to say that this episode concluded without surprise, and I love how every episode has spun me for a loop one way or another. This time, it was simply the identity of the girl that served as the plot twist at the end. I didn’t really have the foresight to think about the scenarios involving characters ending up in anything different besides “one goes to heaven, the other goes to hell,” so it was a nice, happy ending to see that they both made it to reincarnation. And now that makes me wonder what an episode would be like with two evil characters. Death Parade continues to be incredibly thoughtful and well-directed, and there’s no need for this anime to end anytime soon. Next week…the DEATH ARCADE!!!


3 thoughts on “Winter 2015 Anime – Week 3 Impressions

  1. Welp, having finally just dropped Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, I’m now following a grand title of 3 new shows from the winter season – Death Parade, Durarara, and Yuri Kuma Arashi (and while I’m still sticking with it for now, there’s no guarantee I’ll be keeping that last one until the end either). I guess it’s lucky I’ve still got Yona, Ronja, and Parasyte, otherwise my current watch-list would be truly bereft.

    • If I hear that Yuri Kuma Arashi remains good till the end, I will definitely pick it up, but I’m going to wait for now. What were your thoughts on the King in the Yona episode where you see him in the Earth city? Am I just dense, or is he actually hard to predict?

      • You mean Geun-tae? Yeah, not sure where the show’s going to go with his character at all. He seems like a decent and honourable sort, but I have no idea how he’ll react if/when it comes to any kind of direct confrontation with Yona and her group.

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