Spring 2017 Anime – First Impressions

With double the Shingeki and one half the Naruto, Spring 2017 was a season that I inevitably couldn’t help but write about. The unheard cries of anime fans clamoring for a sequel to Attack on Titan (Shingeki anime number one) are finally getting their prayers answered. In addition, the legendary Naruto is starting a new series with the younger, scrappier Boruto as the main character. While those two definitely caught my interest, it’s the return of Shingeki no Bahamut that had me quivering with anticipation for this season to roll around.

Now every anime season always has a lot more to offer than the blockbuster highlights. That’s why I’m here, returning from a 1 year writing hiatus, to devote my time across a dozen of this season’s new anime. As for what has become tradition, I’m going to put the worst foot forward, and start with the disappointments, then work my way up to the Spring 2017 delights. And spoilers do lurk in the shadows. If you are really curious about the story of episode one, then don’t read past the opening paragraph. The first one’s spoiler free, after that, it’s a minefield. Have fun reading, folks, and it’s good to be back.


Shuumatsu Nani Shitematsu ka? Isogashii Desu Ka? Sukutte Don’t Even Bother Reading the Rest Because You Shouldn’t Watch This Anyway.

Where do I even begin? How about with the singular good thing I can actually say about this anime? It has one of the longest titles ever! Now let’s get on to the bad stuff, which is EVERYTHING ELSE.

As I thought of what to say about this anime, all I could do was shake my head in fervent disapproval. This was one of the worst premieres I’ve seen in a long time. Halfway through the episode, I began to think that this anime was created solely to be the antithesis to everything I like about anime. The episode opens with a melodramatic monologue about how a girl felt like she was “special” as people are bleeding and dying in the middle of some hectic battle, all while a pop ballad is playing. What on earth was I supposed to be feeling there?! Immediately after, I was thrown for a loop when the anime transitioned into a town sequence with what seemed like a teenage youtuber’s first attempt at making an AMV off of a sappy romance anime. The character development hasn’t even started the damn engine yet and you expect me to feel emotions when I see them explore a town and forge a bond made from nothingness?! Then she urges him to forget he ever met her in some trite dramatic cliffhanger that serves no actual purpose to anything. There is no consequence to him remembering her, regardless.

Then we jump forward to where Willem is at the location of his new job. Then we cut to the worst line of the whole show. This is Willem everyone, the main character of our show.

Eye twitch number one: Do not sound like you are reading a character description straight from a book, especially about yourself. This is a big part of the problem. The characters do not stop talking. They incessantly narrate everything, never letting the world speak for itself. We are told how the main character feels. We are told that the bridge that is literally falling apart before our very eyes “is getting damaged”. We are told things that the anime could easily just communicate, and in some cases already has. This allows the character to be even more boring because he doesn’t have to express anything himself, and makes the writing completely obsolete. I could care less about anyone this anime has introduced me to because their writing lacks any personality.

And then, as if the pain wasn’t enough, the anime decided to quadruple the dosage with 4 moe-designed characters of various colors. Their personality traits are less defined than those little messages hidden on popsicle sticks. Not to mention his work-partner being the sleaziest, laziest character archetype I’ve come across in a long time. A troll that constantly expresses her desire of eating him. Whenever Willem says anything to her, she blushes, says “you meanie” and begins the next fan service routine. Finally, we have the girl from the town scene, who also appears later and serves as the smitten, shy girl who is so entranced by Willem that she can barely muster any words. In case that part wasn’t clear, they show her blushing for an agonizingly long time. If it still wasn’t clear, it cuts to her hands wringing. We understood she was nervous about three transitions ago, it does not need played up to the point that you’re just shoving the mannerisms of a shy girl down our throat.

Then we cut to the other worst line of the show…

Eye twitch number 2: How do you forget the fact that you aren’t good with kids anymore, especially after you just got done “being” good with them? That’s like me saying I used to be good at juggling. Then realizing I don’t know how to juggle anymore, so I correct myself, and find myself saying that after I just got done juggling well. And then, as if to insult our very intelligence, the show plays up its greatest plot twist. See, the whole plot is that Willem takes a job to guard a weapon warehouse. Only there’s no weapons, and no warehouse. It just a house full of children. Why on earth would it be called a warehouse of weapons with only little girls here? Willem asks this to Chthyll or whatever her name is. I’m beyond the point of wanting to go back and verify. Before she tells us this unfathomable revelation, she has to warn us that we don’t have to think too hard about it. And preceding that, she says that the answer is hidden in the very questions Willem asked. And that revelation is…the girls are the weapons. WHOA. If the anime expected me not to see that coming, then that was the final nail in the coffin that is made entirely of nails. I urge absolutely no one to watch this show unless you have watched everything else that has aired this season, and still want something new to watch. Even then, I’d suggest to watch everything else a second time while blindfolded in a house with no AC and I’m sure you’ll still have a better time. But hey, the scenery isn’t bad.

1/10


Granblue Fantasy

Granblue fantasy was a fairly anticipated release from a season ago until it was delayed to our current season. I was cautiously optimistic and just assumed that it meant this anime was going to come out on its A game. But a high letter grade, this is not, because Granblue Fantasy is the latest anime guilty of fantasy trope mimicry. By playing it safe, this anime managed to save itself from becoming a smoldering trainwreck, but at the expense of denying it any distinctive, redeeming qualities. Granblue Fantasy has done nothing to set it apart, meaning you can go in and get just about everything you’re expecting out of a typical fantasy anime. Except, perhaps, the main character.

Gran, our titular character (actually didn’t see that coming), lacks almost every aspect of an intelligent being. Or rather, he absolutely does not think about any consequences ever, at all. He’s not brain dead, but whatever is in his skull surely isn’t doing him any favors. If you’ll forgive my incoming rant, he starts off by finding a mysterious woman in the forest, and through the short conversation of learning her name, decides to disobey soldiers and refuses to turn over what clearly seems like a prisoner. He places no scrutiny on her innocence. She could just as easily be an escaped convict. But we’ll let that pass. A damsel in distress has the ability to lure many astray from their right mind. But then he says in front of these insanely armored soldiers that he can handle it, without even knowing what weapons they have. He’s got it. How does he know, though? I guess he’s just always got it. That’s how he knows. After he does actually beat them down, dumb declaration number three happens when he announces it’s safe. Immediately after he says that, a soldier gets back up and signals his allies with a flare gun. Why on earth did you assume it was safe? After all this, Lyrias original savior comes to take her to safety and Gran insists on accompanying them. “Don’t be reckless!” shouts one of Gran’s villagers. Okay, so at least Gran knows not to be reckle- HE GOT HIMSELF KILLED?!

Yes, the main character, through his stupidity and overconfidence, ends up dying in episode one. Luckily Lyria is by his side ready to give him her powers. I don’t really understand what happened there. Did she actually transfer all her powers to him, some power, or just plain old healed him? Either way, she cheated death, so we already know by episode one that our main character can’t die. That’s pretty handy and should do well to make sure he’s not reckless again… wait a minute. So you catch my drift. This show is not going to turn any heads for being smart. Especially with our painfully voice acted villain who may as well be comic relief. If only this anime was actually trying for that angle.

Now did I hear the same voice actor as Happy from Fairy Tail, cast as another flying animal-like mascot? I did mention mimicry, yes? Vryn accompanies Gran, and seems to just be there to try to act cute. He generally doesn’t succeed at this, and when cute things trying to be cute aren’t actually cute at all, then it gets awkward real fast. So the cast is definitely more misses than hits, but it didn’t squander its potential yet. Gran has a lot to learn, but I’m worried the anime doesn’t even consider his problems as actual problems. The only characters I liked were Lyria and Catalina. Lyria seems to understand the gravity of the situation (while I question if Gran understands gravity at all), and is therefore the one who kind of pushes the plot along. She is already a bit of a deus ex machina since she saved herself from certain death twice already with inexplicable powers that she only uses in these exact moments. Catalina, on the other hand, is the most grounded character, feeling shame for the innocent bystanders getting dragged into the fray, yet knowing not to waste time dealing with stubborn, persistent helpers like Gran. Though Catalina does mention in one scene that she “can’t go into details” with Gran, but then Gran asks one further question, and she proceeds to tell all the details. My eye is starting to twitch again at this point.

I mentioned that the anime was delayed, so perhaps you were expecting even more refined animation. I do think that this anime scores high on the aesthetic front. The first thing I noticed straight from the opening scene is that this anime has a different way of being drawn than most. It’s subtle, but there is a bit of a colored pencil type of outlining on the characters. It makes them look rough around the edges, but this serves to blend them in with the background more. It looks really good on character close ups, and I commend A-1 for bringing yet another well-drawn anime to the fray. Granted, there were no animation jaw-droppers that a few of the other premieres seemed to have. It falls just short of the level of being able to watch it purely for its artistry. But I think most people will find it generally pleasant to look at, regardless.

Granblue Fantasy has some other highs, like the appealing character design. Their outfits remind me of games like Fire Emblem, that just feel like fashionable, colorful outfits that fit in this time and age.  But Granblue Fantasy also has other lows, like the underwhelming action choreography. The fights I saw in this episode only amounted to sword swings with fancy lights, and no actual swordplay. With all that accounted for, this introduction is ultimately old news. Things you’ll see in plenty other fantasy anime appear here, and you won’t find any cunning characters in this neck of the woods. Gran really bugs me, a lot. The cute animal mascot is overdone. The world is drawn well, but hardly imaginative. It’s few saving graces are eclipsed by its lukewarm qualities. It left me feeling with the sad notion that fantasy isn’t actually fantastical if it’s all so derivative, but that’s how you keep a premiere from not becoming a catastrophe.

6/10

 


The King’s Avatar

Now here’s one you may not see a lot of reviewers talk about. The King’s Avatar is a Chinese cartoon (anime, if you prefer) and as such, has no official Japanese dub OR english subs. There is only a fan subbed version available, and it wasn’t easy to watch. The subtitles only appear for a very small length of time making any line that has more than a few words vanish before you have a chance to read it all. Viewing difficulties aside, there’s not much to write home about, but I think this is an anime that is taking a competitive MMO approach in a way that some would appreciate.

That approach is accomplished by two main aspects of this anime. The first aspect, and probably the one that will turn off half of its viewers, while engaging the other half, is the way that it treats the MMO as more of a game. It’s a way of life. When the main character deals a verbal blow to another character by saying he’s dishonoring the game by not playing for its sake, it may not land solidly for a lot of you. Is gaming really something that commands that much respect and dignity? The way he says it is the same as insulting a person’s integrity for learning martial arts just to look cool, and not for the sake of the art form of combat. This is a valid, and often articulated in Chinese cinema. Can that same train of thought translate to the art form of pro gaming? Either way, that’s the level of respect this anime has for the video game form. The main character is a “god” of this video game, and as such, offers pearls of wisdom for those who taint its sanctity like a monk to a troubled student or spirituality.

 

The second approach is that the MMO gaming is handled very realistically, with a small air for theatrics. It adheres to MMO lingo and follows tried and true RPG tactics. It cements the game as something in our plane of reality. There is no crazy technology that makes the game actually hurt you, nor is it about anyone getting stuck in the world of the video game. The King’s Avatar features actual people like me and you, playing a completely normal video game. Alongside that, it also portrays the fan base quite well. Showing the countdown to the launch of a new server in a net cafe seems like something that would actually happen. If you like serious drama coming out of something as immaterial as people concocting devious plans to make sure they get a bigger share of the loot, then this is right up your alley. This kind of stuff does appeal to me too. I like when things are taken seriously rather than comically, for the most part. Although, that is a scale that can tip unfavorably in both ways.

But how was it, really? I know that question is on all of your minds. How is a Chinese cartoon, especially compared to what we’re used to coming out of Japan? To put it bluntly, The King’s Avatar definitely can’t be the sole representative of all Chinese cartoons, but since its all I have to work with, I’ll have to make do. The King’s Avatar is equivalent to a poorly directed anime of this day and age. Scenes do not transition well, and the animation is rough, making a lot of generally uncomfortable scenes. For instance, a character walking towards the camera is portrayed as simply having their character model move up and down with literally no representation of actually moving towards the camera. But the art in itself, the things not in motion, do look good. Screen caps of this anime come out well, despite looking clunky in motion. But when it comes to the overall flow of the anime, it doesn’t fare well. The only time I was getting actively engaged was when our main character managed to see through the nefarious plan of one of the new players, and used his bravado and wits to show how he saw through his deception. It’s the typical super-genius character ploy that makes everyone feel like the protagonist is immune to deceit. I kind of like these moments too, to tell the truth, but they definitely are one of the lesser established tropes.

The art style itself mimics Japanese anime, however. I do believe the art team has a lot of inspiration from anime in the way their characters are drawn, particularly the eyes and hair. Many would confuse this for an anime at first glance. The most noticeable thing comes down to the voice acting. That’s the most recognizable difference from the anime form. Many would find the complete change in dialect a bit offputting if you are a longtime watcher of anime. But as I grew up watching Chinese movies as well, I feel like it sounded pretty natural. Obviously some exaggeration is happening since voice actors are bringing characters to life as best as they can, but overall the voice acting was solid all around. This, unfortunately, doesn’t carry through into the sound design. I think the audio quality of this anime is the true worst offender. The sound mixing comes off as very messy and makes action scenes lack elegance.

In the end, regardless of the comparisons between Chinese and Japanese cartoons, this is still, all things considered, a generally bland premiere. It does nothing on the production front to draw you in, and will only appeal to those who have probably lived an MMO lifestyle at some point in their life. While this show does a lot to keep the story in a more mature spectrum of reality (shady sponsorship dealings and adult characters), it lacks any real charm or identity. I think I will give it one more episode, and write more about it if my opinion changes drastically.

6/10

 


Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

Dear lord, what am I doing here? I have never watched Naruto! What’s a Boruto? What did I miss? HOKAGE?!

So I found myself in a predicament. I could either just jump on the Naruto train now, while the series is going in a new direction, or I can run to the caboose of the Naruto train and try to run back up to the front of train through several hundred compartments. I looked at my clock, and thought, “I imagine I won’t be able to finish hundreds of episodes of anime by the time I have to go to work today.” Therefore, I decided to skip all of Naruto. Bye-bye filler. Sayonara Shippuden. And hello Boruto Naruto, a name that I will probably never utter in full as I sound like a baffoon trying to pronounce “burrito.”

So what was it like, watching an episode standing atop the story foundations of an entire dynasty of anime? Well, seeing as how Boruto crashed a train into a stone carving of Naruto’s face in this anime’s equivalent of Mount Rushmore, I don’t think we really need to worry about the events of the original Naruto. But I can tell all sorts of things probably went over my head. There were plenty of times where the camera would hover on someones face as if it was letting Naruto fans get a long look at how the character looks now, while I’m just here puzzled as to why the camera is lingering for so long. So yeah, I can obviously sense a lot of this episode is reintroducing a beloved cast and letting fans soak in the nostalgia. I imagine if this was a Naruto sitcom, I would hear gasps from the laugh track at a lot of these awkward pauses. But I didn’t let it get to me. I was just here to enjoy Naruto for the first time. Luckily, I was able to catch on to most of the things that anchored the story of this episode. This truly does feel like an episode 1 of something new, rather than episode 100 of something old.

The first thing that surpassed my expectations was the environment. The town that Boruto lives in evokes a sense of wonder and fantasy. It reminds me of a detailed starting town in a classic Japanese RPG video game. I’m sure this charming town is something that long time fans have grown accustomed to. Or perhaps it is a new town? Either way, I didn’t talk to any Naruto fans about this episode as nothing seemed too confusing, nor did I ever feel lost. But there was dialogue confirming that the town is becoming modernized. So I feel like it’s a town Naruto fans have seen, but not in this fashion. If I feel like I want to live in the setting of an anime, it becomes very easy for me to watch, and Boruto kind of nailed that from the get go by having Boruto dashing, and doing elaborate parkour throughout the town. It was the classic opening scene of showing our unnamed hero making his way through a bustling town as the music sets up the mood for adventure.

After that parkour scene, we got to learn about Boruto himself. A variable that would hinge on my satisfaction with this premiere because shounen heroes are a large factor in the success of these types of shows. As for Boruto? He gets a pass. He’s a free spirit that we see offer casual guidance to his friend. He’s a little bit too nonplussed to really garner my affection, though. He tells his friend to stand up to his dad without actually taking time to appreciate the situation. He doesn’t seem to care about too much in general. He complains that his father never comes home, while his mother explains the reason and intent behind that, so he seems to lack a lot of empathy. They tried to nail the “Gon” factor from Hunter X Hunter, which is a young boy who is cluelessly inspirational, and Boruto doesn’t really pull that off. Gon would never rush in to save a boy from a bully, only to tell that same boy to “stop being a wuss.” I will, at the very least, compliment his attire, as that high collar jacket is pretty damn cool. The anime took extra care to show it fluttering in the wind just right.

Not everything is nice and neat in ninja town, we learn. There is a clip of a grown up Boruto in the beginning, engaged in a rather high-stakes looking battle. It’s then revealed that this fight is from far in the future, over the very same town we are then introduced to. Only, during that flash forward, the town was in ruin and the villainous character declared the Age of the Shinobi to be over. So that foreshadowing serves as the seed that grows into the thought that this town is on the verge of some dastardly showdown. It was a pretty trope-like tease, that didn’t really get me on the edge of my seat. Though it does do enough to make me curious how we get from point A to point B. This first episode offered no battle scenes, as it primarily served to introduce the characters and make us feel at home in their city.

Much to my surprise, Naruto is in this anime still! Honestly, I thought the series changed to Boruto because Naruto himself died. (I probably sound like a less competent reviewer for every Naruto thing I don’t know, huh?) And also to my surprise, he’s very adult, very responsible, and very…boring. There’s not much to say about one of the biggest faces in the anime industry off of this episode alone. This goes along with other aspects of this episode too. The opening sequence feels like it was ripped straight from the 90’s. For me personally, it doesn’t do much to show the evolution of this show. The soundtrack of this first episode was equally aged, and unrefined. The guitar riffs that sound like a kid recording a practice session in a garage do nothing to make me appreciate the score composition of this series. It feels like the composer is literally flipping on a switch that says “guitars” whenever something exciting happens.

So overall, this premiere nails the important things to hit the ground naruto-running. It introduces a young main character with well-communicated ideals, and how he influences others. It expresses that he has a large responsibility ahead of him meaning his easy life isn’t going to be easy for long. And finally, it connects Naruto of the past to the Boruto of the future by having Boruto follow in his father’s footsteps, as if he’s walking the path of a bonafide legend. These are all things that get a shounen fan excited. What it lacks, unfortunately, are all the things that could make this anime break the mold. Everything from the dialogue, music, animation, and even the way the episode is directed doesn’t really serve much of a purpose except to bring Boruto to life in a basic way. While there’s a clear bar of quality that this anime has surpassed, it’s about as conventional as shounen can get. While the charm of the city and its people create a great introduction, we know based on the flash forward that things are going to get serious. And when they do, it’s going to take a lot to make this action anime throw it’s weight around with the likes of Attack on Titan or Rage of Bahamut.

7/10

 


Tsuki ga Kirei

It’s almost as if I was watching this anime through a veil of carefully measured silk. Everything about this anime is soft, purposeful, and ultimately stronger for it. Tsuki ga Kirei uses this aesthetic strength to clearly evoke a sense of realistic, young love blossoming in a very realized world. These types of fuzzy romances that hover and scrape the surface of maturity and naivety marks a peculiar atmosphere that I thoroughly enjoy.

The easiest comparison is One Week Friends. A similarly quiet, tranquil school romance with a distinctive art style. Albeit, that one was a little more tragic, and Tsuki ga Kirei doesn’t seem to be in any rush to lay on any tragic motifs just yet, if at all. As such, this anime exercises its strengths in order to bring you as intimately close to these characters as you can get. By showing both characters daily routine, you learn a whole lot just from purely examining them. I love anime where the dialogue of the setting and scenes speak equally, or sometimes even stronger than the conversations themselves. Appropriately, a lot is said between our two young lovebirds without them saying a single word to each other. This choice of style allows the atmosphere and scenery to absolutely burst to life with its lusciously drawn motifs.

What we learn about Akane is that she’s extremely prone to nerves, but has already built an effective defense system against it. She already wields the self-empowered courage to work past them when the moment counts. This is her defining factor I feel, especially since this was the quality that led to her making the first move to initiate conversation. She is a member of the track team, and the physical strength slightly contrasts her shy demeanor. It’s hard to say why she likes running at this point, but it’s clear that she does enjoy it and takes it seriously.

Kotarou, by comparison, is less “responsible” for his own actions. He lives one step further from social interaction than Akane, and buries himself in books. He has a slightly more cynical viewpoint, and seems to be more perceptive to what’s happening around him. Alas, he too is also extremely shy, and unlike Akane, let’s the awkward silence reign supreme in every situation. While Kotarou narrates the show, I feel like Akane’s life was displayed more. That’s a rather fine balance since it allows me to get to know both character’s in their own way.

The big question is how they are together. Well, I did mention this was a quiet show, because most of their interactions involve startling each other and being unable to muster any words. It’s almost at the point where I almost laugh just to shake off the suffocating air of awkwardness between them. There was one cute moment where Akane approaches Kotarou from behind, and scares him, which scares Akane in return, and Akane being scared, makes Kotarou gasp for a second time. They are absolutely adorable, and most of their dialogue involved guttural noises as they said just enough to assure the audience that neither of them are mute. Kudos to the parents, as well, for making things extra awkward in the restaurant. Bless them.

The hardest thing to gauge is just how much romance there will be, and how much weight they are aiming to portray it with. Are we going as far as seeing whether they date, or are we going to fully explore the chemistry between them after they start dating? Are dramatic wrenches going to twist the plot or are we letting nature run its course as we observe them simply as they are? It’s much too early to say, but any of those outcomes would have had a fine start with a premiere as quaint as this one.

8/10

 


Sakura Quest

Dear lord, this anime gets it, and doesn’t make a sob story out of it. Life as a college graduate can seem hard, cruel, and sometimes hopeless. Life can seem hellbent on keeping you down, and hoping you stay there. All we need is a little jolt of inspiration from something that is important, to change your view. This is the message I got from the first episode of Sakura Quest, a new anime chock full of the whimsical joy of finding something just right for you when it seems like something of the sort doesn’t exist. It’s a bit of a college-aimed fantasy, and won’t serve as a logical life lesson in a strict sense of those words, but it does serve as a hearty heaping of feel-goods for anyone in a state of self-doubt.

When I say that this anime doesn’t make a sob story, I mean that this anime doesn’t aim for you to pity the state that Yoshino is in. The anime uses the power of nonverbal communication and permits scenery and detail to assist in filling in the blanks. The empty fridge, and the cheapskate food piled high into the supermarket basket; These are both hauntingly familiar to those who’ve been down this road. But it isn’t the end of that road, after all. She is still chasing opportunity, as it hasn’t quite abandoned her yet. So when Yoshino gets a callback that finally accepts her after dozens of failed interviews, you actually get a sense of victory along with her.

This isn’t a normal job, much to her surprise, but not ours. She is to be the face of a theme park, set in the middle of dead-ass nowhere in a town-wide effort to revitalize their tourism. She was called back as a mistake which makes it seem like she didn’t “earn” the position, except for the fact that she does, and only at the very last second. When all the theme park workers realize their mistake, they prepare to send her back, but she speaks up, offering her tiny pearl of wisdom in order to make everyone feel better. This turns the biggest doubter of the bunch into the biggest supporter. He sees something in her, and clings to it in an instant. They want her, but does she want them?

 

This sets up the trajectory of Yoshino’s primary inner conflict in the form of her acceptance of her upbringing. We see her early on in the episode arguing with her mother about how she doesn’t want to move back to her hometown. It’s out in the booneys and she doesn’t want to be associated with that kind of lifestyle. Of course, this gives her plenty of issues with where the theme park is because it reminds her of home. She can’t help but be urged to escape. I personally love these kinds of themes. I think being proud of small upbringings is a powerful thing. I think finding strength in the less extravagant part of our society is important, and humbling. Therefore, this is a personal journey I am completely invested in.

I also laughed my ass off! The people working in the theme park are a bunch of lively old geezers who have an impenetrable pride of their town and have fond optimism for the effect Yoshino will have as Queen of their theme park. Just watching their antics and their ornery dialogue is treasurable. I laughed the most when Yoshino encounters the “bard” on the bus who completely derailed the plot with his humorously abstract lyrics. It’s all very innocent. I don’t think anything truly meticulous or dark will rear its ugly head in this particular anime. Nor does the presentation speak with much volume. It’s a typical countryside setting with an acceptable presentation. Everything basically ticks the boxes to not be bad in any distracting way. This of course, does keep the anime from reaching a truly masterful level of storytelling, but I hardly see that as a true detractor.

This is an anime full to the brim with positivity. It’s about following your heart and the communal effort of making your home mean something to the world. It’s a simple, yet elegant moral wrapped in the aesthetics of a fairy tale. It will warm your heart, and let your mind relax and enjoy the ride with its solid balance of comic relief and character growth. It all may have been done before, but this is the type of story that reinforce why people say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

8/10

 


Little Witch Academia (Cour 2)

The lively magical witchcraft school anime is pressing on to its second cour on air. While the excitement was felt throughout the atmosphere when Little Witch Academia was first announced, due to a lack of proper streaming websites, it has largely flown by unnoticed. This is coupled with the fact that not much was happening with the plot during the first cour leaving us with a smalls sense of inconsequence and aimlessness. It was an energetic show, but not much was happening in the grand scheme of things. We needed some plot movement, and fast. Luckily, episode 14 ushered in the second half with the introduction of our first villain, and boy does this bring some sweet complications to the world of Little Witch Academia!

As we have grown accustomed to, this episode still hinged on a singular story that starts and finishes within the 20 minute run. This time, the focal point shifted away from the witches and landed squarely on the creatures staffing the castle. In a humorous jab at our own society, they went on a worker’s strike because of their lack of adequate usage of magical energy. It was a nice widening of scope as we got to consider a new angle at the way the school is ran. We’ve compared this school with other schools who found the traditions boring. We were set against non-magical folk who think that witches are a dying breed blemishing modern society. And now we are seeing the juxtaposition of witches in the upper class versus the working class of the creatures.

This was a vital point in making the world feel even more lived in. The Harry Potter comparisons ensue as J.K. Rowling tackled similar issues in her coveted novels, and it’s nice to see the same treatment here. The funny part was Akko’s role in it all. Driven by her ever-burning desire to solve whatever problem is in her eyesight, she storms off to convince the protestors to stop the strike. Instead, we find in the very next scene that Akko is sitting alongside them protesting the very same thing. It’s a character change that is just so Akko, since her mind always sways to what she feels is the most just in the world. And if anything can change her mind on that, she’ll gladly switch sides. Akko’s enamor with the underdogs and those who represent an earnest approach to life is what makes the villain’s introduction oh so sweet.

Croix is the new teacher in town, and she brings with her signs of drastic change. At yet another jab at our own era of time, she has a new form of magic that manifests in the form of tablets, cell phones, and other electronic devices. At first, she seems like the change Luna Nova Academy needs. They are running out of energy, unable to even sustain their working-class creatures, and must turn to new avenues. One stubborn professor is not having it however, and it seemed like she could have been our first villain. Her reluctancy to adapt to any form of change seemed like she would bring down the whole academy in order to cling to her ways. Later we find out, however, that Croix is definitely up to no good. And what makes this a nice position for her to be in for her role in the story is that she has also won the affection of Akko, our very own protagonist.

This creates another compelling dynamic between Akko and Ursula (Chariot.) The episode began with Chariot finally deciding to reveal everything she’s been hiding from Akko. Something that definitely needed to happen to spark some change in the story. Unfortunately, after some rather comical delays, she doesn’t find Akko until the very end of the episode. Only, Akko is also doting on Professor Croix, and Ursula was extremely displeased to see this. It’s going to be interesting seeing Ursula try to win Akko back over, especially because Ursula isn’t a “cool” teacher like Croix is. She may even feel shame, embarassment, or even abandonment if Akko, the only fan of Chariot in the whole school, decides she has a new role model. I almost don’t want to see it happen because Ursula and Akko have almost unilaterally supported each other throughout the last season.

Whatever happens, the plot is finally moving and at a gripping pace. This second season looks extremely promising, and that’s already going off of the momentum of this anime having consistently great art and animation, as well as character interplay. Diana is still a fascinating character, and I got a kick out of seeing her most embarrassed face yet. I still predict that her and Akko are going to make an amazing duo. The older professors are becoming even more comic relief, but I think Professor Croix is going to serve as the catalyst to finally unite every member of Luna Nova together and become the villain this anime absolutely needed.

8.5/10

 


 Kado: The Right Answer

What I will be writing about stems from the events of Episode 00, which is kind of the pre-premiere episode. It largely serves as a display of the thought processes and skillsets of Shindo, a negotiator for a bureaucracy in Japan. As such, I may not have seen enough to properly evaluate this show, but as I’m hearing the episode 1 was much better than episode 00, I think we’re in for a solid season. I thought this premiere was a very stable introduction to this rather romanticized sci-fi show. Some may find it boring, but I found it to have substantially better bearings than that.

The actual events of this anime basically comes down to our main character trying to conclude a government buyout of some old factory. Normally, our character would be the money-hungry villain only existing to kick people out of their lifestyle and offer enough money to make them decide to give up on their dream. Instead, Shindo takes an interest in the very factory he’s here to purchase. As he examines all the intricacies of the machinery and the people, he starts doing his own research. He comes up with an alternative solution. Rather than simply buy the factory, how about we make the factory itself lucrative again, and partner with them instead? This method involved Shindo pulling many strings and using connections as only the best networkers do. It leads to a pretty fuzzy-feeling conclusion since Shindo’s boss and the owner of the factory go way back, and Shindo’s new conclusion gave them an opportunity to work together as friends.

What immediately stuck out in my mind is that this is definitely a show of altruistic ideals and grand humanistic themes. Shindo is the ace negotiator. He represents the pinnacle of what a person can do to negotiate a compromise between two organizations, and usually these kinds of people aren’t saints. The fact that the government adores a man who seeks out the best mutual interest possible in a way that makes it feel like a morally charged fairy tale speaks largely of what humanity represents. We are a cooperative people that can reach new heights as long as we seek the answers together. The subtitle “The Right Answer” seems to be the biggest hint at what this anime is attempting to tackle. What is the “right” thing to do in a predicament that is clearly not a favorable situation?

This rather warm-hearted approach to showcasing a day to day life of a government office worker is not the edgiest thing to be done in anime, so how about we throw in a massive alien vessel at the end of the episode? That’s right, for 99% of it’s runtime, Kado was an anime about giving human insight into government life, but then it became a show about aliens. It seems like a far cry, but the tie-in to the preceding events fit perfectly. Kado is a larger than life character, even if he’s not so in a traditional sense. He is a negotiator who always finds the best solution, and can earn the trust of any party involved in said solution. All of this goes to answer one question: Who would you want to represent humanity in a first contact discussion with aliens? Kado, anyone? I vote Kado.

If anyone has seen the intellectual blockbuster Arrival last year, we are presented with a very comparable premise. We have established that our main character has a very unique skillset, one that is often underappreciated in a state of normalcy, but somehow represents humanity in a time of emergency. The main character of Arrival was a linguistics professor and thus, her focus on language made her a uniquely qualified person to interact with aliens for the sake of mankind. Kado is the same. He has a very distinctive work ethic and vision for success that makes him a desired candidate to speak with aliens on behalf of our people. Overall, this first episode was a slow-paced offering, but in a tight package. The viewpoint may be rather vague, and the sci-fi twist definitely still has me unsure of just about everything with this anime, but it seems like we’re going to be treated to a deeper look than normal into whatever this anime explores. On a final note, I am a big fan of the opening sequence. The music and graphic design of the entire thing is very fluid work of art.

BUT WAIT! There’s another plot twist here! This plot twist has nothing to do with the story. I have to mention it though, because some people may as well be allergic to this type of thing, this is a CG show (at least, it became one in the final scene of episode 00.) For some reason, and only in the last scene, the characters are not hand-drawn and do not move like you are used to seeing characters move. There is an awful reputation for CG anime, and I don’t go against that reputation. CG characters are, for the most part, strictly worse. I don’t understand why almost the entire episode was hand-animated, only to turn CG at the very end. From what I hear, episode one is entirely CG. One could argue that the “right” answer here would be to stick with classical animation, but we’ll see what the CG style can bring this time. I also have to hand it to the composer because the music stood out strongly and may be one of the more better scored anime of the year. If that kind of thing is important to you (like it is to me), then your ear will definitely take notice of the music offerings of this anime.

Now is this where the show is going to go? I have no idea. I could just be blowing smoke and Kado is actually a martial artist skilled in taking out extraterrestrial life. But seriously, I feel like this anime will ultimately become a study on the relationship between humans, and how that can relate to a completely alien life. I don’t think the threat of our existence, or impending doom will be driving factors in this particular alien show. I think it’s a more psychologically rooted examination on the dynamics of a relationship between two otherworldly races.

8.5/10

 


Attack on Titan

I try not to be the type of viewer who compares a highly anticipated sequel on the same grounds as its original, but I just couldn’t help myself this time. Are the titans going to be as horrific and crazy as before? Is the sense of constant suspense and unrelenting intensity going to return? Is Mikasa really as much of a bad-ass as I remember? Perhaps it was the anime’s fault, because the first moment I had the “Oh, yes, we are definitely back.” thought pop into my head was when the opening song used the same melody as the unforgettable opening song that introduced us to Attack on Titan in the first place. That was an important moment. Usually opening songs don’t have much consistency. I recall that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood had opening songs that were all over the place. It’s nice to see some awareness of how much of an impact that opening song had on its crazed fans.

So they got the opening song right, but did they get everything else right? We have to be careful and not gauge this single episode against the highlights of the 25 episodes that preceded it. One can subconsciously expect an episode that delivers the entire package, even if the first season required multiple episodes to communicate all of the same strengths. So as such, for a single episode, this anime was basically firing on all cylinders. With minimal preamble, the anime threw us right back to where we were at the end of the first season. This is expected of Attack on Titan, which likes to take advantage of every calm before the storm, and just bring on the damn storm. So yes, the ferocious and vigorous atmosphere is fully intact. Characters are desperate, and the situations grow dire by the second. While the big surprise of the first season was the Titan hidden in the wall, that actually didn’t turn into the walls-attack-and-everyone-is-doomed scenario I had imagined. Instead, the first threat we’re introduced to are a group of titans coming form the south. As I said before, one of my questions was if the Titans were still going to be those discomforting, unpredictable creeps, and it only took the first glimpse of this group of titans to see how pointless it was to ask that question.

I literally had to pause the anime and skip back to see these titan designs again. That oversized head may just be the most unsettling thing I’ve seen in the show thus far. And in a world of naked, contorted, giants with terror inducing smiles, that is definitely saying something. And of course, you can’t underestimate these titans. When the humans decide to divide and warn the surrounding villages of the titans’ approach, the titans begin sprinting like mad towards the group. This led to the first action sequence of the episode. A sequence that would be very important in reminding fans why Attack on Titan was such a powerhouse in the action genre in the first place. As one valiant hero decided to try to distract the titans by flying towards them head-on, we were treated to several exquisitely animated shots of him speeding through the countryside, skillfully surfing across the grass. The sense of speed and momentum was very satisfying. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before though. Attack on Titan fans are used to being spoiled in the action choreography department.

While the action and general shock value of the presentation worked wonders, we also can’t forget about our favorite characters, and what they are all up to. This episode chose to focus on two groups of people. Eren and Mikasa were safe in the city recovering from their last battle. Now, I’ve had a problem with Eren since roughly… oh when was it? Oh yes, EPISODE ONE. Eren and his stubborn, loud, and reckless attitude always rubbed me the wrong way. This was funny, because Eren has a dream in this episode wherein his mother warns him not to take on situations without thinking them out properly. What beautiful advice that I really hope Eren actually decides to listen to. Mikasa was there, at Eren’s bedside, which is very much like her. Her devotion to Eren has always been an admirable quality. Unfortunately, she didn’t have much to say and mainly served as a reminder to Eren that he still has people he can risk endangering if he does continue being belligerent.

The more interesting character drama can be found away from our main duo, and with the rest of the survey corps out at their camp. As they are the ones who encounter the titans in this episode, they were at the forefront of the story this time around. It was beneficial that they spent some time showing these characters growing homesick and expressing those thoughts because later, when we learn that the titans may have traveled through (and presumably destroyed) one of their towns, I actually cared. It mattered to me because the anime took time to establish that it mattered to the characters. Granted, Attack on Titan doesn’t do quite a lot to make me “care” about most things, but it at least lets me sympathize with the characters as they bear wide-eyed, pained expressions. Attack on Titan rides a fine line of unleashing meaningless chaos, and grounding it into character development. It’s basically nailed on by one stake while it flutters around wildly, barely holding fast. The most intriguing plot point however, as Attack on Titan always seems to have one massive unanswered question, was the introduction of the first speaking Titan. A notion that sends all sorts of predictions to my head. And did he really just take our technology? Are there going to be flying titans now?!

So as this encounter with the titans go down, I also get my first gory reminder that this show isn’t for the fainthearted. I generally describe the overall tone of Attack on Titan as “constant anguish and suffering.” It is an exaggeration because Attack on Titan is littered with small comedic bits and softer character dialogue, but if you just had to pick one “feeling” this anime gives you the most, it’s one of adrenaline and revulsion as characters are screaming for their lives while being eaten by titans. That is basically what happens in this episode, to nobody’s surprise, as one character is devoured by titans in no shortened amount of time. But Attack on Titan went even further on the “going nuts with violence” by having a titan grip a horse until it erupted with blood, and hurled it at the horse’s own rider. It’s the type of stuff that makes the scenes haunt you long after they happen, and is something Attack on Titan has always excelled at. As the episode came to a close, I also found the ending song to be quite striking. A soft, melodic chirp compared to the operatic, thunderous opening.

So yes, it is safe to say that Attack on Titan has returned in top shape. It’s also safe to say that my tastes are roughly the same as they were back when the first season was airing. As such, I am a sucker for the animation, and the overall command this show has of the audience’s anticipation. Season 2 seems like an easy recommendation to anyone worried that the show somehow changed for the worse. In that same notion, however, I also still find that the cacophony and chaos overshadows the drama that could be taken to new heights. I don’t find myself caring about Eren’s character growth, and side characters are given just enough focus in this episode to gain an understanding of them, but nothing more. This episode chose to display its muscles and escalate the danger to a high degree. This works for the most part, but it still has a void keeping me from becoming totally invested in this world.

8.5/10

 


 

Grimoire of Zero

Grimoire of Zero effortlessly proves that a ground breaking premise isn’t necessary to craft a first episode as thoroughly enjoyable as this one was. With dashes of every quality that I cautiously hoped for, this anime managed to defy my low expectations and settle in as having a lot of potential amongst the new anime this season. It takes a bit of confidence, which Grimoire of Zero has in spades, and it takes execution, which was also a non-issue. And after the rather disappointing premiere of Granblue Fantasy, this anime basically served as a “this is how you do it” to all cookie-cutter fantasy anime out there.

As I mentioned, and strongly express, this story isn’t innovative in any way. We are in a world where humans are violently rejecting magical beings such as witches and beastfallen (half-human half-animal beings.) The greater plot beyond that is only hinted at by the time the first episode ends. Because of the familiarity of all this, it’s hard to be really surprised by anything. But it’s not the surprise factor that was vital to this premiere’s success. It’s the charm and believable nature of it’s characters that create the strongest aspects of Grimoire of Zero. Although where the story goes from episode one still seems to breathe with possibility.

Our first main character is a beastfallen in the form of a white tiger-man, and his first minutes in the episode clearly showcase just how annoying and grueling his life is. He is basically always on the run, just because of his unfortunate existence. The anime doesn’t play this up as melodrama either. He’s already hardened,  and able to talk about the things happening to him sarcastically. But as we are treated to flashbacks, we get a softer sense of his personality, and show that he’s been dealt a pretty crappy hand in this life. It may be hard to get used to a fluffy white tiger as a grizzled mercenary, but his appearance also becomes a part of the comic relief. This in large part thanks to the other star of the show, Zero.

I’m going to need a minute for Zero, because I may have found my favorite character (waifu) of the season. It’s an internal debate that will take a while to figure out, but I honestly loved everything about Zero. From the first glimpse of her face when her hard-earned bowl of soup gets sent flying, to her powerful revelation of the ultra-powerful witch she really is, Zero entertained me to no end. Just like our beastfallen main character, she lives as a chastised being, and when these two meet as they are both “avoiding the public” their partnership is solidified in a very natural way. You may recall that I despised how Gran in Granblue just blindly trusted a complete stranger who was on the run with no question of their innocence. Zero, in contrast, instantly doubts Mr. White Tiger’s innocence. It’s just a small play at comic relief, but that’s because it seems so obvious to think this way that you may as well use it as a small gag. So the fact that both of these characters are very logical and realistic goes along way to bridge the gap between the fantasy world of Grimoire, to the cynical world that I reside in.

There’s also a small amount of the “cool” factor as we see Zero explain the way magic and sorcery works. Now “cool” to some may be “corny” to others, but I rather appreciate the bloated explanations about the way magic works in this anime. Grimoire of Zero wants to make it clear that magic and sorcery are two very different things, but that comes off as a bit superfluous. Basically, there is a level of magic beyond what most people know about, simple as that. But as Zero demonstrated her abilities, as well as revealing more and more of how infamous she may actually be, you almost want to give in to your inner child and just rub your hands together in excitement as she charges up a magic attack. It’s classic anime battle fluff that some of you may roll their eyes at. For me, however, since I already was won over by both of these characters, the fact that she is such an influential and knowledgeable person has a greater affect on me. The magic in this anime feels purposeful, as if their is a layer of systems and skill that will actually become decisive factors in who will win in a particular magic fight. This basically means that the way this anime introduced magic has already escalated it past the point of Grimoire of Zero having to rely on mindless brute force as the only way to fight.

Grimoire of Zero made me laugh at the characters, empathize with them, and ooh and ahh at the action setpieces. The writing is sharp, and the dialogue has real personalities embedded within. It’s created a partnership that I am excited to see blossom into a friendship. Nailing that partnership was key, but it was handled perfectly. The reasons Zero trusts Tony the White Tiger are very believable, and are personal reasons that help flesh out Zero herself. In a season full of fantasy attempts, Grimoire of Zero has brought enough to the table to warrant being watched. Echoing the smart adventure tactic of older anime like Chaika Coffin Princess or Spice and Wolf, this anime chooses to put its characters at the forefront while offering enough thought to the world and the powers within to keep the whole anime feeling like top tier work.

9/10

 


Re: Creators

This was always going to be a tough sell. A premise as wacky as anime characters being transported into the real world brings with it a veritable amount of challenges. And while I expected to exert many exasperated sighs, instead, this episode had me nearly holding my breath. A goldmine of spectacular action has just been unceremoniously dropped into our midst in the form of Re: Creators, and it has pretty much done everything it needed to do to cement itself as the blockbuster of the season. Despite some small things that tapered my enjoyment to a small degree, this is basically everything I could ask for in an action anime.

Where this anime clearly outpaces all others this season is in its visual storytelling and direction. There were dozens of little animation efforts that exemplify an immaculate attention to detail. Whether it’s the humorous way that someone uses their sword to stab a window and slide it open, or the way that we follow the gaze of an enemy as she inaccurately assumes where her prey has fled. These are the types of things that make every scene feel like a little treat in itself. These are usually scenes where other anime rely on bare-bones presentation efforts. Unusual camera angles and a clear love for bringing anime to life in clever ways both serve to make this anime impress and dazzle us with eye candy.

This sensory style of directing translates into the action as well. Fanciful cuts and smooth transitions make the fights feel one step closer to cutting edge. The sound design goes to town in these moments as every hit is matched with a satisfying “pop” of some sort. Not to mention the continued capacity of this anime to create stellar things to be awestruck by like a car crashing into a magical shield made of blades. This contains all the choreography you’d want from anime action heroes fighting in real life. Even when not in motion, the visual style is strikingly crisp and colorful. There was a scene where a cell phone was bouncing through a fantasy world that really stood out to me.

I don’t want to make this anime seem like a nonstop maelstrom of action setpieces, because what also spoke strongly to me were the moments that didn’t speak at all. In the beginning, as we are introduced to our main character, we get a long, studious look at his “bedroom life.” There is no music or dialogue is in this scene whatsoever. It uses silence to increase our focus and heighten the immersion. This is an anime that knows when to bring out the big guns, and when to bring out the silenced tranquilizer, so to speak. The adrenaline this anime creates is also balanced with comedy to great effect. I laughed when the main character was showing the confused anime heroine the manga cover from her own story. The camera cuts from the manga cover where she’s in a particular pose to the actual person, who happens to be in the exact same pose. These types of gags land solidly because they aren’t overplayed, and seamlessly blend in with the rest of the story.

But how is that story? This is basically a tale on a meta level because it’s a story about creators of other stories. As such, some perspective on the current state of anime did happen, but it’s subtle and natural in a way that doesn’t distract form the main story, which is taken with determination. The world of the creators is the “land of the gods,” or rather, the people who bring these characters to life. And our hero is a young creator himself who has dreams of making a hit manga or anime. The story here has primarily ticked the boxes of selling the story to a serious audience, and setting up an anticipated battle royale (not to mention giving our sheltered hero two beautiful warriors to dote on.)

It’s this main character that can still snap me out of my spell. He is scarily close to the line of being unbearable. When the first anime character gets transported into his room, I loved everything about the way she acted, but I hated everything about the way he behaved. I understand that he was starstruck and at a loss for words, because anyone would be in that situation. But it’s the fact that he lacked the understanding thereafter to truly ask if she needed help. As she lowered her head in confusion, needing a moment of silence to take it all in, he just loudly blabbermouthed all these things about her anime, and how it’s so good, and that it’s popular and beloved by fans, and this, and that, and he gets up in her face, and won’t shut up. If that sentence annoyed you, then it is very likely he will too.

While the main character is something I consider vital to a successful anime, it’s not the most vital in this case. Re: Creators has succeeded in its premiere in so many ways that I can completely forgive an annoying character, especially because he is still brought to life very thoroughly. I am on board the bandwagaon, and in fact may even take turns steering the damn thing, because this was the spectacle I’ve secretly been wanting for a while now. Whether we call this the World War Waifu or Apocreatorlypse, what is assured is that badassery of all forms will ensue, or at least, that’s all it will take to keep this thing going.

9.5/10

 


Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul

There’s just a few anime that I classified as a pipe dream in which we would ever get a second season, and Rage of Bahamut is one of them. It was too majestic, and out of the norm to happen again. The original Bahamut was a terrific blend of western fantasy with eastern production that bucked almost every trend of action anime and struck like lightning among anime fans. Its wasn’t necessarily because it was innovative, because it wasn’t really. But it somehow felt fresh because of the way its presented, and managed to excel where almost all other fantasy adventure anime fail. the quickest way to say it is that Rage of Bahamut knows how to take your for a ride better than anyone else around these parts. And now it’s back for a second time to prove that it can, without a doubt, do it again. I also apologize, I tried to keep the screenshot count low, but this anime just begs to have an exception.

Bahamut is a powerful piece of production. The absurdly slick animation and impressive sense of style has always given it a film-like quality. Now, alongside Re: Creators, we have two anime barking up the same tree, because they both choose inventive camera shots and emit a powerful energy in the movement of everything on the screen. I think it will come down to your pure preference as to which anime is better because you basically have Grade A stuff that simply represent two different, distinct styles. So if the more swashbuckling, high fantasy motif is your pint of mead, then you will be more at home than you’ve ever been here in the world of Rage of Bahamut.

Studio Mappa has not forgotten their formula to success. The anime hops nicely from scene to scene with a refreshing air of adventure whilst introducing long time fans to a lot of returning faces. I do recommend catching up on the first one here because there is a lot of history between some of the characters bumping into each other in this opening episode. It wouldn’t be Bahamut if we didn’t open with a look at the serious conflict cast over the story this time around. This time, we see that humans have become much more greedier in the 10 years since season 1. They are attempting to overthrow the angels using “forbidden magic.” I have to say, these ninja knights look absolutely phenomenal. The plague-like black and green design appeals right to the hardcore fantasy nerd in me. Bahamut’s character designs are among my favorite of all time, particularly the demons.

Humans creating conflict seems to be happening in more places than one. A trend that echoed strongly, and will likely push the plot along soon enough, is the way that humans have begun to treat anything nonhuman in the world. Creatures are being enslaved, and a coliseum sets them against each other for human entertainment. With a small pang of guilt, I saw Azazel, returning from season 1, help ease a dying gladiator combatant out of its misery. Azazel was always a more complicated character than all the other demons, and I’m glad that he still has a heart and mercy. And man oh man, his Rag Man form is insanely sweet, not to sound like a hip-to-the-lingo teenager. His teleportation techniques and general mummy-like costume are impossible to look away from.

That brings us around to what is completely new to this series, and that is our heroine, Nina. Her character still contains several ingredients that made last season’s Favaro stick out like a sore thumb. She is extremely high in spirits, and always succumbs to members of the opposite sex. Funnily enough, it’s this latter quality that gets them both into trouble in each of their respective first seasons. Nina’s case is a bit more consequential though because her lust for men doesn’t seem to be driven by a human level of harmones. It’s like men have a severe psychological effect on her, and this is what triggers her other notable feature. She’s a dragon! A DRAGON. Medieval otakus around the world must be raising glasses in celebration. This transformation is what closes out the episode as we see her dragon form, completely hand-drawn, breathing fire all over the town. It’s a splendid work of animation, and the fact that they didn’t rely on CG for this important scene is a testament to Mappa’s talented animation team. There are CG models elsewhere in the anime, but never where the eye is supposed to be drawn to.

 

As all the pizazz is going on, we also have more of the bombastic, worldy music breathing life and energy into the scene. It’s excelling in all senses and simply doesn’t let up. If it’s not trying to wow you with an action set piece, then it’s making you smile with lovable characters and well-timed comedic elements. Even the directing style takes effort in making awesome camera angles work as a gag. We see Nina backflipping, and the camera begins backflipping with her as she pulls out a piece of paper to read, mid-flip. It’s awesome stuff that just sounds like it’d never work on paper. And that’s what the entire identity of this anime franchise is. It’s a mobile card game. It’s supposed to just function on paper. Anime based on these things are supposed to be awful. But Bahamut knows the magic trick to translating quality from the source, to the adaptation, without a single sacrifice.

9.5/10

 


 

Well goodness, that was fun! It took me almost a week to write this one up. Coming off of a hiatus took some knuckle cracking and dust shaking to settle back in. I can tell the break paid off. The previous post I made right before my “vacation” started was coming out to roughly three paragraphs per anime. Now I’m averaging roughly 6 or 7. That’s double the output, which makes me very happy. I do appreciate anybody who has stuck around, and for all my new readers, I welcome you to this new season of anime! As always, thoughts vary, and some people hate man-thirsty dragon chicks, so have at me in the comments and let’s discuss this season of anime. It’s been too damn long! Until next time!

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8 thoughts on “Spring 2017 Anime – First Impressions

    • Well that is amazing that you started a blog regardless! And Thank you! I won’t be writing about anime quite as often but I will be writing at least a preview and review of every season!

      I’ve been experimenting with other stuff!

  1. This post is superrr long, I think I would break it into multiple parts. I kept on scrolling and scrolling. I’m amazed you give Sakura Quest more credit than the community. I’m also not to fond of the series, perhaps I’m spoiled by previous outstanding work of the same studio. Sakura Quest needs some time to build up. But I need a little more than just portrayel of realism like you describe with Sakura Quest. I want a show to sugar coat it, give it an extra edge or else it won’t give any level of escapism.

    • Thank you for recommending that. Perhaps I will break it into two pages. I just normally try to avoid that because a lot of websites use multiple pages solely for the reason of giving their website more views, and sometimes people don’t even see that there’s a second page. But still seems like the better alternative than having too long of a first page!

      I’ve only come across a few people who dug Sakura Quest as much as I did. But at least most people are acknowledging some of its same strengths. Personal preference definitely came into play for that preview.

      Ahh, escapism. It always feels so nice! But it’s not something that I seek out as much as others.

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