Anime Spring Season 2016 – Mid-Season Thoughts
So we’ve reached the mid-point of what is possibly the strongest anime season in quite a long time. Actually a little past the middle, but I’ll get to that.
I have been watching more stuff than I usually do, and while shows have been steadily dropped as each week has passed, I still have an unprecedented number I enjoy.
Though keeping in line with “this season is not quite like the others”, the release schedule has been a bit odd. While I’m waiting for episode 6 of Sakamoto and Shounen Maid, certain other shows have already put out their episode 8. So I’ve changed my rules a little to adapt. While earlier I’ve held off watching beyond episode 6 of anything before I wrote up my mid-season thoughts, I realised that would just build up too much of a backlog, so I’ve watched episode 7 of a lot of things while waiting for the final 6s.
You can find my early impressions here.
With that declared, let’s dive into the mid-season update, and we’re starting with the bad news.
One to Avoid
Just avoid it. Please.
Leave it to anime to find a way to make mind-rape a physical thing. Using a magical spike. The noises, they still haunt me.
How studio Asread thought this was okay is beyond me. Yes, I’m naming and shaming here. Director Kamanaka Nobuharu, script writer Takayama Katsuhiko, original creator Esuno Sakae, and everyone else involved in this production: You should be ashamed of yourselves for making this.
Stay far away.
While certainly strange, I was quite enjoying this show… until episode 5. When they thought it would be a fun goof for a teacher to get drunk and sexually assault four of the girls, and afterwards have them go body-wash their bikes. As in, rub soap all over themselves, and then rub themselves against the bikes as a way to wash them.
Long story short: Fuck Bakuon.
Bungou Stray Dogs
I tried, but after episode 2 I really wasn’t feeling it. I said to myself afterwards that I’d see how I was feeling once episode 3 came out, if I wanted to watch it or not. The answer turned out to be “not”.
A major part of my disdain for it is how trench-coat guy is characterised as “he’s so suicidal, haha, isn’t that funny”, and it’s really not. I’ve been suicidal, and I have friends that struggle with the same, so it’s really not a joking matter for me.
On top of that, it was kinda boring to watch as well, and quite inept at managing the tone.
Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igi Ari!
Aka Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. First off, the animation quality is bad. This needn’t necessarily be a big problem, but combined with everything else…
The second problem is the execution. It might actually be sticking too closely to the games, even when it really doesn’t make sense. Phoenix/Naruhodo is supposed to be a trained attorney. Sure, he lacks experience with real court cases, but there are still things he should know rather than having to be told. In the games it made sense, since you had to explain things to the player, who is most likely not a trained attorney. It doesn’t really work as well in the anime format.
The third problem I ran into was that it is really cringe-inducing to watch. You don’t really notice as much when you’re playing yourself, but seeing it acted out like this made me realise that this is far more awkward to watch than it’s entertaining.
So between those three major issues, and some other minor ones, I decided it wasn’t worth keeping up with this one. I got halfway through episode 3.
Kidou Senshi Gundam UC RE: 0096
Aka Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096.
I couldn’t even get through episode 2.
Every Gundam show I’ve tried looking at so far has been really boring and/or highly impenetrable.
Despite the promising opening of episode 1, episode 2 quickly led to a sense of “I need a history lesson to be able to keep up with and feel any investment in what is going on here”. I just can’t be arsed to sit through this stuff when it’s absolutely meaningless to me. It was also disappointing to learn that the Havel-mech belongs to a space-nazi. That took a lot of the wind out of my sails.
This was also going pretty well. The premise is intriguing enough, especially considering it’s Trigger doing it. The characters are pretty set in their stereotypes to fill the roles of Noriko’s “deadly sins”, but they’re enjoyable enough. Though Nico is elevated far above that as being objectively the best character.
I can’t really say what the purpose of the Kiznaiver project is, or what this all was leading up to, but I was all on board for letting Trigger take me along for the ride with these six eclectic characters; Nico being the shining beacon to follow. I’m fairly certain I can place most of them by the old deadly sins. Tenga is wrath. Yuta is envy. Katsuhiro is sloth. Maki is pride. For Nico and Chidori I am less certain. Nico could fill the role of gluttony. Which would leave Chidori with greed? Not sure that quite fits. As for lust…
In comes episode 3, where the show reminded us that Noriko had said seven deadly sins, and their mission was to find the seventh. Okay, fair enough, another to add to the pile. But this final sin, Hisomu… by the end of episode 3 I disliked him so much. Even loathed. Couldn’t stand him. I have absolutely no desire to keep watching something that he is in, so… I’m sorry, Nico. You are the best, but even you can’t carry this whole show, especially when Hisomu is in it.
Aka Girl meets Bear.
I liked this show. Quite a lot. Sure, the pervy stuff felt a bit out of place at times, but they seemed to be handling it well, and there was a lot of funny and cute bits too. Machi is great.
And then episode 3… first off it was suddenly decided they needed to make some new Miko outfits for Machi to try on, and then they’d decide on the best one, since her regular one was a bit on the heavy side when it comes to wearing in the summer heat.
This turned out to be essentially just an excuse to look at her in her underwear for a while as she was looking at the new outfits. While she is a bit young for me to be comfortable with that, I might have been willing to look past it, except… for no good reason there’s a scene where her uncle grabs her, and holds her down while on top of her while she’s in her underwear, because she didn’t want him to see her in her underwear.
What is it with anime and rape-ish scenes? Just fuck off. If you genuinely think they are funny gags, you need to re-evaluate your views.
Got off to a strong start, but it wasn’t really able to keep it up. Let me expand on that a bit.
Yukina is great. I’m not going to try to say otherwise. As the audience-standin, she does a phenomenal job. Basically every time I’ve gone “you’ve got to be kidding” or “what the fuck” or “what a pain” or any reaction like that, she has basically had the same reaction, and it really helped me feel connected to the world.
Kennosuke, our samurai from the past, is also not bad. Him learning to deal with modern society was an occasionally frustrating, but generally interesting thing to watch.
I also felt like the other characters were generally pretty good. As a whole, the show did a decent job of staying grounded enough to be relateable, yet fun enough to be an interesting sci-fi experience.
But clearly I wasn’t that attached to it, because in episode 5 they started saying things that made it seem like… well, I was really, honestly, deeply hoping that they weren’t going to do the trope of having Kennosuke enrol as a transfer student at Yukina’s school as a way to learn about modern life. As entertaining as Kennosuke’s reactions to TV and modern food have been, I desperately didn’t want to see him in that situation. So when they did just that, I jumped straight off the train, and I’ve not looked back since. Heck, I nearly forgot to add it to this post.
Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?
Aka And you thought there is never a girl online?
I stuck with this one longer than I honestly expected, because it actually has some really good jokes, a nice sense of humour, and some great writing. The characters are distinct and well-written, and the voice actors are good. While the jokes are pretty much always good, there are some instances where the comedic timing of it is absolutely brilliant. It’s clear that whomever is writing this has a good understanding of gaming and internet culture, which means it’s humour for people like me.
It’s just a shame about everything else…
The art isn’t great. It’s good enough, but there is always the feeling that something is off. It’s most noticeable in how everyone smiles weird. It doesn’t really help that everyone with a significant enough boob size ( i.e. every girl that is not Akane ) has their boobs bounce and jiggle at the slightest provocation, which sometimes seems to be no provocation at all.
This wouldn’t be an issue in and of itself. It’s really a minor thing. But there are a lot of minor things. Whenever a tired trope is wheeled out, or some annoying comment is made, or we see yet another ridiculous outfit for the girls, or something happens for no reason other than it had to happen… it all piles up, and eventually it just outweighed the things I liked and tipped the scales. Which is a shame, because it was genuinely putting an interesting spin on certain things.
I got to episode 5, where the pink-haired girl we’ve seen previously as Akane’s friend decides to join the game they’re playing unannounced, and just so happens to run into Rusian and Ako in-game. Actually, that was at the end of episode 4. It wasn’t revealed until episode 5 that it was her. And she then proceeds to be an absolute asshole towards Ako at school, at which point I realised they were pushing this into love triangle territory. I suppose it was inevitable, but I’m just not in the mood to put up with that.
I’m sorry, Netoge. You tried. Well, you halfway tried, at least.
Shounen Ashibe: Go! Go! Goma-chan
Aka Young Ashibe: Go! Go! Goma-chan.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but after a few episodes it felt like the joke had run its course, and there was nothing new to add.
In a weaker season I might have stuck with it, but not here. I got through 4 episodes.
Sousei no Onmyouji
Aka Twin Star Exorcists.
I only got partway into episode 2. I got to the point where main guy walked in on main girl in her underwear. I went “ah, so it is one of these” and threw it out the window.
High School Fleet
I was on board (hehe) with this through the first three episodes, pondering what was going on, and interested to hear the answers. Sure, it was a bit annoying how no one seemed willing to reach out and talk to them to try to clear things up. Everyone was just wordlessly hostile on sight. But it was still an intriguing enough mystery, as more questions arose, and puzzle pieces appeared on the board, waiting to be connected.
Then episode 4 happened, and my interest vanished like dew before the sun. I’m not even sure I can adequately explain why. Over the course of several days I watched a little bit, then paused, then went back and watched a little bit more, then paused again. At current I’ve given up for now and put this on hold, as I only got halfway through the episode in about four days.
My main issue was that the episode felt like fluff. Filler. It’s just the fourth episode, and you’re already doing filler? “Oh no, we’ve run out of toilet paper, and oh no, there’s interpersonal drama among the crew.” Neither of which I had any interest in when there’s still so much that needs answering about what’s going on. Maybe the latter half of the episode is better, but so far I’ve not been able to make myself go back to complete watching it.
I don’t even know how many episodes they plan to do. I still tell myself it’s just on hold, but I’m honestly not certain I’ll actually go back and catch up with it. There’s just more than enough other stuff I’d rather watch.
Those poor girls. They’re all rather unfortunate and plagued by bad luck. Hibari ( as Ruri is referred to ) just has a general case of bad luck, and is unfortunate in love. Botan has an exceptionally frail body, and extreme self-esteem issues because of it and how often she hurts herself. Hibiki is also unfortunate in love, along with having an absolutely abysmal sense of direction. Ren at first seems little out of place in class 7, as her main misfortune seems to be how loved she is by animals, but with her passive nature and how crowded she gets it does cause her a lot of trouble.
And then we have Anne herself, who has such an unprecedented degree of misfortune that the world seems to go out of its way to make her life miserable. When something bad happens to her, it’s not unusual that it happens in really unexpected ways. Yet she always seems to smile. Almost always. The few points where her cheer has actually been broken have been heart-breaking.
I’m probably making it sound like a dark and gloomy show, but it’s actually not. They get put down a lot, but they keep getting up and moving on. In a way it’s heartening. Their growing friendship seems to be helping them find meaning and progress in their happiness training. I just wish the world would start being even just a little bit more forgiving towards Anne, poor girl.
Best OP of the season, for how well it matches animation and music. It’s entertaining, while bringing out the personalities of the characters at the same time. And it’s so full of energy.
Their teacher is a scary woman, though. Very formidable.
This show is such a delight. It’s just about the chillest thing, with nothing really happening in the most enjoyable ways. The art and animation is great, the cats are really well-drawn, the characters are cute and nicely fleshed out.
If you want something cute, relaxing, and fun, there aren’t many who do it better. It has a way of making its supernatural elements feel both fantastic and natural, and it’s all just… delightful.
Also has a very good OP, and Chinatsu is the best.
So good. So fucking good. As both a period drama and a spy thriller, this show is excellent. While the first two episodes directly follow each other narratively, the rest has been self-contained episodes. One of the spies is on some mission somewhere in the world, dealing with something related to World War 2. I find each episode to be exciting and interesting, and there’s always something just a little bit different about each one.
The only issue I have is that the show seems to be trying to make me believe that the eight different spies are distinct characters. I couldn’t tell you anything about any of them. Not their name, not a single defining trait. I can tell that they look different. That’s it. They’re really just “spy of the week”. The only characters with any personality are Colonel Yuuki and Lieutenant Sakuma.
Now if that’s intentional, then that’s fine. They are spies, trained to adapt to any situation, and be whatever they need to be. There shouldn’t be anything distinct about them. If it’s not intentional, then I really don’t know what they were thinking. It’s not hindering my enjoyment of the show, it just makes me wonder.
S2 of Kagewani is a curious beast, if you’ll excuse the wording. While it’s still “monster of the week” stuff to an extent, it has more of a clear narrative this time. I’m interested to see where they’re going with it.
Aka Macross Delta.
Very fun. I’ve been enjoying Macross Delta quite a lot, and Freyja is great. Even Hayate is growing on me. I have some issues. Mainly that Messer is a bit too much of a dick, and that Mikumo is such a smug, unforgiving bitch with no actual explanation. Especially as you learn more of the history of Walkure, it makes even less sense that she is so unwilling to give Freyja a break. It might just be her own way of expressing concern and trying to protect Freyja, but it comes across as so shitty. The other members, and presumably Mikumo herself, have had to grow into their roles in the group, but she is so unwilling to let Freyja do the same.
… I guess that bothered me even more than I realised.
Thankfully Mikumo is not that big of a part of the show, so I can mostly ignore her assholeness in favour of just enjoying the rest of it. It’s a very vibrant and diverse universe they’re presenting, and it can be a joy just to look at it.
I am curious what the show is trying to say with regards to the Windermerian antagonists though. Sure, they have their reasons for what they’re doing, but those reasons might be in part false, and it’s unclear to what extent the enemy pilots are aware of that. And it seems like the show wavers a bit between trying to present this as shades of grey, or just “these people are bad”. The methods the Windermerians employ are not at all justified, and their explanations lack believability.
Maybe it’s unfair of me to be so critical of it, when in part my attitude might be because I didn’t really enjoy the latest episode. I’m bad when it comes to watching subterfuge in fiction, especially when it’s characters who are not good at it, and since ep 7 is based around that, I couldn’t really enjoy it. And it ended on a cliffhanger, which didn’t make me feel any better.
Hopefully it’s going to pick up again after this, but part of me is worried that maybe they’re running out of steam.
Mahou Tsukai Precure!
Aka Maho Girls Precure!
While I am starting to miss them being in the Magic Realm a little, as everything there was cute and wore hats, I’m still enjoying Maho Girls a lot. The difference from Go Princess is still really stark though. Which is not a bad thing! If they’re making one of these a year, it’s better that they have decent variety to them.
The dynamic in the fighting this time might be one of the more interesting differences. The Go Princess girls had largely fixed power sets. Flora was always Flora, Twinkle was always Twinkle, etc. The source of their flexibility was working as a team to utilise their differences well.
Maho Girls have four different costumes with different powers, but they both transform into the same gem so they have the same powers at the same time. Diamond is the first costume they got, so that’s more or less the all-rounder. Ruby displays a lot of kinetic power, and is the one focused most on raw physical strength. Sapphire lets them fly, and boosts their magic power more than the others. Topaz provides them with two shape-shifting orbs each, that they can use to form weapons, tools, platforms, etc. Whatever they need.
The downside to this system is that the enemy can use knowledge of costumes’ distinct power-sets and abilities, and come up with strategies to counter them. In theory Mirai and Riko could also switch costumes on the fly to counter whatever the enemy is doing, but there’s one reason I feel like that’s not going to happen: the animation budget. I might be wrong, we’ll see.
The two of them do have an ace up their sleeve, though. Or several aces, if you will. The support gems they’ve been collecting can be slotted into their wands to create special attacks, which can catch the enemy off-guard, as demonstrated in the latest episode.
Sorry, that became a lot of text. Otherwise, I’m curious about what they’re going to do after they have all the gems. With the rate at which they’re finding the gems, it seems they’ll have them all in a month or two, at which point over half the show will be left. Going by Go Princess, it seems like a lot of the toy sales are driven by the girls regularly finding new tat to use in the episodes to entice kids to ask their parents for. So after the gems, they surely have to come up with something else for them to collect.
Final note for this time: While she falls just a little bit short of Puff, Haa-chan is still dangerously cute.
Aka The Lost Village.
They’re not dying. Why am I still watching this? I guess I still have some faint hope that they’re going to start getting killed off any time now, but we’re seven episodes in, out of a planned twelve.
At best there are two people who might be dead, and one who’s gone missing, though he might have just run away. You had a literal busload of people, nearly 30 characters, all of which were based off of a single personality trait to fit into an archetype trope. Heck, some of them don’t even have that, they’re just there. There’s no character depth here. So what’s the point of that if you’re not going to use them as cannon fodder for some killer or killers to pick them off slowly but gradually, starting in episode 3 at the latest?
So far we have one person who is probably dead, one person who is maybe dead, and one person who is missing. That’s it.
It really feels like the creators are far too hung up in Lost. I didn’t get very far into that, so I’m not sure how many of the characters there got killed.
Even when the personal demon monsters show up, everyone who’s attacked escape with their lives. Even the elitist asshole. You couldn’t even have given me him, show? Not even him?
I’m really not sure what it is they’re trying to do with this production, but it feels like it isn’t living up to its potential. 30 characters. You should have started picking them off at a steady rate four episodes ago. What are you doing?
Pan de Peace!
Aka Peace Through Bread!
Still short, still fun, still cute. I was most amused to find out the smol pink is a massive chuuni.
Not really a lot to say about it, though. If I was to voice one complaint, it’s that it’s not quite gay enough. I mean, it clearly and heavily hints at it, but it stops short if ever called on it. Which is a little disappointing, but I should know better than to expect too much from anime.
Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
Aka Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-.
I wouldn’t say this is necessarily my favourite anime of the season, but it’s definitely the one that keeps me the most interested. At the end of every episode I’m all “wait, it’s over? But what happens next?! I need the next episode!! Now!!!”
And then I sit for hours theorycrafting on what the hell is going on, and how the new puzzle pieces we’ve gotten fit into what we already have, and whether there’s anything we can say for certain, and then I second-guess what I concluded I was sure of last week. I’ve lost sleep over this!
In a way you could say it’s basically “watch Subaru suffer, the show”. The stuff the guy is put through… at the end of episode seven, which I believe concluded the fourth iteration of the second loop he’s stuck in, I feel I know who’s most likely to be behind what is happening to him. I suppose the biggest question though is why. What is it that is expected of him?
We saw the conclusion of the first loop, so we can put forth some hypotheses on the goal of the… what would you even call the one who’s done this to Subaru? Is it a spell, so they’re a caster? A curse, so they’d be a curser? I don’t know. Let’s go with spellcaster. We can speculate or their motive based on that, but it’s still not clear what it is they want out of the second loop. There’s just so many questions, and the show is very good at making me want the answers to them.
It’s been planned to run for 25 episodes. The first loop concluded after 3. The second loop has now spanned 4 episodes, and will take at least one more. Even if he solves this one, how many more will there be? How long can his willpower last? Almost every death he’s suffered has been brutal and painful. And is anyone else aware of everything that’s happened? Is even the spellcaster aware? Do they also remember every loop? Hopefully we’ll find out.
The danger when over-thinking a show this much is that the answers we get could be disappointing compared to what we were imagining/hoping for.
Sakamoto desu ga?
Aka Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto.
You know, I was worried for just a little while. Episode 2 of Sakamoto seemed a little calmer compared to the first one, and I did wonder/worry if that meant that show was winding down into something chiller.
Nope. Sakamoto desu ga is wild. I’m not even completely sure Sakamoto’s human. He seems more like an alien, or spirit, or god who’s there to observe humanity.
It’s also a show that seems to have been made for out-of-context shots, because there are so many great things to do screenshots of.
I still don’t feel I can adequately explain what this show is, it’s just… strange everyday adventures with Sakamoto, and his peculiar ways of doing things. You should watch it. Definitely my favourite show this season.
Aka Three Leaves, Three Colors.
It’s me. Hayama Teru, that’s me. At least, she is who I aspire to be. She’s cute, she loves cute things, she has glasses, and she can be absolutely crushing with her words. Brutal honesty, perhaps, but she’s also quite aware of how to choose her words to inflict the most damage. Completely ruthless. I really wish I had her skill there. On the upside, I am better physically than her, and I can swim. So there’s some things I can do that she can’t.
Additionally, I love Sonobe. The maid woman. She’s amazing, and is possibly actually Mary Poppins?
Teru’s sister Kou is also amazing in her own way. At first glance she seems a lot nicer than Teru, but that’s because she channels the dark energy within her into her cooking, rather than into her personality like Teru.
We’ve also gotten to know the two girls in the top left more. Miss pink is named Selina, and sees herself as Teru’s rival, even though I’m not sure Teru agrees. She is very tsundere, and a fellow lover of all things cute. I like her. The blue-haired one is Asako, and she seems to be 100% pure. She is the most innocent person in the whole show. There’s not a shred of malice anywhere in her, and she seems to have no ability to detect it in others either. Always willing to assume the best about everyone.
Overall I’d say it’s good. Maybe not great, but definitely good.
It might not be the show that stands out the most, but it’s always a good watch. I’d say it’s very competently made, even when some of the gags fall a bit flat.
Chihiro is gradually growing into his new life and his new role, and it’s nice to see. The show strikes a good balance between humour and humanity. Any conflict that arises tends to be grounded in reality, and it feels relateable. The resolutions that come from that also feel believable. They’re rarely perfect, but they work for now, and they take things at least a little step forward.
There’s not that much more to say, I think. I like watching it. There’s nothing about it that makes me worry that’s going to change. No warning flags, minimal amounts of cringe, and it’s never been boring. Just a pretty good show.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge
Aka Tanaka-kun is Always Listless.
Yes, I know I said I wasn’t watching any more. I still say I’m justified in that going by just the first episode. So you can thank Tumblr for this one.
See, I saw some posts with some screenshots from later episodes, and felt a need to pick this one back up. Since I was steadily dropping other shows, I had some time left over. There are some cute girls in this one, people!
It’s not often anime manages to make me interested in a het pairing, but in this one I do find myself rooting for Shiraishi a bit. I mean, I’m not sure Tanaka deserves her, but… he has his good points.
I also feel like the show has set up some very interesting inter-personal dynamics. Tanaka and his best friend ( and caretaker ) Ohta almost act like a married couple, which puts a smile on my lips. There’s also the lesbian couple of Miyano and Echizen. Or… so I thought… let me explain:
Episode 2 introduces Miyano, a tiny cute girl who says she wants to be Tanaka’s apprentice, so she can learn to be listless and cool like him. Even though she is far too energetic and enthusiastic to ever achieve that. The reason she wants to be that way, to be more “mature” as she calls it, is because there’s someone she likes, and she wants to become someone more fitting to be with them. While Tanaka and Ohta do their best to insist she’s great as she is, she persists.
In episode 3 it’s revealed that this person is none other than Echizen, a tall girl who is trying to maintain an image as a delinquent, even though she’s hopelessly helpless when it comes to cute things. Like Miyano. Echizen is also a childhood friend of Ohta’s, even though they’ve not had much contact lately. At the end of episode 3, Miyano confesses her love to Echizen, and has her feelings accepted and returned. Or… so it seemed to me, at least.
In episode 6 however, there’s a bit of a misunderstanding, as Echizen thinks she was proposed to by Tanaka and Ohta, and that they wanted her to pick one of them. Which she treats quite seriously, and puts some real thought into whom she’d want and what answer to give them. While I was just going “but I thought you were with Miyano now”. I was willing to believe that the show had no regard for conventions and would just do its own thing, but then it felt like yet another instance of how I should know better than to put too much faith in anime.
It’s still really cute and funny though, so I’m not going to stop watching because of that. I’m just a bit disappointed. Having a canon lesbian couple without making any fuss about it would be nice. We already have Shiraishi’s efforts to get closer to Tanaka as the het pairing.
Additionally I really, really like the OP song. The OP itself isn’t my favourite, I’m not sure it’s even top three, but the song is really pleasant and I’ve started listening to it a lot.
Uchuu Patrol Luluco
Aka Space Patrol Luluco.
Stuff happens. It’s not really making any more sense. They keep using words wrong. There’s lots of references to other Trigger stuff. Midori is my favourite. All in all, very entertaining.
And with we’re done for now. While my list has been trimmed a bit, and probably will be trimmed even more before we’re done, there’s still quite a lot I’m still enjoying watching.
I am curious to see what’s left standing at the end.