Winter Season 2016 Review

Anime Winter Season 2016 Review

So, here we are, at the end of the winter season 2016 with betrayed expectations and crushed hopes, looking towards spring full of hopes and dreams. Since the last year ended with a bang, how well does the new season hold up? This time, we've got Mechas, return of the redhead medic, a very fast yellow octopus, candies, mechas, a cute humanoid robot girl, high school detectives, a bunch of army otakus, more mechas, a time travelling mangaka, a limping storyteller, a guy from the "Did nothing wrong" squad and a couple of "I'm trapped in an RPG/fantasy universe" guys. Seems good enough right? Well, let's find out.

Like any other season before this, I pulled up the chart and picked the shows that I found had interesting plots. It is not the best way to pick anime, so you end up dropping quite a few after a couple or so episodes. And I dropped some of the shows on this list because I was just too busy playing Blade & Soul (I have marked those). So, maybe they have improved now and I was wrong about them. Anyways, here's the list :

     • Active Raid (because idk, just did)
     • Ajin (because immortality is an amazing thing)
     • Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (because of the interesting plot and the hype)
     • Bubuki Buranki (because "a weapon with it's own mind" sounded interesting)
     • Dagashi Kashi (a very interesting poster and... "plot")
     • Dimension W (fourth dimension, coils, infinite energy = count me in!)
     • Divine Gate (because I'm an idiot)
     • Gate Jieitai Kanochi nite Season 2 (because season one wasn't enough)
     • Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (A-1 pictures doing a 'trapped in an rpg' anime that might be good)
     • Haruchika (mystery, school and music? That's interesting)
     • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (a 'trapped in an RPG world' parody? I've waited so long for this!)
     • Musaigen no Phantom World (because KyotoAni finds a way and because Hibike was good)
     • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (Look, a Josei anime!)


Active Raid
Studio : Production IMS & Studio Orange
Director : Goro Taniguchi
Genre : Mecha, Police, Sci-Fi
Status : Dropped on episode 5.

What's up with all the mecha shows this season? As if the almighty Gundam wasn't enough (yeah, I don't like mech shows).
So, on comes a police show about a special unit in the future where humanity has developed these armoured suits (exoskeletons) called willwear which allow the use of several superhuman abilities. And to stop the misuse of these super powered exoskeletons, a special police unit is established. But instead of doing their job in a clean and orderly fashion, special unit 8 always end up in a mess leaving a heckload of collateral damage behind. So, an officer from outside the unit is assigned to shape up the unit and we follow her along as she fails miserably at her job.

From the get go, this show seemed like it was going to be one of those shows where the special unit gets to bypass all laws and do whatever the hell they want, but that is not the case. They actually follow the protocol and often get tangled into the political shenanigans and are forced to change their plans accordingly. You might think that this is going to be a serious show because we're talking about police and protocol, but it isn't. I mean there's an episode where they perform a friggin idol concert, while wearing their willwear to keep the suspect under control, who happens to be a fan-boy of an idol, who is actually a cross-dresser. And then the incident gets on the news and the whole unit is ridiculed.

So, this isn't a show you should be taking seriously just because it has a police tag in it (though it kinda should be, but screw it!). It is not a revolutionary idea, but it isn't so bad either. It's a pretty average 'not-serious' police show with mechas and a light atmosphere. Watch it if you like anything with maches or you just want to sit and pass the time but you won't find yourself on the edge of your seat any-time soon.

Ajin
Studio : Polygon Pictures
Director : Hiroyuki Seshita
Genre : Adventure, Horror, Mystery, Seinen, Supernatural

"But I did nothing wrong!" "Yeah, welcome to the club son! See that red eyed guy in a scary mask over there, go sit right next to him."

Immortality, in the long run, seems more like a curse than a blessing. Sure, you won't die, but everyone else does, and now you're left alone, bearing all the memories of your loved ones with you, moving on with your never ending life.
But Ajin isn't about that aspect of immortality, it's about the nature of the sick cruel disgusting animals that homo sapiens are.

So, a possibly immortal species, known as Ajin, came into existence like two decades ago and as expected, they are now hunted down for 'research purposes' by the government. And anyone offering the whereabouts of an Ajin will be given a huge reward of 200 million Yen. But these Ajin are identical to humans, so there is no reliable way to distinguish them from normal people (except killing them). You might never know that you are one unless you get hit by a truck, get smudged with your guts splattered all over the road and then wake up only to find yourself unscathed. Which is exactly what happens to our protagonist one day, and now his sweet little normal life isn't so 'normal' anymore. And on comes the ugly reality of the world as the people he once called friends stop being nice and turn into ugly monsters. So, now he is forced to run and hide as pretty much everyone in the country is after him.

Now, Ajin is a little more than just our protagonist running for his life. There are other Ajins and the conflict between them and the government gets him into a tug of war between the two factions. On top of that, the anime raises questions on Ajin's immortality (if they are 'truly' immortal) and shows that a supernatural being (a black ghost) always accompanies these ajins. This makes room for some amazing possibilities.

So, should you watch it? If you can handle full 3D animation (with the usual 'lack of vitality' issue), then you should get on this as fast as you can. It is a nice thriller. It is captivating, has a fast pace, people dying, blood spilling all over the place, your usual 'how f*cked up humans can be' moments and Mamoru Miyano as a VA. The characters could use some work but everything else is going in a nice direction.

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi
Studio : A-1 Pictures
Director : Tomohiko Itou
Genre : Mystery, Psychological, Seinen, Supernatural

And here I thought One Punch Man was over-rated!
At one point on the MAL archives, this show held the #7 spot on the top list with a score of 9.11/10 (with over 190,000 members) . So, this must be one hell of a show, right? Not even close.
In today's age, people just jump around from one hype bandwagon to another. Everything is hyped, everything is the best thing to ever come out. And thanks to all the fandoms, the scores and lists on all the big websites with user ratings (like IMDb or MAL) are unreliable. But that's for a different rant. Let's talk about Erased.

You have an average guy who experiences this phenomenon, that he calls 'revival', which throws him back in time to stop tragedies that occur around him. The jump isn't normally that long. But one day, something tragic happens, and the guy gets thrown way back in time, back when he was an elementary school student. Now, he must put together the pieces and the only way to change that dreadful outcome is to figure out a way to save his classmate Hinazuki from disappearing/getting kidnapped. Simple enough right? Indeed. The show has got a great first couple episodes which raise the expectations pretty high. But as the show goes on, a lot of the problems start surfacing.

You see, when you're talking about a time travel mystery, one of the most important part is the time jump or the ability that makes time travel possible. You just can not make it arbitrary. And in this case, Satoru's 'Revival' is just all over the place. We don't know if he can trigger it, or what is really behind it, or if it's limited in any way (no exceptions or rules). There is no particular system in place and the whole thing just 'happens' whenever it's convenient. The ability is never explored upon and is used as an excuse to just move the plot in an intended direction. Also, the long time jump and how it suggests that the particular tragedy in the start can not be avoided in any other way than saving an elementary school kid makes little to no sense to me, given that there is no context that suggests that it is unavoidable by the use of any other means. The guy didn't even try to rule out the other possibilities. There is no good analysis involved, and the series is trying to come off as a clever mystery.

Look, I'm not saying that the show is utter shit but to give you an idea, consider this : Erased is this year's Tokyo Ghoul without the good ending. It has an excellent start, very exciting with lots of suspense, but then it just falls flat on its face because the show clearly isn't what it claims to be. I mean, for a Seinen, the protagonist doesn't behave like a 29 year old. We're talking about things like kidnapping and murder, but the guy is busy role playing a friggin romcom with elementary school students. And then comes that ending. I don't even want to talk about that one.
Watch it, but don't expect a 9.0+ experience out of this.

Bubuki Baranki
Studio : SANZIGEN
Director : Komatsuda Daizen
Genre : Action, Drama, Mecha, Sci-Fi
Status : Dropped on episode 5.

Looks like scattered stories are the new cool in anime now.
Bubuki buranki is all over the place. I thought that CGI was going to be the weakest point of this show but right now, the writing, the story as well as the characters are well below the animation in my list. The only good part is the fighting, though it is annoying to see death battles not ending in death (typical anime stuff). Since the key points of the story are yet to be revealed (there's a time skip), it is a bit tough for me to explain this show's plot. So, let's start with the two words in the title. A bubuki is like a limb of a buranki (the mecha/titan) and every character in the anime has a piece. These things seems to have a mind of their own and with the help of the buranki's heart, can combine to form a full buranki. Now, our main character, along-with his sister, was born on a floating island in the sky which had a lot of deactivated (or sleeping) buranki on it. But one day something happens and the kids are sent down to the earth along-with their father and some buranki. 10 years later, our protagonist returns to Japan and gets caught up in the bubuki business. Now there's a red-haired girl who controls a giant red buranki, a bunch of kids with parts of a different buranki (bubukis) and they fight with each other because... I don't know. The plot and the motivations behind the main character make little to no sense right now. Not to mention his sister and his dad are yet to be seen. The reason for all this is because of the scattered story. (maybe it gets better later on, I just couldn't take it)

The animation of the show on the other hand was quite nice in the beginning, but even that has gotten a little choppy in the recent episodes. The good parts of the show are the duels. But since we don't know what the bubuki or the buranki really are, the concept of the rules in these duels makes little sense to me. The show had a lot of potential in the beginning because the scattered story gave a lot of room for shock factor and suspense, but it has failed to fully capitalise on it. The characters are all over the place and are mostly limited to typical shonen tropes.

So should you watch this show? Well, I am not going to recommend it. This show seems like one of those shows where the two opposing sides come together in the end to beat a final enemy (kind of like Kill la Kill). And since some of the major story points are still unknown, you never know what is going to happen. So, if the premise sounds interesting to you and you like duels and mecha fighting, give this a shot.
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