Spring Season 2016 First Impressions - Part 3

Spring Season First Impressions - Part 3

“Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will--tomorrow.”   ~ Gloria Pitzer

I wonder if it's just me but whenever I sit down and try to write something, I end up spending hours upon hours not writing and doing something else, whether it be watching youtube videos or anime or reading or thinking about stuff. I can never force myself to write. It's weird, and whenever I do try to force myself, I get nothing. Just when writing this final piece, I ended up watching an old British man play with toys on youtube for the past week (Grand Illusions is the channel's name. It's somehow very pleasing to watch an old man with a British accent talk about and play with all kinds of toys... Extraordinary! And Oh My God the comment section!).

Luckily, I made it before the season end. So, here we are at the final part of my Spring Season 2016 First Impressions, and we've saved the best for last. Here we go -

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta

Studio : Project No.9
Genre : Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, School

How do I explain this...
You see, when I had already compiled the list of all the anime I was going to cover in this Spring Season First Impression post, I still had a spot left. So, my genius brain decided to select the first anime that showed up on my facebook news feed. And voila! here we are. And what a title we have chosen!

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta or "And you thought there is never a girl online?" is part relatable, part fun and part cringefest (and part memefest, if that makes sense).
So, our protagonist Hideki Nishimura (IGN : Rusian), an avid MMORPG player, one day decides to do the unthinkable unwritten taboo of online gaming - proposing to a female character in game. And as expected, the girl char turns out to be a guy. With a broken heart and shattered pride, Rusian decides to never commit the same sin again. Fast forward two years into the future and now, a girl from his 4 member guild is pestering him to become her husband in game. Powerless against the girl's persistence, he gives in. But little did he know that this girl character would later turn out to be an actual girl - a pretty, nice, socially awkward girl. Not only that, the rest of the club members turn out to be girls too. AND they all go to same school (mother of coincidence right there).

Anyways, the show is about their adventures in-game and in real life as they form their own school club. With the goal of getting the socially awkward Ako to stop confusing games with reality and deal with the not-so-complex(?) problem of how an in-game relationship translates into real life, we get to see a variety of interesting and sometimes cringeworthy situations. The amount of fun you will get from these situations depends on your affinity with the MMORPGs as the characters often use the MMO slang and discuss general situations that you might find in an MMO. As a sort of a rookie MMO player myself, I had fun watching it. But there were times where I was questioning my judgement. So my final recommendation is a maybe. I'd say try a couple episodes to see if it is your thing.

Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

Studio : White Fox
Genre : Drama, Fantasy, Thriller

Now here's a take on how being the main character of a video game would feel like. A one difficult video game where you have no powers but everything around you could probably kill you in a matter of seconds (sounds like Dark Souls). But it's not about all the physical damage you take from dying, because you can always respawn at the last checkpoint, it's the memories you shared with the people around you from that point on that get wiped everytime you die (and you have to go through it all over again). You see, video games, from the character's point of view, are nothing more than a torture fest, especially when there's a noob sitting behind the screen.

So, one day, on his way back home from a convenience store, our main character Natsuki Subaru gets transported to a fantasy world, literally, in the blink of an eye. He finds himself standing in the middle of a shopping district with no sign whatsoever of the person who summoned him. While trying to gather information and making snarky remarks on how this was a lame video game setup and why he doesn't have any superpowers, he finds himself in a back alley with a couple of thugs. And after more snarky rpg remarks, he gets his ass handed to him. Enter the silver haired half-elf goody-two-shoes female lead Emilia, who seems to be running after a thief, but stops to save our poor little miserable MC. She is cute, kind hearted, generous, and oblivious when it comes to certain kind of events. Basically your cardboard cut-out of a rich sheltered damsel in distress.

So what makes this show interesting? Well, after our silver haired goddess (from Subaru's perspective), saves him, they decide to look for her stolen insignia together. After spending a whole day chasing leads all over town, they finally stumble upon an old warehouse deep in the city slums, which seems to be a loot house where they can 'negotiate' to get back the stolen insignia. They go in and... BAM! They're dead. And so begins Subaru's tragic journey into this fantasy world where the only power he possesses is to Return by Death to a certain point in time.

The show makes excellent use of the contrast that arises due to this situation by splitting the first episode in two parts. One with a light cheerful tone and the other with the dark tone. And this is expressed very well by the change in animation style as well. It is this shock, that gripped me. And throughout the series, the suspense and the thrill associated with this shock and Subaru's eventual death and reset is what makes the series enjoyable. Poor Subaru enjoys the displeasure of dying in various ways - sliced, stabbed in the gut, poisoned, mauled, decapitated; you name it. And we haven't even started talking about the emotional damage he experiences from having to realise that all the bonds he formed were shattered.

This does a marvellous job at distracting you from the issues that the series has. Instead of going further into it and making the post even longer, I'll tell you this -
This series is amazing, as long as you don't start thinking in a logical and rational way. Because if you do, you will find quite a bit of questionable instances and several of our main characters' motivations and actions will make no sense to you. On top of it, you might also find the excessive amount of lolis to be a bit displeasing (unless that's your thing, then rejoice!). So, try not to analyse everything too much when you start this show, let yourself get carried away in the direction the series is going and you will have a blast watching this fantasy thriller. My recommendation is a yes!

P.S. Don't take that first paragraph too seriously, it was just a random idea. Actually, don't take anything written here too seriously.

Sakamoto Desu ga?

Studio : Studio Deen
Genre : Comedy, School, Seinen

Step out of the way everyone, Swagamoto is here!!
Usui Takumi ain't got shit on this guy!
After getting tired of having fun with all the 72 virgins in swag-heaven, the swag-Jesus Swagamoto decided to descend to Earth to let all the puny swagless humans gawk on his almighty holy swag. The swag-god enrolls himself into the class 1-2 of the Gakubun Prefectural High School, and from day one becomes the most popular kid in school. And we witness the everyday tasks performed by the God of Swag in a way so stylish that no mere human can ever hope to fully comprehend the swag level of these miracles. Forget the ice cold coolness, this is absolute zero level of coolness, a level of coolness so cool that even the subatomic particles stop in awe of all the swag phenomenon that Swagamoto causes.

All the excessive exaggerations aside, this is actually a pretty nice show. But a lot of it depends on whether or not suave humour (or Mary Sue MCs) suits yours fancy. Basically, we have a main character who is charming, confident, elegant, cool and whatever pretty adjectives you can find in the dictionary. And he often finds himself in situations that would be too difficult, if not impossible to get out of, for a normal person. And he gets out of those situations in a very graceful, cool, and probably impossible ways. Granted that not every escape is legendary, there are quite a few times where the subtlety of his actions is amusing. And that's the whole zist of the show, Sakamoto dealing with all kinds of high school anime cliche events and more, in a way that is in no way realistic but ends up being delightful.

My recommendation is a yes, but with a warning. Just like any other comedy show out there, you will only like it if it is compatible with your sense of humour. And if that's not the case... Swagamoto's almighty swiggity swagger will fix it for ye! (I'm sorry. Had to do it.)

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Studio : Silver Link
Genre : Comedy, School, Slice of Life

“Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.”
Listlessness, laziness, laxness, leisureliness, sluggishness, drowsiness - there's so many words for it, I wonder if those guys really understood the essence of that feeling.
A nice spring breeze when you're sitting outside on the porch, or when lovely rain comes down after the scorching summers and you can smell the earth, or during those slightly cold autumn mornings, or when you're snuggled under the covers during those snowy winter days and it's really warm and comfy inside - we've all had one of those moments where we feel so pleasant, blissful and peaceful that the last thing to do would be to think of doing something. Mind you, this is different than being bored, like how you get during one of those boring lectures in class that you start falling asleep. True listlessness is an art that happens by itself, that requires letting go - like how you "fall" asleep.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge, as it's english translation says, is all about a guy named Tanaka being listless all the time. He is lathargic when he's at home, he's lathargic at school, he's lethargic when he's eating, writing, studying... the guy just has no will to be active, unless it comes to finding ways to save energy. Then he can come up with rather interesting ideas. Enter, the best friend Ohta, not exactly a polar opposite but he's someone who always takes care of our lazy log Tanaka, in ways which by normal logic, would seem nothing short of 'unusual'. He literally carries him around - across corridors, from class to class, and to even his home when needed. He is the ultimate caretaker Tanaka needs.

The highlight of the show is mostly the lovely bond of friendship between these two and how they deal with the bizarre things that Tanaka's listlessness gets them into. On top of that, several characters make their way in and create a charming environment. This includes the tiny hyperactive Miyano; Echizen or Ecchan, the tsundere-san, who also happens to be a childhood friend of Ohta (there's a bit of a chemistry there that needs some spotlight); Shiraishi, the kind & beautiful popular girl with a quirky secret; and last but not the least - the sisters of our two main characters, one of which needs further exploration.

The show gives you quite a relaxing experience, there's some chuckles and giggles here and there, the voice actors have done an amazing job, the characters are lovely and charming - it's an excellent remedy if you're looking for stress-relief. So, go watch it.
P.S. While I may have praised this show a lot, I would still urge you to take my advice with a grain of salt.


And with that my friends, I wrap up my First Impressions on the Spring Season 2016. Looking at the lineup of the Summer Season, I think we are going to have a blast. There are so many series that are making a return, some really good works are getting an adaptation. I'm really excited to see how it will go. I don't know, maybe I'll do one of those "Anime to look out for in the upcoming season" post. I've never done those before. Should I?
Anyways, thank you for reading.
Also, because I can--
Go Beyond!
PLUS ULTRA!!

Spring Season 2016 First Impressions - Part 2

Spring Season 2016 First Impressions - Part 2

Continuing from the last post, today we are covering 5 more anime. I know I'm a little too late for a proper first impression, that's why I've made all the 'first impressions' as 'reviews' for the season. So, this post can serve as a season review as well, though you should not take it too seriously, as the final impressions for some of the shows can change drastically with their season finale. With all that out of the way, let us begin.

Flying Witch

Studio : J.C. Staff
Genre : Comedy, Magic, Shounen, Slice of Life, Supernatural

When I heard that J.C. Staff was making a non-ecchi Slice of Life show about a witch in a rural setting, I couldn't help but feel compelled to watch it. And it paid off.
The term 'witch' used to produce an image inside my head, of an old crooked lady in a giant hat with a long nose, standing by a giant cauldron with something gooey boiling in it (very ominous and very disney). But with the introduction to anime, it changed to cute girls in skimpy outfits doing poses with lots and lots of bright colours. So, I'm really glad that this time, the witch looks like an ordinary person. And the whole show is as laid back and relaxing as it gets.

Our main character Makoto is a 15 year old professional witch (she looks a lot like Miho Azuki from Bakuman) who moves into Aomori from Yokohama. This is where she will train as a witch as she goes about her normal life and schooling. She moves into her relatives' home, a family of four, comprised of the mommy, daddy and two children. The show is about the everyday life of these people doing their thing - Makoto training as a witch with several characters coming and going, Chinatsu doing what kids usually do (observe, get involved and make cute expressions), and the cousin Kei just doing whatever he wants (oh, and there are cats as well). Along with that, several characters make their way into the scene. Out of which, the episodes with Makoto's sister are very entertaining as her kind of goofy/troll side often gets people into some hilarious situations. Not to mention the show doesn't take the witch business too seriously (or overcomplicate it) and presents it in a somewhat of a non-traditional way (things like, not all magic is flashy, etc).

The show is a pretty good watch if you are looking for something peaceful that you can sit back, relax and enjoy. Not every episode is gold here but there are some, which pack quality content and would get a nice laugh out of you. So, feel free to check this one out, I recommend it.

Joker Game

Studio : Production I.G.
Genre : Drama, Historical, Military, Seinen

A spy thriller set in the World War II era. Sounds exhilarating, doesn't it?
The first couple episodes of this series caught me by surprise. The suspense held me in place and the twist, the revelation and the deduction at the end satisfied my expectations. So I strapped myself up for a ride but little did I know that this anime will take a totally different path from what I had anticipated.

So, around the same time as World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army decides to set up a spy training organisation by the name of D-Agency. The head of this organisation Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki recruits several individuals with the potential to become spies, and trains them over the years. So far, with the exception of first couple episodes, the show is about the individual missions of these spies and has yet to show signs of an overarching plotline. Which just makes this show fairly episodic in nature, though I do have a feeling that they might string them together, which would be a really good thing. As for the quality of these 'stand alone' episodes, they are satisfactory at best, since they wrap up the whole case - the mystery, the deduction etc. in one episode, which, according to me, is not enough time.

And while I am slightly dissatisfied with the way things are here, I love the fact that the anime introduced us to several aspects of the spy trade. Elements like spies embedding information in their mind in several levels so that in the case they are captured, the enemy can't extract it easily. Or the sleeper agents, and how sometimes even the spies aren't given the full information on purpose, their escape strategies, etc. It is quite an entertaining watch, but as I said before, it's kinda episodic (so far) and could get slow at times. And with the first episode, I thought this was going to be one long cleverly put together plot, but it isn't. I still recommend this though, at least watch the first couple episodes.

Kiznaiver

Studio : Trigger
Genre : Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

"If you don't share someone's pain, you can never understand them."
You might have read or heard quotes about pain and how it helps bring people close. Pain is something we all experience on a daily basis. Physical pain, when you accidentally bang your pinky toe on the corner of the table. Emotional pain, when you realise your favourite anime won't get a second season. Pain, is a part of life. But, can you really know someone just by sharing their pain? Or is there more to it than that?

As a step towards achieving world peace, the residents of Sugomori City conduct an experiment, implementing The Kizuna System, a system that allows it's participants (called Kiznaivers) to literally share each other's pain with the help of a device implanted into their bodies. So when one Kiznaiver is hurt, the pain is divided and shared by everyone else. The idea is to bring people close and help them connect to each other on a deeper level, since sharing each other's pain will help them understand each other. But, how does that lead to world peace? Whether this is just a stupidly naive idea or something brilliant, I'll leave that up to you (for all we know, the whole 'world peace' thing might be a sham). What's interesting here, is how the anime approaches it.

And the very first, and probably the most important thing, in this 'naive' approach, is the characters. Since, Trigger isn't exactly known to have normal characters, we have a very unique blend of characters at our hands. There are a total of 8 main characters (7 Kiznaivers and 1 non-Kiznaiver) and they range from the emotionless doll kind to the crazy airhead kind. You have the male lead Katsuhira, 'the Imbecile', the emotionless dull boy who doesn't feel pain, always lost, like he has smoked a pound of weed. The female lead, 'goody-two-shoes' Chidori, the childhood friend of our protagonist, always loved him but never said a word about it (classic). The musclehead Tenga, the guy who is our MC's classmate, he helped him when he was getting bullied, but strangely we know next to nothing about him (he might be the most normal guy in the group). Tsuguhito Yuta, 'the Cunning Normal', who used to be a fat kid in middle school, but he went on diet and is now somewhat popular (he keeps that past a secret), he is also somewhat self-centred and a jerk at times. 'The Eccentric headcase' Niko Niiyama, the airhead child of the group, always eccentric and over-reacting to stuff, though it is a façade. 'The high-and-mighty' Honoka Maki, the girl with the strange dark past, she is rational at times but mostly she is just really mean to people. And last but not the least, Yoshiharu Hisomu, the guy who loves physical pain, because we needed a 'real' nutcase for this.

Now, would you want to watch an anime with the said premise and characters? My stance on this is neutral, so I won't really recommend it. The show lacks the depth that it's premise requires. But at the same time, I don't really hate this show, at least not enough to drop it. Reason being, it still has some potential left and I'd like to see where it goes.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Studio : Wit Studio
Genre : Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Another season, another anime that gets compared to Attack on Titan.
Labelled as "poor man's Attack on Titan", Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is actually brought to us by the creators of Attack on Titan. So, trying not to draw parallels between the two can be hard.

Setup in the steampunk age, the world of Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is invaded by the strange creatures called the kabane. These kabane have a metal cage surrounding their heart and are somewhat similar to zombies in the sense that they can infect other people by biting them. So, to prevent themselves from being annihilated, mankind has built several 'stations' around the world. These stations are like cities surrounded by metal walls and have railroads going in and out of them connecting them to other stations. Our teenage protagonist is an engineer in one of these cities, which, one day gets raided by the kabane. And the guy decides to test out his experimental gun which could pierce the metal cage around the kabane's heart and supposedly kill them (he is basically Eren Jaegar with a brain and a shitty character design). And as expected, the gun works but in the process the guy ends up being bit by one of the kabane. And then he somehow, miraculously reverts his transformation into a kabane by hanging himself, choking his neck and blocking the virus from entering his brain (Which sounds like a load of crap but suspension of disbelief, you know)

So far, the anime has been about them running away on the Koutetsujou while dealing with their internal strifes and the kabane on their way. There is a lot of action, blood, ridiculous clutch situations, all of which are good entertainment fodder thanks to the top notch animation and your usual epic soundtrack. It is very cliche with your usual teenagers acting high and mighty, while the adults act like idiots with no brains setup. I have yet to see something special here, but at least I'm not bored for the whole duration of an episode, so this is actually something I can recommend. For all you action lovers out there who are willing to dropkick their brain out the window, this one is for you.

Kuma Miko

Studio : Kinema Citrus & EMT²
Genre : Comedy, Seinen, Slice of Life

As I have mentioned several times here, I, have a soft spot for slice of life anime. So, whenever I see one in the charts, I get excited. And when they have a seinen tag attached to them, my expectations get even higher. And so, when I saw that an anime with a possible pedobear reference was coming up, I was really curious. And the first episode was good. But then as more and more episodes aired, my expectations of watching a calm, relaxing and funny show were ruined.

Kuma Miko : Girl Meets Bear, is about a country girl Machi, who lives in a secluded village in Japan. She is a 14 year old shrine maiden, who lives in a shrine (ofc), deep in the mountains, with her talking guardian bear Natsu. Having spent all her life in the countryside, she is a complete country bumpkin, and totally unfamiliar with modern technology and culture. And like any other child of her age, she panics when forced into uncomfortable situations. The show initially seemed to revolve around Machi getting familiar with the city life, with the bear Natsu giving her several tasks, and the entertainment came from how Machi took on these tasks. But later on, the show seems to have abandoned that storyline and taken a more plotless episodic approach.

While the show is funny at times, I really can't bear it when they are outright harassing poor little Machi, which, sadly, happens all the time. The whole village treats the poor maiden as an object of entertainment. There's Yoshio, who doesn't give a damn about her, but always manipulates her into doing his deeds to fulfil his own agenda. Hibiki, the delinquent, who is always scaring the crap out of her. And the big douchebag Natsu, who, instead of teaching her the 'city ways' in a way that's comfortable for her, just stands there with his arms folded saying "I want you to do this in ____ time. Now go." Granted that Machi panics a lot and her reactions are somewhat exaggerated, that is no way to teach a kid. At least, in my opinion. All I see is that she is gonna end up with a lot of trauma and bad memories. So, my best moments in the show were when Machi punched Yoshio in the stomach and beat the crap out of Natsu.

I know I'm taking this too seriously, but watching a 14 year old get harassed by the whole village is not my idea of a 'slice of life' show. So, my recommendation is a nope.


And with that, I wrap up the Part 2 of the Spring Season 2016 First Impressions. Part 3 will probably be up anytime next week, and it is going to cover my anime of the season. (You've probably already guessed it.)
Thank you for reading. Share your thoughts about the ongoing season with me down in the comments below. What is your anime of the season?