And with barely a break in the proceedings (or actually, not any break at all), the spring anime are out of the gate. I’ve got precious little time up my sleeve this season and am feeling the need to be ruthless, so don’t be surprised to see plenty of titles being dropped between now and the next couple of weeks. In fact, let’s get started on that right now, shall we?
Score: 3/10 (Dropped)
There are not enough words in the English language to describe just how lifeless and generic this premiere felt. The entire thing looked, sounded, and played out like an awkward mishmash of several fantasy action/adventure shows stitched together, all of them clichéd and poorly written. The exposition is clumsy, the dialogue flat, the OP and ED sequences painfully bland; it’s seriously been a while since I’ve seen anything quite this tired and unimaginative. I don’t doubt there’ll be far worse this season, if only because Endride at least isn’t inundated with creepy fanservice, but you have to admit that’s a pretty low bar to set. After all, “I wasn’t offended, just bored out of my mind” doesn’t exactly make for an inspiring tagline.
Score: 4/10 (Dropped)
This show looks and feels like it’s being marketed to 10-year old boys, which is quite an achievement when you think about the actual content. The first case certainly could’ve been resolved by one even if the audience hadn’t already been pointed straight at the murderer beforehand, and the visuals come across as incredibly cheap and clunky. In fact, they look like they’ve been ripped straight from the game cut scenes, and I can only assume that the anime is aiming to cash in on already-existing fans of the franchise – the story, such as it is, definitely won’t be picking up any new audience members on its own aside from the chronically bored.
Score: 4/10 (Dropped)
In hindsight, I should never have tried this to begin with. I usually don’t like mecha and I haven’t fully enjoyed a P.A.Works title since 2013, so really I was just asking to be put off. To be fair, I don’t think Kuromukuro will be a bad series so much as just a bit flat – more to the point, it’s simply not my kind of show. Not even a naked man waving a sword around managed to wake me up much, so I think I’ll just leave it at that and let people decide for themselves whether or not it piques their interest.
Score: 5/10 (Dropped)
Okay, so this isn’t my kind of show, but it’s also not the kind of show involving either blackmail or leering uncles with an unhealthy interest in elementary school kids, regardless of how the synopsis makes it sound. So that’s something at least. The bad news is that it’s still not a good show, mostly because while it might be totally family-friendly, it’s also pretty dull and not funny at all despite being labelled as a comedy. Feel-good fluff comes a bit closer to the mark – Shounen Maid is obviously going straight for the heart-warming messages about family and belonging – but even from that angle I was still nothing more than politely bored. There’s absolutely nothing here we haven’t all seen numerous times before.
Inevitable cracks about Boku no Pico aside, this could certainly be a lot worse. Right up until the final minute or so of this episode, you could almost have been forgiven for assuming that Super Lovers was just a nice little story about a boy with an abusive past and abandonment issues finally learning to trust again, and being rewarded with a family who genuinely loves him. Almost. If the title didn’t give it away though, this is a BL series, so I can certainly understand where those aforementioned Boku no Pico jokes are coming from. Thankfully, it looks like there’s about to be a time-skip of several years, so this (probably) won’t be poorly-disguised paedophilia. Er, no guarantees though. I’m curious enough to keep watching for another episode or so thanks to that suddenly dark after-credits scene, but even if it steers clear of any further creepiness I’d say Super Lovers will be average at best.
I was cool with this show right up until the random bear-human sex jokes. I mean sure, the rest of the comedy wasn’t exactly side-splitting, but I would’ve been happy enough to watch a nice little absurdist yarn about a shrine maiden living somewhere in rural Tohoku and her best friend/bear god. I like supernatural slice-of-life titles and I like titles set in the Japanese countryside (Kamichu flashbacks, anyone?), so I figured Kuma Miko would at least be mildly entertaining – harmless, light-hearted fluff. And for a while that’s exactly what it looked like… only at some point after that city quiz segment (which was genuinely funny to me, albeit possibly only because I too live in rural Japan), things got a little too weird. I’m tempted to watch a couple more episodes of this, but if it doesn’t stop with the bear-human sex shtick then I’m out. Sorry, but that’s just not funny.
Bungou Stray Dogs
You know what, I’m just gonna ignore all those literary references, since they aren’t clever and as far as I can tell, the exact same story could be told without them. Unfortunately what I can’t ignore is the tonal whiplash I’m getting from this thing – I have no idea whether or not I’m meant to be taking Bungou Stray Dogs seriously or as some kind of black comedy. It’s not that a show can’t have aspects of both, but when it keeps shifting back and forth so abruptly, I’m left not knowing quite what to think. I’m probably more likely to enjoy a more serious tone overall in this case, although the woe-is-me orphanage flashbacks got repetitive pretty quickly and were laid on much too thick for my taste. Any emotional weight these types of scenes might have had were ruined by flippant one-liners anyway, courtesy of Dazai’s and Kunikada’s bickering married couple routine. That said, I like the visuals as well as the voice acting, so I feel obliged to give this a couple more episodes to try and prove itself.
12-Sai: Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki
It’s a shame this series is aimed at young girls rather than slightly older women, because if it weren’t so saccharine-sweet and, well, girlish, I’d probably enjoy it a lot more. I can’t really blame it just because I’m not the target audience though, and besides, an anime that genuinely deals with topics like first crushes, periods, bullying, etc. without sexualising any of it can only be a good thing. I’ll probably drop this since I’m not 12 and don’t have a 12-year old’s tastes in artwork, but it’s not a bad little show; if you’re after something adorable, wholesome and sparkly then it might just be for you.
Mayoiga/The Lost Village
This is the only show listed here that I’ve seen two episodes of, not just the premiere, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing. See, the premise looks promising enough on paper, but the execution is honestly a little ho-hum, which never bodes well for a mystery/suspense title. My main issue is that while the creators are clearly going for a creepy atmosphere (and at least partially succeeding), I feel let down in that there’s been absolutely no payoff so far – just a lot of dialogue involving way too many characters, most of whom annoy the everloving crap out of me. It’d be one thing if this really was Another written by Okada Mari like everyone keeps insisting, but since nobody’s died at all yet let alone died grotesquely, I don’t see how this is an accurate comment. On the other hand, I do still think the story has potential, so I’m giving Mayoiga one more episode to prove it.
Well, that was a lot better than I thought it’d be. What with the Japanese shounen audience I had assumed it’d have a ton of moe going on, but actually this seems nothing but harmlessly cute and non-pandering, at least so far. I like that while the main character definitely has her moments, she’s not just some airhead incapable of making it through life on her own, and I also like that the guy she’s living with is neither an asshole nor a creep. In fact, everyone and everything here seems nice and even pretty normal, general witchery aside – a less charming but still perfectly adequate version of Kiki’s Delivery Service, complete with broom and black cat. I may give it up if pressed for time even so, if only because this season is already plenty rich in the light-hearted comedy/slice-of-life department, but we’ll see.
Sailor Moon Crystal Season III
I totally understand if you were burned the first time around with Sailor Moon Crystal, I really do. It was awful. This is better. No really, I promise. Clearly those staff changes worked wonders, because this is a major improvement over the first two seasons of Crystal – gone is the stilted dialogue and the terribad CG transformation sequences, to be replaced by a feel that’s much more in line with what I was hoping from this series in the first place, i.e. an updated version of the original story that has the potential to appeal to its older fans. I’m not saying Crystal is now perfect, but the show should at least be fun again, and at this point that’s all I’m really asking for.
As is to be expected from a Trigger show, one episode alone just isn’t enough to go on. There are a lot of good ideas going on here, but it remains to be seen how well they’ll be presented, and of course whether or not they’ll eventually be tied together into a coherent whole. The raw potential is certainly there though, and so is the energy along with the visuals – this is a good-looking series if you like that kind of frenetic, colourful style (though I don’t blame you if you don’t), and it suits the overall vibe of the piece. Other than that I don’t have a whole lot to say as of yet, but I can live with sticking it out a while to see which direction Trigger chooses to take things. If you’re not the patient type though, you probably already know enough of the studio and/or Kobayashi Hiroshi to give Kizvaiver a miss.
Sakamoto desu ga?/Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
I liked this well enough, but I also expected to find it a bit funnier than I actually did. I mean, there was nothing wrong with the jokes themselves but I was hoping for a little more… oomph, I guess? Sakamoto’s comedic style definitely leans towards parody, but I think it’d do better if it went even more over-the-top and out there in terms of execution, because right now the tone seems almost flat at times, at least in comparison to what’s actually happening onscreen. Then again, if the show is purposefully going for the combination of absurdist humour and deadpan delivery, then I guess I’d have to say it’s succeeding pretty well. And hey, it’s also easily the most screencap-able series of the season – I spent a few minutes just debating which shot to use for this post.
Bad first impressions with that English aside, I think I’m going to like this one. I’m a little leery about the setting because I’m not yet convinced that the series will handle 1930s Japan with a whole lot of delicacy, but I generally enjoy historical pieces (especially when they focus on a time other than the now much overdone Edo period), and the premise is certainly fresh enough to be interesting. Joker Game is based on a series of full-length novels rather than on a manga, game, or light novel franchise, and because it’s not aimed at teens, there are none of the usual shounen or shoujo tropes to have to slog through. Where the show clearly shrines though is in the visuals – Production I.G does solid and distinctive work as usual, with great character designs and a lot of attention paid to composition and framing. Whatever I end up thinking of the actual story, Joker Game has already impressed me with its clear sense of style.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge/Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
You guys, I literally cried laughing while watching this. I honestly don’t know if that was almost purely out of surprise since I was expecting to crack one or two smiles at best, but good lord I enjoyed the hell out of that first episode. I suppose it wasn’t the jokes themselves so much as the timing, because if I tried telling someone about them I don’t think the show would sound interesting or funny at all – the only reason I gave Tanaka-kun a shot in the first place was because I saw iblessall’s post and thought sure, why not? And then proceeded to bust my gut laughing, because the timing truly was just that spot-on for me. I will never be able to sing Furusato again without cracking up – which might be a serious problem considering just how often it comes up at school, but oh well, that’s a fair price to pay for decent comedy. I don’t care if nobody else cares for Tanaka-kun like I do, this show is legitimately hilarious.
So there we have it. One great show, a few decent ones, and a whole lot of extras that might appeal if you have nothing else going on. No comment on whether or not I think this is a good season or not, because I never see the point – so long as I find a small handful of shows I enjoy watching on a weekly basis, I’m perfectly content.
Question of the post: What’s been your best and worst premiere this season? Any huge surprises either way? Oh, and let me know if you think I’m missing out on anything spectacular as well, I never have time to cover everything.