Categories: seasonal thin slicing
Tagged: attack on titan, chivalry of a failed knight, comet lucifer, concrete revolutio, garo the animation, gundam, gundam: iron blooded orphans, haikyuu, monogatari, monogatari:hitagi, noragami, one punch man, sakurako's lovely bones, the asterisk war, the perfect insider, utawarerumono, young black jack
12 Comments »
7,000+ words, 25 anime, 1 sequel-filled season. 10th anniversary of thin slicing.
The granddaddy of gimmick posts is once again upon us. That’s right– thin slicing has returned!
Thin slicing is based off of Malcom Gladwell’s Blink, a book about– OH FUCK IT. YOU’VE READ THIS SAME BOILERPLATE FOR
EIGHT NINE TEN YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, I’ve been writing thin slicing posts since 2005 where I ranked Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome.
Since you’ve stuck with me for ten years, I’ll start going back and giving ten year retrospectives. For that Fall 2005 season, the most influential show was Mai Otome. It defined the train wreck era of Sunrise, and it made Code Geass possible. It would, eventually, ten years later, lead to a show this season. Second would be Nanoha A’s, which was a fantastic continuation of Nanoha before the franchise got stretched too thin by uninspired sequels. Nanoha is significant for ushering in the combat magical girl genre as well as an early directing gig for Shinbo. It’s amazing the guy went from Nanoha, Pani Poni Dash, ZETSUBO DA!, Madoka, and like a dozen seasons of Monogatari in the past ten years. Third would be Shakugan no Shana… though you could argue for it for number one. The show did two things. One, it put JC Staff on the map and lead to season after season of the JC Staff wrathful loli with pink/red hair. There’s even one this season, but I’m not thin slicing that show. Two, very importantly, Shakugan no Shana was a weird show when it aired because it was based on a light novel instead of a manga. That didn’t happen much back then. It would eventually lead to the light novel explosion we know today. I wonder what ten years from now would be like? Will I still be blogging? Will one show this season signal the beginning of a webcomic or superhero boom for anime? Will magic high schools and ecchi magazines still be around?
Two more shows I want to point out from Fall 2005 are Aria and Paradise Kiss. I probably should have thin sliced those. My bad. That was my first time doing it. It’s not like I ranked Heroic Age over Clannad or anything.
(Why am I writing this here and not a separate post? Because I wanted to connect the posts. Weird, but it is more nostalgic for me this way. Thin slicing is a post where rambling runs wild and free.)
For people who want to know how this ranking is done, I suggest reading the archived explanation. If you’re like, “This show is ranked too high!” or “Too low!” then, well, you obviously don’t know how this works. For every show high, there has to be a low. Deal with it. And, again, for the sake of time, I don’t rank sequels if I never finished watching the original or if there’s nothing interesting about the sequel. It’s a sequel! If you watched the first season, you should know if you should watch the second as well. You don’t need me to validate your watching of Yuri Yuri, Diabolik Loves More BLOOD, Is It A Fucking Rabbit?!, Hiden no Aria Anti-Aircraft, Dead Aggressor S2, Seraph of the End S2, Brave Beats, or Hyouka S2.
A twist for this season: No twist! No Bechdel test! No dead parents tracker! We are vanilla this season. Time to get 39 people together and storm Molten Core.
Updates on thin slicing are always on my Twitter account.
Quick recap from last season: Akagami no Shirayukihime is the most underrated show of last season. GOD EATER is the most overrated. School Live is properly rated (for zombies). Wakako Zake has a live action show?!?
#MR IRRELEVANT. K – Return of Kings
K – Return of Kings is a big fucking mess. At no point can I consider this a coherent show but rather an excuse for showing off pretty boys fighting against and with each other. From what I can gather, there’s a bunch of factions, including one that resembles the military from Full Metal Alchemist. There’s another that is evil because they are stealing the plot from Gatchaman Crowds. There’s another that is the mirror image of the military one, except they are all wearing street clothes and feature diversity. The direction of this show is terrible. There are points where the camera cannot stay still and insist on making me motion sick. All of the animation is super-stylized to the point that it looks like someone is just trying all the effects possible instead of properly editing them to a cohesive point of view. That is kind of unfortunate as GoHands did put some money into the production, but the directing and editing is just terrible. There’s also the extreme boring sameness with the characters. The cast is so big, and every character needs to be on screen at the same time (due to the terrible directing) that the action becomes incomprehensible. Most of the scenes degrade to shouting and posing. The characters are detailed and the animation tries to be high quality, but the CG town and buildings look bad and muddied. GoHands tries to hide how the CG doesn’t mesh well with the characters by using a lot of filters and sparkles. Yeah for the age of Instagramy anime.
The dialogue is as bad or worse than the animation. The dialogue is about as good as a doujin fighting game with classic lines like, “Let’s see you handle this!” “You can do better than that!” “This is nothing!” “Your actions are very chaotic!” and “Let’s get on with it!” The plot is not much better than the plotof a doujin fighting game.
(K is supposed to be have shoujo and shounen, but I would guess it is going for the otome game crowd with the diverse group of fair-skinned, blonde, blue-eyed, clean-shaven, medium-length haired pretty boys in the show. Oharuhi-sama forbid we get a black character in the man-harem in an otome game. However, there is one character really out of place: the obscenely sexy girl. She already is busting out of her uniform, and, whenever she fights, she seems to get battle damaged and expose more skin. Weirdly enough, none of the male characters get battle damaged. She’s as jarring as Quiet is in The Phantom Pain. At least Quiet is useful.)
(One of the plot points is that the bad guy must be a genius because he is using a special program to keep himself anonymous on the internet.)
(K – Return of Kings is a sequel to K, and as a sequel that I never finished watching the original, I would not normally blog it. But… my gosh… this anime is a terrible, terrible show. Someone needs to document just how wretched this show is. K wasn’t this bad.)
#23. Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid
Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid is yet another franchise in the sexually exploitative yuri genre. In that regards, it is similar to Queen’s Blade including some character designs that look like Queen’s Blades rejects which should not be surprising since it is the same studio as Quenn’s Blade. The premise is that there are abnormal women (found via DNA scan) who are then exiled to an island a la Cross Ange. The poor high school girls literally get shot out of a missile and onto an island. They couldn’t helicopter them in or have them parachute down– nope– Tomahawk missile ahoy! Then the show becomes Soul Eater where the girls partner up, and one girl can wield the other as a weapon. To activate this power, though, the girl must be sexually aroused. At the climatic fight of the first episode, the fight stops for a few minutes so one girl can start sexing up her partner to turn her into a weapon. It makes no sense to have a battle sequence, stop for fondling and French kissing, continue waiting as groping and rubbing intensifies, and then, okay good let’s finish the battle. Just silly. There are ways of incorporating fanservice that does not make a show feel exploitative or disrupt the story flow (see KILL la KILL)… this show is the exact opposite.
The show is dumb. None of the characters seem to be more than one dimensional. The dialogue features riveting lines such as the following exchange: “She’s watching.” “It turns me on.” “I have no idea what is going on.” There’s instances where one girl is trying to shoot at another, despite being two feet away, and whiffing each time as if she were an elite Stormtrooper. I find it funny because the first name you see when you watch the opening credits is “Written by Yousuke Kuroda.” This show is terribly written. Now I’m re-evaluating if Gundam 00 was more Sunrise’s fault or Kuroda’s… man…
(Mitigating factor: Almost half the first episode featured censorship. Honestly, it’s 2015. If you want to see tits and girls symmetrical docking, there’s plenty of places to find it.)
(Oh man, it’s a minor victory this season that I haven’t seen an ero-hon mentioned in any episode one’s this season. It’s 2015!!! Playboy has given up on naked ladies! At some point anime has to realize that Google exists. Maybe these Japanese writers are still using Altavista, and that’s the issue.)
#22. Dance with Devils
If there’s something I’ve learned from watching a lot of episode ones of anime based off of otome games, it’s this: One, the guys always treat the girl as an object. “She will be mine!” is said in literally every one of these. Two, all the guys are varying degrees of assholes, but not real assholes. There are probably more awful men at nightclubs, Craigslist, or Tinder, but these man-harems have secret hearts of gold… okay maybe gold is too strong… hearts of pyrite. Three, none of the main man-harem members have a crew cut or facial hair or dark brown skin. Four, a florist is getting rich from all the roses being flung around. A lot of roses. Never a hibiscus. Five, the man-harem all belong to a group, either they are the brothers of the poor girl, a rape club at school, a family of raping vampires, or the student council of rape.
Dance with Devils follows that formula to the tee. It does bring one twist in singing, which would be great except another otome game show this season also features a lot of singing. It is an otome game musical. Anime and musicals usually do not go together since there’s a significant cost in developing something like that. Red Garden attempted the format but abandoned it, and that show was one reason Gonzo went under. The musical aspect of Dance with Devils is pretty bad. The lyrics are as generic as possible, and they are something I would expect to find at a discount karaoke bar. The animation is almost non-existent with a lot of pan shots during the singing. I would have preferred they did super deformed 3D CG versions of the characters and made them dance that way. The plot is also terrible, with the main girl making all the wrong choices. Her house gets broken into, her mom disappeared, and she decides to stay hours in the house packing. She doesn’t even want her friend to come by and make sure she is safe. So what happens? Yep, rapey vampire attacks. She should have asked the cops to drive her to her friend’s house. I get it. Otome game players do not want a heroine who is smart, capable, and hot.
(Wait, isn’t this anime the plot to Twilight? Except with more singing?)
#21. NEW Atashin’chi
Shin Atashin’chi is a no calorie slice-of-life look at a typical Japanese housewife. I’m positive I am not the target audience of this show. The show is actually based on a popular manga that ran for twenty years and spawned an original 330 episode anime that ended last year. Apparently, Shin-Ei needs money or something and is making more. I can see the story working as a 4-koma or a comic in a newspaper, but as an anime, it falls flat. The pacing is too slow, the gags are not appealing, and the characters are all one dimensional lumps of human flesh waiting to be devoured by Xrill, Demon Servant of Balitor. I think if I were a bored eight year old kid without an iPad or a Lego set, maybe I would watch this? I don’t know.
(A big difference compared to Ghibli’s Yamadas is that Yamadas had a theme of heart and family. Yamadas wasn’t a slapstick gag reel. I think that movie is underrated these days. Go watch it if you are craving for a comedy about domestic life in Japan.)
#20. Lance N’ Masques
Lance N’ Masques is about a knight who comes to live with a young girl. The knight fights with a lance, yet never seems to properly use the lance properly in combat. He hits people with it like a bat, but he never impales people. It also seems like a very unwieldy weapon in this day and age. The knight also wears a mask (hence lance and masks) to hide his identity, and it just makes him look like a reject from Iron Blooded Orphans. The young girl is apparently an elementary schooler who lives by herself. Unlike Nagi in Hayate the Combat Butler, there is no Maria who stays with her all the time. The young girl’s meido apparently go home after lunch, with one who goes back home after dinner. How is this any sort of appropriate care for a grade school student? Of course, because the young girl has inherited a lot of money, people are out to kidnap her, which seems really easy since she lives alone. Fortunately, the knight comes and saves him in the most childish of fantasies. Show also features a talking horse. No, I’m not stoned.
Animation by Gokumi is not very good. The characters are a bit overly moe, with the main good guys looking like the cast of Pita-Ten while the bad guys look like they game straight from Ergastulum.
#19. Star Mu
High School Star Musical is about an all boys musical school. The show literally took ten seconds to establish the plot, and then it spent the rest of the episode singing, dancing (poor animated), and frolicking. The characters include the asshole, the guy who is never on time, the glasses guy who keeps pushing up his glasses, Nagisa on loan from Free! and Free! Eternal Summer, Ohtori’s bastard cousin, and a main character with a wardrobe from the eighties. It’s okay though as I’m sure he’ll spend most of his time naked in doujinshi land. The show, quite like Dance with Devils, randomly breaks out in song except the songs are part of the story. The student council slash top music group sings about how wonderful they are, and how trash commoner everyone else is. They are, of course, trying to build a new dance team, and the newest member of the elite council decides to recruit a bunch of idiots to troll them.
Animation is terrible, the music is terrible, and characters are horrible. The only saving grace is that the show is so bad, there’s some comedy to it. Also, every situation the cast gets in can be construed sexually. Unlike other otome-ish shows this season, this one is the only one ballsy enough to go with an entire male cast with a male main character. There’s no poor female character waiting to be raped or kidnapped– just a bunch of dudes singing and dancing. Somehow… that concept is an improvement for the genre.
#18. I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner
I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner (or Shomin Sample) is the second worst titled anime of this season. My gosh. Talk about revealing all your plot points in your title. The premise is that there’s an elite academy in Japan servicing the daughters of elite families. These girls are so sheltered, they do not know about iPhones. To help them learn about the outside world, the school
suggests to the parents to take their kids out of their compounds and into the real world decides to kidnap a common boy and have him enroll at the school. Because of a misunderstanding, the school only wants a homosexual boy, but the boy they acquire is not gay. But he needs to pretend he is gay because the school is bad at admitting its errors, much like most anime bloggers. (Seriously, Sola is not a better anime than Haruhi Suzumiya. Quick! Can anyone remember the male protagonist’s name in Sola?) Sample is a cross between Three’s Company and Adam Carolla’s Just One of the Gays. Of course, since it is anime, the male character has to show his gayness by drooling over muscular guys. I’m not gay personally, but I don’t think that’s how being gay works. Watching this show in particular deal with homosexuality feels like how American media handled the issue in the 1970s. Namely, go watch Three’s Company.
I’m just flabbergasted at the premise of this show. I have so many questions. Does Japan have thousands of rich families that just toss their daughters into an elite boarding school? How does anyone in this world not know what an iPhone is? We’re to believe rich Japanese school girls have no clue what a mobile telephone is? Couldn’t the commoner meido help the girls learn about the real world instead? Or are they elite meido who also don’t know about the world? Wouldn’t the erections the guy keeps having give away the fact he’s not gay? Or do they not teach their daughters about erections because that’s not what rich people do? There’s just a lot of questions. Sometimes when I watch anime like this one, I wonder what exactly is the bar for a story to be turned into an anime. How desperate is the industry? How dumb do they think the audience is? Wait, don’t answer that one.
(Hey! Ero hon! Though doesn’t feature sexy ladies but instead features muscles. It’s like something Gou Matsuoka would subscribe to. Again, I’m just perplexed. Wouldn’t it be easier for the male lead to be gay because he has Grindr instead of Tinder on his iPhone?)
(Only in anime is a PlayStation Vita relevant.)
Osomatsu-san had probably the best first episode. Then I thought about it more. The episode was basically a meta-commentary on anime and anime tropes… but was it necessary? Or was it shooting ducks in a barrel? A show like Star-Mu already has plenty of latent comedic potential. If you want to make fun of it, it’s pretty simple. There’s just a lot of one-off sight gags like Haikyuu!! and Attack on Titan, which felt like random cameos and sight gags from Family Guy. The gags are just there, not explained or connected to the rest of the action. I am just disappointed that Osomatsu-san did not make fun of the magic high school boom. In any case, the show is a dark comedy focusing on the six brothers. The comedy is a bit off for me, and the show is just not my cup of tea. Animation’s great, some of the gags are great, but overall I feel like I might enjoy the show more if I were an older Japanese person than as an American who grew up on The Simpsons and The Critic.
(Osomatsu-san‘s original season occurred in 1966. The second in 1988. I wonder what other anime from the 60s and 70s will get rebooted in the future.)
#16 TIE. The Asterisk War
#16 TIE. Chivary of a Failed Knight
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk and Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry are basically the same show. Sigh. Fuck magic.
#15. The Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon
Oh gosh, I should have made it a three way tie, but, unfortunately, Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon tosses a curve ball in that the female lead does not challenge the male lead to a duel. It is yet another magic high school show that is basically like every other one. The proliferation of these magic high school light novels turn anime is the bane of anime. They all try to mimic Sword Art Online (the leads of this show just happen to have the same hair color and style of Asuna and Kirito) and Index and totally forget about writing an original and interesting story. Instead of making good characters with personalities, these shows load up on gimmicks and overly designed costumes. A lot of the plot is forced, like whhy are they high school students? That part is totally unnecessary; they don’t even go to class. They should be salarymen officers.
The male lead is also some sort of Japanese katana otaku, and he draws power whenever someone insults him over his sword. Who the fuck does that? If I see someone walking down 2nd Street with a katana, the last thing I want to do is tease him about his katana. And the only thing he seems to be able to do with his fancy katana is slice bullets. He doesn’t even slice people’s limbs off. Boring. The female lead is like every other female lead in this genre with a crucial difference: she isn’t a princess. Yet. That we know of. Rounding out the cast is some loli magic girl, a loli with boobs sniper who can’t snipe, and a mad scientist girl whose mad science include turning pistols into automatic pistols. Such a wild one!
(Mitigating factor: It’s not a bad anime to scream Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain phrases at. Whenever there’s a non-lethal takedown, “FULTON HIM!” Whenever the sniper can’t get a shot off because her breasts are interfering? “Quiet, cover me.” Whenever the female lead rambles on getting revenge on magic users? “SUCH A LUST FOR REVENGE!”)
(Fashion Czar doesn’t understand the uniforms. The jacket is a weird length, especially for boys, and why does everyone have a leather boob string. Even the male characters. Is it because they saw how popular Hestia was, so, obviously, all characters get boob strings now?)
#14. Attack on Titan: Junior High
I enjoyed Attack on Titan. But at no point did I think, “You know what this show about grim apocalyptic world involving giant titans eating humans needs? A spin-off that features grossly exaggerated characters in a super deformed style set in middle school!” You know what I did think thought? “You know what this show needs? More titans, less humans.” I’m not a fan of this junior high spin-off: the art, the comedy, and the setting never appealed to me. There’s just too much humor based on intricacies of the original show, and there’s too much goofy slapstick. I think it works as a 4-koma, but not necessarily as a high-budget 24 minute anime. It’s crazy the resources Production IG is dumping into this series, as it is better animated than most anime this season. Attack on Titan is their money cow franchise, and they are milking. You know if you are into this series or not. If you are one of those Attack on Titan cosplayers who larp around the dog park I go to sometimes, then this show is probably for you. For the rest of us normal people playing fetch with our dogs, we’ll just stick to the anime about giant robots killing people. Thank you very much.
(The ideal wacky spin-off is Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses where Belldandy, Urd, and Skuld team up with a rat named Gan-chan in wacky hijinks. Most of the humor follows the humor from the base series, since Fujishima also wrote it, and has the same charm of Aa! Megami-sama in 4-koma format. When they did make a Mini-Goddess anime, it was a short show with a small budget. That makes a lot of sense to me, and it works. I must be one of twelve people who own those DVDs.)
#13. Heavy Object
Heavy Object starts with a four minute long exposition about how giant spheres somehow became the preferred instruments of war over airplanes, Gundams, and Dota 2. And then it shifts from a serious tone to a long, drawn-out pan of a high school girl taking a shower. Okay, then. The show features a lot of talk about this new world order with Heavy Objects, yet there’s a significant amount of livery and slapstick. Two random military guys are fishing? They then have to hold a BBQ for their commander, who, of course, is a slightly older but very busty female? Who always has a pipe in her mouth even when eating? Who somehow commands four military bases using an iPad? It’s a weird mish-mash of a show. GATE has both serious and light-hearted moments, but it knows when it is serious and when it is not. Heavy Object doesn’t seem to know. One minute, the characters are preparing for battle. The next, they are dealing with a seatbelt malfunction that causes the male protagonist to touch the female protagonist’s melonpan.
The animation is okay, but the mecha designs are hideous. Heavy Objects don’t even look functional but rather huge iron sea urchins with tank threads. They do not look good, and they do not look functional. The character designs are also a bit off with the female protagonist trying her best to be a blonde Rei Ayanami. The two male protagonists look like background characters from Iron Blooded Orphans. I just feel like we are going to forget about this show faster than we forgot about Cluster Edge.
(Mitigating factor: I am a bit curious to see where this show goes with the concept. If it turns into a fanservice comedy, I’ll probably be more interested than if it turns into a boring mecha show. There’s already plenty of mecha this season to keep me entertained.)
(Fashion Czar’s review: “I’m rolling my eyes so hard at this show.”)
#12. Comet Lucifer
Comet Lucifer is a mecha fantasy series from Yuuichi Nomura, who previously wrote Xam’d Lost Memories. It shows. The setting is some sort of quasi-futuristic planet that resembles some sort of idealized European town, except everyone speaks Japanese. One character owns a penismobile. Another doesn’t like her belly button covered by clothing. And the lead male protagonist wears a cape-dress thing. The started off with some promise, as the art and animation are pretty good, and the mecha animation is second best to Sunrise. Unfortunately, the show falls apart fairly quickly. Did I mention that this original story was written by the person who wrote Xam’d? Or that he was a staff writer on Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny? There’s a naive little girl who somehow is linked to an ultra-powerful mecha. Of course she is. Totally original anime concept. By some freak accident, the power to control said mecha actually resides in our male protagonist. Again, unheard of in mecha anime to have a random dude stumble across a powerful war machine. There’s another girl too, who may like the male protagonist, but she’s not going to be the one. Sorry, Nochance-chan.
Where the story really falls apart is that none of the actions make any sense. The loli girl was able to move objects with her mind for a while, but no one noticed until the right comedic moment. The mecha also turns into a weird bug Pokemon thing, who would not have been discovered as a weird bug Pokemon thing if not for the male protagonist’s gem fetish. This bug also knows a lot of crucial information, so naturally the male protagonist tells it to shut the fuck up. What really gets me though is that the house gets destroyed at the end of one episode. The next episode? House is perfectly fine! No one even mentions what happened to it.
Of course, there’s an enemy unit trying to hunt down this ultrapowerful mecha slash bug Pokemon. They get trounced, so they come back with some secret mecha that’s superior to their old ones. Previously, they attacked the ultrapowerful mecha with a point black Gatling gun and did zero damage. Somehow, I predict, they can do damage using a new suit with the same Gatling gun, since that’s how Gatling guns work. I’m just not invested enough in this show to find out. The enemy unit also recruits a crazy guy, since that worked so well for Gundam Seed Destiny.
(I think if you like mecha with a lot of European architecture and fantasy-type elements, Comet Lucifer might not be a bad show, but I couldn’t stick through 26 episodes of Xam’d. The writing was a bit too scattershot for my taste.)
#11. Young Black Jack
At least GTO: 13 Days is written by the same person as GTO. Young Black Jack is certainly not written by Osamu Tezuka. The show tries to straddle the old style of Black Jack with a new modern aesthetic, and I think the results are mixed at best. Black Jack– Hazama– himself looks out of place. He is drawn as a pretty boy with scars, but he still looks like he can be in an otome game. The background characters, for the most part, look generic, except there’s always a few who look like they belong in Tezuka’s time of old. It’s a weird mish-mash, and I don’t think it works too well. The plot itself is also a mish-mash of the old and the new. The first episode featured a kid who got hit by a train because, despite ample warning, could not get off his bike and hop two feet to safety. There were also a crowd of people watching– no one pulled the kid to safety. It just adds to the manufactured feeling of the show. Everything in the show is the way it is to tell a story or make a point, but there is a certain unnaturalness about it. I would like the show more if it took more time to explain some of the surgery and not try to make everything have a moral point. Sometimes a story is just a story.
The action mostly consists of Hazama entering seed mode as he performs operations. The operations are very abstracted (but not to the point of Shaft being Shaft), but there’s still an occasionally organ or spurt of blood to be seen. Animation by Tezuka is passable, but there are too many scenes of pure black when Hazama is doing his magic hands routine.
#10. Concrete Revolutio
Concrete Revolutio is an original storm from Bones written by Shou Aikawa, who wrote last season’s disastrous Chaos Dragon. He also wrote the recently excellent Garo as well as timelessly excellent Martian Successor Nadesico… which is kind of weird as Garo is also airing this season. I’m not really sure what to make of Concrete Revolutio… it seems to be a superhero-esque take on Men In Black complete with aliens, magical girls, and a centaur-unicorn mecha. Yes, a centaur-unicorn mecha. And it is fabulous. The show feels like MAPPA’s Punchline from spring of this year in that you don’t know where it is going to go, but at least it has an interesting setup.
The animation has some style (like poor man’s Shaft), and the show has an interesting aesthetic. There’s no computer monitors, rather people read ticker tape or punch cards.
#9. Garo: The Crimson Moon
I really enjoyed Garo: The Animation. German’s chest hair and sex drive carried show until Alphonso and Leon were ready to take it over. I don’t remember the last time an anime having sex was a plot point (Kira Yamato maybe?), but that occurred in Garo: The Animation. While that series was set in a place resembling Europe (Spain), Garo: The Crimson Moon occurs in a fictional Japan. The whole cast, situation, and plot are new. The only constant is Zaruba and the Golden Armor. Mappa’s animation is still top-notch, and they use shading techniques to make the CG not look as bright and jarring from the original series. Character designs are more cartoon-ish and childlike vs. the harder edge of the original. Many horrors are still doing terrible things to people, but it seems a bit more censored. Plus, one of the major characters is a kid, which seems jarring. Fans of the original should give this show a spin, and people interested in Garo should probably start with Garo: The Animation, and take a drink whenever someone exclaims, “MENDOOOOOOOZA!”
(Fashion Czar’s take: “I hate the Makai Knight’s hair.” Well, then.)
Subete ga F ni Naru (Everything Becomes F: The Perfect Insider) features two things not commonly seen in anime: One, it’s a mystery. An actual mystery (none of this Rokka crap). Two, the main protagonist is a chain-smoking adult male with a high school haremette lusting after him. I have never seen a high school girl toss herself at a male character like this before. Definitely does not happen in Tenchi Muyo, Nisekoi, or To Love Ru. Besides having the worst name of an anime this season, F, is about a slowly developing mystery on an isolated island. There’s a heavy emphasis on technology, and because the show is actually well-paced, we don’t get to see what is going on in the first two episodes. They set the scene, mostly. What we do know is that we have an interesting cast, featuring the previously mentioned chain-smoking professor and his graduate student that can’t keep her hands off of him. It’s established early on that they are good at different things, and it will be interesting to see how the mystery plays out.
A-1 is doing a fantastic job with the animation. There is a lot of smoking and some underaged drinking in this show, and I think the smoking distracts a bit as Professor Saikawa is a three pack a day smoker as portrayed in this show so far. Moe is also a super rich girl, and she seems like she was a student at the elite academy from I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner. She’s never had yakisoba. How do you live in Japan and not eat yakisoba? It’s magically delicious.
(The novel series is referred to the S&M– Professor Saikawa and Moe– which I think is a much better name than Everything Becomes F: The Perfect Insider.)
(There’s also a few perplexing things. When the “doll” was moving down the hallway, no one made an attempt to stop it. Instead, they were trying to give voice commands to their version of Siri to stop it instead. Just grab it! I guess if that they did, there would be no plot. The lesson, as always, mystery depends on a dumb cast more often than not.)
#7. Noragami Aragoto
Noragami is back, and it kicks up where season one left off. Still full of intrigue, interpersonal relationships, backstabbing, and wrestling moves. Hiyori’s and Yato’s relationship is progressing slower than Keiichi and Belldandy. Yukine is still an emo teenaged boy. I think I like the slice-of-life bits more than the monster hunting bits and definitely more than politics of the gods bits. Overall, a good series, but you should know if you are in or out at this point.
#6. A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru (Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation) features two things not commonly seen in anime: One, it’s a mystery. An actual mystery (none of this Higaruashi crap). Two, the main protagonist is an older woman. The best way to describe the show is that it’s a very Japanese anime take on BBC’s Sherlock and Watson. Sakurako, an eccentric bone otaku, would be Sherlock. She has all of social dysfunctions, plus she has his eye for observation and deduction. She always has her own memory palace, which would be a bone palace for this show. She is the mid-twenties, sexy raven-haired version of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. She also has a pseudo-transformation sequence whenever she dons her latex gloves. Watson would be the Shoutarou, a high school boy who gets roped into the troubles. He looks like a character out of Haikyuu!!. Like Watson, he is the straight one who documents Sherlock’s antics (though Shoutarou doesn’t have a Twitter account, a blog, or a Livejournal… is this even 2015?!). Shoutarou can also fight a bit.
I’m enjoying the show because it’s just different than everything else out there. It’s a pleasant surprise. A light novel that isn’t about a magic high school?! The characters are also interesting, and the stories are well-paced. The animation is also fantastic, one of the best of the season. If you told me ten years ago that the director of Girl’s Bravo would found an anime studio based on great animation and train wreck mecha, I would not have believed you. Seriously? Girl’s Bravo? You’re going to tell me that the team behind Please Teacher is heading up Gundam next, hun?
(Mitigating factor: The Fashion Czar has a valid point that the police work by raven-haired Sherlock and Karasuno volleyball team member Watson is terrible. They like to disturb the crime scene. But so did Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, who routinely stole stuff from crime scenes. He also got addicted to cocaine to solve a case. The police are also incredibly stupid in this show, but I attribute it to being in the boonies and not central Tokyo. Then again, the body count for this quiet rural village seems high. It’s like how there’s been more murders in one season of Hawaii Five-0 than the entire history of the state or something. In any case, there’s no realistic police dramas on TV because a realistic police drama would involve a lot of paperwork, waiting around, and doughnuts.)
I must see the tale of Arararararagi to the end. Time has been corrupted by Nisio Isin’s writing. Space has been corrupted by Shaft’s art. Story is literally unconstrained by either time or space. We are witnessing the birth of a new plane of existence, one that defies Euler’s formula.
I’d just settle for more Arararararagi and Senjougahara. And the original cast. I’m just thinking about how different Owarimonogatari would be if Arararararagi sought the wisdom of Hanekawa instead of Ougi. He should be wary of receiving help from haremettes whom doesn’t have a spirit animal.
#4. Haikyuu!! S2
I enjoyed the first season of Haikyuu!!, and the second picks up where the first leaves off. If you liked it before (I did), then you know if you are in or not on this season. The group of lovable idiots are back, and the new edition for this season is female characters. The existing female manager has already more lines in two episodes than the entire first season. There’s also a smattering of new female characters too. Production IG’s animation continues to be great. As a studio, they consistently churn out great looking shows.
(This series has some of the best eyecatches since Nichijou.)
#3. Underwater Ray Romano: The False Faces
I never expected to see more Utawarerumono, so I am happy to get Utawarerumono: The False Faces. I thought that the franchise was done, and Aquaplus moved on to new things (like Tears to Tiara). It’s almost nine years since the original series, and I really liked the military tactics, the harem, and the name of that series. 4chan blessed it with Underwater Ray Romano. ADV renamed it to Shadow Warrior Chronicles. I get tired of neither. Utawarerumono: The False Faces (Itsuwari no Kamen) feels like the original but with a twist. I look forward to seeing the old faces again. It’s like running into an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while. White Fox seems to be quite competent thus far with animation and production.
If you haven’t seen Underwater Ray Romano, I might suggest to go watch that first, but it isn’t necessary. A lot of characters from the original will show up here, and you can see what their lives are like many years after their journeys with Hakuoro.
(One of the dumbest arguments I’ve seen so far this season is the translation of the show, whether it should be “mask” or “face,” as “mask” is the direct translation and fits the show’s iconic mask. However, “face” sounds better plus fits the actual plot better as it is the face behind the mask that is important. Can’t we just get along? And bask in Kuon’s cuteness?)
#2. One-Punch Man
I really enjoy One-Punch Man. There’s a lot to like about the show: the pacing, the action, the characters, the art, the motherfucking no-nonsense punching… all superb. I have a smile on my face whenever I watch this show. There, put that on the back of the BluRay cover, Viz.
#1. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
I’m really enjoying Iron Blooded Orphans, but my heart’s been broken before. What is interesting though is that Sunrise has been on a study trajectory for years. Mai Hime gave us the first shock moments (Shizuru x Natsuki), as well as “passing up a Mai buffet,” and the bring characters back from the dead. Sunrise would rely on those gimmicks for Mai Otome, which somehow spiraled into Code Geass and Gundam. Sunrise then tried to claw back to real stories by hiring real writers (from outside Sunrise) with Gundam Age. Iron Blooded Orphans is the newest grand experiment: can a writing and creative staff that isn’t known to sell toys but is good at writing do both? That’s what we all want to know. Can we get a good Gundam story? Is this the team that delivers it? It’s been ten years since I’ve started thin slicing, and this show is the best I’ve felt about the franchise. Now let’s watch it crash and burn (hopefully not).