We’re about three weeks into the 2015 winter season, and I’m still undecided on quite a few shows. I thought I wouldn’t be adding in too many this time around since the line-up didn’t impress me at a glance, but I’ve got a surprising amount clinging on to my continuations from the fall. I’ve broken my shows into three categories: watching, undecided, and ongoing. Fuller thoughts on new shows are given first, with quick summaries of my feelings on the shows still airing from previous seasons following at the end. Let me know what you think is missing from my list (any why) and I’ll give it a try!
Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!
What’s not to love, here? Our all-male cast parades around as magical boys of love, led by an alien pink wombat and spouting programmed lines of love before their love attacks on the love-deprived. I am no stranger to magical-type shows, reverse harems, or BL, so wasn’t phased by the splendor on the screen. My only concern is the script–the first episode opened with a discussion on chikuwabu’s role on its own and in oden. While I’m all for food and the discussion of food, I’m not too big on monotone, overly long spiels about it without much relevance to anything of note. It wasn’t until later in the episode that the joke pulled through. Until that point, I was actually put off a bit by the dialogue and overly grabby Yumato. The theme is used in the second episode with an early discussion of disposable chopsticks, then the later fight with a chopstick monster, which I found a tad toned down from the overwhelming chikuwabu.
You can’t come into this satire with a semblance of seriousness. I’m reminded a bit of Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya, which turned a somber visual novel into a happy-go-lucky mahou shoujo series. In that case, the transition worked remarkably well. I’m not sure if this series will be able to carry the humor for the entire winter season with the same level of freshness, but I’m on for this ride!
There are plenty of shows out there begging for a sequel, though I can’t say this was one of them. I enjoyed the first season well enough. Nanami is a sweet human girl who is in way over her head as a patron land god–her circumstances remind me a bit of Kamichu!, though Nanami lacks the competence and confidence of Yurie. She’s surrounded by some hunky youkai, including her fox familiar, a needy snake familiar, and a bad boy tengu.
I expect this sequel to be much like the first, with small arcs covering her encounters with various youkai and an overarching growth in her competence as a land god. We’ve already opened on an impending Divine Assembly of the gods, one to which Nanami must earn her invite. After successfully hatching Mamoru-san, her monkey shikigami, she cleanses her school and proves herself worthy to attend the conference. It’s exciting to see her gain confidence little by little, and I’m impressed at Mamoru’s strength.
Aldnoah.Zero 2nd Season
Well, FINE THEN, Aldnoah.Zero. Toss everything you threw down at the end of last season back into my face without an apology. There’s a bit of a jumping around in time with the opening episode, from months into the future, then back to the closing events of the previous season. There was also a “whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!??!?” moment in regards to Princess Asseylum where I thought maybe she had been brainwashed into condoning the attack on Earth. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, but mistaken identity is among the least of my concerns for this show.
I’m mostly wanting to see more of the inner workings of Slaine’s mind, since I’ve found most of his actions counterproductive to his earlier sentiments with the princess. I don’t get him, don’t like him, and find myself repeatedly forced to watch him. While Slaine and Inaho are similar on many levels, but at least Inaho to me is transparent in his intent and feelings.
I’m not familiar at all with the previous material, Death Billiards, but I quickly became wrapped up in the events of this opening episode. The set up is very simple: those who have passed on together must bargain their final resting place on random games. The games are overseen by a mysterious bartender, whose judgement takes into account more than just the final results. There appears to be only the one split of one up and one down, though I wonder if any of the future encounters will change that.
The newlyweds who opened up the show were great for starting new viewers with the series, because your expectations are easily along the thought that their love for one another is genuine. It quickly becomes apparent through their dart board shoot out, however, that the surface is just the surface. We are made to believe that there is one obvious bad guy, but then partway through, those convictions are completely muddied. We see the directions of their final journey afterward, but the truth of the matter still isn’t clear. I wish the episode had left us with that confusion–it made me turn over the events in my mind and try to puzzle out just who was in the wrong. Perhaps they both were. But the final moments after the ending credits spoiled that process for me. Hopefully they’ll avoid such blatant evaluation in future episodes.
Tokyo Ghoul √A
I’ve been happily anticipating this sequel since the first ended, and wasn’t let down with the immediate continuation from the previous season’s battle. I think everyone is in agreement over the excitement in regards to Kaneki’s character with his new look and allegiance. While I knew at the end of the first season that he would be irrevocably changed, I didn’t expect him to leave Anteiku for the battle-hungry group, Aogiri Tree. I look forward to hearing him speak more and face off against others with his seemingly found conviction.
Perhaps even more than Kaneki’s new direction, I’m interested in finding out more about Rize and the quinxes stolen by the Ghoul Investigators. I find it highly unlikely that Kaneki is the only one to have been experimented on (like the two who also look like one-eyed ghouls) with Rize’s parts and wouldn’t be surprised by a link between the ghoul-human experiments and the people who re-purpose quinxes for the investigators. Our protagonist’s opposite appears to be Amon, whose self-justice looks the most likely to turn on itself after his encounter and loss with Kaneki. I’m hoping to see him come into some sort of alliance with Anteiku.
Junketsu no Maria
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this premier, given the style. I’m usually quick to steer clear of anything with scantily clad, bountiful boobs, particularly ones that harp on about sore jaws. But Maria is unique in its formula of history, religious hypocrisy, gender inequality, and magic. Oh, yes–magic. Churches and witch hunts are no strange tale, and have spawned many variations of our dark history. One currently running anime example is Garo. The witches of Junketsu no Maria are mercenaries of war who pledge their magical assistance to the highest bidder. Using succubi, incubi, and even themselves, they bring men at war to sexual pleasure and destruction. This is true for all but protagonist Maria, a virgin witch interested only in protecting her villagers and upholding peace.
She walks a dangerous line between peacekeeper and witchcraft. While she aims to prevent bloodshed, she continues using the specialties of her succubus and other magics to stave off battles. Villagers come to her for aid and protection, but are afraid of what she is. Her strange ideals and tactics attract the attention of more than the townspeople and other witches on the scenes of her “battles”; she eventually has a head-to-head with the archangel, Michael. Like Maria, I find it hard to believe that the Heavens would choose to intervene in her attempts to protect the good while still avoiding bloodshed. Why punish her fight for peace when there are plenty of other witches tipping the scales in favor of one human side over the other? I find it hard to believe in Michael’s claims of balance when there are so many other otherworldly factors already involved more harmful than Maria.
Here comes the third season, and along with it, my cheering for more battles, more wars, and more sweets!!! Not a single one of the series in this franchise have really called for continuations, but I always welcome further exploration of Flonyard. In this follow-up, it looks like we’re getting focus on the demons that sprang up in the second season but weren’t explained then.
The opening episode introduces a new forest and a new adorable young warrior trying to protect her home from demonized beasts. A summoning gone awry and lost luggage result in the meeting between two of the three Heroes, Cinque and Nanami, and Sharu. I found this a fun way of opening up a new area of Flonyard to viewers already accustomed to the more populated areas of Biscotti, Galette, and Pastillage. It also looks like Dragon’s Forest will be an excuse to further strengthen the Heroes, who were thrown off guard by the dinosaurs and other larger, wilder inhabitants. Seeing the cute, hairy sauropods chase down over-sized peaches and almost trample Nanami and Cinque made it clear just how different and dangerous this place is from the other magical realms.
Much like Dog Days”, Durarara didn’t really warrant a sequel. I was satisfied with what we had, and would have much preferred a follow-up to the better Baccano! Regardless, I’m happy to see more Celty and Shizuo. New people watching this sequel will probably feel in over their heads, as we’re re-introduced to a mass cast without anything to ground you in who they are and why we’re even listening in on them. This is definitely one I’d recommend going back to the original to watch first before trying x2.
Most of the opening episode follows Celty in a case of misconduct and lost belongings which ultimately results in a street chase on and off the road. As she thunders around Tokyo, we see familiar faces, particularly main characters Mikado and Anri. There isn’t much else to remark upon at the moment as this was mostly a reunion, as previously stated. Perhaps the first section will premier the masked murderer mentioned briefly in the first half of the pilot.
Kuroko no Basket 3rd Season
We’re on to the third season and the continuation of Seirin’s fight to enter the Nationals. As usual, we start right where we left off in the quarterfinals with their win over Yousen High. We’re guaranteed a lively fight between contenders to the semifinals–the new Fukuda Sogo and friendly rival Kaijou. As much as I like Kise’s character and want to see a re-match between his team and Seirin, I have a hard time imagining them winning against the threatening Haizaki. The character is too new to go down this soon in the season, and I imagine there’ll be an emotional loss for Kaijou to ensure a match-up between Fukuda Sogo and Seirin.
I’m curious to see how this third season will strengthen our team, since it seems like the main characters, Kuroko and and Kagami have already leveled up insane amounts in the previous series. Any further special skills gained here would be too much overkill on their already unbelievable abilities. But given the secrecy surrounding the previous head of the Generation of Miracles, I’m sure something crazy will be required of Seirin to survive to that point, much less win.
This is a show right up my alley, so it’s no surprise that this is a must see for the winter season. There’s quite a bit of similarity between this and another SHAFT show, Hidamri Sketch; along with art styling and music, our main girl Ryou has a personality reminiscent of Hiro. Both share a love for cooking, eating, and caring for others. Both savor textures and flavors in mouth-watering and erotic ways. Both are girls I’d befriend in an instant and aim to eat with as often as possible.
At the start, Ryou appears quite competent in the kitchen, but her later reaction to her own food made me wonder if she was all imitation and no actual skill. It becomes quickly clear, however, that what was lacking in her food was simply the spice of sharing. She lives alone and has no one to cook for but herself. Her memories of the act are tied in with her grandmother, who recently died and took with her Ryou’s only daily home contact. The loneliness reveals itself in her cooking, the only place where her smiles can’t cover her true feelings. With the new weekly visits of her cousin, she finds joy again in her craft. I’m eager to see her open up and grow as a cook and a young woman–there’s a promise of plenty of yummy screenshots in my future!
The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls
The latest addition to the anime idol craze, we are blessed with a follow up to the very successful The iDOLM@STER franchise! I loved the first tv series, found further enjoyment in other idol anime, and happily grabbed this sequel’s first episode as soon as possible. It became immediately apparent that the direction and tone of this would vary greatly from the first season, but I’m remaining seated for the rest of this show in hopes of gaining another favorite idol group.
These girls have just gotten to know each other, so there will doubtless be bond-building episodes in the future that will make or break their success as a group. Our main cast are the trio of girls and the intimidating producer–there are several others girls making up the Cinderella project who have received very little attention thus far. I’m curious if we’ll go more into their individual stories, if this series will stay closer in on our three girls. I like the idea of a smaller focus to really give us more time to fully invest ourselves in their hopes and dreams.
This was among the top of this season’s first episodes and it quickly captured me with its whimsical art style and characters. Quite a few other peers have noted the similarities in art and tone between this and Kyousougiga, and I have to agree. There’s a wildness to our Bests that sends the Rest flying in comical style and simply makes me want to run parkour around my house. This post-war Japan lacks political control, and hearkens back to an almost primitive state of existence. Territories are maintained and conquered by neighboring groups in battles mostly decided by the Bests.
We ferry back and forth between the leaders and their mobs, both equally interesting in their mannerisms and ways of thinking. Bests “Matcha Green” and “Legendary Executioner” reveal their every day faces in a hilarious and unexpected ramen eating show down. I loved how Masami (Matcha) only wanted to rush on her first bowl and escape, but Kuniko and the chef misunderstood her haste as a challenge to eat the most bowls possible. Obviously she had no choice but to save face and continue on as if eating more was her original intention all along! Then there’s the Rest, whose personalities deserve far more than such a dismissive category name. Nozomi looks like a possibility to follow in Masami’s footsteps, but I’m not clear on how one moves from being a Rest to a Best. There’s plenty of focus given to the strange heart jewels gracing our Bests’ necks, and later held in the hand of one of the newly-formed “rolling girls.” Perhaps these jewels trigger such power, and if that’s the case, I’d like to know where exactly they come from.
Yoru no Yatterman
I had passed on this show thinking it was a sequel I couldn’t watch without first experiencing the original, Yatterman, which aired back in the late 70s and went through a remake from 2008-09. After reading a bit on my own and hearing praise from others whose opinions I respect, I gave it a try and discovered that this was a series worth watching. There’s no need to have seen the original, though I’m sure the background adds some depth to the story that isn’t really necessary this early on in the show. As someone new to the franchise, I feel no attachment to the now forbidding Yatter Empire, and only wish to aid our heroes in taking what they deserve.
As cute as the inexperienced leader, Leopard, is, there’s an undercurrent of things gone awry. Her storybook tells of of the Yatterman heroes who fought her villainous ancestors and upheld the peace. But that was generations ago, and now the Doronbow descendants are far different than before and still suffering the punishment of banishment in a world devoid of vibrant colors. Other humans are only shown in the visit of a doctor whose home isn’t discussed. Leopard’s attempt to cross over to the Yatter kingdom is abruptly and violently rebuffed. Her mother dies unfairly having done no wrong to anyone without the medicines that likely could’ve saved her life. It’s a harsh way to grow up, but seeing Lepoard don the costumes copied from the Doronbow Gang stirred up an air of adventure that I’m eager to take. Also, the bubble wand pipe gets an A+ in costume design!
What a strange, strange, show-gao! I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be sticking around with this one, despite my usual inclusion of SHAFT shows. There wasn’t anything particularly unlikable about the premier, but I didn’t fully settle into this setting of humans versus bears, invisibility versus exclusion. The premise is cleverly staged and the ideas all fairly interesting to me; however, the actual characters themselves don’t beg my attention. I’m not particularly concerned about our girls’ dilemmas, and the cute-sy bears gobbling up outsiders isn’t as horrifying to me as it probably should be. I don’t feel much of anything watching this anime. As of the second episode, I felt more annoyed at being bashed over the head repeatedly by the yuri imagery–I’d like some subtlety now and then.
So for now, I’ll sit back for the next couple of episodes and enjoy the art and growling bears. Maybe somewhere along the way my emotions will get swept up into the storm–if not, I’m going super strict this season on chopping out whatever shows I can.
Another bizarre opening for the winter season, Assassination Classroom circles on one goal: to kill the alien homeroom teacher and save Earth. There are quite a few hurdles–the students are not assassins, nor killers of any sort. The students are among the lower-scoring of the school. The teacher is an alien who can move at ferocious speeds. The deadline is one year. From the very first episode, we already see the students engage in open fire, stabbing, point-blank shots, and “suicide” bombing. In only a couple of instances does the teacher sustain any damage, and one of them due to self-mutilation as an example of the weapons’ effectiveness.
The feat seems ridiculously impossible, but obviously something must tip in Earth’s favor–either that, or this show will just be chockfull of juvenile comedy similar to what we’ve seen in the first episode and became a more standard school-centered anime. I feel the latter is more likely since I did find the opening mildly entertaining mostly due to shock factor from Koro-sensei’s appearance and personality. Once that wanes, I’m not sure I’ll be sticking with this show very long.
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata
“Saekano” for short, Seanai Heroine no Sodatekata barely clings by a thread to my choices for the winter season. I’m inclined to harshly label it with the many insults given by it characters, Eriri and Utaha. The scenes are stock images, the dialogue copy/paste. My interest is mainly piqued by the protagonist, Tomoya Aki, and his very familiar interests. He’s an otaku who is quick to output blog reviews on anime, manga, and games, and professes attraction to only 2D girls. I’m reminded strongly of TWGOK, though that did significantly better with originality and attention grabbing right from the get-go.
Another mildly compelling aspect to this opening is its inspiration, the girl in the white hat and dress who spurred Aki on to creating his game. Instead of remaining elusive in the distance, she shows up quickly as a girl our main guy has never before noticed. They’ve been classmates more than once, she knows his name, yet he can’t even get her name right or recognize her as the same girl with the hat. It’s a laughably awkward situation. I’m curious to see just how she’ll fit into his group and hope Saekano will find more personality in the following episodes.
Another show to barely make the cut, Absolute Duo has me only slightly more interested than the above Saekano. I’m intrigued mostly by our main character, Kokonoe Tohru (“Thor”), whose skills are unique from everyone else at his school. In this world, select individuals are able to manifest their souls in what is called a “Blaze”. These Blazes are always weapons–except for Thor’s, which is a shield. Another strange addition to his shield is his ability to pour some kind of power into his free fist that doesn’t change its form in any way. The cutthroat opening ceremony made it clear that he is not someone to overlook despite his lack of an obvious weapon, and I’m hoping we’ll see some fantastic teamwork between him and his impressive partner, Julie. Julie Sigtuna’s background is as mysterious as Thor’s, but her self-taught speed and fighting style are fun to watch. She easily outclasses the rest of the students that we’ve seen so far, even the renown martial artist Tachibana Tomoe.
The only match for her abilities is the strangely villainous bunny teacher, whose role doesn’t make any sense as of now. The transition between her moe bunny self and downright ugly pleasure for violence is comically bad. If her role was to nurture the new students just enough to figure out which ones would turn out to be the biggest threats, then I don’t see why she’d go about dispatching them in such an open and obvious way. She’s a temporary hiccup to our new duo, and there are plenty of threats with both Thor’s and Julie’s dark pasts to work towards unveiling.
Shinmai Maou no Testament
This was a bit of an odd addition I picked up mostly for KWoo, though I ended up watching the first episode with him. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed this a bit–particularly after the reveal of Basara’s identity. The unfortunate detriments to this show is one of the main characters who end up being a succubus servant to the demon princess. I’ve never been much of a fan of loli characters, particularly goth loli with sadistic tendencies. Her manipulation of Basara and attempt to toss him out of his own house left bitter aftertastes, and I was relieved that Basara was able to repel her advances.
The middle section between his introduction to the “step sisters” and his later demonstration of his Hero abilities was routine and tiresome, and I’m hoping that the rest of the show doesn’t feature mostly awkward sexual run-ins between hero and demons (as overcharged the Master-Servant relationship introduced later on is, it’s not too surprising given the succubus’ involvement). The show worked best when it wasn’t focused on the fake personalities of Maria and Mio. I’m really not sure if I’ll stick around for the entire series, but I’ll enjoy it while the laughs last. I’m also mildly curious about the past history between Basara and his childhood friend, Yuki. Her attendance at the same school as Mio obviously isn’t a coincidence, though I wonder how her feelings will change now with Basara’s involvement.
- Akatsuki no Yona
We’re in full-on dragon-search mode now with two already found and the third not too far off. I’m excited seeing Yona grow stronger as both as a woman and as a princess. She no longer leans on Hak to constantly protect her, and doesn’t flinch away from either Ki-Ja or Shin-Ah. I can’t wait to see where her group will go and what they’ll do after the full group has come together. We’ve also recently had further time with the newly-crowned Soo-won during his visit to the Earth Tribe. Their battle-hungry general doesn’t seem to mesh well so far with Soo-won, who he curiously compares to the late King Il due to his seemingly laid-back nature. The next section looks like it’ll correct that misconception!
- Diamond no Ace
With Koushien out of reach for this year and the seniors moving on, Seidou looks like it’s in hot water for the future with their gutted team. They have several young, promising players whose experience in the games leading up to their final match with Inashiro will be undoubtedly valuable for their next fight to the Nationals. I’m not surprised at all with the decision for the new captain. Miyuki has the skills and vision required for the big leagues; hopefully his new seat will help him empathize better with all his players. And the Ace position is now open–will it be Sawamura, Furuya, or perhaps a freshman?
- Garo: Honoo no Kokuin
The closure of the first arc with the end of the fall season was well orchestrated with the rest of the episodes and events leading up to that point. A happy mid-way point wouldn’t have made any sense given Leon’s instability. I can’t say I wasn’t surprised, however, at his loss of Garo to Prince Alfonso, but it’s unquestionably the best thing for him at this time. Leon has had several chances to own up to his inner demons, and more often than not succumbed to his fear. I fervently hope that his father is right in letting him go and find his own path.
- Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
With the death of another person close to Shinichi and his further involvement with other parasites, we are now witness to a visible build up in parasite groups. They not only skulk in the alley shadows, but also preside in seats of power with the government and other major industries. It’s frightening to see the extent of their involvement. Shinichi’s place in their order is still an unknown, but they have their eye on him and his peculiar situation. Even though he and others note his lack of tears at Kana’s loss, the pain he feels is apparent. He may seem cold and alien, particularly in Murano’s eyes, but the mental agony he undergoes is testament to his retained humanity. I sincerely hope Migi allows him to reveal the truth to Murano–he desperately needs someone on his side who is human and can keep him grounded.
- Log Horizon 2nd Season
I’m feeling a tad at odds with Log Horizon at the moment since I’ve found the entire past fall episodes mediocre in interesting content. My main complaint lies with the raid on the Depths of Palm. The reason for the journey and outcome were important for our main characters and their world–I just wish the entire section had been tightened up. Watching felt like participating in a mind-numbing dungeon raid myself. So many hours of that and you just can’t take anymore! Then that horrid, horrid episode of a single monologue by William happened, and I dreaded coming back to the show. But return I did, and I was relieved when Shiroe finally opened up and the raid completed with success. The recent Valentine’s Day episode, as fluffy as it was, felt like a much needed reprieve from the earlier heaviness.
- Sanzoku no Musume Ronja
Talk about tension! The climb to the stand-off between the Mattis bandits and the Borka bandits built beautifully, and I gasped along with the rest of the adults when Ronja leaped over Hell’s Gap to land on Borka’s side. The earlier reveal of Birk’s capture and subsequent beating at the hands of Mattis and his men horrified and disgusted me. I knew they were at odds with Borka and were still upset from the arrow shot at one of their own, but thought they were above child abuse. They don’t even view Birk as a human, but a “spawn” of Borka. If only they knew just how beautiful of a personality he has, and how many times he has saved Ronja’s life. I can only hope this more innocent Romeo & Juliet-like tale ends in forgiveness.
- Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
I still have extremely mixed feelings about this show. On the one hand, I still cannot stand the way that Kousei’s friends ignored his trauma and shoved him back into the spotlight. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoy the musical performances and wish there were more of them. Kousei’s final acceptance of his mother’s death and their relationship as mother and son, teacher and student, was a long time coming and will probably forever leave footsteps in his style of playing. The grief and love from that ordeal are treasures to his music. Kaori’s failure to appear at the gala should have come as no surprise to any viewers, given her past hospital visit and general attitude about life. She will probably be another “stepping stone” to Kousei’s greatness as a pianist. I know that sounds cruel, but I can definitely see it being a turning point for his growth.
It’s awesome seeing the completion of one project and the beginning of a new one. And even cooler is Miyamori’s move up in position and responsibility. From Production Assistant to Production Desk, she now oversees all the clockwork of the making of the a anime. That’s a crazy amount of new pressure, but I have full confidence in her ability to handle it, and handle it well. I know she isn’t sure yet what she wants to do in the anime industry, but I agree with her peers that she has a knack for pushing things into action and making decisions. If her driving is any indication, Miyamori probably has what it takes to someday make a great director.
- Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road
Aughhhhh, I have so much annoyance over this show that I desperately want to love! The first season was pretty decent in character building and bearable with pacing, but this second season keeps beating us over the head with too much/repeated character back stories and horrendously stretched episodes. I’ve actually been dreading watching each week with my expectations of zero progress and hilariously bad scenes of tears and frustration. I miiiiight be inclined to forgive this show given my fondness for Sohoku, but I don’t think the overdone agony is intentional–I’m horrified that they’re actually serious about it all. I have a hard time also imagining our first years and Makishima catching up to the Hakone team–the lead is too big, even without considering the climbing finish. Maybe Onoda will have to get the whole team to sing “hime” up the hill and pull through for a win.