20 anime, only three of which are ongoing! Ackkkkk! Somehow I’ve overloaded myself again, despite my excitement for the year dimming at the winter’s less-than-groundbreaking offerings. The good news is that I have more time now to devote to analysis and blogging, so you can look forward to more frequent editorials and, hopefully, some recipes. While there are no food-centric anime this season, I have faith that delicious dishes will still make their appearance. This is anime, after all, where the Japanese devotion to the culinary arts reveals itself whether you’re looking for it or not.
I did try a handful of other winter shows and dropped accordingly. Most notable drops include Hand Shakers and Fuuka, each of which I kicked after only two minutes. Let me know what you’re excited for this season, and if you think I’m missing out on anything!
- ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
- Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen
- Demi-chan wa Kataritai
- Gabriel DropOut
- Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
- Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2
- Kuzu no Honkai
- Little Witch Academia (TV)
- Masamune-kun no Revenge
- Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu
- Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen
- Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season
- Urara Meirochou
- Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation
ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (1 ep.)
Continuations from the fall aside, ACCA looks to be the most promising show of the winter season. It was actually the first new show I tried, and I was pleasantly surprised by both the setting and the characters. ACCA takes place in a Japan-like country of 13 states. They are each highly individualistic and take pride in those differences. We enter along with the main character, Jean Otus the Cigarette Peddler, a government inspector charged with auditing the government in each of the districts. The anime doesn’t sound very interesting from the synopsis, but it is truly fascinating in actuality.
Jean plays the part of the cool, could-care-less young man who breathes cigarettes wherever he goes. I find it amusing that in this time and place, cigarettes are a precious commodity–the general populace cannot afford the product and, as such, they are seen as a habit of the wealthy. I, myself, have never understood the appeal of smoking and sneeze at the slightest whiff of it. Jean, however, is the type of person who I could see convincing others of its attractiveness. He is extremely efficient at his job, his appearance notwithstanding, and has his fair share of jealous rivals. It’s clear that Jean has already started surmounting a difficult series of events set up by ambitious government officials.
Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen (2 eps.)
If you have not seen the first season, then halt here and stay away from this sequel until you do. Kyoto Fujouou-hen picks up shortly from where the first left off. The cautious and distrusting attitudes towards Okabe Rin will not fully make sense unless you understand his background and the seriousness of his blue flames.
I had long given up hope of a sequel for Ao no Exorcist, which aired about six years ago then went silent. I very much enjoyed the first season, whose setting reminded me a bit of Soul Eater’s Shibusen. The exorcists, too, were written with colorful personalities and abilities. Now that we have a second season which centers on the Kyoto region, I’m hoping to see growth in Rin’s control of his powers. I have faith that his former friends will also grow and realize that Rin is a rare type of friend to cherish. Izumo’s support of him spoke volumes about her quality as a person; I’m looking forward to more scenes involving her! No one’s reaction disappointed me more than Shiemi’s, but I believe she will come to her senses soon.
The first couple of episodes set up an impending evil and reveal more corruption in the exorcist sects. Hidden identities and ulterior motives peppered the first season, so I’m hoping along with the new threat we’ll also learn more about long-established characters.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai (1 ep.)
Although Demi-chan reminds me a bit of Monster Musume, a show that I very quickly dropped, its story follows a more normal and likable format. Both shows feature women of various fantastical origins, but Demi-chan avoids the obvious harem route and focuses more on comedic interactions. An interesting aspect of the show is that the main character, Takahashi Tetsuo, isn’t some average high school student, but a fully adult biology teacher. Also different from the expected setup is that Tetsuo seeks out demi-humans for academic reasons.
Demi-humans are nothing new to anime; we see them everywhere from harem anime to suspense and action. In the case of Demi-chan, demi-humans are a known existence and have been accepted into society as equals, at least on the surface. Tetsuo’s statement about the difficulty of finding one to interview reveals that not only are they not as prevalent as humans, but that not much reliable material has been written about them. When he is able to question a vampire student, he raises stereotypes with obvious ignorance. When that same vampire later befriends a dullahan, we see a clear difference in the way they openly discuss their difficulties as demi-humans that most other human students avoid bringing up. I’m hoping these social issues will continue to appear in the anime and that Tetsuo will succeed and better educating the public.
As serious as my take on the anime is, this is a high school comedy and the girls are all very cute. You should be able to enjoy the light humor without thinking too deeply about the implied social stigma.
ēlDLIVE (1 ep.)
ēlDLIVE is a strange, out-of-time show to see this winter. It smells of old school fantasy, and also has the feel of a sci-fi adventure. Most of what creates this nostalgic aura is the art style. I’m not sure how to best explain it, but the visuals look like something I might have seen in an older early 2000s anime. Another familiar inclusion is the voice that only Chuuta hears and has for his entire life. When it’s revealed that the voice comes from a very real existence that materializes only when a symbiotic bond is triggered, Chuuta can finally rest assured that he isn’t crazy. Like many adventure-type shows, we have a protagonist and a mascot working side-by-side to police the bad guys. I quite like the idea of Chuuta being recruited by an intergalactic force whose aim is to protect the universe. It opens up a lot of possible stories, and I’m sure we’ll also get some conflicts between Chuuta’s obligations to his home and police lives.
What bugs me about ēlDLIVE is the romantic interest, Sonokata Misuzu. She’s quick to shut down our main character and talks shit about him despite never having really talked to him. I’m sure she’ll soften up to him eventually and show a nicer side, but that doesn’t forgive her current attitude. I’d rather have a female version of Tateyan, who reached out to Chuuta multiple times for friendship. I’m hoping we will see Chuuta’s self-esteem improve as he strengthens his bond with the source of his inner voice.
Gabriel DropOut (1 ep.)
I take great pleasure in the creation that is Gabriel DropOut due to my own Christian upbringing and current agnostic views. I giggle at the thought of my devout mother watching this anime. She’d probably turn purple at the material’s treatment of Gabriel, Satan, Raphael, and the whole light-hearted attitude. I’ll just go ahead and appreciate it all the more! Some of my preferred reading when forced to attend church service as a child was the books of Job and Revelations. The personifications of Satan, God, and angelic figures read like something out of a fantastical adventure. Seeing some of those faces in anime form as cute little girls who act nothing like expected is a dream I never imagined I would enjoy.
Gabriel is a newly graduated angel sent down to Earth to experience humankind first hand before ascending back to Heaven as a fully-fledged angel. She starts out with the highest honors and seeks out ways to help humans through community service and a constant smile. But an all too familiar encounter with the online world, specifically an MMORPG, sets her down a path towards angelic corruption. She almost turns into an all-too-advertised hikikomori, skipping school days in favor of online gaming. Her once pristine apartment becomes littered with trash bags and, as poor Vigne discovered, cockroaches. A quick check of her halo reveals that the gold has turned to a smokey black. But you don’t really need a look at the halo to realize that Gabriel has fallen far from the intended path. She naturally acts more selfish and rude than any of the demons who have also been sent to Earth for training. Vigne acts more like an angel should. Satanya’s attempts at devilry are comically terrible and typically ineffective. I’m curious to see if these angels and demons will reform to their designated roles, cross over to the other side (can demons even do that?), or turned into mortals.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon (1 ep.)
There’s no question that I would watch this anime due to my love for most Kyoto Animation works. I admit, however, that Maid Dragon doesn’t quite live up to my expectations for its pilot episode, story and art-wise. It looks trivial and isn’t as funny as I would like. I guess I’ve been spoiled all too recently with pretty and well-written works like Hibike! and Tamako Love Story.
Is Maid Dragon bad? No, I definitely would not say that. There’s a quirky charm to the thought of a dragon coming to serve a human after a drunken promise, especially since the dragon can take near-human form. Another lovable side to this dragon is her misconception of maids–their appearance and purpose. A glance at cafe maids is what fuels Tooru’s vision. She also takes her advice about duties from fellow dragons, one of whom tells her to kill everyone. The human of the story, Kobayashi-san, is a single, adult woman with a full-time job and a maid fetish. She’s relatable in her practical responses and habits, but I’m not sure what it is about her that draws the dragon’s devotion. Out of loyalty to the studio and a faint curiosity in the reasoning for Tooru’s servitude, I’ll continue with the anime and see if it improves.
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (1 ep.)
Ah, misfortune! I am thrilled to see KonoSuba back in action again with its cast and comedy, which hits all the right spots in the first episode. The art may look a tad shabbier than the already shoddy-looking first season, but the writing is just as sharp. There is absolutely no jump in time between the two seasons; this sequel starts up exactly where the previous left off.
Kazuma is imprisoned on charges of mass destruction and conspiracy against the crown. Of course, all the people who witnessed his heroics, his guild mates included, turn their backs when most needed, and Kazuma is jailed alone. But, hey, that’s not so bad since it means free lodging and sustenance, right? Nope. This is Kazuma we’re talking about, a kid with a mouth that doesn’t know how to stay shut. Too much attitude and a magical truth tool send him straight to a fixed trial and near execution. Thanks to Darkness’ familial influence, Kazuma is given a second chance to prove himself. The party will have to start in the hole after losing everything of monetary worth to pay what they owe, but they really aren’t suited to comfort anyways. It’s so much more fun to see them scrambling to survive.
Kuzu no Honkai (1 ep.)
Kuzu no Honkai rings dully in my heart as a scenario far too familiar. However, I was at least an adult at the time and was more aware of what I was really getting myself into. I knew what we were doing was wrong, and I knew there was a likely chance of someone getting hurt no matter what was said. In the end, everything that happened changed my outlook on life and relationships in ways that I would never change, even though the pain haunts me to this day. I may not think about it much anymore, but I will never forget the emotions of that time in my life.
But to the anime–Yasuraoka Hanabi is a high school first year in love with her homeroom teacher, a young man who has long been a family friend. That love becomes painful once she realizes that Narumi has formed feelings for another teacher. This is when Hanabi meets Awaya Mugi, another high school student who happens to be in love with the female teacher of Narumi’s affections, Akane the music teacher. The two students find solace in each others’ situations and decide to use one another for comfort. I cannot recall many anime that openly show students being physically intimate. I was actually shocked by the amount displayed here, and was glad that they stopped where they did with no plans of going further. Even if they’re not fully friends with benefits, there’s no escaping the pain that they’ll eventually cause one another.
Little Witch Academia (TV) (1 ep.)
At long last, we see the fruition of our hopes as dreams! That’s an exaggeration for me, since I was never in on the hype for Little Witch Academia, but I am pleased for its loyally fervent viewers. Even more exciting is that the show is scheduled for two full cours. I can’t wait to see where we’ll go after having recently seen the previous two films.
As the title states, this show centers on an academy for witches. Unlike in the movies, the tv series starts us at the beginning with Kagari “Akko” Atsuko entering the school without any previous experience. She is also unique in the fact that she has no magical family members. For reasons unknown to us, Akko is invited to join Luna Nova Academy as a prospective witch. It does become almost immediately clear, however, that there is much more to Akko than her looks and background after she and a couple of other students accidentally teleport into land supposedly impossible to enter or exit. This, combined with the sudden appearance of a legendary staff, are what save Akko, Lotte, and Sucy from expulsion. I have high hopes that little Akko and her friends will become the types of witches remembered in history and myths.
Masamune-kun no Revenge (3 eps.)
I have to give major props to someone who was able to work as hard and change as drastically as Masamune Makabe. Losing weight and staying fit is a lifestyle and not just a one time task. It’s always impressive I see this in real life, particularly for an adult whose metabolism isn’t what it was at a younger age. Makabe is only in high school, but he already has a personal routine of working out and eating healthy that most people don’t focus on until after schooling. He isn’t doing this out of pure self-motivation, though. His change of habit came only after childhood bullying and the betrayal of the one friend he thought accepted him. His determination to lose weight and become popular is focused on one thing: getting revenge on Adagaki Aki, the female friend who humiliated him all those years ago.
It’s pretty easy to see where this show is likely to go. Makabe and Aki will likely start to like one another as friends, then as something more. I wouldn’t be surprised if Yoshino, too, falls for Makabe. For now, Aki has no idea that the good looking and fit Makabe is the same chubby one from her past. I’m assuming she won’t figure it out until after the two of them are friends again and starting to be attracted to one another, since that’s how we’ll get the most comedic drama.
Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu (1 ep.)
KWoo and I feel so spoiled lately with all of the bicycle anime coming out these days! First we had YowaPeda, last season’s Long Riders! (with two delayed episodes coming in February), and now MinaKama. Like YowaPeda, MinaKama takes place in high school, but with an all girl cast. The synopsis I found of the show was a bit misleading, because it made it sound like protagonist Maiharu Hiromi is adept at riding a bicycle. The first episode reveals that Hiromi hasn’t ridden a bike since she was a little girl, and that bike was a tricycle! Her attempt to ride a bicycle to school brings her to the attention of Akizuki Tomoe, who luckily attends the same school. The two of them form an immediate friendship as Tomoe tries to teach Hiromi how to ride.
The opening credits, which has art and animation just as pretty as the rest of the episode, shows the girls wearing matching jerseys and cycling as a team. I’m curious to see how this group will differ from YowaPeda’s Sohoku. There’s already a very different tone to the show due to the characters. The humor is gentler and Hiromi comes across like the bicycle version of Bakuon!!’s Hane. This isn’t too surprising given that they share the same voice actress. As similar as the two are voiced and acted out, MinaKama doesn’t feel as silly.
Onihei (1 ep.)
I received a recommendation from Blue Variance of Itadakimasu Anime! to watch this show after I had mostly set my choices, and I’m glad I followed up on it. Onihei is an Edo-era drama. Hasegawa Heizou is Chief Officer of the Arson Theft Control in his region and from what I can tell, each episode will center on one criminal act at a time. His methods are questionable, but do yield results. The opening episode opens with the torture of a thief, and Heizou’s brutal questioning reveals the meaning behind his nickname, “Onihei.”
I was actually a bit uncomfortable during the scene since it differs so much from the atmosphere of the rest of the shows this anime season. Torture is arguably ineffective–it’s plausible that those under its influence may tell the truth, but may also just as willingly tell a satisfying lie to make the pain stop. Watching Heizou’s methods make me question the integrity of his character, but perhaps my view will change over the course of the series.
The art and animation of Onihei are nothing special, but the action sequences are reasonable in their execution and get the gist across well enough. I feel the real focus of the anime is its suspense, not so much the action, so don’t expect a flashy show.
Seiren (1 ep.)
I wasn’t planning on watching this romance series due to its format, but positive feedback from some of my esteemed peers and KWoo’s interest in the genre convinced me to try out the first episode. I’ve repeatedly heard Seiren compared to Amagami SS, an anime I never had the interest to try back when it originally in 2010. I’ve avoided most harem anime these past few years. Unlike the majority of harem where the male protagonist is surrounded by multiple women for usually one to be chosen, anime like Amagami SS and Seiren play more like a dating sim. You start out with one girl and experience her story line, then go back to the beginning to try again with a different girl. It looks like this season of Seiren will feature only three of the six shown in the opening credits.
Shoichi Kamita is your generic Japanese high school student with a boring face and boring hair style. Yet, somehow, he draws the attention of the most popular girl in his year, Tsuneki Hikari. This attention isn’t necessarily the desired type, since Tsuneki is a tease, and knows well how to mess with people, particularly boys like Shoichi. I found myself quickly liking her sly jokes and knowing eyes. Despite being a second year high school girl, she gives off the air of someone well traveled. You know those kids in your school who just seemed to get it, right? The ones who knew how to play the game of popularity, and always seemed to have somewhere exciting to go on vacation. Tsuneki seems the type, though comes across as still down to earth. While I think the chances of Shoichi getting with her favorable, I also see the relationship as likely short lived. Tsuneki also looks like the type of girl to “get away.”
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (1 ep.)
I’m glad to see Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu back on the schedule, particularly since there are few shows of substance this winter. I always like to have variety in each season, and Rakugo adds an irreplaceable reverence to storytelling that viewers need to experience.
This second season picks up slightly after the events of the first when Konatsu’s pregnancy was revealed at the end along with Yotarou’s intent to claim the name “Sukeroku”. Our pilot episode opens with Yotarou on stage retelling the events rakugo-style of the first anime season for us, the audience. “Sukeroku” is a heavy role to fill, not only for the general public, but also for Yakumo and Konatsu. With the new Sukeroku’s debut performance, we are treated with another wonderful tale from Yakumo, as well as a glimpse of Konatsu with her baby standing in the far back of the hall.
As beloved as Yakumo and Sukeroku are in their town, it’s made clear that rakugo is a dying art and halls everywhere else have mostly closed down. Something must be done to revive it, and I’m not sure if Sukeroku alone will be enough for its rebirth. I would very much like to see the art opened to women. We saw Konatsu’s skill when she was a child, and I’m curious to see if she still maintains the ability and desire to try again. Japan might not be immediately receptive to the idea of men and women in rakugo, nor of newly written stories, but there must be those brave enough to make the first steps for any change to occur.
Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season (1 ep.)
No one is more surprised than me that I decided to try out Zestiria’s second season. The first was completely underwhelming and I preferred the advertisement of Berseria more than the main Zestiria story line, which felt disjointed and devoid of much detail. But here I am again, lured in by the pretty graphics and the hope that the writing has improved. I’m also going to blame my recent playthrough of Tales of Graces F that has me hungry for more of the franchise.
This sequel starts us with what looks to be character development on Rose, who stakes out a living as a merchant by day and an assassin by night. I’ve always liked her design and am looking forward to more human and Tenzoku interactions. We also witness Sorey experimenting with his abilities as the Shepherd. He struggles with controlling the elements, and suffers some post-trauma from the previous season’s Lord of Calamity. I’m certain he’ll grow to competence soon enough, though wish we had more information about his history with the Tenzoku. As of now, I don’t have much resonance with his character.
Urara Meirochou (2 eps.)
Lately, I’ve been less interesting in anime focused on nothing other than cute girls going about their daily lives. Every season brings its options in this style, and this winter is no exception. What interests me about Urara Meirochou is the setting. I can’t recall another anime that primarily features fortune telling. The practice is featured shortly in plenty of school and supernatural shows, but never as the main profession. Meirochou is an entire city dedicated to urara, fortune tellers of various levels and styles. The city’s ten precincts house ten levels of urara; the only way to visit another part of the city is to succeed to its designated level. This is where our girls enter. Fifteen-year-old girls with promise can apprentice in Meirochou in hopes of becoming urara. The main character, Chiya, is a large unknown since she hails from a faraway forest after receiving an invitation to apprentice despite not knowing anything about fortune telling. The rumor of her mother living in Meirochou is what truly draws her to the area. To find her mother, she’ll have to become a proficient enough urara to search all ten precincts.
While I don’t believe in fortune telling, I am interested in the variety of methods that this anime will show us. Reading tea leaves, asking help from Kokkuri-san, and looking for shooting stars are just a few of the ways shown right at the beginning. Chiya’s three fellow apprentices already know which paths they’d like to take, and I’m curious to see what Chiya will end up studying. Reading the entrails of recently killed animals is likely out of the question, one because this isn’t that type of show, and two because of her affinity with nature. I giggled as soon as Chiya showed her belly and apologized because it reminded me immediately of the way dogs show their submission and trust. My suspicion about Chiya is that her mother is actually the legendary Rank 1 urara. Hopefully, we’ll find out the truth by the end of this season.
Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation (1 ep.)
I’m ready for this “new generation,” especially now that Onoda’s mother finally understands to a certain degree her son’s sport. Starting with that conversation was a great way to set the comedic tone of the show and encourage our characters to look to the future. I was honestly feeling tired of YowaPeda after Grande Road due to the overly drawn out Inter-High and all the interlaced drama. After watching Long Riders! and the first episode of MinaKama, I just want a light-hearted and fast-paced story. But sitting in with Onoda’s mom and later seeing the changes to Imaizumi’s, Naruko’s, and Onoda’s bicycles has me optimistic again.
Makishima’s transfer and subsequent promotion of Hajime and Junta means that the Sohoku team will have a completely different dynamic. Even though Kinjou and Tadokoro are still around as third years, they will obviously be focusing more on life after graduation. We can definitely look forward to some new additions to the team to fill out the roster for upcoming races. I’m not yet confident in the current five members, but I’m sure we’ll get plenty of build up and character development before the next big race.
- 3-gatsu no Lion
- Long Riders!
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season