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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring 2015 Anime First Impressions:

I finally got the chance to watch all the first episodes of the new spring anime season.  Largely it was a giant pile of disappointments.  However, a few promising shows did shine through.  Let's take it item by item:

Kyoukai no Rinne:  An obvious masterpiece from the start.  The art is gorgeous, the humor is hilarious, the protagonists and setting are totally original and unique, and the pacing is quick and addictive.  This is obviously the best new addition to the anime world.  Not only is this a 'pass,' this is a masterpiece.  Pass.

Hibike! Euphonium:  This is the second most promising new series for the spring lineup.  It looks like K-On! but feels more like Nodame Cantabile.  This is a good mashup of ideas.  If the story is executed well it could become great.  It didn't have the instant classic feel of K-On!, but it could be a slumbering giant like Hyouka turned out to be.  'Pass.'

Ore Monogatari:  There's a lot to dislike about this show and not much to like.  Stopping a crime and saving a damsel in distress is a really lame way for a romance to begin.  If this were the only way love could blossom, then the criminals are doing a public service by attacking people and therefore perpetuating the human race, since there's apparently no other reason a girl would ever want a boy around except as a bodyguard to stop even worse men from surrounding her instead.  I like the art style and this is supposedly a famously good story, so I'll keep giving it a shot but this was not a good first impression.  'Pass.'

Yamada-kun to Nananin no Majo:  I don't understand why the girl was willing to body-swap with him the second time and take his remedial classes.  The first time was by accident and thus understandable.  But the second?  As thanks for his stopping the bullying that was happening to her?  If so that should be a one-time only thing and therefore the plot should grind to a halt as the event never happens again.  Explain to me why any girl would want to switch into an ugly boy's body, while giving said boy's mind full access to their own body to do with as he pleases while her mind is away stuck inside a male body instead?  This may be a man's dream situation but it's unrealistic that the women are all so eager to please him by reciprocating.  I'll give the show a shot because everyone else thinks it's great so maybe it gets better from here but. . .sigh. . . 'Pass.'

Danmachi:  This is the third most promising new show of the season.  It borrows too much from other stories and is just too blandly generic for its own good.  But the art is good, the voice acting is good, and the characters are definitely likable, a rarity for the rest of the shows this season.  I could see this show developing in all sorts of ways and shows a lot more promise when it's acting serious and life-and-death than when it goes for the harem ecchi comedy stuff.  It's definitely worth keeping an eye on.  'Pass.'

Denpa Kyoushi:  I'm getting tired of wish-fulfillment based anime.  It's wish fulfillment to think that an otaku NEET can just waltz into a teaching job with no effort on his own part.  Then it's wish fulfillment to think he can pull off criminal acts to stop bullying in his class with no repercussions.  Yes, it would be nice if we could all dispense out vigilante justice as we saw fit the moment bad situations appear in front of us, but realistically speaking we can't do that and we'd be the ones who end up in jail, not them.  Realistically speaking, wish fulfillment is not a good basis for a story.  I do like the parts about inspring a girl to become a seiyuu because she found that fictional works really can have a positive impact on people's lives and therefore she wanted to do the same for others in the future.  That positive message regarding anime is great in a world that tends to mock and demonize the medium.  For that, I'll give this show a pass.  'Pass.'

Owari no Seraph:  Despite this show being a total ripoff of Shingeki no Kyojin, it's still the 4th most promising new show of the spring season.  It brought a lot of energy and depth to the characters, quickly and decisively.  I like that in a show.  Honestly, ripping off a great work like Shingeki is not a bad idea.  Even if you're only half as good as the original, that's still damn good.  If Owari no Seraph keeps up this pace and manages to mirror the quality of Shingeki no Kyojin throughout it might end up in my rankings too.  'Pass.'

Arslan Senki:  I liked the depth and detail that went into this show.  The setting, the characters, and the plot all felt realistic and reasonable.  The most important aspect of a fantasy setting is that it should feel real, which is something Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones excel in.  However, the next thing this show needs to work on is getting me to like the characters.  If I don't like the protagonist, I have no reason to stay interested in what he does or what happens to him.  Only by liking the characters can I actually end up liking the story, no matter how well written or well produced the show becomes.  I feel like by the end of the first episode of Soul Eater Not! I was already in love with everyone.  Why can't Arslan Senki be that good?  It's the same thirty minutes both ways, and yet in one case I was totally head over heels, and in the other I was detached and shrugging my shoulders.  Thirty minutes should be enough to get me to care about the characters if a story is done right.  It's when a story is done wrong that you don't care, and that leaves me with a lot of worries about this show.  'Pass.'

Houkago no Pleiades:  This show just didn't work from the outset.  It's way too generic, and way too random/sudden.  Things just happen without any characters making any decision.  Everything just happens by random.  Their entire situation occurred by random.  Everything is just a mistake.  I hate shows like this.  I hate reluctant heroes who are driven into their situation instead of who choose it for themselves.  Even though I liked the original ova's, this tv show didn't work at all.  'Fail.'

Plastic Memories:  I sort of liked this show, until I realized it would never go anywhere.  A job related story, it would just be an episodic repeat of the same things happening over and over again every episode.  Mindlessly, endlessly, the same story will repeat every week with no change for the rest of this guy's life.  He basically works as an undertaker.  He goes around collecting corpses and burying them.  As a side effect, he also has to spend a lot of time consoling grieving families.  But there's no consolation you can possibly offer to a family that has lost a loved one.  The fact that the people who die are young, not old, only makes it more impossible to offer any words of condolence.  It's a shitty, hopeless situation and there's nothing anyone can say or do to make it better.  It's a hopeless world and a hopeless job and I'd rather not spend any more time thinking about it.  'Fail.'

The remaining shows were so obviously terrible that I couldn't even sit through them all the way to completion.  They were so aggravating and so boring all at once that I just gave up on each and every one of them:

Re-Kan, Mikagura Gakuen, Triage X, Urawa no Usagi-chan, Nagato Yuki-chan, Gunslinger Stratos, and Kekkai Sensen.  They all Fail.

As a result, my weekly anticipation/excitement rankings for the spring season, what I'll be viewing for at least the next while, stands as follows:

1.  Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works
2.  Fairy Tail
3.  One Piece
4.  Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Vivid
5.  Kyoukai no Rinne
6.  Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
7.  Dragon Ball Kai Buu
8.  Grisaia no Rakuen
9.  Hibike! Euphonium
10.  Danmachi
11.  Owari no Seraph
12.  Hello!  Kiniro Mosaic
13.  Sailor Moon Crystal
14.  Go! Princess Pretty Cure
15.  Denpa Kyoushi
16.  Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
17.  Oregairu
18.  Arslan Senki
19.  Yamadakun to Nananin no Majo
20.  Ore Monogatari
21.  Ghost in the Shell Arise (the last two non-filler episodes)

Twenty one shows is a fine showing for any season.  If it can stay this high it would be a huge improvement over the winter season's 14.  Getting Fairy Tail back from filler is also worth a lot, though losing a great show like Shirobako is hard to make up for no matter what you do.  Spring had a lot of promise and ended up delivering on some of it.  Even so, the upcoming summer season has a lot more promise and I expect a lot more to be delivered then.

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