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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall 2015 Anime First Impressions: Part 1

Lance n' Masques:  This show has good traits and bad traits.  It has bad character design, but great backgrounds and animation.  It has bad SD form antics, but good artistry with camera direction and rotation.  It has good music, but a lame reluctant hero.  It has bad fight scenes, but at least the hero is fighting for a good cause.  And so on.  Everything balances out and you end up with a mediocre blend of watchability.  It's certainly good enough to watch more of, but I wonder if I'll actually end up watching it until the end. . . Pass.

Heavy Object:  Heavy Object seems to have three parts -- unrealistic battles, soft-cream ecchi fanservice, and a good sense of humor.  I don't much like the battles, I'm indifferent about the ecchi and I like the humor.  That's about as mediocre a situation as humanly possible.  In the future there are no wars between modern states because it would immediately devolve into mutually assured destruction by nuclear annihilation of each other's cities.  Heavy Object doesn't explain in any way why wars in the future don't involve strategic nuclear weapons -- it mentioned tactical nuclear weapons but not strategic nuclear weapons aimed at each other's cities, so the end result is the whole thing is just dumb.  I hate the fighting in Heavy Object.  No such sci fi future would ever occur so the whole premise of the show is obliterated.  In Dune force fields were invented that prevent nuclear weapons.  Dune made sense.  Heavy Object does not make sense.  So all you can do is ignore the fighting on screen and pay attention to the humorous deer hunts that happen on the side.  How far can that propel a series?  I'm not very confident in this show's staying power.  Pass.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk:  This show relies on a bunch of light novel tropes.  It's so tropish that the next anime in this first impression list is almost exactly the same in every single plot point.  (Though very different in execution, which makes for an interesting case study.)  The art and animation are the only saving grace for this anime.  It looks so good you can ignore the fact that it reads like a computer algorithm that just read a bunch of light novels, discovered their common essence, randomly mutated via a deep learning program, and then spat out this title without ever evincing an actual sentient original thought anywhere in the process.  All the same, since there's nothing particularly offensive about the content, I may as well keep watching for the pretty pictures.  Pass.

Rakudai Kishi no Eiyuutan:  This show also relies on a bunch of light novel tropes.  It's so tropish that the previous anime in the first impression list is almost exactly the same in every single plot point.  (Though very different in execution, which makes for an interesting case study.)  Silver Link is the studio behind this production, whereas A-1 is the studio behind Gakusen Toshi Asterisk.  Since the two products are so remarkably similar, I think it comes out pretty clearly that Silver Link is just a better studio than A-1 and produces better art and animation than A-1 Pictures can.  It's like comparing Kyoto animation to the competition, Silver Link just clearly works harder and makes a better product than its competitors can manage.

Gakusen Toshi's art and animation is the best part of the show, A-1 Pictures clearly made a fine product.  But Silver Link is just on a different tier and they're even prettier.  This alone would be enough of a reason to keep watching Eiyuutan.  But that's not all the show has going for it.  I think the lead male character is a more respectable and interesting person who stands up for himself.  When told to fulfill his promise by committing hari-kiri, he says 'Of course I didn't really mean it!' and refuses.  That little sliver of human weakness, of being willing to lie and cheat in order to get ahead, is really becoming compared to an idiot slave who just literally follows a robotic code of honor.  Meanwhile, when the girl is placed into a similar situation at the end of the episode, he doesn't instantly let her promise slide, but forces her to own up to it and see if she was willing to abandon her honor as well.  She hesitates, but eventually decides the opposite and agrees to be his slave in order to fulfill her promise.  He of course is nice about it and lets her go again, but that little bit of feisty testing attitude makes him a lot more appealing of a guy than someone who had immediately forgiven her and treated her like porcelain from the beginning.  When he had a chance at revenge against her he took it, but he's not an evil person who would genuinely hurt someone just out of spite.  That fine line which divides good and evil is a lot more interesting person than just a swell guy or a hedonistic bastard.

Also, the fact that the girl is a closet pervert as well is really humanizing of her.  Even though she's super critical of the ravenous sexual predatoriness of her male roommate, she actually jumps him in his sleep the moment he lowers his guard -- just like she said she feared he would do to her.  She's not such a good girl after all!  But of course she's too proud to do anything of the sort when he's conscious, her healthy sexual interest doesn't mean she's a slut who would actually have sex just for fun.  She just wishes she could and get away with it, much like many healthily curious teenagers would.

It's the little things that add depth to a character.  How they don't entirely lean one way or the other, but try to find a middle ground that flips back and forth.  Even though the plot of the episode followed the same outline, the characters are infinitely deeper and more interesting because they tend to waffle their way through it all in a muddy mess instead of any clear cut purposeful actions.  Like humans instead of machines.  In a story so algorithmically set up in terms of plot and setting, it's really nice to see the characters live and breathe.  This show isn't just a pass, it's the first new show I'm genuinely excited about for the season.  Pass.

One Punch Man:  The story has an unworkable premise.  If he's invincibly strong then all fight scenes are a waste of time, but there aren't any other scenes in the story either.  An invincibly strong guy might still be interesting if this were a mystery or romance genre, but in a fighting genre?  It belies the entire point.  I realize this is supposed to be a comedy but comedies need new joke material, not just repeating the same joke of 'I'm too strong' over and over again forever.  This first episode was certainly funny, but all subsequent episodes won't be, because the gag will be old by then.  In addition the art style is deliberately stupid-looking as a source of humor, something I see in Simpsons and Ren & Stimpy but anime has never sunk so low as to emulate until now.  Keep anime beautiful.  Like our parks and lakes.  Fail.

Komori-san blah blah:  A short anime with bad art.  Fail.

Onsen blah blah:  A short anime with rude people.  Fail.

Comet Lucifer:  Nothing happens.  There was no characterization.  Just really dumb villains and bland heroes reacting due to forceful circumstances exactly as you would expect they would just in order to survive.  Nothing of interest was said or done by anyone the entire episode long.  The art style isn't any good either.  Fail.

Sakurako blah blah:  Both the girl and the boy protagonists are annoying.  The girl is rude and obnoxious towards everyone and the boy is a doormat who inspires nothing but disgust.  Does he even have any balls or was he castrated at a young age and doesn't even know what acting like a man means?  To top it off the subject matter is gruesome and stupid to begin with.  Who writes a story around investigating bones for fun?  Ugh.  It's almost hilarious how well drawn this show is, because it represents an insane amount of effort put into one of the worst shows of all time.  Fail.

So far, 4 passes and 5 fails.  Three shows have already aired in Japan but still haven't been subbed.  Still more shows have yet to air at all.  All of these can be handled in a Part 2 post.  If I wait any longer, Lance N' Masques will come out with a second episode, and then my first impressions will be obsolete.  Regrettable as it is, my first impressions will have to stop here for now.

Dragon Ball Super is still retreading old material that was better done in the recent movies so there's no point watching it this season either.  Maybe in 2016?

I'm up to volume 8 of Index New Testament.  SAO volume 16 has been partially translated over at tap translations.  Obviously the SAO volume is a hell of a lot better than the Index volumes.  SAO is pleasure, Index is just work.  What's with that SAO movie announcement?  Who asked for a movie?  What I want is an Alicization anime season.  Did they think they could fob off their fans with this sub-par replacement nonsense?  As I recall, Index also got a movie instead of a third season.  Was anyone happy with that result?

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