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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Winter 2018 Anime First impressions: Part 1

Yuru Camp:  Is there a reason for this series when we already have Yama no Susume?  Well, yes.  Yama no Susume doesn't start airing until this summer, so we need something to tide us through.  Cute girls should be camping at all times of the year so this works out great.  Pass.

Grancrest Senki:  An atrocious show.  Things happen so quickly it all feels phony and contrived.  Even though it's an all new fantasy world setting, no effort is taken to characterize the world.  On top of that, the art is bad, the voice acting is bad, the battle mechanics are bad, and the main heroine is annoying and inconsistent.  There isn't a single good thing to say about this show.  Fail.

Slow Start:  First episodes are difficult.  They have to get a story started, usually by having two people meet for the first time, in a way that feels realistic, but also such that there's something interesting we want to pay attention to about them.  Slow Start manages all of that.  It introduces no less than five characters and realistically shows them getting along by the end of a single episode.  That's kind of heroic when you think about it.  Even better, by the end of the episode you start to like our protagonist who insists on people remembering her name, Hana Ichinose.  This slightly courageous girl who seizes on chances when they arrive is just the sort of girl you're rooting for.

Now, can a story like this really keep our attention for 12 episodes?  That's another question.  But it certainly suffices for now.  Pass.

Citrus:  First episodes are difficult.  They have to get a story started, usually by having two people meet for the first time, in a way that feels realistic, but also such that there's something interesting we want to pay attention to about them.  Citrus manages all of that.  In introduces no less than two characters and realistically shows one sexually assaulting the other by the end of a single episode.  But remember, if the girl secretly likes it, it's not sexual assault, now is it?  And so begins our lesbian romance tale.  I'm opposed to everything about this show from a theoretical perspective, but I find the execution to be so good that I'm won over by the specifics.  For instance, I think the protagonist is very true to life and thus much more interesting than, say, the girls in Slow Start.  She's a deeper character, there's just more going on in her head.  She has a fantastic voice actor speaking her lines in a perfect 'gal' accent, which makes her feel so much more authentic.

My objection isn't really to the protagonist, who seems like a cool person I've never really seen before in any other anime --, I'm a little more worried about her step-imouto, who seems pretty crazy.  But then again, I'm sure there are girls like that in the world, and I'm interested to find out more about what she's thinking and what motivates her -- in exactly the same way our protagonist is, because we share the exact same set of facts and impressions, just as the story intended.  All in all we have a deep character study sort of imprinted on top of a smutty romance story.  I don't find the romance or smut appealing, it feels too over the top and in your face, but the interesting characters and what they're thinking is magnetic.  You want to know more about everyone and everything, and that's exactly what a first episode should do.

Now, the whole thing could still easily crash and burn in future episodes. The premise is so dicey that it could easily go south at any moment.  But that's neither here nor there.  As a first impression Citrus succeeded brilliantly.  Pass.

Gakuen Babysitters: 
Unrealistic and stupid initial premise.  I couldn't get through the first episode.  Fail.

Mitsuboshi Colors:  A well executed depiction of kids playing make-believe and generally being kids together centered around their secret hideout.  It helps that they're cute girls.  But the problem remains that they're kids just doing kids' things.  Not much meat to sink your teeth into.  No plot, nothing exceptional about the characters or setting, no theme the story is trying to get across.  Apparently it's just a show about nothing, geared towards a few laughs as we pass the time.  I have better things to do with thirty minutes a week.  Fail.

Ryuuou no Oshigoto:  This is a Ro-Kyu-Bu/Tenshi no 3p clone, except written by a different author, and this time it's about shogi instead of basketball or music.  It's a good premise, so it's hard to fail.  There's also a lot of Hikaru no Go vibes floating around, except it's a lot more comedy based.  A solid beginning.  Pass.

Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho:  Instead of the Abyss, it's time to explore Antarctica for someone's missing mother!  Young girls go on a death defying mission, armed only with hand laser cannons and extendable arms. . .  Okay, so a little more realistic than that, but you get the idea.  This is the best anime of the season so far.  The sense of danger and adventure is the same as Made in Abyss, but this time they're trying to include a sense of realism, and switch out the grotesque for moe.  I kind of like the changes, though it did unfortunately have some really typical nonsense, like our protagonist saving a girl from bullies.  (Why are there so many bullies/hooligans in Japan, harassing everyone?  Isn't this the safest place on Earth?)  Dragon Ball has Goku giving in to hostage crises, and it's still ranked 5th in my rankings, so I guess I can't get too hung up on these small gripes.  Pass.

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