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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter 2018 First Impressions: Part 2

Toji no Miko:  A boring, generic story we've all seen before.  Cute girls with special powers (who for some reason still regularly attend school anyway) end up endlessly battling each other and various supernatural giant bugs.  No attempt to make the plot make any sense, or for the characters to have anything beyond one-dimensional characteristics like enjoying food or desiring vengeance.  Perhaps if this were the first anime ever with this story it would be good, but this is like the nine billionth.  Fail.

Violet Evergarden:  Kyoto Animation always delivers good art, but without a compelling plot or characters it doesn't amount to much.  I don't find Violet compelling.  I don't find Violet assimilating to a peaceful world a very interesting event worthy of recording.  I don't really know why this story exists.  It's famous so maybe it gets good later?  Oh well, I'll let the art carry it for now.  Pass.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni:  Conversely, the art style for this show is so bad that it's almost impossible for it to succeed from the get-go.  On top of that I don't find the main characters attractive or interesting, and I think any romance between them would just be mundane.  This show has no 'hook.'  It has no questions, so there's no excitement waiting around for the answers.  It's like a documentary on the life of caterpillars.  Who cares?  Fail.

Death March:  This is a highly touted series so I had high expectations.  The first episode spent most of its time just setting things up, which is exactly how it should be.  Whenever you enter a new fantasy world, learning about that world takes priority.  However, the wry yet optimistic attitude of the protagonist is already attractive, and the art style and character designs for all the girls in the intro are already appealing.  To me, Isekai stories require a one way ticket only, not hopping back and forth like Inuyasha or GATE and certainly not virtual reality like SAO where all the player characters are from Earth together.  This means there are only a few good Isekai anime so far -- Hai to Gensou, Youjo Senki, No Game no Life and 12 Kingdoms.  Which means in turn that there's still a lot of potential for this genre to try out new things.  Death March is the fifth great isekai anime.  Just as the four above are completely different from each other, Death March is completely different from all of them.  This Isekai story is a real life video game, complete with a graphical user interface, inventories, levels and skills.  I'm not sure if everyone experiences this new world in this way or if it's just Satoo because he's from Earth, but in any case it's a fun, novel way to experience life.

Death March has just begun to unfurl its wings, but I'm sure by the end of the series its entry into my rankings (currently at 194) will be fully justified.  Pass.

Marchen Maedchen:  This story is mainly a comedy centered around cute girls.  There's magic and action and mystery and such to spice things up, but mainly we just want to look at girls when they're blushing and flustered.  It's fine for a first episode, but I'm not sure if the formula can entertain for an entire season.  Pass.

Hakumei to Mikochi:  A boring story about two little people with no problems in a world with no problems.  Totally pointless.  Fail.

Killing Bites:  There are good things about this story, like when the narrator suddenly starts talking about the traits of various wild animals, but they're outweighed by the bad.  The girls are ugly, both physically and in personality.  The boy seems like a completely pointless third wheel.  The fighting itself is just over money and thus pointless.  There's no reason to get interested in anyone or anything.  Fail.

Beatless:  I was expecting a cool sci-fi slice of life based on the preview, and instead I got a sci-fi shonen action series.  Well, it was still good, just not as good as it could have been.  Instead of Ghost in the Shell, this is more like Fate/Stay Night techno version.  It's kind of off the wall how powerful these androids are, but I guess Dragon Ball had even stronger androids so who am I to complain. . .  Pass.

Darling in the Franxx:  Some sort of Evangelion clone except with the aggressive, powerful girl plus passive, weak boy situation straight out of Killing Bites.  I hate that combination.  A girl standing around naked in front of a boy without a hint of modesty or any attempt to cover up is extremely rude to the guy.  It's called being a cocktease.  She gets him aroused, but takes no responsibility for it and does nothing to relieve the pressure.  A girl who respected a boy's feelings even to the most basic extent would stop flaunting herself in front of him like that, but since she has absolutely zero respect for him she cares nothing about what she's putting the guy through.  I hate that sort of universal contempt.  The world goes round because everyone shows each other manners and politeness, we have a harmonious system where people can interact without hurting each other.  It was built up over millennia for a reason.  Flouting those rules out of your own selfishness isn't some sort of cool, individualist spirit.  It's just announcing yourself as an enemy of all mankind that needs to be purged as soon as possible.  Fail.

That's everybody, so in the end our winter season looked like this:

Here's the good anime that's currently airing this season and is worth at least a try, in the order of how exciting each episode is week to week (not in the order of how good the series is overall, which would favor older series too much):

1.  Death March
2.  Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
3.  Dragon Ball Super
4.  Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
5.  Basilisk 2
6.  One Piece
7.  Ryuuou no Oshigoto
8.  Beatless
9.  Yuru Camp
10.  Slow Start
11.  Citrus
12.  Bolt
13.  Kira Kira Precure a la mode
14.  Violet Evergarden
15.  Marchen Maedchen

Six long established great series, one new great series, and eight more shows that at least might be good.  We'll have to see over the course of time.  It could have been worse, but it could have been better.  Looks like we'll have to wait until the spring season, when Full Metal Panic! returns, to really get this year rolling.

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