Winter Anime 2016 Review (Part 3/3)

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Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!
God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

Medieval Otaku – 7/10

Here is another show I would describe as fun. It featured a ton of sarcastic humor, which necessitated me being in a particular mood to watch KonoSuba!. (Living in the South for so long has much lowered my appreciation for sarcasm…. I’m not sure whether this is good or ill.) The humor came across as frenetic and gut bursting, which prevented me from ever having the energy to watch more than three episodes in a sitting. That the characters, from the masochistic Darkness to the explosion-happy Megumin, were all pleasantly defective added that much more to the comedy.

I almost took a point away for the horrendously ecchi ninth episode, which I skipped around in for a few minutes until I lost hope. Yet, I did not deduct points for the same offense in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, so it did not seem fair in this instance. Those intending to watch KonoSuba! should remember to skip that episode utterly.

dimensionWReview

Dimension W
Dimension W

Emdaisy – 9/10 

I started this anime being totally unsure as to if I’d like it or not. I thought the idea’d be too far-fetched. I admit I had a lot of trouble getting in to the show at first – the first few episodes are a bit slow, and full of explanation of setting. However, as a tech geek, that aspect of the show (humanoid robots, a 4th dimension, etc) really intrigued me. Episode 7 is where we finally see some backstory on the protagonist (Mabuchi Kyoma), and at that point, I was seriously hooked on the show. I had to find out how it ended, for Kyoma’s sake.

Futuristic, but believe-able world? Check. Catchy music? Check. Sassy protagonist accompanied by adorable robot girl? Check. Despite the slow start (why I gave it a 9, not a 10), this show really became good after a bit. It’s quite arguably my favorite this season. The plot was intriguing, the characters were fun and I got attached to Mari (the adorable robot girl) pretty quickly. Plus, I loved both the art and the music. Also, I thought the show had a fantastic conclusion – was really happy with it. No stupid cliffhangers, or loose ends, plus a nice blend of happy & sad. This is definitely a show I’d recommend to most people (I say most because I know some people are fed up with the recent futuristic world trend in media) without a second thought! Definitely recommend checking this one out (especially if you’re a fellow tech geek)!

nijiirodays

Nijiiro Days
Rainbow Days

stardf29 – 5/10 

A shoujo romantic slice-of-life show sounds like something that would be good, easy-going fun, this show (which consists of half-length episodes) has some issues. Most notably, three of the main characters are rather unlikable: one of the guys is a whip-wielding sadist (I guess some girls are into that?), another guy is an arrogant casanova who believes he’s God’s gift to women, and one of the girls is the annoying sort of man-hater who mainly just makes things hard for the guys. The stories also like to dip into shoujo clichés a bit too often with unnecessary misunderstandings and romantic rivals. Thankfully, the “main” guy and his love interest are very cute together and extremely shippable, while the one pre-existing relationship is also very cute, and the guys do play off each other very well. Still, there’s not much to recommend the show right now, but the show is only half over, so I will keep watching in hopes there will be some romantic development and maybe some improvements in the problematic characters.

OjisanANDMarshmallow_DatMarshmallow_Ep04

Ojisan to Marshmallow
Ojisan and Marshmallow

MRNewman – 3.5/10

Ojisan and Marshmallow is a short-form anime series about a man (Hige) with an insatiable love of marshmallows and the woman who loves him, without actually telling him (Wakabayashi). In some ways it’s a normal romantic comedy series about a man who doesn’t know a girl has a thing for him. In other ways, it’s…about a man who really, really likes marshmallows. The show is wildly inconsistent, going from giving you some incredibly funny episodes, to episodes filled with pervy jokes that were more off-putting than funny. Each episode is very short at only 3.5 minutes a pop, so it’s not hard to jump into. It also had a solid ending for this little series which saw an interesting twist on some of the pervy-ness from the rest of the series based on Hige’s reaction at the end (no spoilers here). Is it worth jumping into? Watch episodes 1 and 4, which are the high points of this series, and then decide for yourself on the rest. Seriously…just watch Episode 4  – seeing a grown man on a kid’s tour of a marshmallow factory and the staff’s reaction to him is worth the price of admission.

Shirayuki_Zen

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime 2nd Season
Snow White with the Red Hair 2nd Season

Kaze – 7/10

I’m a bit conflicted about the score because the highs of the show were a definite 7 but the lows were pretty frustrating to deal with. In this case, I can’t deny I still enjoyed it a lot due to a huge bias toward Hayamin, so I’m giving it a 7. The show continues the trend of the previous season as a very simple but pleasant romance. The problems of romance between royalty and commoner are its strengths as the characters all deal with it maturely in a way that deepens their personalities. However, the season spent a lot of time with a more annoying arc that was poorly done. Even so, this show is dangerously cute and adorable in the ways only a romance story can be, and skips over all the more common pitfalls of its genre, making it that much more satisfying to watch.

PrinStrideTitle2

Prince of Stride: Alternative
Prince of Stride: Alternative

Emdaisy – 7/10

Recently, someone convinced me to give sports anime a chance. I did and was pleasantly surprised by what I watched (Haikyuu and Chihayafuru). So, when I saw that Prince of Stride (herein “PrinStride”) was airing this season, I figured I’d give it a shot. Going with MAL’s ranking scale in mind, I gave PrinStride a 7/10. It was good, but not great. The beginning of the show quickly intrigued me – a fallen team trying to rise to victory again. That starting theme reminded me of Haikyuu. However, for a few episodes in the middle of the show, I felt like the episodes lacked serious plot, or direction (why it fell, for a bit, to a 6/10). It wasn’t until the last few episodes that PrinStride started to save itself by finally tying up some loose ends, allowing the plot finally click into place and resemble, well, a real plot more than just independent episodes.

Being completely honest, my opinion on PrinStride’s probably a tad biased due to my own admitted fangirl tendencies (the show is full of bishounen, after all). However, bishies aside, I still think it’s a good show. The plot is there, but would have been a LOT better if it hadn’t felt so rushed, like the show could have been so much more if given 25 episodes to explain that story instead of 12. Ignoring the story, I personally thought the art was gorgeous, and I did like a lot of the music (I keep catching myself humming the opening theme). Also, there were some rather well-done moments where the characters were played up for a laugh. Overall, this isn’t one of those shows I’d instantly recommend to a friend looking for something awesome to watch, but it is something I’d recommend as a light-hearted, thinking-light show to just enjoy for fun (or as a feels-heavy show recovery option).

Screenshot 2016-03-24 10.13.45

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Showa and Genroku Era Lover’s Suicide Through Rakugo

Japesland – 8/10

Rakugo, as I’ve been abbreviating it this season, was easily my favorite anime of the season. In fact, I could very easily see it being my favorite anime of the year as well. You may be wondering how this is possible with a score of 8/10, to which I say: 8/10 is a great score, and the highest score I gave out in 2015 as well. Rakugo ticks every box on my list. It explores a unique topic (with the personal bonus of that topic being a traditional Japanese art form, which is right up my alley). It employs unique narrative devices. It features a strong cast of diversified characters. It’s not afraid to break standard anime tropes or storytelling methods. It has a strong soundtrack, including its opening and ending tracks. It utilizes beautiful animation. The list goes on and on.

I’ll be frank, as much as I wish I was, I am not a skilled reviewer. I love reading deep interpretations and analyses of literature, film, etc., but I’ve simply discovered that I am nearly incapable of deriving the specifics that make each piece of art what it is. However, acknowledging that my opinion cannot always be trusted, and that many of my favorite anime bore many others to death, I simply cannot recommend Rakugo enough.

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Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatekeiri 2nd Season
Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! 2nd Season

Medieval Otaku – 8/10

This season of Gate stood head and shoulders above the prior season, which I rated 6/10. The plot was more tightly woven in this season, and the political intrigue keeping the viewer curious about what would happen next. Added to this, they managed to make the fights more thrilling, especially the battle with the fire dragon and the final rescue missions. The manifest cruelty of the villains and yet lighthearted attitude of the heroes reminded me a lot of Akame ga Kiru, but Gate never became as dark as that show.

I have seen some complain about the nationalist and colonialist philosophies supported by the series. As for myself, I have no problem with the first unless it morphs into xenophobia, and the colonization of the Land Beyond the Gate greatly benefitted all its citizens with the exception of the ruling class, which felt its power threatened by Japanese influence. The benevolent colonialism of the anime hardly compares to the crueler forms history saw in Africa and Latin America. (I might write more on this topic elsewhere.)

So, placing these already great characters in an environment replete with strife allowed Gate to truly shine and earned it the high marks above.

Erased ep 7 Satoru and Hinazuki

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi
ERASED

Annalyn – 8/10

BokuMachi may be my favorite non-sports anime this season, though I freely admit it’s not the best. The visuals are stunning. And the abundance of imagery made my English-major heart giddy. Here are some examples, to refresh your memory: film, butterfly, spider thread, superhero mask. If this were a longer review, you could expect at least a cursory analysis of each and their related metaphors.

Now, down to business: The premise with Satoru’s “Revival” ability is intriguing. The mystery isn’t incredibly puzzling, but the suspense is fairly effective, once you’re drawn into Satoru’s perspective. An most of the time, the story’s pretty good. Unfortunately, the last two episodes disrupt the anime’s flow, and not in a good way. The new focus on the villain’s perspective, though fascinating, has limited parallel or build up from earlier episodes. I could forgive that, because it provides an opportunity for an extended spider’s thread metaphor… but let’s be honest: it’s a bit late in the show for a new extended metaphor. Unfortunately, that is not the only weakness. A new character is introduced in connection with the climax, but because she’s new, she adds no potency. (Do you see how frequently I’m using the word “new” to describe the last two episodes? Too frequently!) And the final interactions between the villain and Satoru aren’t completely believable. Basically, the finale falls flat, and the episode preceding it doesn’t help much.

Still, overall, BokuMachi is good. Critics will say it’s overrated, and perhaps even that I personally am overrating it. And you know what? If I rated purely on characters and story, it might only get a 7. But this is anime. Animation is important. So it’s a solid 8. And it’s getting 5 stars out of 5 on my Anime-Planet list.

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Thanks for reading as always! Feel free to discuss your own thoughts in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “Winter Anime 2016 Review (Part 3/3)

    1. I personally thought it got a lot better at episode 7, because I finally got some backstory on Kyoma and realllllyyy wanted to see what happened after learning what I did.

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  1. Glad to know I’m not the only one who enjoyed Snow White with the Red Hair. I’m actually rather bummed that it’s over. Really makes me wish they’d hurry up and license the manga in the U.S., since I suspect a continuation of the anime isn’t likely (at least, not in the near future).

    I’m also watching Dimension W on Toonami, and I, for one, really dig it. Slick, stylish, creative, fun, with just enough of a mystery element to keep me intrigued – what more can one ask for?

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    1. It really is good! And I seriously loved the ending! Although, I’m kinda’ almost sad they DIDN’T leave it as a cliffhanger in order to set it up for a second season, because I’d love a second season. 😛

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  2. KonoSuba:

    When the show aired, based on what I was reading about the show it seemed like another of these ecchi comedies. It seems that the impression I got was accurate, after reading the review. I found another thing annoying after reading more about the series. The characters are in a quest against an evil king and his troops, and they include the cliché of finding good people among these evil forces.

    Dimension W:

    Haven’t finished it yet. The story and setting are interesting, but there was something annoying… some of the shots of the robot girl in the opening and in the series proper. Unexpected in a series like that one.

    Nijiiro Days:

    I watched the first episode. A pleasant surprise for a show like this to feature a female love interest for the guys (thus cutting via canon some types of “shipping”). The man hater girl? Is not clear if she is possessive of the female protagonist or something more (I hope not), but seeing that one of the guys seems to like her, is possible that eventually they’ll end up together.

    Akagami no Shirayuki-hime:

    I haven’t watched it yet. Looks interesting.

    Gate:

    Reading various discussions about the show, there are many people that kept criticising the show for the nationalistic themes. I’ve watched some episodes, but some I found the sexual innuendo around the character Rory and her battles to be annoying/ with bad taste. There seems to be some forms of ecchi, and I’ve read that the manga goes into full nudity. The violence was other part that is featured in a more gruesome manner in the manga.

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    1. As a note on Dimension W, I agree the awks shots in the opening and the first few episodes were bit a risque (bothered me less as a girl, maybe, because I see that daily lol). However, if it helps to know, Mira’s not at all sexualized in the show, nor set up as a love interest, even. There’s the few shots at the beginning when they’re examining her as a robot, and a couple risque shots in episode…. 4 or 5 I wanna say (washroom scene, she’s in a towel after a shower). Nothing’s actually shown, though, and it’s not done in a sexual way. Hope that helps if you were concerned it was gonna’ escalate. 🙂

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    2. Well, I would not call all of KonoSuba an ecchi comedy, but episode nine hits the mark. Much of the humor is sarcastic, which might not be your cup of tea. Only the lich stands as a good girl among the evil king’s forces so far. I forgot how she got herself into that, but she was very helpful in defending the town at the end of the season and seems less malicious than Aqua, at any rate.

      I know what you mean by Rory’s battles having bad taste: often they lack any sense of realism. In terms of graphic sex and violence, the manga of Gate is certainly worse, but I can see why even the content of the anime would be off-putting. I, as a patriotic American, had no problem with the nationalism myself. Nationalism gets a bad name because of wars associated with it, but not all forms of nationalism are equal. One reviewer I know pointed out that the anime’s political maneuvering, when it came to our world, showed a lack of knowledge with how international politics worked. Please point me to the reviews criticizing the anime’s nationalism–I’ve only read the vague criticisms vented by iblessall so far.

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      1. Maybe not purely ecchi, but there are comments about the camera focus on Aqua and other characters.

        More than reviews, are comments in reddit and blogs. Various people keep bringing the topic.

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