The tidal wave of new shows has come crashing down upon us. Almost half of them will have aired their first episode just over this weekend. I’m splitting this into 3 parts so I’ll dive right in, no time to waste with preamble!
(Note: Titles have been ordered in a vague rank of most to least interesting, I’ll also be providing some alternate recommendations along the way.)
Notabilities: Anime original written by Hayashi Naotaka, scenario writer for the SciADV series of VNs, such as Steins;Gate. Studio Doga Kobo, who have made a name for themselves with many popular comedy titles are behind it.
This is one of the shows I am most excited for this season, for a couple reasons: As noted above, the writer is a key one, but apart from that, I want to see how Doga Kobo will handle a more serious show, they did some VN adaptations in the past before they got into comedy, but both I saw were terrible. The last reason is because… read the premise, it sounds ripe for cheap melodrama, and I want to see if it can be handled well.
Plastic Memories looks like no other show the studio has done in the past, the futuristic city setting looked almost like Psycho-Pass in some shots (the similarites between the two don’t end there) and I really liked the lighting effects used throughout the episode. The vibrant character designs in this show are some of the best I have seen, they are colourful, expressive and full of personality. Doga Kobo exhibits the sharp character acting they are known for in full force, putting it to good use in both comedic and dramatic moments, showing the comfortability they have with slapstick timing, physical gags and facial expressions.
The writing certainly isn’t slacking either, we are very naturally introduced into the premise and world with a lack of clunky exposition, we learn a lot of the rules as the characters go about on their job. This all culminates very neatly in the climax of the episode, where the central question the series will center on comes to light. I did have mixed thoughts on the grab at emotional resonance the last few scenes tried to go for, which left me cold personally, but all in all I was very happy with Plastic Memories debut.
I really enjoyed the first season of UBW, but it did have pacing issues throughout, the ending was lacklustre and left us in an awkward place. This leaves us with season two to hopefully rectify those issues and tie this route up nicely, making way for the Heaven’s Feel movies. It starts out on a good note, the new OP in this episode was fantastic and it also gives us some ominous glimpses of what is yet to come. Unfortunately, directly after that, we get the dreaded Saber dress scene – a moment from the VN that has earned deserved criticism for its unpleasant sexual connotations. Thankfully the anime does try to tone things down a little, but in truth this scene, or at least Saber’s pose should have been altered significantly.
Archer’s ploy this episode, along with Caster’s contrived reasons for letting the Rin and Shirou go were just Nasu being Nasu as usual, at this point I am honestly not too invested on the specifics of Fate’s messy plotting. As long as it can deliver on action scenes that put most other anime to shame (the one this ep was good, though a bit reliant on the digital effects) and endearing character work I am content. Speaking of characters, we got fantastic scenes between Rin and Shirou all through the second half of this episode. Rin’s VA knocked it out of the park with her lines, and while I don’t feel the romance between the two is as strong as UBW would like me to believe, this was all very cute stuff.
Status: I am the bone of my hype
Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End)
Notabilities: Wit Studio, the director/writer have worked on Attack on Titan. Soundtrack by the famed Sawano Hiroyuki.
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku (OreGairu 2nd Season)
Shokugeki no Souma (Food Wars!)
Notabilities: Popular Shounen Jump manga that was drawn by an erotic artist.
Food Wars makes for an apt comparison to last season’s Koufuku Graffiti (which I talked about in a previous post). While that show was mainly calm and cute, this one’s anything but – it’s as hot blooded and shounen as can be, it wants to sweep us up in its testosterone-charged wake or we will inevitably poke at the silly events taking place. It relies on suspending our disbelief to convince us to buy the absolutely ludicrous actions a group of land sharks are taking to try shut down Soma’s restaurant. This will work for some, but in my case it was all a bit too much, and the show fell flat in its attempts at wringing comedy or awe from the situation.
I have to mention the literally orgasmic eating scenes, which were a big attraction of the manga, but here the lacklustre animation and direction is simply not enough to sell these scenes, being overly reliant on garish filters and effects. Food Wars also jumps fully on-board the fanservice train in these scenes, often to an excessively disconcerting degree, even going as far as a cheap rape joke. Despite all those issues I had with it, the end of the episode did tease at Soma entering some insanely monstrous culinary academy, which did pique my interest, so I’ll give this show another chance.
Status: Mildly interested
Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)
Notabilities: Nothing of interest, besides the friggin’ long title of the thing.
DanMachi seems to basically be set in a JRPG, this isn’t just a nondescript fantasy location: the characters have levels, skills, abilities and the need to collect item drops, very gamey. With this world and scenario comes the need for a lot of dull technobabble, which for me, ended up going in one ear and out the other. Our hero, Bell, is voiced by none other than Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, typecasted as per usual in one of these many LN harem lead roles where all the girls are inexplicably interested in him for no good reason.
The tale starts with Bell being saved from a minotaur by the girl he has his sights set on (Aiz Wallenstein), followed by a tedious series of interactions with Hestia (apparently his live-in loli), and some other girls too. That’s pretty much the entire episode, til the plot kicks in and Bell ends up publicly shamed in front of Aiz, leading him to flee from her, recklessly going out to fight monsters in his flustered humiliation, making the declaration to become stronger in future. There wasn’t really anything interesting or original going on here and the writing involved in setting up the conflict was suspect at best. I can’t say I was impressed with this premiere, it was too insubstantial to really dig into whatsoever, but I’ll keep going for now.
Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2 Sure-me (I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying 2nd Thread)
Well, its like the show never left. The first season worked so well because of the short 3 minute runtime, allowing a rapid fire sequence of crude jokes and cute moments that never runs too long. As expected from a show that focuses on the marriage between a “normie” and an Otaku, theres lots of silly gags and reference humour, I caught a Valvrave reference this week. Despite all that, the main attraction to this series for me is watching this very down-to-earth, endearing couple go about and do their own thing, and the second season provides exactly that.
Notabilities: The Director did the two bad seasons of Hayate no Gotoku, and is relatively new, mostly with animation and chara-design credits. The writer was involved with a few school club comedy shows I’ve liked such as Love Lab and Yuru Yuri, but the rest of their output, not so much.
The synopsis for this one summates exactly what I got out of the first few minutes of Re-Kan that I watched. It’s a 4-koma adaptation, so I wasn’t expecting much, but the pedestrian premise and bland comedy made the show lose my interest fast. The biggest problem that sticks out like a sore thumb is the use of photorealistic backgrounds, so we see a similar effect to what poorly implemented green-screen would achieve in live-action, with the characters feeling like they aren’t really inhabiting the same plane as everything else. It’s a shame because the characters themselves look fine enough.
The first casualty of the season for me, nothing offensive about it, but it’s fairly bog standard stuff. I could see where it was going right away, with one of the girls refusing to believe the fact that our main character Hibiki can see ghosts, which will soon be overcome and then the girls will all become friends. I would instead suggest watching a show like Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. which uses its similarly paranormal premise in interesting ways, being heartfelt and super adorable while doing so.
Only really checked this short out because it had a curious title. Yeah, it didn’t make me laugh once and the animation looked really janky.
Phew, I did it! That was a lot of shows to get through, with even more on the way… Feel free to discuss and share your own opinions on the titles mentioned in this post below, though I politely request readers of the source material for any of these shows keep their comments spoiler free.